Category Archives: Woe To Me

Letters From The Bay, Week 56: Fogged In

Dear Fog Horn,

Please stop.

Please. Please. Stop.

It’s 1:54 a.m. and I cannot sleep because you are blaring away. I know it’s foggy. I know it’s a safety issue. I know those iPods have to come in from China on giant barges at all hours of the night so entitled Marina children can have them first thing in the morning. I don’t know how we can put a man on the moon, yet we’re still boating around to the tune of a gigantic horn, but whatever. Fine. I’ll go with it.

I would just like to point out, again, that I really have to sleep. How am I going to do entitled Marina girl yoga at my fancy gym in four hours if I don’t?

And right now I can’t.

So shut your pie hole, you noisy bitch.

Pretty please?

Thanks much!



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Letters From The Bay, Week 54: Urban Lumberjills, Part II

I have never pedaled faster in my life. As you know, the faster you pedal when flat, the ever so slightly easier it will be to pedal once you’re at an incline of WTF degrees and counting.

For, like, a second.

M’s rear disappeared in the distance as I put my head and gears down and hauled up the Sausalito hills.  My thighs were burning – and not in the good way – as I slowly pushed my feet in circles, thinking less I think I can, I think I can, and more, Never again, you never have to do this again! Also, we have wine at home! Thank the baby Jesus!

I caught up to her as we came around the curve, and suddenly, inexplicably, M was airborne. The wind, fiercer now, had just picked her up and wooooosht! tossed her off her bike and into the side of the hill like it was no big thang.

Ha! I thought. Poor M. That sucks.

Luckily for me, I thought that right as I came around the same curve to meet her and what do you know? Wooooosht! No big thang.

We lay there for a second, legs tangled, helmets askew on the side of the hill, bikes on top of us.

“Well that was awkward,” M said finally, awkward still. “Um, yeah. But not quite as awkward as we probably look right now, lying on the side of a hill in the dark in Sausalito,” I said.  “Point,” M replied. “You definitely have a point.”

We girded our loins (because what else can you gird?) and remounted, chugging up the last stretches of the road to the bridge.

“The most important thing to remember is to just keep going, even though it’s kinda windy,” M shouted at me over the whipping wind as we approached it. “Hold tight as you come around the towers – the wind is pretty fierce when you swing out over the water.”

“Okay!” I shouted back, hair in my mouth, eyes watering in the gale, deeply disturbed at the thought of more wind. “I’m ready!”

We hit the bridge and suddenly, everything was quiet. The wind became white noise, the boat horns faded, even the sound of cars passing on the left receded into nothing. All I could hear was the sound of my own heart beating, and the noise of the waves running into each other down below.


All joking aside, there have been so many moments in the last year where I’ve felt confused or sad or weird about the way my life is going, and then there are moments like this. Where all is quiet and calm and I feel a great sense of both purpose and place, as if the Universe has slapped me across the face yelling, HELLO! THIS. IS. IT. YOU DID IT. NOW ENJOY IT, YOU WHINY WENCH!

I hate when the Universe is sassy, but I guess it’s sometimes necessary.

I felt amazing as we slowed to the gate on the other side, and then I felt blunt force as I ran smack into the back of M’s tire.

“The gate is locked. This is the way we need to go to get off the bridge, and it’s locked,” M said slowly.

“Um, so, we’re trapped? On the bridge? Is that what you’re saying?” I asked M, hoping that somehow she was lying or that I was just misunderstanding, or that what she was saying was true, but that she would follow it up by letting me know that Sparkles the Magical Bridge Fairy was going to come down and wave her giant sceptor in the shape of the TransAmerica Pyramid and get us the fuck off this bridge.

“Yeah,” M said, laughing. “I think that’s pretty much the situation. It’s 10:00 p.m. and we’re trapped on the Golden Gate Bridge.”

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Letters From The Bay, Week 54: Urban Lumberjills, Part I

My coworker’s boyfriend called me a bullshitter last week.  I know, right?!

We were at the Giant’s game, enjoying a hot dog and cheering for Lincecum. Which is a feat in and of itself for me, as I have hated the Giants until recently.  The News was so obsessed with the Giants that every question I asked him and every conversation I attempted to start would swiftly end up back in Giants land, and hey, you know what? NOBODY CARES.


