Archive for February, 2004

bileous ballistics

Experienced parents will shake their heads and roll their eyes or vice versa, but when my daughter exploded in a fountain of half-digested cereal, sweet potato puree and bile on Thursday night, it was a first for me.

The scary diagnosis with projectile vomiting is an obstruction, but Claire was hydrated and hungry and as two shoulder-blade-level Anomalous Poo Events the following day demonstrated, everything was moving along just fine. She’d spiked a fever earlier in the evening, so maybe it was a tummy bug or blocked eustachian tube.

Now I’ve got it, or something comparable; I get motion sickness just walking around, which really sounds like my inner ear doesn’t it? Ian and Kat were over last night, and Ian in particular clearly wanted to have the sort of grand political row we both used to enjoy so much, but beyond the bare fundamentals of getting the toddler’s needs met I couldn’t form a sentence.

Even this post is being written between trips to the kitchen to cut slices of orange and break off pieces of baguette for Cian. Miss Claire, coated with a thin sheen of spaghetti and meatballs, is cooing at her sock. I think she needs a bath now. My ambition has dwindled from writing a great novel to writing a novel that doesn’t suck to reading a novel again, one day. So why do I feel so happy?

i lunch with a mover and a shaker

“Oh, I have some great stories about Rummy.

“We were in one of his conference rooms and at the end of the meeting, somebody asked, ‘So, what’s it like to be the Secretary of Defense of the United States?’ Rummy thinks for a moment then says ‘Come with me.’ We follow him through another conference room and into his office, then he goes into the bathroom. We all look at each other and he sticks his head out and says, ‘No, no, it’s all right, come in.’

“So we follow him in and there we are, ten or twelve of us crowding into his private bathroom, and the walls are lined with cartoons lampooning him, all of them framed. He reads four or five of his favourites out to us, laughing, then turns to us and says, ‘Gentlemen, this is what it’s like to be Secretary of Defense of the United States.’

“On the way out I see a photo of him as Secretary of Defense under Ford, shaking hands with what looks like a young Colin Powell. I ask him about it. ‘Yep, that’s Colonel Powell,’ says Rummy. ‘Hasn’t he done well? General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State. And here I am in the same job.’

“I knew Rummy had been a wrestler for Princeton, so I asked him about it during a photo op. ‘How’d you know that?’ he asked. ‘Well, sir, I wrestled for Penn.’ He gives me this look and he says, ‘I never lost to Penn.'”

mardi gras

I like Tuesdays because the library is open late. My Claire the dear golden-haired wreathed-in-giggles delight of my heart and I like to head up the hill in her canary-yellow all-terrain stroller and spend a happy hour or two chewing crayons, banging on the Internet terminals and spurning board books. Last night I picked up the Father Brown Omnibus, Ender’s Game and Taliban, a nicely perverse combination.

Libraries are such an unbelievably good deal, like NetFlix but free! I’m trying not to buy any more books until I’ve read everything in the Bernal branch. It’s a magnificent 1940 WPA project with the original murals and light fixtures intact. Last night the librarians were wearing Mardi Gras beads. Fat Tuesday! Ashes to come.

So I’m giving up pickles for Lent. It’s an appropriately empty gesture, because I never eat pickles anyway. I despise pickles. (Except capers, which are good.)


I realized the other day that if I died and went to heaven, it would look remarkably like this world, albeit with no one being hungry or sick or bereaved or in pain or thwarted in love or even vaguely miffed.

The really important difference, however, would be catching up on the novels Jane Austen had been writing since her death.

best birthday EVER

Favourite gifts:

1. Carole and Jamey running off to City Hall to make honest women of each other;

2. Miranda Simone Jaramillo.

At last, at last, at last!

things i am moderately-to-very happy about

Gay weddings (pics to come); Concon a success; source for good fish and chips found in Berkeley; Spirit and Opportunity; this:

Jeremy (reading Yatima): Wait – “This album deserves to be better known”??? Oh, right, you’re joking.

maribeth!">four cheers for maribeth!

If your car gets locked in a parking lot at 9.30 on a rainy night, it helps to be friends with a flame-haired supergenius lockpicker.


We headed up to Sonoma for wine and fun. Jeremy got a tape adapter for Hedwig’s tune-o-tron, and he played me what’s called around these parts The Music The Young People Listen To: The Love Below/Speakerboxx, by Outkast. This album deserves to be better known! I got to the vineyard all jiggy wid it, and informed my friends that I wanted to see them on their baddest behaviour, and that they should give me some sugar, because I was their neighbour.

Replenished our cellar of Adastra wines; the 2001 chardonnay and the 2000 merlot, which for some weird-ass synesthetic reason tastes dark blue to me. Delicious, anyhoo. Off to The Girl and The Fig for a rowdy banquet, complete with glares from shocked locals. Claire greatly enjoyed her kale and pumpkin gratin, Jeremy loved the artichokes with his grouper and I inhaled mussels and a rack of lamb, as is my wont. The party wound on to a nearby bar but ended up in our room. Claire held court until she was tired and overwhelmed; then she cried until she had chased all the people away; then she cried because all her people were gone.

