Archive for April, 2003

Apr 30 2003

Sick

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Yesterday’s incident affected me more than I thought. In a matter of seconds, a total stranger destroyed my peace of mind in the selfish desire to fulfill a passing whim. It seems deeply unfair that his caprice had this effect; also, that just because I’m a girl, I have to worry about my physical safety in the simple act of walking to work.

I used to really enjoy the walk to work. It was not only what Buddhists call “walking meditation”, but a pleasure. I enjoyed the beauty of the city, its remarkable buildings, secret parks and gardens, the different vistas of the Bay and its bridges, for our city planners knew enough not to obstruct the waterfront with high-rises. I enjoyed the exertion of walking up and down the hills, aware of my body and breathing, present in the moment.

But this morning, I took a different route, however irrational. Perfectly innocent joggers passing me prompted a pang of fear, as did a gentleman in a suit who stepped from the shadows of a building to hail a passing cab. I looked nervously down dark alleys as I walked by them, and over my shoulder every block or so. Never before had I realized how inadequate the street lights are to their task. Many streets only have them on one side, and there are deep pools of darkness in front of many buildings. I felt like a child dared to walk through a graveyard at night. And though it has been many years since I was actually a child, I have always retained that childish fear of the dark, along with other childish qualities, so the walk this morning seemed even more fraught with hazard than it was in reality.

But I can’t live in fear. The truth is that nothing really happened, though it did make it clear that something easily could have. Even had I been armed with any of John’s suggestions, the guy would have been too far away for me to use any of them by the time I got them out of my backpack or pocket, other than the gun. Though I don’t think even Texas considers groping to be a capital offense. I hope that the passage of time will lessen the fear, though I doubt if it will ever completely eradicate the awareness it caused.

I also hope that the flu I came down with yesterday is passing, since I still have way too much work to do and not enough time to do it in. Isn’t it ironic that when you feel really horrible it keeps you from sleeping, and that’s when you need the sleep the most? Here’s hoping that I am both psychologically and physically better real soon.

7 responses so far

Apr 29 2003

Assman!

Published by under Bullshit

Today started out with an extreme compliment. Very. Or a minor assault. You decide.

Given that the swampage at work is of Okefenokee-like proportions these days, I’ve been getting in as early as I can to start the day’s Sisyphean activities. As Winston Churchill said to the Temperance woman who held her hand halfway up the wall and said all the alcohol he had drunk would reach that point: “So little done, so much to do.”

So I left the apartment around 5:00 this morning, which, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, looks approximately the same as midnight. Despite my route to work taking me through money-laden Pacific Heights and Nob Hill to the equally money-laden Financial District, a girl walking alone in the dark needs to keep her wits about her. So I was aware that there was someone walking behind me up the California Street hill, but I wasn’t overly concerned.

I easily outpaced the person walking up hill – I’m so used to it now that it doesn’t even slow me down – but I could tell that he caught up with me when the street flattened out around the Cee-ment Church and the grand hotels. Yet he didn’t pass me, and that made me feel a little weird, so I crossed the street. He followed, and as I approached the Huntington Hotel, he suddenly lunged forward, grabbed my ass, and then ran away like an Olympic sprinter.

It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to feel scared. I just yelled after his rapidly-vanishing figure, “What the hell was that?”, which brought the Huntington’s doorman on the run. He asked me what had happened and I told him. By now I was laughing with relief and absurdity, but the doorman found it no laughing matter. He offered to call the police, but I refused – I couldn’t describe the guy other than what he was wearing – and he was long gone, anyway. He then offered to put me in a cab, but I told him I was OK. He said, “If you need me, you just call”, and gave me his card. What a sweetheart.

I must be having what Fran on Mad About You called “a good ass day”.

5 responses so far

Apr 27 2003

Sunny Sunday

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Most people read the Sunday New York Times, but I read the Mendocino Beacon, which has headlines like “Shark-Bitten Sea Otter Rescued”, and contains the always-entertaining Sheriff’s Log. Gotta keep up with all the things happening in the small town where my brother & sister live. For such a small place, lots happens. Enough to keep an EMT and a volunteer fireman occupied, anyway.

