Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another check-in blah blah blah....

I am so tired that it feels like a sickness. How did this happen? How was this week any different than the weeks before?

I know it all has to do with helping S out with Stefan. Twice this week it was after two in the morning before S got home. I talked to him yesterday about it, telling him I need to slow down and can't be over there that late more than once a week. The problem is, I very rarely am able to sleep during the day. So if I don't get enough sleep then I can't play catch up the next day by taking a nap.

I didn't sleep very well last night, or at least it took me a long long time to get to sleep. I wish I was one of those people who when they don't get enough sleep can just recuperate once their day gets going, but I've never been like that. If I don't get my right sleep then I'm wrecked.

I had really bad pain this week, fibromyalgia pain in my legs, wrists and shoulders. It was so bad over at S’s house that I could barely get up out of a chair. I broke down and took two aspirins and they usually don't help at all, but for some reason this time they really did. Stefan and I were playing hide and seek with toy guns, hiding from each other and chasing each other all over the house. That probably didn't help any.

I know that S doesn't really appreciate all the sewing that I do with Stefan. He would prefer if I took him to the park and did boy things. But Stefan loves to sew.

On Thursday I took him to Discount Fabrics and let him pick out the material for a super-power suit for Zelda, his mint-green hippopotamus. I showed him how to choose thread that matches the material. He picked out coiled gold buttons and a yellow zipper to go with the material.

I think the writing workshop went well this morning. There were about twelve of us, which is just about the right number for a workshop. I had them do two separate writes and we shared out at the end. I know I got a lot out of it, which leads me to believe that others did too.

Cindy called and she has a bad cold so we’re not getting together tomorrow. In a way I'm glad because it will give me more time to relax.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A blah blah blah check-in....

I have wanted to write all week but I've been busy taking care of Stefan. Today I had to myself and I was so tired that I’ve stayed inside all day and I'm beginning to feel human again.

The Academy Awards. Last Sunday was one of those days when not much was going to go right. I lit out for the restaurant in the rain, and when I got to the Balboa Theater there was no place to park. I parked blocks away, discovering that I had forgotten my umbrella and had to walk to the restaurant with my coat over my head, my shoes squishing in puddles of water.

Before I got to the restaurant BB called and said she would be a couple of hours late and to just buy her a ticket. Then I get to the restaurant and K calls the restaurant saying that she has some kind of garage door problem. At this point I just accepted that the day was jinxed.

BB never made it and K was late and I sat through the Academy Awards in soaking wet shoes. Sometimes things just don't go the way you want them to go. I was happy though that Sean Penn won best actor, and happy that the movie got best screenplay.

Some good things have happened this week. A woman answered my Craig’s List ad. She's French, will be here for another two months, and sounds eager to meet me. She's studying English somewhere in Fisherman's Wharf. Hopefully we will be able to get together this week. She suggested that we each spend an hour helping each other, which sounds fine to me.

And…. Next Friday afternoon I am going to meet M, who is going to help me with my research for my novel. I'm going to read a chapter to her and she's going to tell me if this particular thing that I'm writing about sounds real to her. I'm a little nervous reading my work to someone I don't even know, but my excitement overrides my nervousness.

On Sunday Cindy is coming over and we are going to photograph each other. The word that we use with each other is “photoshoot.” We pretend that we are bigshot photographers the way we talk. It's fun! I liked the photoshoot I did of J, but I still haven't gotten her permission to go public with the the photos and so I need to wait until I talk with her.

Tomorrow I am leading a writing workshop at Unity Day and I prepared for it this evening. The only part I don't like is that I have to get up early -- well, I have to get up at nine o'clock in the morning, and that's early for me. I'm looking forward to it -- I just don't like the idea of having to go to bed early and get up early.

I got a CD from the library that I'm enjoying listening to. It's called Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypus and it's a Southern story with a 12-year-old heroine. I love Southern writing, the Southern voice, that quirky language. The heroine is really likable because she's loyal and honest and has these really good values.

Peggy came over on Tuesday night and I read her the last three chapters of my novel. She actually was crying because she was so happy for me, that I was able to bring the character's home, so to speak. It meant a lot to me that she was so emotional, and it gave me a lot of confidence. In truth, I could hardly read it to her without crying myself. The ending is just very poignant, and I feel really proud to have written it. I'm still working on editing Part Two, and it's taking me longer than Part One. I hadn't expected this. I thought it would be pretty easy. Part Five is already pretty solidly written, so after I finish Part Two then I only have Part Three and Part Four and I'm done. It's hard to believe!

