Meta Post: This will be the year I teach you to survive

I’m back.

During my month off, I considered restricting or shutting this site down. Movement at my day job made me wonder how long I could maintain somewhat of a personality schism — would my online reputation threaten my professionalism? I opened this website using my real name with the intention of not letting anonymity make me a lazy writer. Ultimately, I stand by my instincts that if being myself publicly closes doors, then I want those doors closed. My privilege of a safety network and specific upbringing entreats me to be myself, and I refuse to only make safe choices.

I have also chosen to put my real name on my writing. I have to hope this choice will make sense when I reflect back on my life… — Feb. 20, 2014


New interest on an old post, Why is San Diego so Boring, gives me a mission statement for 2016; this is the year I pass on my survival lessons. I vaguely understood my calling to entertain bored friends, locals, and visitors of San Diego. Now, I’d like to put my “thoughtful” hat on again and push this blog’s tone in that direction. That is to say, I’ve recovered from some rough life changes and have the emotional energy to do more than vaguely insult my friends on the internet for laughs!

In 2016, I resolve to:

  • Examine my core tenets and how they are related to “surviving” in “San Diego”
  • Communicate these strategies in entertaining, or at least interesting, blog posts
  • Entwine this year’s posts into a larger, cohesive narrative
  • Find and listen to my audience

Here are some of my plans I might use to do this:

  • Answer questions from the community a la an advice column — which has the added benefit of making SD Survival Guide sustainable long term
  • Involve myself more in local projects
  • Be more conscious in my explorations of the city and subculture so that I can share them here
  • Probe the meaning of “story”
  • Create event series until I find something that sticks
  • Develop a themed posting structure, such as Week 1: “How to survive _____” Week 2: “A question from San Diego” Week 3: “From my list of party ideas…” Week 4: “So, this happened to me (in SD)” — or at least create recurring categories!


I’m excited to renew this project (and stop being a lazy panda). I don’t know if that means I’ll be posting every week again, or if it still makes sense to do every other. I may even choose a different day (stats suggest Saturday @ 7pm). Regardless, I welcome your input via my “ask” box, email, facebook, text, inconvenient phone call, handwritten note anonymously stuffed in my couch during one of my parties…etc…

Thank you, my dear reader, for your priceless attention.


But the good news is I have 3 fewer teeth

I forgot today (er.. 2+ hours ago) was blog day. Perhaps it’s because surgery stole my weekend (==FOMO). I had my wisdom teeth removed – all three of them (I was missing one.. the doctor really didn’t want to talk about it.. she probably was embarrassed that science can’t explain that I am actually an alien and my fourth wisdom tooth is in fact my detachable spaceship).


I’m seriously considering taking all of December off and resuming posting in January. My heart just isn’t in it, and I’d prefer to give you better content than forced obligation posts at the moment (historically, forced obligation posts seem to keep ya’ll interested.. But I still feel like I ate nothing but ice cream all day when I write them (these past few days have taught me that ice cream is a seriously overrated food)). If this breaks your heart, comment / email / use compliments to guilt trip me. I’m really hoping, however, you all are happy to just archive binge for a month…


(whereas I just spent three days binging on pudding* because the inside of my mouth is a nightmare)

Thank you for understanding I am a real human and not a content robot and I’m really just winging it, all the time. ❤


*well; pudding, the aforementioned ice cream, soup, and like a lot of sour cream. A lot.

PS I have discovered a new product and I estimate I have eaten 8oz of sour cream in just three days because of it.


What I do on My Blog v. What I do In Real Life

So it seems like every time I say to myself, “Whatever, I need a week off from blogging, no one will notice,” I invariably go to a party or parties and 2-4 people will tell me they’ve been enjoying my blog. OKAY SERIOUSLY I FEEL GUILTY NOW GOOD JOB. One friend even said that when I miss a week, I often make up for it with a great post the next. JEEBUZ PRESSURE ON AUGH.

Anyway, it seems like a good time to give you a little Superman vs. Clark Kent insight on Sami the Blogger vs. Sami the Human. Also I need to point out it’s uncharacteristic for me to make a geek pop culture reference (even as obvious as this) and I’m pretty jazzed for myself.