Here in the uneventful city, I woke up to a strangely blue sky and something which, if memory serves, is sunlight. After my ritual coffee and tangerine juice, I headed off to the gym before it turned into the weekend madhouse, and when I was done there, I walked down to Aquatic Park. I sat on the sun-warmed stone steps with my bare feet in the sand and watched the members of the Polar Bear Club, those intrepid souls who swim the Bay year-round, fearless of cold and bacteria. A huge tanker swam by slowly on its way out into the Pacific (next stop, Hawaii!), making me wonder again about physics and how something the size of a building can float.

People walked by with their dogs. People ran by. The wild parrots flew overhead, their green and red wings shining in the sun, and their distinctive voices, at once harsh and bright, echoing across the water. The grand sailboats at Hyde Street Pier moved gently in the water, their old timbers and ropes creaking gently with the motion as they have for more than a century. Though these grand ladies no longer venture into the deep ocean or around the dangerous Horn, their stories and those of the men who served on them will always live on in the wood and the heart and soul of these great ships.

The Golden Gate Bridge was red in the sun, and sharp against the blue sky and water. I thought of how many times I have driven across that Bridge, on my way to visit my brother and sister, or my mother, and I know that I have never crossed it without seeing and feeling the extraordinary beauty of this place. When I’m coming home across the Bridge, and I get that first glimpse of the city, my heart always rises with the joy and pleasure of living somewhere so very beautiful.

3 responses so far

Apr 26 2003

Mothers

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My mother told me that she wasn’t well enough to have me visit today. I found this mystifying at first, since I thought the whole reason she was having me come up was because she wasn’t well and couldn’t vacuum, etc. On closer questioning, it turns out that she has some kind of intestinal bug which she doesn’t want to share with me, an idea I applaud whole-heartedly. And let’s face it: if Suzy Homemaker is such a laughable concept – and it is, it is – Suzy Nursemaid is beyond the realm of the absurd. I mean, can you picture that?!

Now stop laughing.

Released from Mom duty, I spent several hours working instead. I don’t seem to have the missionary zeal required to joyfully and efficiently convert the heathen. I find it a time-consuming and tedious task, made all the worse by the need to actually pay attention to every little detail. I finally informed my bosses that not all the reports can be converted this quarter, but I have committed to having them all done by the end of next quarter.

Communication has been restored with my stepmother. I normally faxed her letters twice a week, but since her house burned last month, we have been reduced to snail mail. I had forgotten how very slow the appropriately-named snail mail is. It takes a week for my letter to get to her, then she has to find time to answer it, and then mail it back. Our letters often cross each other, and really, the entire proceedings are quite unacceptable. However, she now has a fax installed in the house she is renting while her new house is being built, so now my only challenge is finding time to write her while so swamped with work.

She says the remains of the house are covered in scaffolding, and that the scaffolding was put up wrong and had to be re-done. I think she’s beginning to suspect that the estimate of six months to re-build a 5 bedroom, 3 bath house is a little on the optimistic side. Fortunately, her rental house is close by the old house, so she can supervise the construction workers and make sure they aren’t just drinking tea all day long.

She herself is keeping her spirits up, in spite of losing $75,000 worth of things while insured for only $25,000; the house she lived in with both of her husbands and where her children grew up; all her clothes and jewelry; love letters and photographs; the souvenirs and other things one collects in a lifetime. I should take a leaf from her book.

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Apr 24 2003

Rain, rain go away

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Well, today is just going to be peachy.

Number one, it was a spring shower when I left for work this morning, but long about Grace Cathedral, it turned into the storm from hell, with high winds turning my feeble umbrella inside out, thus allowing the now torrential rain to attack face and hair. You can imagine how lovely I look, and just in time for the meeting with the Big Boss today, who is gracing us with his presence for no known reason. The sudden change in the rain must be something like the experience of parents, whose cuddly, adorable baby who worships them suddenly changes into a snarling, hateful teenager who thinks they are pointless idiots and doesn’t hesitate to share this viewpoint. So I got the rest of the way to work clutching the shreds of my umbrella with wet hands and have repaired the worst of the damage, but mood pretty much matches the weather.

