BY suzy

04/01 Direct Link
The yellow roses bend their heavy, scented heads in the warmth of the sun. Buds are beginning to unfurl, hopefully. I dare to pick the blooming rose and bring it inside, burying my nose in its fresh, yet nostalgic scent. I choose a vase carefully, knowing that the hapless blossom will attract the attention of the kittens, which it does. To the captive cats, the flower must smell like the forbidden outdoors, and be equally fascinating. I put the rose in the kitchen when I go to bed, and when I get up the next day itís shredded. Lesson learned?
04/02 Direct Link
Driving through San Francisco on this warm, sunny day, with the windows down to let in the air characteristically spiced with eucalyptus and sea salt and listening to a Marvin Gaye tribute on the radio, I thought how incredibly beautiful the city is. I love it. There is nowhere else like it. I was lucky to have lived there for so many years.

The great Marvin Gaye would have been 70 today. He was shot and killed by his father on the day before his 45th birthday. Amazingly, Marvin Sr. only received six years of probation for murdering his son.

04/03 Direct Link
ďWhatís this?Ē my brother asks, lifting a box.

ďMomís wedding dress,Ē I say, not telling him that I paid to have this gorgeous, heavy cream satin dress preserved several years ago.

ďLetís get rid of it,Ē he says energetically, while looking over what remains of generations of things and stuff.

Without thinking, I say no, and practically grab it away from him. ďWhoís ever going to wear it again?Ē he asks over his shoulder, digging through another box, not even thinking about it.

I set it aside, and put my own wedding dress in the pile for the charity shop.

04/04 Direct Link
The color slowly drains out of the sky. The deep blue loses its strength and gets paler, though I know soon it will be ablaze with gold and lavender and violet, before a final blaze of red. Then into darkness.

Itís my motherís birthday. She would have been 77 this year. She ventured into darkness, alone, like the only child she was, a few years ago. I donít miss her more now than I did when she was alive. She left me a long time ago. And I long ago accepted she didnít or couldnít love me and never would.

04/05 Direct Link
Iím thinking of moving. I canít afford San Francisco any more (or possibly ever again), and Oakland is not the place for me. Iíve been looking at houses in Petaluma, a beautiful small town (If youíve seen ďAmerican GraffitiĒ or ďPeggy Sue Got MarriedĒ, youíve seen Petaluma Ė they were both filmed there) with a historic downtown, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. My mother used to live there, and I always liked it. So far none of the houses have been the right one, but Iíll keep looking. If itís meant to be, it will happen. I believe that.
04/06 Direct Link
Found in the boxes:

- My birth announcement, complete with photo (I was one ugly baby);

- My silver christening mug (why did our atheist parents have us christened? For the presents? To make the grandparents happy?);

- The stereoscope from around 1900, complete with slides in a tin box;

- My great-grandfatherís Bible, which my grandfather carried into battle during WWI;

- Letters from a close friend during her modeling days in Paris, Milan, London, and New York, 25 years ago;

- One of my sisterís favorite summer outfits from when she was two years old;

- Love letters.

04/07 Direct Link
I finally went to see the Yves St-Laurent exhibit at the new and allegedly improved De Young museum. Itís a retrospective of YSLís remarkable career, which spanned over 40 years. The rooms where his creations are displayed are gloomy, to preserve the fabrics, and make everything seem mysterious. The gowns are spot-lit, so one can admire the artistry of the structure. Couture in person is so much more impressive and beautiful than it is in the glossiest of magazines. I wandered around, dazed by beauty, for nearly two hours. When I emerged into the bright sunlight, it was less dazzling.
04/08 Direct Link
Itís beginning to look like it will be too expensive for me to move. I saw a house I liked, though it had flaws, and the owners wanted nearly $4,000 in move-in costs: first and last monthís rent, security deposit, and a staggering $500 deposit to cover any possible damage my two cats might cause. I canít imagine how they would even begin to cause hundreds of dollars worth of damage. Does anyone ask for a child deposit? Theyíre far more destructive than cats. It would have taken every penny I had, plus a loan from my boss. Forget it.
04/09 Direct Link
Weíre having ďlate season showersĒ, as they put it on the weather report during the news. The yellow roses are battered, their petals dotting the grass. The air is heavy with eucalyptus and pollen, the sky dramatic, with heavy, dark clouds piling up in the west. The grey skies, cold, and gloom reflect my mood, or maybe created it, since I feel like Eeyore these days. Everything seems hopeless, from the boxes in the living room to my precarious financial state to my familyís problems to mine. Maybe when the sun comes back, the blue skies will banish my blues.
04/10 Direct Link
At the post office, the man ahead of me in line is getting a money order for over $2,000. Iím not the only one who canít keep my eyes off the stack of well-worn bills. All of us in line are mesmerized, our eyes fixed on the cash like flowers turning their faces to the sun. When he turns to leave, pocketing the slip of paper his money has become, he notices the whole line is looking at him. He blushes, looks away, and pulls his cap down, leaving as quickly as a movie star being pursued by the paparazzi.
04/11 Direct Link
At the BART station:

A girl walks down the platform, gesturing with her free hand, her cell phone pressed against her ear. ďItís like, do I date him, or just sleep with him?Ē she asks. The age-old question.

