Archive for May, 2002

May 29 2002

Adieu for now

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OK, kiddies, things are not going well at work these days, and it has pretty much sucked all the frivolity out of me for now, so I’ll be scarce for the next few days. You’ll have to rely on John to amuse you while I’m gone, and you probably won’t get a love/hate this week either. Speaking of which, though, suggested topics are more than welcome, I’m running out of ideas.

Since I seem to have moved into Bizarro world without realizing it, I am also acting as tour guide to my ex-boyfriend this weekend. Hmmm.

See y’all later.

6 responses so far

May 27 2002

Memorial Day

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In this holiday-starved nation, where two weeks a year out of 52 is the usual ration of vacation and for many, including me, this is the first long weekend since New Year’s Day, it’s easy to forget the reason we are having it at all. It gets lost in plans for barbecues, sales at the mall, getting away for a much-needed break, the unofficial first weekend of the summer.

But it’s good to take a little time and remember that this day, Memorial Day, is to remember the sacrifices of the men, women, children, and animals who fought for our freedom from the Civil War onward, both at home and abroad.

I am very proud that both of my grandfathers fought in WWI, and am very fortunate that they both survived. My mother’s father, a farm boy from Upstate New York, was the only survivor of his unit. He saw his boyhood friends killed in front of his eyes, yet when the war was over and he had done his duty, had a week in Paris and then was shipped home, back to the farm, as if nothing had happened. No therapy in those days!

My father’s father was a tough little Londoner, 18 when he joined up. He was from a rough part of town, Southwark, which remains so to this day. A few years ago, my father and I went in search of my grandfather’s birthplace, but the area had been heavily bombed during WWII and the only building remaining from the time of my grandfather’s birth were the stables belonging to the railway, long abandoned, along with the graffiti-scarred council housing (projects in American) across the street. It turned out later that the very day we went on this hunt would have been my grandfather’s 100th birthday.

My father’s father became an international banker at Lloyd’s in the City, and did well for himself. Yet he was plagued with depression and nightmares for the rest of his life, which were credited to, or blamed on, his being gassed in WWI. My mother’s father became a highschool principal and he, too, suffered nightmares for the rest of his life, which I learned first-hand since I always slept in a cot in my grandparents’ room when we visited there.

But neither of them thought much of what they did. It was simply what had to be done, the right thing. I’m glad they did, and on this day, I give thanks to all who did the right thing, and never even considered doing otherwise.

4 responses so far

May 26 2002

Dilbert & Duty

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I seem to have more pull with Google than I thought, since they have removed the offending Dilbert, hopefully permanently. However, I was quite surprised by the pro-Dilbert support. Who knew?

Knowing my Dilbert dislike will undoubtedly keep you from getting too close to me, and that’s a wise decision, since it appears that jury duty is catching. Although John and I rarely catch each other’s colds, he has caught a case of jury duty from me, starting June 17. At least he gets to go the courthouse near City Hall instead of all the way across town.

And I have finally found out exactly what I’m worth.

5 responses so far

May 25 2002

Megan’s birthday

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It’s my sister Megan’s birthday today!

Here’s how we looked 31 years ago, when Megan was a baby. How well I remember being called to the principal’s office that bright spring morning when she was born. I had never been called to the principal’s office before, and I was a little scared as I walked down the silent hallways, my footsteps echoing. As I walked to my doom, I mentally reviewed all the things I had done wrong recently, then all the things I might have been caught doing wrong. Then I was at The Office.

When I opened the door, the school secretary smiled at me brightly and said, “You have a little sister.” I had not expected this at all, and it was such a relief that none of my crimes had been found out. And oh, yeah, a new little sister. I ran back to my classroom and burst through the door yelling, “I have a little sister!” All the girls yelled, “Yay!” and all the boys yelled, “Boo!”

I’m still saying yay. And Megan has changed from a tiny, 5 pound baby to a tall, beautiful woman, and more than my sister, she’s my friend.

2 responses so far

May 24 2002

Love/Hate: Showers

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Love/Hate for Friday, May 24, 2002

Showers. I hate them. Inside or outside.

