Friday, July 19, 2013

Saying Goodbye to My Nails

After three months of having the most beautiful, pointy, red nails, it was time to say goodbye.

On April 23rd I had my first set of gel nails put on, at Tootsie Toes in San Francisco. What color to choose? I looked at dozens of colors before settling on a blood red— "Can't go wrong with classic."

The process was a blur (a 2 hour blur) and afterwards, I got in my car— GIDDY with my new nails and just sat there, admiring them.

Here are my nails, minutes after I got them:

They have been so awesome, the best accessory ever. I can feel like an evil witch or I can feel glamorous, like Joan from Mad Men. It adds an element of femininity I've never had with my nails— it's like having long mermaid hair.

What was harder to do with long nails?

1. Texting
2. Pushing the seat belt button
3. Getting my contacts out

The first night I had my nails, I could NOT get my contacts out, and I just freaked. "What have I done?!" I figured it out eventually, though.

Here are my nails, after my natural nails had grown a bit, underneath. You can now see my nail beds and "moons":

^This was probably after a month and half. As my natural nail grows, the gel nails grow with them, so they start to get longer and longer— slowly.

I went back to Tootsie Toes to get a "fill." This means they  file down the gel nail a little, strip the old color, and then re-paint. They never actually take OFF the gel nail, though.

This is what it looked like, afterwards. Slightly different red this time:


Just like new!

What was easier with long nails?

1. Tickling
2. Typing
3. Running my nails through my hair

I LOVED typing with long nails, feeling the "clack clack" noise they'd make on the keyboard.

Here are my nails in NY:

Then in mid-July, it was time to take them off. My real nails had grown almost as long as the gels, underneath. I had a couple incidents where the gels (now at their greatest length) got caught on the lip of the car door and also when opening a soda. SO painful. I was fortunate that my gels didn't "lift" off.

I made an appointment to get the gels taken off. I had the option to have a new set put in, but I'm going to let my real nails have a few cycles before putting gels on again. Keep 'em healthy and strong.

Taking the nails off took an hour, but was completely painless. The girl was very nice and filed the color off, then soaked the gel off in acetone, then cleaned up my nails and cut them.

Here's the color coming off:

Here are the remains:

I thought my nails were going to be yellow and disgusting underneath, but not really. Here they are, now. You can see the lines where the gels used to be, faintly:

So that is the end of my gels story. I can't wait to get another set! Maybe by Oct? I'm taking color suggestions :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Goddammit Selena Gomez

I really didn't want to like Selena Gomez's new single "Come & Get It." 

The first time I watched the music video I just sat there cringing the whole time. "Poor Selena Gomez, how did she ever let herself be talked into this embarrassing, soft-racist vid shoot?" 

Ok, that was a couple weeks ago. I accidentally heard it again on the radio a few days ago and I thought it sounded so catchy. Now I've listened to it 10x in a row. I still think the music video is HORRIBLE though: 

Ugh, on a separate topic: Can you IMAGINE her and Justin Bieber having sex? Because I can't. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

10 Things I Hated/Liked About New York

Of course I ♥ NY, but I happened to visit during the worst heat wave ever...

Five Things I Hated About New York

1. The WEATHER. This easily makes my #1 on the list. It's way too fucking hot! Not like "Gee, isn't this sun great?" hot, but unbearable, in utter misery hot. And no wind. 

It got to the point where the entire day would be planned around the heat. On my (1) day off from work, I just spent the entire time in my hotel room with the AC on. 

2. The NOISE. I am NEVER going to ever watch a movie that takes place in NY the same way ever again. It's fucking bullshit— there was never a moment where car horns weren't constantly honking and beeping. I have never witnessed so many overzealous, insane drivers. 

3. The RUDE PEOPLE. There def seems to be a "rude culture" thing going on in NY. They are just not as nice and relaxed as Cali people! [And I'm not biased at all...]

4. The $$$$-COSTS. Everything is so expensive!! 

5. The SIZE. It's just too fucking big. It's like a small country, and there are so many people it's insane. 

Totally overwhelming; it must be hard to meet new people. Hair stylist confirmed this by saying the dating scene in NY sucks because everyone is just waiting for the next best thing to come around the corner— why settle down with (1) person when there's so many people to choose from?? 

Five Things I Liked About New York

1. Saying "I'M GOING TO NEW YORK" gets everyone in Cali all excited. It's cool to say you've been there. 


I'm having writer's block right now and can't honestly think of anything that I liked, specifically, about "New York" on this latest trip, so for #2-#5 I'm going to list things that I absolutely loved when I visited NY when I was 10 years old. 

2. The HOTDOG I got in Central Park. It was at the top of my "NY Trip" bucket list. My mom and dad took photos and everything. 

3. The MUSEUMS. 

4. The STATUE OF LIBERTY. This was back pre- 9/11, when there wasn't crazy security everywhere. It was a great day trip and we wore our liberty crown hats all day. 