It's a horrible time to try and get a book published with the economy the way it is, but you know what -- I don't even care about that. I just need to finish it. That's where my concentration is right now.

This entry feels like a catch-up entry. Looking back over it, I realize that a lot is happening in my life right now. I'm very very very very excited about the prospect of meeting this new French woman. It's something I've wanted for so long -- to actually get to talk to somebody in person. It's so hard to learn a language when there's nobody around to speak it with.

Tonight I watched an American film with French subtitles. What do I remember? I remember the words “dites-le moi” which I think means “tell me about it.” And “donnez-leur” which I think means “give them…” what else? Oh, Frederic sent me a link to a French broadcast and it's fun listening. Language is so weird. When I speak, I talk so fast and don't even realize that I'm doing it. But then when I listen to French speakers it's so amazing how quickly they talk. We both do it, speaking at lightning speed.

I have to go to bed now so I can get up early. I feel a little bit like I'm being punished. These are my favorite hours. Oh well….

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Year's Oscars...

Okay, here are my predictions for this year's Academy Awards:

Best Picture – Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actress -- Kate Winslet
Best Actor – Mickey Rourke
Supporting Actress – Viola Davis
Supporting Actor -- Heath Ledger
Art Direction -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Cinematography -- Slumdog Millionaire
Costume Design -- Revolutionary Road
Best Director -- Slumdog Millionaire
Film Editing -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Make-up -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Music -- Slumdog Millionaire
Best Song -- Slumdog Millionaire
Sound Editing -- The Dark Knight
Visual Effects -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Writing Adapted Screenplay -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Writing Original Screenplay -- Milk

Friday, February 20, 2009

"This Is the Hungry Poisonous Forest" -- Stefan, 6 yrs. old

Each week Stefan gets fourteen new vocabulary words and he has to write each word three times and then use the words in sentences together. This week, three of his words were hungry, forest, and poisonous. Pretty big words, I might add, for first grade.

"How does this sound, Ahna?” We were both sitting at the dining room table at my son's house and he was doing his homework. He scooted over his paper and that was when I read: This is the hungry, poisonous forest.

I felt his love for words. He is like me. He is a writer.

Earlier that day, when I picked him up from school, he had been sitting in the courtyard with the other kids and it was snack time. The kids were all eating oranges and animal cookies. "I'm drinking the orange’s blood," said my little Pablo Neruda, sucking on an orange wedge.

He says things like this all the time. Because he's a child he views things in a fresh, tilted way. He lives inside of a language box that is creative and fun.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's in Your Purse???

What's inside of your purse? On, this was one of the questions put to female photographers. They emptied their purses and took a picture of its contents, all except for their cameras.

So here's what's inside of my purse:

1. a small black shiny cell phone
2. a beanie baby elephant that belongs to Stefan
3. a pair of overly large black sunglasses with one of the temples broken
4. small gold Post-it notes
5. Burt's Bee’s lip balm
6. loose change
7. a yellow highlighter pen
8. an article on fibromyalgia that a friend gave me
9. an estimate of how much it would cost me to get my teeth fixed
10. a letter from Social Security
11. an old envelope
12. a fortune from a fortune cookie that reads, "There is a prospect of a thrilling time ahead of you."
13. a spiderman band-aid
14. a blue pen
15. a deck of playing cards
16. a fortune from a fortune cookie that reads, "Your work interests can capture the highest status or prestige."
17. a packet of Eater's Digest herbal tea
18. old Kleenex
19. an emery board
20. eyedrops
21. a plastic bottle of vitamins
22. a package of rechargeable batteries
23. a large rubber band
24. a piece of paper with Cindy's recommendations for sunscreen written on it
25. ticket stubs
26. an Elmo band-aid
27. the words to Benjamin Biolay’s CD "Negatif”
28. an old class schedule at Alliance Francaise
29. the public library schedule
30. napkins
31. the swimming pool schedule for Rossi Pool
32. the ballot for the Oscar contest
33. the fortune from a fortune cookie that reads, "Good news will come to you from far away."
34. a broken pen
35. aspirins that have spilled from their case that has come open
36. the broken temple that belongs to my sunglasses
37. a piece of paper with a phone number on it but no name
38. my journal
39. the book, Seeking a Spiritual Life
40. a book of poetry
41. two novels
42. my black velvet makeup case with the gold roses and gold tassel, and inside of it is a lipstick called Spritz; a lipstick called Mocha Bean; a lipstick called Baby Girl; more eyedrops; eyeshadow called Gold Leaf; a lip liner brush; a lipstick called Transparent; a lipstick called Grape Purple; a lipstick called Shell...
43. my camera inside an old fuzzy blue sock
44. my gold leather wallet filled with credit cards, library card, business cards, my Muni pass, pictures of Stefan and Sasha and Raquel and Grant and Kayla, a five dollar bill and four ones, receipts from grocery stores and gas stations and restaurants, my checkbook, my check register, $.71 in change
45. a fortune from a fortune cookie that reads, "You and your wife will be happy in your life together."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

