Archive for December, 2001

Dec 30 2001

One more day

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For the last few weeks, I’ve been saying and thinking, “I can’t wait until this year is over”. Obvious, right? It was the worst year of my life, no contest: Mom became penniless (April); Dad died (August); Rufus was laid off (November). Who wouldn’t be glad to see a year like that end?

Also, it stands to reason that next year has to be better. If it’s worse, I’m going to have to start seriously eyeing the bridges and deciding whether to go traditional with the Golden Gate (did you know that almost everyone jumps facing the city? Like the city let them down or was the cause of their decision. Or possibly to see one last beautiful thing one last time? Who knows?) or express my individuality by choosing the Bay Bridge, which I actually find cuter anyway.

But it hit me yesterday what it means to start a new year. While, yes, it does mean the end of the terrible year in which we lost Dad forever, it also means the end of the last year that had him in it, and I really don’t feel ready to let that go yet. I better hurry up, I only have one day left, and that’s it.

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Dec 27 2001

Friends and Relations

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One of the good things about not celebrating Christmas is that you don’t get the post-holiday letdown, other than the depressing sight of trees chucked out the instant the great day is over. We always kept our tree and decorations up until Twelfth Night, ever since I was a child, so I find the instant disposal of anything holiday-related kind of weird. And although we had asked everyone not to send gifts this year, we didn’t forbid cards and phone calls. I got phone calls from some of the friends I have known since high school, and also a call from my cousin Cathy.

My maternal grandmother (she of the Christmas memory) was Cathy’s aunt. I’m not sure what kind of cousins that makes us, but it’s some kind. She called to see how I was doing, and while I was talking to her I realized that she is actually a blood relation of my grandmother, and I’m not (my mother was adopted). Also, Cathy’s grandmother (who was married to my grandmother’s brother) is still alive and living in her own house at 98, the same house she lived in all her married life. I have my grandparents’ wedding picture in my living room, and it amazes me that the pretty maid of honor in that picture taken nearly 80 years ago is still with us. Wow.

My family is actually pretty small. Dad’s sister never married, and she, Dad, and all my grandparents are gone now. My mother was an only child, so I never had any uncles or cousins. So I’m very grateful for the cousins I have. My cousin Les and I had great-great (or possibly even more greats) grandfathers who were brothers. So it’s not exactly a close relation, but when I met Les and his wife Nadine when I was in England this summer, I felt as if I had known them my whole life. I also treasure the memory of the day we spent together at Kew Gardens as the only bright spot on that trip.

I also heard from my friend Mary-Lou, who was my bridesmaid just two weeks after losing her father. She’s having her novel “Thirteen” published in the new year, and as usual, she made me laugh until I cried. My ex-boyfriend Peter checked in before heading off for Christmas with his mama in Montreal. We broke up 18 years ago, but we’re still friends. And finally, my friend Alice, a former model who just got her PhD in math last June and is now doing a completely different kind of modelling: risk for international bonds, is going to take my niece Cat shopping and exploring in Amsterdam this weekend. Alice has lived there for 15 years or so now (ever since she married her very handsome husband,a Dutch photographer), and this is my 19 year old niece’s first visit there, so just imagine the fun.

I’m so lucky to have so many friends and family, however distant, who care about me!

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Dec 26 2001

The Majestic

Published by under Movies

Yesterday, Rufus and I decided to see Jim Carrey’s new movie, “The Majestic”. With its majestic running time of two and a half hours, we figured it would definitely help pass the time and take our minds off our troubles, in the time-honored way of movies since their invention.

It was quite eerie walking to the movie theater. We left the house at 9:30 a.m., and the streets, other than a few scattered, die-hard joggers, were almost competely deserted. So was the theater at 1000 Van Ness; there were only five people ahead of us in line and possibly six people seeing the movie besides us.

