March 11, 2008

Do you know what kind of deal would need to be made to get me to stand next to my cheating-ass husband during a press conference?

02spitzerxlarge1Crossposted from MOMocrats

This whole, sordid Eliot Spitzer affair has me thinking about The Wife. As in Silda Spitzer. As in Suzanne Thompson (Mrs. Larry Craig.) As in Hillary Clinton. (Really, I could go on and on.)

They stand next to their husbands in a symbolic gesture of support, eyes cast downward, as their husbands look teary and apologize to the public for letting themselves, their wives, and their families down.

Allow me to direct you back up to the title of my post.

What a deal must have been struck to make these women stand with their husbands? I would've been somewhere on a beach in Hawaii with my kids while my husband was making his statement. ALONE. Ain't no way I would have been standing behind him clutching my pearls.

Continue reading "Do you know what kind of deal would need to be made to get me to stand next to my cheating-ass husband during a press conference?" »

March 10, 2008

Eating locally-sourced, good food doesn't have to be expensive

Chokes I talk a lot on my blog about how eating locally-grown, organic food doesn't necessarily have to break the bank, and this article in today's San Francisco Chronicle not only supports that, but is inspiring.

The single-mother profiled lives on a monthly income of $1200 and still manages to eat well.

My family also lives on a tightly-controlled food budget and there are lots of ways you can eat well on the cheap. Here are some of my tips:

Continue reading "Eating locally-sourced, good food doesn't have to be expensive" »

January 18, 2008

Hello, pretty Korean ladies, can I talk to you?

Swimming_pool_large The silicon valley gym we belong to is truly a "community" gym. It is family-oriented and caters to the many different cultures represented in our diverse city. At any given time you can hear multiple languages being spoken, and I especially love how the old Chinese men sit in the lobby reading their newspapers and chit-chatting.

Swimming lessons, however, are dominated by Koreans. More precisely, Korean moms and their children. Their kids somehow manage to look immaculate even while in the water. The little girls wear frilly swim caps and goggles that match their swim suits, and the boys' brush cuts glisten with little drops of water whenever they surface. Two minutes before classes end, a line of Korean moms stand at the edge of the pool with towels-in-hand ready to wrap up their children so they don't get cold. They are then whisked off to the showers where the mothers scrub them from head-to-toe, even if by Western standards, those kids could scrub themselves.

Continue reading "Hello, pretty Korean ladies, can I talk to you?" »

January 03, 2008

From Silicon Valley to Iowa today

EdwardsToday I have knots in my stomach as I consume every bit of media I can find on the Iowa caucuses. John Edwards is my pick for president and despite the fact that Iowa has a dismal record at picking presidential winners, I want him to have a strong showing. Right now the contest is too close to call: Edwards, Obama, and Clinton are polling neck-and-neck. Even those two tools Romney and Huckabee seem to be tied for first.

Which brings me to this. Like so many other Democrats, I was undecided for a long, long time. Edwards wasn't really even on my radar at first. But the more I listened to him, the more I liked. Now I am an unabashed Edwards supporter and I don't mind letting everyone know it. In addition to starting a blog that I hope will help get him elected (along with fellow SV Moms Beth and Glennia), I sport an Edwards bumper sticker on my car, a sign in my yard, and I proudly wear my Edwards '08 pin everywhere I go. When I saw the Edwards table set up at my local farmer's market last week, I cheered. I am not alone.

Continue reading "From Silicon Valley to Iowa today" »

December 10, 2007

The Gentry Magazine's "WTF?!" of the Month

GentryYes, it's that time again. That time of the month when Silicon Valley's favorite "community magazine" is dropped off on doorsteps across the region. This month's issue boasts a bright red cover and a present wrapped with a  bow. And what a gift it is.

You may remember last month's WTF?! I thought it was doozy that couldn't be topped. Apparently I was wrong.

Continue reading "The Gentry Magazine's "WTF?!" of the Month" »

December 04, 2007

PSA for my fellow bargain hunters: 50% off LED holiday lights if you live in Palo Alto

LightsHi. My name is Clark Griswold. Okay, it's Stefania but someone needs to stop this holiday decorating train 'cuz it's out of control.

