BY suzy

07/01 Direct Link
Instead of going straight back home after the trip to Cleveland, I decided to stop and visit my friend for a few days. I was stressed and tired from the long drive, sick of highways and road food and traveling. As soon as I arrived at her house and sat on her deck overlooking the beautiful garden, I felt the tension melt away, replaced by calm and happiness. It was definitely the best decision I could have made. Spending time with my friend in such lovely surroundings made returning to the noise and crowds of the city so much easier.
07/02 Direct Link
Today my beautiful (and only) niece turns 25. A quarter of a century, and how quickly it flew by! If I find this amazing Ė and I do Ė I can only imagine how my sister feels to find her daughter so grown-up, so suddenly. She graduated from university in Wales, lives with the man she loves, and just started a job at Lloydís Bank (the same place where both her great grandfather and great grandmother worked, and her grandfather had an account his entire life). Sheís happy, and Iím happy for her, hoping her present and future are bright.
07/03 Direct Link
My friendís mother is something of an amateur genealogist. Since sheís retired, sheís spent a lot of time researching her family. I mentioned that my mother was adopted, and she asked me for some details about her. Armed with this, she discovered that my mother was adopted from the Rochester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and that my birth grandmother might be a nurse who lived in New York City at the time of my motherís birth. Her name was Rose. Rose might be my grandmother. I only wish Iíd started looking sooner. Now itís too late.
07/04 Direct Link
Independence Day. My English-born father used to say that England should be the one celebrating the Fourth of July, since it is no longer responsible for America and all its problems. I think this was one of Dadís jokes that had a grain of truth or seriousness to it. I know my country has its problems, many of them serious and maybe even insoluble. But despite it all, I love my country and I canít help thinking, Show me anywhere thatís better. Happy birthday, land of the brave and home of the free. May the future grow brighter every year.
07/05 Direct Link
When I finally get home, my neighbor tells me that the stray, pregnant cat sheís been taking care of has had her kittens. They were born on the same day as my niece, whose nickname is Cat, so thatís a good day for cats to be born. There are seven of them: two orange, three tabbies, a dark striped one, and a calico. They are breathtakingly adorable as they cuddle up with their mother, who looks proud and serene. I canít help wondering if my old dog could suspend her cat-chasing instincts inside the house so I could adopt one.
07/06 Direct Link
To cat or not to cat, that is the question. Whether it be better to share my life with a kitten or two, or let them be adopted by someone else. Also whether my old dog could be persuaded to tolerate a young cat in her kingdom, of which she is the undisputed Queen. She might get used to the cat, or she might make her life miserable and be miserable in the process. Itís a big decision. Iíll keep thinking about it and decide when I get home from my next trip. They canít leave their mother until September.
07/07 Direct Link
Itís not even noon, and Iíve already managed to spend nearly $500. $50 to the airport, $50 from the airport after the cross-country flight, $375 for a couple of nightsí hotel accommodation. And that doesnít include the $1,000 it took me to get here. I tried to convince my boss that it would make more sense to have a conference call instead of flying everyone across the country, but heís a big believer in face to face. At least Iíll get some personal business done, spending time with my family and getting divorce papers filed. Not necessarily in that order.
07/08 Direct Link
Iím once again in the city where I used to live. A city I lived in and loved for most of my adult life. A city I left behind when I left my marriage. Its streets, buildings, air are still so familiar. So familiar that I notice them without realizing I notice them. I just slip back into autopilot, as if I still lived here, as if this beautiful place is still part of me and Iím still part of it. Sitting in the cafť two blocks from my former home, watching the people walk by, I feel nothing. Nothing.
07/09 Direct Link
Twenty-five years ago, I fell in love. My friendís cat was pregnant, and I happened to be there when the kittens were born. As soon as I saw Buddy, I knew he was meant for me. It was so hard to wait the six weeks until he was ready to leave his mother and come home with me. He grew from a little rascal into a dignified old gentleman. No matter what happened in my life, he was always there for me. I was so lucky to have had him in my life for 18 years. I still miss him.
07/10 Direct Link
Everyone, everywhere, is so security conscious. All these measures, at the airport, in office buildings, and anywhere else where such things are carried out for our own good are blamed on 9/11, whether or not it has anything to do with it in reality. I always hated anything that was for my good, and I see no reason to change that now. I muse on this as I sign out of the office building, meet the messenger, and sign back in. The security guard activates the elevator so I can take it back to the meeting, clutching my divorce papers.
