For as long as I can remember I’ve been playing my mother’s messages for anyone willing to listen. It’s become one of my shticks. Ya know, a fool-proof party trick that I then build on with a fairly decent characacher I’ve developed over the years. This one two punch is basically 100% guaranteed to deliver laughs in the most awkward of social scenarios.
The root of the humor comes from the fact that my outspoken German mother has dramatic opinions and isn’t scared to express them as such. A movie that bored her might result in a “You know, that director should really be shot.” Or, when a woman attending one of her openings inquired about a vegan food option she responded with “Well, you could eat the doormat.” Replay these sentiments in your head with a German accent and BAM – you should be laughing. Laughing not only because these bawdy opinions are things we’ve all thought somewhere deep inside, but because this is the woman that RAISED me. This perfect German stereotype was the person that gave me my sex talk and taught me how to put in a tampon.The material is priceless. Like in the years following 9-11 she would habitually yell “FASCIST POLICE STATE” while walking our dogs in the middle class San Fernando Valley suburb we lived in. Or, when asked to participate in a bake sale by my elementary school teachers she didn’t hesitate to remind them that “In some countries the government actually pays for education. A bake-sale is a pathetic idea so call me when you have a bill to put before congress”.
I hope that in reading these quotes you can see that while they are without a doubt hilarious, she’s also right on the money. These are precisely the truths that we all bottle up in lieu of social norms and acceptability. They are the ‘but I was thinking it’s’ that get passed over in favor of more palatable sentiments. And ya know what? I couldn’t be more thankful that I had a mother that never felt the need to play that game. Even as a six year old standing by her side in mock embarrassment, I knew she was right. And although I gave my teachers that apologetic glance, I walked away knowing that she kicked ass for not having to jump through every hoop the teachers of Kester elementary set up for her. For being her own woman, and showing me in everything that she did, that this meant more than pleasing every person you meet.
Of late the messages are more tame but just as hilarious. They generally involve an inquiry into her “Granddog” Eleanor and an off-handed comment about Amy Goodman needing some hair dye and deep red lipstick. (So true, I know) But, as I watch myself pull out the schtick, in bars, and office gatherings, with new friends, and friends I haven’t seen in a long time, I’ve started to notice that my mom appears just as silence begins to stir at my table. Right in the moment where conversation turns into small-talk, ta-da Mama Kleinman flies in to save the day. While this sounds reasonable enough, I know that it’s precisely those awkward pauses that my mom never felt the need to cave for. It’s the fact that Margit would let the difference in opinion sit there and not apologize for her perspective. She knew that there is nothing at all wrong with dead air or discomfort, and that it takes those moments to learn or simply see something new.
As I started to reflect more, I also began to feel guilty for making her, the strongest woman I know, my quick fix for moments of weakness. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve turned out every bit as opinionated, and stubborn, and foul mouthed as one might expect. But now that I’m an adult I realize the strength it requires to truly stand steadfast in your convictions, to pass up a quick fix or incredible shtick. That being true to yourself requires turning away from social expectation without embarrassment or apology. I can’t say that Mama Kleinman no longer makes appearances at Bay Area gatherings. She’s way too hilarious to let go of completely. But now I’m hearing her more in the things I don’t say, the moments I let be. And somewhere in my quiet calm, I know I’m making Mama proud.
Here’s a look at a story I wrote for The Bold Italic about the curly headed folks in SF that are rocking their dos and sharing how they came to love their looks.
Twenty-ten was the year of very bad, horrible, no-good haircuts for me. There were four of them, each more tragic than the last. You see, I’m a curly girl, and mistakes with my locks aren’t easily hidden. I’ve watched my request for “fun layers” turn Krusty the Clown in two swift and ill-advised snips.
Two years later, I knew I had no choice but to get back in the ring. But this time I was going to be prepared. Along with asking all of my friends with ringlets whom they trusted with their ’dos, I stopped wavy-haired people on the street, begging for a little curl counsel. My inquiries elicited intimate and animated stories; all of us have war stories under our belts. I was struck by how many little tricks these ladies and gents had to handle their unique varieties of curl.
I’m happy to say my investigation led to an awesome haircut by Becky Hallisey at Edo Salon. But while my search is over, I’d hate for all that useful info I gathered to go to waste. Here are eight of SF’s kinky creatures and the stylists who keep their curls looking killer. It’s no surprise that a majority of the folks I chatted with have their kink cared for at Madusalon, as it specializes in curly locks of all kinds.
Click here to read the complete story.
It is all these things and more.
Scoldings aside, I am here now and would rather take the time to make the best of this appearance. In an attempt to get the backlogged thoughts out of my brain and into the world, I think I’ll start with my list of thoughts I’ve found post worthy in recent history.
1. Serial Life – A look at how I (like so many of my peers) can mark my life by the tv series I was watching at the time. From “Punky Brewster” and “Full House”, to “The Wire” and “Mad Men”, there has always been some series that accompanies me through some era of my life and miraculously fit the disposition of that time. This phenomena seems worth taking a second glance at. What void do you think these shows fill and what about them appeals to us so deeply?
