Archive for November, 2003

Nov 26 2003

Thanksgiving Eve

Published by under Uncategorized

I’ve been pretty much incommunicada the past few days. My email suddenly got corrupted, as if it fell in with the wrong crowd at school, and is presently at a corruption level equalling that of the N’Awlins police department. Juvenile delinquent that it is, it completely refuses to work at all. So I have to reinstall it at peril of losing saved messages (including some from Dad) and at peril of my technological stupidity, which is at a level equalling that of any member of the Bush family.

Which means I haven’t yet attempted it, and probably won’t until this weekend, so if you have written to me in the last week or so, for once the old line is true and it’s not you, it’s me. Hopefully all will go well and you will find my words of wisdom in your inbox sometime next week.

Apart from tech issues, you also know that we are experiencing Mo’ Mom. In addition to that, my father’s closest friend Colin W (aren’t I lucky to have two amazing Colins in my life?) has been visiting San Francisco for the first time ever, so I have been trying to be the best Tour Guide Suzy ever since Sunday. Being tour guide is quite exhausting, though at least the weather has cooperated and been sunny and bright. Since Colin lives in England, he doesn’t find 50&deg cold, so he’s pretty happy.

He’s also an excellent cook, so I have been on my mettle producing show-off food all week. Colin and I cook together as naturally and happily as Dad and I did (and Colin and Dad did, for that matter), which was a poignant surprise.

Tomorrow my sis & bro arrive here for Thanksgiving – Colin’s first ever! I know it will be an emotional one, and I hope it will be a happy one, too. I have a great deal for which to be thankful, and having all these people I love together in my home is at the top of the list.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, even if you live where it’s not a holiday. To all of you who read my trivialities, offer your support, advice, and friendship: I am thankful for you, too.

4 responses so far

Nov 24 2003

Car Reflections

Published by under Car

Selling the car has made me think about the whole thing. Have I learned anything from what was essentially a really expensive mistake?

I didn’t learn to drive until I was more than 30 years old, which should be an Awful Warning to others. If you’re going to do it, do it when you’re young and fearless. If you wait until you’re old, like I did, you realize that not only is Death inevitable, but it’s coming for you personally. And driving just makes it all that much easier for the Reaper to get his scythe on you. When I’m driving on the freeway, I’m going the speed limit and everyone else is passing me and I’m thinking, “If anyone hits me, I’m dead.”

When was learning to drive, people kept telling me, “Look at all the idiots who can drive. Anyone can do it.” I did not and do not find that comforting, because that means that some, if not most, of the cars jetting by me at 80+mph are being driven by stupid people. This does not decrease the danger, in my opinion.

I’m just not one of Nature’s drivers, and that’s that.

However, I didn’t know that right away, and once I got my license, I wanted to buy a car. I started looking at used cars, with my brother’s expert guidance, and was shocked by how much a decent used car costs. When I discovered that I could by a 1966 Mustang convertible for the same price as a reliable ugly car, you know I had to go for the Mustang. It was like jewelry I could drive. I never want the sensible and boring if I can have the pretty and impractical instead. And it’s not like I needed a car to commute in every day or take the kids to soccer practice. It was a frivolous car for a frivolous girl.

I didn’t heed my brother’s caveats about old cars, either. In my ignorance, I figured, how much could go wrong with it when it’s such a simple machine? I mean, you look under the hood and there are about 12 things in there. You can see the ground. What I didn’t understand then was that something will always go wrong, and that vintage cars are holes you pour money into and which put you at the mercy of mechanics named (and natured) Snake.

So, I guess I learned that not only am I not one of Nature’s drivers, I’m not one of Nature’s car owners, either. I’ll leave cars, like children, to those who really want and/or need them.

5 responses so far

Nov 19 2003

Goodbye, Josephine

Published by under Uncategorized


Well, it’s official. My life is completely Josephine-less. We lost our darling cat Jo in 1999 – as befitted a unique and beautiful person, she died young and tragically – and I have now sold my car Josephine, pictured above. Unlike Jo the cat, Jo the car is old (vintage 1966), but as you can see, both Jo’s are beautiful. In fact, I named the car for the cat, because it is the color of her eyes.

