Lamp light, rain outside

Right now, I am enjoying:

Lamp light
Rain outside
A hot drink
A cold that keeps me indoors
Time to write
No job!

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Goodbye forever, see you tomorrow.

“I would prefer not to.”

— Bartleby the Scrivener, on coping with law firm life.

“If this is Freedom, what’s captivity?”

— Tamara at age 13, on coping with her first period.

Yesterday, I attempted to quit That Job.  It took three years, 6000 billed hours, 3% muscle mass, and 1.25 diopters of eyesight to get to where I am today.  I have seen the sun rise from my office more times than I can count on my hands.  I once lost so much weight that my body stopped producing saliva — for six months.  Now I take special vitamins to keep my hair from falling out.  More than once, I have left the house wearing my shirt backwards because I was too preoccupied to notice.

Despite this and more, I awoke on Quitting Day feeling oddly bereft.  My heart misgave me so badly that I got off the bus ten blocks early and walked the rest of the way up.  I solicited pep talks from friends, received text messages from others, and talked on the phone to C for 45 minutes.  I invited my secretary out to lunch and we each downed a glass of Prosecco.  We got back and I hemmed and hawed, brushed my teeth, came up with a script, and finally, marched down five flights of stairs with my pulse in my ears.  I walked right up to the corner office where the head of my department sits.  His office was dark.

Then I turned the corner and made for the office of the senior-most partner in my group.  His office was also dark.

In typical law firm fashion, the minute you look for a partner (after years of dodging them at all costs), you can’t find one.  I had no one to quit to.

I quit today instead.

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I was a pre-teen nothing.

Freja Beha ErichsenDior Fall Winter 2011 2012

“Wise and silent.”

— M83, Graveyard Girl.

The first cosmetic item I ever selected and purchased on my own, for actual use in social dealings, was a deep wine, nearly rouge-noir lipstick from the Larchmont Beauty Store, possibly made by Bonne Bell. I was twelve and preparing to depart for summer camp for the first time. I was also drunk with freedom and fear, and the sleek lipstick tube was compellingly, assuringly adult. I should note that I went not to outdoor camp on a lake but to nerd camp on a college campus, where the most socially acceptable outdoor activity was known as “sun worshipping” and consisted of tanning and flirting. I should also note that although I was wild to see boys again after my first year at a girls’ school, I was not a pretty, stylish pre-adolescent who was about to do anything about it. I was instead one of those shy, bespectacled, shrimpy children who disappeared in too-big clothing (shocking, I know).

It wasn’t that I didn’t care about style — quite the opposite. Nascent style for me was developed in stories I wrote and drawings I made and showed no one. Even earlier, style was always at the forefront of imagination, if seldom reality. Continue reading

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I changed the tracks underneath this train.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

— Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr.

As fun as it’s been, it’s time for the blog to have a real name.  So, welcome to the new Sane Crook.  It’s sort of like when my dad, Jin Chang, changed his name to…Chin Chang. As do I, he had his reasons, however inscrutable.  But he did have a very good time telling people he had gotten himself an English name, which I now suspect may have been the reason.

Though life looks and feels much the same, these days I find myself doing many things for the first time, including going here and learning this and trying this for 17 days.  Here’s to new beginnings, with thoughts to friends and family in New York.  Hope they are not seeing something for the first time as well.

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By the rivers of Babylon

“I wish I knew when I was going to die,” ninety-six-year-old Dame Frances Anne often said.  “I wish I knew.”

“Why, Dame?”

“Then I should know what to read next.”

— Rumer Godden, In This House of Brede

I was on vacation in Portland for the first time last May.  It was a continuation of my This American Vacation series, which began a few years ago with a trip to D.C. for my last and nerdiest spring break ever.  I spent days wandering around all three branches of the federal government and evenings being spoiled by wp-z‘s decadent homemade meals.  Next came an Alaskan cruise with my family after I took the bar exam.  Later that summer, I toured New England in an electric blue Dodge, starting in Boston and making our way up to Kennebunkport and the rocky Maine shore, back down to Cape Cod and Nantucket, finally departing from JFK.  Next came Phoenix with C for spring training and free happy hour by the pool.  Later that summer I visited Louisville, Colorado for a work training, bought MG a foot-shaped lollipop in Boulder, and accidentally made fun of one coworker’s Crocs and another’s airplane phobia in Denver, all in three days.  I returned to Massachusetts that fall for my first business trip ever and ate steamers in a seaside town while trying to blend in among some gruff Boston Irish Catholic men with heavy accents.

My tour of the United States was prompted by a realization of how little I’ve seen of the country other than California north and south.  A must-see on my domestic shortlist, Portland was a logical next step, being in my neighboring state (i.e. easy to plan at the last minute), reasonable (much to come on this), and most importantly, home to POWELL’S, the nation’s largest independent bookseller.  The store carries multiple editions of every book known to man, both new and used, and spans an entire city block (a small one, but one in keeping with the reasonableness of Portland, where a walk to a whole other quadrant is about the same as walking home from my MUNI stop).

Continue reading

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Summer was here.

This morning I woke up at 5:40 because the sun was pouring onto my face and my all-seasons down comforter was downright unseasonable.  I left the house not wearing tights for the second day in a row (hallelujah!) to the promise of 84 degrees and CALM winds.  The morning air smelled tangy, faintly floral, and dare I say it?  It smelled like summer.  I skipped down the hill, sweated while waiting for the bus, and sang a little song that sounded a lot like Lionel Richie but sung in the voice of summer.

Then it was time to go home, and it felt just like…going home every day.  The wind threatened to whip up my skirt (an above-the-knee, dusty rose circle skirt I have never worn in San Francisco for this very reason), my trench coat threatened not to keep me warm, and the fog bank was menacing Twin Peaks.

It brought back memories, namely of last year’s summer solstice picnic in Dolores Park where we shivered through our chilled Lambrusco, took turns hugging the warm pizza boxes, and insisted on huddling in line at Bi-Rite for ice cream as S ran to get the car.  When he brought it around, the heat was gloriously on.

This evening, I heated up some tea to go with my dessert cookie (instead of the popsicle I had my eye on earlier) and emailed E to remind him.  “E,” I reported.  “Fog sticking to the hills like Halloween spiderwebs.  Glad we didn’t tempt fate by restaging last year’s glacial picnic.”

“S,” he replied.  “It’s really pretty in the Mission.  Fog hanging on the hills and long lines at Bi-Rite.”

Happy solstice, everyone.

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Living in San Francisco, writing about Portland, and so homesick.

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