nonBlog: June 2007
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a possibly gratuitous explanation of why my blog is called "nonBlog"
and my site is titled "Ceci n’est pas un blog."
Terminated—Thursday, June 28, 2007
Today was the perfect day to swim in the Bay. The air was still, which just about never happens in San Francisco. The encroaching fog was in a holding pattern over the Golden Gate Bridge. But walking along the beach to the South End Rowing Club, I heard my stomach growl. I had skipped breakfast. That’s not such a good idea when you’re swimming in cold water—if you’re hungry, you can get hypothermia that much faster. At this time of year it shouldn’t be a worry, since the water is at least 59 degrees, but I recently lost the 25 pounds I never managed to take care of post-Ava and the water feels much colder to me now. I decided to eat and then swim.
I sat at the bar of the Blue Mermaid and ate oatmeal with bananas and read the paper. It felt like a vacation. I drank African Nectar tea and felt all warmed up, inside and out. I walked over to the club and found the swim coat a fellow club member had delivered for me. On the chest was stitched “The Terminator.” That’s my mountaineering name, my marathoning name, my mothering name even, but as far as I’m concerned it’s not yet my open-water swimming name. I take no prisoners at altitude or bedtime, but when it comes to the Bay I still feel like it’s got something on me. I now aspire to the nickname I used to come by naturally.
In the locker room I encountered Laura, who informed me that a bunch of swimmers had just run out of the water because there were two seals swimming in Aquatic Park. They appeared not to be causing any harm, she said, but they were bumping the swimmers with their noses and brushing alongside them. Six months earlier a deranged sea lion suffering from leptospirosis lingered in Aquatic Park for weeks and bit at least a dozen people rather badly. We named him Bitey and stayed out of the water. Even if these seals were friendly, you really don’t want to be out in the Bay with several hundred pounds of wild animal bumping into you.
So I beat a hasty retreat. All that time and trouble and I didn’t get to swim. There were a few hale and hearty men still stroking along, but I was too afraid. It’ll take a lot more than aspiration to be The Terminator in this sport. I don’t even know where to begin.
A You-Know-What is Born, Part Deux—Weds., June 27, 2007
Just a quick update on Greta’s budding film career, or perhaps I should
say, film-ette career. Film...ini? Elisabeth Roberts’ two-minute film “See Mom Work” is now live on the site Mommy Track’d along with a profile
of the filmmaker. You’ll see the link to the film at the bottom of Roberts’
bio on the left side of the page. Just think: you can say you knew Greta
when . . . .When she thought a part was the line on the top of her head.
When she thought the red carpet was that smelly thing in the living room that we recently threw away. When . . . I’ll stop now.
Priorities—Friday, June 22, 2007
Next week my father is going to the dentist. For a normal person, that would be a normal thing to say—the very essence of normality. You must be back to normal if you’re going to the dentist. But the last thing my father did the last time he was normal—before he became septic with MRSA staph and nearly died repeatedly over a period of several months—was go to the dentist for an implant.
We’ll never know for sure, but it’s likely the implant opened up a site for his existing staph to re-activate. Before that dentist appointment last July, my father had been hospitalized with staph before and beaten it. But staph is like herpes—once you’ve got it, you’ve got it forever. It lives in your body, whether active or inactive. And the opening in his jaw was a hospitable environment for the staph to get going again.
When I spoke to him yesterday I suggested that perhaps he might just skip it. Why does he need to subject himself to this kind of punishment? He’s not in any pain; he has no problems eating. But he reminded me that he spent $15,000 for the dental work and only got the first half completed. When the dentist called to find out why my father had missed his final appointment to finish the job and we told him that my father was septic and on the verge of death, the dentist said he was sorry to hear it and quickly got off the phone. I guess he thought if he kept talking we’d ask him for a refund on the other $7,500. So my father told me that it really burns him up that he’s paid $7,500 for work that was never completed and he wants it finished. That’s just like my father. Getting his dental work done might kill him, but at least he won’t be out seventy-five hundred bucks.
Ceci N’est Pas Un Blog Update—Tuesday, June 18, 2007
This site has been live for about 18 months and it needed a bit of spit and polish. No doubt your browser caches my pages, so you probably don’t know that nearly every page has been updated with new text and photos. So if you have way too much time on your hands, by all means click around and hit the Refresh button for each page so that you can see the changes. There’s even a smiley new photo on the About Me page. In case you were wondering, it was taken at Navarro Vineyards in Philo, California. Those of you who know me well are aware I have delusions of winemaking. Later. In life. Okay, I was thinking next fall.
Coming up in the next month is a new site that will have a click-through on this one: the eFlish banner will change to Office Mate and will lead to an entire site devoted to the book. Hey, when you hire Lynn Goldberg as your publicist you have to walk the talk. It will have a book blog (a bblog?) along with pages for press, appearances, and bios of Helaine and me. Plus our author photo, which we just sent to our editor today. Want a preview? Okay. Patience was never your strong suit. Oh, wait, that was me.