When I lost my parking space in the building next door, I looked for another one anywhere within a 12 block radius which was less than $300 a month, and failed. I couldn’t park Josephine on the street, because she has a soft top, the doors don’t really lock, and you could start her with a hairpin. It would be just asking for it (someone keyed the hood when I parked her in the Pier 39 garage. Human nature – you just gotta hate it). I only drove her on the weekends, anyway, so I brought her up to my brother’s in the country for a vacation.

That was three years ago, and in spite of keeping her under wraps over the rainy winters, the car cover wasn’t really enough to prevent the weather from damaging her. I couldn’t find a parking place in the city that wasn’t outrageously expensive or so far away that I’d have to either take public transit {*gasp* – to be avoided at all costs – it’s either walk or taxi for me, thank you} or a cab to get to it. The decision was clear, but facing up to it was hard.

As luck would have it, John has been friends since high school with a guy who is a total Mustang fan, and he agreed to buy Josephine and ship her to her new home. He will have the pleasure of restoring her to her original glory as well as driving her (in fair weather only, of course), and she won’t really be gone – I can still visit her. And in the meantime, I know she’s being loved and cherished.

But I’ll still miss her.

6 responses so far

Nov 10 2003

Walking Home Suzy

Published by under Uncategorized

Today you get to walk home with me, only without all that annoying physical effort. There will even be visual aids.

I walk home up Columbus, through North Beach, the Italian neighborhood. Past Beat era icons City Lights bookstore (celebrating its 50th year) and Vesuvio’s, and then past the strip clubs (for some reason, there are a lot of them in North Beach, though they are not noticeably Italian), including what’s left of the Condor.

The Condor has the distinction of being America’s first topless bar, when Carol Doda danced on the bar in mod designer Rudy Gernreich’s topless bathing suit in 1964. The Condor used to have a wonderful neon sign of a nude woman with flashing red nipples, which sadly disappeared after the club was sold and it became the boring restaurant it is now (the new owners thought it was rude!). The sign looked particularly charming in the fog. I miss it.

Turn left on Vallejo* and you’ll see why I say I walk home up it. The hill is so steep that the sidewalk gives up in despair and becomes a stairway. You can’t tell, but this is only the first block of four or so that are stairs (the rest are hidden in the trees). But it’s worth the hike. Halfway up, it looks like this, and then like this, and at the top, this.

If I’m not taking pictures for you (it is, however, fun to play tourist in your own town), I can do all the stairs without stopping, which is very gratifying. Past the multi-million dollar houses and it’s all downhill to Chez Suzy from there.

*Named for General Vallejo, one of the early settlers of Northern California. The guy who answers the phone at my pizza place always corrects my pronunciation of “Vallejo” (Va-lay-o) by giving it the full Spanish treatment: “Ba-yay-ho”. It just wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t.

14 responses so far

Nov 06 2003

The Dr. Is Out

Published by under Bullshit

I might need a therapist to recover from my therapists. If so, it’s going to be a woman, and a straight one.

Before you start yelling homophobe at me, I would remind you that I live in what may well be the gayest city in the world, and ask you to read my (mis)adventures in therapy first. If you still think I’m gay-averse after that, let me have it. I promise not to say, “some of my best friends are gay.” Deal?

Therapist One chose the week before I was slated to go to London for the first time after Dad’s death (not counting the trip immediately after his death), when he knew I was scheduled to clear out Dad’s things and visit his friends and generally be immersed in the horror of being Dadless in Dad’s house, to break up with me on the phone because he had a crush on me. Shouldn’t he have told me in person, at least, and not on the phone? And couldn’t he have held it in for just one more week and told me after I got back? Unbelievable. I was so shocked that I didn’t say much while he was on the phone, and then it seemed stupid to call him back and rant about it, so that was it. PS: Guy is married and has kids.

After a couple of months, I overcame my native slothfulness enough to find another therapist. Last week, I informed Therapist Two that my benefits run out at the end of the month. He took the opportunity to hug me and tell me that I should fire him as my therapist (well, he’s right about that, anyway) and he’d take me out to drink champagne and we could be “friends”. In the course of the hug, his fingers touched my back (the actual skin! Ick). I was horrified and fled. PS: Guy is married and, yeah, has kids.

A couple of days later, he called me on my cell phone and said, “I just wanted to make sure you weren’t too freaked out by what happened last time I saw you.” We still have our standing appointment this week, and I am planning to confront him at it, so I said, “We’ll talk about it when I see you. I have to go now.” There was no way I was letting him off the hook or excusing him or anything like that. And it just shows he knows what he did was wrong.