Outside because rain is hideous, depressing, and uncomfortable. I firmly believe that it should only rain between November and March, and only while I’m asleep, but since the Universe is notoriously difficult to train, it generally takes no notice of the Suzy Rules.

As for indoor showers, they are hideous and uncomfortable (though not particularly depressing, since most showers don’t have a mirror in them, and even if they did, the mirror would be fogged up, obscuring the view more or less completely). Part of you is warm enough under the such spray as there is in California showers due to “low flow” rules, but part of you is cold and wet and usually adhering to the clammy plastic shower curtain, which is unpleasant in the extreme.

In addition to this, you are effectively blinded by the water, even if wearing your contact lenses. Shaving your legs is very challenging, since you are blinded and standing on one foot in the method popularized by flamingoes. The water is pouring down removing the soap or shaving cream put on your legs to facilitate the shaving process. All in all, not a good experience.

Perhaps I am not a sufficiently experienced showerer, but, to put it as delicately as possible, it’s very difficult to clean oneself thoroughly unless you have a hand-held shower or are a contortionist or possess the refinement of a bidet in your salle de bain.

So I find showers utilitarian but not efficacious, and anything but enjoyable. When we remodelled our bathroom a few years ago, we took out the shower. We have a clawfoot bathtub with a hand-held shower, and no shower curtain or other concessions to showerdom.

Baths, on the other hand, are blissfully relaxing and pleasurable. No-one ever says “Go and relax in a nice hot shower”, because you can’t. It’s like a battlefield in there, dodging the spray in the eyes, trying not to slice your legs open or slip and crack your head open. But in a bath, you can soak in bubbles or fragrant bath salts, to candlelight and music, or read, with a glass of wine to hand. All the bad stuff of the day just floats away as your muscles and mind relax.

Think of the difference between communal showers (gym class and prison) and communal baths. Bathing has had cultural and religious significance since the beginning of time, all over the world. Communal baths were a feature of daily life in the times of Ancient Rome, and the tradition still continues in Japan. Here in San Francisco, you can keep up the tradition at the Kabuki Springs & Spa, though clothing is required for the co-ed day.

3 responses so far

May 23 2002


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If Google doesn’t lose the Dilbert shit really, really soon, I’m going to have to find another search engine. I hate Dilbert.

And don’t think I won’t. I stopped using Salon as my start page when I had had it with having to click through ads, mostly for stupid cars with stupid names (why don’t they have good names like Mustang, Valiant, Comet, Falcon anymore?) to read a news story. Now I have the London Times as my start page. It has news from all over the world, so you can get a good, quick overview in no time. I have always felt better informed when staying in London than I do when I’m at home, and that was from reading the Times at breakfast. Though it isn’t as good as reading the real thing over coffee while watching the birds in my father’s garden, it’s the next best thing.

5 responses so far

May 21 2002

God vs. Strippers

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My good friend Kathleen in good old Motown brought this column to my attention. I should say right here and now that Kathleen has enlightened me considerably over the years, and especially on two topics:

1. Sports
2. Religion

Now, anyone who reads this blog knows I cannot abide sports, especially when they pre-empt the TV shows I want to watch. But Kathleen dared to introduce me to Mitch Albom’s column in the Detroit Free Press, which I enjoy so much that it is actually in my – insert gasp here – favorites list. So she did manage to make a little crack in my hermetically sealed mind.

Kathleen is also one of the few people I know who follows an organized religion who is open-minded, tolerant, and loving. Religion for her is, as it should be, about love, not hate. Which brings us to the subject of the column.

If you haven’t checked it out already, the gist is that a stripper’s child got booted out of her Christian kindergarten solely due to her mother’s profession. This blows my mind on so many levels that I barely know where to begin.

First of all, how far do you go on checking the backgrounds of the parents before accepting their fees (in this case, a pretty hefty $400 a month, and remember, this is kindergarten)? Do you accept lawyers who represent corporations who destroy the environment or treat their workers badly? Do you accept people who are having extra-marital affairs or consuming porn or have a gambling problem or deal drugs? And why are they even investigating the parents’ background? Shouldn’t they be doing something better with their time, such as, oh, I don’t know…teaching? It seems to me that if the parents wish their children to go to this school and can pay the fees, the school should take the fees and in return, educate the children.