1000 Van Ness used to be a Cadillac showroom in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but it was vacant for years and years, its original splendor gradually decaying over decades of disuse. It was renovated in 1998 and converted into movie theaters, a gym, and apartments. The character and beauty of the building was preserved as much as possible, including the adorable bears who have been guarding the facade for nearly 80 years. Here is one of the bears before the renovation, and here he is after.

So it was quite nice to go to a movie featuring the restoration of a movie palace in such a place. Also, most of the film had been shot where my brother and sister live, Mendocino and Fort Bragg, and it was fun for me to identify the various locales. When the film was being shot, it caused great inconvenience to the locals, particularly when the film crew closed off the only bridge into or out of Mendocino for an important scene. My brother told me that although Jim Carrey was well-liked, the residents objected to the fact that the filmmakers brought all their own extras and carpenters and even flag wavers (for traffic control). The area is used frequently for movies and TV shows — “Murder She Wrote” was filmed there for years — and normally, locals are used for some extra work and carpentry. So the fact that this crew didn’t use any local talent at all definitely made them less popular around town.

Despite this, and the long running time, it’s a wonderful movie. It would be easy and obvious to categorize it as Capra-esque, but it’s more than that. The outline is that Carrey’s character is a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter in the days of the McCarthy hearings, who has a car accident outside a small Northern California town and wakes up with amnesia. He looks a lot like a local boy who went missing in WWII, and has to decide if he will accept the identity of the missing boy, or not, and the film then follows what happens after his decision.

I’m afraid it will get trounced at the box office by the current fantasy blockbusters and those films appealing to the lowest common denominator, and those who think of Jim Carrey as nothing more than Ace Ventura won’t give it a chance. But he gives a subtle, emotional, and excEt performance in this film. He is the heart and soul of it. Supporting him is a great cast, including Martin Landau and James Whitmore, and of course, the beautiful scenery of the coast.

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Dec 25 2001

Merry Christmas

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Happy holidays, everyone! We’re planning to spend the day in the traditional manner — at the movies. Hope you all have a happy day.

Even though (or maybe because) we aren’t celebrating Christmas this year, my thoughts keep turning to the past. We usually went to my mother’s parents for Christmas. I suppose at some point we must have stayed home, but in the selective way of memory, we always seem to be at my grandparents’ big white Victorian house in a small town in New York state. In my memory, it’s always snowing.

My grandparents’ house had a big double parlor, separated by pocket doors (sliding doors that disappeared into the wall if you wanted to throw the rooms together). In the front parlor, they set up the Christmas tree. The ceilings downstairs were 12 feet high, and the windows themselves were seven feet tall. So there was scope for a truly grand tree. The tree would be decorated and lit up, and then my grandparents would open the sliding doors to reveal it in all its glory.

From the front door, which you can see in the picture, you could look down the street to the town square, where the town’s big tree was lit up and decorated. We went to church on Christmas Eve night, which was quite exciting because we never went to church otherwise, and it was fun to be out late, under the cold stars, with the anticipation of Christmas morning still to come. When we got home, we could each open one present before going to bed. On Christmas morning, we woke up to find our stockings, filled with little gifts and candy, waiting on the foot of our beds. There was always an orange in the toe.

We had to eat breakfast before we could open the rest of our presents. Nana always made her own sticky buns for Christmas morning, baked in a Christmas tree shaped tin, but we just raced through them to get to the presents, while the grown-ups sleepily drank their coffee and thought wistfully of going back to bed. We played with our new toys by the fire, presided over by the glittering tree, completely happy. There’s nothing like Christmas when you’re a child.

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Dec 24 2001

11th Anniversary

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Happy anniversary to us!

Eleven years ago today, we were married at my father’s house. Here’s

Dad and me after the ceremony. It was such a happy day. I didn’t have the slightest fear or worry, just happiness.

