Archive for January, 2002

Jan 30 2002

Annoying Day

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This morning started out perfect, until it was derailed by my attempts to do my hair before going to work. I hate anything to do with my hair, and would gladly pay someone (my answer to anything I don’t want to do) to do it for me, if only I had achieved my original career goal of idle rich. But as it is, my hair is prey to my retarded administrations on a daily basis.

Today, I unsuccessfully attempted three times to put said hair into a very cute silver barrette, trimmed with amethyst, before getting all pissed and using a regular hair elastic. The hair elastic turned me into a pointy headed freak, so I had to take it out to try again. However, I managed to get hair and elastic so badly tangled that I had to make John cut it out of my hair*. Now, besides making us late for work, it should have warned me that it was going to be an Annoying Day.

Remember Big Boss ? Well, he descended on us and decided it would be a good day to make us all sit in a conference room with us and regale us for two hours with his views on life, his past military experience, what he thinks we should do with our careers, and sundry other topics, each more boring than the last, all while exhibiting his truly deplorable table manners. Followed by a reprise of the original Nicorette-furtive spitting act.

All the time I could have been working, and in fact should have been, since it is our quarterly “crunch time”, so now I’ll have to work late to catch up on the work I should have done while he was blabbing away. As an additional horror, I don’t want to do any of the things he wants us to do, and I hate the direction he’s going in. If I have to look for another job, I’m going to be pissed. Well, even more pissed.

*For those of you who are worried: you can’t tell. Hair still well below shoulder length.

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Jan 29 2002

Snow Days

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Wondering where I’ve been the past few days? Taking snow days, is where. It’s been cold enough to snow in the Bay Area for the first time since 1976, that long-ago Bicentennial year that I am, sadly, old enough to remember (but I didn’t live in San Francisco then — I lived in upstate New York, where they invented snow). As I write, it’s 47 degrees outside (or 8 degrees, if you live in one of those unfortunate Metric or even worse, semi-Metric places), which is our normal low in the darkest hours of the night this time of year, not the high temperature on a bright, sunny January day, which should be around 60 (aka 15) degrees or maybe a little below.

Now I do realize that those of you who live where there is real weather are now laughing and thinking, “Well, if it was 47 degrees here, I’d be thrilled. That girl would complain if she ever did win the lottery”, both of which are probably completely true statements. However, when you live where there is routinely real weather, you have houses that are actually insulated, actually heated, and have consistent power to run the heating with.

Our building is apparently not insulated, and is equipped with baseboard electric heaters in the bedroom and the living room. I don’t know if you have ever personally experienced these wonders of electricity, but if not, here’s what they do:

1. Make everything smell like hot dust.

2. Run up your PG&E bill to epic proportions in no time at all.

3. Produce little or no heat.

So basically, we just complain, put on another sweater, and cover ourselves with warm, purring, fuzzy cats.

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Jan 26 2002


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Operation House Beautiful (or OHB, not to be confused with the far more entertaining HBO) continues apace, with only three weekends left until my in-laws arrive. Ever since we heard that they were coming to visit us for the first time ever, I have been panicking about the state of the apartment, making lists and freaking out while John, whose actual parents they are, remains the eye of calm in the storm around him.

Yesterday, I completely cleaned out the bathroom closet, dusting and rearranging it from top to bottom. This is an extremely unusual activity for a girl who prefers to leave the cleaning to the pros, and the cleaning itself caused a flurry of dust and cat hair to be released upon my unsuspecting and deeply allergic nose. So today, I have been sneezing my head off and said nose has been running like a tap. So you can imagine how very appealing I look.

This morning, John and I decided to grab breakfast at the very popular Polker’s before doing our OHB errands du jour. In the interests of getting there before the line forms and you have to put your name on a list to get a table, we ran out of the house with minimal grooming. So it just figures that we would run into one of John’s former co-workers and his much more soign?e girlfriend in Polker’s.

I had not a stitch of make-up on, so my zits and wrinkles were fully exposed to public scrutiny. My very flat hair was pulled back in a pony tail as popularized by rawboned prairie refugees in the days of the Depression, and I was wearing my glasses, perched on the allergy ridden red and dripping nose. This is just the sort of thing that happens to celebrities. The one day they decide to go and get a pack of cigarettes without full glamor make-up on, some creepy paparazzo takes pictures, and the next thing you know she’s on the cover of the “Enquirer” with headlines screaming about her heroin habit, alcoholism, and/or eating disorder and romance problems.