5. The CENTRAL PARK. I know we have our great GG Park here in SF, but Central Park was something else. It was so beautiful in spring, with tons of cherry trees in bloom. My mom and I tugged a huge low branch and it just started raining petals. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ArmChair Birder

The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds, by John Yow

The Armchair Birder is about a niche topic that is written so well, and with such charm and wit,  it would captivate the most bird-indifferent imagination. For birders, especially the casual and recreational, Yow is the bee's knees. 
The great thing about Yow’s book is that it’s all about familiar birds—what we see and hear about everyday, not the exotic. Bluejays, woodpeckers, mourning doves, eagles, wild turkeys, owls. 

The anecdotes alone make for a memoir not soon forgotten. Yow talks about bird feelings and behaviors— as if they were humans, almost! Such a colorful array of bird personalities was fun to read about, as if the birds themselves were talking to Yow and sharing all their secrets. 

The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal: The Secret Lives of Birds of the Southeastern Shore, by  John Yow

The sequel to The Armchair Birder, The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal was another success. Yow's great wit and dry humor strikes again! 

I will NEVER judge seagulls the same way again— I feel like I’ve been much too hard on them. Yow wrote the most sympathetic chapter on seagulls, it made me feel like a bad person. 

Aren't you curious, now? 

Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports, by Susan Ware 

This is one of those books about a legend— the whole time you’re reading it you’re thinking, “Wow, Billie Jean is AWESOME.”

Game Set Match is a biography about Billie Jean King, the woman who "made" women’s tennis, and helped bring the world’s attention to women’s sports. 

She was also a closeted lesbian for a long time, and then later came out, before it was the least bit fashionable. Balls! 

A great under-dog story, fantastic build up, with a satisfying end! 

 Border War: Fighting Over Slavery Before the Civil War, by Stanley Harrold

If you’ve ever seen a popular film or TV series about the Civil War, this book is catnip. 

Border War delves into how the border southern states had the highest slave runaway rates, so they came up with the most bizarre laws to stop it, and the ensuing struggles and debates were ferocious. 

There's plenty of action, and the "back-in-the-day" atrocities are entertaining, if you have the stomach for it. 

Making Marriage Work: A History of Marriage and Divorce in the Twentieth- Century United States, by Kristin Celello

This book that really blows the lid off of the whole divorce “crisis.” 

Remember Laura Kipnis’ Love Polemic?  It was a diatribe of romance and monogamy,  but Making Marriage Work is a great balance— tremendous research and investigation, but it’s not out there to judge you. 

It has a wealth of information that will make you think about how the idea of marriage has evolved and been changed by political, environmental, religious, and cultural influences. This is a book that will be nodded to for a long time to come. 

Work is about how marriage has been defined not nearly so much by romance as by labor… a wonderfully provocative idea.

The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss, by Charles W. Eagles

This book is like the “college” of Remember the Titans, (2000) with Denzel Washington. Too bad he couldn't narrate! 

The Price of Defiance sets the scene of the white college life in Mississippi during the early 1960s: beauty queens, sororities & fraternities, keg parties, football, etc. Might sound familiar to a lot of colleges today? Except only white students were allowed to enroll at the University of Mississippi, or as they called it, Ole Miss. 

Everything hit the fan with the integration push in 1962 to allow African Americans to enroll at Ole Miss— a total page turner with awesome heroes to cheer for! 

James Meredith was the first African American to enroll at Ole Miss, and the day before the first day of school was so explosive, there ended up being fatal riots. 
The children and grandchildren of alumni during those years can recount the stories, it completely impacted the community, even generations later. 

Author Charles Eagles, a Mississippi historian, writes Defiance like a screenplay— great plots, characters, action. Is there a movie deal yet? 

Not to be missed! 

Music From the True Vine: Mike Seeger’s Life and Musical Journey, by Bill C. Malone

An audiobook for music-lovers. Mike Seeger, founding member of the influential folk revival band New Lost City Ramblers, along with his brother Pete Seeger ("We Shall Overcome") transformed American music, from the grass roots up. 

From the Introduction, by Bill C. Malone: 

Who is Mike Seeger? 

 I was asked that question far too often after mentioning that I was writing his biography. And a second question frequently followed: "Is he related to Pete Seeger?" Trying not to show my irritation, I generally responded with, "Yes, he's his half brother, but he's a much more talented musican than Pete." 

It is difficult to provide an adequate conversational, sound-bite assessment of Mike, though, when most people are very aware of the almost iconic status that his brother Pete occupies in American popular culture. Mike, on the other hand, always went about his work quietly and mostly below the radar of public recognition. 

But there’s not an American folk or country music fan, there’s not one American rock or pop critic, who hasn’t paid homage to this man or fallen in love with his many songs and musicial discoveries.  

Finally we have a biography that has all the humor, warmth, and campfire-style story telling that marks everything Seeger has been involved with turn into legend. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pupusa Quest: Balompie Cafe

Welcome to Balompie. This restaurant is officially in the running for Aretha's #1 Favorite Pupuseria!

I didn't remember that I'd been here with Edher before on one of our first dates. I was distracted and nervous about ordering "the right thing"— I didn't want to make any faux pas! This time when I went to Balompie, it felt like the real first time.