This is the first Christmas in years that we will actually be home, and I admit, I've gone a little overboard with the lights and ornaments. (48 pretty, sparkly ornaments for five bucks at IKEA? That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.) I'm all about the holiday bargains and not breaking the bank at Christmas time.  If you are, too, and you live in Palo Alto, you need to know about this program.

Palo Alto residents: If you haven't gotten your holiday lights yet (either because you don't have any, can't find them, or can't be bothered to untangle the ones you already have) read on.

Continue reading "PSA for my fellow bargain hunters: 50% off LED holiday lights if you live in Palo Alto" »

November 27, 2007

Keeping it Local Part Deux: Local Immigrant Gardeners Provide "Seeds" for Scholarships

SeedsRecently, the San Francisco Chronicle profiled a local community organization called Bay Area Gardeners Foundation founded by a Silicon Valley gardener who is giving back to his community in order to help send kids to college.

From the article:

Catalino Tapia came to the United States at age 20 with $6 in his pocket. He worked hard, as a baker and a machine operator, and eventually started his own gardening business. He and his wife bought a home in Redwood City and raised their two sons, putting the eldest through college.

Though he never studied beyond sixth grade, Tapia was so inspired to see his son, Noel, graduate from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley that he decided to help other young Peninsula people make it to college. Now 63, the Mexican immigrant is giving back to the country he says has given him so much.

With legal help from his son, Tapia established a nonprofit corporation, the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, and recruited a dozen other immigrant gardeners to join the board. This year, the foundation gave out nine scholarships of $1,500, almost double what it distributed in 2006, its first year.

Continue reading "Keeping it Local Part Deux: Local Immigrant Gardeners Provide "Seeds" for Scholarships" »

November 09, 2007

Nancy Nord, director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, MUST GO!

Nord_2 These were the one thing my kindergartner wanted for Christmas.  I saw them at Costco and made a mental note to purchase them there when I started my holiday shopping.  I imagined her face on Christmas morning smiling with glee at the realization that her Mamma really was listening all those times she squealed, "AquaDots! AquaDots!" when the commercial came on. On PBS Sprout. Don't get me started.

Aquadots Now I read I could have poisoned my own children because they both are so orally-fixated they would have been scooping those beads into their mouths fistful by tiny little fistful. But I would have thought, "It's water, right? What's the harm in that?"

I'm stunned. I mean, I really would have bought these. And I would have poisoned my children. Or worse.

Continue reading "Nancy Nord, director of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, MUST GO! " »

October 26, 2007

An open letter to Sloane Citron, publisher of Gentry Magazine

Gentry2_2 Dear Sloane Citron,

I just read your shocking editorial in the current issue of Gentry (Nov. 2007) where, referring to your son's school, you write:

Gentry_image "While Hillview is a fairly homogeneous place, Menlo-Atherton is diverse. While it's impolitic to say, I'm not sure the diversity is such a positive thing in a learning environment. While it is the reality of our society, from a learning standpoint, it is one more impediment to the challenge of teaching and learning. And, as a result, the children are sometimes pushed into environments where 'real-world experience' is placed above the act of learning. In other words, the concept is real and honorable, but the result is sometimes less than satisfactory."

I had to read those sentences twice just to be sure you said what I thought you said. And what you are saying is that you feel sorry for your poor white kid who is about to be thrown into a high-school full of "diverse people."

Continue reading "An open letter to Sloane Citron, publisher of Gentry Magazine" »

October 19, 2007

Do you know about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

GarbageI have been reading with interest horror about the continent-sized patch of garbage floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This conglomeration of flotsam that's twice the size of Texas (just let that marinate for a moment) largely consists of plastic waste: bottles and bags that make their way through our sewers and storm drains and into the ocean.

Continue reading "Do you know about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch?" »

October 08, 2007

Bring the Troops Home. Save Darfur. End the $40 Pedicure Indignity.

Pedi Damn you, Silicon Valley and your $40 pedicures. I can't take it anymore. I love everything about living in the suburbs and haven't complained once since leaving San Francisco 10 months ago (okay, I complained once), but $40? For a pedicure?  Just a pedicure?