While I certainly don’t have to worry about the “Enquirer”, I am completely convinced that this guy and his girlfriend are horrified by my Medusa-like hideousness and are pitying John for being married to such a creature. “What on earth does he see in her?” they are asking each other over their Eggs Benedict. But as long as John doesn’t start wondering, I’ll be OK. He’s got to be used to my Medusa act by now, and he hasn’t turned into stone yet.

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Jan 25 2002

Baby pictures

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For those of you who were also annoyed by the paucity of my brother’s description of our friend Carrie’s new baby Miranda, here are some pictures so you can see for yourself what she really looks like — at least for now. Babies change their look more often than Madonna.

Here are mama and baby, and here is Miranda displaying the deceptive cuteness of a sleeping baby. It’s just this kind of sneakiness that encourages the human race to reproduce. When you see the sleeping adorable baby, you forget the red-faced screaming monster who wakes you up at 2 a.m. That’s why I like being the auntie/friend, who can play with the babies and then give them back to their parents when they lose their allure.

Hey, at least I know I’m a completely unfit parent and act accordingly.

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Jan 23 2002

Working girl

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Ah, the trials and tribulations of the working girl. No, not that kind — though they undoubtedly have plenty — the kind who works in an office. A girl like me. In fact, me.

Yesterday, my boss and I had our annual goal planning meeting, something which is almost as much fun as a root canal, as done by Candi’s evil dentist. My boss used this opportunity to give me a very, very hard time, which I thought and still think utterly undeserved and unfair. It upset me so much that I actually went home and cried.

I think the whole thing really is because I refused to go to this year’s drinkfest and ego stroke-a-thon in Dallas, and the part of me that didn’t want to immediately burst into tears from all the undeserved criticism made me want to tell her to go fark herself, as Wil Wheaton would say (yes, that Wil Wheaton. And his blog is damned good reading, too).

But this morning, my unusual bout of self-restraint was rewarded by my boss immediately and abjectly apologizing for her remarks yesterday. The apology was as unexpected and unheralded as the earlier attack, making me wonder what the hell was going on even more than usual. Good thing she apologized, too, because I once again ended up covering for our lameass Admin Assistant, who came in at 9:30, then left at 11:30 for a dentist appointment, even though she knew we had materials which had to be delivered to our client by 3:00 this afternoon. Now, there’s a deserving target for a torrent of criticism.

So I not only produced the client materials, I printed them, had them bound, wrote the cover letter, packaged them up, and delivered them personally. By the time I left to deliver the package (2:30), our AA still hadn’t returned to the office. I better not hear one more word about not being a team player, especailly because I have to go and touch up my make-up now before Webster’s takes my picture to illustrate the “team player” section of their forthcoming dictionary.

Ready for my close-up. Mr. Webster.

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Jan 22 2002

Diet Candi

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Did you ever think less Candi could be a good thing? Well, the answer is yes. So go on over and congratulate Her Svelteness. Darling, you look maahvellous!

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Jan 20 2002

La-Z Girl

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My sloth and indolence really know no bounds. I never clean my own house. We have a cleaning lady come in every other week, an indulgence which is viewed with horror by my egalitarian siblings, who think it feudal of me to employ someone to do something I could do perfectly well myself. It’s true that I could do it myself, but I don’t want to, and anyway, Ana does a way better job. I pay her in cash, so she doesn’t have to pay taxes on it. She can come whenever suits her on the appointed day, and she can bring her kids if she likes, which she does. She has been cleaning our place for several years now, so I think it’s good for both of us. She has a job, we respect and appreciate her work, and we have the weekends to do things which are more fun than scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. I really don’t think it’s all that horrible of me.

However, my laziness seems to be advancing with the years. This week, I took all of John’s (still getting used to not calling him Rufus) shirts to the cleaner’s instead of washing and ironing them myself. He does iron his own shirts, but it takes him so long that it drives me crazy with impatience and frustration just watching him, and I’d rather do it myself, since I can do three or four in the time it takes him to do one. I happen to be very good at ironing shirts (isn’t that surprising?). I was taught by the best, my Victorian era English grandmother, and when I was at college, my Dad used to save up his shirts for me to iron when I came home, because I did them just like his mother used to. And my father, like his father, had the ability to make doing favors for him an absolute pleasure. I felt honored to iron his shirts. But now, I can’t be bothered, and the cleaner’s is so much cheaper and faster that I’ll probably never iron another shirt.