A man sporting a ZZ Top style beard and overalls with no shirt sits on one of the benches, his belongings clustered around his feet, blowing bubbles into the morning light, and smiling with the delight of a child.

A man slips out of his t-shirt, momentarily enjoying the sun on his bare skin before he struggles to button his work shirt.

04/12 Direct Link
I never thought Iíd say this, or even think it, but I wish I had someone to take care of me sometimes. Iíve been on my own and supporting myself since I was sixteen, and Iíve always been independent and free-thinking, but sometimes I wish I had someone who could just take care of things like paying the rent and bills, deciding what to make for dinner (and maybe even making it and cleaning it up Ė a girl can dream) come up with solutions to my never-ending problems and maybe even fix them. Iíd like to stop being a grown-up.
04/13 Direct Link
Iíve moved Henry the stray cat off the porch until the winter rains come again. His cozy bed is back under the porch to shelter him from the wind, and he has a little tent under the rose bush, with his dishes beside it. Now that itís warmer and sunny every day, heís off playing somewhere and I donít see him as much, though I do get to pet him when I give him breakfast.

Now the kittens are free to play on the porch, so they can enjoy the sun and the air without being in danger. Theyíre happy.

04/14 Direct Link
I take the train into the city and walk toward Union Square in the bright sunlight. Even this early, the line for the Powell Street cable car is more than a block long. As I walk through the cement steppe that is the new and ďimprovedĒ Union Square, I have a fleeting feeling of sadness for the old one. I wonder if itís a sign of getting older that I regret many of the recent changes in this beautiful city, the so-called improvements which to my eye detract from the atmosphere and appearance of what is still everyoneís favorite city.
04/15 Direct Link
Iím scrambling to get my taxes done on time. I have to figure out the things I can deduct as home office expenses. I end up filing an extension. Because Iím technically still married (19 years!), I have to get my husbandís Social Security number. For about the millionth time, I think that we really should get the divorce paperwork filed. I never want to get married again, but Iíd like to be able to put that chapter of my life behind me and move on. I want that piece of paper more than I ever wanted that marriage license.
04/16 Direct Link
I lay the ring on the black velvet square.

It was made around 1900. The center stone is over one and a half carats, and the side stones total another half. The setting is filigreed platinum.

The jeweler peers at it through a magnifying glass, pointing out the flaws, but also giving me a little history lesson about diamonds and how they and their settings have changed over the years. It would be interesting if I werenít planning to sell it.

She offers me less than a quarter of the value on the insurance appraisal. Fighting back tears, I agree.

04/17 Direct Link
My boss/partner and I share an office in downtown San Francisco, but weíre rarely there at the same time. Today, I came in after signing the paperwork (and being fingerprinted) for selling my ring, and the receptionist said he wouldnít be in. My conference call was cancelled, so I decided to catch up on some e-mails and paperwork. Itís nice to look down on bustling Market Street from my 12th floor window, and itís sunny enough that I donít need artificial light. Thereís a small flat screen TV, so we can keep an eye on the markets. Or ďGilmore GirlsĒ.
04/18 Direct Link
My friend and I commiserate on the phone. Even though we live thousands of miles apart, weíre so much alike, even down to the ruin our lives have become. We are both doing everything we can to keep our heads above water, and are exhausted from treading water so long with no land in sight. As I said to her, ďItís not just having a problem making ends meet. They hate each other and want nothing to do with each other. I canít even get them in the same room.Ē We both wonder if we should have done things differently.
04/19 Direct Link
The sharp, nostalgic scent of barbecue smoke drifts through the air as the sun begins to set. I can smell the roses in my back yard, the huge eucalyptus next door. Dogs bark. Spiky palm trees are outlined against the rosy sky, their fronds rattling in the late afternoon breeze. In the background, no matter what time of day or night, there is the constant rush of freeway traffic. People always seem to want to be somewhere else. I know I do. Iíd trade this view for the one I used to have in a heartbeat. If only I could.
04/20 Direct Link
When people get married, they never think, looking at their radiant new spouse with the eyes of love, that this same person will one day drive them completely crazy. All the qualities and memories that currently make one swoony over the other will be forgotten in a maelstrom of miscommunication, annoying habits, and other charming things. That day at the altar will seem further away than kindergarten as you wish your partner elsewhere, possibly temporarily, possibly forever. Wedding vows should read ďÖas long as I can do it. Or until something better comes along,Ē since thatís what they really mean.
04/21 Direct Link
I feel the pain bloom like a deep red rose. As it builds to a crescendo, I imagine the petals unfurling, one by blood red one, each with a sharp point. The roots feel as if they are digging deeper. The flower reaches upward, outward, as if toward the sun, all the petals singing with suffering in painful unison. Then, gradually, the petals fold in, the pain slowly decreasing as they furl their leaves in toward the center, ready for the next time, starting, ending, starting the cycle, over and over again. There will be no end, until there is.
04/22 Direct Link
The cats and I are crushed by an early heat wave. Itís been 90-96 degrees for three days in a row, and Iím beginning to question the calendar. Is it still April? ĎCause it feels like July.

