Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Bucket List

Here's my second assignment for my online Magazine Writing Class. This time, we were supposed to review a movie, book, live performance. I chose to review The Bucket List.....here it goes...

The Bucket List

It is a rare moment when I hear the phrase, "Life is Short," and truly take it to heart. As a 26 year old, runner who believes that the world is in fact her oyster, I tend to think that I've got lots of years left before I have to start thinking about that which is ultimately inevitable; death.

Yes, I said it, the D word. And it's funny because I'm going to go out on a limb and say that until the day that I am hit with whatever it is that will cause the end of me, I am pretty sure I will go on living just as though I have years and years left and nothing at all to worry about.

Once in a great while though, there are moments when something I see or hear hits me---and for a moment, I realize, this thing called life is not forever. Watching the Rob Reiner Film, the Bucket List (2007) created one of those moments for me. When two men are given just 6 months to a year to live, the phrase "Life is Short" becomes impossible to ignore.

Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) is your classic multi-million dollar making bachelor who has all the physical traits of a senior citizen with his gray, thinning hair but who has the spirit of a rambunctious, couldn't give a hoot 26 year old. His "only successful marriage" is his marriage to his career, he has an estranged relationship with his only daughter and about the only other person who can tolerate his ornery, high maintenance persona is his PAID personal assistant.

Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) on the other hand has aged into a distinguished elderly man. He spent a good chunk of his life as a car mechanic but always dreamed of being a history or philosophy professor. Ultimately it is Carter's philosophical musings that set this crazy pair in motion.

Worlds collide when these two men are brought together in the same hospital room. Cole, not being one for social niceties grumbles out loud about his boring and already dead roommate, while Chambers chooses to stick his nose in a book, ignoring his roommate's absurd behaviors. Bonded by the struggles of cancer, an unlikely relationship begins to grow, and when doctors give the men news that they may only have 6 months to a year to live, they make a touching decision together to really start living.

This is one of those films that left me laughing, crying and in the end, taking a break from my, "I am invincible" mentality to contemplate the fragility of life. In working to cross off the items on their "Bucket List," these two men remind me that it is never too early OR too late to "Find the Joy in our Lives."

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So, I signed up for a magazine writing class with Stanford Continuing Ed and I thought I would post a few of my writings for the class. Here is my restaurant review...let me know what you think!

Whether you are a first time visitor or a native San Franciscan, there's a good chance that if you you're not looking, you may walk right past this humble gem. One block off the hub-bub of Columbus on Kearny, Tomasso's modest green doorway exemplifies the quiet confidence of a San Francisco institution that need not win customers over with florescent signs or elaborate decor. Since 1935 this restaurant has relied on old world charm, a feeling of family and authentic Italian food to work its way into the hearts of its customers.

Upon entry, a soft, lantern lit glow illuminates wall murals of Old Italy in this intimate tavern like restaurant. The best seat in the house is at a table along one of the side walls, where wood partitions create the feeling of private dining. Despite its off the beaten path location, this restaurant fills up fast. Arrive early in order to avoid a long wait in the cramped entryway.

Should you have to wait, Tomasso's has a selection of Californian and Italian wines that you may order and that will likely be brought out to you by a member of the Crotti family (owners).

For starters try one of the house specialties, the Coo Coo clams ($14.50) baked with oil and vinegar or the tender caper flavored Carpaccio ($12.00)

Tomasso's boasts the first wood fire pizza oven on the West Coast (Alice Waters followed Tomasso's lead) and after over 70 years of business you can't go wrong with the crisped-to- perfection pizza crusts and calzones ($15.50-26.00).

If you're feeling like something from the sea, the mixture of influences from the San Francisco Bay and the Bay of Naples (the hometown of the original owners) make for a very fresh Linguine with prawns, scallops and clams ($19.00) in a basil and garlic sauce. Or, if you're feeling like some of the Italian comfort food your Nonna makes, try the Spaghetti with Meatballs ($14.50), Homemade Ravioli ($15.00) in marinara, Stuffed Manicotti ($15.00), or Chicken Parmigiana ($16.00).

Tomasso's takes pride in it's comfy family feel and what Italian family sends you away without dessert? Looking for something decadent? Try the cannoli, a delightful mix of rich cream and a crispy pastry crunch. Or if you are trying to stick (at least loosely) to those New Years Resolutions---the biscotti and coffee offer a simple sweet ending and won't do too much harm.

Tomasso's is a great starting or ending point for an evening or day in San Francisco. Come in before heading over to Green Street to see Beach Blanket Babylon or after a day rummaging through City Lights. There are several public parking areas within walking distance.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Reflecting on 2008, looking forward to 2009

As I sat down to write this blog today, I was running through the past year in my mind and I came to realize that Holy Cow...it was a busy year!!! I tend to kind of belittle the business of life in the moment--after all I am young and it's not as if I am in grad school (that was REALLY busy) and I don't have any kids to take care of or anything, but boy when I run through all that happened this past year in my circle of family and friends, it was quite an eventful one!!!

2008 began with my return to the US after 10 months living and teaching in Japan, an experience that I will never forget and treasure all my life.

Upon my return I decided to move to the bay area to be close to the most wonderful boyfriend a girl could ask for! I told him that when I returned to Japan I would love to move up to the bay area to explore Northern California, and wouldn't you know that he was transfered up here for his job about 7 months before my return. I love having him close by again and sharing life, growing and learning together.

  • I got a job that I was genuinely excited about at Stanford University at a think tank called the Hoover Institution
  • My good friend Niki got married
  • I had my first experience as a bridesmaid :)
  • Moved to a lovely little apartment by the beach.

  • The F4L made our annual trip to Catalina, but this time to celebrate Christina's bachelorette party,
  • I got to meet Joe's best friend and wife for the first time for a very relaxing weekend in Palm Springs
  • My sister and cousin both graduated from College!
  • Off to Boise for Christina's wedding, where I continued to perfect my bridesmaid skills :)
  • Joe's Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother-in-law and two nephews came to visit us.

  • We headed home to San Diego for Maria and Curran's wedding, the last one of 2008...whew, just as I went broke!

  • I flew in the middle of Hurricane Season to the Dominican Republic and just barely missed Hurricane Gustav in order to visit a good college friend serving her last few months in the peace corps.

In October, our apartment became a bed and breakfast as we hosted guests EVERY Weekend of the month.

Weekend #1 = Beth and Josh (Joe's good highschool friend and his wife.)
Weekend #2= Kiymi and Mitsui (One of my students from Japan and her good friend.)
Weekend #3= Joe's sister and mother---Joan spoiled us with a day at the Burke Williams Spa.
Weekend #4 = My Mom and Dad :)
Weekend #5 = Niki and Ryan (My good highschool friend and her husband).

In November we flew home to San Diego for Thanksgiving with our fabulous families and then in December we did it again for Christmas.

Phew...I'm tired just rehasing it. But I also feel very blessed to have had so many wonderful events to celebrate with family and friends this year!

I am looking forward to all that 2009 has to offer and would like to wish anyone who might be reading this blog a very happy and healthy New Year!