Reason #12 I Love Being an Adult: Not Being “Cool”

Fully embracing not being cool. Even though I’m 32, thus at the very beginning of this decade, I am already enjoying my 30s more than my 20s (and I enjoyed my 20s more than my teens).  A major factor in this phenomenon that counters a youth obsessed culture like our own is that I no longer feel the pressure to be “cool.”  I like myself and I like my life.  I matter to those that matter to me (Dr. Seuss echo) and that’s all I need to be happy.

I’m no longer trying to catch friends or lovers with my “cool” net.  I leave the house regularly with no makeup and messy hair.  I no longer buy things that are uncomfortable to wear just because they are cute.  I’m not exactly walking around with pre-dreads, covered in a potato sack.  My priorities have just shifted. My leisure time is more limited thus it won’t be wasted in the bathroom getting ready.  Fifteen minutes is my limit, 30-35 if I’m washing my hair.  I also have standards that I apply to shoes and clothes that I didn’t when I was younger.  For example, I no longer put up with shoes that pinch my toes.  I leave the store shoeless with the knowledge that I will find another pair that I like that doesn’t pinch.  Nor will I put up with being cold because I’m dying to wear the new dress I just bought.  Dresses now stay in my closet for months with the tag and surface only when it’s sunny and 70 degrees (mid-60s is acceptable if it’s a sweater dress).  Jeans and a sweater is the appropriate and reasonable wardrobe response to cold weather.  Logic trumps coolness.

I will even go as far as to say, not being cool saves friendships – as in you keep the real ones.  The lame friends drop out of your life much faster because their car, their good looks, their perceived popularity, their parties, are not substantial enough to maintain a relationship.  These types of friends talk about you behind your back, flirt with your boyfriend, flake on you at the last minute to hang out with other people they deem cooler, and demand that the conversation consistently revolve around them.  I think youth is much more willing to put up with these fake friends to gain entrance to certain social circles.

It is kind of amazing how freeing not being cool is.  It saves my time, it saves my comfort, it saves my money (I no longer buy things I hardly wear because they pinch my damn toes), and it saves my heart (friend breakups can be just as messy as boyfriend breakups especially because the fake ones tend to be the most dramatic).


The Collected Works presents Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz’s absurd play, “Princess Ivona”

I’m lucky enough to live in a city with a wide array of theatrical performances.  Wicked is still playing at the Orpheum and the Curran theater housed The Book of Mormon last fall.  The A.C.T. puts on smaller but notable productions.  Yet I have to say that maybe the most exciting theater experiences happen in the most obscure, least known playhouses.  Perhaps because the smallest companies take the biggest risks.

I have seen some bad theater here, sure, and some plays are mediocre at best.  I’m usually content with going to the theater even if the play itself is so-so.  It is something to do and talk about that is out of the usual dinner date or brunch with friends routine.  Last year I went to see a Sam Shepard play to support a colleague who was in it.  I can’t remember the name of the play, nor do I remember the name of the theater, which says something.  The play was weird at best.  Meeting my friend and colleague after the play to congratulate him on his performance went something like this:

“That was crazy when you stuck your hand down her mouth to get her to stop talking and kept it there while you shouted your entire monologue at a complete stranger.”


“So….did the mom really have an affair with her son and bury the baby in the backyard?”

“That’s how we interpreted the play.”

I wouldn’t say the play was an enjoyable experience.  It had nothing to do with the acting (which was in fact superb).  The play itself is unsettling, and to be honest, confusing.  I found it difficult to unpack and sift through the ambiguity.  Sometimes good acting isn’t enough.

Earlier this week, I received an email informing me that another colleague, Tonyanna Borkovi, would be playing a lead role in a brand new play with a brand new theater company.  The play, Princess Ivona, is by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz.  Gombrowicz was writing in the absurdist style before the actual movement picked up in the 1950s and 1960s.  The play was published in the late 1930s, yet the fast arrival of WWII swept away the memory of the play and it didn’t surface to be performed on stage until the 1960s in Europe.  Since then, the play has been quite successful in Europe, and Gombrowicz has built up a respectable cult following.  For whatever reason, Gombrowicz has never really broken into the American theater scene.  My guess is because Polish theater isn’t big here, nor are playwrights who tend to lie outside the margins of well-established movements like absurdist theater.