If this is the new weather, it really is like the new math: incomprehensible and deeply unpleasant. By now, we should be having days of blue skies and sunshine and umbrellas should be languishing in the closet until after Thanksgiving. Furthermore, they should have been languishing since, say, March. If I wanted real weather, I’d be living somewhere cheaper, like Seattle. Living somewhere this expensive to get the same horrible weather as Seattle or Portland seems downright stupid at this point.

One of the guys I work with quit to go to grad school in New York, so that leaves the remaining guy and me with all the work. If that wasn’t enough fun, we are converting all the client reports to a new format, which is extremely time consuming. It’s Suzy’s work nightmare: really, really boring and tedious, yet you have to pay attention. And you know how boredom is my biggest fear after death, so imagine the fun. It takes a solid 8 hours to convert one report, and I have 35 to do, and that doesn’t include checking them afterwards. Oh, yeah, and we don’t get paid overtime. Add in the fact that I have to get everything done by May 30 in time to go to Toronto, and you have a recipe for some serious work horror. If I wasn’t going up to my mother’s house to be her unpaid servant this Saturday, I’d probably be here working. Am unable to decide which is the worst of these two options.

3 responses so far

Apr 22 2003

Duty

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My Dad used to say:

“The feeling that we treasure
That we treasure beyond measure
Is the satisfying feeling
That our duty has been done.”

Now, I’m assuming this is a quote from somewhere, though I don’t know where. I used to get it as a child when being recalcitrant about doing homework or chores or other boring/annoying yet necessary things that had to be done. It still pops into my head when faced with the b/a, even now. Today, it’s the impending visit to my mother on Saturday.

Mom called me today to tell me that I will have to do the following things during my visit:


  1. Vacuum her apartment. Even though I pointed out that I don’t even vacuum my own apartment.
  2. Wash her quilt, which she can’t lift into the washer (and I’m assuming anything else that’s lying around).
  3. Go to the feed store and get cat food.
  4. Walk the dog, at least twice.
  5. Go over the information she got from Social Security about her medical coverage, even though both of my sisters have seen it and they both say everything’s in order.
  6. Move her bookcases.
  7. Find somewhere to get fertilizer and snail killer for her garden.

If that’s all, I’m lucky, I guess.

The thing is, even as a kid, I never found doing my duty particularly satisfying, though I never had the nerve to admit it, even to my Dad. And I don’t find doing it now any more satisfying than I did then.

But you all can laugh, picturing me being Suzy Housekeeper for a day!

2 responses so far

Apr 20 2003

Terrible Twos

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Two years ago today I wrote my very first blog, thanks to (or blame it on) Candi, loyal friend and designer extraordinaire. So, as of today, I can justify [almost] any bad behavior. I have the terrible twos!

And speaking of terrible: our cat Jack is terrible two, but I think she’ll keep being terrible no matter how old she gets. Here she is, playing at night as an adorable kitten. You can see why we forgive her bad behavior. It’s hard to stay mad at the truly cute.

Note the demon eyes and hyperactivity. Really, we should have had a clue.

5 responses so far

Apr 17 2003

Rivalry

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What with the grey skies and the girl grossness along with general, post-company blahs, the idea of walking home yesterday up the vertiginous slope of California Street was even less appealing than usual. I gave in to my innate laziness, which lurks very close to the surface and is never far away, much as I try to hide it with work and going to the gym and running errands.

Instead of dragging Self up the hill as usual, I jumped on the cable car. It seemed well worth the $2 not to have to expend the unnatural effort required to climb Mt. California, and as visitors on the street and on the cable car merrily took pictures of each other, I wondered how many vacation pictures of total strangers I appear in, just from giving in to my laziness and taking the cable car and/or living in such a pretty place.