The cats lie flat on the floor of the porch, staying in the shade and trying to catch stray breezes. It must be hellish to have a fur coat in weather like this. Itís too hot for them to play and cuddle the way they usually do, and their stillness is as strange as the record-breaking heat in spring. This, too, will pass.

04/23 Direct Link
The heat wave is gone as quickly as it came. In the cool morning air, itís hard to believe that those sweltering days really happened, that just yesterday I was taking cold showers and drinking gallons of water to battle the stifling heat. Looking at the ten day forecast, itís back to what I think of as the usual weather: 60s to 70s during the day, around 50 at night. The weather changes so little here that we have a hard time adapting to big temperature swings. Weíre lucky to live in a place thatís so temperate and so lovely.
04/24 Direct Link
Bright, sunny Friday. Not a cloud in the sky. The garbage trucks rumble outside, making the cats curious. They rush to the window to see what the noise is all about. When the truck rumbles away, their attention is caught by the bright chirping and happy hopping of the birds outside. June claws at the glass, making a frustrated sound as if to say, ďLet me at them! I know I can take them!Ē Audrey tilts her little head to one side, bird-like, watching the birds and her sister watching the birds. She knows June will take care of everything.
04/25 Direct Link
Henry the stray-ish cat and I had a breakthrough. I was in the back yard this afternoon, trying unsuccessfully to take a good picture of the yellow roses, when Henry came bouncing up to me, meowing. He has done this before, but I never know what he wants. Usually, if I try to pet him, he claws my hand. This time, he sniffed my hand and actually let me pet him! I may be wrong, but I suspect he might have been purring. Itís the first time he ever let me pet him when I wasnít feeding him. Iím thrilled.
04/26 Direct Link
Since it looks like Iím not moving, or at least not moving any time soon, I think Iíll try and make my surroundings a little prettier. The first thing will be to get matchstick or bamboo blinds for the sides of the porch, both for shade and for privacy. Next, some hanging baskets with flowers like fuchsias, which attract hummingbirds and butterflies, so Iíll have flying flowers, too. Then, something to wend its way up the existing trellis. Finally, dig out the bed, bordered by bricks, thatís totally overgrown, and plant something if itís not too late to get started.
04/27 Direct Link
My brother called me at 9:30 in the morning and asked if I could meet him at Momís storage, an hourís drive away, to try and empty it out before the end of the month. He drove our brother-in-lawís truck, and it soon became clear that what was left wouldnít fit in one load. So we filled it up with things destined for my house, drove there, unloaded, drove back to the storage, filled the truck with things going to the storage cube on his property, and parted ways after a long hug. It was a long, hard, sad day.
04/28 Direct Link
The truck broke down on one of the many lonely stretches of Route 128, where there is no cell phone service. My brother hitched a ride to the nearest town (population 130), where he could call AAA from a pay phone. The only store was long closed, the temperature had dropped about thirty degrees, and the winds had picked up. My brother shivered in his inadequate t-shirt, waiting for the tow truck, which took over an hour. The perfect end to the perfect day. I was so glad when he called and said he was finally home, safe and sound.
04/29 Direct Link
I thought Iíd be relieved when Momís storage space was finally emptied out. We arenít paying the exorbitant fees for another month, and we need every penny these days. Instead of feeling like a weight has been lifted, Iíve had insomnia, nightmares, and headaches ever since. Is it the closing of a chapter of my life, facing up to the deaths of my parents, grandparents, and my marriage? My tiny house is jam-packed with boxes, which will eventually be put into the storage cube my brother bought, and furniture, which there isnít room for. Maybe itís not really over yet.
04/30 Direct Link
Well, that was a mistake. I took some Excedrin to try and quell my raging headache, and all it did was turn my stomach into a seething vat of acid. I tried to go to sleep and ignore the whole thing, but after an hour of tossing around like a table side Caesar salad, I decided to give up on the whole thing. The cats gazed at me in annoyance as I got up, as if to say, ďCanít you see weíre trying to sleep over here? Jeez!Ē and then curled up and went back to sleep, immediately and cutely.