Saturday, May 31, 2008

Between the covers
Being a book slut, I naturally approve of anyone who has more books than blood cells. This Wall Street Journal article by Luc Sante admirably captures how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the books in your life. My favorite bit: "Books entered my house under cover of night, from the four winds, smuggled in by woodland creatures, and then they never left. Books collected on every surface; I believe that somehow they managed to breed."

For me books are are drug. They are my heroin. I physically cannot go into a bookstore and come out again empty-handed. Like a retriever on the scent I sniff the air and head eagerly towards the new releases section. I wander aimlessly through History, deciding that my knowledge of the Medici popes is sadly thin and I must rectify that weakness. I become unduly fascinated by biographies of people I've never heard of. "Wow," I'll say as I consume the summary on the back cover. "This woman invented the envelope and had an affair with the King of Bohemia. I must have this!" And I slip it under my arm while I look for more treasures, even though in a more rational moment I will wonder what the hell I was thinking buying a biography of some unknown women whose only claim to fame is as the mistress of a minor royal.

You see, that's my other problem. I'll buy a book, full of lust and optimism, and then get home and put it in my towering to-be-read pile. Then, a month later, when I'm looking for something to read, I'll pick it up and have no interest whatsoever in reading it. That's why I agree with Mr. Sante. I swear these books breed other books. Or they sneak it at night like tiny literary elves. Because I often pick up a book that I know I purchased and have absolutely no desire to read it. Why is that?

Perhaps books are like my shoes. I know the stereotype of women having 150 pairs of shoes. Surely they must occasionally fall madly in love with a pair of purple suede pumps that they determine they must have. Then, a few weeks later, they go into their closet and break forth with a "what was I thinking?"

So what am I thinking? Going back to the heroin analogy, I suppose I don't think. I crave. I need. It's a sad addiction for which I suppose I should seek a cure. What's the bookstore equivalent of methadone? A library, perhaps? In my case I think the only cure is to avoid bookstores. But that's hard to do. Here's my sad, sordid confession. Sometimes, late at night. When Husband is asleep. I .... now try not to judge me too harshly ... I visit Amazon. Or Barnes and Noble. Being able to shop for books at 4 am should be illegal.
Coming to a website near you
Husband and I saw the new Indiana Jones movie today. (It was OK.) But before the movie we had to sit through the obligatory 25 minutes of movie trailers. Which leads me to ask: when did it become necessary for all movies to have their own website?

I've noticed it for years, of course. Every movie ad on TV has a web address listed, but it just seems so silly. I've never gone to a movie website. Have you? Why? Going to a website is just doing their advertising for them. They can market to people with very little effort. In my case (and I admit I'm probably not their target audience) if there's a movie I want to see, I will -- without the website convincing me to do so. If there's a film I'm iffy about, I'm just not going to put in the effort - or waste my time - by voluntarily going to a page that's basically a big commercial.

The other thing that cracks me up are the addresses. When every film needs a website sooner or later they're gonna have to do some scrambling to come up with a URL that makes sense. If they'd had an Internet back in 1939, would we have all spent the months leading up to the premiere of Gone With the Wind visiting

It's really amazing how movie marketing has changed over the years. Oh yeah, and credits. Movie credit are now about 7 minutes long to ensure the set nurse and the caterer gets a mention. I watched some old movie the other night and it had one screen of cast, one screen for producer, director, screenplay and then one screen for the basic crew. That was about it. You could sit through all of the credits in about 1 minute flat. Now it seems that everyone even remotely connected with a film gets their name mentioned. I suppose it's nice for them. And I guess the union insists. But why does the audience have to sit through a credit for the star's personal assistant or all 47 people who worked on animation? I used to sit through credits all the way through at the end of a movie. No more. My the time the credits are done I'm out in my car and pulling out of the parking space.

Friday, May 30, 2008

How do parents do it?
Cipher, the World's Most Amazing Cat Screw You if You Don't Agree (tm) is sick. She's been throwing up most of the day and is very stand-offish, which is unusual for her. So we took her to the vet. He thinks she's fighting off an upper respiratory infection and that it's nothing too serious. But until the diagnosis came back, both Husband and I were worried sick. We had to wait 45-minutes while they took X-rays to make sure she hadn't swallowed anything and that was highly stressful.