Certainly strippers give value for the money they get, and what they do with it after they get it should be their own business. I would think it would be considered admirable that this single mother is willing to spend such a considerable sum of money — which she has earned herself — on educating her child, and a religion-based school at that. I hope the kid’s mother finds a good school that is willing to take the tuition and give the kid a good education. And I hope the Capital Christian School has the grace to be embarrassed by its actions, though I’m not holding my breath.

6 responses so far

May 20 2002

Rainy Monday

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When the alarm went off this morning, it was raining so hard that I almost called the whole day off on account of weather. But after a cup of coffee and a couple of chapters of The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, the rain had decided to go and annoy someone else. The sky looked very confused, as if it, like me, was wondering where the hell this rain came from and why it took so long to go somewhere like Seattle, where it belongs. I hope my umbrella stays where it is, gathering dust, until Thanksgiving. After all, it’s practically summer.

Which means that the TV season is ending. Seems like just about every show has its season finale this week or last week, other than Sex & the City, which starts up again in July. It used to start on or near my birthday, but S-J Parker’s unscripted pregnancy seems to have thrown the show’s writers a curve. I wonder how they are going to handle it? They can’t have both Carrie and Miranda with babies. One baby is more than enough, and has often been proved to be too much. Look at Mad About You. Destroyed by Mabel.

I watched the season finale of Dawson’s Creek on Sunday morning. Yes, I realize that I am far too old to be watching the Creek, and that everyone else is over the Creek, but since I have no vices to speak of, I think I can be allowed this one. Anyway, Pacey was trying to talk to Audrey, his justifiably pissed-off girlfriend, before she got on a plane to go home to LA for the summer. So he bribed a security guard to let him use the PA system, and broadcast a heartfelt apology (which of course won her over). He ended his impassioned speech with an equally impassioned “Free the West Memphis Three!”, which I thought was so cool I almost woke John up to tell him about it.

If you aren’t familiar with this case, check out this site and/or watch the two documentary films, Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations. Truly one of the worst miscarriages of justice in recent years, and especially frightening when you consider that these three young men are facing life in prison in two cases and death in the other simply for daring to be different in their intolerant, Bible-beating home town. So help if you can, and be thankful you don’t live somewhere like West Memphis. If you do, move. Now.

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May 19 2002

Give & take

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It’s raining. RAINING!! And it’s MAY. I don’t remember it raining here in May since the bad old El Nino year when it started in September and went all the way through May, including every single day in February. Normally, it only rains here in the winter, so you can pack away your umbrella in March or so and not expect to see it again until November. So this rain is unexpected and unwelcome, like the call I just got from AT&T:

Them: Good evening, is your mother or father home?

What I think: It’s 10:30 in the morning here. Where are you calling from, Russia? I haven’t lived with my parents for over 20 years, my father’s dead and my mother lives 500 miles away, so you really aren’t going to have a meaningful conversation with either of them by calling this number.

What I say (forbiddingly): Who are you calling?

Them: Mrs. Susan Peakall.

Me (even more forbiddingly): This is Susan.

Them: Good evening (!) this is AT&T…

Needless to say, the conversation ended suddenly after that. But I still wonder: do I sound like I’m 10 years old? Where is it evening now? Why can people like this call you on a Sunday and annoy you, and you can never call them back and annoy them? Phones, though they can be convenient at times, are mostly deeply annoying.

Of course, this does not apply to talking to Candi for an hour this morning. She’s one of the few people I’m always glad to talk to. I’m so happy that she and Brian liked the book Amber put together. She thought of the whole idea and got everyone to participate. She even got my brother to send something, and I’d love to know how she did that! Anyway, great idea and beautifully done, and no-one deserves it more than Candi, who gives so much more than she gets.

3 responses so far

May 18 2002

What a difference a Bay makes

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After work yesterday, I jumped on BART and crossed under the Bay to see Carrie’s new place. You may recall that she had to leave the beautiful old house she shared with her roommates due to what amounted to a divorce. But Carrie, unlike me, takes adversity in stride, and it didn’t take her and her friend Nancy long to find a new place.