Why did I like it so much? Combination of the food, variety, staff, location, and interior.

Location: It's located on 18th St between Capp and Van Ness, so super easy to find and right next to a million pub transpos.

Interior: Lots of tables. The middle of the restaurant is set up "family style" with 7 tables all placed together in a row. Big windows.

Food: Hands down, one of the best zucchini pupusas I've eaten yet. Subtle flavor but the cheese tastes more yummy w/ the zucchini than without. Trust me, it's amazing— and I'm mostly a meat eater. I also liked the beans and cheese, and the plain cheese was good, too.

Variety: This pupuseria has a larger variety of pupusas than other restaurants— that was fun!

Edher ordered the Camaron y Queso, Pescado y Queso, and Mariscos y Queso. He liked them all — (Disclaimer: Edher likes everything.) I found out that I don't like seafood pupusas— but a shrimp burrito can bring me to my knees.

Mariscos Pupusas

The beans and rice were fine, but honestly after three pupusas I was so stuffed I couldn't really enjoy them. I took them home to-go!

Beans & Rice 
The Staff: I developed a HUGE crush on our waitress. She was nice and laughed at all my dorky jokes. She made me feel cool instead of an awkward gringita. We were the only people in the restaurant so we got to talk to her a lot; I told her about my Pupusa Quest and she thought that was hilarious.

I'll be back soon!

Also: most people on Yelp also agree this place is pretty awesome. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pupusa Quest: El Majahual

El Majahual
1142 Valencia (Between 22nd & 23rd)
(415) 821-7514
Open Mon-Sun 11am-9pm
El Majahual is right in the middle of everything— a great location in the Mission. Arrived at 3:30pm on a Sunday, and it was full of people.

We were given our menus right away, but the overall service was slow... Edher had to go back in the kitchen to wrangle the waiter so we could place our order. It looked like there were only 2 people working there, a little understaffed, even for a small pupuseria.

One big highlight for me is that it was a nice place to sit and eat! It was clean, with light coming in through the windows and lots of people-watching action on the street outside. Inside, the restaurant is filled with bright colors and cute little tables.

They offer primarily Salvadorean and Columbian dishes— menu is pretty big!

Pupusa Section of Menu 

The results?

-Water was ice cold (nice), and the horchata was sickeningly sweet (bad).
-Chips were stale.
-My pupusa revuelta was amazing. Perfect blend, leaves you wanting more.
-Rice and beans were above average.
-The cheese pupusa barely had any cheese in it! WTF

Conclusion: Go back and get 10 pupusa revueltas, skip the horchata. Don't go when you're starving and/or cranky— you need a patient mood to enjoy this place.

Benito & Chicken were also at the luncheon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My FIRST Book! My New Baby :)

I'm  thrilled to announce the debut of my first book:
"Mother/Daughter Sex Advice" by Susie & Aretha Bright! 

Welcome to the  "girl-talk" you thought you'd never hear in public!
Now available on Amazon: Mother/Daughter Sex Advice.
We are a Mother/Daughter team of veteran columnists from, whose readers flooded them with explicit dilemmas about sexual pleasures and disasters, body issues, dating, relationships, and young marriage.  
Chapters include: 
“Dumped After 4 Years... and Still a Virgin”
“Will I Ever Get Used To Anal Sex?”
 “I Have A Tendency To Throw Up Every Time My Boyfriend Comes In My Mouth”
The Boy Who Didn’t Like Doggie
“How Can I Get My Girlfriend to Shave Her Pubic Hair?”
“I’m A Girl Who Comes Too Fast”
We were 52 and 19 when the column started. Was their advice column going to be an unending nightmare of TMI? We had to open the envelope to find out. Each took turns with the same questions, and that’s when the eye-opening arguments began! 
If you want  cutting-edge sex advice that goes beyond pregnancy-and-disease-control, if you’re ready to hear family conversations about sex that are real and refreshing (if not always agreeable!)— if you’re primed to move beyond Our Bodies Ourselves— this is the book for you.
Wanna Write a Review? 
WIN an Iron Chastity Belt— or Hitachi Magic Wand!  (Your Choice)   
1. Post a quick customer review on Amazon by May 25!
Email us a link to any Amazon review you post about our book, and we’ll put your name in a May 28 drawing for a deluxe iron chastity belt! — Or a Hitachi Magic Wand. (Your Choice).  
Yes, the chastity belt is real.  

2. Take your shot on GoodReads-- deadline May 25!  
Do you write about your reading list on Goodreads, Library Thing, Reddit, The Well?
Send us a link to your review and we’ll put your name in a May 28 drawing for a complete set of Susie and Aretha’s 7 all-time favorite sex-advice books .

3. Attn: Blog Sluts Who Can’t Shut Up & Journalists Under Fire 
Yes, we want your critique, your dissection, your interview.
Let’s make a date to run a story and we’ll give you all the goodies you need: photos, excerpts, uncensored interviews!
We’re available to  you all this month, until May 28.  Email us: