Thursday, July 25, 2017

When I bought this notebook, they offered me free monogramming and a cola. “Like a Mexican coke, with natural sugar…” The guy had a tattoo of a paper airplane that said “Wander." His gauged ears were missing earrings and hung like sagging flesh.

Isabelle wears a black and white blouse and olive green cropped pants. Her long brown hair fall son her shoulders and a thin gold chain wraps around her right wrist. She casually drops into conversation that her father has dinner with President Obama. She lives in Sea Cliff but says she lives in the Outer Richmond.

Space is a commodity in San Francisco. Even on the streets people are jostling each other, ready to fight for an extra inch of sidewalk, of crosswalk, of public transit. I find myself running into people and instinctively saying sorry, like I would in Chicago. I forget that here people are fiercely individualistic, and an apology is a concession to their ego and to their body. I cringe every time my “sorry” is countered with a sharp glare, or worse, when I turn and see only a suit-covered back, the winner and their Louis Vuitton purse far gone, carrying their glory in one hand and a $4 Starbucks coffee in the other.

Maha said today at City Lights Bookstore in North Beach that people that are socially awkward use things they know about — music, the arts, books — as a social crutch — a framework with which to navigate complex social interactions. This is how people, especially the modern educated elite (but not, of course, the well-socialized) make up for their inability to handle a basic conversation.

My office of twenty orders snacks via Instacart. We have, in various rotations, Arizona green tea, blood orange San Pelligrino, and four flavors of La Croix sparkling water. To eat right now we have a bag of organic Stacy’s pita chips and off brand dried seaweed.

We fundraise and advertise for progressive California candidates. All the fellows work for free. Josh R. sits adjacent to me, taking notes with Microsoft Word on his 13-inch Macbook Air and sipping his second pamplemousse La Croix from the break room. The compost bin in the break room is bigger than the landfill bin.

Technical difficulties with the Apple TV have stalled our training on digital campaigns. We were just about to learn how to utilize the full engagement potential of social media. A state assemblyman posts commute-related content at 5:30 p.m., every day.

I’m a whore for process. Something about the certainty of guidelines, stylesheets, swatches makes me swoon. Th idea of consistency, in branding or in rationale, is stimulating. An air of professionalism, legitimacy, self-assurance.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

After web-stalking an attractive man that works in my office yesterday, I discovered he had a girlfriend, whose Facebook profile said she liked “Emo bands and succulents.” At City Lights I spitballed at Maha that there was a “succulent type” here in San Francisco. “The succulent carries a lot of cultural baggage.” What I meant was that there is a ‘type’ that likes succulents, or that is public about their like of succulents, just like there is a type gets off on lambasting Comic Sans in a group. It’s a certain ‘one step ahead, two steps behind’ type thing. Here they are with some relevant cultural icon, engaging with it, up to date with its social implications. Succulents are hip, trendy, while Comic Sans is passé. But that’s less important than the fact that it has become a universal butt of the joke. But at the same time, this cultural clout that their familiarity with things like succulents or Comic Sans gives them is also baggage — in trying to be up to date, they risk homogeneity, predictability, novelty. They aren’t cutting edge — just normal. Or even maybe behind the times, a little. The emotion I find myself feeling is, “we get it.” Like when you say a word so many times it loses its meaning. These people are as trite as ever. (Maybe they are genuine and I am cynical.) What they hoped to gain (relevance, legitimacy) they have lost by falling prey to clichés and outdated trends.

Rocky with the long hair is our tech guy. His hair is gray and falls in rods down to his lower back. I sit next to the men’s bathroom. We make tired eye contact every time he enters. He wears a white t-shirt with worn blue jeans and sneakers, every day. Sometimes he switches the white out for tie-dye. As women arrive in smart slacks and clicking heels, Rocky looks like a deadhead that works at an environmental advocacy law firm.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I sit next to the men’s bathroom at work. As I publish stories about grizzly bears in danger, I am continually distracted by men walking past. Not by their appearance or sexual potential (except, of course, the previously mentioned guitar boy) — rather the strange understanding of their short-term purpose. It is strangely arresting and unnerving to run into someone on their way to the bathroom. American workplaces’ bathroom camaraderie is still foreign to me. There is something sheepish and vulnerable about this shared knowledge. Eye contact becomes forced and unwanted. Shy and stiff greetings take the place of usually hearty welcomes. A forbidden or shameful act is ahead. I like sitting here because, like a hawk, I can make men uncomfortable with a single knowing glance.

I sometimes scroll aimlessly through my three emails and their “promotions” tabs. A visual bombarding of BOGO deals and hot new summer styles. Every store with a calculated email marketing team, poring over Google Analytics and hitting send on an approved message. How to get you to click the unread email and spend your hard-earned money on glitter gel pens or a maxi skirt. The New York Times knows who I am — they’ve just sent an email saying I’m running out of time to get a free one month with my yearly subscription. Etsy markets me several urn necklaces based on my browsing history from nine months ago. “Juhi — we’ve found something perfect for you.” I stare at the screen for a couple of seconds, then close the tab in a state of bewilderment and confused disgust.