A blessing for continuity (and my own sanity): my two personas subscribe to many of the same mantras. Yet, due to their different superpowers (or lack thereof), they wield these edicts differently.

Sometimes it’s Less Important to be Accurate than to be Kind

sometimes-its-less-important-to-be-accurate-than-to-be-kind Sami the Blogger: Yeah, okay, you’re trying to impress people with your brain and word powers and everything, but don’t fail to acknowledge those who disagree with you with compassion from time to time. (At least from a practical standpoint, you’re going to lose readers.)

Sami the Human: What better way to show I respect someone than to support their ideas? At times it verges on enabling, the way I cater to people’s fantasies, but I’d rather do that than be a source of discouragement for the people I love.

Intent isn’t Magic

intent-isnt-magic Sami the Human: I know that a person’s motivation for an action is somewhat unknowable and for the most fun I should give people, as much as possible, the benefit of the doubt. But if someone is bothering me, occasionally I have to let go of empathy and protect myself. E.g. stop worrying so much about why someone is doing something, and just think about if I want to be a part of it.

Sami the Blogger: People’s motivations are somewhat unknowable and I am more interested in examining the ramifications of their behaviors or mindsets which allow the behavior to continue. It doesn’t matter if someone was just trying to be nice, really likes me, or is socially awkward. If their actions have sexist or homophobic effects, then I will examine them.

 Perspective. Perspective. Perspective.

Perspective Blogger Sami: Taking the time to micro-analyze a behavior in a blog essay brings me great pleasure. I enjoy exploring the implications and subtleties of human behavior. Maybe I over-think things, but it helps me.

Human Sami: Time to zoom WAY out. I need to stay focused on the big picture. And the other picture. And the other, other picture. I will immerse myself in as many perspectives as possible so I won’t be phased by the strange or uncomfortable. Or so I try.

Holy Crap. I’m Actually Happy

actually-happy Human: As I sit on the glittery seat of my roommate’s red, diner-style bench, having just finished a meal of microwaved hot-dogs and fresh-picked arugula salad, my eyes unfocus and these words float to my consciousness, “I’m happy.” I am utterly incredulous that I am happy. After a history of depression, I still feel so strange and grateful that my default emotion is positive. Sometimes it makes it hard to be productive, because I don’t feel like I should be doing anything at all except basking in this hard-earned light. Yet it also means I am pretty damn free to do whatever my whims mandate.

Blogger: Doesn’t really matter what I write, if I do a good job, what people think, because at the end of the day I’m pretty stoked about how I feel and how well I’m doing mentally. Might as well keep trying to meet that weekly deadline and see what happens next. (Watching the views grow, well that doesn’t hurt either.)

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.


Johnny Cash.

Basketball shoes.



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.


Writing about your friends on the internet

I bite into this apple of creative energy and there’s a worm in it; another project eats away at the time and thought I normally put into my Thursday update. I’m working on a thing that my collaborator and I avoid putting the b-word on like that’s some sort of curse, but yeah, it wants to be a Book.

(We’re basically writing about our sexy times and our sad times, framed as a series of letters between lovers.)

I’ve been somewhat hush about this writing project because I know sharing too much too soon can crush my enthusiasm. Once someone’s read it, it’s lived its purpose and I lose interest. However... The thing is upwards of 50k words by now (raw, disorganized words at times but still words) so I feel a little braver. I can almost see the finish line, and this time instead of tripping over a false sense of confidence, I’m eagerly putting one foot in front of the other to draw the conclusion closer to me.

I’m not just sharing this information as an excuse of a blog post, and I’m really not sharing this to create hype out of my writing project & 50 friends bugging me to finish it already && when can they read it? — though that may be a fun side effect. Truthfully, I just want to say it occurs to me that I’m struggling with the same thing in my writing project as this blog project, and that is, writing about my friends.

I navigate thornier ground with the b-word thing, because I’m writing about friends I’ve seen naked. Wait, who am I kidding? At some of the parties I go to I see y’all naked too. Anyway, at what point am I crossing the line between enumerating the details of my personal experience to exposing too much about people I care about, even if the law of memoirs means truth is fair game?