07/11 Direct Link
Back at the hotel, I take the papers out of their envelope. The dozens of pages are flagged with notes in my husbandís once beloved scrawl, the same hand that wrote me love letters, placed a wedding ring on my finger, signed mortgage papers when we bought our beautiful apartment. These notes, however, are not about love or marriage. They explain where to sign and initial and remind me to have it notarized before returning the papers to him to be filed. ďYOU ARE BEING SUEDĒ, read the big letters in a bold box on the second page. Itís over.
07/12 Direct Link
It takes me another day before I can do all the signing, sealing and delivering required by California law. It occurs to me that marriage should be difficult to do and divorce easy. When we were married, seventeen years ago, we got one piece of paper. Just the marriage license, end of story. But the real end of story, fairytale or otherwise, takes a lot more paperwork and a lot more money. A lot more patience, too: thirty-one days after we both sign the papers before filing (in case of divorce remorse, I assume), then six months to become final.
07/13 Direct Link
My sister sits with me as I sign. She was my maid of honor. Maybe this is one of the maid of honorís duties, like giving a bridal shower. Afterwards, we take the papers to get them notarized. ďWhat are we notarizing today?Ē chirps the notary. ďDivorce papersĒ, I say. Her face falls and she scuttles off to get her seal. I assure her that itís fine and Iím fine, but my confession casts a pall over the whole proceeding, to tell the truth. She canít wait for me to get my gay would-be divorcťe ass out of there.
07/14 Direct Link
It's amazing how different it is here without Jed. For a medium-sized dog, she sure left a big hole in our lives.

I find myself awash in sad memories up here. There's Jed's grave. There's the tree Dad was leaning against when we found him after the stroke. There's the place the helicopter landed to take Dad & me to the hospital. There's the trailer where Mom spent her last days out of the hospital. There's where my tent was, the summer I helped to nurse her. My brother arrives every day alone, and walks away without Jed following him.

07/15 Direct Link
My sisterís husband makes coffee in the morning, but he doesnít drink it. He buys it on the way to work. He heads out to his truck, calling out, ďHave a good day Ė or notĒ, and I get up and pour myself a cup, careful not to use my sisterís favorite mug. I take it out to the garden, sit in Momís old Adirondack chair. The early morning fog speckles my warm lips with its fine, cold needles. I can see the glow of light behind the pale veil. A white rose nods over my shoulder, dew-damp and fragrant.
07/16 Direct Link
My sisterís garden doubles as my office. I had an early morning conference call, so I took my coffee and the phone and sat in the garden while being really quite business-like. Other than my business blather, all that could be heard was the wind in the trees, the slowly awakening bees, and the busy hummingbirds dive bombing the fuchsias. As the sun gains in strength, the garden hums more loudly with bees and insects, busy yet basking. Ideal working conditions, especially since it was over in an hour and I could go and do fun things with my family.
07/17 Direct Link
I slip as easily into my brotherís and sisterís life in the country as I do my old one in the city. They have lived here for years. Their friends are familiar and beloved to me; we know all their stories and family dramas and they know ours. They donít love us any less for it. Maybe they even love us more. Itís good to be hugged and kissed, to catch up with the details of each otherís lives, to marvel at the childrenís growth and beauty, to cook together, eat together, drink local wine together, laugh together. Be together.
07/18 Direct Link
My sister and I walk the land she, her husband, and our brother bought last year. With us are the two dogs my sister inherited when our mother died, almost two years ago. They bound joyfully past the graves of their former companion, our brotherís beloved dog Jed, and my sisterís lovely cat Luna, unaware. They are just glad to run and play. Iím glad that Jed and Luna are part of this land and will always be with us. The plans for the summer are to dig a well and refinance the mortgage; the house is in the future.
07/19 Direct Link
Itís the 46th annual fund-raising barbecue for the local volunteer fire department, of which my brother is a member. This very fire department rescued our father when he had a stroke while visiting on that long-ago day after Thanksgiving. My brother wasnít part of the department then, but he joined soon afterwards, and my sister became an EMT, part of the team which also helped Dad on that cold, dark night and gave us all hope. Now they give back to the community, every day, and itís good to give something back myself. Iím so proud of my family.
07/20 Direct Link
Itís time for the long trip back. Four hour drive to the city Ė which turns out to be closer to six with traffic (note to self: going anywhere on a summer weekend is not a good idea) Ė where I stay overnight, get up at 3:00 am to get to the airport on time. The processing at the airport, the usual lines and frustration and tiredness. The long flight home. Arrive at rush hour, so itís a slow cab ride home, where my dog greets me joyfully. Iím glad to be home, having accomplished pretty much everything I needed to.
