Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Gatekeeper

Harry is very particular about visitors.

There are some people that make him smile and prance like a pony! There are others that make him growl and snarl and lunge.

It's not always a good thing that he isn't crazy about some men. Very big men seem to make him go insane with anger.

Ramon, the tall, handsome black man from South America, came to take down the outside Christmas lights he put up for me last month.

Of course, I hurried and put on my most fetching pair of sweatpants, my leopard stilettos, and a quick spray of "Coco" by Chanel to go outside and greet him.

"Hola, Ramon," I said. (I know I was impressing him with my knowledge of Spanish, his native language). About the time he grinned at me and started to say something in response, the foaming-at-the-mouth beast we call Harry charged the fence.

Harry growled. Harry lunged, throwing himself into the fence over and over again. Harry was shaking the iron fence with so much force I thought he might knock it down. Harry trembled with outrage and gave Ramon his best impression of a rabid wolf on steroids.

Ramon stopped grinning. I pulled Harry into the house and closed the door. Harry ran to the window and barked hysterically while trying to break the window to get to Ramon.

Ramon finally got down all the Christmas lights, put them in the back of his pickup truck and drove away without a word. It's sad really. He and I could have been good friends. Plus I wanted to take his picture.

Then Harry went in to take a nap.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CT and Me

This is a photo of me and CT.

CT is my best friend. Her birthday is the same as my husband's so I tell people they are twins.

She is a very talented architect, a gay woman, and I adore her. We've been friends for about 15 years. Several years ago, CT and her long time-partner broke up right about Christmas time. Alex and I say we keep her spirits up over the holidays, but actually, she keeps our spirits up too.

We have several traditions with CT. We, of course, do a birthday party for her and Alex every year. And we celebrate New Years Eve together too. We always go to dinner somewhere nice and then to a movie. Generally, we get home by 11 PM or so and then stay up to toast in the New Year at midnight. This year was no exception. CT and Alex usually stay up and watch horror movies after I go to bed.

About 4 AM ,CT came to our bedroom door and I got up to see what was wrong. She was dreadfully sick and had been for hours. I got her something to settle her stomach and put her back to bed.

I was a little worried that she was very dehydrated so I brought her some 7-Up and took her temperature. CT had a fever of almost 102. Damn! I got in bed with her so I could keep an eye on her for the remainder of the night.

When Alex came downstairs the next morning, and found me in bed with CT, he did what any normal man would do. He grabbed the camera. It was a cute photo! And if I decide to switch teams, we would make a cute couple!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chasing "Happy"

For many years, I felt like the key to "happy" was financial security.

My first husband and I had a friend who was the sole heir to the Sutro Baths fortune. He was a wealthy young man, but I'd have to say, he was not happy.

Because my husband and I were a struggling young married couple, we could not believe this guy was as sad as he was.

When I was 24, I got divorced. I got two important things out of the marriage, my son, John, age 3, and my daughter, Sheila, age 3 months. We did own a home and I got some proceeds from that, and a modest amount of child support.

I got a poorly paying job at Chevron USA, and struggled to make ends meet. The role of a single working mother is not an easy one. Fortunately, I was too young and stupid to realize it would be a really rough road.

By the time I had paid rent for my funky San Francisco apartment, utilities, and childcare, we were pretty much broke all of the time. I worried about money a lot. Still, I can say that this was the happiest time of my life.

Somehow, I managed to take the kids out for pizza every Friday night. There was a place that showed old movies and had lovely management. The kids and I would sit, me sipping a glass of cheap red wine, for hours while we devoured our small cheese pizza and watched some old black and white movie on a projection screen.

Friday nights were special because the kids shared my bed. We watched something called "Creature Features" while eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate. (Of course, letting my 4 year old son watch "Night of the Living Dead" could have earned me a visit from CPS, but it didn't.)

I remember feeling real joy in our lives. We didn't have much, but we were very happy. Money was always an issue, but somehow, it was not really something that brought me down. (Except on those rare occasions when I thought it would be great if the world would end before the Macy's credit card came due.)

I was not much of a cook. My kids and I lived on beans, rice and noodles, along with fruit and vegetables. (Actually, that was probably better for us than I ever imagined. Meat was a once a month luxury.)

I was able to keep a roof over our heads, and clothing on our backs, and food in our bellies. So I thought I was doing great. It wasn't easy, but it was fun. I remember going to free concerts, opera and ballet in the parks. The kids loved it and I did too.

Today, I am comfortable. I can afford to buy what I want. We live in a nice house. We have nice cars. We have savings. But where is the joy? I'm not unhappy, but I'm not "striving or struggling". Was it better when I was?

Alex talks about getting a teaching position at the college on the Navajo Rez. We could get a double wide and have a satellite dish and a pick up truck. You know, that might be fun.