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BY suzy

03/01 Direct Link
An unexpected visitor: a brown and white pitbull sitting on my front porch. He looks longingly into my ever-untidy living room through the glass in the front door. He sees me notice him, and starts whimpering pitifully. I can see that heís wearing a collar, and on closer inspection, it seems his name is Odde (which I find odd) and he lives around the corner (which I donít). I close the blinds on the front door, hoping to discourage him. I should probably call his owner, but I donít. When I look outside, heís gone. Iím glad but sorry.
03/02 Direct Link
My street, which is only a block and a half long, ends at a church, so parking is at a premium on Sundays. The church itself is slightly better looking than its nearby cousins, the many storefront churches with names like the Come to Jesus Chapel. Some have handwritten names and notices, others are scarred with graffiti, some seem to be permanently closed, their signs at a dejected, lonely angle. There appears to be some kind of unwritten law which dictates that for every storefront church, there should be an opposite and equal liquor store of similar decrepitude and popularity.
03/03 Direct Link
ďJessica, if youíre going to be tragic, youíll have to go outside,Ē he says.

Tragic? Tragic?! She thinks. He hasnít seen tragic yet. He has no idea what tragic is. Or how very, very tragic she can be, if she sets her mind to it. But heís about to find out. The hard way.

She flings herself on the couch, screaming and beating the upholstery with both her fists. He is unmoved. Ignoring the sound and the fury, he pours another cup of coffee and goes back to reading the morning newspaper.

Eventually, she stops.

Itís so hard being four.

03/04 Direct Link
The front and back doors are open, the screen doors locked (this is Oakland, after all). The air buzzes with mowers, scenting the air with nostalgic green. Cherry trees, in every shade of pink, from pastel to fluorescent, haze their dark trunks, a distraction along the highway. Magnolias flaunt their voluptuous blossoms, so rich that their heads bow, then drop to the ground, carpeting it in white and purple splendor. Daffodils star gardens; calla lilies unfurl by the side of the road. Neighbors start planting and weeding. Songbirds spark; crows punctuate like car horns in New York traffic.

Itís spring.

03/05 Direct Link
I bought my car three months ago, and havenít yet received the license plates. I make an appointment at the DMV, and when I arrive there and see the line and its huddled masses quality (Iím sure they were all yearning to be free of the line), Iím glad I did. I am eventually told that the dealership didnít do the required smog check, or, if they did, failed to report it. I check my bill of sale, which indicates the smog check was done. I call the dealership, and they say theyíll call me back. They havenít yet.
03/06 Direct Link
I called the dealership twice more. The last time, I refused to hang up until I got an answer, any answer. Eventually, I was assured that theyíd submit the necessary paperwork to the DMV and Iíd receive my plates in two weeks. Now, where have I heard that one before? Iím hoping that it just slipped through the cracks at the time I bought the car and that they really will do the paperwork this time. Iíd hate to have to go to Fremont and wait for it. Iíd rather wait at home, even if I am waiting for Godot.
03/07 Direct Link
My sister has a new cat! He appeared at her house on the very day she put her beloved old dog to sleep, meowing at the sliding glass doors for an hour. She took him to the vet and discovered that he: weighs 11 pounds (!); is 2-3 years old; does not have FIV, though he did have fleas, ticks and mats; needed to be neutered (already done). The two resident sister cats are less than impressed with their new brother, but thatís not surprising. Wonderful that he chose my sister when she had room in house and her heart.
03/08 Direct Link
I can never just sit when Iím on the phone. Personal calls or business calls, itís all the same to me. I pace around the house, or if it isnít raining, Iíll pace around outside, watching the cars go by, the shopping cart people trudging past, the food bank deliveries to the church at the foot of the street, the flowers blooming. Today, I noticed a crow flying past with a twig in her beak, feathers iridescent in the pale spring sun. She flew past a few more times, and I realized she was building a nest. Spring is here.
03/09 Direct Link
The cats are sleeping on the bed in the afternoon sunshine. There can be few things as cozy and contented as a sleeping feline. Mine usually twine around each other, a fuzzy, breathing yin and yang circle as they share their sleep and their dreams, the way they always have, even before they were born. Just think: they have been together all their lives! They are very attached to each other, and though they spend part of each day apart, they spend most of it together. They rarely sleep apart. Itís wonderful to see their bond and share their love.
03/10 Direct Link
Clunk! I look up and see the mailman (letter carrier?) walking away, whistling. How can mail be so noisy? I wonder. Curious as my cats, I go to the white metal mailbox and peek inside. Well, itís certainly heavy. I gather up the mail, the heavy package and the light, fluttering envelopes, and go inside with my haul. I am surprised and pleased with the contents of the clunking envelope: my license plates, at last! There are three extra sets of keys with the plates. And in one of the envelopes, my fetchingly pink title to the car. Itís official.
03/11 Direct Link
I walk to the corner store through the evening twilight. I love this time of day, when the sky is an ethereal blue, just about to darken, the lamps start glowing through windows, the stars begin to wake up. I pass by a bower of palm trees, unpruned, the wind rattling the stiff leaves, and notice that there is a little stream. A lemon tree stands sentry and ivy grows beside it. The stones in the clear, rippling water are golden in the setting sun. Itís like a little secret, a little gift. I wonder who else knows about it.
03/12 Direct Link
When I arrive at the store, someoneís being arrested. The police car lights are flashing and the police are bustling around with their arrest duties. Makes a change from people being arrested and their cars towed right across the street, I think as I go into the store. In the store, I notice that they actually sell Thunderbird, Night Train, and Booneís Farm wine. I donít think Iím their target market. Iíd like to take a picture, but I canít imagine that would go over very well. Iím already being eyed suspiciously by the cashier.