As we were pulled up the hill by the giant underground cables, we passed a cable car going the other way. The brakeman on the other cable car was wearing an Oakland A’s baseball cap along with the standard uniform. This really seemed to disturb the brakeman on my cable car, because he leaned out and shouted, “Take off that hat, brother! This here the Giants’ town!” He did this no fewer than three times in the short time it took for the other car to pass us, and I think he was serious. However, the A’s fan paid no attention at all. His indifference was really quite superb.

2 responses so far

Apr 16 2003

Gross. Period.

Published by under Uncategorized

Fair warning: the following entry contains graphic girl content. Guys, go away and do something else right now, especially if you harbor any illusions that girls are delicate, dainty creatures who don’t swear, think evil thoughts, or have any of the same bodily functions you do. I’m afraid we do, and then some.

Now that the faint of heart are gone, I am just going to say that I can’t wait for menopause. My stepmother’s daughter got it at the age of 47 and is thrilled. Not only is the threat of pregnancy removed once and for all, but she feels great all the time, instead of approximately two weeks out of every month like those of us who are pre-menopausal and post-pubescent. You’re either getting ready for the horror, enduring the horror, or recovering from it, and that leaves, as previously noted, about two weeks of feeling good before it starts all over again.

Faithful readers know that I wonder about whether there is a God, or some kind of higher power. I really don’t know, but for the past few days, I have leaned heavily to the side that if there is in fact a God, it has to be a man or man-like being, because no female would have set things up this way for her sisters. The process is so gross and disgusting and painful. Yes, I realize it’s a natural function, but if you think about natural functions, you realize that they are pretty much all gross and disgusting, if not painful, which is why most of us choose to endure them in privacy. In other words, their naturalness does not exclude them from being icky. And despite what TV commercials would have you believe, the whole thing has nothing to do whatever with doves or butterflies or flowers. Imagine if the commercials even bordered on accuracy. {shudder}

This month’s installment has been particularly hard for me to endure. Usually, this magically cures the worst of it (after all, the plant would hardly be named that if it didn’t do that), but this time, the symptoms merely laughed and resumed their beating. They kept me up at night, laughing evilly at my weak attempts to dislodge their hold on me. Finally, I went home yesterday and applied vodka and vicodin until they were the ones beaten into submission. Better living through chemistry, indeed. But shouldn’t we have evolved past this kind of thing by now? Shouldn’t there be a better system? It really must be a man’s world after all.

3 responses so far

Apr 15 2003

Departures

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Beth and Cat are heading home today. And what a long, horrible journey it will be: airport shuttle bus from Petaluma to SFO (2+ hours); the interminable wait in line for security, check-in, etc., during which you have to remove any item of clothing deemed questionable – when I went to Boston, this was: my coat; my sweater; and my boots – (2+ hours); the wait at the gate, and then 11 fun-filled hours to London. Once they get to London, they still have to drive to their town in Leicestershire – yet another 2+ hours. Which makes it all the more impressive that Beth has done this no fewer than three times in the last 6 months.

Cat and I had a great day together last Friday. We shopped and lunched in North Beach, before turning our acquisitive attention to the shopping to be had in the Haight. Now, I’m not normally a big fan of the Haight. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate the Haight, but I have a low tolerance for faux hippies and grubbiness. However, the fabulousness of the shops made up for it.

I picked up an adorable glittery Marilyn backpack, while Cat got an embroidered black skirt with built-in crinoline. Further down the street, Cat picked up some perfect souvenirs, including exactly the kind of thing you’d think, and some you wouldn’t. I bought her the perfect shower curtain for her dorm room.

The shopping was educational, as well as fun. In the course of souvenir shopping, I learned:


  1. Candles last longer if you trim the wick every time before you use them.
  2. Southern Comfort is now available in Black Label, which is 100 proof and apparently not available in England, though absinthe is. Choose your poison, I guess (or have your government choose it for you).

We weren’t shopped out, but we had to go home and drop off our purchases before heading to Pier 39. The cats promised to take care of everything in exchange for being fed, which seemed like a reasonable deal. Usually they just eat and nap.