An Anthropological Look at finding a San Francisco Parking Space

Yesterday I went to see Rachel Getting Married because Anne Hathaway is nominated for a Best Actress award at the Academy Awards. BB, K and I drove down to congested Polk and California Streets with the idea that we would find street parking and not have to take out a second mortgage to pay to park in a lot.

It wasn't easy. As we drove around like vultures we recounted to each other how different cultures react to finding difficult parking spaces in the city. The one I love the most is when an entire Asian family stands in the newly found parking space, holding it captive while the driver turns around or goes around the block to jockey into position. If you want that space don't even think about it b/c you'll have the entire family, all of them stern-faced and unbudging, to contend with.

K recalled how some inner-city black folks will stand in the parking space trying to sell it to you -- and yes, this has happened to me South of Market. I asked them if they had ever had the experience in the Castro where a gay man will steal the space right out from under you, zoom right into it, get out of their car and simply shrug their shoulders like too bad. K says maybe it's because they've had to put up with so much homophobia all their lives and they are now on home turf, in the Castro, and they are doing what they want and you can't stop them. Looking at it this way, I almost want to give them my parking space...

Parking culture. One of my favorites is the driver with the huge hog of an old American car who, spying the coveted parking space, swings a slow U-turn in the middle of the block and ties up the Muni bus while they inch this way and that to get into position, the Muni driver honking and gesturing at them. Of course I make illegal U-turns too in the middle of the block, but I have a small car and can do it a lot faster....

Or the situation where you're walking down Geary at a busy restaurant time and people roll down their windows and yell at you from their cars wanting to know if you're walking to your car and can they have your space.

Or the angry older folks who get in their cars and make you wait ten minutes while they get ready to leave, power-tripping you into frustration.

Or the person who gets in their car and makes you wait ten minutes for the space, then decides they're not quite finished shopping after all....

Or the Russians in my neighborhood who double-park in the street waiting for a space to become available....

So, the three of us descended upon Polk and California Streets on a busy Valentine's Day, Saturday night, K driving, BB riding shotgun, and me the back-seat-driver:

"There's one, there's one, there's one!!" I yell at K as I spy an unlikely space in an alleyway off of Polk. "Come on come on come on!!!! Hurry hurry hurry hurry! Back up back up back up back up!!!!!"

"Shit Eliza, I can't! There's a pick-up truck behind me! He's not going to let me. Besides, it's a one-way street!"

"It doesn't matter!" I yell. "No one's coming! You can do it!"

K is afraid of the pick-up truck and doesn't risk it so I tell her to come on, circle the block, but we all start laughing. K says people become birds of prey when looking for a SF parking space, that it becomes a survival issue, and yes, I can feel it....

We finally find a space on Polk mid-way between California and Sacramento Streets but not before someone pulls up in front of us trying to steal it and we start yelling at them, except for BB who is the most positive person in the world and doesn't unleash her inner criminal....

We get out and head for Bob's Big Boy at the top of the block. K says she likes eating at Bob's b/c it's such a depressing place and nobody expects too much of you when you eat there. And it's true. They even let us play Crazy Eights while we kill time after the meal
waiting for the movie to start.

The movie. OK, so Anne Hathaway is very good but the characters are so darn unlikeable. Not her, but her sister and her mother. It's so painful watching Kym (AH) in her ninth month of sobriety, let out of rehab for the wedding (what insurance plan in the United States of America lets someone stay in rehab for nine months and counting???) and trying to manage her emotions in this highly-charged situation. Her successful sister is getting married, is pregnant, is going for her Ph.D. Their mother is a denial queen about a tragedy that's happened in the past. The father, sweet as he is, cannot reach her. You just want to get her out of there and back into rehab before she screws up her life even more. I'd give the movie a C, maybe a C+. I didn't like it.

Only one more week until the Academy awards. Only one more Saturday night before the Balboa Theatre opens its doors to televise it on the big screen...

Friday, February 13, 2009


It rained so hard last night I thought the sky had died. It went on and on and on. I love emotional weather and we rarely get that here.