Our experience was so thought provoking that Nathan and I talked about Princess Ivona until we fell asleep last night. The play permeated my dreams and the first words we said to one another when we woke up were, “The prince was amazing.  So was Ivona.  So was the advisor.  So was the queen.  And the king!  What about Checkers??  So funny!”

Now, I loved The Book of Mormon.  But I expected to love it and I wasn’t disappointed.  I walked into the theater last night, not knowing what to anticipate because I’ve never even heard of the play or its writer before and I was on my toes the entire time.  I’m not some super nerdy academic (although I sometimes play that role too). I have a range of taste in theater from Broadway to some side street in the SOMA.  This play stands out amongst my theater experiences, however.  It was so unique, so unexpectedly wonderful and I mean that in the sense that it was “full of wonder.”  I was on a journey without knowing where I was going and soaking up every masterful minute.  From the acting, to the storyline, to the costumes, set and staging – everything fit, everything contributed so richly to the complex and entertaining framework of this play.  It is, quite simply, the best play I have ever seen.

What a play to open a new theater company with!  The Collected Works, I have my eye on you!  Can’t wait to see what you put on next.  And Gombrowicz, we’re already ordering everything you’ve ever written.

Brief description of play (added as an afterthought):

I almost don’t want to describe the play because it’s surprising elements are so delightful.  But I suppose I can give some sense of storyline and a few highlights.  The play actually takes place in two different parts of the theater.  Act 1 occurs at the entrance of the theater, around a fountain and by the bar.  The play follows a bored prince who becomes obsessed with the arrival of a new woman at court, Ivona.  The mingling with the audience in Act 1 adds to the impression that we’re all part of the court, following the words and actions of the royal family like the other characters in the play.  We follow the Prince, Ivona, the king, queen and their attendants into the main part of the theater, staged as the prince’s bedroom, for the rest of the play.  The prince’s fascination around Ivona surrounds her muteness.  Why won’t she speak?  Why is she so apathetic?  The prince’s obsession becomes contagious and soon the whole court is driven mad by the enigma of Princess Ivona. The line between spectator and participant are amusingly blurred in the play.  While in the prince’s bedroom, the whole audience covers up with blankets, which were placed on every seat in the theater.  Blankets + Entertainment on a cold SF night = GENIUS!!    

Words with Friends

1. “Parenthood: I don’t even miss my former life” –Nathan at brunch with new parents, Thaomy and Paolo (Fall 2011)

2. “Who would Jesus bomb?” –best bumper sticker ever

3. “I don’t know how to use my face” -Nathan at Monica and Tim’s wedding.  He has a theory that he has facial coordination syndrome which prevents him from having good control over his facial expressions.  He’s considering acting lessons.

4. “Let’s watch Blow and Good Fellas…. at the same time.  Blow Fellas” –Nathan and I

5. “Did you get any hen this weekend?” Kris being a brah at dinner with Ben, Nick, Erika, Kris, Nathan and I (Khan Toke Thai)

6. “We should be judges…in life. On Project Runway, on the Supreme Court.” – me to Nathan (9/22/12)

7. “I would have hired me.” – Nathan (9/24/12)

8. “Look at the squirrel.” – Nathan

“Look at the house.”  -Kris

“Man, I can’t believe that squirrel lives in that house.” –Nathan

9. “That was the day.” – me to Kris describing his day at the driving range

10. “Why buy the cow when you can buy the milk?” – Kris

11. “Hey, it’s George.  I have nothing to say.” –best answering machine message, from George Castanza

12. “What’s going on here?” –Dad at a stoplight.

“There are police on the left.  Don’t worry.  We’re cool.” –Mom’s response. (Xmas 2012)

13. “So what kind of sauce are you?” – Nathan making fun of my family nickname while on the phone with me.  He was in SD for         the holidays and I was in NC with my family. (Xmas 2012)

“Sassy Sauce.” –my response.

“That’s not a sauce.” –Nathan

“Well, Sporty Spice isn’t a spice.” – I win!

14. “I gotta face time with my cat.” – Eugene (Xmas 2012)

15. “A warm blanket of joy.” – Yasmine?  I’m 67% sure Yasmine said this to me.  (Xmas 2012)

16. Yasmine and Bryan’s 5 stages of British infatuation, as explained two days after Christmas day, 2012:

Step 1: You like their accent and all the words they use. Ex: Trolly.

