Thursday, July 31, 2008
I am about to be forced into a significant pay cut (gouge).
The Governator has decided that, since the Legislature has failed to deliver the budget on time, he will cut state employee salaries to the state minimum wage, $6.55 an hour, effective tomorrow.
This is a bullshit tactic that will fail to produce a budget. It will fail to push the Legislature to tow the governor's line. It will do nothing but shake employee confidence in an already shaky state system. It will cause further hysterics in an already hysterical economy. It will prompt more foreclosures in an already frenzied housing market. It will hopefully destroy Schwarzenegger's political career. It will make me drink heavily. Right now. While I still have some cash.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Ever since my senior year of college, when an early Sunday morning phone call heralded the very sudden death of my roommate's father, I've been leery of ringing phones. In my 31 years, they have delivered way too much bad news. And phones that ring at odd hours make my heart pound and my blood pressure spike. And when my land line rings I am especially concerned, as this is the emergency line for my family, and it's the only way to reach me in the middle of the night, after I've turned off my cell.
Last night, the call from my brother was mostly unusual because he's often asleep before my day ends. But this time he didn't just call to chat. He called because he was scared; scared that my dad, battling a vicious case of post-radiation shingles, was in so much pain that he wanted to go to the hospital. My dad never wants to go to the doctor, and during this whole year-long ordeal he has rarely complained about being uncomfortable, so my brother had legitimate cause to be worried.
We talked for awhile, he told me he'd call me (on my land line) if my parents did go to the ER, and we hung up. I was in bed 20 minutes later when my home phone rang, and I figured this was an update that my parents were on their way to the hospital. I almost answered, "Hey, Bill."
But the woman on the other end of the phone had an Indian accent. And she was calling from Chase. I chastised her for calling after 9 pm. I believe I called her late-night solicitation unacceptable. And then I hung up, still concerned about my dad, but now pretty pissed off too.
Bill didn't call again, though my parents made a midnight trip to the ER. Dad's fine, but in pain from a virus that will need weeks or months of recuperation. He has better pain medication now, and, when I talked to my mom this afternoon, it sounded like he was taking a much needed nap.
Monday, July 28, 2008
But I walked. I knew I didn't have the stamina for the stairs, so I went up the hill, through the Presidio, and down the hill near the Letterman Hospital. Standing there, by the bus stop, was a very lost family. They brandished their map at me and the father of this brood asked, in somewhat broken and very accented English, for help. He needed to find Union St. and the 45 bus.
I was headed in the same direction, so after a futile attempt at giving them directions, I offered to walk with them. He translated our conversation into French for his family, they assented, and off we went. They were understandably confused about the Presidio; they were staying in a home within the former base, and couldn't figure out why all the houses looked the same. I wondered if they'd showed up at the wrong door once or twice during their visit.
I explained that the Presidio used to house soldiers and their families, and that the former hospital building we were walking past was now home to LucasFilms. This earned a very lengthy conversation in French with his family, and excited responses from his wife and kids, and a brief moment in which I wished I studied French instead of Spanish.
"Can we visit?" he asked.
"I don't know."
"We could go in and ask. I can tell them we'd like to see things. Perhaps they will let us look around."
But LucasFilms was not their destination this morning. We exited the Lombard Gate, and I gave them directions to Union St. They thanked me in at least two languages, and as I turned to walk away, the father called after me, "Maybe we will see you next time in Paris?"
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I'm still processing everything, but maybe I hadn't quite hit on the significance of this weekend: BlogHer was one of the best experiences of the past several years. It was the perfect thing at the perfect time and with the perfect people for me right now. And it truly altered my perspective on my craft and, possibly, my future.
The fact that I'm a little discontent in my job right now isn't much of a secret. I'm not sure if I'm unhappy with the unfamiliar subject matter, the work environment, or just a case of job blahs. I'm not entirely sure what change I'd make if I had the opportunity for one, but I know that I never want to go back to print journalism. The medium is struggling and the job is way more physically and emotionally intense than I desire. But I've always thought of what I do here, and what other bloggers do, as less than legitimate media. Until this weekend.