Unlike most people, we weren’t going to Pier 39 to shop. We were going to sail! My friend Chris, who has a sailboat and who lives aboard another boat at Pier 39, had offered to take us out for an afternoon sail on the Bay. It was a perfect, sunny afternoon, with just enough wind to send us skimming over the water. It’s a wonderful feeling of freedom, especially when you have a licensed captain doing all the work. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

2 responses so far

Apr 08 2003

Updates

Published by under Uncategorized

Here’s what’s been going on the past few days in la vida loca di Suzy:

1. US clock repair guy came on Thursday evening and set up the clock for me, other than the necessary repairs. He also bolted it to the wall so it will be earthquake proof (or as earthquake proof as possible). Turns out the bell got broken off, in addition to the door being pushed in, so all that has been taken away to be fixed. CRG is a tiny, elderly man who loves his job so much that he won’t retire, though he does have a young apprentice who came with him. Unusual to see that these days. Both thrilled to work on such an old clock, which is rare in these young United States. Also turns out that the two non-working clocks in the living room are collector’s items which should also be repaired. But could I stand three clocks chiming at once?

2. Mom’s birthday dinner at Greens was great. We had a stunning view of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun set. Food was outstanding, particularly the asparagus and leek tart. Frog’s Leap sauvignon blanc was the perfect accompaniment (and you have to love the corks, imprinted with “Ribbit!”). A good time was had by all, and she loved her many presents.

3. Spent very nearly all day on Friday getting Jonathan’s car, a 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback. Unbeknownst to me, these cars are apparently very hard to find, and almost impossible to locate for under $10,000. But locate one he did, way down in Redwood City. So we went down there and spent hours doing paperwork. If you have never financed a car before, let me tell you: it tries the most patient patience. But we were finally done and ready to head back to the city, just in time for rush hour. Yay. Made worse time than on the milk run bus to the airport.

4. By Sunday morning, my low reserves of niceness were running on fumes. I decided not to go up to the country with everyone else, so now my popularity with much of my immediate family is much like that of Saddam Hussein’s with much of the world. But I just couldn’t stand the whole idea of going all the way up there to uncivilization and having to be nice for three more days. Something would have had to give, and my guess is it would have been the niceness.

Beth and Cat are here for another week, so I’ll make up for the country bail by spending next weekend with them, even though it’s John’s birthday on Saturday. I suspect he won’t be surprised. I wonder why it’s so hard for me to be nice for extended periods of time?

3 responses so far

Apr 04 2003

Arrivals

Published by under Uncategorized

Public transit, you know, never works well for me. I might as well face the fact that I am a taxi or limo kind of girl (God forbid I should actually drive myself). Yesterday I decided to take the SamTrans bus to the airport to pick up my sister Beth and niece Cat. When I got to the bus stop, the bus was there but all of its signs said “Out of Service”. However, there was: a. a bus driver; and 2. several passengers, so I asked the driver if he went to the airport. He said yes, so I got on board. Off we went. After a while, I began to suspect that this was not the express bus to the airport as originally thought. Lots of stops. Complete avoidance of freeways. For once in my life, I found myself looking longingly at onramp signs. 101! 280! I have misjudged you! All is forgiven!

Fortunately, I had given myself an hour to get the airport, because that’s how long it took. I got there about 10 minutes after the plane had arrived. As usual, I couldn’t find the (huge glass) International Terminal. I had to ask for directions to Arrivals no fewer than three times. I think the same mental block that makes it impossible for me to learn the times tables after 5 also makes it impossible for me to locate the International Terminal and the arrivals hall in it. However, I did discover an actual benefit to all this going to the gym: it has given me the ability to run on two inch heels through an entire (domestic) terminal. Woohoo!

So I arrived finally at, well, Arrivals, only to wait for half an hour before sis’n’niece emerged from Customs. Much screaming and jumping ensued. Cat hasn’t been here for 10 years, so she has essentially never been here. Beth, on the other hand, has been here 3 times in the past 6 months. She ought to get a prize.

Today’s agenda:

– Go to gym;
– Go with my brother to hopefully buy a car for him;
– Go out to dinner for Mom’s birthday;
– Try and stay calm and polite for entire day.

