Here’s What People Outside of California Really Think About Living in the Bay Area

Photo courtesy of Bryan Wright

My recent article about dating outside my normal liberal bubble elicited some strong opinions about the Bay Area. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here:

After it came out, I posted the article on the OkCupid subreddit as a way of gauging what other online daters thought of the experience. Other than some frustrated rock climbers calling me a “condescending bitch,” forum users had some whacky, occasionally offensive and often spot-on observations about life in the Bay Area. Here are some observations that reveal what the rest of the world thinks of us:

Read the whole story on The Bold Italic.

Here’s What People Outside of California Really Think About Living in the Bay Area

Why Are So Many People Scrooges When It Comes to the Holidays?


Hey, soulless meanie! (You know who you are.) Why won’t you help out someone in need this holiday season? I found out the hard way that my friends and dates have no problem refusing or ignoring me when I asked them to help me donate presents to families in need.

As a usually single childless adult, I find that the warmth of the season often eludes me. When I was forced to help my Jewish mother decorate 11 varieties of Christmas cookies to be plattered and gifted to the garbage person, I felt no tingles whatsoever.

Then one year I was visiting my sister for Thanksgiving and saw how her law firm was collecting toys for children. As a kid, I remember plucking a name off the giving tree in the Pony Village Mall and returning with a wrapped gift for “Lucy, Age 4.” I was inspired to seek a similar charitable opportunity in the Bay Area. That’s how I found the Concord-based nonprofit Uplift Family Services, an amazing agency that sponsors a “Foster Santa” program for families in need. Uplift sent me information about a family, along with a wish list. At the time, I was dating Paul, a CEO; he and I had a great time shopping and wrapping the gifts while listening to John Denver and the Muppets. I remember how excited he was by wristlet Scotch-tape dispensing.

Read the whole story in The Bold Italic

Why Are So Many People Scrooges When It Comes to the Holidays?

Friends Forever


Not us

I have amazing friends. My next story for The Bold Italic about SF Pride parties comes out Monday and I’m in the research phase for something new. I was given an assignment to review a device that allows women to urinate standing up. I’m going to pee like a man all over the Bay Area.

I have amazing friends. Today I’m taking this show on the road. Men pee in empty bottles instead of pulling over while on road trips. I’m going to do that. My friend D and I are on our way to Napa today. She’s given me permission to put down some plastic and attempt to use my device to pee into a bottle in the backseat of her Honda Element while she’s driving.

I have amazing friends.

Friends Forever

I Heart Stats

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Pretty As A Peanut has been viewed in 1/3 of the countries in the world

My blog Pretty As A Peanut is now 2 months old. Here are a few more fun stats that WordPress provides for me.

Top 10 Countries (I’m huge in Nepal, haha)

#10 Mexico
#9 Germany
#8 India
#7 Japan
#6 France
#5 Nepal
#4 Australia
#3 United Kingdom
#2 Canada
#1 United States

Top 10 Tags

#10 Bay Area
#9 Disney Princesses
#8 Tina Belcher & Bob’s Burgers
#7 Ghosting
#6 Beer
#5 Text
#4 Adventure Time
#3 Sexy
#2 Oakland
#1 Donald Trump

Party time!


I Heart Stats

Lara B. Horoupian Is A Great Artist

This afternoon I went to The Piedmont Center of the Arts after pancakes as Lynn and Lu’s Escapade Cafe on Oakland’s Grand Avenue. Brunch was good, the art show was better. I’ve been following the art of Orinda’s Lara B. for years and I found this show particularly superb. My friend P said, “I’ve been following her work for over ten years and it’s a pleasure seeing the evolving sophistication of her work’s formal qualities, the use of color and texture, and especially her imagination.” It’s wonderful having artists and art lovers for friends.

I really liked the light in her paintings of trees and her use of colored paper mixed in with the paint. She also does nudes but I like her landscapes the best. My eloquent friend C enthused, “rich in mood and texture; sensual bodies and landscapes juxtaposed against backdrops not unlike Giverny under the influence of peyote…” Lara’s paintings make me want to dance. I don’t dance much.

Her show closed today, but you can visit view her work on her website. Lara has exhibited in her in Beirut, New York City, Providence and all over the Bay Area. She is involved with the local Armenian community and the mother of two smart girls.

Lara B. Horoupian Is A Great Artist

Mad Oak Feels Like LA

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When Mad Oak first opened last summer, I was in like. I’m a sucker for hiddenish warehousey graffitied rooftop with concrete views (Hey Mua, mostly!) drinking establishments. It reminded me of LA, the good part of LA, downtown. I like LA, I lived there for ten years beyond college. When I say that something reminds me of LA, it’s usually a compliment. Donut shop like LA equals compliment. Fashion market like LA, also a compliment. Art party like LA, I’m there. I could go on.