During a panel moderated by Maggie Mason, she mentioned that she liked the electronic medium, and would probably never permanently return to print. My brain briefly skidded to a halt as a light went on and I realized that, somewhere along the way, while I've been resisting with my newsprint-covered hands, electronic media outlets have become legitimate. Granted, there's a ton of crap out there too, but rumor-mongers and media whores exist in print and on television also.
When I started writing professionally, the Internet was this suspicious creature trying to get in through the back door. Nobody thought it would last and nobody really understood the impact it would have on the world. And all of us writing for newspapers felt a little threatened, if we were smart. The rest just refused to believe that anything electronic could ever take the place of the daily newspaper, splayed across the table next to bagels and coffee.
I've read a daily newspaper every day since I started reading, though recently I do all of my reading online. I love the smell of the paper and the ink on my hands and the way in which I feel a tangible connection to the stories I read. But I've been writing for electronic media for several years, both professionally and personally. And I only just came to the realization that I may have a future out there in cyberspace that is larger than this personal blog.
I'm not quite sure what to do with this yet. But for today, knowing that I have some options is enough.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Last year at this time my dad was in the hospital, just starting to navigate life with prostate cancer. He's rallied really well, for which I am so incredibly grateful. His radiation treatment is finished, and despite the current virus that's attacked his weak immune system, he's doing ok. We won't know for awhile how successful radiation has been, but the early signs point to some cautiously optimistic results. And even though he's in a lot of pain this week, at least he's not spending two consecutive birthdays in the hospital.
My sister has had a rough 27th year, but you can read more about that here. I can't offer her much, except to say that 28 will definitely be better, if only because it can't get much worse. And she'll presumably have some sort of birthday cake this week, and cake can fix anything.
Happy birthday Dad! Happy birthday Steph!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
My entire BlogHer experience was just tremendous, and I learned so much that I can't wait to share. I was truly overwhelmed by all of the amazing women I met, women who are doing fantastic things and are fun to talk to and are really, really smart. It was an empowering weekend and I can't wait for next year, when perhaps I will drink a little less and sleep a little more.
The overarching theme of the weekend for me was the cautions required for naked blogging - what any one of us does when we put part of ourselves out on the Internet for strangers to see. It's a big risk, but one I've always considered safe in comparison to other risks I've taken. I think now I see the other side.
I started this blog as a place to relate events of my life to friends living on the East Coast. My readership is pretty small, and I value each one of you. But I also know each one of you personally, and I know that you have the utmost respect for me and for this medium. I've always considered blogging much safer than my former career in newspapers. Here, I have the control over what I say, how I say it, and how I release it. And in reality, I'm sharing only a very small part of myself. And if somebody responds in a way that is hurtful, I can hit the delete key. In the three years I've been writing here, I've never once had to contemplate that.
As a reporter, I was very accessible to my audience. My name, phone number, and email address were published under most articles I wrote, and many people took the time to call or write or stop me on the street to complain about something I'd written that they didn't like. Once I even had my tires slashed, and though I can't say for certain this act was linked to an article that ran on the front page of the newspaper, all indications pointed to more than a coincidence. Luckily, slashed tires were as far as it went, but I was a little scared.
Here, I'm not scared at all. I'm not concerned about nasty emails or phone calls, and I have no fear of any sort of physical retribution. But I heard stories this weekend from people who were afraid, and whose writing inspired great anger and irrational behavior on the part of others. So they stopped writing, or at least stopped making their thoughts public.
