44 degrees right now, with a low of 39 for the night and a frost advisory in effect.
Thank god for snug, cozy cottages with powerful furnaces which warm the entire house quickly and evenly. Lacking that, thank god for snug, cozy cottages with powerful furnaces which warm only the living room no matter how hard you try to get air to circulate. If we get frostbite in the bedroom tonight, at least we can move to the couch and pile the cats on top of ourselves to stay warm.
I'm rapidly devouring the last few chapters of Yann Martel's excellent book Life of Pi. It reads like a worst-case survival manual: what, in fact, DO you do when you find yourself mid-Pacific with a Bengal tiger for a rafting companion? I suggest you read it. You never know when it might come in handy.
First, the family was going to come up from Los Angeles and spend Thanksgiving here in the Bay Area all together. Ahhhh.
Medical conditions prevented it, plans fell through.
Then, my sister and I were going to go down to Los Angeles and spend Thanksgiving down there with the family all together. Ahhhh.
Graduate studies prevented it, plans fell through.
Then, Jacob and I were going to go down to Santa Cruz and spend Thanksgiving there with my sister. Ahhhh.
I got the stomach flu, plans held their breath and waited. I felt better, plans went ahead full steam.
Jacob got the stomach flu, tra-la, tra-la, repeat chorus three times. Plans fell through. Tofurkey goes back in the freezer, I sit here and stare glumly at my tray of homemade maple wheat buns, my sister stares glumly at her vegan pumpkin roll cake, I thank my ex-roommate for the stuffing recipe and file it away for later. Tra-la, tra-la, the plan fell through, the plan fell through, the plan fell through.
Make this holiday season one to remember. Give the gift of viral gastroenteritis.
"The commission had already indicated a win for Mr Yanukovych, but exit poll results had put Mr Yushchenko ahead."
"US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington 'cannot accept' the election result as legitimate."
Hahahahaha. It would be hilarious, if it weren't so incredibly transparently fucked-up. Article here.
The stomach flu is not a particularly appealing ailment for your loved one to have when you have to take care of her,
4:30 in the morning is not a romantic time to be taking care of a sick loved one even if she's delicately weakening like Beth from Little Women instead of hunched over the toilet re-considering last night's pizza,
A man who'll get out of bed at such a godawful time without being asked, go out in the cold to buy Pepto-Bismol, take out trash bags full of barf, and be kindly and sympathetic in the face of several hours of intense whining and petulance... is really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really awesome.
Also, it's kind of cool that I'll be having a one-and-a-half-day work week this week, but strangely enough I find that I would have preferred to go to work yesterday than to lay around on the couch all day. You know I must be sick if I'm saying things like that.
I just tried to butt heads with my childhood conditioning, and lost. Stop me if this sounds familiar to anyone... Katie, maybe?
I checked my mailbox today and found a bill from the deadbeats at my (probably ex) doctor's office, asking me to pay them for services that, a month later, they're not done providing yet. They haven't gotten back to me about my lab results or given me the slightest hint as to when they might get back to me about my lab results, and for this they get two hours of my pay? I think not. I stormed back into the house waving the bill around furiously while I composed my irate phone message in my head. I looked up the office's phone number. I checked the calendar and wrote down the exact date of the office visit in question. I picked up the phone.
It doesn't matter how enraged I am or how egregious the offense is, I can't actually bring myself to make that irate phone call. Not ever. And god forbid I should attempt to give the offender a piece of my mind in person; I'll stop outside the door with my heart pounding and suddenly find that I have pressing business elsewhere. The thought of raising my voice at someone terrifies me. I mean, what if I made somebody mad? The very idea is enough to shut my mouth permanently.