Dad gave a charming toast to us — short and affectionate. Here are his notes, written in his own hand, and the text of it is as follows:

“Complaints were once made to Theodore Roosevelt about the conduct of his daughter. He replied, “I can run my daughter, or I can run the country, but I cannot do both.” Environment Canada has just launched its comprehensive Green Plan. I talked to my minister about my problems and we came up with Rufus.

Susan does [have] some good points — long pause — she likes good wine, — short pause — good food, and can cook. She also has her faults — takes out stacks of file cards — but you don’t want to hear me talk all evening while the champagne gets warm and the food cold. So I will just wish the newly married couple every happiness.”

Last year, we went on our grand tour of Europe for our 10th anniversary. It was the honeymoon we never had, and it was a wonderful trip. We spent the day itself in Paris, and Dad called me that morning to wish me happy anniversary. And a year later, the day is here again, but he isn’t.

But I am so glad he was there to give me away at my wedding, and to share our joy that day, and to know how very happy we are together. Of the many things we had in common, perhaps the best was that we both were so happily married. And I will always have the memories.

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Dec 23 2001

Kitty Round-up

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At the risk of turning this blog into Cats’R’Us, here’s a cat news roundup!

Megan’s kittens (seen here at my place in the city) are adjusting well to their new home in the country. Megan has taken them outside a few times, where they zoom around like freaks, climb trees, and terrify the local wildlife. Harriet, the silver kitten, is still using the litter box inside. She hasn’t figured out yet that the woods is not only her playground, it’s her litter box, too. When they are a little bigger and know their names, Megan will start letting them go outside by themselves.

Often on the weekends, Rufus wakes up early — or rather, gets woken up — by the cats and feeds them, then goes back to bed. When he does this, he leaves me note so I don’t feed them again when I get up. Our cats can be very convincing, and when I’m staggering to the kitchen thinking, “Coffee! Coffee!”, they mill around my feet impeding all movement and explaining earnestly that they haven’t been fed yet that day, or possibly that week. Cleo in particular has Sarah Bernhardt-like qualities of projection and histrionics, and accompanies her performance with reaching up and knocking some of the food on the floor as it approaches her dish. You can’t feed her without that part of the game.

Last week’s note was a poem:

The cats have been fed,

So go back to bed

And hopefully their litterpaws

Won’t step on your head.

This reference is to Miss Jackson, who somehow manages to get litter stuck in her fuzzy little paws and then distributes it in unexpected destinations throughout the house, like inside my shoes (one of Cleo’s favored hiding places for toy mice) or between the sheets, where it can really surprise you.

This week’s note was a hilarious drawing of Rufus feeding the cats while they are wahing loudly and he is yelling “Shuuut uuup!” None of this wakes me up, of course, since I can sleep through earthquakes and Jack’s daily attempts to wake us up to give her breakfast. Jack’s methods are usually running across our heads and slamming the blinds against the window.

So although I missed feeding time at the zoo this morning, the artist’s rendering is the next best thing to being there.

I’m against naps as a rule. They mess up your sleeping patterns, and well, they just seem wrong. But I do occasionally indulge. On Friday, I decided to take a nap, so I put on my bunny pajamas and curled up in my featherbed. As soon as I did, Cleo joined me. She curled up against my chest, purring and keeping an eye out for monsters or anything else that might dare to disturb my sleep. When I woke up an hour later, she was still there, warm and purring, on patrol. I felt so happy and safe. She has never, ever done this with me before, though she often does it with Rufus. It was magic.

And finally, Hannah should have been a ship’s cat in the great days of sail. Every night she sleeps on Rufus like he’s her bunk, and no matter how much he tosses or turns or rolls over, she just goes with the flow and rides it out like nothing ever happened. As soon as he settles down, she does, too. I think her secret fantasy is to be alone with him on a desert island. But she’d probably settle for the high seas, as long as she had him all to herself.

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Dec 22 2001

How Suzy stole Christmas

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Although my brother, sister and I agreed immediately after we got back from London that we wanted to spend Thanksgiving together — and we had a great time — we also agreed instantly that none of us could bear to have Christmas this year. No debate. So I am being very Grinch-like and trying to stop Christmas from coming, at least into my house.