Iím glad to get home.

03/13 Direct Link
On my way back home, I think of how different it must have been here in the 1920ís, when my house and most of the neighboring houses were built. It would have been quieter: no freeway, few cars rushing down the narrow roads. Most houses donít have garages, or if they do, theyíre clearly built long after the houses. One house has alyssum carpeting its driveway with white blossoms. Iíd love to go back in time for just a day to see the way it looked then. I imagine its residents would be shocked at the way it is now.
03/14 Direct Link
ďOh, Ernest, no!Ē his mother exclaims, sinking into a chair, clutching her apron frantically. ďYou canít!Ē He stands quietly before her, his mind made up. He must go to France, must join the good fight. His friends are all going. Theyíll be home before Christmas. Those Huns are no match for good old Yankee know-how! His brother is too sickly to go, always has been, so Ernest sees it as his duty. ďYour father will not permit this,Ē gasps his mother, but sheís wrong and he does and he goes. His friends die, but his fatherís Bible stops the bullet.
03/15 Direct Link
My friendís show opens today: a series of 38 sculptures in a very posh gallery in a very posh part of town. I hope sheíll sell some, since her husband took a job on the other side of the country, indefinitely, leaving her with her teenage daughter. A long-distance marriage is a difficult thing indeed. I send flowers to the gallery to surprise her at the opening, but Iím the one who is surprised: someone has bought the whole show! Every single sculpture, which the buyer is donating to a museum. My friend is now out of debt. Amazing!
03/16 Direct Link
Walking homeward, I am surprised by an allťe of dark trees sporting white blossoms, stretching the length of the block and seeming to vanish over the crest of the hill. The branches almost meet in the middle of the street. Itís a sudden wonderland. The breeze blows my hair back, and petals begin to rain down on my upturned face. I feel like a hopeful, starry-eyed bride being pelted with confetti at her blissful spring wedding. The air is spicy with eucalyptus, sweet with the scent of falling flowers, bright with hope and renewal. The sky is rain-washed fresh, cloudless.
03/17 Direct Link
My father would have turned 77 today.

He might have gone up to town and visited a gallery, maybe the Tate or the National, or gone for a walk on Wimbledon Common. He would almost certainly have done some gardening, spring being so near and his garden being so near to his heart.

Whenever I visited him, one of the first things we did was take a tour of the garden, with Dad pointing out new additions. At breakfast, we'd watch the birds in the garden while we had our toast and coffee and planned the pleasures of the day.

03/18 Direct Link
I canít understand why Barack Obama is being held accountable for things his preacher said. Surely the preacher is entitled to freedom of speech along with the rest of us. Whatís next? His barber was rude to a client and itís Obamaís fault? His third grade teacher got fired, and thatís his fault, too? Itís so absurd that I canít even express how ridiculous I find the whole thing.

I wonder what Bill Clinton will be called if Hillary is elected. First Gentleman sounds like a minor character in a Shakespeare play, and Adam already has the First Man title.

03/19 Direct Link
I received an email yesterday asking me to speak at a conference. At first, I think itís spam, but I read it and they are very flattering about my expertise and how honored theyíd be to have me, etc. I am shocked, and think they must have confused me with an actual grown-up who actually knows something. A quick survey of my boss, colleagues and friends indicates that I should do it, though the prospect fills me with horror. No-one seems to find the idea ridiculous or frightening except me Ė the person who would have to do it.
03/20 Direct Link
Shopping at Lucky makes me suicidal, with its air of quiet desperation, people paying with food stamps, and discount seafood. I feel like I donít belong in this place: the sad grocery store, the shopping cart people, the scary guys hanging out with no particular purpose in the middle of the day, the necessity of driving everywhere, the complete and utter lack of beauty and graciousness. I miss the halcyon days of owning my elegant Pacific Heights apartment, walking to work, sitting on the roof looking at the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. How did I end up here?
03/21 Direct Link
A lovely surprise in the mail today: a charming metal bunny, garnished with daisies, which I immediately hang on my front door. My former neighbor sends me little surprises in the mail like this. This is for Easter, or the equinox, or the arrival of Spring. For Valentineís Day, she sent me two handmade chocolates Ė just enough, but not too much of an indulgence Ė and an eraser with a heart on it (this was promptly played with by the kittens until it was beyond recognition). Itís so nice to know someone is thinking about me, missing me, too.
03/22 Direct Link
I was long overdue for getting my hair cut and highlighted. I hadnít had it done since before I moved. After doing exhaustive and exhausting research, I settled on a small salon in a historic district, just a short drive away (isnít everything?). The shop is flooded with natural light, and I sat in a charming upper level loft with a skylight while I waited to blonden, sipping mineral water and reading fashion magazines. This is the kind of thing that does a girlís soul good (if she has one). The stylist and I chatted and giggled like old friends.
03/23 Direct Link
I need some shelves built and a few other tasks that are beyond my limited abilities, so I placed an ad on Craigslist. The response was overwhelming. Someone is coming tomorrow to take measurements and get started.