I went swimming yesterday after not going for 2 or 3 months. The only way I could make myself go was to agree to meet BB there. I don't like getting up so early -- 10 a.m. -- and then rushing somewhere just to get undressed and jump into cold water. The thing is, though, I always feel sooo good afterward. So silky and tall, so long and smooth.

Today I'm going to talk to E at 2 p.m. and then meet R, M & L at Kam's at 6:30. M wants help with his computer. I have my own computer problems as I keep getting these virus alerts. But I think it may be fixed as I ran some kind of program to get rid of them.... Half the time I don't know what I'm doing.

I am so tired today from watching St for the last 3 days. Last night I was looking forward to him going to bed without taking a bath but he realllly wanted one, plus he begged me to read him 3 books while he was in the bathtub. I wished someone would read books to me while I took a bath!

I could wring his teacher's neck for telling him he is a slow reader. He really took it to heart. He always tells me how he's good in spelling and math, but he can't read very well. So I made up a lie. I told him of course reading was difficult for him. That's because he hadn't lost all four of his front teeth yet, and for boys, once they lose all 4 front teeth reading becomes easy for them.

So he lost the fourth of his front teeth on Monday. I told him okay, reading is going to be easier for you now. (Secretly I prayed I wasn't making a big mistake...) So we sat down and read and he pretty much read as usual but the thing was, he had more confidence and he was more willing to sound out words and try harder. I told him see, see how much easier it was for you, and then on Wednesday night he pretty much read "Glasses for D.W." all by himself. The thing is, he is getting better little by little. He just needs to go at his own pace without people telling him he's too slow.

Okay, I need to get up. The wheels of the day are turning. The sky is bright again. I'm looking forward to editing my novel....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Check-in on my writing, etc. etc.

Tonight has been a lot of fun b/c I'm not laboriously editing the content of the chapter -- ie... re-writing scenes where I'm pulling my hair out, dark thoughts creeping into my mind assuring me that I'm not a novelist, I never will be blah blah blah -- but rather working on tightening up the writing. I'm using this book called Naming the World to help me and it's a collection of exercises, many of which deal with revision and all of which are fun to do.

The exercise I did tonight is from the chapter called "Hiding the I in Fiction and Non-fiction." Apparently it's not a good thing to overuse the word I in first-person fiction but rather to describe a scene, keeping the I out of it. So you go through a page and circle each time you write the word I, then try to get rid of one fourth of those dastardly I's by combining sentences or showing rather than telling. This kind of thing is right up my alley b/c I'll do almost anything to not have to think, to not have to deal with characters who refuse to show up or dull settings that won't come to life. Just let me count the I's and I'll be happy.

It's after 2 am and I need to go to bed b/c I'm talking to Frederic in the morning, although it will be evening for him in France. It is so much easier for him to talk to me in English than it is for me to speak to him in French. He's two years ahead of me in studying the language, plus he has opportunities at his work to speak English every day and the last time I did a poll of the Richmond District I didn't find any French people hanging about.

It's a brain-drain. I can't really do much of anything when I get off of Skype because my mind is so tired from translating words that I can barely remember my name. I'm in a daze for a good hour.

I've got this crazy idea that if I can just learn how to roll my R's, then French people will be able to understand me. My hairdresser speaks French and she never knows what I'm saying. I have to spell it out for her.... But then she's Thai and I don't really understand her English all that well either.

Tomorrow night I'm going over to Peggy's to write together and that's always so helpful, having her listen to whatever I'm working on. It takes a village...

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Il y a du brouillard. It is foggy. I'm not sure if I'm spelling that right. Grey sky, grey air, grey day.

Lazy day. I'm just taking a break from editing my novel. Sitting on my bed, heat blasting into my bedroom, tea by my side. I have to leave in a few hours, but for right now everything is so peaceful and serene. Coocon-like.

I haven't been thinking about last night's movie at all. Slumdog Millionnaire. That tells me that even though I thought it was a good movie, it wasn't great for me.

I am excited about doing a photo shoot of J. She doesn't see herself as a goddess the way I do. She doesn't see her luminous skin. I don't think she knows she is beautiful. And she is very very beautiful.

Today I ate some kiwi and raisins and basmati rice and salmon and organic kale. I liked the colors all together. They were color-coordinated, like an outfit. Earrings, shoes, dress, hat, gloves.

I am going to read this chapter to someone who helped me with the research. I'm hoping I don't have to change too many things.

We are moving. The Saturday meditation group is officially moving now to a church 2 blocks away. The old building needs to be earthquake proofed. The earthquake was in 1989. Things move slowly around here...

Journal Write: Write about the joyous moments of your day....