Chez moi, the only way you can tell that this particular holiday is hovering on the horizon is the dozens of Christmas cards arranged haphazardly around the living room, where they are constantly being knocked over by our four curious cats. Other than that, it could be any other time of year, the illusion being helped by the fact that the seasons don’t really change around here, or at least that the change is quite subtle.

OK, so I thought I was pretty Grinchy. But on my way home from work yesterday, I saw a Christmas tree abandoned on the sidewalk. Now, I’ve seen them huffed on the street the day after Christmas, sometimes even the morning of the day after Christmas (which is just so depressing), but never four days before Christmas. Now, that’s weird.

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Dec 21 2001


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An abstract Christmas tree: the unbroken line of cabs with their little roof lights lit up, waiting at a red light on the steep Union Street hill in the dark, early this morning.

Thanks to all for your advice and support on the Dallas debate. I am pretty sure now that I’m not going to go. My sister Megan agrees with all you guys that it’s not worth the stress, especially for something that I don’t want to do. I haven’t actually cancelled my reservations, but just the thought of not going has been a total relief, which should tell me something.

Megan also suggested that I try hypnosis to get rid of my fear of flying, and I think that’s a great idea. I’ll call and get a referral today (after all, it’s free, so why not?). It really is something I need to get over, since I do want to go to Maine next summer and I should go to England and Canada, too. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to pack it all into one year.

So I guess I have some early New Year’s resolutions. Wonder if that has anything to do with how eager I am to see the end of this horrible year? Here they are:

1. Try to conquer the fear of flying.

2. Go and get a damn check-up, even though they will tell me that I’m 4 feet tall and weigh 300 pounds, and the Pap test will completely freak out my entire bod.

3. Get another mammogram. I haven’t had one (or a damn check-up) for three years, so I better do it. Possibly even four years. Also would rather have 10 mammograms than one Pap test, so it’s not like I’m scared or anything.

Here’s to a fearless 2002 for Suzy!

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Dec 20 2001

Dilemma du Jour

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My brother and I decided to get the all steel carport for Josephine. We think it will be a better shelter for her, and cheaper than replacing the plastic covering of the other carport for the next 25 years. Thanks to Babs for her advice.

Here’s my dilemma du jour.

In January every year (inconveniently coinciding with MacWorld, so I can never see Candi and Brian if they come here for it), we have a meeting of our staff from around the world. It’s a huge, wasteful expenditure as far as I’m concerned — our bonus pool is at 35%, and they’re holding the meeting at the Four Seasons Resort in Dallas, where the rooms are $300 a night — and basically just an excuse to drink. I have absolutely no interest in getting toasted with co-workers, local or foreign. And believe me, if you do, you never live it down. People still laugh at the guy who got so drunk one year that he peed in the manager’s office of a bar, being temporarily unable to distinguish it from the men’s room.

I hate to fly at the best of times, and the last time I flew was home from my father’s funeral. It took 3 valiums and a bottle of champagne to get through that 11 hour joyride, only days before the September 11 disasters. So I’m not jumping for joy at the prospect of flying to Dallas, the site chosen for January’s annual debacle. No good has ever come of going to Dallas. Just ask JFK. Also I have managed to avoid Texass, as my friend Dawn calls it, my whole life, and I don’t think I’m missing anything.

My boss came into my office yesterday and asked me if I was going. I said I wasn’t sure, and she said that if I don’t go, it will look like I’m not a team player, don’t care about what our firm does, it will create a negative perception about me within the company, etc. Now, I do consider myself a team player and I take pride in doing my work well, but it is just a job to me. But that’s not why I don’t want to go to Dallas. I don’t want to go because I’m afraid to fly, and I feel too emotional right now to be able to make a rational decision, but I have to, before the end of the month.

