Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions for Southerners and San Franciscans

Time to make New Year's Resolutions. Even though most resolutions have the life span of a butterfly with a bad cough, it never hurts to pause, reflect, and vow to be a better person in the coming year.

In the spirit of the season, the following are New Year's Resolutions from imaginary Southerners and San Franciscans--two demographics I admire, love, consider myself a member of, and, yes, enjoy poking fun at. I've also added some vintage New Year's Eve photos I found online, just for the heck of it.


The Southerner: "I want to see my shoes again while standing up. Mostly to make sure they're not white and it's after Labor Day."

The San Franciscan: "My goal is to keep my weight down and my Klout score up."

Getting Organized

The Southerner: "I resolve to stop storing my pistol in my makeup drawer."

The San Franciscan: "I will remember that after drinking my Starbucks non-fat-one-Splenda-extra-foamy-double-tall latte, I will put the used cup, brown paper 'sleeve,' and wooden stir stick into the composting bin. The plastic lid goes in recycling. And those bottles of 'ethical' plastic water bottles I bought go into my messenger bag so I won't have to pay the 10 cent paper bag fee."


The Southerner: "Start putting pocket change into my Piggly Wiggly piggy bank. Those summer shag dancing competitions in Myrtle Beach don't come cheap!"

The San Franciscan: "I resolve to not blow my budget this year for medical marijuana lollipops and leather chaps for the Folsom Street Fair, and to add money to my budget to offset my carbon footprint whenever I drive my Prius to Whole Foods."

Giving Back

The Southerner: "It's time for me to give back all those casserole dishes my cousins brought to my house for MeeMaw's 105th birthday party."

The San Franciscan: "I will stop hogging the electrical vehicle charging station in the Noe Valley Walgreen's parking lot."


The Southerner: "I resolve to leave my job as a banker in Charlotte for something totally different--like being a banker in Atlanta."

The San Franciscan: "It's time I left my exhausting job at Google and got an exhausting job at Facebook. Besides, Facebook's chef is, like, way better than Google's."

Your Resolutions?

Whether you're a Southerner, a San Franciscan, or something entirely different, what are your New Year's resolutions? Serious or silly, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"A Southerner in San Francisco" Now on Kindle

Why would you pay $1 a month for something you can already read for free?

That's the question I asked myself when I published this blog to Amazon's Kindle platform a few days ago. For the aforementioned price, you can now have A Southerner in San Francisco delivered automatically and wirelessly to your Kindle whenever this blog is updated.

One benefit is that you can read this blog on your Kindle, whether you're on the go or curled up in bed. You don't have to navigate to it; it comes to you. Instant gratification is a good thing.

Also, I get a percentage of every $1 monthly subscription--which is more money than I currently make writing my blog. So think of me as your friendly neighborhood bartender, and a Kindle subscription to my blog as the equivalent of the tip jar.

If you're interested, here's the link to A Southerner in San Francisco on Kindle.

Whether you subscribe or not, thank you for reading. To paraphrase Sandra Bernhard, without readers, this blog (or any other one) is nothing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why is There a Gorilla in Our Living Room Every Christmas?

On the eve of Christmas Eve, Nick and I are taking a break from our dinner party preparations. It's quiet, except for the sound of something thrashing around inside the clothes dryer. The windy rain has momentarily stopped.

And there's a gorilla in our living room.

Any reasonable person might ask, "Why is there a gorilla in your living room?" The unreasonable answer is, "He visits us  every Christmas."

About nine years ago, Nick and I threw a big anti-Christmas Christmas party built around the theme of a Tahitian disco. It's not that we dislike Christmas; it's the same-old-same-old Christmas decorations we'd grown tired of. So we bought two faux palm trees with white lights in them to serve as our Christmas tree, with a leopard-print sheet wrapped around their base. (Leopard print, in my opinion, is suitable for any occasion, especially Christmas.)

We pulled out white ceiling lights and replaced them with green, blue, and yellow bulbs. We bought a big disco ball and hung it from the ceiling. Our dining area monkey chandelier dripped with plastic leis. Paper pineapples proliferated, to the extent that our living room resembled a tiny Dole plantation. We didn't go over the top, because there was no top for us to go over.

The party was a hit. We held onto all the decorations. And every Christmas since then, we bring out a subset of them to transform our living room into a Tiki hut.

About a month ago, we came to a crossroads. While cleaning out our garage, we pulled out our traditional faux Christmas tree. We hadn't used it since 2003, the year of our big Tahitian party. It was taking up space. So the question arose: Keep it or donate it? After the briefest of pauses, we looked at each other and added the traditional Christmas tree to our Salvation Army pile.

Oh yes, you're wondering about the gorilla.

