Monthly Archives: March 2006

Hungry Ferret

There is a hungry ferret living in my intestines. He gnaws on them until I sedate him with Ibuprofen, then it wears off and he wakes up, hungrier than ever. I had plans to rock climb today, to meet a friend for lunch and a client for tea, to tutor for three hours and to visit friends tonight. Instead I have watched the first four episodes of the first season of Project Runway because I can’t get up off the couch. I was up and down all night with these knife-like pains in my abdomen. They’re milder now, but it still hurts to walk. I don’t know what I have, but I wish it would go away. At least I’m getting some reading done and finally starting on my taxes (I don’t usually wait this long to do them!). When I feel better I’ll write about the Belle & Sebastian concert, the Strokes concert, my Tragic Trip to Tilden, and the Day Spa from Hell.

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A Good Way to Waste Time

If you need a distraction, watch this video curtesy of my friend Whitney. And if anyone speaks German, we’d love to know what this kid is saying (beyond “Was ist das?”). And if you liked that one, watch this one, too. By the way, I’m having trouble uploading photos to my blog or I’d include one with this.

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Nothing Better To Do

Tonight I received an e-mail from a “John Smith” accusing me of spamming CraigsList, which was the result of my posting tutoring ads for the various subjects I teach – French classes, French tutoring, SAT tutoring, Writing tutoring, etc. Here is John’s e-mail: “I’m not sure about your tutoring skills, but you seem to be an “excellent” spammer. Please stop so the rest of us have a fair chance at getting our ads seen.” The last time I posted a CL ad was Feb. 13, but I guess that’s too often for John. Last month I also got a call from a woman who felt it was her duty to point out to me that there was a typo in one of my ads and that I had no business charging that kind of money if I couldn’t even proofread my own ads. Then, oh and by the way, how much did I make, did I get enough work to do that full time, etc. I kindly thanked the (crazy) woman for letting me know about the typo and told her that since she obviously had no interest in hiring me, I had to hang up the phone. Two months ago I had a woman on a sidewalk in Montclair yell at me for making a left turn into a parking spot, while the correct thing would have been to go to the end of the block, then do a u-turn and come back to the spot. Ever since that happened, I’ve gone to the end of the block and done the u-turn, and every time someone behind me has made a left turn into the spot before I could get to it. It seems that a lot of people have nothing better to do with their lives than to police others. Isn’t that sad. I wish you, John, and you, crazy woman, and you, police woman, find happier ways to spend your days than pointing out the faults of others.

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Crazy Ass Shit


Some of you know that what prompted me to start a blog last July was nearly getting hit by a SUV at Starbucks. At the time, I thought the driver was drunk or on drugs because he backed out of the store and sped away. Later, when I read about it in the Berkeley Daily Planet, I learned that the driver had “attacked” Starbucks and that he was taken to a mental hospital instead of arrested, which REALLY pissed me off. It’s quite terrifying to be sitting there wearing earplugs, trying to write a few more sentences of your book, when the windows and doors suddenly implode. (At first I thought a bomb had gone off on the sidewalk.) Recently, when I’ve walked past Starbucks, I’ve wondered why the guy did it and whatever happened to him. Well, last week I found out. My sister called me from Michigan one day to say, “You’re not going to believe this, but that guy who crashed into Starbucks is on Dr. Phil.” It turned out he has bipolar disorder and Dr. Phil was doing a show on bipolar disorder, including a reenactment of “Fred” crashing into Starbucks – right down the street from my house. And here is what Fred had to say:

“It was a choice between robbing a bank and going through a store.” It turns out that Fred hears voices, the voices of producers and directors telling him what Hollywood scenes to act out. That day he “was hearing a plethora of voices-mainly Al Pacino.” Fred, a pretty average looking 41 year old, somtimes thinks “that everywhere I look there’s a camera watching.” And when Fred doesn’t take his medicine, he sometimes has “episodes.” Those episodes have included stealing a cab and driving it to LA (which landed him in the hospital); dangling off the top of St. Peter and Paul cathedral in San Francisco, and crashing into Starbucks. “My life is one constant movie where people are following me,” he says. Now, you may wonder, why would Fred EVER choose NOT to take his medicine. Well, because life is pretty dull in the real world, not nearly as exciting as hanging out with Al Pacino and getting your face plastered all over TV – thanks for THAT Dr. Phil. On the one hand, I’m happy to know what really happened that terrifying morning in July. On the other hand, this guy got exactly what he wanted, to be on T.V., so what’s to prevent him from not taking his medicine again in order to provoke another episode so he can get on TV again? And there was NO mention on Dr. Phil of people in or near Starbucks that day. All the tables were full, people were waiting in line and my friend Alina was on the sidewalk with her baby in a stroller-on her way in. The only reason Fred didn’t kill anyone that day is because no one happened to be on their way in or out the door – or putting milk or sugar in their coffee at the condiment stand which is RIGHT NEXT TO the door. So Fred got lucky and guess what? He’s not only walking free, he’s driving free. What the hell is that guy doing with a driver’s license? Why isn’t he in jail? Another quote from Fred: “The reason why I chose not to take my medication was because I was acting for Hollywood.” And what does Dr. Phil tell him? We’re all rooting for you, Fred. You have a lot of support out there in the audience. Well guess what, Fred. I’M NOT rooting for you! Take your damn medication!