Closing down this space is unthinkable to me. It would be physically painful, and I would lose a part of my life I'm not sure that I could live without. I've got a good grasp on libel law, and have always been very careful with how I write about others, but these conversations were eye-opening. And while I don't think they will change how or why I write here, they might give me pause before I next put my fingers on the keyboard.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Today's events include the BlogHer speed dating ice breaker session - an hour of 30-second chats with other bloghers (blogsher?); I'm not quite sure. I've got my brief "what do you do?" speech prepared (turns out my original one was a little too esoteric, and many thanks to the ladies I had dinner last night for their help) and I've got my camera. And the business cards. I think I'm ready.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
As we're singing, I have a direct sight line to the bride. But every time I look in her direction I start to cry. She told me later that she was watching me watch her, and I made her cry too.
And here's Marilyn, being simultaneously accosted by Joel and Sherry. She looks a little scared, but it's ok, they're all friends now.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The good news is a friend will get the gossip on his current relationship situation. I'm pretty sure he's single, but it's always good to be sure BEFORE I make a fool of myself.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I first started doing this on Wednesday, and I did really well until the tapas and Sangria. Thursday was the same, and Friday and Saturday were so brutal as to go undocumented. But the wedding cake and wine were fabulous! I'm serious now, though, and I promise to post the worst eating days here for your amusement.
I've also started training for the Bridge to Bridge 12K race on October 5. I took my first training walk today. I was out for an hour and a half on a route through Pacific Heights, down the Fillmore Steps to the Marina District, and up by way of the Lyon St. Stairs. I covered close to four miles. I can still bend down, and my back doesn't hurt, so I think I'm ok.
The one flaw of this training plan is that I'll be doing most of my walking on my own, and I get kind of bored with myself after about two hours of walking. My training buddy has had to drop out of the race because of other commitments. Anybody want to join me?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Me: "He asked me for my number, and I couldn't think of a reason not to give it to him, so I did."
B: "What did he look like?"
Me: "He was young looking and he was wearing a beret."
B: "A beret?"
Me: "Well, not exactly, but a smaller hat-type thing."
B: "Never give your number to guys who wear hats. Never date guys who wear hats."
B: "Because they're probably gay. And did he call you?"
B: "See, never give your number to guys who wear hats."
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Until tonight. Tonight I went to celebrate a coworker's birthday, and the four of us had a blast. I'm sorry to say no vast hours were lost as a result of the pitchers, but I think we've crossed the line from colleagues to friends, and we had a terrific time.
And when held up against the muscle relaxers, the Cha Cha Cha sangria and good company are way more effective in curing anything that ails me. Obviously, lest anyone worry, I indulged in the Sangria without the muscle relaxers. And I'll be bringing electrolyte replacement tablets to work tomorrow, to aid the birthday girl and anyone else who may be hurting as a result of tonight's activities. Happy Birthday E!!
Last night was just one brief example. Several of us were together in our choir room for a rehearsal. Not just any rehearsal, but to run through the music for this Friday's wedding of two choir members who are also good friends. As former choristers rolled in and introductions were made, our evening went from a calm and (mostly) serious rehearsal to a gossipping and catching up free-for-all. There was the announcement of a friend's engagement and the requisite yelling and screaming over that. We had an intense conversation about who was wearing what and how we could dress to avoid clashing; and a few side conversations about new and old relationships and the wedding color theme and where we were all staying for this event. For about 10 minutes, the three guys on the scene were completely irrelevant. The girl power in that room was overwhelming.
I'm not quite sure why I was so struck by this last night, but the energy in that room overwhelmed me, and it's driven me through a very challenging day today. Girl power rocks!
Monday, July 07, 2008
I got to the front desk and was yelled at for not being there early enough to fill out the paperwork. I tried to get there half an hour early, but was only 20 minutes early because the person on the phone told me to go to the wrong part of the building, and I spent about 10 minutes winding my way through the third floor. I paid my $15 copay; the desk clerk handed me the paperwork and pointed out that most pages were double sided.
I sat down and noticed that the rest of the waiting room was filled with seriously crazy people, and one couple who I'm pretty sure were recovering addicts of some sort. Their insurance had just expired, and they were deciding not to get their regular treatment. Kudos to them for trying to get help, but I felt more than a little out of place in this environment.