The new place is actually older than the old place, a pink Victorian cottage near Lake Merritt in Oakland. The neighborhood is interesting, to say the least. While there were minor drug deals going on across the street, there were also kids dressed up for their prom having their pictures taken by their (justifiably) proud parents, and an ice cream man, complete with the bells of childhood, went by twice during the evening.

My brother had come to the city to help the girls move with the help of his big green truck and Jed the wonder dog. As we were making dinner, there was a knock on the door and we met the utterly charming Karen, the next-door neighbor. She stayed for dinner and filled us in on the local drug dealers and peeping Toms, and then left for her African drumming class. During our conversation, it turned out that I was the only person in the room who owned a TV, which is surely exceptional. I was also the only one who owned property and had a corporate job, and despite the undeniable charm of the Victorian cottage, with its jasmine vines and high ceilings, I would never live in a place like that. I felt very old and very white.

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May 17 2002

Love/Hate: Company

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At first, it all seemed so normal…

When I got home yesterday, things seemed pretty much the way they always do after our cleaning lady’s ministrations. Only one lock locked on the front door. All cat hair temporarily removed from the hall rugs (though our cats are multi-colored, the cat hair deposited on the carpets is always a depressing, yet fluffy, grey). Everything smelled like Fabuloso. But something was wrong.

I soon realized that Cleo was not home. Since she rarely leaves the apartment by herself, preferring to send us minions out to do her bidding and run her errands, I immediately suspected that she must have slipped past the cleaning lady and into the hall, so I went upstairs and there she was, sitting by the door which leads to the roof deck. As soon as she saw me, she proceeded to tell me off for taking so long to find her, despite the fact that I was still at work when she started this game of hide and seek.

I think she overheard John saying a few days ago that she’s getting old, since she sleeps more deeply now (she’s 9 this year), and wanted to prove that she still has the adventurous spirit that led her spend the night outside 4 years ago. The other cats just walk away when she starts talking about that. Jack and Hannah are unimpressed because they were born on and lived on the street for weeks before we adopted them, and Sophie just goes to sleep. On that occasion, my brother was putting in a new kitchen counter for us (quarter-sawn white oak) and Cleo snuck out the back door and onto the roof. We couldn’t find her until the next day, when my sister Megan spied Cleo’s golden eyes peering out from under the deck.

It all comes of having people over. Here’s your love/hate for this week!

Love/Hate for Friday, May 17, 2002

I love having company. I was brought up with a tradition of entertaining both friends and strangers. When I was a child, we lived in the country outside Ithaca, New York (my father taught at Cornell in those days). Our driveway was a quarter of a mile long, and there were deep ditches beside the road. In the winter, when snow drifts could be seven feet high, people’s cars often slipped into the ditch and they ended up trekking up our driveway to use the phone. We’d always give them something to eat and drink while they waited for the tow truck, such being the innocence of those days.

One of Dad’s students, Gilbert, came to live with us for three years when his (wealthy) family in Tanzania could not get money out of the country due to the laws at the time. He didn’t intend to live with us for that long, but it just happened that way. I bet most professors don’t invite their students to live with them indefinitely. Gilbert remains a good friend.

My father was also involved in an exchange program with Soviet scientists in the 1970’s. He went to Russia, and they came to the US. I remember particularly two women who came for dinner one night with their interpreter. All three were convinced that our house was given to us by the government to show off in, and that we couldn’t possibly live there. I don’t think we ever convinced them otherwise. A blizzard sprang up during dinner, and the roads quickly became impassable. The look of unholy terror on the scientists’ faces when we told them they could not go back to their hotel, where they were supposed to be, was unforgettable. Finally, my father called the sheriff’s office and had the sheriff tell the interpreter that he, the Law, was ordering them to stay where they were. Then they relaxed, knowing that they wouldn’t be in trouble.

Dinner in our house, guests or not, was always a time for conversation, and in retrospect, for learning. I grew up knowing which fork to use, how to hold up my end of the conversation, good manners, both at the table and away from it (we called everyone, even Gilbert, Mr. or Mrs., until invited to call him or her by their first name, and wrote thank you letters within 5 days of receiving presents) and other Victorian arts passed on from my parents, whose parents really had been Victorian and had taught them in turn. My expectations of politeness and what I consider to be good manners isolate me more than my advanced age these days. But I like feeling the connection to the past.

