BY suzy

10/01 Direct Link
I sit at my desk by the sunny window, signing divorce papers. Iím looking through them carefully, checking what we might have missed earlier that caused the paperwork to be rejected. I see a couple of places my husband didnít sign and a few places I didnít date my signature. Is that it?

I canít help but think, ďIs this whatís itís come to?Ē I know it has, but when I look back at the girl who was married 18 years ago, the girl who believed, the girl who was so confident about the future, I think,You had no idea.

10/02 Direct Link
I look back at that girl, and I donít know her. She died when her father did. She is a zombie. She breathes, she wakes up every day, she gets on with it. But she is only waiting for the day she joins him. Her husband looked at her grief when she came home from her fatherís funeral and could see the monster she had become. She scared him. Where was she? The love, the careless high spirits, the wit, the beauty? He could see it in her, the same way he could see her destruction. They were both terrified.
10/03 Direct Link
I donít deserve it, she thought. She was as angry at her husbandís turning from her as she was at losing her father. Somehow, he made it all about him and his inability to deal with his wifeís changes and sadness. He was clearly horrified by what his woman had turned into, the weeks she had been away. He didnít know the horrors she had seen or lived through, endured. He thought when she was home all would be well. She thought so, too. Until that day and all the others that hit her like a ton of bricks, remembering.
10/04 Direct Link
The phone rings.

ďYou know what this is, right?Ē says my sister.


ďItís the last hurrah.Ē


ďThe last hurrah before winter comes.Ē

I walk outside with the phone, as is my habit. I can never keep still when Iím on the phone, and usually pace up and down outside, weather permitting, or inside if it doesnít. Itís about 85 degrees, clear blue sky, a light breeze Ė pretty much perfect. Once winter comes, it will bring rain and cold, mudslides and road closures, power outages . No sunny days again until spring. Iíd better enjoy the last hurrah.

10/05 Direct Link
Hmmm. The cab is ten minutes late. Iíd better call.

Itís on its way.

Three phone calls later, the cab finally arrives. Itís 9:10, and the flight is at 9:47.

The driver thinks this is a good time to hang out in the street beside the car, blaming his tardiness on the dispatch people. I suggest that we get going, since my flight is in half an hour. He gets in the car and starts punching the address into his GPS.

Is it possible that I have the only cab driver in town who doesnít know where the airport is?

10/06 Direct Link
Clutching my fabulous vintage Marimekko suitcase, I rush through security, my obvious panic not seeming to concern the officers one bit. With visions of $150 change fees on a $200 ticket dancing in my head, I race to the gate. A smiling woman at the gate asks, ďAre you Susan?Ē I nod and wordlessly thrust my boarding pass into her hand.

I hustle onto the plane, which is approximately the size of my car, as the door slams behind me. Forty-five minutes later, Iím at LAX, which is disappointingly free of celebrities. There go my hopes of being on TMZ.

10/07 Direct Link
As I took the shuttle to the rental car place, it occurred to me that I spent longer waiting for the cab than flying to LA and picking up a brand new silver Impala (which is currently napping in valet parking. I love valet parking, even though they just took the car 50 feet away and there is endless tipping involved. It's worth it just to have cute, smiling boys open and close the car door for you as if it's the most delightful thing in the world).

It's 95 degrees today. Just right for lunch beside the turquoise pool.

10/08 Direct Link
So here I am, enjoying Frette linens and Bulgari bath goodies. It's called working.

I'm attending a conference at a historic hotel, the Langham, in Pasadena. Built in 1907 and formerly the Ritz-Carlton, it sits grandly beneath the San Gabriel Mountains.

It also has the best room service coffee I've ever had. It almost made up for whatever East Coast Idiot called me at 6:30 this morning, disturbing my much-needed beauty rest. It never ceases to amaze me that they canít seem to grasp the concept of time zones. If itís 9:30 in New York, itís 9:30 everywhere, right?

10/09 Direct Link
The service at this grand hotel is exceptional. But after a day or two, it becomes slightly disturbing to be constantly greeted. Maybe if youíre used to having servants, it wouldnít bother you, or if you donít prefer anonymity. It has that salesman feel to it, as if the staff had been instructed that guests like this kind of attention.

I never get tired of the valet parking, though. I love the car being brought up as if it were much grander than it was, with the air conditioning already on and the radio tuned to the baseball playoffs.