Let me let all y'all in on a secret, my Silicon Valley Sistahs. In San Francisco, yer basic no frills mani-pedis are $17. (You heard me.) Twenty bucks including tip. Yes, for both a mani and pedi. Yes, in a spa chair. Yes, with Essie and OPI polish, and no, I've never gotten a nasty fungus, but people get those from the fancy places, too.  Just ask Paula Abdul.

Continue reading "Bring the Troops Home. Save Darfur. End the $40 Pedicure Indignity." »

September 28, 2007

Project: Life Change: Now it's your turn!

Plc_2 Cross-posted on Sassafrass and Chicago Moms Blog.

Calling all "mama friends," especially those of you who do the work-life juggle every day like we do.

Are you tired? Stressed out? Grouchy? Feeling like you are working too much? Missing out on watching your kids grow up? Too busy to participate in the fun parts of family life? Avoiding the pile of laundry in the corner of your bedroom?  Neglecting yourself? Not making time or money for the little luxuries? Feeling isolated from your partner? Overwhelmed with school calendars, activities, and homework? Longing for more time in your day? Feeling out of control and powerless to make a change?

We're Jessica of Sassafrass and Stefania of CityMama and we're right there with you. As much as we love to bitch about how frustrated we are with our current life sitches to anyone who will listen (and you know we can bitch like it's our JOB), we've decided to do something about it.

Continue reading "Project: Life Change: Now it's your turn!" »

September 19, 2007

Welcome back to open your wallets!

Empty_wallet I recently wrote an article for Work It, Mom! on the subject of going back to school. My particular take on the issue comes from being a parent of a new kindergartener faced with having to donate money hither and yon for the privilege of attending our neighborhood public school.

The primary reason we moved from San Francisco to our city (I'm purposely not naming it for privacy reasons) was for the schools. That my husband got a job offer that landed us here right when were beginning to look around at San Francisco schools, we believe, was kismet or fate or whatever you want to call it. 

My husband, being a "crunch the numbers" kinda guy, looked at all the test scores and other qualitative school information across Silicon Valley and felt confident we were making the right decision by moving here. I grew up in the area and am a former school teacher so I also felt we were making the right decision.  But my brother cast the first shadow across our decision by commenting, "I wouldn't want my kids going to school with Google-aires."*

*Google-aires: people who made their money on Google stock.

Continue reading "Welcome back to open your wallets! " »

August 24, 2007

And now a word from our sponsor

BlogheradsIf y'all look to the right on this page, you'll see ads (hey, gotta pay the blog bills). We leave the selling of those to an organization known as blogher. And blogher wants any of our readers who have personal blogs to know that BlogHer Ads has just reopened its bad self to bloggers wanting to join the ad network. Read the rest of this post for the details.

If you have a blog that's more than 3 months old and you post regularly (at least 2-3 times a week) that's pretty much all the requirements right there. Easy, right?

Okay, maybe you have questions like:

Continue reading "And now a word from our sponsor" »

August 03, 2007

The Momosphere Talks Back

The blogosphere has been aflame this week with a lot of discussion on how to market to bloggers, women, and, most particularly, women of color. The catalyst for a lot of this was the "State of the Momosphere" panel at BlogHer07 last weekend. Stefania wrote about this on Kimchi Mamas earlier this week, Mocha Momma did a very pointed recap entitled "Marginalization & Marketing" on the 30th and Mom-101 wrote on the 31st. I encourage you to read them all--and the comments too. And when I got back to work, I wrote a piece from my point of view both as a blogger and as someone who works in the marketing world, which has collided in strange and interesting ways this week.  If you've written on this, know of a must-read post or have something to say after reading these pieces, please leave a comment below.  And let's keep talking about this, okay?

July 30, 2007

Putting PR People on Notice - Linklove to Kimchi Mamas

Here is a must read post from Stefania of Kimchi Mamas (and  a fellow SVmom contributor): "Putting PR People On Notice". Just in case any marketers looking to reach moms are reading this.....

Oh, and a note from Mocha Mamma.

July 27, 2007

SV Moms in 7X7!

Breaking news (I've always wanted to say that!): The "Cyber Patrol" section of the August issue of 7X7 Magazine has a feature on parenting blogs, featuring our very own SV Moms Blog, Stefania's City MaMa,Charlene's CrazedParent, (and, in the interest of full disclosure) my blog, The Family Room.  Great timing on the first day of BlogHer!

