Saturday, June 27, 2009

And Jingo was my Name-O

As a lifelong Liberal with a philosophy slightly to the left of whoopee, imagine my surprise when I realized a half-hour ago that I have decided jingoistic tendencies. Who knew?

Flip and I went to the Palace of Fine Arts, three blocks from our home, for a pleasant stroll around the swan lake. Most of the area had been cordoned off because of a movie being filmed, a Bollywood movie no less, and American bouncers were keeping people outside the perimeters. I raised my camera to shoot some large equipment and a large guy instantly appeared to tell me it was not allowed. I told him that this is a free country. He said it was at the request of the film makers. I said that was ridiculous. "Is there a possibility that you could obey that request?" he asked, smirking.

"There's a possibility," I said. "but probably not. And when you use the word 'obey,' it becomes an order, not a request. An order you don't have the right to give."

A second large muscle-type guy got in my face and said "No pictures allowed." I said, "That's absurd." He argued with me and then told me that I would have to get off the sidewalk, which was outside the roped-off area. I stood my ground. He jutted his chin at a group of people gathered beyond us on the sidewalk and said, 'That's what we're trying to prevent." I said, "The Constitution gives us the right to congregate. You're American. You must know that." He said, "Well, we're trying to keep the sidewalks clear for -- handicapped people." I looked both ways. I didn't see any. "I'd be more than happy to get out of the way if a handicapped person comes along, but in the meantime, I'm not in their way." (It should be noted that I am a small person. I could not occupy an entire sidewalk if I tried.) He said, "Well, you can't take pictures here." I said, "The Palace of Fine Arts is a famous photographic destination. All these people either live in the neighborhood or are tourists. You can't forbid people to take pictures."

He said, "I'm not trying to give you a rough time." I said, reasonably, "And I'm not trying to give you one, but it's just silly." I snapped another shot as I walked away. He did not grab my camera. He couldn't. I'm a girl. Sometimes it comes in handy.

I have a problem with people who set themselves up as authority figures, and I also have a problem with the many who meekly accept the authority of anyone who says he has some. But what really rankles is that all of this was for a Bollywood movie. Still, if they want to work here, they need to have a little respect for those of us who actually make this city our home. If you walk into my life, don't tell me that I have no right to be there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fishbowl Living

The unthinkable has happened and yet more noxious substances have hit the fan. For months there has been a vacant apartment directly across from us, separated by our backyard and the one that belongs to the other building. Today we noticed that someone had moved in. He has set up his laptop in his window which has a perfect view of our bed, and he either works from home or doesn't work at all because he has been stationed at his command post all day. He is terrorizing his neighbors and doesn't even know - or care.

I closed our window coverings which I usually keep open during the day because I like the sun flooding the room, my many plants need it, and it also provides extra heat which is nearly always helpful in San Francisco. The apartment is claustrophobic with everything shut, and there is really no other place to put the bed. I feel like a zoo animal. Big Brother is watching us, 24/7.

My gentle husband suggests that we buy a BB gun, a great idea in theory but neither of us wants to live in prison. Then he decided to stare back at the guy for as long as it takes to discomfit him. I suspect it will take forever as people generally select a place for their computer and keep it there. I considered painting a giant middle finger and propping it in our window, or setting up one of our computers there in the spirit of fighting fire with fire. Maybe dancing around the room naked, although that could be counter-productive. I have always heard that the people of Samoa settle disputes by hurling rocks. Does anyone know a nice rock-throwing Samoan who would help us out?

Let's just say that I won't be sending any Welcome Wagon baskets over there, unless they are outfitted with a timer. Meanwhile, I need to research the Peeping Tom laws.

Park Here and Prepare to Meet thy Doom

If the powers that be want me to continue living in San Francisco, they are going to have to stop giving me tickets.