The thing that kills me is that my first reaction was, “Is there something about me that makes this kind of thing happen?” I can’t believe that I was blaming myself for the actions of these two guys, who are: medical professionals and know most of my horrible secrets, thoughts, and feelings. My trainer thinks these guys must have skipped all the ethics classes in their 10+ years at school, and the whole fiasco is an exercise in ego and power. I think she’ll be my therapist from now on.

9 responses so far

Nov 05 2003

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Published by under Uncategorized

So my trainer told me that she made the mistake of asking her boyfriend – they recently moved in together – how many women he had slept with. She was horrified by the total, which included 13 girls before he graduated from high school. I don’t think I know anybody who got that much action in high school, and I found that the most remarkable part of the revelation, though clearly she didn’t.

I said that it was a long time ago, before he knew her, and that all the people he had met and things he had done made him the person he is today, the person she loves, which made her feel a little better. But inside I was thinking, “Thirteen?!”

It made me realize that there is no good answer to that question. If the number is low, the guy is a loser, and if it’s too high, he’s a dog and possibly a walking lab experiment.

It also made me realize yet another fundamental difference between men and women. We always want to know about their romantic and sexual pasts, and not just for our health. We have a Pandora style curiosity that we just can’t help, sometimes with similar consequences, though on a lesser scale, witness my trainer. She would have been much better off not knowing, but had to ask. I have done the same thing with comparable results, but I’m sorry to say would probably ask that question again, even though you’d think I’d know better by now.

If you do ask, rest assured that the guy will not ask you the same question. As much as we want to know, they don’t want to know. They don’t want to think about you with any other guy, even if it was years ago and way before you met them. In the back of their minds, I think they all want really experienced virgins. And if they did ask you, you couldn’t tell them anyway. I personally have no idea what the number is, though I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep with 13 guys in high school. An informal survey of my friends reveals that men do know what the number is, and women don’t. Some of the guys said that they had actually made a list at one time or another, which I immediately found icky, though I’m not sure exactly why.

I guess the lesson here (if there is one) is: don’t ask, don’t tell. If you can help it.

7 responses so far

Nov 01 2003

Dia di Dad

Published by under Uncategorized

It seems appropriate to get a reminder of my long-lost father on the Day of the Dead.

The Peregrine Fund sent me an advance copy of their new book, “Return of the Peregrine: A North American Saga of Teamwork and Tenacity”, which tells the story of how the peregrine falcon was rescued from the Endangered Species List.

The book is arranged chronologically, and is beautifully written, researched, and illustrated. It’s a fascinating read for scientists and non-scientists alike. I am honored that my father was included in this labor of love, and I know he would have been very pleased. The chapter on his contribution – figuring out how to measure the level of DDT in the eggshells of peregrine falcons – includes his own account of how he thought of it, which I had never read before, and the brief bio (how I still hate seeing 1931-2001 after his name!) mentions in passing that he published more than 250 scientific papers, which was news to me, too. I knew there had been a lot, but not that many!

So it was another small gift, like the stories and anecdotes his friends and colleagues have shared with me – a way of knowing my beloved father and friend a little better, even though he is no longer here (except in my heart, blood, and memories).

Dr. Cade, the head of the Peregrine Fund, is part of one of my favorite Halloween memories (OK, I’m a day late on this one!). When my brother was four years old, Dr. Cade threw a Halloween party at his house, which was an especially appropriate venue, because it was a Victorian house at the top of a hill, and more importantly, had its own graveyard. I’m not sure if it was the Cade family’s graveyard or the previous owners of the house, but it made a pretty big impression on the seven year old Me. In those days, we lived in rural upstate New York, since my father was working at Cornell, and I later learned that it was not all that unusual for rural families in the 19th century to have their own family graveyards.

Anyway, after the party, the parents were to each take a batch of kids into the town to trick-or-treat. The rule in my family was that you had to be five years old to go trick-or-treating, but there was no way my brother was going to wait another long year to go, especially since his two annoying older sisters got to go. So he sneaked into another family’s car when the time came, and by the time my parents figured it out, it was too late. Even then my brother knew it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

He approached the first house, still not completely convinced that saying three words would result in candy (a rare commodity in our house). Along with the other kids, he said the magic words, and along with them, received free candy. He raced down the driveway shouting joyfully, “It works! It works!”

5 responses so far