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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

My Photo
Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Monday, June 26, 2006

National Security vs. the People's Right to Know

The website of the U.S. State Department has this to say about the role of free press in a democracy:

Democracies foster a never-ending struggle between two rights: The government's
obligation to protect national security; and the people's right to know, based
on journalists' ability to access information. Governments sometimes need to
limit access to information considered too sensitive for general distribution.
But journalists in democracies are fully justified in pursuing such

Some members and friends of the Bush administration are proclaiming their outrage at the NY Times' recent story on the Bush Administration's program to monitor and track financial records - in the name of combating terrorism. Some have actually suggested the NY Times should be prosecuted for treason. And of course, the news-talk shows on CNN (and other stations) have jumped right in for a feeding frenzy.

For a lark, I caught Hardball on CCN which featured a debate (so-called) on this topic between Rev. Al Sharpton and Melanie Morgan, neither of whom impresss me. These two put on a quite a show - yelling at one another and calling each other names, and spouting off dogma, spin, sweeping generalities, and cliches. What a hoot!

And what a pity.

Because this issue calls for a serious discussion - not a staged show.

What's really on the table here is freedom of the press.

And the Bush administration has been exceptionally hostile to the press and to civil liberties.

Americans, be ware!

We are treading on dangerous ground here. We've seen the erosion of civil liberties over the past several years, and we've watched the press ignore its responsibility to ask tough questions and raise serious issues. And we've watched this current administration hide as much information as it can and take as much power as it can, all in the name of patriotism - in the guise of defending Americans against terrorists.

We are losing some of the principles which conservatives tell us are the very principles for which the terrorists hate us. So who is really winning this so-called war - this clash of ideology?

Before we lose any more - let's slow down and demand that our nation (that means our elected officials, our media, and us - WE THE PEOPLE) engage in a considered, intelligent, respectful discussion of what constitutes a free press in a democratic society.

Americans be ware! We are on the brink of losing more than we realize.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Election Day Absurdity: Conspiracy? Carelessness? Coincidence?

I wrote a bit ago about the bizarre, Election Day foul-up my friend Karen experienced (no Green ballots in English available at her polling place – she had to use a ballot in Spanish to vote). Now it’s time to follow-up a bit:

Our local Green Party representative told Karen that 26 other Greens in our county experienced problems voting – they too arrived at their polling places to discover a lack of Green ballots in English. One Green voter was stuck using a ballot in Chinese.

I have questions:

26 Green voters experienced problems out of how many Greens that showed up at the polls?

How many voters from each party experienced difficulties? (Did more Greens experience troubles than members of other political parties? Let's compare how many party members from each party had difficulty voting.)

Were the problems for the Greens concentrated in specific precincts? Spread out? More problems in one precinct than another?

Did Greens across the state experience similar problems? What about at the national level?

Has this happened before? To what extent? What was done about it?

Is the Green party tracking the problems?

Should I start wearing tinfoil on my head?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mixed Post: Link Animation and Bird's First Rhyming Post!

Check out this charming animation by SF cartoonist Mark Fiore. I believe he's hit the nail right on the head.


By the way - anyone watching CSPAN? Our hardworking reps are discussing the war in Iraq in generalities, platitudes, empty cliches and dead metaphors (oh, where is Shakespeare or K9 and Rev with the rap when ya need them?) Can't debate Murtha's resolution though - nope, nope, nope, that simply won't do. Nope, the Repubs made sure of that.

so i'm working on my rhyming
here's a baby attempt, don't put no contempt
in your comments
the english teach is trying a new genre, she aint' no cassandra:

generalities, platitudes and attitudes
empty cliches (touche!) and dead metaphors
oh those reps of ours are sash-shaying whores!

our hard-working reps are rockin' the house
roaring up and down the aisles - meek as mouse.
posturin' with weak testosterin
spittin some lame game
for shame!

but murtha's gotta plan
wanted to lay it out to the man.
shut down
stitched up
made to shut up, what the fuck?
democracy in action
we can't get no reaction.

bird's run out of rhyme
need a stitch in time
can i get a witness?
someone with some rhymin' fitness?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Only in America: Election Day Absurdity

Nice long walk on the coast this morning with my buddy, Karen, followed by lunch. My friend tells me the most bizarre story about the recently come-and-gone Election Day.

