working hard

So, I’ve had this condo for a little while. I bought it last august, and being a home-owner has allowed me to contemplate things that I could not when I rented.

I said contemplate, not do. I COULD do them, but I pretty much haven’t yet. My home improvement have consisted of painting one wall. That turned out to be a failure.

Except lately, I have decided to attack the kitchen cabinets. The cabinets are what I like least about my home. They are a black walnut color, very very dark. I like wood tones to be more reddish, and lighter. Not too light, but not a black hole.

So, after I had run out of other things I felt like doing, I unscrewed one cabinet door, and looked at it. I bought some stripper and stripped the stain off it. The wood underneath looked pretty good.

Since I had the stripper now, I took off two more cabinet doors. I’ve been working on stripping them, too. It is not an effortless task, stripping the stain off wood. But I’ve been at it.

HOWEVER, the proof is in the finished product. I bought some stain. I wanted a reddish color, so I bought a reddish stain. I got a good hardy one, that would stand up to the abuse a kitchen recieves.

According to the direction, I sanded it, I washed it and I let it dry. But as it was drying, it occured to me that I had a problem.

How could I paint this cabinet door without leaning it against something? And if I leaned it against something, it would mess up the wet finish.

There are two little square cut-outs on the side of the cabinet. I realized that PROFESSIONAL cabinet makers probably use those holes in a special device that suspends the door in the air to dry.

I did not have a professional cabinet making device. I had to improvise.

I cut two clothes hangers and pushed them into the holes. THen I suspended it between two chairs. Voila! the door is suspended.

I let it finish drying, and with great excitement and trepidation, I applied the stain.

It looked fantastic. A lovely rich, but not too dark, red color emerged.


I left it to dry and went to see Chris. I was telling him all about it, and then I said, “You know, this really is going to be a lot of work. Maybe this is an example of my usual M.O., figuring out the hardest possible way to do something. Maybe it would be easier to pay someone to do this for me.”

Chris looked it up. “It says here in the expo catalog, that they will do your cabinets for $267 a linear foot.”

Holy crap! He looked further. “THis kind is $543 a linear foot”

Well. “I guess it’s not such a bad thing to do this work myself.”

We both agreed that Expo is not the cheapest way to redo your cabinets, though. But as Chris said, “You pick the evidence that suits your argument.”

I’m fine with that. The cabinet really does look beautiful.


I went to see a storyteller at the library yesterday. He’s a storyteller, and he makes a living at it. That little fact to me is far more riveting than any of the stories he told.

Which is not to say that his stories were not riveting. But the idea of getting paid to tell stories stretches the world of the possible for me.

Maybe I lack faith. I feel like I have been dangling my feet off the high dive for a long time. I want to take the leap off, to trust the my talents as a writer, as a creative person, will be the water to catch me.

But I really believe that jumping off will kill me. I believe that if I let go of the stable, traditional job, I will be homeless and hungry.

So I sit, with my feet dangling over the edge, looking at the water below. FAR below. Sometimes, I see people run past me and leap off the high dive. They plunge into the water and are fine. But I can’t believe that the water would be there for me.

Like last night. Joel ben Izzy, professional storyteller, jumping off the high dive every day. Doing cannonballs, jackknives, perfect tens. Makes me drool with envy.

I wonder if my water might be there after all.

Feeling good!

Hey, it’s good to feel good.

I’ve been sick, as my incomplete previous blog entry told. But it’s been taking a long time to get better. But this weekend I feel like I turned a corner.

I had labrynthitis. Cool sounding disease, huh?

Meant that I had to re-learn my sense of balance. That, in combination with the general malaise of recovering from a serious illness, made me very weak and SLOW.

But I’m able to move around now. I feel really good! My optimism is getting a little higher and higher.

All during my recovery, I didn’t feel like writing. Well, actually, I did feel like writing, but I thought I really needed to concentrate on RESTING. Sleeping, napping, etc. So I gave up doing a lot of things I would normally do in order to SLEEP.

Chris, who rescued me, told me I needed to rest. I felt I owed it to him, since I feel like he practically saved my life, to listen. I don’t always listen.

But I have been listening, and it seems to be paying off. I am looking forward to being my usual ENERGETIC self. Soon. But I can’t push it yet.

Different directions for contempt

So today I had to help a bigwig with a webconference.

I like webconferences. I wish we used them more. I was happy to help this guy.

But earlier this week, I was having meetings with some managers that were supposed to assist me with my conferences, with the set up. Their staff was being assigned to do what I’ve been doing.

I explained to them how the program is currently set up. I told them how the different people set things up for the conference participants. One of the managers said,
“It sounds like we aren’t placing very many demands on the participants”

Yes, well…That’s a problem. I would like them to learn to do it, but I don’t believe they will retain the knowledge. ANd I want them to use the stuff. So maybe we just do it all for them, since they are blithering idiots, not able to find a power switch, let alone handle the more complicated aspects of the equipment.