I filled out all the paperwork. Most of it dealt with substance abuse issues (how frequently did I drink or do drugs; which drugs did I partake in and how often; did I lose relationships because of my drug use; did my substance abuse result in periods of lost memories? Was I planning my suicide or thinking that people in my life were better off without me?). Since I don't have a substance abuse problem and I'm really not suicidal I got through it all pretty quickly. The psychotherapist called me in, and in reviewing my chart and paperwork he asked about my drinking habits and any substance abuse issues.
"I'm an endurance athlete, I'm really don't have any substance abuse problems. I'm here for grief counseling."
We talked about my hiking, and after he unsuccessfully tried to convince me that hiking isn't an endurance sport because there's no competition, we got down to business. Sort of. I tried to explain how stressed I've been with work and family stuff, and how my hostility toward the world caused me to call for a counseling session. He didn't really seem to get it. He asked some pointless questions (was there ever any verbal or physical abuse within my family? Isn't this whole experience hardest on my mom? How are my brother and sister reacting?) before offering me the option of the work stress support group, which meets twice a week. At lunch time. In a building 40 minutes from my office. He also offered me information on the bereavement support group, but when I asked about the demographic of the group and its schedule, he couldn't answer my questions.
He said he was sorry for my loss and we parted ways. He wanted to schedule another appointment, but could only offer something four or five weeks out, and without my calendar, I didn't want to commit to anything. I won't follow up on the appointment. I've been in therapy before, and it can be a wonderful experience. This was definitely not wonderful; in fact, it just made me mad, and I've been much less mad lately. I'm feeling so much better this week, and my time is better spent working out my feelings in writing, and my money would have been way better spent on dinner with friends.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I stretched my glutes, hamstrings, and calves, and worked out my lower back a little before moving into a plank. I don't know what happened, but I have never before been in so much pain. I briefly saw stars, and I got nauseous and a little scared. And I was kind of stuck on the floor. In the gym. Surrounded by strangers.
I managed to get myself up without causing too much pain, and since I could walk without a problem, I left the gym and returned home to some ice packs and Aleve. When I realized that I was in too much pain to sit down, and since standing forever seemed out of the question, I called the Kaiser advice nurse, and was seen by a sports medicine doctor within a few hours. My lower back muscles seem to be in spasm, and I've got stretches and an icing regimen that will hopefully have me sitting comfortably in a few days. I also have some pretty good drugs, which have already stopped the worst of the pain and discomfort. Now if only I could bend down far enough to pick up some things off the floor. The last thing I need right now is to slip on my socks and land on my ass. It already hurts enough.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Taken from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Jules Tygiel loved history and he loved baseball.
Putting his two passions together, the San Francisco State University professor became one of the country's leading experts on the game and its role in American history.
Professor Tygiel, who wrote what many consider the pre-eminent book on baseball icon Jackie Robinson, died Tuesday after a nearly three-year battle against cancer. He was 59.
Professor Tygiel first published "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy" in 1983, with multiple reprints in the years that followed, including a 25th anniversary printing earlier this year.
He received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for it, and Sports Illustrated in 2003 named it one of the top 50 sports books of all time.
The manuscript was a labor of love for Professor Tygiel, who grew up on Brooklyn Dodgers baseball in the 1950s and considered Robinson a hero.
"He had a visceral and intellectual love for the game," Richard Zitrin said of his longtime friend. "Jackie was his favorite player."
His 1983 book was less of a biography than a historical account of Robinson and his role as the first African American player in modern major-league baseball.
That's what Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan loved about it.
"I though it was fabulous because it wasn't someone's opinions and stuff," Morgan said Wednesday after learning of Professor Tygiel's death. "His book showed us exactly how we got to where we were."
Robinson's widow, Rachel, considers it the best book on her husband, Morgan said.
The book pieced together what happened in those post-World War II days of integration in America's favorite pastime. Morgan said once he got his hands on the book, he couldn't put it down.
"There have been lots of books written about Jackie Robinson," he said. "This is my favorite one."