Like they’ve done numerous times before, Karen and her husband show up together at their polling place (where they’ve been voting for decades). The voting official checks them in and then announces loudly throughout the room, “We’ve got a Repub and a Green!” Amazing, isn’t it – Greens and Repubs can cohabitate, though frankly, I don’t think Karen’s husband is a true Republican – but I digress – the point here is – WTF is the official doing yelling out political affiliations?

But this, it turns out, is the minor transgression.

Wait for it.

Here it comes – the MAJOR transgression:

They have no more Green voting ballots in English.

They offer Karen one in Spanish.

“Do you have one in Italian?” her husband (who surely must have had a twinkle in his eye and a wry look on his face) asks. “She speaks Italian.” Yes, Karen does speak Italian – it’s her second language – she’s been studying it for several years.

Of course they don’t have Green ballots in Italian. They only have ‘em in Spanish – they’ve run out of ‘em in English, even though in our county, the Green party is dominated by Caucasians – native English-speakers most of ‘em. I’m not aware that the Spanish-speaking community registers Green in a big way in any part of the country.

Having no other immediate option, Karen votes with the Spanish ballot (at least it wasn’t Chinese, she tells me). Now Karen is the type of person who knows her vote before she enters the polling place, but what if she wasn’t sure? What if she needed to reread the material on the ballot again? And then, as Karen reminds me, there’s the county supervisors section – where you can pick seven. What if you don’t know the word “seven” in Spanish? If you mark nine, is your ballot invalid? Fortunately, Karen knows the word “siente.”

Now Karen, as she says, isn’t a “Lou Dobbs-wall-up-the-border-and-round-‘em-all-up and-send-‘em-all-back” kind of gal. She’s a Green, and in some regards though not all, more liberal than I – but this was too much. Her polling place was not able to offer a Green ballot in English to a native-born citizen of the U.S.of A whose first language is English. She was stunned. I am stunned. Are you stunned?

When she finished voting in Spanish, the polling officials offered her the little sticker which reads, “I Voted” in two different languages: English and Spanish. She declined.

She’s reporting this oddity (and let’s hope it’s a rare one) to the County Election Committee and I suggested she let the Green Party know as well. I’ve been reading too many conspiracy theories of late – but what a great way to limit the Green vote even more – by producing more Spanish than English Green ballots.

I don’t have a problem with a multi-lingual ballot – but when a native, English-speaking citizen can’t get a ballot in English – now that’s an absurdity that can happen only in America.

I know the far-right conservatives will come out in droves and say – serves you liberals right – but I don’t think this is a problem created by liberals or liberal thinking. And I don’t think putting a bill through the House and Senate that makes English the official language is the answer to this problem. I’m not sure why this problem exists. But I think we need to find out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Berg and al-Zarqawi

I saw Michael Berg yesterday morning on the news. He is running for Congress as a Green in Delaware. The statement he made on national TV in response to the death of al-Zarqawi's death will no doubt ensure his defeat (though he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the seat anyway). But I admire the man’s integrity in voicing his convictions without equivocation. I wish more “politicians” would do so.

According to the online post from CBS3 Philadelphia, Berg stated “I think the news of the loss of any human being is a tragedy. I think al-Zarqawi’s death is a double tragedy.” The article continues to quote Berg with “His death will incite a new wave of revenge. George Bush and al-Zarqawi are two men who believe in revenge.”

Of course, in the newscast I saw, the above statements didn’t quite sound so bald – as there was more explanatory language in between each idea. For a fuller text of Berg’s comments, see http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/06/08/berg.interview/index.html?eref=yahoo. These fuller remarks convey the true meaning behind Berg’s words – and demonstate even more the man’s integrity and honesty.

I admire Berg for his ability to feel compassion and denouce deathAnd I believe his assessment of Bush is accurate – in that I, like Berg, think Bush operates from revenge. But I cannot view al-Zarqawi’s death as a trajedy, nor do I feel for his family (as Berg stated he did on television – again – I admire the man’s integrity and compassion, but I share it not).

And yes, we may well see an increase in violence in Iraq as a result of this death though I do not think the threat of increased violence would have been a valid reason to leave al-Zarqawi alone (though I would have preferred he be captured).