This phone call, then. I've been making excuses for why they're so behind for two and a half weeks just so I wouldn't feel like I had to call them. When I finally did pick up the phone today I was so sure I'd dissolve into frightened tears that I made myself an exhaustive list of things to remember to be angry about. I'm a patient, I had an office visit a month ago, I haven't heard back about my lab results or, for that matter, anything else, I've just gotten a bill, if I'm expected to pay that I'd like to see some of the services I'm paying for. I looked at the list and felt my blood boiling, so I picked up the phone again. As I dialed I read it over again and made a few corrections. I took out the bit about "if I'm expected to pay this bill", I replaced "no feedback whatsoever" with "haven't been informed about when I can expect these results", and I read off the new list into the answering machine. It sounded much more timorous than I'd been expecting, and when I had finished I hung up and wondered where the hell the "thank you" had come from. It wasn't on the list, and when I found that bill in the mailbox I was certainly not inclined to thank them for it.
Don't worry, though. I'm working on this. When I related the story to Jacob in quavering frustration and he gave me an encouraging hug, I bravely responded, "Fuck you!" He told me that was much better.
To do, Friday, November 19, 2004:
Create a 21-page architectural services contract using the American Institute of Architecture's contract document software. Make it full of additions and strikethroughs and carefully tracked revisions in every florid, elaborate article and sub-article. In fact, strike out the entire text of half of the articles and replace it with new text that's just slightly better. Don't forget to refer to absolutely everything in capitalized terms: Site Report, Architect, Project, etc. Add lots of supplementary conditions, or rather, Supplementary Conditions.
Spend all day on it, most likely, working with all the frenzy of a 75-wpm typist on a panic-inducing deadline. Be totally inappropriately gleeful because a) you actually do, for some reason, really enjoy typing, b) you also enjoy showing off with your fast clicky noises, and c) as long as you're concentrating intently on an complicated task nobody can waylay you to demand in a panicky voice that you help them readjust their stapler.
Okay, I made up the stapler thing.
Edit: I paused after 4 pages to point out to the taller project manager, pursuant to his conversation with the office clown, that offering to split a half-hamburger would actually mean he'd only get a quarter of a hamburger. He stared at me for a moment, then admitted that oh, yeah, I guess that's true.
"She's being technical," said the office clown. "You can't say anything in front of her today."
The taller project manager nodded. "She needs to be sent on a vacation," he mused as he wandered away.
Second edit: It is, I've decided upon careful consideration, generally frowned upon to fire semiautomatic weapons at a pile of homemade quilts, the Stay-Puffed marshmallow man, a fluffy kitten or any other soft and inoffensive object. Does anyone know if a similar unspoken rule applies to putting "Siamese Dream" on the office stereo at full, grindy, angsty volume to replace the depressing morass of floaty (yet very loud) New Age music that's been turning my brain to mush for the last forty-five minutes? If any of you find yourselves doing research on this subject, please update me with your findings. I'll try to refrain from doing anything rash until I hear from you.
I had an unusual dream last night. Please adjust your definition of the word "unusual" to reflect that this is a dream we're talking about; in this context, poisoned peanut butter and big, scary kittens are perfectly usual. That's just it, really. I rarely dream about real-life-plausible situations, and when I do they rarely play out as they would in real life.
I was sitting next to someone who had just handed me a hypodermic needle. The implications of that were perfectly clear to me in the dream with no background, so I won't bother to explain them. I had pushed up my sleeve and was gazing thoughtfully at my arm, then at the needle I was holding, then back to my arm, then back to the needle. I examined the bluish veins under my skin, poked them with my fingers, prodded, gazed some more. The person I was with was hanging around nonchalantly and not paying too much attention. I was... considering. I twiddled the syringe between my fingers, sat back, and looked around. Eventually I shook my head and set the needle aside. I get panicky if I even have a little too much to drink, I thought. I'd better not.
Then I woke up.
I guess it's nice to know I can trust my judgement in my sleep, although you'd wonder where the question came from in the first place. And now, a confession. Chris, I still have your copy of Sick Puppy that you loaned me three years ago and told me to send back as soon as I finished it. I do have to point out that I haven't finished it yet, so I'm technically doing what you said. I just started reading it a week or so ago and yes, it's fantastic. I'm pleased enough with it to forego the angry rant I was considering writing about the stupid shit with Desie's ex-husband's goddamn piercing fixation. I'm still fondly fantasizing about gluing those two pages together, but don't worry. You'll have your book back in good condition soon. Honest.