The only chore I can’t find a way to outsource is shopping, the boring food kind, not the fun kind. I love the fun kind of shopping, though both my friend Alice and my stepmother Margaret have shopped until I dropped, while they carried on valiantly doing their best to boost the economy.

We used to have Peapod, where you could order all your dreary groceries on line and choose when they would be delivered, right to your door (and actually, right into the kitchen). This was especially useful for heavy things like champagne, kitty litter, and gallons of spring water, all weekly necessities. But with the dot com bust, farewell to Peapod and WebVan and hello again to Safeway.

It’s especially difficult since I am car-less for the foreseeable future, which means not only having to fight my way through the mobs at the grocery store, waiting in interminable lines while fellow shoppers use food stamps to buy steak and charge or write checks for $5 worth of food, I also have to lug it home. None of this is enjoyable, and I try to avoid the unenjoyable wherever possible (one of main reasons that I haven’t had a Pap test in years). But I can’t see any way around this one. Maybe carrying all those heavy bags will tone up those mushy upper arms!

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Jan 17 2002

Motel contest

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So I went motel shopping after work yesterday. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to do that while carrying 10 pounds of groceries, and after the first couple of places, it seemed like one of my less stellar ideas.

I checked out four motels within a couple of blocks of our place, and the fifth candidate was the place where my father and stepmother always stay. It was both educational and surprising. All the motel managers said that business was extremely slow since 9/11 (it took me until a couple of weeks ago to realize 9/11 could also be expressed as 911, a strange coincidence which I’m sure everyone else noticed months ago), and one even said that he had trouble getting maids to come in because he could only give them a couple of hours’ work. Despite this, the cheapest of these motels was $79 a night, and the place my father used to stay now costs $105 a night. And don’t forget the staggering 14% hotel tax. (Wonder who gets that tax money?)

When I first offered to pay for my in-laws’ plane tickets and motel, I imagined that I could find something fairly simple and acceptable near us for around $50 a night. I was completely wrong about this, as it turned out.

Now, the places I investigated were pretty basic. The first one I rejected immediately on the basis of the grubby carpets, inferior condition of the room, and the rudeness of the clerk. No way am I putting my in-laws there. But it was still $79 a night. My question is: if business is bad, and the accommodations are basic, why haven’t they lowered their prices? Scary thought: Maybe they have.

Last stop was the Pacific Heights Inn. The manager was very nice and the rooms were, too (I saw three of them). He said that they would be very glad to have people staying for 5 nights, and lowered the price accordingly, so he won the motel contest. And this made it actually cheaper than the very inferior others, including the immediately rejected one. Just goes to show that it’s worth it to shop around.

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Jan 16 2002

Yay, but eek!

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Yay, but eek! (Maybe that should be my motto, considering my outstanding ability to find the cloud in every silver lining.) John’s parents are coming to visit in less than a month!

Yay because:

1. They have never been to San Francisco. So they have never seen where we live, which is also one of the most beautiful cities in North America.

2. We won’t have to go back East to visit them this year (they live in southern Ontario, Canada), which is great because I will have to go to London at some point to help my stepmother to clear out my father’s things, and one long (11 hours each way, non-stop) trip this year is enough for me. We really need to see John’s folks this year.

I had to cancel in ’99 (when John went alone) because my father was ill, and then we had to cancel in August because of my father’s sudden death, so we do have to see them this year, one way or another. John’s father is the only one we have now — both of my sisters lost their fathers-in-law over the past two years.

3. I haven’t seen them in way-too-embarrassing-to-admit-it years, even though I really like them a lot. Mostly it’s because there is very little vacation time in these great United States, and what little I have used to be spent on going to England to see my own Dad (see #2). Which just proves that I will never make Wife of the Year (and I’m not even in the finalists for Daughter-in-Law of the Year), and that I made the right choice in not having children, because I am very, very selfish, too.