Wednesday night my friends and I met at Mad Oak for Books and Beer club. We were all business that night. The book selection was The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. People brought pages of note and outside articles ready to deeply discuss.

When did Mad Oak turn into a sports bar? I realize that every bar turns into a sports bar when the Warriors are playing but there were a ton of very large TVs. Large groups of men were everywhere in jerseys watching. I’m not complaining exactly. I will complain that there were no heat lamps on the roof. There are very few places to sit inside (wasted space in the back IMO). We ended up moving some people (we asked nicely) and claiming part of a long picnic table in the front patio.

I had a LA Street Burger (I’ve never bought a burger on the street in LA before) with shoestring fries. They have a full menu now. I’m pretty sure it’s a separate restaurant but since Mad Oak doesn’t seem to have a website, I am unable to say who cooked my food. They used to just have empanadas made by Javi’s Cooking. My burger was really soft and small. It was juicy and the bun was brioche maybe. I don’t like bacon jam so I gave half away. I loved the fries, especially the ones with some yummy red stuff sprinkled on them that my friend ordered.

We took a break to watch the Warriors win in OT. My friend T said she thought the vibe was weird, that there were too many bros watching sports. I said, “It’s always reminded me of LA.” As a good Bay Area resident, she took that to mean LA not in a good way. In this case I agree. Mad Oak feels like LA in bad way.

Mad Oak Feels Like LA

The Good Part

Another fucking fantastic guest post from my friend Melissa. #wisdomwednesday


I am your classic high-strung overthinker. I have dutifully kept a planner circa sixth grade, routinely set dozens of Google Calendar reminders and often find myself lying awake at 2:00 a.m., leaping out of bed periodically to jot down the action items ricocheting through my head in said planner. As my fellow worriers will attest (shoutout to Sarah and DC!), anxiety thrives on unpredictability – nothing feels worse than sitting still and not knowing what will come next.

That dread guided the better part of my young adult life. I earned exceptional grades and attended a prestigious university. My first boyfriend had a cushy accounting job. After graduating, I worked at a research lab, with plans to apply to med school in a few years. Then my boyfriend and I would marry and baby makes three by the time I hit 30, that magical age when all the pieces would fall perfectly into place, and life would really begin.

And then, my painstakingly conceived 10-year-plan began to show cracks.

Biology fascinated me, but I had always known I was a writer, and so did my English teachers and professors, who found my chosen pre-med path frustrating and bewildering. On Saturday nights, my boyfriend cloistered himself with Fallout 3 as I cajoled him to at least grab dinner. He moped when, listless, I made plans with family and friends. We isolated ourselves, two planets orbiting each other.

Slowly but surely, things began to give. I could no longer ignore that quickening in my chest, urging me to write. I quit my lab job and headed to journalism school. That summer, I uprooted myself from the Bay Area to take an internship in L.A. – boyfriend in tow – that unapologetically glamorous yet gritty place where I knew no one, what I imagined would be the perfect antidote to my restlessness.

Meanwhile, one by one our mutual friends got engaged, stemming from what, to me, felt uncomfortably like a business transaction – as if it would be a waste not to sign on the dotted line after investing so much in each other. They predicted we would be next to walk down the aisle.

But after nearly seven years together, I couldn’t. He was my best friend, but I wanted more — someone who would gaze at all of me, gentle curves and harsh edges, and not recoil, who took a genuine interest in what I read and wrote, and understood my self-doubt. We were scared. We couldn’t imagine a life without each other. I broke his heart, and my own. As I watched him speed off through the 2nd Street Tunnel, I felt like I had just wrested the earth from beneath my feet.

I moved back in with my parents up north. Breakup brain hit hard. Hundreds of miles from L.A., where the last threads had unraveled, I felt fine, which I thought must have meant I was. In true Type A fashion, I wanted to breeze through the grieving process, cross “break up” off the list and move on. I wanted to date again, dammit.

So I hopped on Tinder, of course. One of my first matches was a chef who dug my pixie cut. My anxiety cresting after a series of back-and-forths about his favorite restaurant in Oakland, no date plans in sight, I finally messaged him: “So… when are we gonna check out this place?”

That first exchange pretty much encapsulated our relationship. I constantly initiated dates, grasping for something that always felt just out of reach. Six months in, I dropped the dreaded “What are we?” question. He didn’t want to label us. Maybe I was too anxious? Too controlling?