May 03, 2007

Eat local, but more importantly—shop local


Reflecting back on last week's "Eat Local Challenge," my main take-away from the experience is to try to be more aware of where all of my food comes from. As I mentioned before—and as many Family Food commenters concurred—it's easy to eat local in Northern California where we have an abundance of fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, dairy products, wine right in our backyard. Because of that, I realized that—most of the time—I am shopping local, intentionally or not.

Since I was doing the penny-wise challenge—spending no more than $144 to feed my family for the week—I was also trying to be budget-conscious. I realize that a lot of people spend far less than that to feed their families of four, but one of the arguments against eating local is that it's expensive. I took a few exceptions (pasta, coffee, condiments, etc.), but for the most part, eating local wasn't more expensive than the way we normally eat (a mixture of organic and non-organic local and non-local foods). Shopping took a bit longer as I carefully considered each purchase, but that is a learning curve that I know will shorten over time.

Speaking of shopping, eating local is one thing, but shopping local is another. For those of us that live in Silicon Valley, I'd love for you to consider where the grocery store you shop at is based. Is it part of our local community or are they just telling us what we want to hear?

One of my favorite local grocers, Country Sun, has been in the same location since I was a kid. When I worked at the language school next door, that's where I had breakfast or lunch. When Whole Foods opened up nearby, I steeled my resolve to shop Country Sun. And did. And all the while I worried that the small store would be shuttered by the competition.

All these years later, Country Sun still survives and thrives. Now that we are back in Silicon Valley, I try to shop there whenever I can. After doing the Eat Local challenge, I'm putting my money where my mouth is and making that my primary grocery store. One thing I love about Country Sun is that every local product in the store is clearly labeled. Items in the fridge and freezer cases are labeled, items on the shelves are labeled. Produce, of course, is labeled. Eating local is a no-brainer when you shop local.

Is it more expensive than Trader Joe's?  Sure. But if we all resolved to eat local and shop local, perhaps the prices will come down. I challenge everyone reading this who lives in Silicon Valley to not just eat local, but to shop local, too. No matter where you live, seek out the local grocers in your community. Because they aren't just talking the talk, they are walking the walk in the face of some stiff competition.

Crossposted at Family Food .

April 05, 2007

Happy Three Year Blogaversary, CityMama!

Stefania_2On behalf of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, I would like to extend a very happy THREE YEAR BLOGAVERSARY to CityMama.  Thank you for sharing your journeys with the blogosphere over the past three years...  Actually, as Jen from Three Kid Circus reminded me yesterday...." dawg, you are the bawmb!"

Congrats on such a big milestone.  Wow, three years!

Ok, now to share the love.  I present to you, Sanjina (oops, I mean Sanjaya), aka.... lover boy.


April 04, 2007

A Special Birthday Wish for the SV Moms

Dear SV Moms on this auspicious occassion:

I wanted to thank all of you for supporting me iSanjayan my quest to be the next American Idol. I particularly want to thank Silicon Valley Moms Blog founder Jill Asher for her many (many) emails and letters of support. (I love you, too, Jill.)

Happy Birthday SV Moms!

Love to each and every one of you,
Sanjaya Malakar

March 14, 2007

Welcome to the Four Seasons in the beautiful "eastern part" of Palo Alto

When my mom comes to visit she likes to stay in a hotel. She knows that she's more than welcome to stay with us, but she's usually more "comfortable" in hotel. She's 65, extremely picky, and I know better than to argue with her. For my mom, the emphasis is on the "H." This is a woman who doesn't "do" motels. Shoot, she has never even been to Target. (Trust me, I know, but she's set in her ways and I'm not going to be the one to change her mind.) She also probably has never had to empty the loose change jar to buy groceries, all of which I have done at some point or another. I share this with you to paint a picture of what my beloved, extremely particular, Auntie Mame-esque mother is like.

Last week Tata (as she likes to be called) came to visit our new house in "Silicon Valley" and chose to stay at the Four Seasons. (The people reading this who know Tata are all going, "Well, duh!")