Coworker’s boyfriend, after hearing me talk about that one time I almost died in Tanzania, then that one time I touched Benjamin Bratt, and then that one time I threw away valuable jewelry and had to retrieve it at THE DUMP said that he did not believe any of my stories and determined that I was a bullshitter who made everything up.

Little does he know – I really am just this dumb.

Case in point: Friday.

My lovely coworker M was nice enough to escort me to work for the first time on my bicycle. You know how wilderness guides are great if you’ve never hiked before? Same with biking in the city. It’s basically the same thing. Minus the bears. And the nature. And the peace and quiet and tranquility of all the aforementioned nature. So, you know, same.

M and I meet at the corner of Presidio and Lyon and bike to the office in matchy match North Face jackets and are just as cute as two incredibly sweatey biker chicks in nerd helmets can be.

M and I then meet up with several more biking coworkers after work, and our little bike brigade makes our way over to Sausalito via the ferry boat. We tell stories and laugh and revel in our Californianess.  Oh look at us, just looky look! We’re on a boat! We have backpacks full of wine and snacks! The sun is shining! The birds are chirping! The tank is clean!

The revelry only grows as we peruse the farmer’s market, enjoy a concert together in the setting sun, and drink many bottles of wine. Oh look at us, just looky look! We’re on a blanket! We are drunk again! The sun is setting! The birds are gone! The tank – who the hell even knows what she’s talking about?

It was after all the wine and all the sun had disappeared that M and I realized it was time to head home. On our bikes. Over the Golden Gate Bridge. On our bikes. Up the hills of Sausalito. In the dark. On. Our. Bikes.

Don’t know where this is heading?  Neither did we.  If we had, we would have called a cab.  Unfortunately, I really am just this dumb.

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Letters From The Bay, Week 41: Trashy, Part III

Part 3: I am a grossed out lady

Toot toot!

A zippy truck horn tweeted me from outside the reception desk.

“Your chariot awaits,” said Jennifer the receptionist with a chuckle.

After arriving at the transfer center, I found myself sitting on a hard plastic chair in the lobby of San Francisco Recology.  Also known as the House of Jennifer.  Jennifer is the doyenne of THE DUMP, and has been its gatekeeper for 23 years.  She is funny.  She is intent.  She is sympathetic. And she is very kind.  Especially to idiot girls who throw away meaningful jewelry.

As my tale of woe came tumbling out, she fixed me a cup of coffee, introduced me to some other DUMP ladies, and nodded and gasped at all the right parts of my story.  It’s one thing to be a good hostess over great wine and dinner at your own home, but I’m a tell you what – it’s amazing when you can be a good hostess, nay, a great hostess, at THE DUMP, and Jennifer totally was.

“Joseph is gonna take you out to the landing pad, so just go on now and see how you do,” Jennifer said as she directed me out the automatic doors.  “I just know you are going to find that ring, I just know it.”

I nodded bravely as the doors slid open and out into the parking lot.  Cool office air gave way to a special blend of fog and wet dirt and garbage, and I tightened my trench coat and hitched up my Kate Spade bag as I walked.

“Are you the girl?”  Joseph asked with one eyebrow up.

“Uh-huh,” I said, shaking his hand.  “I’ll apologize right now, this seems like a crazy mission.”

“Well we just see what we can do,” he said, adjusting his orange vest as he kicked the truck into gear. “We just see.”

The truck trundled along as Joseph pointed out the parts of the trash cycle.

“This here is where we dump it, aaand this over here is where we sort it.  And this over here is where we crush it!” he said gleefully.  Joseph is a man who, it is evident, loves his job.  As someone who also loves their job, I think that’s dandy.

“And this here is where we gonna search it,” he said as we pulled up inside a massive warehouse, next to a three-story pile of trash.  That’s right, a small municipal building sized pile of gross.

I ducked out of the truck and stepped immediately into a pile of something foul. Thank God for rainboots.

“Hey Steve!” he yelled to the man in the caterpillar as I daintily picked my way over to the pile.  Steve and Joseph made eye contact, and then Joseph waved like Miss America, only sideways and with slightly more flamboyance, and Steve used his enormous caterpillar claw and spread out the massive pile into a single layer of crap the size of a tennis court.

I tried to think of it as not crap, but instead, a treasure trove just waiting to yield up my ring!  Happy thoughts!

It did not work.

It was still a giant layer of crap.

And I still had to search through it.