Toward the one-year mark, he began standing me up and evaded requests to Talk. I wasn’t insane after all. He was pulling the classic fadeaway, a prelude to ghosting. After a year of dating. What in the actual fuck? I resorted to a text breakup, tired and out of fucks to give.

In hindsight, chef reminded me of my ex (albeit douchier) — an avid sports fan, a foodie, funny. And like with my ex, I didn’t feel seen. A few weeks before chef’s disappearing act, I confessed that I still felt like I didn’t really know him. “Is there anything you want to know about me?” I ventured. He responded that he “wasn’t concerned” about my past. As long as nothing incriminating lurked beneath, he couldn’t care less about peeling back the surface.

But I had been guilty of the same. My ex called me his girlfriend weeks after we had met, and I obliged, relieved to tie any remaining loose ends. All I knew about him was that he worked in accounting, and sang and played guitar. Terrified of the emptiness he had left behind, I fled to what felt familiar. I wanted to call a blasé chef I barely knew my boyfriend.

Things started to give again. Ready to embark on the freelance career I had always dreamed about, I pulled the trigger and left my staff writing job. I moved out of my parents’ and rented a room in Oakland, forcing myself to make a living freelancing full-time.

Meanwhile, I had begun seeing a therapist, practicing yoga and meditation, reading Rumi and Thich Nhat Hanh – all those mindfulness practices I had once pooh-poohed as New Age-y bullshit. But I didn’t want live out of anxiety anymore. Mindfulness helps me quell my racing thoughts, to pause and sit with my negative emotions instead of fleeing from them. It reminds me that the past and future exist only in my imagination, and to savor the present, the only thing that exists in reality. (They call mindfulness a “practice” for a reason – that shit’s hard!)

Mindfulness also taught me self-care, the idea that I’m worth taking the time to care for. Hanh talks about cradling your wounded inner child, which I had written off, again, as clichéd. Until I remembered my own 10-year-old self, owl-eyed and ungainly, anxious for approval — and broke down sobbing. I remembered everyone who had ever made me feel like shit (strangers, friends, guys, chef) and told myself I could never, ever let anyone treat me like that again.

Around the same time, I discovered my neurotic woman crush in Heather Havrilesky, a.k.a. advice columnist Ask Polly. In one of my favorite responses, she advises a successful 33-year-old woman who thinks that if she only works hard enough, she can lock down a relationship. Havrilesky tells her not to let singlehood undermine the happiness she’s already built. “Don’t speed through these days to get to the good part,” she writes. “This IS the good part. Savor it.”

As someone who’s always viewed life as a series of milestones toward the good part, I need to constantly remind myself to make now the good part. What can I do now so that I don’t feel as if the earth has crumbled beneath me if some other guy drives away? So far, I’ve formed friendships with women I admire, with one even blooming into a kickass creative partnership. (Hayy, DC!) And thankfully, I’m a bit of a workaholic — I relish in the exhaustion of a hard day’s work, which these days consists of building my freelance business

At a freelance retreat a week before I moved, we talked about embracing the process, because in the end, the process is all there is. The good part is illusory; even Pulitzer Prize winners need to return to the dreaded blank Word doc day after day. It’s helped me stop comparing myself to others who are further in their careers, and to savor the start. Even my dingy room in the too-cold house, with the mattress on the floor and my cluttered writing desk, which is actually just a plastic foldout buffet table from Wal-Mart. Even as I brew coffee at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of my neighbors screaming at each other, on a trash-strewn street that reeks of kush and dog shit. Even as I eat canned tuna and rice every night, agonizing over whether a check will arrive in time for rent and wondering if I’ve just made a terrible mistake. But as my therapist pointed out, “It’s actually kind of romantic, isn’t it?” Whatever happens, I’ll look back and feel proud that I found happiness in the face of my anxiety. Besides, I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is the truth now, and it’s all I have.

Also, I’ve recently started dating someone. But this time, I’m trying to savor the process of getting to know him, of letting him unfurl – slowly, patiently — rather than treating it as a way station to the good part. And I really like what I see so far.

In fact, life in general is more romantic than it’s ever been. Last month, DC and I organized a five-mile run and chug for my 29th birthday. We ran through Berkeley’s near pitch-dark residential streets, giddy from liquor and the heady scent of flowers, and arrived at Jupiter’s, breathless yet exhilarated. We stuffed our faces with Oban-laced cupcakes, and the entire courtyard broke into “Happy Birthday.” This is the good part, and it’s terrible and beautiful, and I intend to savor it, every last minute.

The Good Part