Nor do I think the projected increase of violence can be laid at our doorstep for killing al-Zarqawi. To me, liberal, and apparently, quasi-pacificist that I am, while no death is to be celebrated, this death is not one to be mourned, nor one that is a trajedy.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Bird Babe

I call up my friend Jae from Alaska to tell her I returned to Nordstrom's today to pick up the jeans I purchased on our shopping spree (and had hemmed - Bird is vertically challenged, ok and has absolutely no time nor patience for hemming - besides - Nordstrom's does it for free) and leave her a long message, explaining how in picking up my jeans, I was compelled to purchase some shirts (on sale - for crying out loud but nonetheless Jae's fault that I purchased them) and that the clerk who helped us a few days ago greeted me by name and is absolutely adorable (she's in college, a liberal arts major, and working at Nordstrom's for the summer.)

I also let Jae know that last night I was at a very hot Giants game (ok, so the Giants crushed the Marlins who were playing very badly - but the Giants hit up and down the batting order - and kept hitting the ball to the sweet spot - between second and third - yet closer to second - and too far out for the shortstop to field and too close for the center and left fielders to come into play quickly enough - yeah - sweet as can be) and partying quite a bit with the young men in the row behind mine and my baseball buddy's seats. The young men were adorable too and though they were rowdy and loud, they never once swore. Amazing. I tell Jae all this on her message machine. She will be so annoyed at me for using up her tape. Haha!

Jae calls me back and tells me that clearly, my new, beautifully-fitting, lacy, sexy, 36 double-d bras have affected my attitude - gone to my head. She is so smug. I know she is taking the credit for my good time. What a brat!

And she also chastizes me.

She has read my most recent blog posts - most especially the backwards party journal.

She objects strenuously to the adjective, "middle-aged" which apparently I should not have used.

"Well then," I say, "what are you?"

"I'm a babe."

"Well - I'm a 36 double-d, so if you're a babe, I must be too."

"Damn straight, girl. Don't forget it!"

I am now Bird Babe. Wait, make that MASTER BIRD BABE.


Monday, June 05, 2006

As Promised: Recipes!

I am still lacking the shrimp and veggie shish-kabob marinades and cake recipes from my daughter, but here's the rest. Enjoy!


This pate, adapted by me stepmum (or Meme, as her grandchildren call her) from Patti's Pate of Bargetto Winery, is standard fare at any major function in my family: weddings, receptions, graduations, birthdays. Meme tells us that this pate freezes “beautifully,” and she should know as she makes this pate in quantities and well in advance of family parties (which she is frequently called upon to cater); but frankly, I personally have no first-hand knowledge of how this pate freezes – if there’s any leftover after a party, it disappears quite quickly within a day. Very odd indeed.

Meme typically serves this pate with sliced baguettes, though Eryn, Jae, and I had it with crackers on Memorial Day. I rather prefer it with crackers – plain ones. Actually, I’d eat this pate all by itself by the spoonful – hahaha! It goes exceptionally well with champagne.

Group A
1 & 1/2 sticks of butter (only butter will do) Note: divided use of butter in the instructions.
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms thinly sliced6 green onions (with part of the green tops) thinly sliced
1 lb. chicken livers

Group B
3 cloves garlic finely minced
1/2 cup brandy
1/8 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried rosemary crumbled
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch of nutmeg

Group A
Melt 1 stick of butter in a large frying pan. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté until tender. Add the chicken livers and cook until the edges become white. Turn.

Group B
Add Group B to Group A. Stir to mix well. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. When liquid is reduced, pour all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Blend until smooth, adding the last 1/2 stick of butter a little at a time. Refrigerate the pate two to three days before serving.


After my party, my houseguests and I had the leftovers of this salad with eggs for breakfast. This salad also works quite well as a salsa with blue corn chips. Try a margarita to go along with.

Group A
2 8oz cans whole kernel corn drained and rinsed
2 16oz cans black beans drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 cup red bell pepper diced to the size of the corn and beans

Group B
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 Tbs corn oil
1 tsp. each salt, sugar, black pepper, cumin and chili powder

Group C
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
½ cup boiling water

Group D
1/3 cup minced cilantro

Group A
Place the corn in a large frying pan with a dab of oil. Sauté until the corn begins to caramelize. Remove from the heat. When cool, add the remainder of Group A.

Group B
Combine Group B and mix with Group A. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.