Eek because:

I only have a month to get the house looking in-law perfect, and suddenly it looks like a horrible pit full of problems. I’m hoping to talk my brother-in-law Rob into coming to the city for a few days to paint and do stuff like refinish the kitchen counter, but we’ll probably still spend the next few weekends in a panic of home improvement.

Also am really, really hoping that it doesn’t rain the whole time. I hate it when people visit and the weather’s horrible. Still almost certainly to be better than southern Ontario in the middle of February, though.

Those of you who don’t live here: what would you like to do if you were visiting here? They’ll be here from February 15-20. All ideas appreciated!

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Jan 13 2002


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Doesn’t it seem like we’re always going to the movies lately? I didn’t even mention that we went to see “Ocean’s Eleven” last weekend. It was high octane, high gloss fun and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The only two things I didn’t like in the movie were Don Cheadle’s bad and pointless Cockney accent and the whole Julia Roberts thing.

I love Don Cheadle, but I don’t know why they had him doing that accent. If he had to do it, they should have coached him better. And it really was bad — my father was English and his father was a true Cockney, so I know whereof I speak (or hear). The Julia Roberts character was divorced from the George Clooney character, and they hadn’t seen each other for 4 years. They barely have two conversations together but end up getting back together again, for no apparent reason. But despite my nitpicking, which is, I know, a character flaw, it was a great cast and a fun movie.

Rufus and I went our separate movie ways yesterday, he to “Lord of the Rings” and me to “Gosford Park”. I don’t know if I can get Rufus to start posting again, but he really enjoyed the movie. Everyone who has seen it seems to have liked it, but I’m sorry, I have a very low tolerance for fantasy and sci fi and since I had a hard time reading the books I don’t really care to see the movie. I might check it out on when it gets to HBO if I’m having an open minded day, though.

“Gosford Park” would have bored Rufus as much as I would have been bored of the “Rings”, but it was fun for me. Fantastic cast, including Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Stephen Fry, Maggie Smith, and all your “Masterpiece Theatre” faves. It’s essentially an English country house murder, set in the 1920’s, but it’s more than that. Beautifully shot on location, including Syon House, which I had visited several times with my father.

The movie was playing at the charming, nearly 80 year old neighborhood theater, the Metro, and I was encouraged to see that there was actually a line to get in, for the show I attended and then for the next one. Unfortunately, most people go to the multiplexes instead, so this is now the only independent theater in our neighborhood, and I hope it gets enough business to stay open.

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Jan 12 2002

Movies & money

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According to the XLibris newsletter this week, the authors of the two biggest movies now in theaters were breathtakingly ripped off. JRR Tolkien sold the movie rights for “Lord of the Rings” for a paltry $14,500 in 1968 in order to pay his taxes. While I can sympathize with his motives, I suspect that even way back in 1968, that wasn’t very much money. In the short time the movie has been in theaters, it has made more than $205.5 MILLION.

It really surprised me to learn in the same edition of the newsletter that JK Rowling, the author of the phenomenally successful Harry Potter books, sold the movie rights for a still-paltry $1.4 million, compared to the film’s record-breaking to-date take of $300.4 million. I can believe that Tolkien was na?ve, and movies in those days weren’t the huge money makers they are now, nor did they cost anywhere near as much (although 1963’s scandalous “Cleopatra”, made in 1963, went way over budget at $44 million and nearly bankrupted the studio), but Rowling’s books were and are some of the biggest best sellers ever, all over the world. I would have thought she would have asked for a percentage of the box office as well as the original fee. Hopefuly she’ll get a better deal on the next movie in the series.

I’m not a big Tolkien fan — I find it somewhat disturbing when adults create microscopically detailed fantasy worlds, with maps and languages and mythology — and I have no interest in seeing the movie, but I do think that the producers of the film should offer a little extra money to Tolkien’s family. After all, if it weren’t for his books, there would be no movie. And it really isn’t fair that they should make multi-millions, essentially from the author’s ideas, when the author himself could barely pay his taxes.

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Jan 11 2002

Three days

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I am so glad I didn’t go to that stupid meeting in Dallas. Not only was I spared three days of boredom in pointless meetings and enforced socialization, but I got an absolute ton of work done. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when people just leave you alone.

Also, the past three days have been beautiful: sunny and hovering around the 65 degree mark. No coats required. You gotta love that when it’s January. So I’m glad I didn’t miss that, and that my lifelong record of not setting foot in Dubya’s home state remains unbroken.