07/21 Direct Link
Even before all the hysteria and paranoia that now mark every airport visit, I was never thrilled with flying. I donít exactly have a phobia, but the whole thing makes me nervous, no matter how often I do it. Mostly I try to ignore the horror of it all by reading and trying not to think about it. That, plus ativan or valium and Iím good to go. On this trip, Fate had very kindly provided a pilot with over 30 yearsí experience as my seatmate. I have never felt so calm while flying. He was the perfect travel accessory.
07/22 Direct Link
Time spent with family after far too long: check. Various California delicacies and delightfuls unavailable elsewhere brought back with me: check. Postcards mailed to friends: check. Divorce papers signed and received by my husband, ready to file when the time is up: check. Meeting with partners: check. I got a lot done during the week I was there, though it seemed longer than a week, forever, in fact. Time stood still as I noted it was Day Three or Day Five. But objectively, it was a lot in a relatively short time. Iím glad I went, and glad itís over.
07/23 Direct Link
It looks like our firm will make enough money in the next few months for me to move back, which would be wonderful. I do miss my family, and I miss California. Having lived there most of my adult life, itís hard to adjust to living anywhere else. One of the reasons I find it so hard to visit is that I no longer live there and I still love it. My boss tends to be a little too optimistic, but I hope heís only off by a few months and that this time next year Iíll be back home.
07/24 Direct Link
So things are changing and moving forward, which is exciting, but scary, too. There is so much to think about. How will I move all my stuff? More importantly, how will I move my dog and all my stuff? Where will I put it when I get there? Can I somehow find a place to live and then move everything? Will I be able to afford it? Will I be able to make it work? Just the thought of boxing everything up and driving it across the country is pretty overwhelming. I really donít feel equal to the task. Yet.
07/25 Direct Link
Iím taking care of two lovely black and white cats for two weeks. Their owners live in my building. They are a fire fighter and an architectural artist (if thatís what you call someone who makes architectural drawings), and are kind and thoughtful people. Iíve been emailing them cat updates every couple of days and they are delighted. They act like itís a huge imposition for me to visit the cats a couple of times a day and make sure their needs are being met. Iím glad to help and glad to spend time with the cats, who are adorable.
07/26 Direct Link
Cat sitting may good practice at this point, because I agreed to adopt two of the stray catís seven kittens. I figured two are better than one, since an only cat could get bored and might be more likely to pester my dog, who is even older and more set in her ways than I am. I hope they all learn to get along. My brother and sister have had cats and dogs together and theyíve gotten along fine. I just have to make sure my dog feels like sheís still the Queen of everything. I hope theyíll be happy.
07/27 Direct Link
My two kittens, as I think of them, already play together quite a lot. The boy is a striped dark tabby and the girl is calico: black, white, and orange. She is the biggest and baddest of the litter. He is so sweet and likes to explore. I think theyíll be good company for each other. Her name is June and his is Dennis. They are so beautiful! I visit them nearly every day and itís fascinating to watch them grow and learn. June is already grooming herself. It wonít be long until I can take them home with me.
07/28 Direct Link
The kittens were all spoken for while I was away, but now one of the potential adoptive parents has backed out. The kitten in question may well be the most beautiful of the whole litter: a fluffy ball of silver and cream, with the most feminine, gorgeous little face you could ever hope to see. I hope Patricia can find someone else to take her. I feel sure that almost anyone who meets this sweet girl would want to take her home. Patricia really took on a huge responsibility when she took in that stray cat. Sheís a great person.
07/29 Direct Link
Sunday afternoon. I have the Giants game on in the background, waiting, like many San Franciscans, to see if Barry Bonds will equal or even surpass the record of the great Henry Aaron. Bonds hopes and I doubt that heíll accomplish this feat on home turf. Not only would it be an added feather in his cap, itís pretty much the only place where the cheers have a chance of exceeding the boos. If it happens on the road, the achievement will be as tarnished by anger and disgust as his record is by scandal and the belief he cheated.
07/30 Direct Link
Like many girls, Iím waiting for the phone to ring. But Iím waiting for my summons to a conference call. I have two on this summer afternoon, and all I want to do is lie on my comfortable bed and read the latest Armistead Maupin and take a nap. I hope the noise of the construction site isnít too unprofessional in the background. The people Iíll be talking to have no idea that Iím in my kitchen with my dog curled up at my feet, waiting for me to finish so we can go for a walk in the sunshine.
07/31 Direct Link
Itís been quite a month. A lot happened, some good, some bad, but mostly good. I donít think Iíll be able to get away this summer, since Iíll be busy kitten-proofing the house and preparing for their arrival. I hope Iím not making a mistake. I donít want my dog or the cats to be miserable in their co-existence. Decision-making Ė at least, good decision-making Ė is not my forte, so I worry that I have, as usual, done the wrong thing. I have to try and be optimistic, hope for the best. Thatís the best I can do.