2. Where am I – when Eli and I came back from NY there was a unique sense of being lost in Eli’s chest. As if, once he exited the structures/routines of his life here in oakland “Eli” was nowhere to be found. I have felt this way before and most definitely will feel this way again, and am extraordinarily grateful not to feel this way now. The mystery of how this came to be is where the meat of this story lies.
3. Out Huntin – My confusion about “the hunt” is the most consistent line of questioning I’ve experienced in the last few years of my life. I look around at the people I love, and I see a desperate search for some unknowable, un-achievable, and seemingly nonexistent, event or moment. A quest that pushes all boundaries of sanity, or sobriety, or really even safety; and while i see that exactly therein is where the beauty lies, I can’t help but wonder what we’re all so hungry for? One after one I watch those around me pick up their battered bodies, cover their wounds, and without second thought continue to try to satisfy their unquenchable thirst.
There is a chance that some of these topics will appear as posts of their own, but for now I just needed to get them out of my head to make space for something new.
Getting Fresh is an info-graphic I wrote for The Bold Italic that explores precisely what SF farmers markets have to offer. I should admit while cartoony in nature the information in this graphic lies close to my heart.
Looking back at my years in San Francisco, I realize I can mark my favorite moments in the city most easily by recalling what was
in my bike’s basket on Saturdays pedaling home from the Alemany Farmers’ Market. The contents could tell me about the time of
year I was shopping by the produce that was in season, what special occasion or holiday I was cooking for, and clues for who I was
sharing my meals with. The truth is, my weekly trips to Alemany and its vendors is the most constant element of my life in the city.
Since I doubt this fact is unique to me, I decided to look into what the other farmers’ markets in the city have to offer. After all my
investigating, I couldn’t help but wonder how my life might be different (at least food-wise) if any of these other spots were my go-
to market. Since checking these spots out I’ve really enjoyed heading to different parts of the city for my weekly shopping trips and
enjoying more of what the city has to offer. Take a look at this complete list of SF farmers markets and think about switching up your
routine next time your jonesing for some fresh fruits and veggies.
Click here to check out the info-graphic in it’s entirety.
I’ve always been fascinated by the part of human nature that feels the need to throw itself up against the seemingly unconquerable. What is it about us that feels the need to wage war against the world’s tallest mountains and largest rivers and most inexplicable elements. When some such feat is not readily available we choose to create roadblocks of our own; the high jump, marathon’s, weight lifting, and a book of world records as obscure and inconsequential as the human mind can dream up.
Worst of all is the fact that I do not know this instinct from observation alone. The urge to throw myself up against the cliff-side and rail upward toward the free fall lies deep within my bones. Anyone that knows me is aware that I tackle head on at full speed and really, to what end?
Obstacles courses sort of sum up this absurd human drive for me. What are they besides a series of abnormal and challenging feats that have no result besides separating winners from losers. My favorite “obstacle” in such events is not called a teeter toter but that is basically what it is. The only difference is that participants are expected to walk straight up one side of the beam until their weight shifts the balance and they drop (suddenly and in free fall) to the ground. Once they have their bearings they simple walk on to tackle the next feat in the long line of hurdles.
What this simple stunt makes clear to me is that it is not so much the outcome of these acts that we are interested in. We all know that at the end of our struggles we will have scaled a mountain, crossed a river, or flown a paper airplane further than any other person on earth. In this same way, anyone that tackles the teeter toter knows full well that that at some point the floor will fall out from under their feet and they will have no choice but to go with that fall until they once again touch on solid ground.
In breaking down these challenges I can see that in their simplest forms they are nothing more than a fairly cheap metaphor for existence as a whole. Isn’t it true that to achieve almost anything in life you have move straight into a challenge that involves some pain or fear that we can not know until we are there in it’s grip. At that point we have two choices: to turn around and go back to safety, or move straight through it. To ride out the fall, as long as it may be, until we look around see that we on the other side. Once there, we can revel in the glory just long enough to get us to calmly move forward, toward the next teeter toter that will inevitably come our way.
If you aren’t familiar with Creativity Explored, please take a moment to read this article about one of the most spectacular organizations I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know.
I’ve been a fan of Creativity Explored since I moved to San Francisco six years ago. This organization teaches all disciplines of art to more than 135 developmentally disabled individuals. The majority are long-term participants in the program, and some have been with Creativity Explored for more than 25 years. Teachers help participants find and develop a medium and style that
truly compliments their perspective and skill, just as any student at an art school might explore the craft. The result of this work is absolutely explosive. Before discovering CE, I had never come across artists with more distinctive perspectives or techniques. Since I’ve become a fan, I’ve closely followed the artists’ work , attended nearly every show, and bought what work I can.
I’ve realized that pieces by Creativity Explored artists are taking over the walls of not only my apartment, but also those of my friends and family members. Given my enthusiasm about the organization, I felt it was time for me to get to know some of these creative folks a bit better. Here are five of the artists I had the pleasure of meeting on my recent trip to the studio.
Click here to read the complete story.