I think we can all agree that killing a rattlesnake, cleaning, baking, and eating it at dawn* is an occasion worth commemorating. By contrast (though proudly displaying the burn marks to all) the guy who opted to get branded with a potato masher may not want me to publish any of his identifying details. Yeah, you didn’t go to that party, you don’t get to know.

Remember, though, the “list 10 friends” fad back in Myspace days? It probably started with guidelines like:

  1. Say something to the person you wish you could talk to but can’t
  2. Say something to your BFF
  3. Say something to your crush
  4. etc….

I think by the end of the meme’s lifespan, the rules disintegrated/purified to their true motivations: let’s write 10 anonymous things about each other so we can splash around in puddles of narcissism.

It was glorious to recognize myself. Perhaps I’m really fucking arrogant to believe this, but I think it’d be pretty fun to find yourself in this blog, too. Unless, of course, you said something sexist to me. And while sexists are assholes that deserve to be defamed, anyone reading this should realize my perception of reality has its limits.

FOR FUCKING EXAMPLE: I described a guy in a cookie monster onesie in a less-than-flattering context, only to realize later that I know this guy and he was chummy with me for good reasons. My bad. Guys with brown hair all look the same to me. We all have a lot of people to keep track of in this day and age — and for some reason I prioritize learning the faces of lady people…

Anyway, my dear readers, my baby birds I want to feed and feed, what’s going on here? Do you prefer reading about other people? Are you yearning for your own cameo? Are you just glad I manage to update every Thursday, like a goddamn consistent person? Like, you read me the same as you’d watch a dying TV show past its prime but you might as well since it’s still going every week, did you hear they’re making a season 6 why don’t you kill me already…

The truth is, for me, I’m just obsessed with all of you sometimes. I want to know if it’s okay to write about you. Picasso’s girlfriend probably didn’t tell him to hide away the portraits he made of her saying, ‘baby, what? I look so ugly, do you really think my nose is that big? My eyes are that..awkwardly placed in relationship to the rest of my face parts, seriously they aren’t even pointing in the same direction…??’ But I’m not Picasso and these sentences are search-indexable. I owe you your privacy, perhaps.

P.S. If you’ve been waiting for your cameo, here it is: Yes I did write this because at your party you said, “Careful around her, you might end up on the internet.”

*This occurred the night I contracted strep, but I didn’t write about it because I missed most of the rattler feast when I conked out early on a bottle of Jameson. Didn’t feel like my story to tell, which is the rubric I’ve used thus far in choosing what to put to words.

Is San Diego Really Boring?

San Diego Survival Guide just hit its 6 monthiversary. Yup, that means I’ve made about 24 regular weekly posts (mostly on time, too). I’ve been thinking about what I’m doing with this blog, and my relationship with this city.

In college I sustained a group created by Robert Turner and Grace Nam, in which we made an effort to go out exploring almost every Thursday night (…hey that’s when this blog updates). We took turns leading adventures, burning mixed CDs, and sharing adventurous spots in San Diego. We made a night of surveying pedestrian suspension bridges (there were three). We looked at the topiaries off vine street. We climbed the Secret Stairs of La Mesa. We went to a steel bridge in Jamul because it looked cool on Google Earth.


A blurry nighttime photo of the Secret Stairs of La Mesa

In the past two years, I’ve made going out part of my regular schedule. Katelyn and I get cabin fever because our hobbit-hole apartment has low ceilings and our third roommate is her extensive hookah collection, which really doesn’t leave much room for us… Really, it is all of her research and voracious appetite to get out of the house that I have to thank for my knowledge of places, events, subcultures and what’s happening right now in the city.

So, I feel more focused than most on discovering the truly interesting parts of SD and analyzing its culture. Most people living here are transplants, lost in a sea of tourist traps. The locals that remain are either jaded and fantasize about leaving, or they are comfortable, heavy with their habits.

This town is uniquely apathetic in a glossy-eyed, vacationer-sucking-on-a-Mai-Tai kind of way. We just don’t care, and while this may make us seem culture-less and unambitious, we also are strangely accepting of weirdos. This is where the subcultures have room to flourish. Punks throw subterranean rock shows, burners dance naked in large suburban backyards, polyamorous lovers gather in gigantic cuddle puddles, kinky kids suspend their wives from rafters.