We in the Info Tech department have a low opinion of the abilities of the end users.

Another of the reasons we have a low opinion of the end users is because they have a low opinion of us. It is held in varying degrees, but at times it is flagrantly evident that they consider us blithering imbeciles.

We are not allowed to be as evidently scornful of our “superiors.” But here on the lower floors, we often wonder what exactly they learned in the 8 years of college to enable them to hear the same explanations of how to UNLOCK a docking station before removing a laptop 10 times and still not retain it.

However, they did go to school. Theoretically, the attorneys we have here are the cream of the crop.

Back to the webconference. I was helping this attorney learn how to use webex. He completely and easily grasped it. He explored it, just the same way I would. He was not a blithering idiot!

It was strange.


“Pride is faith in the idea that God had, when he made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realize it. He does not strive towards a happiness, or comfort, which may be irrelevant to God’s idea of him. His success is the idea of God, successfully carried through, and he is in love with his destiny…Love the pride of God beyond all things, and the pride of your neighbor as your own.”
-Isak Dinesen from Out of Africa


Today I am wearing a hat.

If I can’t BE fabulous, at least I can look fabulous.

It’s taking a frustratingly long time to regain my strength after my illness. But I should not push it.

It is very hard for me not to “push it”. I think I was born a pusher.

But, I look fabulous today, in a cute hat and a very cute jacket to match.


Valentine’s day and President’s day are very close to one another.

Chris was saying, “I wish they had left the President’s days separate.”

“You don’t like it being so generic? You mean we should not celebrate all Presidents?”

“Well! It doesn’t seem fair that the guy who caught the flu on his inauguration day and died two weeks in office should be celebrated as much as the other presidents”

Being president is something Americans are all supposed to be able to aspire to. How many American babies are cooed over in their cribs, and hear the pronouncement, “maybe this one will grow up to be president.”

Yes, This is america, the place where you can carve your own destiny. ANYONE can grow up to be president.

I wonder how many presidents aspired to the office? If they are like most people I know, the choice of becoming president was not really their own. They may have started along a political path and just sort of pushed, bumped, promoted along until they got to the White House.

Huge life decisions are not made that way. Decisions are made before you know you’ve made them. Swerve one way or the other, and your feet have changed paths.

The decision comes later. When it comes, it is less of a “will I go?” question, and more of a “Will I stop going?” question.

I think love is the same way. The small decisions are often unseen. Will you be my valentine? How often is that question asked when the answer is not known?

I think most decisions come after the fact. The momentous changes in direction are never recognized until they are past.

February rode in on an ambulance- CONTINUED

sorry everyone…I am having to tell this story in pieces, because I am remarkably weak still.

So I gathered all the strength I had, and propelled myself to the front door, dragging my trashcan behind me. I thought I was going straight down the hallways, but the wall came right at me again. I used all my strength to get to the door and flip out the chain lock.

Then I sat in spinning, sweat-soaking misery until Chris arrived. I was getting cold because I was so wet.

It wasn’t very long, but every moment took a lot of concentration. When I heard chris turning the lock I called out, “Watch out, I’m right here.”

I didn’t want him to hit me with the door. I needed to maintain my sense of space in order not to spin out again.

He stopped entirely. “It’s okay,” I said. “Just don’t hit me with the door.”

He came in carefully and leaned down over me. I tried to open my eyes. I really wanted to see his face; but the room started spinning again and I had to shut them again.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. He had no idea.

“Everything is spinning! It’s spinning and it won’t stop. It’s making me sick.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Umm…” It was hard for me to think. “I need to see a doctor. I need your help.”

“Yes, you need to see a doctor.”

I was shaking from cold and sickness at this point. He looked at me and said, “You need to get to bed.”

“I have to go to the bathroom.” It was true. I had had to go since I first woke up. But it didn’t seem possible. At the different stations of the apartment i had ended up in, I had contemplated this situation among the other dilemmas before me. How could I possibly take care of this? While vomiting, it’s hard to remain in control of my bodily functions. I contemplated going in my pants, but thought I should save that for a last resort.

Good thing. Chris helped me to the bathroom. He got me on my feet. At first I lurched way over to the side, but he got a firm hold on me, and helped me to the toilet. I pulled my pants down, sat down and vomited into my faithful trash can some more.

There is a lot of vomit in this story. I am sure it is not that much fun to read about but it was less fun to be the protagonist.

You can, in fact, relieve yourself and vomit at the same time. I gave myself fully over to being sick, but the other just sort of took care of itself. Then I breathed for a while. Breathing was a very deliberate activity.

Wiping myself seemed impossible. But I thought about it, and decided that I must. I could move my hand and feet slowly without disturbing the stillness. But my head couldn’t be moved. Raising myself up to complete this task took some courage. But in the end I leaned into the can again and simultaneously took care of my needs.