So I just laid it on the line with her, and told her about the demons I’ve been fighting since August 18, what my days and nights are like, the things I have had to go through, all this while not missing one single day of work, even when I break down crying. She was pretty floored, and gave me a really big, sincere hug. I was ready to let go before she was. Wow. Then she said it was completely up to me, she’d understand whatever I decided.

So that’s the problem. I can get out of it now, but don’t know if I should. The flight to Dallas is just a little over 3 hours, so it could be a good way of easing into flying again, especially since I will be doing a fair bit next year. I’d like to go to Maine for my 40th birthday in June, and at some point we should visit Rufus’ folks in Ontario, Canada, and finally, I will need to go to England at some point next year, so I should try to get over it. But it does scare me, a lot. I hate having to act like a grown-up. I still don’t feel like one, and I don’t know what to do.

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Dec 19 2001


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Today’s soundtrack en route to work: Red Elvises’ “I Wanna See You Bellydance”.

Seen en route: at a corner store (with a remarkably wide range of wine displayed in a plate glass window), an apparently permanent shrine to Mary against the far wall, but with a charming holiday twist. She is now framed with a huge lighted wreath, topped with a giant red bow and flanked by two plastic Santas, lit from within. All the bases are covered, right there.

For those of you wondering how my sister’s kittens are doing, they’re doing fine. They got home on Saturday evening, and the two other cats are pretty much disdaining them, but the kittens have each other to play with, so they don’t care. I wonder if they know they are finally home. They went from Mom’s neighbor’s place to being left in the street to being rescued by Megan and staying at Mom’s, then stuffed into a carrier and brought here on a plane, then at my place for a few days, then stuffed into the carrier again and driven to the country. I know I’d be confused. But just wait until they realize this is home. They’re going to be so happy!

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Dec 18 2001

Gimme Shelter

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Last year, I lost my parking place in the building next door, and I couldn’t find another one within a 12 block radius, so I drove my adorable car Josephine up to my brother Jonathan’s place in the country, where she has been living ever since. Jonathan has done a bunch of work on her and also has the fun of driving her, so it’s worked out pretty well.

Jonathan came back from a trip to Mt. Shasta on Monday to discover that the supposedly waterproof Goretex cover we bought last year had sprung a leak, and there was about a quarter of an inch of water sitting inside. This was especially annoying because Jonathan had taken Josie to the beauty parlor in the summer and had the whole inside steam cleaned, the top UV proofed, and the rest of the car cleaned and waxed. Now she’s just getting all mildewed and it’s very depressing.

We have decided that we have to get a carport for Josephine. The question is which one. We can get an all steel one for $1,500, or one with an aluminum frame with a domed plastic top and plastic sides, which costs about half of that. Basically, it’s a tent for your car, and they say it really is waterproof, unlike the stupid Goretex thing. It does have a two year warranty, too. I can’t decide if we should just spend the money and get one that is guaranteed for 25 years, or spend half of that and possibly have to replace the plastic coverings one every few years.

Any thoughts or ideas on this?

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Dec 17 2001

December 17

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For some reason, a lot seems to happen in and around my life on December 17. For example, today is the 25th wedding anniversary of Rufus’ brother Mike and his wife, Charmaine. It’s the day I passed my driving test. It’s the 7th birthday of my friend Cammy’s son Cole, her only child and one she waited so long for. Dad and Margaret should have been arriving today to spend the holidays with us. But, most important of all, Rufus and I met 14 years ago today. And three years and a week later, we were married.

And after nearly 11 years of marriage, I am proud to announce the arrival of Rufus’ very first novel, under the nom de plume of Jack McCallum. Check it out!

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Dec 16 2001


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On Friday, I went to Macy’s in Union Square, braving the Christmas shopping maddened crowds and the selling frenzied saleslady at the Clinique counter to try and buy a replacement for my favorite lipstick. I had managed to lose it the week before and I wanted to wear it to dinner with Megan and my aunt that evening. It’s the one I wear the most (I’m wearing it in the picture of me in my bio), and imagine my horror when I discovered that the powers that be at Clinique had decided, in their infinite wisdom, to discontinue it.