Group C
Just before serving, place peas in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup of boiling water and cook 2 minutes (they should still be crisp). Shock the peas in cold water. Drain and combine Groups A and B with Groups C and D.


A very popular salad – guests just kept coming back for more. Meme also makes a wonderful warm sweet potato side dish with rosemary, pine nuts, and olive oil. Are you drooling yet?

Group A
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Group B
3 pounds sweet potatoes

Group C
1 1/2 cups diced green pepper
3/4 cup sliced green onion

Group D
2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Group A
Combine Group A, set aside.

Group B
Cook sweet potatoes in boiling, salted water until just tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Do not over cook. When just cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Combine with Groups A and C. Chill. Just before serving add Group D.


When my father was alive, he and Meme used to make the circuit – traveling up from San Diego to visit my brother and his family in Santa Cruz, me and mine in the San Francisco area, and my sister’s family in Nevada. At each stop, my father was confronted by pleas for his country style ribs (as well as his famous London Broil with Cheese Sauce). He never declined to make either, though it meant that’s pretty much all he and Meme ate on their “circuit.” His children and grandchildren simply couldn’t get enough of the ribs or the broil.

Rumor has it that this recipe was not originally my father’s, but that he adapted it from some newspaper recipe in the 60s. However, this claim has remained unsubstantiated; thus the family still claims this recipe as a Pepe original.

For the party, my daughter sliced the ribs into bite-sized morsels for shish kabobs before marinating in her Pepe’s sauce.

Regrettably, specific instructions as to how many pounds of ribs per sauce recipe have been lost – you can figure it out though.

5 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp garlic powder (one of the few recipe my dad DIDN’T use fresh garlic)
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ginger
3/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients together with a pestle. Slather on ribs and let sit for few hours, periodically turning and re-slathering the ribs before BBQing.

Damn! I'm hungry again!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Backwards Party Journal - Two Weeks of Revelry in One Post

Sunday Afternoon, June 4
The afternoon is here and I am finally posting on my blog. See the entry below – which I began in the morning – only to leave off to clean my apartment and chit chat on the phone, and walk on the beach. See how I am. Can’t seem to get back “on task.” Hahahaha! This post is extraordinarily lengthy - you'll not want to consume it in one sitting. And it's a flagrant exercise in self-indulgence!

Sunday Morning, June 4
I am in bed, sitting up against the pillows, my laptop in my … lap, of course. The bed linens are a pale sage green, pink, and white stripe, with a sage green cotton blanket quilt that has alternating stripes of white and a band of delicate, pink florals corralled by a thin, dark green border. It’s overcast outside, and I have the TV on – the talking heads are yammering about Iraq and now the economy, but I am not really listening. I have been so busy with grading and then with graduation festivities and guests – I’ve not been following much of the news and I find I like it that way – it’s a nice respite. Why should I care about these things – why should I get so riled up about things over which I have no control? The ideal, of course, would be to keep this attitude while still listening to and reading the news. I’ll try that for a bit.

For your amusement (and perhaps boredom – who knows which) I’m posting my party journal from the last two weeks or so. I didn’t post as I went along – so you are tortured by numerous posts meant for each day. Browse as you see fit – I’ve given each entry a title to help you select. As you can see, Bird has been pretty busy with various festivities! The May 27 entry includes my graduation party menu – the food was FABULOUS. I am still waiting for the email recipes from me stepmum and daughter and will post those later.

Friday, June 02, 2006 - Back to Normal?
I take my last houseguest (I’ve had 5 over the last week or so), Jae, my dear, dear friend from high school, to the airport. She flew in 10 days earlier, keeping me company as I ran about town in some sort of pre-graduation frenzy, picking up much-needed supplies and doing various personal business errands. I managed to grade some papers every day, despite our frenetic activity.

But now she flies home to Alaska. We hug each other at the curb, still laughing from our adventures. I return to a quiet home.

Thursday, June 1 - Bra Buying Party followed by a Family Dinner Party
Jae insists on a shopping trip to Nordstrom’s - a store I patronize most infrequently because of the high prices. “Sales,” my friend tells me, “sales.” She is the ultimate consumer and shopper, and spends more discretionary money per month than I do on groceries, but she’s come up from a hard path, worked so hard for her money and is also a master investor and saver, what can I say? I zip my lip – after a brief lecture about “living simply.” She just laughs.

