How to Survive the California Drought

…and by “survive” I mean assuage your guilt by intelligently cutting back on water consumption. 

I’ve been waiting for word about the drought to trickle into my social media channels, but Facebook and the rest have been somewhat barren. Did you know San Diego is currently under mandatory water usage restrictions?

  • Stop or fix all leaks within 72 hours
  • Water before 10am or after 6pm only
  • Don’t water your yard “excessively” such that it drains past your property or down the gutter
  • Don’t use a hose to wash down sidewalks or driveways
  • Don’t let your pool overflow
  • Don’t wash your car with a running hose
  • etc.

^ Fail to heed warnings for those and receive citations from $100-1000 or even criminal prosecution.

The restrictions show an overwhelming concern for outdoor water use, and it’s true that California households use way more water on landscaping than anything else. Forget just turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth, the best thing to do is find alternatives to a lush green lawn. If your front yard looks like a sad, tawny shag of neglected responsibility, consider yourself the hero of this story.

You also may or may not have seen this design for a BART poster:

From FFACoalition.org, which states, “Direct use of water by consumers makes up only 4% of water consumption in California, while meat and dairy production makes up 55%.”

Holy cow.

I took FFAC’s advice and looked at the Mother Jones article which inspired the poster and learned a 6oz glass of milk takes 30 gallons to produce… and fuck fuck fuck two slices of cheese = 50 fucking gallons of precious water aaaaaaaah I hate myself. Like, 25 minutes ago I went to the fridge and just ate two slices of cheese right out of the package.

Go read the article right now so you can also hate yourself and we can commiserate. You’re not going to like the one about butter.

From depressing infographic on MotherJones.com

From depressing infographic on MotherJones.com

Don’t think you can get away with switching to almond milk, either.

water-it-takes-produce-almond-milk-california-drought

From MotherJones.com

What about beer? Beer never hurt anyone. 

If you want to trust NPR’s numbers (though they seem low, breweries around the world have been striving to reduce beer’s water footprint since at least 2011) a 1:4 beer-to-water ratio means I don’t feel like I’m destroying the planet. 

beer

Using the MotherJones.com impractical standard measuring unit of 6oz, a stupidly small glass of beer will use about 1/5 of a gallon of water. 

Again, with the NPR ratios and the Mother Jones serving sizes, 6oz of hard liquor costs ya the guilt of almost 2 gallons. Still way less than cheese.

Oh god why didn't I just use apple juice for this photo shoot

Oh god why didn’t I just use apple juice for this photo shoot it is Tuesday and I am going to get nothing done

Therefore, to save the world, quit dairy and drink beer.

dairy-drought-takes-a-lot-of-water-to-make-happy-cow

Get drunk for the drought!

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Just Drive

 

 

I am beyond the days of earning my fun. Why then, would I drive to Santa Ana to see Le Butcherettes open for a band I don’t know, on a Sunday night? I could have put Sin Sin Sin on the turntable and drank a much nicer beer than Bud Light for my $8.
Le-butcherettes-observatory-santa-ana-ticket-2014

I let myself run late. I couldn’t be hurried for fun. What is this, a job? Do I always have to try to get my money’s worth? So what, I’ll miss a couple songs. So what, I might miss them all together (right, traffic is a thing) and just have to watch the headliner. I let these trivial worries go and I just drove.

I could hear Bang! from outside and I knew we were late, but not too late.

I saw Teri Gender Bender, the lead singer, dance. I saw her pulsate and shake in a way that defies sexually-charged gazes. I dare you to objectify me. I heard her waa-ooo and aaah-aah in an extended breakdown of Leibniz Language. “I never knew you, no no.” I saw her gesture to her drummer, and not being seen, hesitate. She materialized from the disembodied voice in my headphones into a real person, wearing a bloody apron, and her feet were on fire, “en fuego.”

And so, after enjoying the warm night air on the patio for awhile during the switching of the bands, when I realized my date was just as tired as me, I decided we ought to just go home. I don’t know who Antemasque is. I did know I was happy, and I had a good night, and I saw what I wanted to see. So I just drove.

How to Be a Regular

“You don’t understand,” server Max at K’nB Wine Cellars said.  “We thought it was their first date. The way your mom was laughing at your Dad’s jokes. We thought they were a brand new couple. We were betting on whether they would last or not.” He took my empty glass to get me a new IPA, waved it around as he talked. “To discover they actually are married, for like years, and they have two functional kids-”

“Well.” I interjected with a smile.

“Whatever, Sami. LIke you guys are in college and you’re pretty good kids. Anyway it blew my mind.”

4-5 years later my parents still go to K’nBs and though he no longer works there, Max is one of my friends, whose notorious “cabin” parties I’ve frequently attended. And he’s gone to baseball games etc. with my parents and a QOTSA concert with all of us.