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Jan 11 2002

New baby

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My brother Jonathan came to the city this week to meet Carrie’s new baby. I was hoping to be able to meet her, too, but circumstances were otherwise and he had to go home before I could get across the Bay and see the new baby. So I still have no idea what day she was born or what she looks like.

He called me from Carrie’s place and I asked him about the baby:

Me: “What does she look like?”

Him: “Ugly.”

Me: “Well, what color’s her hair?”

Him: “Brownish, I guess.”

Me: “What color are her eyes?”

Him: “Sort of blue-ish. It’s hard to tell.”

At this point I gave up. The moral of the story is, don’t ask a man to do a woman’s job. Men either do not notice anything useful, or can’t or won’t tell you what you really want to know.

This is amusing. Carrie has named her daughter Miranda, which is just so Sex & the City of her, when she is in every way the polar opposite of the Carrie on the show. Also I doubt whether baby Miranda will exercise the right to remain silent — at least until she enters the sullen teen years.

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Jan 10 2002

New job

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Yay! Rufus has a contract job at Charles Schwab for the next few months. Not only does that alleviate any lingering financial worries (my least favorite kind), it also means we can walk to work together again. Best of all, our schedules are much closer now. I really hated only seeing him for a couple of hours at the end of the day.

I don’t know why anyone would willingly work from 8 to 5. In the winter, it’s dark when you go to work and dark when you come home, too, which is pretty damn depressing. Most businesses are closed when you go to work, and closed by the time you get home, too, so you have to pack all your shopping, going to the cleaner’s, and other errands into your weekend, seriously cutting into your precious leisure time. Not to mention the fact that traffic is at its worst, making your commute as long as possible, both morning and evening. Why is this schedule desirable?

Instead, Rufus is working from 7 to 3:30, so he’s home by 4. He doesn’t even have to wear a tie!

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Jan 07 2002

Foggy day

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Today’s soundtrack was brought to me by the Ramones. Nothing like Joey and the boys to get you moving on a dark and foggy Monday morning. Side note: why is Joey Ramone gone, while Barry Manilow and Yanni live on, inflicting their mediocrity on the general populace?

San Francisco is famous for its fog, but today is extreme. I could only see about half a city block in front of me — I must be a city girl at heart, because I think in terms of blocks, whereas my country-livin’ brother thinks in terms of miles — so people would suddenly appear out of the mist like ghosts. My vision with my glasses on was much like it is without my glasses on, which I described when I was a child as “blurzy”. The fog reached the ground and swathed the tops of buildings and hills in fog so they were completely invisible. Cars appeared as mysterious glowing lights before finally breaking through the mist. All in all, a cinema noir kind of day.

Although both fog and rain hide the sun with an SPF factor of about a thousand, I don’t find fog the mood depressant that I do rain. When I lived in places that had snow, I didn’t find snow depressing, either. I found it magical and beautiful, at least until it degenerated into slush and blackened snowbanks in February, by which time it was pretty much lacking in all appeal. One of the great things about living here is that you can jump in the car and visit the snow after just a couple of hours’ drive, but you don’t have to live with it.

But if you live in the city, you do have to live with the fog. I think it makes everything look prettier, like a soft focus on an aging actress. And I love the deep voice of the fog horns. It’s the sound of home.

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Jan 06 2002

There goes the neighborhood

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I’m especially glad that I took Friday off, since the weekend has been one of unmitigated gloom and, you guessed it, rain. But Friday was a sunny day nice enough to sit outdoors for coffee or lunch, so I’m glad I didn’t waste it trapped in an office all day long.

Yesterday, despite my aching and now Technicolor legs, we did some fun (non-?picerie related) shopping, browsing in used bookstores and getting a welcome to the world present for our friend Carrie’s baby, who finally decided to join us. You may remember that Carrie had Thanksgiving dinner with us and was due on Christmas Eve. But since I learned of the baby’s arrival from my brother, I don’t know anything that a girl would have asked. All I know is, she’s a girl, as-yet unnamed, was born “a couple of days ago” and Carrie had to give up on having the baby at home and went to the hospital after two days of labor. No-one can call her a quitter!