But she’s been lecturing me as well – why do I buy such ill-fitting, cheap bras? She pesters me. Why should I spend money on such things, I ask? What difference can it possibly make? She laughs and sighs. “Look, bitch,” she tells me, “you’ll feel much better in a proper bra.”

Off to Nordstrom’s, where to my friend’s delight, I learn I’ve been wearing the wrong sized bra! (I told you so, says Jae with glee.) I’m fitted by a sophisticated young woman that I am sure must tell stories about her customers when she arrives home at the end of the day – stories about women affected by gravity, women with odd-placed moles, and rolls and rolls of flesh and fat, wrinkles, etc. but also buff arm muscles – cause I do lift weights – so there! – and she expertly measures and helps us into bras, and shows us how to place our voluptuous breasts in these fancy, lacy, beautiful bras (so unlike the utilitarian – not-so-much-actually atrocities I’ve been wearing). But my goodness – what a difference a properly-fitted bra can make. Talk about lift and separation – hahaha! I am so thrilled – I buy four bras and a slinky top that shows-off my new silhouette (I discover I am a 36 Double D – yeah, read it and weep girls. Drooling yet boys?). Later, I flash the new bra I’m wearing to my niece, in the lobby of my apartment building, when she arrives for dinner that evening. She giggles and feigns shock – but nothing her auntie does surprises her anymore. Pity. I flash my daughter too, on my balcony, and she too feigns her surprise and shock (geesh –I’ve become so damn predictable!). Jae shows off her see through, pink bra and we all agree that hers is a bra definitely designed to come off – on a hot date, after the appropriate foreplay. We ooh and aah and laugh. Then the men arrive (my son and my daughter’s boyfriend) and we cease such carrying-ons. Us middle-age ladies try to behave fittingly – it is quite difficult though we manage to pull it off.

Yes, another dinner party – a family dinner party - a simple meal of roasted asparagus with sweet Visalia onion and olive oil, pasta, and shrimp sautéed with bell peppers, garlic and olive oil. We serve a white merlot from Beringer vineyards and a sauvignon blanc from Sterling. It is Jae’s last evening with us – and as she is the godmother to my son and my daughter bears Jae’s first name (Jacqueline) as her middle name, it’s appropriate we should gather to fete Jae on her last night here.

Wednesday, May 31 – Napa Valley Wine Tour: A Relatively Controlled Bacchanalia!
Me stepmum drives. We make our way leisurely through only three vineyards, but our first stop, Sterling, is my favorite as we ride a tram up the hillside to the vineyard, and sit on a lovely deck, overlooking the Napa Valley, tasting various wines. Jae knows quite a bit about wines and tutors me. I declare I will take a wine-tasting class through UC Berkeley’s extension program this fall. We’ll see if that really happens.

Late in the afternoon, Jae and I bid me stepmum adieu and head south, back across the Golden Gate, shrouded now in a light fog, and arrive safely back at my apartment. We munch on leftovers for dinner, and retire early.

Tuesday, May 29 - In and Out Burger – Oh No!
We take Eryn, my friend from Washington, to the airport. She flew down on Friday, sans her partner Ravyn (whom I adore as well). Ravyn’s work season heats up this time of year – she is in charge of public works in her county and late spring and summer is the time for construction projects – which she oversees. Eryn and I met over ten years ago at a women writers’ conference. We recognized each other as kindred souls immediately and have been engaged in high jinks ever since. We’ve a reputation for short-sheeting our bunkmates’ beds at various writers’ retreats, toilet-papering cars and cabin doorknobs, and in general, behaving quite badly when we’re together. But we are also quite sure that Coyote, to whom we pay homage, approves of our antics.

After dropping Eryn off, I am hit with a powerful craving for an In-and-Out Burger. This fast-food restaurant is exceptionally clean and well-run and makes a great burger – but I rarely patronize the place as its corporate offices donates money to organizations of which I do not approve (neo-con and fundamentalist Christian outfits). But I cannot resist the urge, so after pigging out, I write a check to Planned Parenthood and mail it off – my mea culpa.