He's a life-sized cardboard cutout that Nick discovered in a party shop when buying decorations for our Tahitian disco. Every Christmas, he is unfolded and propped up to silently witness the shenanigans around him. He is ingeniously named "Christmas Gorilla."
Christmas Gorilla
The first day or so after Christmas Gorilla returns, he invariably startles us. About a week ago, I came into the kitchen late at night to get a glass of water, saw the big dark shape, and jumped. Nick has had similar episodes.

On a few occasions, Christmas Gorilla has come out at other times of the year. When a close friend of ours was recuperating in the hospital from surgery, Christmas Gorilla went with us to visit her. Even the nurse, who had presumably seen many strange things in her line of work, took a look at our friend and said, "I've seen some jackasses in the hospital before but never a gorilla."

On New Year's Day, we fold Christmas Gorilla, wrap him back up in black garbage bags, and store him behind a tall Japanese tansu. The Tiki hut is transformed back into a living room, and another year begins.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sh%t Southern Women Say

"Some fool stole my buggy at the Piggly Wiggly!"

"Dern! My tannin' bed's broke!"

"He's dumb as dirt, bless his heart."

"Does this pistol come in pink?"

"I'm fixin' to beat your ass!"

Admittedly, I've never heard a Southern woman say any of the above. But they do in the hilarious YouTube video, "Sh%it Southern Women Say Part 1." I've posted both of the "Sh%t Southern Women Say" clips below because, as a Southern woman (or man) would say, they're a "hoot." And I'm adding a few things I've heard Southern women say that aren't in either of these videos: 

"I hate I heard that," the meaning of which is obvious. 

"I hate I drank that," which means: "Damn this is so good, I'm gonna get addicted." 

"I hate I ate that." Same as "I hate I drank that."

"I'm sorry but I'm sorry." 

"She doesn't have the sense God gave a flea."

"Do I have on too much makeup?" (Usually asked by someone whose makeup was applied by Bozo the Clown. In the dark.)

"What time should I come to y'all's house?"


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Facing a Cliff? Go Ahead and Jump!

With all this talk about the fiscal cliff, you'd think going over a cliff is a bad thing. As with all things in life, it depends. On the cliff.

I understand the anxiety about facing a cliff and not wanting to go over it. I'm one of those people who, staring down at the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge, imagines what it would be like to jump or, worse, be pushed off. The thought immediately causes me to step back from the rail, horrified.

But sometimes, I see a cliff and know I must jump.

Before you send a SWAT team of psychiatrists to my home, I'm talking primarily about a psychological cliff. It's a point you've reached beyond which you can only see a deep, scary chasm of uncertainty. There's no obvious safety net. And yet, you jump.

When I was 29, I was offered the opportunity to move from Atlanta to San Francisco by my then-employer. All the moving expenses were paid and I had a job to go to. At the time, Nick was not working, so he was free to relocate. We were both bored with Atlanta anyway. Was this really a cliff? Maybe not, but it felt like one. What if we didn't like San Francisco and wanted to move back--without any jobs to return to? How would my parents react to such a big move? What would happen to our friendships in the South? Nearly 26 years later, I'm happy to report that this was one of the best 'cliff jumps' I've ever made.

A few years ago, I was in New York on business. While there, I went on a three-day theater binge. Electrified by August: Osage County, I decided to try my hand at writing plays. Within three years, I was among the opening-night audience for a short farce I'd written called Two Wings and a Breast. I knew, heading to the theater, that I was also heading toward a cliff. I had friends in the audience--what if they didn't like it and simply gave me fake smiles afterwards? What if no one laughed when I wanted them to or laughed when they weren't supposed to? What if the actors flubbed their lines? What if an actor at the last minute couldn't make it and my play, part of an evening of shorts, was cancelled? (There were no understudies). I took the leap anyway, and thankfully, the audience went with me.

Not all my cliffs have been purely psychological, however.

Years ago, on a trip to Mexico, I had just begun to insinuate myself onto a beach chair when I heard Nick call my name--from somewhere in the sky. I looked up and discovered he was parasailing over my head. He returned to Earth, all breathless excitement about the fantastic experience he'd just had and urging me to try it too. Nick's mother and former sister-in-law, Margaret, were with us. Margaret and I anxiously took the challenge, signed legal documents that would give even a Hollywood stuntman reason for concern, were strapped into parachutes, and were soon airborne.

As I floated over Acapulco Bay, I screamed as loud as I possibly could. Even the iguanas stopped munching foliage and looked up. Eventually, something miraculous happened: I stopped screaming. I looked around. I admired the view, felt the embrace of warm sun and wind. In those few moments, I had no fear, only wonder and excitement and gratitude.

Those moments ended all too soon, unfortunately. When attempting to land on a postage-stamp platform in the bay, I smacked against the side of it instead. The physical pain was fleeting; it's the jump I took that is with me still.

What cliffs have you jumped off? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.