Let me tell you a little something about the Four Seasons, namely, where it's located.  The fancy Four Seasons is located in East Palo Alto, California, which several years ago had the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the United States. Specifically, it's located on a swath of EPA land that we used to refer to as "Whisky Gulch." Back in the day, it was a stretch of street in the shadow of of a freeway off ramp that contained liquor stores and laudromats where people did their laundry dealt drugs. It was sca-ry.  In the 80's people used to say that in 10 years, EPA would be prime real estate so buy now!!!, and that its bad reputation would be no more.

Well, 10 years later it was still a shithole, and another 10 years went by.  Then a few years ago, IKEA and Home Depot went in, and across the freeway in the former Whisky Gulch area, an office park sprung up. The office park is now anchored by the Four Seasons Hotel.

But, poor East Palo Alto. For most of its history, East Palo Alto was part of unincorporated San Mateo County. It didn't have an official boundary until it incorporated in 1983. However, the area historically regarded as East Palo Alto was much larger than the city's current 2.5 square miles. Large tracts were annexed by Menlo Park and Palo Alto from the late 1940s to the early 1960. Palo Alto certainly didn't want to be associated with EPA and I've even heard people who live in East Menlo Park, sorry (lowercase) east Menlo Park say that EPA gives their community "a bad name."

The now incorporated city of East Palo Alto has its own mayor, police force, etc. The new office buildings were supposed to help give the city some new-found, professional cred, but the first law firm that moved in was busted for trying to put "Palo Alto" on its letterhead. Someone forgot to add the word "East," and that is a big postal "no-no." Whoops! The hotel stationery gets around this issue only slightly. Each piece of paper is embossed with the heading: "Four Seasons Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto."

As you drive into the Four Seasons, you have no idea you are in a place where unsavory things may be happening right across the freeway (because even today crime and violence in EPA are still things to be concerned about). The hotel lobby is modern and spare. Staff is friendly and welcoming. The suites are filled with furniture and amenities that my home probably will never see (a "high" bed, two flat screens hanging on the walls, a TV in the bathroom, marble countertops, boutique-brand toiletries that I can't afford to buy so I had my mom "procure" them for me.)

But despite the fact that it's a very adult environment, they are very welcoming to kids. Look! They even have a coloring book for children (which I immediately stole so I could photograph and blog it).

May I present to you "The Four Seasons Coloring Book" subtitled: "Look At All The Ways We Avoid Saying We're Located in East Palo Alto."

Kids, we're located in "sunny California," more specifically: Silicon Valley. That's a general term used to describe the 50-mile-long area between San Jose and Menlo Park but never mind. If you get lost, don't forget to tell the police officers to take you to the "gateway of Palo Alto." They'll know exactly where that is.

Make sure you gaze up and outwards to see the mountains and the bay. If you look down you might see bums taking a piss against our back fence or someone stealing the stereo out of your parents' car.

Dsc03115 other words, our bathroom here isn't much different from your bathroom at home.  We want you to feel comfortable. Just try to forget that 5,689 people have bathed in our deep soaking tubs before you.

Dial up a $25 bowl of potato chips. Your parents won't care. That's what they get for leaving you alone in the room while they "relax" at the spa. Don't forget the dessert. The cheesecake goes nicely with the adult entertainment channels.

The bar is so "cool" that when your mom has too many gimlets and starts yelling at your dad for screwing his secretary, you won't even hear them. You'll be too busy eating that cheesecake, right, kids?

Palo Alto may be home to high-tech and Stanford, but East Palo Alto is home to shootings, stabbings, corruption...and the Four Seasons!

"We" are exactly one minute away from Palo Alto. See there?  Right across the street from our porte-cochere? That's Palo Alto.

Kids, isn't "California" awesome!

Silicon Valley, it's time to welcome our red-headed step-child, East Palo Alto, back into our family. And why not? We all go to IKEA or to the Home Depot or to the Starbucks—we could even stop for a pomegranate cosmo at the Four Seasons bar—and we probably wouldn't even get shot!

I'll meet you there next time Tata comes to town.