When I started the Guide, I envisioned a personal blog which would examine my life’s intersection with the SD underground. I’d gather email addresses and beacon out parties to the people. I’ve found, however, that I am protective of the secret places and secret societies. I want the world to know they exist, but only the worthy to find them.

The truth is, this Guide is still very necessary.  Yes, when I first did a Google Trends analysis on “San Diego nightlife,” my heart sank.

google-trends-san-diego-nightlife-clubsThe golden years seemed to be 2004 and before. Had I missed my chance? Was I wasting my efforts on non-“trending” topic?

But, no, this is only further evidence that the few young and exciting people out there need help. We’re the last fun warriors. We are in survival mode.

So many people find my blog because they search “Why is San Diego so boring?” or some variation thereof. There’s bored people out there hungry for something real, something exciting, something fun… or just pizza.

why-is-san-diego-so-boringAlso one lonely person found my blog by typing “baptism vagina” in the Google. I don’t even…

Screen shot 2013-09-12 at 6.52.57 PMI know there’s plenty to do, I know there’s stunning and quirky and intelligent and sexy people in this city. I am making it my mission to connect these people together.

Soon, I’ll get my first smart phone and I’ll take care of my more casual visitors by posting pictures and short reviews when I’m out at my favorite late-night establishments to this blog and/or my facebook page. I may be very drunk. There may be selfies.

Next, I’m gathering an army of survivalists and I need your help. If you have interest in being part of the movement, put your facebook profile link in the box below, and we’ll form a group (and I’ll add you as my friend). I’ll be working with local business owner and my good friend “Keshet” to set up parties with all sorts of crazy bad stuff and alcohol, and more alcohol, and unlike the other guys out there, there’s no way we’re charging cover.  Here’s a teaser picture:


Fill out the form if you want to help me throw parties…

I’m pretty excited. But also I made this today and it makes me happy: lol … I have problems.

A Maddening Manic Monday

Hey gang. Time for some real talk.

About 40 seconds after I pushed my last post public, the sweat and nausea of shame descended on me like a Jim Beam hangover.  Normally I have guts of steel with these kinds of things because I’m awesome so this was a weird and unpleasant experience for me.

I'm Awesome - Spose

“Every show I do is poorly promoted
And if you like this it’s cause my little sister wrote it.” Click for music video.

I felt like my last post was way too cute. I’m adorable enough as I am without needing to ‘write safe.’ On a related note, I’m re-thinking my ban on curse words — vote below.  Anyway, I’ve re-focused and this blog will center around my personal experiences rather than a slew of topical rants.  Occasionally, though, I will need to gripe about general San Diego tropes.  Who had ‘fun’ driving last Friday??

My aim is to collage together my exploits with more editorial content in an effort to distill a “VIBE” of San Diego subculture.  Anyone not familiar with Tavi Gevinson’s work and her vibes needs to check this out. There’s nothing quite like living here, which is why they’ve dubbed us the Whale’s Vagina.

Anyway, enough with the meta, I want to talk about an encounter that is still stuck in my mind.

Manic Monday at the Brass Rail is my church. Even though (as the designated driver) I’m limited to one or two stiff, $2 drinks, it is one of my favorite nights.

But sometimes I really wish I could be wasted on Mondays.

12 dollars to look fabulous.

I get all my awesome 80s clothes at the thrift shop just like Macklemore.

In Hilcrest we have two types of “tourists.”
1. Out-of-towners who may not be used to the San Diego flavor of gay and
2. Gawkers who visit any LGBT club like it’s a zoo.
These are not to be confused with the heteregulars (I just made that up!) who frequently join the party because they live nearby, like the area, like the drink specials, and/or have friends/family in the community.

Mondays tend to be quite a mixed night.  We’ve got sexy sorority-types who show up way too early and entertain themselves with group photos. And make out with me when I’m looking particularly non-threatening and feminine. There are friendly gay boys who might spill a cocktail on you but won’t hesitate to say hello. Glittery accessories weigh down slight and strong wrists alike, sequins sparkle in the red light of the smoking patio, and the variety of drinkers spill together on the hard ground like the contents of a toxic stomach.