So we got the new baby a fantastic little outfit at the appropriately named Girlstuff on Polk Street. It’s an ivory flannel top, embroidered with a brown rabbit holding a carrot, with sage green pants and matching green cap (well, it is winter) embroidered with another carrot. It’s adorable. I had it gift-wrapped, so all I have to do is mail it tomorrow. I’m a big believer in gift wrapping at the store.

On our way home, we noticed that the space where the late, lamented Polk-Vallejo Market had been located and which has stood empty for 2 or 3 years now, has a new tenant. The unimaginatively named but charming Market was a staple of the neighborhood for almost 80 years. Going in there was like stepping into the past. The store was run by the same family it always had been, and the radio was always playing songs from the 1940’s and ’50’s. They kept a big box of Milk Bone at the cash, and neighborhood dogs would pop in to get a treat as they passed by, being petted and greeted by name by whoever was manning the cash at the time. They used to deliver twice a day at no extra charge if your order was $25 or more, which was wonderful. It was the kind of place where they asked you to mind the cash while they cut your watermelon in two, and when I was away and Rufus used to get sandwiches or roast chicken from the butcher counter, he always got asked if he was “batching it” (which he was).

A few years ago, the landlord more than doubled the rent, pushing the Market out after all those years. Unfortunately the family had rented and not owned it, and it was so sad to see them thrown out on the street, their livelihood gone, after serving the neighborhood for generations. No-one has filled this niche in the neighborhood. There are corner stores and fancy organic food stores, but no old-fashioned, straight up grocery store run by people who care.

So the space has been empty for a long time. And yesterday we noticed that it’s now an antique dealer. There are already two on that block alone, and three competing coffee places. Just what we needed.

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Jan 05 2002

Phone call

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I hate having a phone. Have you ever seen the Calvin & Hobbes cartoon where Calvin asks his father why they don’t have a computer, so they could connect to the net and be in touch with the whole world? Calvin’s Dad replies, “Because it’s bad enough we have a phone.” That pretty much sums up how I feel about it, especially today.

I was awake, but not really functional, when the phone rang this morning. I ran to answer it in my bare feet, which got caught in the cable of the headphones (Rufus is thoughtful enough to use headphones when watching TV after I fall asleep), so I smashed onto my knees and squashed the hand with which I had foolishly tried to break the fall. I know from personal experience that I am going to have giant lumpy bruises from knee to ankle for about a month now, so it’s a good thing that I keep them covered at all times anyway for aesthetic reasons. But damn, they hurt!

Mark Twain was right: phones are time-saving, profanity-inducing devices. Damn you, Alexander Graham Bell!

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Jan 04 2002

Suzy’s Day Off

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So I gave myself a day off today. No particular reason, except it’s a new year, so I have a whole new pool of time off, and things are pretty slow at work, so why not? It’s just like how giving or receiving a spontaneous gift for no reason is often more fun than one for a reason, like birthdays or Christmas.

I decided to go and see “Dinner Rush”, which is playing at the “art” theater in the neighborhood. It’s also conveniently located and the movie was timed so that I could have an early lunch at the nearby and legendary Swan Oyster Depot.

Even though I got there at 11:15, there were only 3 or 4 stools left. For those who have never been there, it’s tiny and has maybe 25 stools lined up along a marble counter. The counter holds bowls of oyster crackers, bottles of hot sauce, napkins, lemons, and other seafood accoutrements, ’cause there’s only seafood on the menu. There were also tiny, living Christmas trees in little pots decorated with plastic snowmen, spaced out along the bar as a reminder of the holidays.

Behind the bar are the five brothers, grandchildren of the original owner, who prepare and serve all the food. Space is very limited, and it’s a pleasure to watch the ballet performed as they shuck oysters, crack crab, answer the phone, assemble shrimp cocktails, and slice up their excEt, crusty sourdough bread, all without knocking into each other or inflicting damage with all those knives. I’m not usually a sourdough fan, although this city is famous for it, but I love theirs.

With the bread, I had a self-indulgent (but it was really small! Honestly!) glass of chilled white chardonnay from Sonoma county and a bowl of their fantastic clam chowder. It’s bliss in a bowl, with its chunks of perfectly cooked potatoes and clams, the broth both creamy and tasting of the sea, speckled with golden butter and black pepper. The brother who was serving me gave me an unsolicited, paper-thin piece of the smoked salmon he was elegantly carving. It was fantastic. I guess it’s just a spontaneous kind of day.