But puling my pants up again was realy beyond. As soon as I could talk, when the sickness subsided, I called for Chris. He helped me to my bed, although I collapsed half in and half out. I was shivering, and he immediately covered my with an extra blanket.

That bed felt so good, but I was cold. Chris was trying to call Kaiser, and was on hold for quite a while. He said I had to get under the blankets in bed, because I had to get warm. He helped push me in.

Even while I was being sick, the bed felt so good I never wanted to move again. The pillow was heaven, the blankets felt so good and warm. Still on hold, Chris stuck a thermometer in my mouth. “that can’t be right….”

He took my temp again…”94.7..This must be malfunctioning…”
I said, “I’m cold.”

He could see I was shivering.

He finally got through to the doctor. “Baby?” he said. “I’ve got an appointment for 45 minutes from now. Do you think you can make it if I drive you to the doctor’s in my car?”

There was a challenge. I didn’t know. This pillow felt very nice.”I don’t know.”

“What should I do baby?”

“I don’t know.” I thought some more. Maybe…”Go get the car ready, and I will see.”

I concentrated very hard. I had made it to the phone because I had to. I’d gotten to the chain lock because i had to. What would this involve? I would simply be sick the whole way. Could I throw up for the 15 minutes it would take to drive there? But what about in the waiting room? Doctors always made you wait. Did they give precedence to vomiting patients? I suspected not. How long would they make me wait?

Oh this pillow felt good.

I envisioned the path to the car. I would have to ride in the elevator. How would I do that? If I had to concentrate so hard on keeping a still room from moving, how would I do in a room that actually was moving?

It seemed unlikely that I would actually be able to do this.

Chris came back. He saw me with my eyes screwed shut, shaking with chills. “I don’t think you can make it in the car.”

“I think you’re right.”

“I’m gonna call 911. After all, they did say that I should do that if this was an emergency.”

He went into the other room to call 911. I lay there and imagined being magically whisked off to someplace that would make me feel better. I pictured a helicopter, with me being strapped into a bed and swaying at the end of a rope.

Swaying made me start to feel spinny again, so I concentrated on feeling still. No, there would not be a helicopter. There would be an ambulance, and a gurney. They would lift me onto the gurney.

Oooh…Moving. That would be bad. Riding in a car. Maybe they would give me morphine or something. What did they do, anyway?

Just breathe. THink of peace. Peace. Still. Still.

I heard the sirens. “Hear that baby? They are coming for you.” Chris was taking good care of me.

They were coming.

February rode in on an ambulance

I’ve been sick all week. Actually, I’ve been sick even last week.

I was feeling woozy, and extra tired. The bus ride made me especially ill, and then it seemed to last all day. Friday, I was feeling motion sick all day long. By the time I was ready to go home, I began to think, “something is not right. There is something wrong going on.”

I almost asked Chris to pick my up from work. But I hate to do that. Then i almost took a cab home.

Then I thought, “Maybe I’m jsut really hungry.”

So I ate something, and that made me feel better enough to take the bus home.

But saturday, I was supposed to go to Palm Springs. I just didn’t feel up to it. I felt like lying around and resting.

Sunday, I took myself to the doctor and got a prescription for antibiotics to cure a supposed sinus infection that was messing with my sense of equilibrium, and hence making me feel woozy, motion sick, all the time. I called in sick for Monday.

But Monday, I dreamed that I had collapsed at the bus stop. I woke, and had to throw up. But while crawling to the toilet, I realized that I had no sense of balance whatsoever and that i was completely sick. The world would NOT stop spinning., The walls reached out and smacked me when I tried to move, because i didn’t know how to stay upright, even while crawling.

The sweat poured off me as I retched into the toilet. I had to do something. This was bad. I needed help. But I couldn’t move! How would I get help?

I concentrated as hard as I knew how on believing that te world was not spinning. I closed my eyes and breathed very hard, pressing my head against something solid and immobile. “You are STILL, STILL, you are STILL”

Finally, I could gather my thoughts enough…i needed to get someone to help me. But I couldnn’t move at all without vomiting…

I made my plan. I would launch myself back to my bed, where my cordless phone was, and on the way I would grab the trash can to barf into. I would either call Chris or 911.

But I really wanted Chris. I would call Chris. He would help me.

I made it, with my eyes shut to keep the room from spinning. After throwing up for a while, I contemplated how to dial the phone with my eyes shut. I didn’t figure out a way, So I had to open them for a few moments.

I got Chris’s answering machine, like I knew I would. “Chris! Chris! Help! I need you help!”

He picked up right away. “Murphy!”

“Chris! I need you! Come help me!”

“I’ll be right there!”


and then I sat there, dripping sweat and vomiting some more. But I was thinking. I had put the chain lock in place. Would chris be able to get in without my help? Is there a way to unlock a chain from the outside?

I decided that i had to go unlock it.