Happy Birthday to me.

Happy Birthday to me.

New hair!


Yesterday was my birthday.  I have a lot of thoughts on the matter, so what am I writing about? Hair.

I have been coloring my hair the past few months.  Last year I was prescribed a medicine for a while that, among other unpleasant side effects, caused some of my hair to fall out.  It grew back in — mostly gray.  I always told myself I was not a vain woman (believe me, I have nothing to be vain about, not that that ever stopped anyone), but the gray just made me feel old.

My forays into color had been warm golden brown with red highlights.  Great color.  Roughly what I had when I was twenty. But, in the end, merely nice.  I wanted something more.

I have always vaguely envied my friends who have the “run a trimmer over the entire scalp, dye blue” aesthetic, but that has never been… me.  (For one thing it’s a lot cheaper than getting longer hair dyed.)

Yesterday I went for my traditional birthday haircut, and decided to go bolder.  So my new hair: a dark red that is almost maroon.  It is not my natural hair color; I’m not sure it is a color found in nature other than in dark cherry hardwood flooring.

It makes my eyes look greener, which makes me happy.

What do you think?

Apropos that last post, I just wanted to mention that Raiders of the Lost Ark has one of my favorite movie quotes ever.  When Marian comments that Indiana Jones is not the man she knew ten years before, he replies  “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Saving for what?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the last movie showing at the Century 21 theater in San Jose.  The Century 21, which dates from 1964, was a wonderful place to see movies: one of the last widescreen theaters in the area, it was the perfect environment to see popcorn movies.  The dome could hold a thousand people, and the acoustics were great. (There were, however bad seats: in a place that large, sitting way off to the side made it difficult to get a clear view of the screen.)  The Rocket Scientist and I saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban there, cheering with the huge sold-out first showing crowd as Hermione decked Draco Malfoy.

Appropriately, given that there is a fight going on about the preservation of the domes, the last movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The outfit that was showing “vintage” movies on weekends (The Retrodome) gave out plastic fedoras and small rubber snakes.  There was also a button with a quote from the movie (“Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?”) which I immediately put on my backpack but which has now disappeared. (It makes me feel older than I can express that a movie I waited three hours to get opening day tickets for  in Boston when I was in college is now “vintage.”)

The organization that ran the theaters did not own the land under them.  The lease came up this spring, and rather than renew it, the landowners opted to lease the land instead to developer of Santana Row, the faux-village mixed-use development across the street. Intended to evoke the feeling of large cities, with retail on the ground floor and housing up above, Santana Row only resembles a cityscape as kept up by Disney.  It’s too neat, too tidy, too upscale, too… Silicon Valley … to be authentic. I go to the theater in the Row often — it’s a nice enough multiplex — because it tends to show more artsy and independent films. Other than that, I avoid it like the plague.

The new lessees have stated their intention to demolish the domes, a local landmark for fifty years.  The city is considering landmark designation, and I am sure there is an effort to get federal or state protection as well.  The developer has stated that even if they are forced to retain the outer shell of the buildings, they will gut the interiors and use them for something other than theaters. This is crazy: the largest central dome is a great performance venue.  Don’t want to use it for movies?  Use it for live theater.  With a few tweaks, it would be fantastic.

Should the city try and save it?  I don’t know.  So much of historic preservation is a matter of picking battles.  The domes are unique, but are they worth spending the political and other capital needed to keep them intact?  I’m not sure.

Preservation is so often a balancing act: nostalgia for the past (which I think is driving a lot of the “Save the Domes” movement) can’t in and of itself be enough to hold onto buildings. Where the interesting buildings were built in the last half of the 20th century, it becomes difficult to assess the actual value of buildings to the future.  Holding onto the past because we are demoralized by the insane pace of change under our feet is not in and of itself enough, nor should it be.

Not that I don’t understand the nostalgia.  I have lived in this area for a quarter of the century, and watched, often grief-stricken,  as agricultural fields have given way to housing and office parks.  The fields are remembered in the names of the streets that have been shoved on top of them, but that’s about it. “Pruneyard” and “Cherry Orchard” were not given those names because they sounded cute.

I’m fighting this in my backyard, too.  A local shopping center is being redeveloped into a Santana Row-like mixed use center, except much uglier.  The fight going on centers around a small cheese and produce market, beloved by pretty much everyone.  The market owns its land, but not the land that they have been using for parking.  That land is slated to be turned into buildings.  Unlike the domes, nostalgia for the past is not driving the  fight:  a totally unprepossessing building, the Milk Pail is a vital resource for anyone who loves cooking for a ten-mile radius.

A candidate for City Council has a Daily Kos diary in which he sneeringly referred to the “no-growthers” in Mountain View.  That would be a lot of the people in my neighborhood: it is our traffic that is being snarled, our schools which are being impacted.  Fighting to keep our way of life should not be derided. Funny, but the people unhappy about development seem to live in the neighborhoods east of El Camino. Guess where the bulk of the  development is going on?