My mom’s unrestrained laugh is still a familiar sound there, even infamous; from far away her cackle alerts the staff to her presence. In their heyday, my parents have been whisked to tucked away tables on packed nights, bought drinks by staff, and had coasters thrown at them. All of the perks of being a regular — of being customers that helped support this business when it first began.

This is where my parents met. Well, that's what K'nB Wine Cellars believed for the longest time.

This is where my parents met. Well, that’s what K’nB Wine Cellars believed for the longest time.

Become a regular. Find a local bar just starting to establish itself. Go on Mondays because you need a beer to recover from the trauma of restarting your work week. Go on Tuesdays because you wish you came with an appetite on Monday and really wanted to try those sliders but, tomorrow, I’ll be back tomorrow. Go on Wednesdays because you’re halfway to the weekend and they have that special on craft drafts. Go on Thursdays because, why the hell not?

Tip well. Tip 20%. Get too drunk and tip 30%. Fuck it, 40%. Tip so much that they apply every possible discount to your order because they’re expecting your big tip and it almost embarrasses them to be treated so well.

Get free french fries when they screw up someone else’s order and have extra. Get free french fries when they screw up your order. Tease them for screwing up your order. Be teased for being loud and drunk. Be asked about your life, work, family. Bring dates and exchange knowing glances and feel like a hotshot.

And, most of all, smile when they remember you like a rum pineapple with lime.

The usual?

Yes, please.

6 Party Coping Mechanisms

So…if you’re my friend on snapchat, you may have gotten this picture:

Snapchat-20140417115114As I sat on the floor, pants recently removed, and flung my flabbergasted hands at my lacerated shin, Katie Siebert said frankly, “You are such a beautiful sad creature.”

“Beautiful sad creature, where did you pick that up?”

It turns out she got the phrase from me, but I’d forgotten. Back when I consoled her over a terrifyingly serious ear infection (read the whole story on her blog here) I had texted over a “wealth of coping mechanisms” that I’ve gained from the hilarious combination of having a sluggish immune system (born premature) and a creative/anxious mind.

sad-beautiful-creature

I would never diminish the suffering of others, but I understand my own weakness for melodrama. I have to laugh at myself or else I’ll just spend the night intermittently sweating with a pillow over my head and snatching my phone up again for some more WebMD torture.

If it's possibly cancer: whatever, you always wanted to be interesting

Turns out if there’s a lump sticking out of my shin a terrifying extra 1-inch, my reaction is mostly jovial. This is a battle wound. Also, I had taken 3 Ibuprofen before the concert in anticipation of wearing my improbable shoes.

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Also, I was still drunk. Still, the benefit of having physical injury over a communicable disease is I get a lot less crap from my doctor. Every time I get strep (like this time & this time) she acts like it’s my fault for being irresponsible with my health. But cut off part of my finger washing dishes? Now that was just an accident! Poor baby!

my-friends-are-going-to-be-so-impressed

If I go to a concert and fall down the stairs (twice) the only person who is going to be mad at me is my daddy. “Wear sensible shoes!” he says sternly every time I show him the progress of my bruises. I think they look pretty cool.

Snapchat-20140422055656

I rely on my coping mechanisms when life’s got me bruised or battered, whether at parties or otherwise. Here are some more:

1. In general: Become a writer or an artist so that every bad experience is fodder for your craft. Like when you got drunk on labor day weekend and someone stole your wallet — Blog post!

maybe-theyll-give-me-the-fun-drugs

2. If you’re stuck having a conversation you don’t want to have: Opportunity to practice conveying boredom true and pure through your every molecule. Can you do it? Can you do boredom justice?

maybe-theyll-give-me-the-fun-drugs2

3. Girl, if some guy is bothering you: Enjoy the anger. Feel the rage. Let it build into a feminist fury. Launch into a diatribe he is ill-equipped to understand but that you felt impressive for saying anyway. Then let that on-top-of-a-mountain feeling carry you for the rest of your night of revelry.

4. If you lost your friends: Sweet, no one can judge me while I play 2048 in this corner over here.

because-im-gay

5. If no one is dancing with/except you: People who dance by themselves are fundamentally interesting. At their worst they are a little socially inept, but they could also be unhinged, weird, carefree. Even a total dweeb, if he’s truly lost in dancing and not checking for his peers’ approval, becomes legendary when he dances alone, silent, inexplicably powerful (think Napoleon Dynamite). People who dance by themselves are Fun people.