Jae and I drive up to Santa Rosa, stopping at Bob’s Fruit Stand before arriving at me stepmum’s. We buy cheese, strawberries, a mango and some deliciously moist apple bread. That evening, me mum makes a lovely meal of pesto shrimp, rice pilaf, and salad. Our goods are intended for breakfast the next morning.

Monday, May 29 - Upstairs Neighbor Disturbed By Rowdy Middle-Aged Women Behaving Like Teenagers!
The party continues with three of us now – me, Jae, and Eryn. It is a rest day of sorts – we just hang out. But early in the evening we crack open a bottle of Moet et Chadon a Epernay Champagne – Cuvee Dom Perignon Vintage 1985 – a bottle I received custody of during the divorce. My ex and I had saved it for years, waiting for the right occasion – which never seemed to arrive. It seems appropriate to share it now with these dear girlfriends in honor of my masters and the divorce (signed off the papers, but still waiting for the “official” document, rubber-stamped by the court, to arrive in the mail). So we sit on my balcony and toast my ex (a man for whom I still have a soft and tender spot, yet a man I am rapidly moving away from in my heart – after three years of separation – yeah – it’s real rapid – haha!). We toast my apartment. We toast each other. We toast the potato vine, growing lustily, and the miniature yellow roses, a recent addition to the balcony garden. We blast the stereo – Van Morrison and then BB King. Jae and I dance on the balcony while Eryn videos us. We are girls again, giggling and laughing. My poor new neighbor upstairs – a 30 year-old recently moved in– what can he think? It’s been nonstop party in my little place - he is getting an education – yes, middle-aged ladies party like 16 year-olds!

We finish off the champagne and move on to a bottle of merlot to accompany the BBQ London broil with my dad’s much-beloved cheese sauce and a salad and pasta as well. As the evening progresses, we move on to another bottle of red. The giggling and dancing continues on the balcony. Later, the three of us swap stories from our childhood. I am thrilled that my dear friend Eryn and my dear friend Jae have finally met and somehow, it’s as though the three of us have been friends since forever.

Sunday, May 28 - Bonds Blasts 715! – The Girls Party at the Ballpark!
Bob and Tim (from Thailand, but by way of Chicago on this, their annual trek to the States – Bob is an American expat and Tim a Thai. I’ve known Bob since the early 80s – he was once my boss and a bossy boss at that! He, I, and my ex all worked for the same place – that’s how we all met. Bob has been a part of my family ever since and of course, when he “married” Tim, Tim became part of the family too! Luckily, I received custody of Bob in the divorce – hahaha!) head for Monterey (we may catch up with them later in the week when they return) and the party girls head to the ballpark. I am treating my friends, Eryn and Jae, and Desiree (who also graduated yesterday) and me stepmum to a Giants game. It’s a perfect day – warm with a slight breeze. I purposely ordered view seats, so my family and friends could take in the Bay as well as the field. Jae has NEVER been to a ballgame before, and me stepmum hasn’t been to a game since she was 10. Desiree (also a recent graduate and colleague) is an As fan (though we forgive her for that) and Eryn, being from Washington, is a Mariner’s fan.

Bonds hits #715 and the ballpark erupts with pandemonium. No matter the controversy - 715 is exciting – we’ve witnessed baseball history- asterisk or no asterisk – it doesn’t matter! Orange and black streamers burst out over the seats and field and fireworks explode! The Bay is alive with kayaks and sailboats and windsurfers and the day is perfect. Bonds runs the bases while fans high five and hug each other!

Nonetheless, the Giants play badly and lose to the Rockies.

Saturday, May 27 - Grad Ceremony and Revelry Extraordinaire – Woohoo!
I torture my loved ones all: son, daughter, sister, stepmum, Bob and Tim, Eryn, Jae, and my first-year composition teacher, MJ, (responsible for starting the whole dang thing and to whom my thesis is dedicated) with the composition department’s reception prior to the grad ceremony. Wine, champagne, sparkling waters, an assortment of Danish, muffins, cheeses and chocolate, etc.

I introduce my family and friends around. I have a posse and I’m loving it. We take pictures, make toasts. The room is crowded with ecstatic grad students, ecstatic profs, and ecstatic family members. The joy is palpable, tangible, vivid. Everyone is smiling.