10/10 Direct Link
The turmoil in the world markets seems far away here, unreal. The great houses and mansions are serene in their lush gardens and manicured lawns as I drive slowly past, admiring. There is no litter, no graffiti, and few people to be seen, except in the historic downtown, which is vibrant with cafes, shops, and restaurants. It looks like time stopped here in the 1940s, other than things like the Tiffany and Maserati stores. Itís a place of peace and plenty, the opposite of Oakland, but itís slightly artificial, as if it were a really expensive and detailed stage set.
10/11 Direct Link
I have a meeting to go to on my way back to the airport. I program the address into the GPS, and soon lose track of how many freeways Iíve entered and exited. Traffic is either at a standstill, or going 80 miles an hour, merrily cutting across four or five lanes without signaling. Despite the GPS, I manage to get lost and arrive at the meeting late and harried, already worried about the traffic on the way to the airport. The men Iím meeting with say, laughing, ďIt could take 15 minutes. Or an hour.Ē Welcome to Los Angeles.
10/12 Direct Link
It ended up being somewhere between the two. I was so relieved to drop off the car and collapse onto the shuttle that would take me to the terminal. Breezed through security, where they failed to notice my half-drunk bottle of Evian, a last reminder of the polite valet parking guys. Settling in the airport lounge, I looked for my phone to call my boss and report on the meeting, but I couldnít find it. For someone who dislikes having a cell phone as much as I do, it was surprising how suddenly naked and worried I felt without it.
10/13 Direct Link
When I got home, I called the rental car office to see if Iíd left my phone in the car. I knew I had it then, because Iíd called to tell the people I was meeting that I was late. The rental car agency didnít have it , nor did the people I met with, so I called our IT person and she ordered a new phone for me that day. It turned out to be a pretty little purple one, which I actually like more than the old one, so I guess it all worked out for the best.
10/14 Direct Link
The kittens missed me. As soon as I came through the door, they were milling around my feet and explaining how much they had missed me. Henry, on the other hand, was annoyed. He refused to even get off the bed in his cozy bachelor pad under the porch, and had hardly eaten any of the food I left. He wouldn't look at me, and refused to say a word.

The next day, he got his revenge by leaving a dead mouse beside his bowl, which sent me screaming into the house while he smiled smugly. That'll learn ya.

10/15 Direct Link
I had jury duty today, which ended up being the easiest jury duty I had ever done. I just called the night before, was informed that they wouldn't require my presence at 8:30 am (who doesn't love to hear that?), but I should call between 11 and noon tomorrow.

So I did, and they still didn't want me for the 1:30 session, and thank you, that concluded my service for a year. Though relieved, I perversely immediately felt slightly insulted. They should have wanted me and given me a chance to attempt to reject them or appear to be undesirable.

10/16 Direct Link
The kittens wanted a pumpkin this year (last year, they were too young), so I got them a nice organic one, kitten-sized. Once I got it home, I couldn't decide what to carve into it. Finally, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I could carve OBAMA into the pumpkin.

I'd give it an A for effort but about a C over all, since you can't read the whole word at once due to the pumpkin's small size. It was much harder to get all the glop out of the middle than I remembered. Not to mention stickier.

10/17 Direct Link
The kittens and I were on the back porch yesterday evening. Henry noticed our arrival, strolled over, and started clawing at the mat at the foot of the stairs that lead to the screen door. He has done this before, and it drives June and Audrey bananas. I think he knows it does, and likes pointing out that he gets to roam around wherever he likes, while they're trapped inside.

He walked up the stairs to the screen door. Hissing ensued, and there was a blur of claws and curses until I managed to get the girls in the house.

10/18 Direct Link
This is the background music in the movie of my life: barking dogs, a discordant, never-ending symphony. Cars driving slowly past, bass booming, rattling the glass in my old houseís windows. The breathless, urgent trains whistling and rushing through the darkness. The punctuation of car alarms, following their usual sonic pattern, unanswered, more irritating than alarming. The distant hum of cars on the freeway. The slow creak of overloaded shopping carts pushed down the street. The grating, mechanical version of ďTurkey in the StrawĒ played by the ice cream truck every afternoon. The shrill sirens of police cars and ambulances.
10/19 Direct Link
When I stepped off the bus yesterday afternoon after a hard day of meetings, I was surprised by the long line of cars on my street. Had the media been alerted of my imminent arrival? Was it those damned paparazzi again (at least I was wearing make-up and nice clothes this time)?

No, it was...a puppy.

A beautiful red pit bull puppy, to be precise. He was sitting happily in the middle of the road, stopping traffic.

His owners turned out to be two guys working on their truck. When they headed toward the puppy, he stretched and wiggled joyfully.

10/20 Direct Link
I ran out of milk today, and instead of getting in the car and going to the Safeway, I decided to walk to the liquor store and cracketeria around the corner. I figured they must have milk and juice, along with the Thunderbird, Night Train, and Colt 45.

I looked through case after case of beer and mixers. Finally, I asked the guy at the cash if they had milk. He just looked at me, and then started laughing. I retreated, milkless, with the sound of his laughter trailing behind me. I bought milk at the nearest gas station, unmocked.

10/21 Direct Link
I ended up at the gym today wearing sandals. Slightly platform ones. I felt like that scene in ďRomy & Michele's High School ReunionĒ, where they're on the treadmill wearing platform shoes. I soon discovered that you aren't allowed in the weight room with unsuitable shoes on. However, lunges and squats aren't out of the question.