Professor Tygiel was born in 1949 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1969 and later received his master's degree and doctorate from UCLA.
He taught a year each at the University of Tennessee and the University of Virginia before joining the faculty at San Francisco State in 1978, focusing his research and teaching on California history.
He published two more books on baseball as well as several books on California history, including the 2004 book "Ronald Reagan and the Rise of Conservatism."
He married Luise Custer in 1982, and the couple had two sons.
Friends said it was an honor to attend a baseball game with Professor Tygiel, who had strong opinions about anything related to the game, from the differences in umpire calls to the steroids scandal, which he considered a "tempest in a teapot," Zitrin said.
But it was Professor Tygiel's work on Jackie Robinson that has stood the test of time, ensuring Robinson's place as not only a ballplayer, but a civil rights leader as well, Zitrin said.
"The appreciation for Robinson wouldn't have been what it is," he said. The book "put him in the right firmament."
"Jules Tygiel's death is a great loss for the University," said San Francisco State provost John Gemello. "Jules was a superb teacher and a renowned scholar who was able to pull off the double play of combining his two loves, history and baseball, to become the foremost baseball historian in the United States today."
Professor Tygiel is survived by his wife, Luise, of San Francisco; sons Charles Tygiel of Santa Cruz and Sam Tygiel of San Francisco; and his mother, Rose Tygiel of Tucson.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Two days into my five-day reprieve, I'm already feeling so much better. I've sorted through a lot of thoughts, had some serious conversations with my parents about some ugly family concerns, and come to the conclusion that, though my grandmother's death precipitated some emotional turmoil, the roots of my current emotional state lie in other causes as well. I did a lot of my grieving earlier this year, after I saw grandma for the last time and said my goodbyes. I was so upset then that I canceled a bunch of plans and left town in rather dramatic fashion to spend New Year's in the woods with friends. A lot of the things I felt then were quickly absorbed into all the conflicting emotions that arose from my apartment burglary in early January, and I think I was simultaneously grieving my grandma and the violation of my home.
The past two months have been very difficult, but I think a lot of that stems from the ugly family drama I envisioned unfolding in the wake of grandma's passing. Much of it is playing out as I'd thought it would, and I'm enraged about some very serious things I can't really write about here, but I'm also a little scared about what might happen when my parents die. My sister, brother, and I are quite close. But could circumstances change? Could we grow to hate one another and stop speaking to each other? Could be turn into one of those families that bickers about money and things, and end up losing each other in the process? I think the answer is no, but then I hear stories of friends whose families have split in the aftermath of a parent's death, and I'm a little scared for our future.
I've spent the past two months being frustrated and angry that nobody I work with recognizes and accepts that my grandmother's death has had an enormous impact on my life and left me operating at less than full speed during the day. I'd like to yell and scream and take out a newspaper advertisement announcing that this is really significant; that the past two months have been traumatic; and that even though I live 3,000 miles away, my grandmother was a big presence in my life. My mailbox is empty without her occasional letter or newspaper clipping, and I still think often that I should call to tell her about something I've got planned that I know would have received the response, "Oh, Clair, you have such an exciting life!"
But these past few days have made me realize that most of my colleagues don't have the capacity for recognizing anybody else's hard time. They are selfish, self absorbed, and unsympathetic, and can't see outside of themselves to recognize that somebody is hurting. I'm not generalizing here, but referring to several of the people I work with daily. Having come from previous workplace that was tremendously loving and supportive, I realized this week how much I dislike a job culture that reinforces self absorption in the ways that my current one does. I've also realized this week that I dislike the lifestyle lived by lots of the people I work with. For reasons of blog ethics I won't go into specifics here, though I've been pretty open about some of these things in conversation. I'm not sure if the career breeds the lifestyle, or if it's just coincidence, but I have some pretty significant objections to some workplace-lifestyle issues I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to resolve. But even without immediate resolution, I feel so much less burdened tonight than I did earlier this week.