6. If there’s not enough alcohol at the party: Actually, this is truly devastating. This is not a time for Coping. This is a time to Do Something. My favorite is Pretend I’m going to Rescue the Party and Get Alcohol but Actually Abandon the Party for a Better One. If you don’t have parties double-stacked for that night, you could actually rescue the party, anoint yourself beer czar, and make people do stupid shit to get at your monopoly of booze.

 

 

Trivia: n. unimportant details or information

I’m losing my patience for trivia worship. I don’t have a mind for holding facts — at least not facts about popular culture. I’m a goddamn encyclopedia for pet behavior and grammar laws, but I haven’t found my flock of fellow bird & word nerds, yet. If geeks are excited about counterculture, then why do I only ever hear them exchanging social affirmations? Do you know about this? Do you know about that? Do we fall on our knees for the same gods?

I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

I am a bird nerd. I love birds. All of my snapchats are of birds.

Real eggheads study an obscure or challenging subject and revel in the love of knowledge. Media culture geeks are just like any insecure high-schooler who wants to be part of a clique that’s big enough for safety in numbers but exclusive enough to be “cool.”

Yes, we’ve decided that a certain amount of geekitude is cool. But, no poindexter is standing on a table, reciting arcane theorems and getting all the ladies at the parties. People are doing what they’ve always done, and that’s dish news and check that everyone knows the what-what of the happening, socially shaming people who can’t get with the program. What’s changed is that the never-ending internet has given us more what-what to sputter over our red cups. Almost anything goes as long as you have a little tribe of other geeks who are into your geek kink. And you do have a little tribe. You’ve seen them somewhere on Tumblr.

I understand, I really do, that having a common lexicon is a short cut to establishing shared experiences. But if you go on and on about Naruto, and I don’t know jack about Naruto, what am I supposed to do? Pretend I know what you’re talking about so I can skip on the noob history lesson? Change the subject? Point out that you’re a fucking nerd?

In a perfect world, I’d tell you I don’t know jack about whatever-his-face guy-with-a-rune on his headband (at first I thought it was blue-arrow-forehead child. Don’t act shocked, they’re both animated kids shows and I’m not a kid). Don’t give me a history lesson, I’d say. Instead, share an experience or an insight you gained from watching the show.

Do you really need to figure out which episodes we’ve both seen? Why can’t you just tell me what it all means to you? How it compares to your daily life? How it’s improved your relationship with your daughter? Why do I have to partake in this pissing contest that is proving I know enough about your geek fantasy to belong in your geek fantasy?

umbrella cockatoo on the porch

You just did a lot of reading. I will reward you with another bird picture.

This trivia spouting infects everything with a fandom, music appreciation included. Particularly, I don’t know how to react when a person knows more about my favorite band (Queens of the Stone Age)* than I do. I don’t know all the names of all the band members, though I’m certainly familiar with their discography. I can sketch out a list of songs for most albums with decent accuracy. Not that I care — I’ve just listened to R, Songs for the Deaf, Lullabies & Clockwork enough friggin’ times to know.

So, when this guy knows some obscure trivia (historical dates, formation of this or that) about my QOTSA and I yawn and pretend I know Josh Homme held this or that concert for his dead friend because I’m a bit embarrassed at my lack of expertise for my self-proclaimed “favorite”… when this guy goes off on some story I frankly don’t care about (don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed he’s retained so much information on his not-favorite-band), I’m realizing I need to just say: “Hey, thanks for teaching me something new, but what does it all really mean to you?”

When he gives me his baffled response, a “what” or a blank stare, I elaborate, “I don’t really care about the trivia. I care about the music. And I care about the music because of the band’s particular influence on my family, the way the shows I’ve attended shaped my understanding of rock and live performance and human appreciation for both. Tell me about an event you went to, how you felt, which beer you drank, how much sweat stained your t-shirt.”

I’ll tell you I first saw them when I was 17, with my dad in Austin, Texas. People there thought maybe he was robbing the cradle, because I dressed a bit too stylish and they didn’t know I was his daughter. I stood on my tiptoes to watch the longest drum solo I’ve ever seen, in a tiny venue called the Rose (it’s a lot like the Casbah, if you’re familiar with that), for “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.” I saw people smoking weed and carefully looked to my dad for an appropriate reaction, as I’d never seen the stuff before.

Don’t recite some band drama you picked up in your readings — some trivia that has nothing to do with you. Make it personal. Make it you. Bands are bands and some are better, but I’m not sitting in a spa with Josh Homme so what do I care if he wrote this or that song in this or that city? Unless, of course, *you* lived in that city.

Look he's so cute he's squinting. Don't you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I'm not boring you am I?

Look he’s so cute he’s squinting. Don’t you enjoy all these bird pictures? They are like my children. Look at all these pictures of my children? I’m not boring you am I?