So instead of being able to just grab it and go, I had to spend 15 minutes trying various other shades, which weren’t as good as the one I had lost, before finally selecting the least disappointing imitation. Why do cosmetic companies always discontinue the shades I like?

We had dinner that night at the historic Fort Mason Officers’ Club, which has one of the best views in the city from the dining room. The dining room is shaped in a semi-circle, with the curved part being windows which overlook Aquatic Park, Hyde Street Pier, Alcatraz, and pretty much the whole Bay, looking east toward the Bay Bridge.

It used to be that only officers, retired and active, could dine there (with, of course, friends and family). My aunt’s husband had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the Navy, and had served on the base at Treasure Island. We used to go to the Club with him. He passed away nine years ago in January, but we still keep up the tradition of having dinner there a few times a year. Since the Presidio has been de-commissioned, as have so many other military bases, there are fewer people to eat at the Club and keep it going, so they now allow the general public to have dinner there and admire the view. Just call ahead for reservations and dress nicely, and you too can enjoy one of the best views of the Bay.

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Dec 14 2001


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Man, it’s hard to go to work in the dark and cold when there are kittens in your house! I spent about 10 minutes playing with the kittens this morning before finally heading out the door. Megan’s husband Rob is coming to pick up all his girls tomorrow, and I’ll miss them.

It was less than 50 degrees this morning, which equals freezing, so I wore my long black coat, and I felt like Angel with it flying out behind me.

It’s surprising how many people in the city either don’t have curtains or blinds, or don’t use them. With the lights on, they are like little stage sets: the guy sitting at his computer, already at work (dang!); the woman feeding a baby; the obviously single guy, walking around his living room in his underwear while eating a bowl of cereal; the elderly woman, already dressed, sitting in a chair by the window. In just a glimpse, you can imagine their lives.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my long-time friend Richard (I am now refusing to say “old friend” because forty is way, way too close* and believe me, “old” takes on a whole new meaning when you get to this stage of the game). We met up at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store, which is neither a store, nor sells cigars — smoking is illegal in restaurants and bars in California — but is a little sliver of a restaurant in North Beach.

We caught up on each other’s lives while eating delicious focaccia sandwiches (frittata for me; grilled chicken for him, and Orangina for both of us). His romance is going very well and he’s happy, which is great. He asked me for shopping advice for his Mom, who has everything, and his girlfriend. About the only good thing I could come up with for Mama was promising to do something around the house for her, or have dinner with her once a month or something, but she is married and therefore has a live-in handyman. Any suggestions are welcome, just e-mail me!

I’m more confident in my suggestion of elegant/beautiful lingerie for the girlfriend. What girl doesn’t love that? And there are at least two fabulous lingerie boutiques in our neighborhood, so he can get something really special. And after all, it’s a present — or at least wrapping — for him, too!

*Less than 6 shopping months left, kids!

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Dec 13 2001

Guest Kittens!

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My sister Megan arrived not only safely, but a few minutes early yesterday, along with her two kittens. This is unusual for Megan, whose every flight seems to be delayed. For example, on her way down to San Diego to visit Mom last week, her flight was delayed exactly as long as the actual flight. I have noticed this often happens when flying within California.

At first, United tried to tell Megan that she couldn’t bring both the kittens in one carrier, etc., but eventually they relented. They provided the kittens with their very own tickets, and didn’t even glance at the health certificate they had demanded Megan obtain for the kittens before they would be allowed on the plane. Once the plane was in the air, most of the passengers couldn’t resist checking out the smallest passengers. Megan said that from staid businessmen to kids, they were all absolutely charmed by the little cats. The carrier not only fit neatly under the seat in front of Megan’s, but also has metal bars across the top so you can see and pet the kittens without opening the carrier. So the flight, barely over an hour, passed very quickly, what with all the petting and cooing and mewing.