I looked at Joseph.  He looked at me.  I looked at the crap layer.  He looked at me.  We looked at the crap together for a moment long enough for a plastic bag to biodegrade.

Nobody spoke.  Nobody moved.

After eternity passed and I had just psyched myself up enough to approach the pile, Joseph started laughing.

“Oh girl you know we gonna get some guys over here to help you out!”  And with a whistle, four trash men came hustling over and starting sifting through the crap layer.

“It’s in a Macy’s bag,” I yelled over the noise of the trucks.

Weird looks.

“It has a giant red star on it!” I revised.

And so we started.

They sifted, I supervised.  They tore through mail, kitchen sacks, coffee grounds and much worse while I circled the periphery like the seagulls overhead, eyes akimbo waiting for the moment – THE moment – when my trash bag would magically rise from the depths of all the shit in the Presidio.

It didn’t come, that moment.

After 20 minutes, I was ready to call off the search.  I mean, these men were picking through the trash for me.  They’re trash men after all, so it’s not too much of a stretch, but still.  I know when I’m being a pain in the ass and for about how long I can get away with it.  My time was running out.

I looked at Joseph with doleful eyes, and he looked back at me like, Girl, what did you possibly expect coming out here?  and I looked at him like I know, I KNOW.

And then Jose, a sweet young-ish trash man, yelled out from the middle of the crap layer, “Wait, here’s a star bag – could this be it?”

And you guys, I am not even kidding you, he held up a tied Macy’s bag like it were made of solid gold, and gently walked it out to me.  Jesus walked on water. Jose walked on trash.

It was a miraculous sight.

I shook off the bag and dumped it onto the pavement.  Amid dirty kleenex, opening night ticket stubs, and pink post-it notes in a scrawly cursive that I know too well, was the infamous Forever 21 bag.

“This is my TRASH!” I yelled to Jose, who just laughed.  “I’ve never been so excited in my entire LIFE to see my own TRASH!”

Triumphantly, I pulled out the bag, and then the ring.

As the guys high-fived and hugged, I slid it onto my finger and thought of how lucky I am.  And much I owed these guys breakfast.  And how funny this would all be, after I had showered thoroughly.

And then I realized that I’m not just an idiot girl who throws away meaningful jewelry any longer.

Now I am an idiot girl with one hell of a story.

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Letters From The Bay, Week 41: Trashy, Part II

Part 2: I am a sad lady

I’ll be honest, I almost gave it up before I started.

I knew what was coming.  I knew it. 

A +B = C.

Tiffany ring + trash truck = that’s right.  You know where.

I went to to figure out how much it would cost to replace my ring.  I breifly considered never telling anyone what I had done, and just replacing the ring and forgetting about it.

I also considered limping around the house and waiting for someone else to offer to replace it for me. 

I even started developing the start of a terrifying story wherein I get robbed on the street, held up at gunpoint and forced to fork over my precious heirlooms and sorority girl jewelry, but that seemed more likely to open up a great big can of Hilary Please Move Home Now, and even Tiffany is not worth starting that conversation.

I don’t know if I’m too stubborn, too cheap, too bad a liar, too Lutheran (which is a combination of being stubborn, cheap and a bad liar) or something else – what’s the feeling? Ah yes!  Too guilty.  But I couldn’t do it.  I had to try to get my ring back.  And if it were not to be found, I would have to apologize to my parents and go Tiffanyless for the rest of my days.  I clearly cannot be trusted with nice things.

And I clearly knew where I was going to have to go if I wanted to get my ring back.

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Letters From The Bay, Week 41: Trashy

Part One: I am a crazy lady

There’s a song by Joe Purdy that I love.  It’s called “Stompin’ Grounds” and I don’t really know why, because the part of the song I always hone in on is not about stompin’ – it’s a line about how I can’t wait for the weekend…blah blah blah. Like I said, I really love this song.

That line pretty much sums up how I feel about my life in San Francisco.  I can’t wait for the weekend because that’s when all the good stuff happens.  The city comes alive, my friends cross the Bay, my dear partner in crime, my Friend Horse*, joins me in my generally illplanned exploits, we cross things off THE LIST**, and it’s all good.

To sum up: the weekend is the time when we explore and discover new things.

Well, my friends.  I am here to tell you what.  You can do that during the week, too.

Case in point: my little field trip last week.