On the way home, the bus stopped suddenly at the sight of an unexpected police car blocking the road, and I toppled into the lap of a high school kid, who said, "I just got me a lap dance, baby!" and high-fived me.

10/22 Direct Link
Along the bus route, there is what I took to be a mansion on the hill, with its name spelled out in topiary and forbidding gates. It turned out to be an old age home built around the turn of the last century and in constant need of renovation which never quite seems to happen.

Across the street from a shabby building that looks like a motel converted to apartments, there is a strip of valiant garden beside the freeway on ramp. Among the flowers, it has a scarecrow, a statue of a fawn, and even a white picket fence.

10/23 Direct Link
Sometimes, I wonder how I ended up here. I hope it isnít really ďended upĒ, and that one day I can move back to my beloved San Francisco, or at least out of Oakland, maybe to Berkeley, or a nice small town, like Petaluma. A friend thinks I should move because any time I go anywhere, Iím happier than I am in Oakland (though, ironically, Iím always glad to get home to the kittens, even if home is, for now, here), but I canít afford to move anywhere better. At least for now. But a girl can dream Ė and remember.
10/24 Direct Link
Did I appreciate how lucky I was in my former life while I was still living it? My husband and I owned a spacious condo in a small building in Pacific Heights, near delightful shops and restaurants. From the roof, you could see the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. I walked the steep hills to work every day, into the sun rising over the Bay Bridge. My gym was on the way home, a former 1920s movie palace converted, but retaining all its former glory. I drove a silver blue 1966 Mustang convertible. I took it all for granted.
10/25 Direct Link
I watched ďItís the Great Pumpkin, Charlie BrownĒ, and was shocked by both its weirdness and bleakness. Lucy and the football is iconic, but what about Lucy dismissing Charlie Brownís joy over being invited to a party by saying it was a mistake, he was on the list of those not to be invited? What about all the grown-ups in Charlie Brownís town who fill his trick or treat bag with rocks? I never noticed how odd and sad this was when I was a child Ė probably a good thing. I wonder if the much more sophisticated children today do?
10/26 Direct Link
Not quite dark enough to turn the lights on, not quite cold enough to turn the heat on. The small house easily fills with gloom, and once itís full, itís inescapable. Every room looks different in the half-light, like a set waiting for lights, camera, and action. Or the houses of the newly dead, whose rooms seem to hold their breath, waiting for their former inhabitants to come back. At any minute, he could walk through the door, bring the room back to life again. But he wonít. Turning on the light, the ghosts vanish, never to be seen again.
10/27 Direct Link
My experiment was more successful than I had ever imagined. I put all the appliances on power bars with on/off switches. After turning off the TV, for example, Iíd turn off the little switch, so it wouldnít still be drawing power. I unplugged the washer and dryer when they werenít in use, and only used the dryer if absolutely necessary. When I got my gas and electricity bill this month, it was half of what it usually was, even though it had been warm enough to run the fans a few days. I was amazed that it had paid off.
10/28 Direct Link
I mailed in my vote today. I felt both hopeful and fearful as I put the stamp on. I canít believe that after the past eight years, the people of this great country could make the same mistake again. But I still canít believe what happened the last time. Nor can I believe some of the propositions on the ballot, their inherent racism and intolerance. One wants to ban marriage for gay couples, and another wants parental notification for girls considering an abortion. I wonder if the day will come when race, reproductive rights, and sexual orientation arenít an issue.
10/29 Direct Link
My grandmother, who couldnít legally vote until she was a young woman, always impressed on me the importance of voting. I am proud to say I have never missed voting in a Presidential election since I turned 18. I havenít felt as excited about voting for a candidate since I voted for Bill Clinton. Yet I fear that racism and ignorance may rob Barack Obama of the presidency, and I fear for our countryís future if that is the case. I wish I had done more to help, but at least I mailed in my vote. And I can hope.
10/30 Direct Link
An old friend is in town from Detroit. She lived here before she moved back to her home town, where most of her family lives. I picked her up from the airport late at night, and when we got back to my house, we sat up for a couple of hours, drinking wine, catching up, laughing and telling stories and secrets. Thereís nothing like spending time with an old friend who knows you, loves you, and doesnít judge you, no matter what. Iím lucky to have her in my life, and glad sheíll be here for a few more days.
10/31 Direct Link
Raining hard. Storms are forecast for the entire weekend. Has winter begun? I worry about Henry being wet and cold, even with his warm, fleecy bed under the shelter of the porch. I know he survived for years outside before I came along and started taking care of him, and heís probably happier (or at least, more comfortable) than he ever has been, but when I lock the doors at night, I think of him out there, alone.

The air is heavy with the scent of eucalyptus from the tall tree out back, the wet grass, the sodden flowers.