I felt so lucky to find a rock star parking space right across the street from my destination. It was two spaces uphill from a flat street. I put more money in the meter than I thought I would need and bounced into the hardware store. I even saw the meter person citing another car but I knew I was doing everything right, so I wasn't worried. When I came out, there was still time on my meter and a ticket on my windshield for not turning my wheels out as much as I should on a hill. Fair enough, except that I was not on a hill. I was at the bottom of a hill, which doesn't count. What kind of person rides around checking people's tires all day, anyway?

I know the city needs money - we have a $24.3 billion budget deficit. But there is no way they are going to get all of it out of me. Do the math. Even at a cool hundred per ticket, I'd have to be racking up thousands of them every hour to make a dent. They really need to come up with a better plan.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


It was bound to happen. Flip wants a digital camera just like mine, although he remained fiercely loyal to his Nikon N-90 and had no interest in the digital, also a Nikon, when I got it. But now he does. In fact, he wants my camera.

"I have a birthday coming," he said. There was positively oil dripping off him.

"You do NOT!" I said. "This is JUNE. I have a birthday in June. Yours is months away." These days it's hard to tell if he is trying to con me or if his memory has lapsed again. He had the grace to look sheepish, just a little.

It's my own fault. I have created a monster. Since his disease appeared in our life, I have worked overtime trying to keep him happy to make up for all he is losing. It was only fair. But it seems I have my limits. I will not give up my birthday for anyone, even him.

"It's not as if I'm Darth Vader," he said reasonably. That helps so much.

"Yeah, well he can't have my camera either."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Your Mama Doesn't Live Here

As we were heading out for sushi tonight, Flip noticed a gas can in the building garage. The garage is at street level and our apartment, which is considered the first floor, is actually up a flight of stairs and next to the one above the garage. The couple who park their SUV by the gas can are chain smokers who toss their butts all over the garage floor. Fire and gasoline do not constitute a recipe for good health, so after dinner I wrapped the gas can in a large garbage bag and drove it to a dumpster by the bay. I wonder how long it will be before someone misses it.

Just for the record, I do not normally steal other people's property but I justify the deed because whoever left it there does not have the right to endanger everyone in the building. I assume it belonged to the SUV couple who have loud drunken parties every Saturday night, sometimes during the week as well. They stink up the building with their cigarette smoke, and are patently unconcerned with the comfort of others. The female half of the couple has "Connie the Great" typed on her mailbox label, and the male half often drapes his wet suit right on top of my plants on a table in the garden, so asking them to remove it would have accomplished nothing except perhaps being treated to a bird flipping.

Besides, what could be a better ending to a lovely evening than a little after-dinner petty larceny?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

But I'm Too Young to be Old

It's all over now. I'm done for. I might as well buy myself a nice cane, or a walker, because I've been outed. I'm old.

My neighborhood health food store gives discounts to seniors on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am usually in there several times a week but am always happy when my visits coincide with one of those days as 10% off their prices is not to be sneezed at.

Today, engaged in conversation with the delightful, certified organic young man at the check stand, I forgot to mention my senior status. He smiled kindly as he announced my total and said, "Do you get any special discounts today?" Of course I do. I'm old as dirt, but while it was lovely of him to be concerned for my pocketbook, my feelings were hurt. I have reached the point at which strangers no longer clutch their throats and gasp, "But you couldn't be a senior!" I thanked him for his tact. "I try," he said. I felt like Granny Clampett. It's amazing how ego can outlast youthfulness. Of course, if my eyesight continues to decline, I will be able to reenter the world of fantasy again one day, especially if a white cane and perhaps a seeing eye dog are in my future. But for now, I am living with cold, hard reality, and it sucks.

Flip reminded me that in our neighborhood, everyone is young, as in 20 or 30-something young. "They think forty is ancient," he said. It was a gallant effort, but after a brief flutter of recognition, failed to make me feel better. My daughter recently remarked that I should live in Europe, where older women are worshiped. I don't know if that applies to older American women, but at this point, I'll take what I can get.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Today I received an e-mail advertising Tonino Lamborghini driving shoes for men or women in a variety of colors. A virtual steal at only $268. Made in Italy, actual Lamborghini sold separately. I think the gods are toying with me.