I came home from the Gala exhausted.  What with all the Oscar award winner hugging and Benjamin Bratt ass bumping, I was pretty much shot for the evening.  I also had the brilliant idea of putting contacts in my eyes – contacts with neither I, nor my dear sweet boyfriend***, could get out of my eyes – so while I could still see at 3 a.m., it burned. IT BURNED.

When you’re tired and your life feels disorderly, what helps?  That’s right, cleaning!  And when your eyes are aflame and you’re very very tired, everything feels disorderly, and so, at 3 a.m., through the burning haze, what do you do if you’re an anal retentive nutjob? That’s right, CLEAN!

Through the burning haze I decided it would be an awesome sort of idea to clean my room.  In my evening gown.  Wearing a hooded sweatshirt. At 3 a.m.

Nut. Job.

Now, in hindsight, even without my contacts, I am able to tell you with 100 percent certainty that this was not an awesome sort of idea. It was a bad idea.  Some ideas are little sprouts of brilliance whose time has come.  This idea was not an idea whose time had not come, but instead, was an idea who really needed to suck it and just go to sleep and clean up later, or maybe even drink more and then go out and try to get laid.  A rebellious teenager of ideas, this Very Bad Idea.

Sadly, The Very Bad Idea prevailed, and in my fiery frenzy of cleaning up and throwing away, I threw away a small bag in my purse.  A small Forever 21 bag which, in the switching out of earrings and jewelry pre-Gala, no longer contained cheap sparklers from Forever 21, but now contained the Tiffany ring my parents gave me for my college graduation.

“Who needs this empty bag?!” I said, annoyed with my pre-Gala, normal self for holding onto plastic bags for seemingly no good reason.  “I’m no bag lady, I’m throwing this away!”

And so I did.  Tiffany ring and all.

Flash forward ten hours.

Normal Hilary wakes up.

Normal Hilary starts getting dressed, and realizes Tiffany ring is missing.

Normal Hilary realizes Tiffany ring was in Forever 21 bag, which is now in trash.

Normal Hilary does the sad, yet likely comedic “Noooooooooo!!!!!!” move one sees in sitcoms.

Normal Hilary races outside in her pajamas to retrieve the ring from the trash can.

And it’s empty.

Normal Hilary is then forced to do something gross.

If you want to know what it is, check back here in a couple of days.

*You know how, at horse races, there’s the actual race horse? And then there’s the horse that walks next to the race horse, to keep it calm and say nice things to it, tell it it’s pretty and that it’s definitely going to win?  That’s a Friend Horse.  And sometimes people need one, too. We all need someone who walks next to us sometimes. Someone who keeps us calm, says nice things to us, reminds us that we’re pretty and have worth, and that one day, maybe not today but one day, we’re going to be okay.  Even if we don’t win, it’s going to be okay.  I have a friend like that.  How lucky am I?

**When I first moved here, I started keeping a list of all the wonderous things I’d like to do.  I’m a list maker, it’s what I do.  My Friend Horse has joined me in my list making efforts, and now it’s become a beast of a thing, taunting us, daring us to cross things off.  We are very busy.  Usually on the weekends.

***Yes, I made him put his fingers in my eyes at 3 a.m. and yes he is among the world’s most patient men.  If they had a club of patient men, I feel like he would definitely get to join, and possibly rise to officer status.  They could have their meetings outside of women’s restrooms or in the fronts of Gap Body stores, holding purses, staring peacefully at mall fountains and dreaming of televised sporting events.  Who wants to start that, you?  You?

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Letters From The Bay, Week 12: Hardly Strictly Oh Hell No!

Part III: Plaidtastic

It was getting late.  We had tromped from stage to stage, toting our cooler and snacks all the live long day.  The sun had gone down, we had come down, and it was starting to get chilly in the forest.

And by chilly I mean effing freezing, naturally.  San Francisco summers are notoriously cold, and even though people talk up September weather like it’s some trip to the beach, September is really just the only time of year you don’t need a jacket AND a scarf.  By night, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you better layer it up or you’re going to be an organic, free range, locally grown popsicle.

I surveyed the scene in front of me, and concluded it was time to peace. Throughout the course of the day, we’d been joined by several friends: a coworker of mine, some LA friends of AKB’s who had more tattoos than the show LA Ink, a fellow named Hot Charlie was with us for a brief period of time, and then there was B.

B is 24, like me, unemployed, unlike me, and wears a lot of plaid, like the rest of the Bay Area these days.  Your dad’s old work shirt that cost $89 at a Chestnut St boutique: so trendy right now.

