Friday, February 29, 2008


In photography as in fishing, there is always The One That Got Away.

Today, it happened again.

Walking toward me on a crowded sunny sidewalk was a portly man wearing nothing but a diaper, a black diaper, with shoes and socks. It was not shorts, or a lava lava, it was a diaper. Where does one even buy a black diaper in size Enormous, yet?

It boggles the mind.

I had my camera with me, but was riveted mesmerized paralyzed with fascination. eyes glued to that immense diaper as it went by like an isle flotante. A mirage. Or perhaps an acid flashback.

"Now there's a conversation piece," I said aloud.

A woman who was hurrying around me said, "Nobody looks at anyone in San Francisco. He's counting on that."

Reluctantly, I left the scene of the crime ( crime obscene?) because I had things to do.

On my way back, I plotted our next encounter. My camera was set to shoot on sight, and I rehearsed various polite opening gambits to our conversation.

"Excuse me, could I photograph you in your exceptionally large diaper?"


"Would you mind if I took your picture? I've never seen anyone wearing... "

Scratch that.

I peered into all the restaurants and coffee shops, although I was sure he would be refused entry to any of them. Some body parts should not be allowed to dangle on chairs used by the general public.

"Pardon me, Sir. May I take your picture? You look so -- comfortable."

It wasn't much but it was the best I could come up with.

For some things, there are no second chances. I didn't see him again. All I have to remember him by is my seared eyeballs and the lingering melody of the Batman song, lyrics changed to "Diaper Man." Da da da da da da da da, Dia-per Man.

It made me ponder how many opportunities we miss in life because we are not prepared. I think, many.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

Walking to the neighborhood grocery in the rain, it occurred to me that I should paint a dot of nail polish on my black umbrella handle so I would never take the wrong one from the waste basket most stores set near their doors.

I parked it and collected my lemons and whipping cream for the mousse I wanted to make, paid and stopped to reclaim my umbrella from the basket.

It was gone.

I couldn't believe it. Somebody stole my umbrella. That is about as lowdown and dirty as it gets. Who would do such a thing?

There was a woman scurrying away with a small black umbrella which looked familiar, but how could I prove it was mine? All black umbrellas look alike.

I peered into the basket again. There were two others, a red one and a dark blue with ruffles. Mine had definitely gone to a new home.

It's the Chinese Year of the Rat. Maybe that explains it.

I got drenched to the skin as I slogged home, where I gave a tour de force performance of every expletive I know for Flip, who was hiding out in his earphones.

I felt angry. Violated. I was shocked that someone would do that.

Umbrellas are not costly. If she had asked me, I might have given it to her. But in stealing it during a rainstorm, she was clearly stating that she was more important than I, that she was more entitled to be dry even though I had the foresight to take my umbrella with me and she didn't.

It was the presumption of superiority that got me so fired up.

When we convince ourselves that we are better than someone else, made of finer cloth, more favored by God, we are setting ourselves back on our journey toward perfection because it is not about being The Best. It is about accepting that we are no more and no less important than all other beings.

We seem to live increasingly in a "Me-First" world in which people are out for themselves and believe that no one else matters. Gentleness is perceived as weakness and charity begins and ends at home.

We are here to support each other with kindness and even love, if possible, because we really are all in the soup together. But every time we feel more deserving than someone else, we are heading down a slippery slope and may soon find ourselves stealing umbrellas.

Umbrella stolen
You thought I wouldn't notice?
You are dead to me.

Buddhism aside
Lotus blossom up your ass
I feel better now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm Just Tired, Not Dead

Today I received an invitation in the mail to be cremated.

How lovely.

I have never heard of the Trident Society before and don't know these people, yet they addressed me as "Susan." It makes me uneasy that they got my name off some list which indicates that I am ready to die.

"Simple, Economical and Dignified...
that's our motto!"

Among the many advantages to making my arrangements now, they assure me that I will lock in today's price as well as protect my family from falling victim to pressure to overspend (also known as "up selling) at a time when they are emotionally vulnerable.

"Cremation just makes sense. If you are not interested in spending your family's inheritance on embalming, caskets, vaults, markers, fancy funeral homes or cemetery property, then we have the answer!"

Did you know that "over 50% of Californians have selected cremation as their preference?"

Neither did I.

Actually, I would prefer to live forever.

