That’s My Old Self

It has taken me a long time to feel ready to write about 2012. It was a heavy year, and I’m still adjusting to the weight of it.

The year started so optimistically: we’d just bought our first home. We owned this tiny space in San Francisco. After years of feeling like my life lacked progress, being a homeowner felt like a big step forward to me. I’d started to get into the last Beastie album, “Hot Sauce Committee Part II”. I listened to that album in the car on so many remodel errands. I remember the song I was listening to on my way home from Heath Ceramics in Sausalito. The Beasties seemed to be in the same mindset: “The best is yet to come and yes, believe this.”

And then MCA died.

Part of me still feels like the year came to a full stop on May 4th.


As big as that loss is to me, 2012 didn’t offer much time to feel sorry for myself. Other people around me dealt with losses that hit much closer to home. I was selling apples at the farmers market one Saturday in August when my friend and coworker got the call that her mother had died. The family that runs the farm I work for at the farmers market learned that one of their family members had a serious, life-threatening illness. At the peak of apple season, the farm’s busiest time of the year, the family dealt with brain surgery, cancer, a stroke, trips to the emergency room — and still showed up to sell apples at seven different farmers markets each week.

Pass me the scalpel, I’ll make an incision
I’ll cut off the part of your brain that does the bitching
Put it in formaldehyde and put it on the shelf
And you can show it to your friends and say that’s my old self

Although for me 2012 was a year marked primarily by loss, writing this usual year-end post prompted me to think about the year in terms of travel, food, neighborhood — and that helped me remember that while this was a heavy year, there were some lighter moments along the way.

ptreyesoceana stretch of beach off the Coast Trail in Point Reyes

2012 On the Road
While we didn’t get to any new cities or countries this year, home-related errands led us to visit some unusual parts of the Bay Area. I’d never been to  San Leandro before, and yet we went twice in 2012 (Sears Outlet, Caesarstone warehouse). Tile and appliance stores brought us to new areas of Berkeley, San Rafael and Rohnert Park. We also took numerous trips to the San Francisco dump where I was surprised to find that you unload your crap in a big warehouse rather than outside. (Some people know how much I love to throw things and getting to toss construction debris may have been the highlight of the remodel process for me. Cathartic!).

One Sunday, after we’d spied a cheap table and chairs for sale on Craigslist, we ended up taking a 40 minute drive deep into the Santa Cruz mountains, past apple orchards and pastures of cattle and up increasingly narrow roads marked “Private” and “No Trespassing”. When we finally arrived, the table seller said we must have “above average intelligence” to be able to find the place. Thankfully, he sold us the table and chairs rather than killing us and leaving our bodies up where no one would ever find them.

Castle Rock hike
2012 On the Trail
Hiking offered us perspective and a quick way to escape the chaos at home.  The day we got the keys to our new place, we took a city walk up to Mount Davidson and took in the view of the City where we now owned a home. We walked around Lake Lagunitas and watched osprey at Bon Tempe Lake. When our anniversary camping trip was rained out, we hiked in Castle Rock State Park. While Mr. WholeHog and his dad tiled our kitchen floor one weekend in June, I went to Santa Cruz and walked along the beautiful coastline of Wilder Ranch with my parents. We walked the ridge trails of the Marin Headlands, and ended the year strolling along the bluffs in Bodega Bay.

2012 in the Hood
Despite its family friendly reputation, Noe Valley flew its freak flag in 2012.  This story (NSFW) was perhaps the best thing to ever be documented on 24th Street, Noe Valley’s main drag. A distant second-runner-up was this story about a Noe Valley woman who sprayed someone stealing her packages with bear spray (I could have done without the dorky sword, though).
davidsonviewView from Mt. Davidson
2012 At the Table
For the last few years, restaurants just haven’t really inspired me and 2012 was no exception.  Too often, I look at menus and feel bored or annoyed ($12-14 salads?!). The meals that stood out to me in 2012 were ones that left me pleasantly surprised — like the lunch Mr. WholeHog and I had a Bar Tartine one Sunday. We split a reuben sandwich on Tartine’s terrific bread, snacked on pickled green tomatoes and each had a local beer. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was an example of what I’m finding most satisfying these days when I go out to eat: a mix of the familiar and unfamiliar, all done with excellent, seasonal ingredients, and usually paired with beer (although I continue to be borderline-obsessed with Gamay).

2012 On Film
I saw Begicateblanchettnners the first week of 2012, and it remains the best movie I saw all year. In fact, just writing about it makes me want to see it again. I also really appreciated Friends with Kids. It was a little pat, but it at least acknowledged how strange and alienating it can be when your friends become parents. I had no idea how much I needed to see my experiences in film until Bridesmaids and Friends with Kids.

The most notable movie moment of 2012 for me wasn’t a movie at all: it was standing on the corner of Grant and Sutter in August and watching Woody Allen film a scene with Cate Blanchett outside the Shreve Building (see dark iphone pic of Cate at left). I can’t wait to see the movie (please let it be better than “To Rome with Love”).

2012 Bookmobile
Wild helped me think about loss and inspired me. I enjoyed Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad about my Neck and I wished I’d read more of her work when she was alive. But Dave Egger’s A Hologram for the King and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot fell short. Murakami is always a favorite but 1Q84 wasn’t entirely satisfying. 2013 has already proven a better year for books (for me) than 2012.

2012 On the Radio
Perhaps the less said about music last year the better.

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