I am grateful for the straight visitors, both tourists and not, because their money helps support the venues that I love.  Even the “explorers” tend to amuse me with their antics in a “Kids say the darndest things” kind of way.

This tale of fury is about one of the regulars, not a tourist. Sometimes the sense of belonging and community will get to their head and a straight guy or gal will act they’ve earned The Gay Seal of Approval™ and/or Badge of Honorary Membership. Some of my closest friends are guilty of this at times…whoops.

I may just print this out and make a button...One such self-stamped mutual “friend” has been openly pushing my buttons since the day I met him.  I’ll call him Chuck, as in chucklehead, because I’m mean like that.  And the word chucklehead makes me giggle.

I say openly because he told me that “pushing” my “buttons” is exactly what he intends to do. Also, he’s actually doing me a huge favor because he’s teaching me to be more understanding and tolerant of male attention.  It’s not his fault I’m so amazing and he’s attracted to me.  He can’t help himself.  He’s Italian and it’s “just the way they are.”  I wish I could better convey sarcasm in text because I am typing so jaggedly that my nail-beds hurt a little….

My snake eats the cutest size of mice right now.  It's kind of depressing.

My snake eats the cutest size of mice right now. It’s kind of depressing.

I told him that the mouse being electrocuted doesn’t realize it’s for the greater good. Probably came to mind because my date that night experiments on rats for a living. Oh yiss, sexy neuroscientist lady…

Now before my beloved guy friends start to wonder if they risk offending me with their compliments or affection, let me stop you.  I make it clear when someone is gettin’ in my bubbles and disturbin’ my comforts.  Which is why, immediately after Chuck crossed the line between drunken false-familiarity into disturbing amounts of sexually-charged attention, I told him to back down.  My first approach was subtle; I told him I’m not very affectionate and shrugged out of his arms. I used to try to be diplomatic because his best friend is super sweet and I like listening to her talk.

After several encounters and a mixture of polite, frank, and even harsh rebuffs with no progress, I no longer had patience for his continued harassment.  Just a couple of weeks ago I had told him that I don’t like it when he puts his arm around me.  He hangs heavy around my neck which is uncomfortable no matter who does it.  First thing he did when he saw me: drape on me like a wet towel.  His lips a hair from my ear, he told me that I’m beautiful.

My friend Xanadu said I look like a gay ghostbuster :D

Wish I’d been wearing my “gay ghostbuster” uniform instead of the tights and dress in this story.

Trapped in a bar stool between smokers, a railing, and his body, I felt like a cornered animal.  Even as I chewed him out for what must have been at least 20 minutes, he stood alternatively with his face so close to mine I could feel his breath or with his crotch against my leg. Through my thin tights I could verify that he at least had the decency to not have a boner.  Eeeeeugh.  “You don’t come to my bar and rub your balls on my knee and act like you have the right to pretend you’re helping me,” I said to him.  My friend Richard gave another one of his “Mhmmm’s” and a sassy head shake.

Finally Chuck tired of my rapid rebuttals to his hippie-dippy rationale for harassing me the way he does.  For the first time ever, he was the one to walk away from our troubled interaction.  VICTORY.

Now, I realize that he was quite drunk and probably didn’t learn anything from me.  I hope if nothing else he recalls a sense of negative emotion and hesitates to force his “love” on me next we meet.  Love without respect just gets squicky and I am too in touch with my personal limits to let someone willfully make me feel uncomfortable.

I really don’t know what the protocol should be for dealing with persistent arduous attention.  I’m a sexy beast; I get a lot of advances.  I’ve tried diplomacy, I’ve tried deadpan rejection.  Nothing seems to work better than a pre-emptive bitchface (learn the techniques here), but I hate doing the bitchface. There’s no one-size-fits all approach and I’m forced to scrape up patience and empathy all night until I’m exhausted.  It’d help if people just took me at my word.  I’m pretty good at saying what I mean.

By the way, I don’t mind writing about this publicly.  Yeah, he might read it.  There’s nothing I’ve said here that I haven’t tried to say to his face.  I told him all I want is peace. I guess that’s true, but I’ll settle for the glow I get from being righteously angry at chuckleheads.