The Trident Society, which sounds like toothpaste or chewing gum, would simply like my permission to provide me with information on pre-need plans if cremation is my choice too.

The return envelope does not require postage. It's only fair -- they want my body.

I would definitely lean toward cremation if images of Joan of Ark and all the Salem witches were not inflaming my mind. The idea of being buried in the ground is odious because while I am not particularly claustrophobic now, I am sure that I would be in a box six feet under.

You know, there's always a payoff. We are born, we have a wonderful body which protects us against the elements, takes care of our needs and provides endless pleasures during the course of our lifetime. And then at the end, we have to arrange for its disposal.

It's not right.

I have always imagined being buried at sea as long as I am actually and completely dead before it happens. It charms me to think of becoming part of the food chain. And perhaps my family could combine dropping off Mom with a nice cruise to Hawaii.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do

I just received a recorded message from the Protect Marriage Coalition of California Voters asking that I sign a petition stating that marriage is between a man and a woman.

I hung up.

It is none of my business if two men or two women decide to marry. This represents no threat to me and has zero effect on my marriage to a man.

It's just meanness to deny people the right to seek happiness in their own way when it hurts no one. We would all be better off if we kept our noses out of other people's business in general and their relationships in particular.

It has been said that you cannot legislate love, which is usually cited as a rationale for vicious racist laws.

However, in the realm of marriage, you really can't. And shouldn't. People love whom they love, and no government or religion has the right to mess with it, in my view.

Years ago, I saw a powerful movie, "The Crying Game," which made me realize that we fall in love with a person's soul and that gender is secondary.

Most of us seek potential partners of one sex or the other. (In the 70's, everyone seemed to be bisexual and since I was not, I felt inadequate.)

As a heterosexual person, it has never occurred to me to fall in love with another woman. But those who do should have the same rights I have.

If passed, the Protect Marriage Amendment would add new language to the State constitution:

“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

People who live together and care for one another should be afforded the full rights of marriage, which include not only recognition that their union is valid, but health insurance benefits not presently available to them as they are to opposite sex domestic partners.

It is wrong to consider anyone a lesser being, and to arbitrarily treat their love as invalid.

Our nation is at war in several places, many people here at home are living in the streets, children are being abused. It would be well to put our collective energy toward solving these problems and leave marriage in the realm of individual will, where it belongs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Little Guitar That Couldn't

Flip received a gift certificate to Guitar Center for Christmas. He already has several extremely nice guitars, both acoustic and electric, and decided to buy a Dobro.

The Dobro is an acoustic guitar with built-in resonator which is widely used in Delta blues. It is not finger-picked, but played with a replica Coricidin bottle over ones finger.

Guitar Center didn't have one in stock but agreed to order it from their catalog. Flip handed over his gift certificate and we waited for the guitar to arrive.

Apparently they couldn't locate one in any of their warehouses so they ordered it from the Gibson Company, which purchased Dobro from its inventors and now makes the guitar.

Every week, I called to see if there was an ETA, but there wasn't. Finally, eight weeks later, we were informed that Gibson no longer makes the Dobro.

Nobody does.

In a brilliant coup, feat of daring, I got them to cash out the gift certificate and refund the money because Flip doesn't need any other large ticket items. The gift would pay for end-to-end guitar strings from here to Uranus. He wants a Dobro.

We then ordered the guitar online from Musician's Friend, which in due time sent him a square neck model instead of the round neck we ordered. The square neck is played across ones lap like a xylophone, not held like a regular guitar.

We returned it and they agreed to transfer the payment to a round neck model and ship it to us. The young man in customer service said that their warehouse is automated so the mistake was not due to a stock clerk grabbing the wrong guitar. He said if it happened again, they would know that the stock is in the wrong place.

And now we know. The second guitar arrived today. It is also a square neck. According to their inventory they still have stock on the round neck model, which is not surprising since they can't find any to sell.

We packaged and returned the second guitar and came home to find a bill from Musician's Enemy Friend, although we paid by credit card before they sent the first one out.

So I called. The customer disservice guy insisted that it was not a bill, although it says "please remit" in several places and also, "Payment due by 3/16/08."

If it quacks like a duck, it's a bill. Or something.

He didn't even apologize for the inconvenience caused by their mistakes. There is definitely grace lacking in the world. And not enough Dobros.