Office Mate Author Photo: Megan Green
A You-Know-What is Born—Friday, June 15, 2007
See, there you go. No sooner do I figure out that the path to fame and fortune is to rely on other people to do the work for me, than Greta, my seven-year-old, makes a contribution. She is featured in a two-minute film called “See Mom Work” that’s racing around the Internet in which filmmaker Elisabeth Roberts interviews little kids about their mothers’ careers.
Greta is quoted as saying that “Mommy writes lots of books and sometimes she even writes a book about me. I like it a lot because then when she sells the books I’ll be all over town.” Greta closes out the film by saying that she might like to be a writer when she grows up, like her mommy. Or a rock star.
The video is currently on YouTube but it was made for a site called Mommy Track’d, where it will be featured in a few weeks. Until then check out Greta’s star turn via the link above. She might have spoken about my ability to get her “all over town,” but considering her little red-headed charisma, I think she can do that all by herself.
Infamy With a Little Help From My Friends—Weds., June 13, 2007
I have been going about this all wrong. Here I thought that if I wanted people to read my essays I needed to write more and more stories in increasingly national publications until my new lifestyle journalism career looked like my old business journalism career. But it has become clear to me that this approach is excessively Calvinist. Which figures. I am an endurance athlete, after all.
What I should have been doing all this time is cultivating brilliant friends who are also writers, and who will think I am a character. As in, one they might put into their books. This just happened. My friend Alison Rogers, who counts as one of my foursome of soul sisters (two on the East Coast, two on the West), has just published Diary of a Real Estate Rookie: My Year of Flipping, Selling, and Rebuilding…And What I Learned (The Hard Way). I am mentioned in this book no fewer than eight times. Not as in, "my friend Stephie said"—the kind of mentions only you and your mother can identify. As in, "Thanks to my Bay Area friend Stephanie Losee for pointing this out, and doing a nice piece for the New York Post with this theme: check our her magnificence at www.stephanielosee.com." I swear on my life no money has changed hands here. Ali didn't even tell me she was doing this until after she gave the finished manuscript to her editor.
The book's first appearance on the scene was in a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, which said nothing less than:
Rogers may be a real estate rookie, but her cheeky dedication 'to Rupert Murdoch, whose refusal to pay me a decent wage launched me on the adventure of a lifetime' is the first clue that she's no newbie to writing. A founding editor of the New York Post real estate section, Rogers is now a real estate agent and columnist who tells the story of her first year of business, and her first year of marriage, with a sharp wit and relaxed style that really sparkles. It is a story of 'failure, and tears, and immense love,' she says, adding, 'Don't worry, there are some pretty tricked-out luxury condos along the way.' That pretty much sums it up, but the book doesn't just rely on funny turns of phrase: it also provides plenty of working advice, including tips on handling lowball offers, staging the sale of a bohemian apartment and talking to your realtor. Those looking for some good information on the real estate industry in a book that doesn't feel like homework will be hard-pressed for a better choice."
So buy this wonderful memoir and give it a read. And tell your friends. My fame and fortune depend on it.
Blessed—Monday, June 4, 2007
As I write this I’m on a plane flying back from New York, where my writing partner, Helaine Olen, and I spent the weekend at Book Expo America. Book Expo is a convention where authors promote their upcoming titles to the booksellers who stock them. You can hardly have a bestseller if people can’t find your book in a store.
Helaine and I didn’t really know what to expect. We had a few discussions about whether we should spend our own money on some kind of giveaway — Office Mate pens or bookmarks, for example. Tom suggested, only partly in jest, Office Mate condoms. But our agent said that the only real currency at BEA is having a lot of galley copies to give away. We weren’t even sure we would have those since for some reason or other we weren’t able to find out beforehand exactly what resources the publisher would be providing. So we were thrilled to arrive at our publisher’s well-placed booth and find that they had an enormous display filled with dozens upon dozens of copies of Office Mate next to a working water cooler and piles of Office Mate cups with a sign that said, “The best place to find a guy could be the water cooler!” In no time at all our publisher had gone through four giant refill jugs of water and our cups were in the hands of authors, publishers, and salespeople from Random House to Penguin.
We walked up and down the aisles with a goofy smile on our faces, picking up copies of next year’s hot books-to-be. At 2:00 it was time for our galley signing. We were seated on two high stools behind a counter, surrounded by our books, and soon a line was forming as women and—big surprise—men asked us to personalize books they wanted to give to unattached friends. Suddenly a teensy woman walked confidently up to the desk. “Dr. Ruth?” I said, aghast. “Yes, dear,” she said in her distinctive Teutonic accent. “I am very much in favor of what you are doing!” Helaine and I looked at each other in shock while my friend Ivan snapped a photo with his cell phone. We signed a copy for her and she marched away. Our publisher’s publicity director said, “You’ve been blessed by Dr. Ruth! Now you can’t lose!” And so it seemed. What more could we ask for than the imprimatur of the Rabbi of Romance?