Anyway, when I got home yesterday, the kittens had both made themselves at home. They looked as if they had always lived here. The silver kitten, Harriet (in honor of the heroine of the classic Harriet the Spy) was sleeping on a chair in the kitchen. The brown kitten, Ramona, named for the irrepressible (and brown-haired) Ramona Quimby of the Ramona the Pest series, was happily playing in the living room.

Our Siamese cat, Jack, who thinks she’s so tough, was just horrified by the kittens and was hiding. The other cats were completely uninterested in the guest kittens. Maybe they could somehow tell that they are guest kittens and will be out of here soon.

But in the meantime…kittens to play with!

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Dec 12 2001

The boredom of exercise

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Whoever invented Walkmans (Walkmen?) is a genius. It’s like having a soundtrack to your life. And it does make walking to work alone less boring. Today it was Lou Reed, both in his Velvets incarnation and later, keeping me company.

I always have to be distracted from the boredom of exercise, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Gyms are full of people listening to music, watching TV, and reading books to keep their minds off the dreariness/pain/horror of their hamster in a cage activity.

I think I have finally figured out why I hate exercise so much. Partly it’s because my body was issued without the endorphins package (if only my parents had gone for the deluxe model!), so I never get that “high” that people say they get from it. If I feel good after exercising, it’s because it’s over and I don’t have to do it anymore..that day.

And there’s the rub. It’s never over. You might be done for today and can feel virtuous about it, but tomorrow, as Scarlett O’Hara observed, is another day, and with it the requirement of exercising yet again. I don’t like things that are vague or infinite. I definitely like things that are, well, definite and can be completed, checked off the list, over and done with. Knowing it’s looming on the horizon, day after day ad infinitum, ad nauseam, is very depressing. It’s just so Sisyphus, and remember, that was a torture of the damned.

They say to find something you like doing, but there really isn’t anything I like doing. I hate that hamster in a cage gym thing, and anything that requires changing out of my clothes and then getting back into them later. Getting dressed once a day is more than enough for me.

I also absolutely despise sweating, for which there is only one good reason, and it ain’t working out.

So the best I can do is walk to work, up and down the hills, for almost two miles. I’d rather walk than deal with Muni anyway. Some days I walk home, too. I mean to every day, but sometimes I’m late, or have errands to run, or just plain don’t feel like it. But then, tomorrow is another day.

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Dec 11 2001


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I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed walking to work with Rufus in the mornings, until now, when I can’t. I guess that’s human nature for you, both in great and small matters. Now that I’m alone and it’s still pretty dark, it’s a combination of boring and slightly creepy, because I feel so conspicuous on my own. Isn’t it unfair that women feel that way, just because they are women?

I have been walking the most direct route the past couple of weeks, and it’s probably almost the hardest possible walk: down Franklin (heading south, but mostly uphill), then east on California. This way consists almost entirely of hills. You know how people say that walking downhill is harder than walking uphill? Well, all I can say is, I’m not breathless once I start downhill on California.

When I first moved here, I remember that my legs hurt from walking up and down the unaccustomed hills. Now streets that I used to struggle up hardly even seem like hills to me. Today, for example, I walked east on Jackson Street instead of California, and it hardly even seemed like a hill at all. We used to live on Jackson, but I hardly ever walk that way now. It was fun to see what had changed and what hadn’t. The guy who has spotlit mannequins in his window still does (today’s theme: somewhat naughty Santa), and when I passed the cable car barn, the cable cars were yawning and stretching, their bells clanging softly as they prepared for another day of going up and down the hills.