What I’m trying to say is, I coasted through my history classes because they weren’t *my* story. I’m much more interested in humans right in front of me than humans that are “popular” enough to make it to the books or the silver screen. I’m more interested in you. Tell me a tale, and make it one I can’t watch on TV. Tell me something I don’t know.

As media expands, these little clusters of allegiance to external narratives (Did you watch the new Game of Thrones? Are you into Attack on Titan?) might just fall apart. Lifespans of trends are shortening as the fire hose of popular media keeps pouring. We can’t keep up with everything. Certainly, established common ground makes us feel less alone. But I hope that the growth of communication technologies connects us such that we don’t need these superficial obsessions to lope along in a conversation. We could download in instants what someone else has already digested (here’s an emotion/dream/experience I had — let me transmit it to you in a microsecond so you know what I mean) and instead of validating that we’re on the same island of thought, examine and compare our reactions in the same moment. Make meaning, not just chase meaning laid out before us for us to follow like helpless human eyes scan a constantly flashing, changing TV screen. Quit worshiping trivia. Create your own legends.

*P.S. I’m going to the show in SF on the 17th! Will I see any other San Diegans there?

Go to Bro Bars

Go to bro bars. Order a Miller Light. No one will think you are drinking it ironically, so get that out of your head. Enjoy it, instead. Talk to strangers. Talk to strangers who ask if you don’t mind if they sit next to you. Don’t mind.

Spend the night listening. Spend the night believing you’ll be gleaning wisdom, or “stories of the people,” or perspective, or a new way to arrange the same sentences everyone says, always, everyday.

If you take out a notebook and write down what a person says to you, they will fall in love with you.

If you pull out a notebook mid-conversation to write what a person just said, they will fall in love with you.

Mean something to someone. Turn him down easy. Turn him down hard. Draw a puzzle piece that’s open on all sides. Explain these connections happen to you all the time, that you’re easy. Explain you understand it was special for him, but it was common for you. When you hug him goodbye, he will recite his phone number into your ear.

Listen.

Johnny Cash.

Basketball shoes.

Faggotron.

bro-bar-notes-faggotron

Take out a notebook. A bartender named Gregory will tell you, you don’t need to write a poem about him. Buy a lotto ticket. Win 4 dollars. Gregory’s dog does a trick — puts both big black paws on the bar and drinks water from a shot glass.

These places are quiet on Thursdays. These are the neighborhood places. There are regulars here, and you aren’t one of them. Not even close. Order another Miller Light. It’s half good when it’s cold.

 

I love tourists

I love tourists. (And transplants.) Granted, sometimes it’s a “kids say the darnedest things” kind of affection. I used to work at SeaWorld, and I won’t repeat his words here, but let’s just say a man from a small town in Oregon who was overwhelmed by the “diversity” taught me there are racist words that I didn’t know about.

He’s not the kind of tourist I love. Nor the ones who unknowingly starred in my daily comedy show: I watched seagulls dive-bomb trays of french fries as soon as the hungry guests emerged from Mama Stella’s. No, I value the people who remind me what’s good about this place. I mean, besides the weather. This weekend I met a woman from Chicago who awed at the mountains, and yes they were very effective at blocking my cell reception but I stopped cursing T-mobile and also spun in a slow circle. Ok, yes, I’m looking at them. Wow.

And every place has its own brand of localism, but ours is particularly bullheaded. Families sit behind property taxes like they earned the right to live here, passing down houses for generations. What they don’t know is that the transplants are saving this town. Because while we’re the last idiotic stand against all that is good and liberal in California, we have an ironic patience for tourists. Newcomers are weirdos. But we’re oblivious, too complacent and courteous to offer anything but smiles and averted gazes.

It is when I’m at a writing night, or in a art group, that people are surprised that I’m a local, like I’m some kind of rarity. Locals might create these spaces, but the transplants flock to them. They are still hungry for controversy, they still remember what it’s like to wear galoshes because you need them, not because they are covered in zebra stripes and match your fuzzy animal print coat…. Waterproof shoes are rad, why did no one tell me this? I stood in a creek! And my feet didn’t get wet!

The kind of tourist I love shakes his head at me, asks me how I can be okay with this, reminds me there is a larger world out there. The kind of tourist I love tells me I can retire here but I need to get out at some point. The kind of tourist I love, though, has to admit the chaparral here could inspire Dr. Seuss and this place is pretty great, underneath it all. And it’s getting greater.

  1. Beer. Obviously.
  2. The food trucks are multiplying.
  3. So Say We All
  4. A new haunted house
  5. …and more of course!

P.S. yes, I know I missed my post last week. I was preparing for a large camping festival, and yes it was lovely, and no I won’t write about it in my public-facing blog. I love you tourists, but that one isn’t for you.