Step 2: You start to realize how stuck up they are and how much they hate Americans.

Step 3: Awkward phases when you realize you don’t like them as much as you thought you did.

Step 4: You realize you hate them but they don’t know you don’t like them anymore.

Step 5: You start plotting against them.

17. “Tasteful side boob app.  Trashy! Classy!” – Yasmine during Cards Against Humanity (Xmas 2012)

18. “Who’s taking shots at Fridays!?” – Bryan (Xmas 2012)

19. “Burns your mouth off.” –me (NYE 2012)

“That’s how you know it’s good.” –Nathan

“If you can’t taste your food, you know it’s delicious.” –Jonas

20.  “It can’t be stupid and ugly.” –Nathan’s response to Ed Ruscha’s “Sin with Olives.” (at the MOMA on my 32nd birthday)

sin with olives

21. “If I wasn’t going to my own birthday, I might not go.” – me on the way to The Little Shamrock on a cold and rainy night.

22. “I dreamt that this guy died and I found ‘Kill Liam’ on my to do list in the kitchen.  He was #4.  Who could have imaginary framed me?  Who could have sucked this much at framing?” – me to myself (1/15/13)

23. “These big eyes can’t see?” –Nathan making fun of me without my glasses.


Love is….shopping sanely and joyfully.

Love is shopping with your boyfriend while not only maintaining sanity, but actually enjoying yourself.  I usually don’t torture Nathan by making him come shopping with me (well…I do if I’m mad at him).  Yet the holiday calls for shopping together.  I want to check out Ambiance, Nathan, Amoeba.  Nathan does not peruse the racks at Ambiance while I shop, whereas I flip through records at Amoeba while Nathan searches for bands I’ve never heard of.  Even though I’m not in the market for records just as Nathan isn’t in the market for bangles, I will still look.  I may not know what the hell I’m looking at, but look I will.  Looking led to this list of amusing band names that start with “s.” (Note: Nathan didn’t buy or even consider buying any of the following.)

  1. Spooky Tooth (Do you think it is the tooth of a band member or someone else’s tooth?)
  2. Sparklehorse (If you’re going to invest in a horse, why not go all out?)
  3. Southern Culture on the Skids (Are they celebrating southern culture or the fact that it is on said skids? )
  4. Spaceman 3 (The trouble with a low number like three is that there are a lot of numbers higher than three.  How is this band going to stand out if Spaceman 3,000 drops their debut album next year?)
  5. Sound Sector Tribe 9 (I’m sensing a number theme here.  Having the number be the fourth part of the band name is a statement.  Sound Sector Tribe is just silly on it’s own.)
  6. Storm and Stress (Really?  That doesn’t sound enticing at all!  Why would I want to listen to a band whose name is neither relaxing or fun?  Why not call the band Rwandan Genocide on Acid?)
  7. Sunset Rubdown (If this band didn’t meet on the set of a 1970’s porno, then I don’t know up from down anymore.)
  8. Starlite Desperation (Amazing.  What genius came up with this name because I want to shake this person’s hand!)

The following album cover does not come from a band whose name starts with the letter “s” but it still defined my afternoon at Amoeba with its awesomeness.

peter frampton

This cover has it all: the Farrah Fawsett hair, the shirt that isn’t even partially buttoned and the crowning achievement, the album title, “I’m in You.”   Peter Frampton, you are the perfect end to my first post attempting to define love.

Reason #11 I Love Being an Adult: A Christmas Inspired Post

Decorating Christmas trees.  Not only do I get to decorate my own tree, but when invited over to tree trimming parties, I take over as head tree decorator.  Luckily, at Tommy’s, no one else was as interested in the tree as I was thus I had no one to conflict with my vision.  Tommy’s also ensured that I would have a three tree year.  The third being my parents’ tree.  I may not live with my parents but I still decorate their tree every year!

The tree on the left is at my parents’ house in NC.  The tree on the right is the one in our apartment in SF.

3 Unlit parent tree 2 my tree

Ten Things I Love about Adulthood

1. Owning a dog.  She’s mine.  I only share her with the man I love and nothing is cuter than seeing my dog curled up in Nathan’s lap.