Meanwhile, poltergeists have taken over my life.

My favorite hat is AWOL. Lost. Completely off-the-face-of-the-earth missing. Vanished. Unrecoverable.

It is not replaceable. It is Nepalese. Knitted of silk yarn. It is my comforting blankie of a hat. Whenever I feel ugly, I wear this hat and I don't anymore.

I have ransacked our home and our car.

Unlike the cat that came back although he was a goner, the hat has not come back.

It is clearly a goner.

But I just found a t-shirt in my closet which I have never seen before from the Dock Street Bar & Grill in Tacoma, Washington.


I have never been to Washington State. Ever. In my life.

But I bet my hat is there.

Drinking its little ass off.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Six Things

Wng at A Whole New G has tagged me to list six actions or achievements one should accomplish before age 18. This is a tough one.

I asked my husband for suggestions.

"Getting laid?"

It looks like I'm on my own here.

1. Begin to learn a musical instrument. It will provide endless years of pleasure, even if you are not Segovia or Jimi Hendrix.

2. Make plans to continue your education by attending college, community college, or vocational training. It is very important to be able to support yourself and any children you may have later. Explore every subject that interests you because the more you know, the more options you will have. You will also never be bored.

3. Develop pride in yourself and a strong center. Know that you have the ability to accomplish whatever you really want to if you are willing to work hard for it. Don't believe anyone who says you can't.

4. Begin a spiritual practice, whether that means going to a traditional house of worship or walking in the woods, pondering life's mysteries. Yoga. Meditation. Jewelry making. Knitting. Running. Anything that focuses your attention so that you lose track of time and your own ego qualifies as a spiritual practice.

5. Realize that you are a unique individual. There has never been anyone quite like you before, nor will there ever be again. This is true of everyone, so although life requires you to compete sometimes for what you need, always understand that you were born the best you possible, and your worth is not wrapped up in winning admission to that particular school, or getting that plummy job. While those things can be wonderful gifts, they will never define who you really are.

6. Practice compassion. This is difficult to learn in a vacuum, so I very much hope that you are taught kindness by example, not by command. This should start well before the age of 18 as children do live what they learn.

My Best Bud, Claudia, at On a Limb with Claudia gave me the Best Blogging Buddies Award some time ago, and this has been sitting here waiting to be tagged onto another post. Well, guess what? This is the post.

She says, "I give this award to Heart in San Francisco for her constant support, loving guidance, and willingness to engage the world. In moments of need, she has really helped me - that’s what best buddies are for!"

From your lips to God's ear, Claudia. May I somehow become all that you say I am. Thank you!

Claudia is a person I deeply admire for her total commitment to being the best she can be while also helping others on their own paths to personal greatness. Her other blog, Everyday Kindness encourages everyone to commit to performing one act of kindness a day.

Franki at Frankily Yours is quirky, saucy, ballsy and funny, also kind and smart, the consummate artist in various media.

Wng at A Whole New G is transparent, honest at any cost, has a lovely soul, delightfully wry humor, and a fine way with words.

Sienna (Pam) at Audio Video Disco is one of the most generous and supportive people on the Internet who shows her sensitivity both in her marvelous photos of her beloved Australia and in her comments to other bloggers.

Red Mojo at Half a Bubble Off is pithy, deep, honest and also has a wicked sense of humor. I get the feeling that there is nothing Mojo can't do well, and her travels (and travails) through life are always a treat.

Ian at Or So I Thought addresses issues both international and personal, but always with a great deal of compassion. He is a professional writer so his excellence is a given, he shares his inner thoughts easily and exemplifies right thinking.

Chani at Thailand Gal is my due North for conscious compassion and enduring values. She has adopted Thai culture because she has found her true home there, but her ideals for right living apply to any community.

Odat at Odat's Mumbling epitomizes a classy lady. She always gives 300% to others with warmth and a wacky sense of humor and asks nothing in return, which is one of the reasons so many of us love her dearly.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My New Playground

I have discovered the considerable delights of eBay.

I love Japanese antiques, but perhaps even more, I love the descriptive translations of some of the items whose sellers are in Japan.

"Note: I think that this hanging scroll was written 60 years or more ago. this can call it YATIYOSISI famous also for kabuki of Japan -- it is . Very wonderful fine work is done. And aren't there those [ any ] who would not like you to see this picture without being? I was impressed by too much beauty. Please see well if you please.
This does not have a serious damage by a grade with some spot.
It can decorate immediately.
And I think that your room is matched."