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Spring Break!

It’s Spring Break! I am SO excited to have a week off, even if my week “off” consists of wedding planning, doing my taxes and designing my final project for Book Binding. Today I slept in until 9:30, watched a movie, then very leisurely ran some errands – not the manic way I usually run errands as many as possible as quickly as possible – but slowly and leisurely, taking time to shop for things I need and browse for things I don’t need. It was heavenly not to have a deadline, not to have to be anywhere at any particular time. So even though I need to get my wedding dress fitted and do cake tastings and visit florists and design our invitations and find a musician and 89 other things, I also plan to take lots of hot baths, watch lots of movies, see Belle & Sebastian Monday night, see The Strokes Friday night, go snowboarding Saturday, and go wine tasting Sunday. Vive les vacances!

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Climbing the Walls


When I’m not climbing the walls at home, I like to climb the walls at Ironworks climbing gym in Berkeley. Although I’d climbed a few times back in 1998, I really started climbing in September, 2002, when my roommate invited me to go to Joshua Tree for Thanksgiving. I was a beginner climber at the time and went to the gym two or three times a week for at least two months before I even attempted a 5.10a. Last spring my goal was to climb a 5.12a in the gym, and I did (with several falls) although I lost my strength quickly when school got busy and I didn’t have time to go to the gym more than once a week. Now I’m struggling up 5.11a’s again. My outdoor goals have been more moderate – MUCH more moderate. Although I’ve toproped a few 5.11s, the hardest I’ve led is a 5.10a sport and a (pathetic) 5.5 trad. This summer I hope to lead a lot of 5.6s and maybe a 5.7 or two. I’m not ready yet for 5.8s. Leading trad scares the hell out of me and it’s just not worth breaking a few bones or losing your life to say, “Dude, I totally red-pointed that 5.8.” NOT worth it. But fear is an interesting thing. When I first started leading in the gym, I was terrified. Now when I lead, I find myself several moves about the last clip without even thinking about it. I become so focused on the next move that I forget that I could take a big fall, which is wonderful because the least frightening way to take a fall is not to know it’s coming. Then again, the worst thing that can happen in the gym is spraining my ankle pretty badly – which I did last spring – whereas outside you can really bust your head open. I’m intrigued by the psychology of fear, why we choose to put ourselves in fearful situations and why we such highs from cheating death. Overcoming my fears has definitely increased my confidence. I hadn’t led anything difficult in almost a year and hadn’t led at ALL since a trip to Yosemite last August. Then I committed to a trip to Red Rocks at the end of March and figured I’d better start to get in shape. Normally before a trip I top rope for at least a couple of weeks before getting up the nerve to lead, then I lead for a few more weeks before the trip. But there’s no time for that. I have two weeks to get ready and that’s it. So without any preparation, I led several .10s this week, and it was such a powerful feeling to just get out there and do it. I try to transfer that philosophy to my writing. Don’t think about it; don’t stress about it; just sit down and do it. The worst that can happen? You fall a few feet, get up, and start again.

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Where Have I Been?


At the Bindery! I was there until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, 1-4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, 8 to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, then again Wednesday morning to finish a project that was due Thursday. The result was this book. I still have to trim the pages that are sticking out of binding (oops), but it’s 95% done. Book binding has been an incredible amount of work – six hours in class every week and a project due every two weeks that takes 20-30 hours to complete. It’s so much fun, though. I love cutting, pasting and sewing (I LOVE the sewing part and it was so meditative sitting there sewing this book until 11:30 Tuesday night while listening to the local jazz station with two of my classmates. And I’m never the last to leave, even when I’m there until 1 a.m.! So far this semester we have learned the case binding, the hardcover binding, the coptic, the long stitch, the freestyle long stitch and now we’re learning how to make leather bindings that are rounded with ridges the way old-fashioned books were bound. The rounding was pretty easy and the ridges were just a matter of sewing hemp cord into the spine, but the leather is a pain in the ass. When we’re done, though, we’re going to make a box for it, do our final projects and be finished! For my final project I can pick one of three assignments. The one I’ve chosen (although I haven’t designed it yet and need to do so by the end of spring break) is a book within a book that somehow illustrates private space and public space. I can’t wait until final presentations because there are so many wonderfully creative people in the class. How fun to take an art class and do something other than type or wash dishes with my hands!

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