How do parents do it when their kids are sick? I mean Cipher is as close as Husband and I will ever get to offspring. And to those who don't have pets believe me, they are definitely part of the family. I mean I honestly love Cipher more than I love some of my siblings. So wondering and worrying about her is natural when she's ill. But not having kids I can't imagine how stressful it is when one of them is sick or needs a doctor. (Mama D, you must have nerves of steel!)

Luckily Cipher home now. Still not herself, but they gave her some antibiotics (she has a fever of 104) and she does appear to be more alert that she was earlier today. And we have her X-rays and some additional info in case we have to take her to the emergency vet hospital tomorrow. But I'm exhausted just having spent an afternoon on pins and needles about our little girl.

Parents, you are all amazing.
Doodle for Google
Sometimes you just gotta love Google. Check out the finalists in the Doodle for Google contest. Kids from grades K-12 were asked to come up with a design for a Google logo around the theme of "What if...?" The winners are pretty danged cool.
Me and Peter Pan
In today's SF Chronicle, Carol Lloyd writes in her Surreal Estate column about young people who are basically choosing homelessness as a part-time option because they can't afford to buy real estate. (I'm not summarizing it well, but hey, it's 5 am -- I'm surprised I'm coherent enough to type.)

Anyway, in this article she makes the point: "In America, where society expects young adults to grow up, move out and make a life (or risk being ridiculed as "failing to launch,") our entire mythology of adulthood rests on access to affordable housing."

I think I love that line "entire mythology of adulthood." I have previously mentioned my severe case of house envy. While other women might crave motherhood and quick-step to the ticking of their biological clock, I crave walls that I can paint any color I want, kitchen cabinets I can resurface, and all the freedom that comes from actually owning where you live.

I know that home ownership brings with it more than its share of headaches. But as a life-long migraine sufferer, I'd love the chance to have a headache that actually gets me something I want. In all honesty my longing for a home borders on a depressing obsession. Depressing, because in the Bay Area buying a house is pretty much impossible unless: you get help from a rich relative; your Google options vest; you have a 2-income household where you both earn six figures and neither one of you has spent a penny in the past 10 years; you win the lottery; or, you buy a 500-square foot tool shed that you share with 9 other people.

None of the options, alas, apply to Husband and me. And so, houseless in wonderland, I haven't made that step to adulthood that Ms. Lloyd points out.

Perhaps that's while I can't believe I'm in my late 40s. I don't have any adult milestones. I have no kids. I have no house. I have no brilliant career. And when I think of people in their 40s, I see them in my mind in their SUVs, driving Trevor and Blythe to soccer practice and then home to their McMansion. When I think of me, I see someone who still doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up.

In many ways this "I can't be an adult, I don't have a house" mentality is real. That sort of nagging feeling that you have nothing to show for your years on earth. No visible sign of achievement. I suppose I could start walking around with my Master's thesis under my arm to prove that I have, at least, gotten out of my jammies on occasion. But I mourn the fact that I'll never have the one thing I really, truly want.

The house down the street from us is for sale at $1.6 million. $1.6 million!?!? It's a 1950s suburb special! There is no possible way that house is work that much money. In Topeka, or someplace sane (real estatingly speaking) it's a $300,000 house. Here it's an astronomical wonder. Hubble-worthy.

You know what phrase I absolutely hate? "Starter home." What the hell is that? Is it like sourdough starter? Do you put a little home in your fridge and wait for it to ferment? In my parent's day (I can't believe I just wrote that phrase), you did not buy a house with the firm intention of selling it in 5 years to buy a bigger house. You bought a house because you needed a place to live. What a concept! A house as a house -- not as an investment, a stucco college fund, or a retirement plan. And that shift -- from home to bank account -- is where everything began to fall apart.

If Husband and I could afford a house right now I'd wither want to buy the place where I've rented for 14 years (good lord) or someplace similar. I neither want nor need 18 foot ceilings, 4 bathrooms for 2 people, granite countertops, or a sauna. I just want a cozy little place where Husband, Cat, and I can relax. And I could easily see us never moving.

