Whenever I spend a few months in a new city, I make a list of all the things I want to do and systematically check them off (boy, do I know how to have fun.) Otherwise, I get lulled into the stupor of “we can go anytime,” and “anytime” turns into “never.”
August marked the end of my time in San Francisco, so I checked a few last things off my list…
Hugo and I finally went to MOMA (my employer offered free entrance – yay!) I wish I had thought to come earlier because it would have been better to do it in several visits – after a couple hours of museuming, my brain can’t absorb any more art. I loved the 20th century art on the main floor, but we had the most fun on the top floor.
It was dedicated to interactive sound-based exhibits. There were clay bowls floating around in a giant shallow pool, clinking like aquatic wind chimes, a small wooden structure with tin cans poking out of the outer walls, attached to each other by taut crisscrossing red string for playing “telephone,” and a dark room with a microphone swinging from the ceiling like a pendulum (weird, but memorable).
My favorite piece was a large dark room with nine projector-sized screens. When we came in, we only saw empty rooms with minimal human activity projected, but then all the screens went dark and it looped back to the beginning. One by one, the screens came on, showing a musician in each room getting ready to record simultaneously. When all the screens were on, they started playing together as an ensemble, each isolated in their own room.
It’s called “The Visitors.” The artist, Ragnar Kjartansson, and friends recorded in an old mansion in upstate New York, with a camera filming each of them in a separate room while they played and sang. You can hear some of the music here and see what it looked like here. I wanted to stay through the end to see how it finished, but it turns out the entire piece is over an hour long, so we watched about half before going in search of snacks. You can read more about this piece and the artist here and here.
With San Francisco housing prices reaching astronomical heights (it can cost upwards of $1500 to live with roommates, and no, I’m not kidding), Oakland is now where the cool kids live, and it’s become somewhat of a foodie destination. We only had a few hours, but we managed to squeeze in a big fat brunch at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café.
Bellies full, we took a stroll around Lake Merritt as the fog burned off. Then we headed down to the bay and Jack London Square. Did you know that a lot of people commute to San Francisco by ferry?
We made the most out of the last weeks in the city (for now) exploring new neighborhoods by foot and by food.
Back to Monterey
I love San Francisco, but honestly, I was relieved to get back to Monterey and take a break. It was foggy and grey (as it typically is in August) and I spent two days lounging around in my cozy sweatpants after a whirlwind summer.
At the end of the month, school started up again, and it was great to be reunited with friends from MIIS and meet the incoming students.
We also got back just in time for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Locals generally hate the Concours because of all the traffic and tourists, but it’s fun to see all the unusual cars driving around.
What I’m reading
I read “Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen” by Mary Norris, copy editor at the New Yorker, and it was the most entertaining book on grammar and style that I have ever read. She recounts her professional climb to copy editor supreme, and muses about words and commas. If you aren’t interested in this sort of thing, you would probably find this book extremely dull despite its chapter on profanity, but as someone who obsesses over commas herself, I personally loved it.
There’s a story about a time when she was editing a piece on Brazilian soccer that included the phrase “bros before hos.” Another editor wondered if the phrase was fit to print; Mary Norris was “bent on making sure no one confused ‘hos’ with ‘hoes,’ the garden implement.” She goes on to say that the article was translated into Portuguese, and she finds herself in a panic over how the expression would sound in the translation.
“How would ‘bros before hos’ come out in Portuguese? Would it be something like ‘players versus prostitutes’? Had we inadvertently compared a soccer team to a whorehouse? I had been careless. I never stopped to think how a bit of American slang would sound translated into Portuguese. Then again do you always have to stop and think how something is going to sound in Portuguese?”
Amusing anecdotes aside, my ultimate takeaway was that there is not one correct way to write. There are rules, but sometimes we break them if we have a good reason. And for some things, there are no rules. The New Yorker style guide rebels against many common conventions, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong. There are many things that can be written a number of ways, and there is no perfect consensus about the “right” way to do it – you just have to do it consistently.
Case in point, in the words of Mary Norris: “My colleagues and I have argued…over whether it should be rendered F-word, F word, “F” word, or “f” word, but who really gives a fuck about the proper form of a euphemism?”
My favorite thing at Trader Joe’s
I love Trader Joe’s salads for when I don’t have time to pack a lunch (under $5 and delicious), and I have a new favorite: the Lemon Chicken & Arugula salad. (Move over, baby kale.) It’s Moroccan couscous and quinoa mixed with the arugula and chicken, with a slightly spicy dressing. If you don’t live near Trader Joe’s, it would be easy to make this at home (and I highly recommend that you do).
Pinterest board of the month
I’ve been dreaming of Italy lately (maybe a trip to Venice this winter?) so here’s my collection of Italy guides. This is what I send my friends who are planning a trip to Italy!
Okay, it’s back to reading about translation management systems for me! I hope your September is off to a brilliant start 🙂