What glue? I'm not holding any glue.
The office manager pursed her lips in frustration. "He's too far behind on his timesheet," she told me, referring to the office clown. Well, yes, I thought, now he has to go back and fill in hours from a month ago. There's no way he still remembers what he was doing a month ago. He can fake it, but that kind of defeats the purpose of keeping tabs on his billable hours in the first place.
"I mean, what if-- worst case scenario, right?" the office manager continued. I glanced at her and wondered what kind of scenario she had in mind. "What if something happened to him... you know, if the worst happened... not that I want it to, of course, but we wouldn't know what to do with his hours!"
Business does strange things to people's priorities.
This was going to be an afternoon-off-work-sunshiney-giddy-narcissistic post. Now it's not.
I got the train to come home, and sat down. Over the course of the next two stations, the train car filled up and all of the seats were taken. One stop later, a fragile-looking elderly gentleman got on the train and started looking for a seat, so I stood up and motioned for him to take mine. That left me standing in the aisle, which was perfectly fine with me. It wasn't fine with the girl in the seat next to me, who flicked my hand impatiently with her fingers. I looked down at her. "You're in my way. I was talking to him," she announced, pointing at a guy sitting in the seat across the aisle.
My brain immediately geared up to give her a lecture on the dual subjects of conversational manners and tolerant behavior on full train cars, with a few choice words about the fact that she herself hadn't made the slightest move to offer the elderly man a seat. My brain was immediately betrayed by my mouth and leg muscles, which mumbled "sorry" and moved me to a different part of the aisle. I spent the rest of the ride home glowering out the window and debating with myself who deserved a kick in the shins more: her for being rude, or me for being a doormat? It was the second debate of that kind that I've had today, the first being a result of my inexplicable acquiescence when the architect who drives me up the wall demanded that I drop everything I was working on and find him a particular staple remover for which he was simply incapable of searching himself.
Both cases were decided in the offending party's favor, and Dianna has been administered one severe shin-kicking and one healthy dose of self-loathing. She attempted to pet the cat to make herself feel slightly better, but you'll be pleased to hear that that encounter ended with Bella hissing and snapping and Dianna retreating meekly. They say the meek will inherit the earth, but is it really worth it? Stay tuned.
God, why do you have to look at me like that? It's like you think I have some kind of obligation to do this. I'm an adult woman, you know, and I can make my own decisions. This isn't fun to me, and it's not something I'm going to do for someone else's benefit, so leave me alone. I promise you, you're not getting anything out of this no matter how long you keep trying.
Maybe I'll start seeing Project Accounting again, and then how would you feel? At least Project Accounting leaves me alone when I'm not in the mood.
I don't know why I even put up with you. Jackass.
This morning found my umbrella as determined to remain hidden as did yesterday. Jacob and I searched the house with flashlights and found a small but respectable menagerie of hidden kittens and dust bunnies, but no umbrella. I eventually stormed out of the house dorkily beponchoed, a fact for which I was grudgingly grateful when I discovered that, indeed, the cats and dogs that were raining all over me in the Mission District yesterday were waiting there to rain on me again today. My hair got drenched, my pantslegs got soaked, my sleeves stayed damp until 3:30, but my torso stayed dry.
So, indeed, did my feet, no thanks to five pairs of brand-new sturdy crew socks which apparently panicked this morning and flung themselves headlong into the same hole in spacetime as did my umbrella. Systematic excavation this afternoon revealed both socks and umbrella inexplicably buried under several strata of yarn and fabric in my crafts bag. Analysts are bewildered, but hope to offer an explanation later this winter, after some further study.
Our pigtailed upstairs neighbor has to kick out her roommate and his puppy for reasons of unresolvable creepiness. My family's Thanksgiving plans have just gone haywire, and my grandfather may have cancer. This concludes our Suck of the Union address. Thank you.
Last night I went shopping for a raincoat. It was terribly sensible of me, since I knew that it was supposed to rain today. I didn't find anything very promising, though -- right jacket, wrong color, right color, wrong size -- so I figured I'd just bring my umbrella to work today and try again for a raincoat another time.