By 11:30, the line was, as usual, out the door. I happily ate my lunch, eavesdropped on my neighbors’ conversations and listened to Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis on the battered old radio. I resisted the advances of the guy sitting next to me, always a hazard of a woman travelling or eating alone. Fortunately I have had a fair amount of practice in this area and I can do it pretty nicely and firmly, which is key, especially on 11 hour flights to or from London. This particular guy was from Chicago and had read about the place in Zagat’s restaurant guide (where it is routinely chosen as one of the best restaurants in this foodaholic city). But his homework had not been thorough enough, because he tried to pay with plastic. The Depot is, and has always been, a cash only operation. He got laughed at pretty thoroughly.

“Dinner Rush”, a movie about a popular restaurant in New York and starring Danny Aiello, was the perfect thing to follow my lovely lunch. I love the chaos and energy of the professional kitchen and the melodramas which often take place there. The movie was a satisfying mixture of both. As I passed the Depot on my way home at 2:30, the line was longer than ever. Long may they shuck. And remember: if you go, bring cash. For those of you who insist on writing checks in grocery stores for $5 purchases, or using credit cards for same, it’s that green stuff you get at ATM’s. You can use it to buy things with. Try it sometime. I know just the place to start.

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Jan 03 2002

Sunny day

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Something seems to be wrong with the sky. It’s a strange color: blue. And no rain is falling from it. Instead, the mythical Sun, which I have heard of in legend and may even have seen, long, long ago, seems to be smiling down on us. I’m blinking like a mole who just left its cave and am very surprised that I haven’t burst into flames from the unaccustomed sunlight like a vampire.

I took the cable car home from work today, and the driver (I use the term loosely) of a very large truck had seen fit to double park it with the greatest possible illegality, and also right on the cable car tracks. Now, cable cars are pulled on giant, H.G. Wells-type pulleys underground, and have to travel on their silvery tracks. They can’t go around obstacles. So we were stuck there for almost 10 minutes until the truck driver came back. By this time, traffic was backed up to the foot of California Street from Montgomery Street. Miscreant, you know who you are!

On the other hand, the brakeman forgot to make me pay and also stopped traffic for me when I got out at Hyde Street to do boring, boring grocery shopping, which somehow made it more fun. If my memory of French is correct, that language differentiates between grocery shopping and other shopping. So do I.

You may remember that the apartment across the hall from ours was bought in the dark days of August by a young couple whose last name is the same as Rufus’. What are the odds? I kept my maiden name when Rufus and I got married, and this has led to confusion (are we really married?) and every possible variation on our names on our mail. The best is our friend Mike in Toronto, who addresses everything simply, “Rufus & Suzy”. And we always get it.

Now we and The Same Names get each other’s mail quite often, but we cheerfully exchange it. Also they are the only other people in the building to have a cat, so they can’t be all bad. But here’s the latest coincidence: Rufus was coming home from his temp job last week, and got on one of the most crowded buses in the city and sat down right next to…Mr. Same Name. They laughed most of the way home. San Francisco is just a really big small town.

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Jan 02 2002

Rain, rain go away

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So it’s not just my imagination. It seems to me that it’s been raining and dark for weeks now, and according to the Chronicle, it really has been. It’s been the wettest December since 1955 and we are currently at 196% of normal rainfall. Enough, already! Makes me wonder how residents of notoriously rainy cities like Seattle can stand it.

Since it was dark and dreary out yesterday, it seemed like a good day for two of our favorite wintery movies, Beautiful Girls and Nobody’s Fool. They are both slices of life set in small towns in New York State, and I like to think that it’s the same town, with “Girls” being about the younger set and “Fool” the elder. Both films have excEt ensemble casts. Look for a luminous 14 year old Natalie Portman in “Girls”, one of her first movie roles ever, and a sly Bruce Willis in “Fool”.

Since I grew up outside a small town in NY State, I have Prousty feelings about it, and “Nobody’s Fool” brings back vividly the snowy winters of my childhood. The cinematographer captures the beauty of the bare trees, a mist of grey and brown traced against the white of the snow, and the deep violet and blue shadows of the snow itself. How well I remember the quality of the winter light, especially the short afternoons. And watching this movie, I can re-live the loveliness of it without the freezing cold!

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