So now, in my own home, I really enjoy having company. I love having an audience to cook for, or to show off for, to be more accurate, since cooking is one of my few talents. I love using the good china and the beautiful engraved French wineglasses my father gave me, and his parents’ silver, with its politically incorrect ivory handles, and the placemats and napkins I bought in Provence. It’s wonderful to sit at the dining room table by candle light with good friends and family and talk and laugh into the evening.

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May 16 2002

A is for Apple, B is for Bride

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I had my hair cut yesterday. Trimmed, actually — my hairdresser is one of the few on the planet who understands that a trim does not mean, please hack 4 inches off my hair. Essentially, it now looks the same, only without the split ends.

The last time I saw him, he was planning to fly to Brazil to ask for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage (I’m not kidding). They are both Brazilian, though they met here. So this time, I learned that all had gone well, he bought a beautiful diamond ring in Brazil and got engaged on Valentine’s Day. Wedding to take place on June 16!

As he was telling me all this, I watched other brides-to-be twirling around in their white dresses at the fancy, fancy bridal salon across the street. It was like a very romantic ballet.

On the way home, I walked past Union Square. I hardly ever go there, except to get my hair done at Elizabeth Arden or to go to Neiman Marcus, so I had forgotten that Union Square is all torn up at the moment, being renovated (though I’m quite sure that whatever they do to it, as soon as it’s re-opened, the benches will once more be populated by homeless and or/crazy folks, in piquant contrast to the expensive shops around the Square). I was amused to see that the palm trees have their fronds all tied up while construction is going on, like I put my hair up before taking a bath.

When I got home, our new iBook was waiting for me!!!

It is a glorious combination of form and function. It’s a translucent white, about the size of a New Yorker and a third as thick as a Stephen King paperback. At last, I could check my e-mail, after three weeks (those of you who have e-mailed me during that time: I have not been ignoring you, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can figure out how to configure my e-mail). I also have to figure out OS X.

But in the meantime, yay. And I have already bought some accessories, like a cable so I can plug it in on the plane to England this fall, instead of draining the battery, and a headphone splitter so my sis and I can both watch DVD’s during the 11 hour flight. Not to mention that I can update you all on my adventures. After all, I have almost 4 months to get it figured out — almost enough time for the technologically challenged.

By the way…our iMac is still in the shop, though promised for today. I feel a great big noisy fuss coming on.

5 responses so far

May 15 2002

Lunch break

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I had an unaccustomed lunch yesterday. That is, I hardly ever take a lunch break, but rather, work at my desk all day with positively Japanese devotion. But yesterday, my friend Richard lured me out to the little park by the Transamerica pyramid. I hadn’t been there for a while, and I’m pretty sure that the charming, oxidized copper leaping frogs and lily pads in the fountain are new. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we sat on a bench in the sun. Now my arms are pink with unusual sun exposure (though I religiously wear sunscreen on my face, even when it’s raining, I almost never do on my hand and arms).

I helped Richard eat his lunch, and while we were talking, I eavesdropped. It is one of my many, many character flaws that I can never resist eavesdropping or looking into lighted windows when the curtains are open. Well, if they didn’t want you to hear, they would talk quieter, and if they didn’t want you to look in their windows, they’d close the curtains. My friend Alice, now a longtime Amsterdam resident, told me that it’s an old Dutch custom to leave the curtains open to prove you have nothing to hide.

Overheard at the Transamerica park (does it have a real name?):

“Well, of course they laid off Yates. Everyone hates him.”
I immediately wondered if it was spelled like the poet and why everyone hated him, and whether he himself was aware of the fact.

“She has nothing to do there, so she just shtups everyone in sight.”
Again, not sure about the entirely correct spelling of “shtup”. And I wonder where is so boring (and if it is, why are there so many men there?).

“So I asked her for another date, and she said she didn’t know we were dating. She already has a boyfriend.”
Oh, she knew you were dating. She was just auditioning you to see if you were better than her current boyfriend, and guess what? You’re not.

When I was about a block from my office on the way back, there was a guy playing Beethoven on a Jamaican steel drum.

I really should take lunch more often.