February 23, 2007

El Camino Real, You're Sucking the Life Out of Me

Original I love every aspect of living in the suburbs (we moved to Silicon Valley from San Francisco a month ago) from the abundant free parking everywhere I go to the quiet tree-lined streets adorned with squirrels flitting up and down oak trees.  But one thing I despise is driving down El Camino Real. For those that don't live here, it's the main thoroughfare that connects all the San Francisco suburbs and stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. It's a the "Route 66" of Silicon Valley. It's the Sepulveda of Northern California. You can take El Camino from town to town if you don't feel like taking the freeways that flank it.

El Camino Real (ECR) is dotted with gas stations, chain restaurants, strip get the idea. I swear, every time I drive it, I die a little.  I don't know if it's the traffic (which is near constant) or the fact that depending on where you are on ECR you can see day laborers standing around waiting for a job or high, ivy-covered walls that conceal the mansions behind.

I think the main reason why I don't like it is because for much of ECR, the architecture is bland, Ecr boring 60's- or 70's-constructed buildings that—if I had super hero powers—I would demolish with my eyeball laser beams.

It also bugs me to see buildings re-purposed but in a way that doesn't make sense.  For example, the bathing suit store/tanning salon in Menlo Park used to be an ice cream parlor and still kinda looks like it should be.  The building diagonally across the street was a kick-ass pancake house/diner when I was a kid, and ever since it shut its doors about 10 years ago, every restaurant in its place has failed because it still looks like a pancake house on the outside. 

Further north in Redwood City, the current BevMo used to be a Lyon's (a Denny's-style-diner, but before that was a real estate agency: WTF?). It, too, looks like a diner. I just don't get it. None of these buildings are architectural marvels, so why not update, refresh...tear down already.

I absolutely avoid driving down El Camino Real whenever possible because it MAKES ME CRAZY.  And for the times I do have to drive it, I wish I could wear blinders.


January 13, 2007

Destination Silicon Valley

Door For the past several weeks we've been looking for a place to live in Silicon Valley. For privacy reasons I'm going to decline to state exactly where, but you could probably subsitute any city from Burlingame to Los Gatos and this story would make sense.

For city folk like us, deciding to move to the 'burbs was a surprisingly easy decision. I mean, we thought long and hard about it, but all the "pros" fell into the place and the decision was practically made for us. As we were thinking about moving, my husband got a new job in Silicon Valley and since our older daughter won't be starting kindergarten until later this year, it's the perfect time. It's meant to be.

We're ready and raring to move. Most of our house is packed up. So why can't we find a place to live?

My husband and I scan Craigslist a hundred times a day. As soon as we see a listing we like, we call or email immediately. Most often it's the number to a real estate agency or property management company so we are forced to leave a message. We have a generic rental application, credit scores, and a little bio at the ready to fax or email. And yet no one calls back.

We're not used to this. We're used to showing up at open houses before they start to be first. In San Francisco qualified renters are chosen on a first come, first served basis. We're used to handing over deposits with our application to ensure we get in the door. We are used to being able to find a place and move in within a week. Who wouldn't want a family with check in hand that can move in yesterday?

What is wrong with these people? Hurry up!  Call us back unless you want me blowing up your voice mail box with my messages (and believe me, I have to practically put myself in restraints to refrain from doing that). Is everyone in the suburbs on 'ludes?

I'm trying to cut everyone a break, after all, this is the first full work week after the holidays. But not returning calls, the lack of urgency? Dealing with pissy realtors who suddenly have to hassle with renting houses because they can't sell them? It's driving me effing nuts.

Let's talk about the ads themselves.  I could give a rip if the home is "prestigious," or the location is "prime" or the neighborhood is "desirable." (The adjectives that come up over and over again in these ads are hilarious.)  I want (in this order): a washer/dryer, a dishwasher, and a disposal in a neighborhood where crack ho's aren't giving it up for $5 a pop on the corner. Is that too much to ask? 

And show me some freakin' photos, already.  To those of you that only include shots of the newly remodeled bathroom, the back of the house, and the side yard, something's rotten in Silicon Valley. I want to see interiors. I want living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. I want to see some curb appeal. I can work around wall-to-wall carpeting and original veneer cabinets. Just show me some photos.

Also, to the real estate company that has had the same house listed at the same price for a month, you might want to consider dropping the price by a coupla Benjamins.  We saw the house and it ain't worth what you are asking. But if you lowered the price (like we suggested), we could have a sit-down. (Update: Whaddaya know, the day after this post, they lowered it.)