I had to bid on that one. Because of the English. I'm not sure how they know that my room is matched, but I am going to trust them because how can anyone not be impressed by too much beauty?

"Note: This is the fan stand made in Japan. Famous ZUIZAN made also from KYO ware of Japan. Although the first picture is a sample, please use it for how or this appearance. However, since it rolls by a round thing, please let a side bite some.
There is a serious damage and it does not carry out. Please make it your item if you please."

I would be happy to let a side bite some if I knew how. And I'm American -- I love wheels round things.

"Note: This is the glass made in Japan.
It is KIRIKO transmitted from the Edo period of Japan. And this beautiful glass is present age revival better .
And the saucer of cloth is also attached. It is both wonderful.
Pleasant time can be spent with husband and wife and a friend."


I call it the Menage a Trois glass. I didn't bid on this one because I knew we could never agree on who the friend should be.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Am From

My good friend Molly of The Molly Bawn Chronicles has tagged me to do this exercise.

After reading hers, I was quite intimidated by its excellence and had no intention of offering my own version. But then she challenged me, and I am far too macho to resist a challenge.

I am from a sandbox my father built with green and white striped awning, from Bazooka Bubble Gum and puppies.

I am from a Cape Cod colonial house with dormers and green shutters that I wished were blue, white picket fence and a terrace that seemed like a mountain to a small child with sled, a secret passageway from my closet to the attic, burning leaves on full-mooned autumn nights, captured fireflies in jars with air holes in the lid and the clatter of birds building nests, the praying mantis on our front door who stayed all summer.

I am from the magnolia tree on the front lawn, picking blackberries in the woods, running through the sprinkler, lying in the cool grass naming kitten-faced pansies, pulling radishes from our Victory garden and daringly eating them without washing off the dirt, peeling rosebuds to force them into bloom before their time as I was expected to act adult before mine.

I am from brilliant Irving, a father who was God all his life, his rock star presence huge although he was not a large man, from beautiful Pearl whose many talents were eclipsed until he died, from Charles the grinning tease and elegant brown-eyed Daisy, from plump Etta of damp kisses and pinching fingers and nearsighted Jack, who wrote poetry for me on lined yellow paper.

I am from book-lined walls, my father's graceful Chopin etudes and watching him, adoring, as he hand-fed brown thrashers in our backyard and collected daily injustices as I collected seashells and stray animals. I am from salty lips and the smell of waves, mustard-soaked hot dogs on the boardwalk, road trips to Washington, DC, Colonial Williamsburg, Canada, Toledo and New Hampshire, where I first saw mountains and knew that God must live there.

From "Don't talk back" and "Stop aggravating me" and never being as docile as girls were "supposed" to be.

I am from resigned Jews who never heard of Chanukah and grudgingly gave us Christmas presents but wouldn't have a tree, who offered no religious training yet expected us to identify with our heritage and were notably displeased by my fumblings toward Catholicism.

I'm from New York and from Russia, England, Germany and Hungary, the lights of Broadway, Lindy's cheesecake and candy apples, demanding my own lobster at Gloucester House at four and eating it, from roast beef and crispy potato pancakes with applesauce, stuffed cabbage and apple pie cooling on the kitchen table.

From the maternal great-great uncle who married a daughter of Emperor Franz Louis Joseph and was disowned by his Orthodox family because she was a shiksa, from my paternal grandmother who so opposed my parent's marriage that they eloped two months before their wedding, my father working his way through night law school as an interpreter in several languages on the NYC docks, my mother finally going to college in her 70's and graduating with honors at 79, and the crippling disease my brother overcame magnificently because he refused to believe he was limited and proved it.

I am from people who came through Ellis Island with nothing but their talents and their willingness to work hard, who depended on themselves to succeed, who became doctors and lawyers and artists, musicians, designers, actors and movie makers, who treasured words and family loyalty, who instilled integrity and independence and determination, the ability to adapt to change, and a love of the natural world.

Though I often felt like a misfit, I was born in the right time and place and the perfect family to learn the lessons I needed to learn and which I am still learning. I wish I could thank them all for their immense gifts to me, especially the ones I resisted, because in those were my greatest teachings.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rapunzel's Grumble

I, who went for over 30 years without haircuts, have hairdresser problems.