2 responses so far

May 14 2002


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I was woken up by last night’s earthquake, as were the cats, who were sleeping peacefully on the bed with me. When it first hit, they catapulted (no pun intended) off the bed and hid under it — must be some kind of animal hiding instinct. I think it was the deep rumbling sound, which once you’ve heard it, you immediately know it’s an earthquake and nothing else, that actually woke me up, more than the shaking.

The shaking itself started out pretty strong, then paused, then came back stronger. At that point, both John (who was awake when it hit) and I thought maybe this was going to be the Big One. It’s amazing how quickly thoughts can pass through your mind. But it went away again in less time than it takes to tell (earthquakes, like the shootout at the OK Corral, don’t last very long in real life, unlike in the movies).

It was pretty strong, though, considering it took place almost 80 miles south of San Francisco, in Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world. It measured 5.1 on the Richter Scale, which isn’t that much weaker than the October, 1989 quake which measured 6.7 and caused a tremendous amount of destruction. The April, 1901 quake is still the record to beat, at 8.25. That’s one record that can remain unbroken as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, we’re all fine, thanks to living on bedrock in a retrofitted building. But we have been reminded again that it’s only a matter of time.

2 responses so far

May 12 2002

Mother’s Day Mix-Up

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Like Colin, I used Red Envelope for our Mother’s Day present (I am the appointed gift and card buyer for the three of us kids who live in California). I got lilies of the valley, planted in a ceramic pot, which will bloom in the next few weeks. I think blooming plants are less depressing than cut flowers, which have to be thrown out when they’re dead and brown. Blooming plants die a natural death, and some of them even have Jesus-like resurrection abilities.

Lilies of the valley are nostalgic for my mother, as lilacs are for me, and for the same basic reason: they are both associated with my mother’s mother. Nana grew both flowers in her garden, and always wore Muguet des Bois perfume. So Mom was really happy with the present.

But…the card that came with the present was for someone else. Mary Dolson of San Francisco, to be precise. I wonder if Mary Dolson got Mom’s card? If so, she’s probably wondering who the hell all those people are. Somehow, it seems entirely appropriate given the rollercoaster, Fun House quality of my relationship with my mother that my Mother’s Day gift to her got screwed up.

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May 11 2002

Dinner with Paul

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John & I had dinner last night with our friend Paul. Paul is practically one of the family, and a great guy. He recently became a grandfather for the first time (his son-in-law is a drum technician for the Red Hot Chili Peppers). He is a Vietnam vet (his fellow soldiers used to refer to him as “Grandpa” because he was the oldest in his unit at the ripe old age of 21), a professional cook and sailor. In the summers, he caters for the rich and/or (in)famous in the Hamptons, and in the winter, he could be anywhere. Last winter, he sailed the Caribbean. This winter, he’s planning to cook on a boat that takes people diving in the Turks & Caicos. So it was great to catch up with him and hear his latest schemes, including one for spending a month in Kabul to buy rugs to sell to the rich folks in the Hamptons.

We had dinner at Le Petit Robert, the charming restaurant affiliated with the French bakery which is the jewel of the neighborhood. I was the bad one and had a Kir Royale to start (it was perfect, right down to the slender lemon peel in the glass), and also had a wicked glass of Sancerre with dinner. John and Paul stuck to Pellegrino to showcase my vice. John had roast chicken and frites, those perfect, tender-crisp fries rarely, if ever, found outside their native France. Paul and I both had PEI mussels in a gorgeous wine broth as an entr&eacutee, but he had foie gras to start (I didn’t say anything, even though it’s right next door to veal in cruelty food), and I had a roasted beet salad with ch&egravevre and spiced, candied walnuts to start.

Just in case you aren’t already shocked by these culinary excesses, I also had dessert, and so did Paul. He had chocolate fondant with espresso ice cream and a tiny cup of lethal espresso, and I had, at last, cannell&eacutes de Bordeaux with tart cherries, cr&egraveme anglaise, and I might as well admit it, a glass of Sauternes, which was liquid sunshine. Aren’t you positively stuffed just reading this?

So Paul’s on his way back to the Hamptons, and his latest schemes. We should see him again in the fall to hear about his latest adventures. In the meantime, I think I’ll go and try to walk off some of that dinner.