That's all fine, except that I couldn't find my umbrella this morning. I made myself late for the train by searching the house for it, but it just didn't turn up anywhere. I grumbled, snapped, made Jacob miss his bus, and eventually stomped out of the house without raingear of any kind. It was only lightly sprinkling, though, so it was fine. Jacob generously loaned me $2 so I could take MUNI if it turned out to be raining hard in the city, but as of West Oakland it looked pretty dry. I decided to get off BART and walk as usual.
As soon as I processed my ticket and stepped outside, I found that it was pouring rain. Buckets, rivers, metaphorical cats and dogs all the way to the office, in fact. When I got here, I paused damply on the doormat and waited for people to tell me I looked like a drowned rat, what was I, crazy? and they couldn't believe I walked to work in this weather. The interior designer sidled up to me and started to speak, but only informed me that one of the architects had called in to say she'd be late. Oh, I thought. I haven't taken off my dripping jacket or wiped the water off my face yet, but okay. I continued to my desk and set down my bag. "Say, Dianna?" asked the junior Canadian architect. I turned around, dripping on the outgoing mail in the process. "If the geotechnical consultant for blah blah blah calls, you have to let the owner know that blah blah blah." Sigh.
I spent the morning hunting for raincoats online. I can buy a poofy high-tech Gore-Tex monstrosity from REI for $100, or a knee-length black industrial raincoat in large-construction-worker size for $30, or a nicely fitted women's waterproof weekend coat for $17. The latter comes in shades of Awful, Awful, and Really Awful, and can be shipped to arrive precisely when this rainstorm is over. I think I'll buy it anyway.
With that thought, I decided to forego the park for lunch. Just planning to buy a raincoat does not make one dry, and I couldn't trust the rain not to come back. I ate my burrito at my desk but found the experience missing something. A cookie from across the street would be great, I thought, but I shouldn't spend Jacob's $2 for dryness on sweet, chocolatey, chewy, delicious.... you can imagine where that went.
Right. Right. Vegan cookies are $2.50. Well, I can at least get one of those tasty oat things, right? I picked out a sealed package of two tasty apricot oat things, took it back to my desk, and nibbled absentmindedly on one of them while doing an online crossword puzzle. I glanced at the second one as I pulled it out of the package and noticed a... big... green... fuzzy... spot. Oh god.
Based on the above, I predict a panicked-busy afternoon followed by pouring rain at 4:30 when I'm walking to BART (because, of course, I can't take MUNI to Embarcadero after squandering my bus money on moldy oatcakes). Catastrophic BART delays, perhaps, resulting in being stalled in the Transbay Tube for a half hour. Two transfers in Oakland to packed trains, off at Ashby, and sleet from Ashby to my house. Flash floods? A lightning strike on the 1600 block of 63rd St? No dinner with my sweetie, who'll come home at 9:00 grumpy from eating too much pizza at lab meeting?
Let's not get ridiculous here. As long as it's not that last one I think I'll be fine.
Tall, dark, handsome pair of boots seeks partner for fun, possible long-term relationship. You: size 8, maybe 8.5, good sense of humor. Me: knee-high, black, vegetarian, big clunky rubber soles, zipper for those times when you don't feel like spending 20 minutes tying your shoes.
They're slightly ridiculous, they're too small for me, and they've been gathering dust in my closet for three years, so someone please steal them from me. They'll go to Goodwill if I don't hear any cries of interest, so if you're interested, feel free to cry at any time here. Maybe a picture would excite someone? Yes. I'll put one up. Gimme a sec.
Emptying your tattoo fund to keep your checking account in the black until your next paycheck, instead of either dipping into your meager savings for school or being happy-go-lucky and overdrawn, is really overrated. This means no fruits, no vegetables, no thorns, no flowers, no tendrils, no leaves, no stems, no vegetable matter of any kind, no words, no snippets, no smirky puns and no winged disembodied body parts for the forseeable future. How did I ever think that $13 an hour for 32.5 hours per week with $600 monthly rent and $900 of credit card debt and $150 monthly commuting costs and aspirations of finishing a degree at the ever-increasingly-expensive University of California at Berkeley was a good deal?