Last one’s the hardest. Stay tuned.

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Apr 04 2003

Love/hate: Dawson’s Creek

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Love/hate for Friday, April 4, 2003
Dawson’s Creek

Since the series is going to end in May, this is as good a time as any to admit that I love it. Even though I’m considerably older than the show’s protagonists or its target demographic.

It probably has something to do with how I never really grew up, and despite the advancing age of my outer husk, the inside Me has pretty much remained somewhere around 18 years old. So I get completely caught up in the character’s romantic entanglements and musings on what to do with their lives. I mean, I’m still wondering what to do with mine.

Granted, there have been a few mis-steps lately, notably with the character of Pacey, played by Joshua Jackson. (I confess that Pacey is my favorite and that I have a crushling on Joshua Jackson, though that goatee and ‘do have made it hard to maintain lately. And while I’m still in the confessional, I think Kerr Smith, who plays Jack, is a total hottie, too. Just call me Mrs. Robinson.) Pacey becoming a stockbroker makes no sense. It couldn’t happen in the real world (yes, I know it’s TV) and it’s completely against his character (yes, I know he’s fictional). They should have let him stay a cook – that lifestyle is much more in his nature, and there are endless story possibilities.

However, I have thoroughly enjoyed Dawson’s entr&eacutee into the film world (despite his affair with the bizarre-looking and annoying actress Natasha) and Audrey’s gloriously over-the-top meltdown this season.

I have every episode on tape and am anxiously awaiting its appearance on DVD (get a move on, willya?!). I recently watched the whole thing again from its very beginning and thoroughly enjoyed it. I still think there’s a lot going on there and that it could have gone on longer (I see no reason why it couldn’t have followed the characters out of college, for example), but I guess it’s better to bow out when you’re still doing a good job than drag it on until the public is begging you to retire. As Neil Young said, “It’s better to burn out/than it is to rust.”

One response so far

Apr 03 2003

Home & Away

Published by under Uncategorized

In keeping with my policy this year of either not being home or having company, my sister Beth and niece Cat are coming all the way from England to visit. They arrive this afternoon, and I will be there to meet them, assuming I can actually find my way to the International Terminal and then find them in it. When I picked up my mother there in January I got totally lost and had to rely on the kindness of strangers.

It’s Mom’s 71st birthday on Friday, so all four of her children will be here to celebrate. In deference to Cat being a vegetarian since the age of 12 and the fact that the food and view are kick ass, we are having Mom’s birthday dinner at Greens. This also means that someone other than John has to do the dishes. So everyone, other than the person doing the dishes, should be happy.

If you didn’t already feel sorry for John, being married for all these years to someone who is not only Me (the kind of girl for whom Cockney rhyming slang was probably invented), but who seems to be magnetic north and/or the catalyst for every possible disaster and annoyance, you will when you think that he is coming home tonight to all three Peakall sisters and one and only Peakall niece/granddaughter/future custodian of the Suzy collection, probably on their second bottle of wine! Outnumbered four to one by giggling, drunk girls – who likes them odds?

As if that wasn’t enough, Clock Repair Guy (US version) is coming over around 6 to bolt clock to the wall (after all, this is earthquake country); set it all up; remove the door and take it away to be fixed.

On the bright side, John will be rid of us at some point over the weekend, when we all repair up North for a few days in the country. Beth and Cat have never been to Jonathan’s and Megan’s, so it’s about time.

3 responses so far

Apr 01 2003

Dreamin’

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Right before I woke up this morning, I had an extraordinarily vivid dream. In the dream, I was walking through my childhood home in NY State. It was exactly as we left it when we moved to Canada: the window seat that Dad built for me in my bedroom where I used to read; my bed tucked under the eaves; the swing in the elm tree; the lilacs in bloom. When the alarm went off and I woke up, it took me several seconds to realize where I was, and for a moment reality seemed much less real than the dream. I guess dreams can be as mind-altering as drugs sometimes, and I still have a dream hangover so everything seems slightly unreal. I am awake, right?

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