2 responses so far

May 10 2002

Love/Hate: Morning

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Loose ends:

1. I did pay the $57. *ducking* But I sent it registered mail, kept a copy of the check, and ordered a copy from the bank showing that it was cashed, so hopefully that’s the end of it. It just goes to show that time is more important to me than money. Or that I am really, really lazy. Or all of the above.

2. We are going to Amsterdam. Me, my sis Megan, and our one and only niece, the one and only Cat. Cat’s mother, aka my older sister Beth, says that they can get much cheaper airfares if they book it there, so I’m leaving it up to her. We’ll be there September 20-23, and staying here, about two minutes’ walk from where Alice lives. When John and I stayed there two years ago (two years ago!), we had the Rembrandt Room.

3. I bought the iBook! It should arrive next week, which will give me time to figure out how to use it here or there, as Dr. Seuss would say. Also the DVD player will be a welcome distraction on the plane. And I can update you all on my adventures.

Here’s your love/hate of the week!

Love/Hate for Friday, May 10, 2002

I am a morning person, a creature loathed by many. Not that I’m annoyingly perky or chatty in the a.m., especially pre-caffeine, but I do naturally wake up early, even on the weekends. I’m a lark, and John’s an owl. He’d rather stay up late and get up late, whereas I, though a city girl to the core, prefer keeping farmer’s hours, going to bed early and getting up early. It’s completely amazing if I stay up past 10.

If I’m starting a project at work, or at home, for that matter, I’d rather start it in the morning when I feel fresh and what little brain power I have is as good as it’s going to get. By the afternoon, my physical and mental energy are beginning to wane and I’d rather do things that require less cognitive thought. If you look at the time on my blog entries, they are almost all written before noon.

I love being awake when the day is new. During the week, I leave the house early enough that the streets of the city are lightly populated. I can often walk ten blocks without seeing another person, other than those in cars. I can hear the birds singing, and the sun is just about rising, so the sky is pink, lavender, and pale blue, with clouds that would have inspired Constable. The first cable cars of the day pass me on my way to work, the brakemen waving and saying hello. It’s a magical time of day, before the streets get crowded, the air full of exhaust from cars, and suburbanites start hemorrhaging out of the BART stations.

On the weekends, I’m usually awake by 6, often woken up by birds singing in the tree outside our bedroom window, or less romantically, by our Siamese cat Jack, either informing me that it’s breakfast time in her opinion, or more subtly by playing with the blinds until their clacking against the window frame wakes me up. After feeding the ravening hordes, I take my coffee and breakfast up on the roof and sit on the sunny deck overlooking the Bay. To the west, I can see the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Palace of Fine Arts. I can see boats on the Bay, and the neighborhood secret gardens that can’t be seen from the street. To the east, the pastel buildings climb Russian Hill. It’s surprisingly peaceful up there in the morning, with hummingbirds buzzing by or the wild parrots flying overhead. I wouldn’t miss that just to sleep!

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May 09 2002

Lost Arts

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Is it me? Is it San Francisco? Or has the art of customer service vanished along with the art of conversation, the art of letter-writing, and the notion of politeness? It certainly seems to be as extinct as a dinosaur in my life.

In order to complain, I will yet again have to make a somewhat embarrassing confession, but I won’t let that stop me. I have been seeing a therapist to help me through the grieving process and also to help me address an issue that has become magnified since my father’s death: my fear of flying. I haven’t flown since I came home from my father’s funeral in London just days before 9/11. Then there was 9/11. I bailed on a conference in Dallas in January because I just couldn’t face flying. That’s when I realized that I needed some help with these problems.

So I have been going once a week, and it has helped. My therapist suggested that I get a prescription for anti-anxiety medication to take with me when I fly. If all the other tools I have fail me, I know I have the medication and can take it if I need to. I suspect just knowing I have it will be enough. But my therapist is a PhD, not an M.D., so I had to get a prescription from a doctor.

I haven’t been to the doctor in years (I know, I know, shut up and let me complain). I called to make an appointment. They asked what for.

Me: A check-up.

Them: What kind?

Me: How many kinds are there?

Them (unhelpfully): Lots.

Me: Well, this is more complicated than I thought.

Them (suspiciously): You’ll have to tell me what you need.