Ay, pobre mio, and I do mean that literally. For those of you doing the math at home for fun, you need a new hobby. If you insist, though, remember to factor in 17% income tax.
I guess the problem is this: he's an ideologue, holding the highest elected office of a secular democracy. It seems like a poor match, but if it's such a poor match then why did he get elected? Perhaps it comes down to what John Kerry said during the debates, that he doesn't believe you can legislate your own morality. I think most people would rather believe that they can legislate their own morality, and would like their leader to do exactly that for them. So the siren song of "let's go ahead and ban all this sinful shit" packs more punch than the siren song of "now hang on, let's be reasonable and agree to disagree on some things here".
Between the last paragraph and this one, I took my lunch break and walked to the park. While there I ran into a familiar figure, the grizzled older man who hobbles with his cane up and down 20th Street during the noon hour. He raised a finger as I passed and enunciated carefully, "I always say to joggers, I may not catch you today, but I cannot speak for tomorrow."
It's as good a philosophy as anything else I might try to preach, and a much snappier way to end a blog post. So there you go.
I had a hard time draping the black veil over my beak and the gloves fit awkwardly over my wings, but no one can say I'm not trying. I've been walking slowly, head bowed, feathers blowing gently in the morning breeze, my dignity and grief evident to the briefest glance. "Years from now," my appearance says, "I may be able to set aside these black clothes and go on with my life. But not yet."
Did I say years? I meant four years.
Try this at home: instant candidate character analysis via the web.
First, go to www.georgewbush.com. Check out the links on the front page for "John Kerry: the raw deal", the Kerry Gas Tax Calculator, John Kerry's Flip-flop Olympics, and the Kerry Media Center.
Next, go to www.johnkerry.com. Find a mention of George Bush, even a tiny one, somewhere on the front page. No, no, keep looking. It's got to be there somewhere, right? Kerry has to be taking the opportunity to get in some dirty jabs before the polls close.... but he's not?
Now that's class.
More pigeons today. This time they were the reddish ones, and they trailed behind me on 24th Street. The males gazed at the bay with pained looks, while the females wept quietly into dainty lace handkerchiefs. They walked slowly, sorrowfully, each bird lost in its own thoughts. I felt bad for them; it was such a beautiful sunny day that their grief seemed both ironic and out of place. But what could a stranger possibly say to them to ease their pain? So I only tipped my hat and greeted them politely. "Mourning, doves."
I'm so nervous about the election today that I don't know what to do with myself. I've already done my bit; I voted by mail. That means I don't have anything useful to do today except politely tell last-minute campaigners that it's no use handing me flyers. I can also chew my nails and worry, I suppose. I'm good at that. What if good guys win? What if all the stuff I voted for passes? What if everything goes all wrong? What if tomorrow it really is Dick Cheney menacing people with a scythe outside 24th St. BART station instead of just a guy in a mask and glasses? I looked suspiciously at everyone I passed on the way to work this morning. Did she vote? Did he vote? Is she going to vote? Oh god... what if he doesn't vote?
I wonder if this would be a good time to get religion. I'll be accepting suggestions for likely denominations until 12:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, at which point I'll make a selection and pray like mad to the appropriate power until the polls close.
I was briefly surrounded by a small gang of pigeons in Dolores Park today. They were the grey kind, not those reddish-tan ones. They slouched past me with their wings in the pockets of their torn jeans and surly expressions on their beaks. One of them was smoking a cigarette. Another had a leather jacket. They all had greasy unkempt feathers and dirty t-shirts. They were an alluring sight, gorgeously reckless poster pigeons for adolescent rebellion. I was caught up in the moment; who wouldn't be? I threw out my fists, pinky and forefingers extended. "Yeah!" I hollered. "Rock doves!"
They cocked their eyeballs at me in pigeonly affront and waddled off down the sidewalk. A few passers-by gave me curious looks and I suddenly found myself completely engrossed in eating leftover lasagna. I placed my lunch bag obediently in the trash can when I was finished. Maybe rebellion just isn't for me after all.