My daughter starts her new preschool at the end of the month. I just hope we have someplace to live by then so she doesn't have to tell her new classmates that her new house is parked right outside.

—Stefania Pomponi Butler aka CityMama

November 25, 2006

The big high school down the street

Cross-posted by Stefania from CityMama

This past weekend, J. took Bunny about 30 minutes south of San Francisco to Palo Alto to see Stanford play Oregon State. They went with my brother (who went to OSU) and his family while I hung out with Wallie Tamale. Despite Bunny being motion sick on the bus (and puking) and on the train (and puking), she had fun. (Miraculously, she waited until she disembarked both times to puke.)

She came home all decked out in a new, pink Stanford sweatshirt and told me that "the Beavers beat the Stanfords." Seeing her walking around wearing that sweatshirt...well, one can only hope.

Seeing her walking around wearing that sweatshirt also brought lots of memories flooding back of growing up in the shadow of such a prestigious university.

I went to high school in Atherton, California which is just minutes from the Stanford campus. At my high school as many people wore Stanford sweatshirts as sweatshirts from my high school. Mr. Hasbrook, my AP European History teacher, referred to Stanford as "the big high school down the street." When I was a senior in high school and working on my huge, your-grade-depends-on-it AP English thesis, we had study privileges (though not lending privileges) at the various libraries on campus.

I should say that we didn't exactly have study privileges. This was in the days before students had to show student ID's before entering the library. It was also the days before the internet. AP English students at my high school had for years used the Stanford libraries as the main source of information for writing papers. It was just a given that once you were a senior, you'd do the same and no one would bat an eyelash. And no one ever did.

We would walk into Green Library (or just "Green" as we liked to call it) feeling super-intellectual as we unpacked our dog-eared and hi-lited copies of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead (purchased at Kepler's), our fresh stack of note cards (for note-taking, of course), and our contraband snacks (New York Seltzers and sandwiches from Draeger's). Food and drink were verboten in the library, but we were a bunch of punk-ass high schoolers sitting in a corner. What did we care?

For months I spent every free moment in Green working on my paper, but it would always take me a little while to get settled because I would people-watch wondering what other students were working on. It seemed like no one ever socialized*, everyone was focused on their studies. Back then there were brand new Macintosh computers strewn about the library that any student could use, and I remember thinking that was so cool.

Those were good, good times.  However, those weren't the best times I had at Stanford while still a teenager.

During football season, Stanford had an arrangement with the kids at my high school where we'd wake up bright and early and sell football programs and, in exchange, we'd get a free ticket to that day's game. We'd be handed an apron stuffed with maybe 50 or 60 programs and we'd walk around the stadium and through all the raucous tailgate parties selling our goods.

Now. Let's not fool ourselves. 

The whole reason why my friends and I did this was to meet guys.  Tailgate guys. College tailgate guys. College tailgate guys who had no problem sharing their keg of Coors Light or plastic Solo cups of Bacardi 151 and Coke with a bunch of silly high school girls. 

Whoever was selling programs that day (male or female) was supposed to scout out the best tail gate parties (locally referred to as "steak and bakes") and then tell everyone else about them.  Once the programs were sold, we'd all converge on the party and sit under the eucalyptus trees drinking the keg dry. By that time, the tailgate parties had pretty much come to a grinding halt because everyone was in the stadium watching the game. During that whole season, I think I saw one game. Maybe.

I can't imagine doing that now. Honestly, we were pretty responsible kids, the underage drinking and snack smuggling aside. We never really got out of control, never drove drunk, no one ever got hurt. We all went to school, did our homework, finished our theses, went off to college (some to Stanford). Or our parents would have beaten us silly.

Looking back, I only have fond memories of that time in my life. And if Bunny or Wallie wanted to go to Stanford, of course, I'd be delighted.  But I'd tell them to stay away from the tailgate section to the northeast of the stadium. And never ever drink the Jungle Juice.

*At my university, the library was for checking out the athletes who had mandatory study time every week night. They'd sit at a bunch of tables on the second floor of the library opposite the front entrance (the best vantage point to check out the comings and goings), and the surrounding tables would be packed with co-eds trying to get noticed.