The first car of the day was coming out of the barn as I passed, and the brakeman called out, “Need a ride, young lady?” Despite the fact that I was really, really tempted to (I could get to work in half the time! No effort at all! Yesss!), I said, “Not today, thanks”. I love being called “young lady” and “miss”, especially as age advances. Partly because, well, it’s flattering, and partly because I still think of myself as a girl, and feel like one, too. It’s like that episode of “Ab Fab” when Patsy gets called “Madame” on the plane to Paris and she goes crazy, yelling, “‘Selle! MademoiSELLE!” That’s how I feel, too.

As I headed down Jackson and away from the temptation of the cable car, I saw the twinkling lights on the Bay Bridge, reflected in the dark waters of the Bay, and noticed that the sky was changing from a deep midnight blue to that unearthly shade of cerulean favored by medieval artists. The sky was still scattered with stars and the very last crescent moon, and it shaded to pink at the edges of the east, where the sun would soon be making its daily debut. I thought, “What a beautiful city this is.”

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Dec 09 2001


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As promised, the charming storyette about the birth of fettucine Alfredo. Like most births, this was preceded by a pregnancy. The pregnancy of Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio’s wife in 1914, to be precise. Signora di Lelio, like our friend Carrie, whose baby is due on Christmas Eve (but will he/she fit under the tree?), didn’t have much of an appetite during the first few months.

Now, this is something that no Italian, let alone a restaurant owner, likes to see. So Alfredo decided that he would invent a dish that his wife could not resist. So he went into the kitchen, mixed together Parmesan, butter and cream and put it on pasta. His wife loved it and legend says she cleaned her plate. Just a few months later, along came Alfredo II, born in the di Lelio’s apartment above their little restaurant. So that’s actually two births for one pregnancy. Not bad.

And PS: Alfredo’s restaurant is still there, owned and operated by Alfredo III, of course. So when in Rome…

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Dec 08 2001


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So we had a new waiter at our favorite little hole in the wall restaurant last night (though our usual guy stopped by to say hello & make sure everything was up to the usual high standard), and I’m pretty sure I’d be a happier girl today if we’d had the usual guy.

Practically no-one can finish all the food you get there at one sitting. Brian had some pizza and the specialty of the house bread to eat on the plane, thereby making sure his trip home, though late at night and into the early hours of the morning, was much better than anyone else’s on that plane. Rufus had calzone for a late night snack. I had chicken fettucine Alfredo, or so I thought (sometime, I’ll tell you about the origins of Fettucine Alfredo. It’s a charming story), which I was planning to have for lunch today. I confidently opened the container, only to faced with wilted salad, complete with dressing, which enhanced its depressed demeanor, and which oddly included what appeared to be salami.

This begs a couple of questions. Why would you get a doggy bag for salad, which notoriously does not age well and is about the last thing one would wish to have in the way of leftovers? And who has my fettucine?


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Dec 08 2001


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It was great seeing Brian. The time just flew, and before we knew it, he was off to the airport. One of these days, he’s got to bring Candi with him! Maybe for MacWorld?

Good deed for the day: lent/gave my sister money to pay for getting two neglected kittens their shots and certified to bring home with her from San Diego on Wednesday (the airline requires a certificate showing the cats have had their shots before they can be brought onto the plane); also, the money required by United to allow the cats to travel in a carrier under her seat.

The kittens belonged to a couple of 19 year olds in Mom’s apartment building, who got tired of cleaning their litter box and feeding them, so they left them outside, not feeding them and leaving them at risk of being hit by a car or killed by coyotes (as Mom’s cat was, earlier this week). When Megan saw them playing in the road, she just went and got them, talked to their owners (who were happy to give them up), called her husband (who was happy to get them) and then made all the arrangements to bring the kittens back to her place in the country. If she left them behind, they would definitely die, and she just couldn’t do that.

This will bring her cat population up to four, all rescued: Greta, who had lived in a shelter for her entire lifetime of 5 years before Megan adopted her; Luna, who was left in Megan’s house by her previous owners when they moved; and now these two little littermates, Olivia and Ramona. Come to think of it, Megan and I both have 4 females and our brother Jonathan has two male cats. Hmmm.

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