I do understand the need for some growth, especially for housing. It is bad enough that the tech companies (I’m looking at you Google, but you’re not the only one) have driven the housing market up.  Recently, the spiking rents caused a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission to leave and move to Washington, since she and her husband could no longer afford to rent an apartment in Mountain View. The city keeps wanting to add jobs — given the tax structures in California, a city’s corporate base is pretty much its tax base — without adequately addressing the housing problem. I would be less unhappy about the new apartments going up if I thought at least some of them were reasonably priced, but they won’t be. My kids will not be able to afford to live anywhere near here: already the Not-So-Little Drummer boy is saving up to move to some other part of the country.  The diversity of ages, races and socioeconomic statuses that I have loved here, that made my town such a special place, is being homogenized out.  We’re not Palo Alto, but we’re getting there fast.

Given the destruction of my town’s character, I have a hard time giving more than a passing sigh at the fate of the Century Domes.

Lazy meanderings.

I am working again now. It’s a temporary, part-time job. I actually like temporary assignments: I like the goal oriented nature of the work. And besides, it’s good to be useful. Longer term work with more hours would be good, however — I think I am still going to keep looking.

I am back watching The Voice.  The new season has a lot more depth than last season, and the two one-named artists — Shakira and Usher, both of whom I enjoy watching as coaches — are back.  Not as many country singers as in past seasons — I would count only two of the remaining twenty as country.  A couple of blues, a few R&B, a lot of straight up rock & pop types.  Unlike the past two seasons, there are enough singers with at least some personality that I don’t have one person whom I hope wins. (Go, Josh Kaufman, go! Although if I were betting on the result, Sisaundra Lewis has an amazing voice of the type perfectly suited to this competition. As long as one of the teenagers who sing blues songs doesn’t win.  Sorry, but for most of them, they do not have enough life experience to actually connect with the material they belt out.) A couple of times coaches have commented that the talent pool is way deeper than at other singing competition shows, but they could as well say that it’s much deeper than Season 5.  I have already bought a couple of songs from the rounds before the iTunes sales even matter — I only did that once before (Caroline Glaser’s version of “The A Team,” which I love). (Oh, and Pharrell Williams is going to be a coach for Season 7! How cool is that?)

I should be posting more: writing that stays locked up on my “Writing” account doesn’t get seen by anyone.

It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood.  After being cold (for the Northern California in April value of cold) and rainy last week, the temperature has vaulted twenty degrees with brilliantly clear skies (and painfully bright sunshine).  A happy medium would be nice.

I hope all is well with you guys.


Okay, I just need to whine some here.

Living with a chronic pain condition is hard. Being unemployed with a chronic pain condition is harder.

That seems counterintuitive, I know.  When you go to bed crying from the intense aching in your muscles that won’t respond to painkillers — or when you have to ration the effective painkillers because of what they do to your stomach — it might seem obvious that getting up the next day and going to work would be intolerable.


There are days, as I have written before, that it hurts to bloody breathe.  (Mornings like this morning.)  I have been having a lot of those days lately.  When I have a job to do, I have something to take my mind off my pain.  I have something productive facing me.  Is it still hard to work? Yes.  But I can still work — and still do good work — when I am struggling with pain.

Most of all, I have someone else to give me tasks.  I wish I could say that I had the self-discipline to set my own tasks, and not give in to the temptation to watch television, and move as little as possible.  I have been more successful the past few weeks than I have during some stretches in the past; I have written some, and I have kept up with my job hunting. Sometimes, though, I just need another person to require me to get things done: it’s easier to concentrate on somebody else’s tasks than figure out my own, especially if it is someone who is paying me. I spend time doing crosswords: my speed helps me judge (and increase) my mental acuity.

I do not use alcohol or drugs to control the pain.  (I could so easily get a green card, but have chosen not to.) This is partly because the side effects of drugs and alcohol: most opioid painkillers work only somewhat, and marijuana exacerbates depression. Alcohol makes me feel better for a short while, but makes the pain the next day far worse. I drink an occasional beer or glass of wine, but I have to be very careful not to have more than one (at most two) drinks, or I will pay for it heavily down the road.

Movement helps, if I can get myself moving.  Today, I had to do housecleaning, so by the afternoon my pain was down to a dull ache.  I can’t do a job with heavy physical requirements, but boy, would I welcome someone requiring me to use my brain.

It’s a disease, I keep telling myself.  A disorder.  Not a moral failing.

Working — especially for money — helps me convince myself of that.

One of those days.

Which once again brings up the question of how much you have to buy at a Starbucks to make your presence there for (at this point, 3.5.) hours ethically supportable.  Thus far, it has been two Venti Skinny Carmel Macchiatos, one breakfast sandwich, and one of those ridiculously addictive carmel-pecan sticky buns.  We’re talking about $15 in drinks and food, or a little under $5 an hour.

Whatever the amount, it is far more ethically supportable than driving when you are dizzy enough that you have trouble walking.

I’m okay. Sorry to scare anyone.

I just got a very concerned call.  It turns out that since my posts are cross-posted to both Twitter and Facebook, there was a tweet from me which said “We’re being held hostage.  At gunpoint.”

Um, no, I am not being literally held hostage. I should be more careful about how I title my posts, I guess.

The person was seriously worried, so I guess I should not be amused, but I am.  Bad Pat.