Dec 9 2011

I saw the ghost of Christmas Cool!

The happiest cab in San Francisco! Possibly the world! I wish I could wake up there on Christmas morning. It’s completely tricked out with Christmas bling. And the driver, my angel, has a coif that would be the envy of any 70’s pimp.

When I got in, Felice Navidad came on the radio. He turned it up.

I said “Are we going to sing?”

He said “Yes, we are.”

And we rolled down the windows and sang at the top of our lungs (he even taught me the Spanish part I never understood). I made him drive around the block until the song ended. I was sad when it did.

Dec 26 2008

The Best Christmas Gift I Ever Gave Myself

I volunteered at Glide Memorial on Christmas day. I tell you this not because I want you think I’m this big-hearted, selfless philanthropist. Hardly the case. Honestly, as a maverickin’ gal,  I had nothing better to do on Christmas. I tell you this because I’m so glad I had nothing better to do. Because I learned there is nothing better to do. So shoulder to shoulder I stood with a bunch of very mellow, upbeat strangers for a few hours, stuffing brown paper bags — hundreds of brown paper bags — with sandwiches (1 bologna, 1 peanut butter), chips, and a candy. Sounds lame, but given the right group of people, this can be a very enjoyable activity. And doing this hearing the Glide Choir in the background belting it out — it just doesn’t get much better than that.

I could harp on about the importance of giving back, helping others less fortunate, blah blah blah. But you’ve heard all that before. But what I learned is how much I needed it, how much I got out of it. It was the greatest christmas give I could have given myself.

Let’s start with Glide Memorial itself, and specifically, the Rev. Cecil Williams. You don’t need to attend a holiday service to feel the power of Rev. Williams. Any service, any day will do. I’ve never been in the presence of Nelson Mandela or Jimmy Carter. But I imagine that if I were, I’d freeze. I’d be so overcome with awe that I’d be rendered useless. It’s like that with Rev. WIlliams. I’ve been to a few of his sermons and trust me, you will get goosebumbs. There is power and wisdom and kindness in his every message. Next time you visit San Francisco (or have friends visiting, if you already live here): screw Fisherman’s Wharf. Get yourself or your guests to Glide. Sure, its neighborhood, the Tenderloin, looks a little rough (very rough to those who aren’t visiting from NYC, Chicago, or Detroit). But trust me, it’s safe enough. It’s fine. There are people with some very real struggles on its streets, but I’ve never seen anyone there act aggressively toward a visitor. Plus, there are some good hole-in-the-wall restaurants nearby. Little Saigon is a few short blocks away and has great, cheap Vietnamese food. A little pricier is Farmer Brown, on Market, for some ass-kickin’ (and ass-expandin’) soul food.

The great thing about Glide: it isn’t about any particular religion. It’s about humanism. The human spirit, and love, and all those things we can take for granted or for some reason don’t nurture enough because of all the other distractions we’ve created for ourselves (Facebook, Facebook, Facebook). Surround yourself in the mesmerizing power of a Cecil Williams sermon — the great equalizer of all people from every walk of life — and you’ll have one of the biggest “aha” moments of your adult life. I’m not even sure what my “aha” was, but something along the lines of why did I wait so long to do this / this place feels more alive than anywhere else I’ve ever been / volunteering can be fun / church rocks! / I know what to do every holiday from now on.

Look, I don’t have particularly strong family ties at this point in my life. But for 3 hours today, I did. It felt beautiful. And it was fun! Merry Christmas everyone!

ps — word to my girl Janice at Glide: You are my idol! Thank you!

Nov 26 2008

You don’t need children to have a delightful playdate. You just need a Mancub!

Yesterday with the Mancub was the best ever!  Our planned activity was not only a practical one, but a fun one. More painting, but this time for a fun project that’s going to cover the big wall in my bedroom. I got the idea from an issue of Architectural Digest I stole from my banker. There was this picture of a mirror with some textured pattern over it. A $12K mirror. That ain’t gonna happen. But with that picture, my imagination, and $85, my wall is going to look spectacular.

But I digress. So we painted in bright vivid colors while listening to old-school Christmas carols. We actually managed to not track paint throughout the apartment (an accomplishment in and of itself). We drove out to Westlake Joes (super old-school restaurant) and enjoyed the early-bird dinner (GET THE STEAK BRUNO —  RARE!!!) We got an apple pie to go. Slapped a second coat of paint on, heated said pie, drowned it in Haagen Dazs vanilla, and went crosseyed with pleasure. All with the enchanting voices of Bing, Dino, and Rosemary singing songs of Christmas joy from another era in the background.

Best part: Mancubs don’t spit up on you after they eat too much pie. Instead, they rub that lingering kink out of your neck. See, there’s something to be said for child-free playdates! Til next time, when we deck the walls — as my shotgun apartment has no halls — HAPPY THANKSGIVING!