“It’s getting cold,” I said gravely, as the rest of the crew was cavorting on the hillside, our final resting place for the day. AKB was playing backgammon with the tattoo artists from LA, B was bumming lighters off strangers nearby, and I was shivering on a blanket on the ground.  I think our time at the bluegrass festival was coming to an end.  Little did I know our night was hardly strictly even over.  “I think I am ready to go home now.”

“What?  NEVAH!” said B with a little too much bravado.  “We live to party on!  Besides, I want— hey look!  I think that’s my tartan!”

Before I could even register the use of the word tartan by a man who wasn’t wearing a kilt, I realized it was true: B, in all his plaid glory had spotted a couple on a picnic blanket a few feet ahead of us and true enough, the plaid of their blanket matched the plaid of B’s shirt exactly.   I expect if I ever see B’s room, it will probably be covered in this exact plaid, like all of Scotland took a huge dump on B’s possessions.

“Hey B,” I said, getting one of my famous ideas.  “What would it take for me to convince you to walk over to that couple, ask them to move off their own blanket, and then lie down on it so I can take a picture of you disappearing into plaid nothingness?”

I hoped to embarrass B into going home. I assumed the answer would be no.  Nobody in their right mind would usher two people off their own blanket for the sake of a pot-induced photographic opportunity.

I assumed incorrectly.  Also, B was not in his right mind.  Problem solved.

“Excuse me,” B said, shambling over, full of faux sweetness, like a baby-holding politician.  “I couldn’t help but notice my shirt seems to match your blanket exactly.  Would you mind very much if I asked you to get off your blanket so I can lie down on it and my friend here can take a picture?”

The couple were also not in their right mind apparently, because they hopped right up, B got right down, and all 6′ 4″ of B just disappeared.  See?


(photo cropped to protect the completely guilty – B is not innocent of much – fabric abuse is only one of his many crimes.)

“Okay,” said B, hopping up from the blanket and flashing his B smile to all the other onlookers and shaking hands with concert goers who had charged the blanket to photograph his great disappearing act. “NOW I’m ready to go.”

“Oh OH, now that you’ve had your moment in the not-sun because the sun is no longer out you’re ready?  You were just waiting for the paparazzi to swarm, and now that we’ve all frozen our plaids off, you decide it’s time to leave?  What if I’m not ready to go now, did you ever think of that?”

I was hardly strictly a little bit cranky at this point.  It had been a long day, it was cold, AKB had officially deserted D and I for the tattoo artists, and we were getting a little tired of catering to B’s whims in the woods.  But, then again, what do you expect from someone who lives in a mansion for free and always gets what he wants?

Oh, I forgot to tell you?  Yes, B lives in his aunt’s house, which is a mansion on Nob Hill (aka, The Mansch).  The aunt (if she actually exists at all) allegedly lives in Paris with her Latin American lover and B has free reign 300 days out of the year.  It’s all very Eat, Pray, Love, and B is reaping the tartan-encrusted benefits and has become quite the demanding princess in the process.

“Hilary,” B said in his politician voice again, “Are you ready to go?”

I considered making us stay just to prove a point, but I had lost all feeling in my face and not in the good, fun “whoa you guys, check this out!  Poke me!  Yeah, in the FACE!” way.

“Yeah, I wanna go.”

There was only one problem: B was not going anywhere, because B was hardly strictly completely stoned.  And he had just popped the top on another beer.  B makes good choices.

“I have my bus pass,” I said, problem solving, only slightly frantically. “We can just make our way out of the woods and hop on the 38 into the city.”

“Nooooo noooo, nope, nooooo” said B, his words already running together like a herd of puppies in a wide open field.  “I drove here and if I leave it out, someone will cut the top off.”

“What do you mean someone will cut the top off?  It’s a car, not a can of tuna.” B’s cagey ways were really starting to bug me.  I wanted out and I meant it, and I didn’t have time to decipher what “cut the top off” means in B’s metaphorical musings on life.

“Well, that’s what happened to it the last time.”

“B, you are making no sense at all.”

“It’s a convertible,” he finally spit out, as though he were talking to a three year old.  “And last time I left it outside overnight, someone cut the top off and it cost me $8,000.  So we gotta get to the Benz, and we gotta drive it. Oooookaaaaay?”

Um, okay?


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