So I did. They said the first appointment was in 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS. I was immediately convinced that if I had said something else, I would have gotten in sooner, but it was too late by then. The day finally arrived yesterday, and I went to the office, waited in line to check in, and was told that my doctor no longer worked at this office, she worked out of one on the other side of town. The receptionist said, “She (meaning the person I made the appointment with) should have told you that.” I said, “Yeah, she should have. I waited SIX WEEKS to get in here and now you’re telling me that I can’t see the doctor.” The receptionist said that all the other doctors in the practice were fully booked for that day, and indeed, the reception area was packed with people with the hangdog expression of those about to be measured and weighed and told they were 5 feet tall and 200 pounds, right before exchanging their clothes for a paper smock open in the back.

I just stormed out and called a cab.

In the meantime, John had finally had it with the idiots who have been supposedly repairing our iMac for the past two weeks. They admitted at last that only one guy could do it, and he is coming back from vacation today and we should have it by Monday. If they had told us this TWO WEEKS AGO when we first asked them to fix it, we would have gotten a refund and shipped it to Brian and would have had it back by now, better than new. John just lost it with them. Two weeks of their screwing us over, not calling us back, not doing a damn thing, despite the fact that we had paid almost $400 to have it repaired two months ago. I’m sorry, but we’re not in the wrong here. And I cannot understand why they aren’t totally embarrassed about what a crappy job they have done and why they aren’t falling all over themselves apologizing.

The doctor’s receptionist didn’t apologize, either. Maybe that’s a lost art, too.

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May 07 2002

Should I stay or should I go?

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For some reason, my boots decided to behave like those belonging to a kid in an E. Nesbit story*, and came untied no fewer than three times on my way to work this morning. This works out to one or the other (or both) coming untied about every half mile. I should have made a charming picture, hiking my black velvet skirt above my knees to tie my boots, but due to the sturdy functionality of my legs, I didn’t. They have always been a horrible disappointment to me, so very very un-Chanel. I wish it was the bad old 1960’s again, when doctors merrily prescribed speed as a diet aid and you could go to clinics in Switzerland where they pounded and massaged your legs to Chanel-ness, &agrave la Edie Sedgwick, whose natural legs were as sturdy as mine until they got Swiss.

But to the question of the day: when I’m in London, should I go to Amsterdam to see my old friend Alice, or have Alice, who lives there, come and see me in London? My sister Megan and I will hit the road pretty much as soon as we get there, with 3 days in Devon followed by 3 days in Suffolk. These are driving trips and my stepmother will be driving. But that’s it as far as running around goes. My older sister and her family will come to London, so we won’t have to go to Melton Mowbray, where they live and which my niece claims is really boring. I just can’t decide if it’s too much running around if I go to Amsterdam. But Alice is having her kitchen remodelled later this month and I want to see it. Also, my sister Megan is travelling with me and she has never been to Amsterdam, and it is a world of fun. So vote, please, and help the indecisive decide.

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May 06 2002

Candi Apple

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Candi’s back!! So go on over and tell Mrs. Candi how much you missed her. Oh, and you can read about her tropical wedding and honeymoon adventures, too.

I think Candi and Brian should move to San Francisco. Not just because it would make my life so much more fun, even though it would, but because they could make a total killing repairing Macs. Probably even enough to actually live here. There appear to be no Brians here, despite the fact that Apple was invented here and has its headquarters here. So you would think there would be several Brians to choose from, but no.

You can probably tell that our iMac is still in the shop. The guys who are supposed to be fixing it are as phone-challenged as ever, so John has called them several times over the past few days with increasing acrimony. Finally, he told them that if they can’t get it to us by the end of the day today, they have to give us a refund (for the $370 they charged to “fix” it in February) and we’ll take it to someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. In actual fact, we’ll probably Fed Ex it to Brian. Accept no substitutes.

Since we have been Mac-less twice in the last two months, I have come up with a typically Suzy solution: buy an iBook, so that if/when our iMac has another hissy fit, we won’t be helpless. Oooh, maybe I could bring it with me to England in September and keep you posted on my adventures over there. Isn’t it amazing how I can always find a way to justify spending money, especially on things that are both cute and fun?

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