It occurs to me that pretty much my whole life is courtesy of Craigslist. Thatís where I found the house Iím renting and the car I bought. Where I sold the stuff that couldnít fit in my tiny house. Where I find tickets for sold-out events. I wonder if I can place an ad for a more glamorous life and get that, too.

03/24 Direct Link
I know that my bad habit of watching TMZ is just that, a bad habit. Itís one of my lesser bad habits, though. Much better than my inability to get to get to the gym or stop drinking wine, for example. And there is a side of me that loves that gossip! However, my gossip fix is being ruined by the constant coverage of ďDancing with the StarsĒ and ďAmerican IdolĒ, in which I have no interest. I think there should be gossip shows that are exclusively for those shows, and shows that exclude it. If I ran the worldÖ
03/25 Direct Link
Sometimes I look back at the things I did when I was younger and wonder what on earth, if anything, I was thinking. This is usually wondering how I survived some of these incidents. It also surprises me that I know I did things, but I donít know why I did them. Certain infidelities spring to mind in that category. And it does surprise me that I have had two abortions: one when I was 18, and one when I wasÖ43. Both broke my heart, for different reasons. I guess some of us just live, instead of living and learning.
03/26 Direct Link
I try not to think about those children that werenít, although it was lucky for them that I never played the role of mother. I try not to think of how one would have been old enough to be the parent of the other. I try not to think of all the women I know and donít know who suffer through endless fertility treatments, trying desperately to have what I refused. I try not to think of the pain and guilt and sorrow that Iíll carry around for the rest of my life. Much longer than nine months. Much heavier.
03/27 Direct Link
I actually went shopping for the event the second time. The clinic said to bring a nightshirt or t-shirt, but it seemed too casual for something so serious. Yet I knew Iíd never want to wear the ensemble again, or even look at it. I drifted through the nightwear and lingerie department. This is too sexy; this is too pretty; this is too expensive. Thatís just hideous. In the end, I found myself in a room full of sad women in t-shirts, wearing a peach satin gown that was admired by everyone but me. I still canít believe it.
03/28 Direct Link
She was a mystery, but her motives were obvious.

She was beautiful, but had lost her looks.

She was old inside, but young outside.

She was a realist, but she dared to dream.

She was wise, but made foolish decisions.

She was a harsh judge, but only toward herself.

She was in despair, but kept on going.

She was unknown to those who knew her best, but their hearts held no secrets from her.

She was the youngest in the family, but the most responsible of all.

She was longing to hand over the burden, but didnít trust anyone enough.

03/29 Direct Link
Iím waiting for the contractor to come back. Yesterday, he bought materials and started the work, stopping only because it started to rain. He said heíd come back today, but I forgot to ask him when, so now Iím waiting.

It only occurred to me after he began working that maybe I should have asked the landlords first whether they mind having their back porch screened in. I canít imagine theyíd object, but if they do, I can always have it taken down before I move. In the meantime, the screens will keep the bugs out and the cats in.

03/30 Direct Link
The porch looks wonderful, and the screens kept the cats in Ė temporarily. Less than 24 hours after it was installed, they managed to tear one of the screens halfway off the post, where it is currently hanging dejectedly. I should have known that the screens wouldnít be up to the challenges presented by two hyperactive nine month old cats, but I didnít. Yet another example of how non-grown up I am. The contractor came back and can repair the damage, but I canít leave the cats out there unattended. At least for now. Maybe theyíll calm down one day.
03/31 Direct Link
A busy day. Started with a conference call at 6. Iím not at my best early in the morning, and I canít help wishing that my boss wouldnít keep scheduling calls this early. Weíre the only ones in California; our colleagues are in Detroit and New York, so itís 9 am for them, which is far more civilized. My boss is a truly hard-working man, taking care of the child still at home (the other two are in college), running two businesses, and sleeping about four hours a night. I donít know how he does it. I know I couldnít.