My sister, stepmum, children and MJ stay on for the ceremony and the others head back to my place to put the finishing touches on the party. My family leaves to take their seats in the stadium and I head off with my colleagues to line up for the march into the stadium. There are ten of us masters (in English: Composition) marching together, wearing our purple gowns and purple, gold and white masters’ hoods and purple cap with the gold and purple tassels.

The comp department profs yell and applaud as we march by. We smile and wave our best beauty queen waves. When the speeches are over and I walk up across the platform and receive my fake diploma (a letter from the University President congratulating me on my accomplishment and informing me my diploma will arrive in 6 weeks in the mail), I know that the nightmare I’ve had for the last week will cease. The nightmare: The phone is ringing and I answer it. One of my thesis advisors, Sue, is on the line and says, “Bird, I know your thesis is bound and shelved in the library already, and I’m terribly sorry, but Mike and Harriet and I have reviewed your thesis, and there’s been a mistake. You’ll have to do it all over again.” And then I wake up in a cold sweat and a panic.

But I know I’ll never have that dream again. I hug my dear friend, Disguised, the Red-Hooded Woodpecker and head off to find my family and head back home – for THE PARTY. Bob and Tim, Eryn, and Jae have been busy – decorating with gold and purple crepe and balloons. Setting up the buffet table, chilling the drinks, hanging the twinkling lights on the balcony. Bob is at the door when I enter, video camera in hand. I am triumphant and happy. Smiling, smiling, smiling.

Me stepmum (a gourmet cook) and daughter (a talented though young chef in her own right) made all the party food (with an assist from Tim who made a Thailand dish – holding back a bit on the heat in case guests were overwhelmed.) Here’s the menu (sans the Thai dish – whose name I cannot possibly spell):

Chicken liver and mushroom pate with sliced baguettes (a much-loved recipe).
An abundant array of cucumbers, radishes, green onions, and carrots accompanied by various dips.
Black bean and corn salad.
Sweet potato salad (to die for).
BBQd shish kabobs of:
country style pork ribs marinated in brown sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger and cayenne (my dad’s recipe).
shrimp – don’t’ know what the marinade is – but boy was it good!
Veggies – radish, Timatoes, mushrooms – yum!

Wine flows liberally, along with water and natural juice sodas. Bob pours the champagne all around and sets off a round of toasts. My sister speaks, then Eryn, Bob, my friend Olive, and dear MJ. My brother and his wife are smiling, raising their glasses as well. There are twenty people crowded into my apartment for this affair. I blush and bask in the attention and love. This masters was a long hard road, and one I accomplished mainly on my own – no loving support to come home to at the end of the day. It was a lonely masters – but mine all the more as a result. And yet, friends and family, both local and from afar – encouraged me on and listened to my woes. Keep going, keep going – don’t give up. I didn’t.

The meal ends with a gorgeous hazelnut vanilla cake with chocolate cream filling and butter cream frosting which my daughter baked and decorated – all from scratch. I am so grateful by the effort all my family has made to make this party happen and to be here with me on this day. I ask for and receive a hearty applause from all my guests for the various cooks. Hurrah!

And of course, the party is a huge success – all the people I care most about in the world are present and mingle and laugh and talk and a grand time is had by all. Later in the evening, when it’s just a few of us left, Eryn plays her ukele and Bob sings along. Eryn plays a Hawaiian song and then launches into Blue Moon. Her voice is high and sweet, Bob’s low and rich. The uke is beautiful.

I have had my trials and tribulations in the last few years – moments of pain and sorrow, confusion and doubt. I’ve had my soul shaken to the core, but I know one thing: I am blessed with a loving family – my large, sprawling, eclectic, extended family.

Friday, May 26 - The Pre-Party: Pizza, Wine, and Politics
Me stepmother arrives, as well as Bob and Tim from Thailand (not actually fresh from Thailand on this leg of their trip – but from Chicago – they had also stopped in SF earlier on their trek, so I saw them but a few weeks ago as well), and my old pal, Eryn from Washington. My sister arrives on the back of a gorgeous, red Harley, driven by her man, Manny (he is gorgeous too in a rough, tough, he-man way. I tease my sister – call her a biker bitch. She is a little bit of a thing and normally a high maintenance traveler, lugging around a large cosmetic bag for all her make-up, hair dryer, curling iron and products – but she’s adapted and left the bag at home – no room on the bike. She and Manny have come down from Nevada, but first by way of Pismo Beach. This is Manny’s first exposure to this loud, raucous, blended and eclectic family. He holds his own and even pops off a “gay” joke that sets our gay, straight and bisexual crowd into hysterics. Manny has earned his “colors.” Haha!