But I'm still a kid. The biggest symbol of adulthood continues to elude me and probably always will (unless we move, which I really don't want to do as all my stuff is here, as well as most of the people I love). My friends are all grown-ups. Most have kids, all have houses. Luckily they put up with my immaturity. And I keep tossing the real estate section of the Sunday paper into the recycle bin before it makes it into the house because why window shop when it'll just depress you? So until I win the lottery, get adopted by Google, or move to Peoria, it looks like I -- like Peter Pan -- will never grow up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Father's Day to a father I don't particularly like
That's what this gift says to me. The perfect present for someone with no taste from someone with even less. (I think I love the "Sculptural cannon announces each hour with the sound of cannon fire" part best. I mean who the hell would want this thing?

And speaking of gifts. A few years ago Husband, with typical generosity, went to some trouble to find me a purple leather wallet. You see I happen to love the color purple (though not so much the book of that name) and am especially fond of purple leather. But since I happen to look like a giant grape when I actually wear the color, I limit my fondness to accessories such as the aforementioned wallet. I've had several over the years, and each was pretty hard to track down. The one I have now, Husband found for me in Philadelphia. But, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the search for the next one will be easier.

Yes folks, all you need to do is visit The Purple Store for all your royalty-colored needs. Wow, there really is a website for everything, isn't there? I SO want this light:

No, really, I do. I really do.
Must be the drugs...
OK, I must have taken too many painkillers because I just saw this story about, well, Canada, and Burma, and um...oh hell, just read the story.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Tudors of the perfect teeth
Are you watching the Showtime series The Tudors? The second series is about to end (next week) and if you haven't started I suppose it might be a bit late to jump in.

However, if you ignore the questionable history and just watch it as a very well-dressed soap opera, it's rather fun. Truly, it's grown on me. I was dubious last season, the historian in me yelling impotently at the screen as they played fast-and-loose with the historial record. But this time around I've given up all hope of truth and have just wallowed. Yet there's one thing about the series that still has me amused:

Apparently everybody at the court of Henry VIII was beautiful. And everyone had perfect teeth.

If you haven't seen the show, you might want to check out the cast photos to see what I'm talking about. Henry himself, the corpulent and less than gorgeous much-married king is played by the far-too-attractive Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Granted that Henry was a bit of a rock star in his own day. And yes, he didn't start his reign as an overweight barrel of a man. But I sincerely doubt he was 21st century glam.

Compare the two above photos of Mr. Rhys Meyers and the Holbein portrait of the king. Rather different, aren't they?

And it's like that in the whole series. Every woman is stunning. Every man is a stud. Even the clergy are sexy. Hell, Peter O'Toole plays the pope! In spite of his advanced age, there are still glimpses of the dashing young Lawrence of Arabia in the man that make his popeness delicious. (OK, he was one of those carnal popes with sons and grandsons wandering around St. Peter's, but still!)

I can understand wanting eye candy for the leads. After all, people don't really turn in every week to see plain, overweight people getting it on. But do all of the extras have to be so damned attractive? Can't we have a serving man with a wart? An ambassador with a bit of a paunch? A lady-in-waiting who'll probably be waiting a very long time? There's not been a single person on the screen who didn't look like he or she came from the food court at the Malibu mall, rather than the royal court at Westminster. It's the most decorative cast in history. It's like London 90210.

And oh yes, apparently the Tudor court was the high water mark for British dental perfection. Straight, white, glorious teeth abound ... from the music masters to the executioners. I guess flossing was written into the English reformation.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Taunting the gods
I jinxed myself. I was congratulating myself on making it through two whole months (!) without a visit to the ER. Sure enough, Saturday at about midnight I started zarfing and yesterday morning found me and Husband back in ER for the 4th time this year. Woo hoo!

I'm OK. I got my usual two IVs of juice to counteract the dehydration, a shot of the anti-nausea stuff that does the trick and two (count 'em 2!) doses of delaudin (however it's spelled) to stem the back pain. Then back home to sleep all day and most of the night.

Today it's back to chicken broth and getting my strength back. I'm doing fine, just pissed that I had to drag poor Husband back to ER yet again. And even more pissed that our lousy health insurance means it's another grand down the drain to the emergency room folks. I have GOT to stop getting sick. If nothing else, we can't afford it.