I started seeing Eric two years ago. To my surprise, he gave me a short haircut I liked so I continued to see him about every six months. I also took Flip there and he has gotten the best haircuts of his life from Eric.

The trouble started in June, although I didn't realize it at the time. They canceled my appointment because of a family emergency of Eric's right before I went to New York, so I looked shaggy while I was there. My family, accustomed to seeing me tripping over my tresses, probably didn't notice. I got my hair cut in July, after I returned.

Since then, the salon has changed my appointment, the same appointment, three times and I'm beginning to feel self-conscious. I am not a freak of nature, I'm clean, always pleasant to the people who work there, and I tip extremely well. So what's the problem?

Apparently, Eric requires extra time to cut my hair because there's a lot of it. Also, it's anarchic hair, although he would never admit it. I am not a primadonna, but my hair is. I don't want to cause trouble, but am I really to believe that all his other clients (except Flip) are half-bald?

I was supposed to see him, finally, this Wednesday at noon. He called yesterday to ask if I could come at 1:00 instead. I said I could. He promised to confirm our new time after speaking with the client ahead of me, but never did.

At this point, I'm beginning to feel that there is something wrong with me. Maybe Eric is being pressured to do more haircuts per day and they don't want him to take extra time with anyone, but his perfectionism should be a drawing card.

I don't want him cutting my hair if he's stressed so I called the salon to cancel my appointment and set up another when Eric has more time.

He wasn't working today but the receptionist offered to call him and get back to me, rather than canceling. She didn't.

I don't know if the mane event is on or off.

Three cancellations are a lot. The first was because his mother attempted to commit suicide and he had to go to Pennsylvania. The second was because he had a childcare problem, and the third is because ---??? He kind of lost me on this one. It seems to have something to do with the client before me who presumably is not as high maintenance as I am.

I am NOT a high maintenance person. I am not confident enough, rich enough or cool enough to be high maintenance, even if I were so inclined. Which I'm not.

I certainly understand and sympathize with family problems, but why do I keep getting moved around like a Chess piece?

Should I be grateful that someone will cut my hair for so much money plus tip? I don't get it.

Flip says that I take everything too personally. He's right. But it is my person who needs a haircut. Is that really too much to ask?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Your Excellencies

Claudia at On a Limb with Claudia and Rachel at Lessons Learned have both donated an Excellent Blog award to me. Thank you, Claudia and Rachel!

Claudia is a sublime writer who combines spiritual values with great comic timing. Her posts are always astonishing because her far-reaching mind leaves no subject unexamined.

Rachel is a terrific artist and writer whose blog never fails to enlighten or entertain, and she is a super-nice person besides.

I'm going to take my prize and run as soon as I share it with a few of the many bloggers I admire and enjoy regularly.

Two I have come upon only recently are

Nick at Nickhereandnow and Kapuananiokalaniakea of Waking Up in Portland.

Nick has a wonderful command of the language and seems to share my opinions on practically everything, which is a powerful inducement to love his blog, but I would anyway. His wit and honesty are a joy and I celebrate every time he has a new post.

Puanani writes lyrically and clearly has a particularly green thumb with children, plants and also words. Her writing abilities are as breathtaking as her soul is beautiful.

I highly recommend both these blogs to all who love interesting subject matter presented with grace, charm and compassion.

I read on Jocelyn's site, O Mighty Crisis, that it's Girl Scout Cookie Drive time. I am nothing if not suggestible, so I immediately checked online to make sure it was happening everywhere, not just in Minnesota, bundled up and went out in the pouring, near-freezing rain.

I stopped at my bank's ATM machine and then cruised all known Girl Scout hangouts: In front of Williams Sonoma, in front of Starbucks, and in front of Safeway.

Rain was pouring down the back of my jacket and my jeans were wet up to my thighs. I was sloshing around in soggy sneakers with money in my pocket but those wussy little girls were nowhere to be seen.

Isn't there a merit badge for Community Responsibility? Compassion? Feeding the Cookie Monster?

They just don't make scouts the way they used to. At least not in California. All the REAL Girl Scouts are in Minnesota, selling cookies behind the snow plow.

It would be excellent if I didn't live in La-La Land.