2. Decorating my apartment.  The art on the walls are a combination of my photos, Nathan’s photos, and Nathan’s father’s photos.  There are also various pieces I made myself using mixed media like wood, fabric and postcards.  Nathan and I chose every piece of furniture, every pillow and every plant.  There’s something so soothing about coming home to a place that I find aesthetically pleasing everywhere I look.

3. Knowing my path in life.  I found a career in education that inspires, energizes and feeds me.   Plus when the revolution comes, I’ll have trained an army!

4. Finding a partner in life.  Each day and every aspect of my life is richer because of him.

5. Attending classes in higher education.  I loved many of my college and graduate professors.  They reshaped the world for me in so many ways.  They introduced me to Karl Marx, Gloria Anzaldua, Nella Larson, Slavoj Zizek, Leslie Marmon Silko, Virginia Woolf, Tahar Ben Jelloun and countless others.  They taught me how to be a critical thinker and a better person by exposing me to ideas and perspectives different than my own.  It is because of them, I teach today and teach many of the texts I fell in love with in college and grad school.

6. Moving to a city of my choosing.  I moved around my whole life but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I got to choose my destination.  There have been cities I loved (New York, Paris, San Francisco) and cities I couldn’t wait to leave (Windsor, Irvine, Cary).  My environment has a huge impact on me and I love living in a city that I chose as home.

7. Waiting to get married and have kids.  What’s the rush?  I took my time in finding a partner that loves me the way I want to be loved and supports me the way I need to be supported.  I have loved others, true, and I’m so happy that I walked away from those relationships.  Yet, I’m still grateful that Nathan wasn’t my first boyfriend.  I learned and grew so much as person from past relationships.  They also gave me the perspective I needed to understand what I was looking for in a relationship and to grasp the full potential of what love could be.  In terms of waiting to have kids: there is so much I want to experience and explore in life without having to put others before myself.  For the first and only time in my life, I can be selfish.  Once I have kids, my life stops being about me completely.   Three weeks in Switzerland this summer?  Yes, please!  Two-week creative writing program in Portugal?  Why not?!

8. Drinking a cold beer.  Be it after work, on the weekend, or on vacation.  I never thought I’d be a beer drinker when I took my first sip of the stuff.  Now I think it is the most delicious nectar of my leisure time.

9. Cooking for myself and for loved ones.  When I have the time to spend a few hours in the kitchen, I do love the release I get from focusing on creating rich flavors and trying new twists on old family recipes.  My love of eating helps too.

10.  Traveling without a chaperone.  You’re not following someone else’s itinerary.  I love day trips with Nathan outside of the city and weekend camping trips with Nathan and Lolita.   I even enjoy traveling for work when I get to go to conference in a city I’ve never been before like Philadelphia and Houston.   I love traveling for weddings and for the holidays.  There’s something so revitalizing about leaving a city I love to explore a new place or return to a familiar one, only to come back to a home I’ve missed.

A Few Things I Don’t Love About Being an Adult

1. Procrastination never goes away.  Did you know that?  It is something I work on EVERYDAY!  It does help having students depend on me to do my job and do it well.  But no one depends on me to do laundry or wash my car or get a haircut or drop off dry cleaning.

2. Laundry is the bane of my existence.  I tell myself it is partly because six flights of stairs stand between my apartment and the laundry room.  But even if I had a washer and dryer in my apartment, those socks still need to be matched up and I will always have those stray socks without partners drive me crazy.  Do I throw them away?  Do I keep them should their partner magically appear?  Do I post “missing sock” signs in the laundry room?

3. Paying bills.  Wait…you mean I have to pay for everything I want?  My paycheck should be a reward for hard work and thus spent on dinner outings and new shoes.  Paying rent is not rewarding.  I’m still coming to terms with the amount I spend on groceries.  Don’t get me started on how much a decent coffee table made of real wood costs.

4. Errands redefine what leisure time is.  I remember when I first started driving at the tender age of 23, I thought it was so cool that I could jump in my car and run to the store when I needed something.  Now I hate that errands eat up half of my weekend time.  Not only do I have work to do for my profession, but I also have a lot of work to do for my home.  The funny thing is, I feel so accomplished after the errands are complete.  I just wish I could have those 5 hours back in my day.  Can’t I wrinkle my nose, pause the universe, get the work done and unpause?