Yes, the pre-party’s on – wine, pizza, salad and numerous jokes. Gift-opening – ooh, ah, ooh. Later in the evening, when the crowd has thinned out, we discuss serious matters – politics, the war, Bush, the new immigration bill. Poor Tim cannot enter the country and stay for long – and cannot immigrate either – there is of course a diversity quota and visas are issued by lottery but he has yet to get lucky. And of course, since his marriage to Bob is not recognized (or rather, was made null and void by the state – they were married two years ago, on Valentine’s Day in SF but have been together for over a decade), he cannot immigrate based on his relationship with Bob. Bob is worried about his folks, growing old here in the US. Knows that at some point, he will have to return, for a rather lengthy stay, to care for them. But somehow, Tim must come along as well. They are searching for legal methods – they care not to live the furtive life of illegals. And so amnesty for the illegals strikes them hard – for that will create even less room for folks like Tim. That my country doesn’t recognize their marriage is embarrassing and shameful. Such good folk, such stalwart folk – such stable folk. Such intelligent, productive folk. Such loving and caring folk. My family. How can it be that they are denied? But we cannot resolve the ills of the world or of the US, so we toddle off to bed.

Thursday, May 25 - Finals and an Aborted Bon Fire
I torture my first-year comp class with a final – an in-class, timed essay. They hate it and so do I – but it is the last assignment and required by the department. As usual, I am astounded when students come up after class to shake my hand, or give me or hug, and thank me for my efforts. I’ve had some great students in this class – in particular, one student who emailed me constantly, met with me several times, and worked her little butt off. I saw her essay grades rise steadily moving from a C-, to C, B-, to B, to B+ and finally, an A- on the final paper.

After class, I high tail it from campus, students’ essays shoved into a bag – to be dealt with later. Jae and I have appointments for a pedicure and manicure and later, our eyebrows are to plucked and waxed.

Jae, my best friend from high school has been in town for 4 days now, helping me run errands and prepare my apartment for the big party on Saturday. Tonight she is the designated driver for three of us soon-to-be masters. Our plan: a bonfire and potluck at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. We want to burn the drafts of our theses. We are so DONE!

As the day progresses, the wind kicks up. Against our better judgment, we purchase firewood (and bring along bags filled with various drafts of our theses) and head out for the beach. But it’s no-go – the winds too wicked to permit an open fire. Noting how the wind drove the sand into our teeth, we opt for a picnic table in Golden Gate Park, where we dine on an array of tacos, chicken parmesan, dolmas, chocolate, strawberries, and champagne. Thesis burning will have to wait for another day.

We end the evening at a gay bar in the Excelsior district, sipping on coffee drinks with kalua and whipped cream garnishes (except for Jae, who drinks a Coke) and admiring the lavish and garish altar in the center of the bar-room floor – a shoe fetish altar.

May 22-24 - Preparations, One Ugly Museum, Roses and Pink Flamingoes!
Jae arrives. I haven’t seen her since Thanksgiving two years ago. I am beset with final classes this week and paper-grading, yet there is much to do in preparation for the party, and of course, Jae and I must go sightseeing in Golden Gate Park – we do so Tuesday and we are both appalled by the new De Young Museum. I’ve not been in it since the rebuild – it’s ugly as can be. But we also walk through the Rose Garden in the park and I am inspired to have roses in my balcony garden. We visit the Sloat Garden Center near Ocean Beach, where I ponder various rose bushes and large pots, wondering how well roses will work on my balcony and if it’s worth the exorbitant cost. I finally settle on a miniature yellow rose plant and a beautiful new pot to go with. I am tempted to purchase the metal sculpture of a pink flamingo, but the price is $50 and I decide to wait until I stumble across some plastic pink flamingoes at a reasonable price. The quintessential white trash garden ornamentation – I must have one for my balcony. Little do I know that in a week’s time, my sister will call and tell me that her neighbors across the way have not one, but four plastic pink flamingoes adorning their front yard. I will ask her to steal one for me in dark of night – she, being a stalwart, upstanding citizen will decline, but invite me up to conduct my own midnight ops.