This morning we showed her the playground and the duck pond in Sonoma’s main square, then meandered down 116 and 101 listening to Lemonjelly’s Lost Horizons. It was a gorgeous weekend: we saw rabbits and ducklings and a hunting hawk. But the single thing I saw that made me happiest was back in San Francisco: it was the line of people queued around the corner of City Hall waiting to get married. Happy weddings, everyone.


We switched DSL and moved the Goop server. Sporadic downtime for the next day or two.

she’s actual size, but she seems much bigger to me

Shannon may have a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but she is unquestionably San Francisco’s finest detective. She can walk into a room and simply intuit the presence of crimes against feng shui. So she helped us move this weekend… no, actually, she pretty much moved us. She drove the truck, she hauled the furniture, she organized our closet. I got all teary looking at the closet, like the straight guys at the end of Queer Eye: “All this? For me?”

Women are so territorial. It’s so easy for us to compete, and so hard for us to offer one another concrete, constructive help. So hats, wigs and hairpieces off to Shannon. The Mamafu is strong in this one.

Many many thanks to all our other incredible and hardworking friends: Paul, Max, Kat, Ian, Peter, Jack, Salome, Bryan, Robert, Gayatri, Jamey and Carole. You guys are the rockingest. We have escaped from the ghetto and we owe it all to you.

mommies dearest

“God, I can’t believe I still have some wire hangers.”

“You know, I used to be so judgmental about Joan Crawford, but now that I have a kid of my own, I’m thinking – maybe she was just having a bad day.”

“I know! We never got to hear her side. There was probably a totally reasonable explanation…”

“I’ll bet that kid had it coming…”

still more warm welcomes

A big Yatima “Hey baby!” to Phil and Katrina’s daughter Amelia, and to Jay and Jennifer’s son Troy. Both amazingly beautiful. Aquarius, the sexiest star sign of them all.

Plus baby girl Sherman Jaramillo, any day now.

good omen?

Not that I’m superstitious or nothin’, but the new house is on Eugenia Avenue. A little judicious Googling reveals that:

(a) Eugenia is one of only two asteroids with its own moon; and

(b) the Feast of St Eugenia is December 25 – Claire’s birthday!

Let’s be frank, though. Eugenia’s kind of a silly name. So in the tradition of Moonbase Alabama and Surrey Street Aerospace, we’ll be calling the new place the Bernal Sphere.

laotians in motion

We’re moving, like kelp in a king tide. We’re in this strange limbo-purgatory state, half here and half there, Shroedinger’s cat-like in our superimposition.

Last night Carole came over and in the precisely one hour and fifteen minutes she had to spare, we crammed both our cars with books and rugs and chairs and drove them to the new place. Now there’s a huge heap of stuff there and the old place is still (gulp) full…

unreliable memoirs

How odd. I’ve been reading this highly entertaining dialogue on the idiotic theory that someone other than Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays. I remembered fondly the day we went to Stratford and I put a flower on Shakespeare’s grave. Curst be he yt moves my bones! How I love a curmudgeon. I remembered walking along the Avon with Jeremy, looking at the ducks. I remember the sun shining on J’s yellow hair, him smiling at me with his eyes bright blue.

Except, cough, except that I was with Phil that day. The remotely comparable river I walked along with Jeremy was near Kilkenny Castle, more than two years later. I was in Stratford in midsummer – the daffodils were out. I was in Kilkenny on Jeremy’s 26th birthday, close to the winter solstice. There was no sun to shine on his yellow hair, just the dull gunmetal grey of Irish rain.

I guess it’s been so long since “we” meant “me and Jeremy” – eight years! – that I’ve forgotten it ever meant “me and someone else”. Still, it’s nice to be reminded why I write fiction. Memoir is hard! says Barbie. Let’s go shopping!

brief encounters

1. at katz bagels

Someone has left a brand new copy of The New York Times on the side table! I am surprised. I leaf through it and start reading a story about fake album covers.

The sweet young hipster boy next to me collects his bagel and looks at me imploringly.

“Oh I am so sorry,” I say, covered in shame: “this is your newspaper, isn’t it?”

I’m sorry,” he replies. “I wouldn’t have bothered you but there’s somewhere I have to be.”

2. on the phone

“HELLO!” says the voice on the other end, joyously.

I am dumbfounded.

“Doctor’s office!” he continues.

I was not expecting that.

3. at the doctor’s office

Same guy, but in person this time. He’s adorable.

“I need to change my address,” I tell him.

“What, no apartment number? GIRL you are moving UP!!!”

kat has had a modicum of wine

She teeters endearingly on high heels, and gives my toddler large sips from her glass.

“How IS she?” she asks.

“She’s very well! Only there’s this girl who used to look after her, who keeps trying to get her drunk.”

“Wait,” says Kat, and narrows her eyes. “Are you talking about me?”