Okay, so tonite I was out to dinner with BB and K. As usual, I brought out my digital camera and started taking pictures of them, and they took pictures of me. But all my pictures turned out really bad and so did theirs. That's when we decided to only take bad pictures. We purposefully tried to look awful in our pictures. We were laughing pretty hard. The people at the table next to us seemed to be getting off on our laughter. We had silly energy.

I notice that when I'm with K I always end up laughing a lot. She's got outrageously big energy and she's irreverently funny. There's something about her that gets me in touch with my silly side. How do people do that?

Mike also has that big irreverent kind of silliness that invites people in. He's fun. Maybe it's the irreverent part. He doesn't care what anybody thinks and so I stop caring too.

I love that pure joy of laughing over stupid things, when something goes loose inside of you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Journal Write: Write about someone who influenced your day today... (well, yesterday)

Tuesday I went to the de Young Museum with Rebecca. I am definitely not a culture vulture but now and then I end up at something cultural... It's good for me.

The main exhibit was a collection of clothing designed by Yves St. Laurent, who died in 2008. We entered a roomful of svelte, bald, styrofoam-white mannequins who were clustered together like at a cocktail party. They were dressed up in wool to taffeta, gloved, strappy-sandaled, with corniucopia-large earrings.

R and I strolled with the others through the dimly-lit rooms, taking it all in. On a placard on the wall we read that St. Laurent had been a shy man. Interesting, since his clothing designs were anything but shy.

St. Laurent. Rooms full of look-at-me hats and feather-friendly capes, of Carrie Bradshaw sandals, of sequined extroverted fabric. And the shy man, not that outgoing at all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

All women are misfits. We do not fit into this world without amputations... -- Marge Piercy

This is so true. As women we are continually expected to cut off our parts in order to fit in. In America, girls must shrink themselves down into a peanut-sized version of themselves in order to get positive attention.

One of my black male friends said he couldn't get his mind around white society, how if you were fat you were deemed unlovable, that this didn't happen with black folks. In black society you were seen as fat, but never unlovable. But in white society the fat girl is criticized and shunned.

Fat girls.

We have such an aversion to the beauty of curves, to heft, to womanliness, to abundance. We are so frightened by it. And there is nothing so sexy as a fat girl who does not apologize, a fat girl who likes her body and likes herself.

(This is one of the reasons why I love browsing on, a site that is filled with a multitude of joyously hedonistic, riotously wonderful fat girls who take photo after photo of themselves without a hint of apology. Their photographer's eye has captured their beauty, they see themselves as a work of art -- they are at once the artist and the model, the artist and the muse.)

When I was younger I felt so much pressure to be thin. But now, now that I am almost 62, that pressure has dissipated. Now my amputation is that I'm invisible.

A week ago I was waiting in line at Rite Aid when a teenaged girl cut in front of me, seemingly unaware of my presence. "Excuse me," I said to her, "but I'm in line."

She looked at me as if I'd just parachuted onto the scene. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't see you." The thing is, I believed her.

Amputations. I am thinking of all the diets, the uncomfortabe high heels, the foot bindings and other calls to beauty. That's why the self-loving woman is such a rare bird. She has managed her escape. She has escaped into the beauty of her simple self.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Movie "Frost / Nixon"

Today I went to see the movie Frost/Nixon about the David Frost interviews of Nixon after he was impeached. It was your classic Greek tragedy where the hubris-headed hero falls from grace, and Bush, of course, came to mind...

Megalomaniac Nixon was completely out of touch with the American people. He believed that as president he sat above the law, and had little remorse for his actions.

David Frost interviewed Nixon on four separate occasions, and it was in the last interview that he succeeded in getting get Nixon to take some responsibity, admitting that he had let the American people down. All I could think about was how lucky Nixon was to be brought to this place -- we all carry around shame -- and what a favor Frost did him in getting him to in some way say he was sorry.

Shame. Mistakes. Letting people down.

There is nothing like a public shaming when the whole wide world is watching. How do you deal with that, how can you be inside of Nixon or Bush or other fallen leaders and be shamed in front of the world?? How do you hold onto your sanity, other than by deluding yourself?

There is something magical about saying "I'm sorry. I was wrong." This is all I have wanted from people who have hurt me, and by saying I was sorry it is the only way I have been able to let go of my own shame.

In the end Nixon privately admitted to Frost that he didn't really like people all that much, and he found it odd that he ended up in a job where you needed people-skills. I always got the feeling that Bush didn't really like people, that he tolerated us because he had no other choice. Being president is a funny thing. The job-description calls for mythic qualities, but I guess we're all just human after all.