Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Mommy loves Lucy more!"

My aunt has a tradition of sending ornaments to her many, many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Last year she sent Iris Uber Alles a porcelain oranment of a little girl holding a sign reading, "First Born Mommy's Favorite!" and Lola a similar one, holding a "Youngest Child Mommy's Favorite!" sign.

When we were putting up our tree, Iris gloated and gloated over her ornament, and it took a day for Lola to find hers, a stress-filled day for poor Lola. Then all was basically well until today, three days after Christmas, when the Sober Husband discovered that one of the ornaments was broken. After some more searching, he discovered that both those oranments had been knocked down from the tree, and both little porcelain girls' heads had been broken off. He could only find one porcelain head, though... and it fits Lola's "Youngest Child Mommy's Favorite!" ornament.

Now Iris is sulking about the house, screaming periodically, "Why does Mommy hate me?" and "Why does Mommy love Lucy more?" I told her to leave her mother out of this and that it was undoubtedly Princess Henry, the tabby, who had knocked the ornaments down. Now she's still stomping around, moaning, "Why does Henry hate me?" and "Why is Henry bad?" I pointed out that seeing as how Henry is illiterate, I doubt there was anything personal in it, but Iris thinks Henry must have known how much she loved that ornament and destroyed it out of spite.

Friday, December 26, 2008

the twittering pervert

The Sober Husband has been meaning to Twitter for ages. He started a Twitter account and sent out one and only one Twitter: "I have started to Twitter." Based upon that inauspicious debut, he already has scores of followers, despite months of silence. He feels he should Twitter because "everyone does it", and he shared with us some of the Twitters of his colleagues.

One of the programmers who reports to the Sober Husband Twitters in the voice of his puppy (or perhaps his girlfriend does, the co-owner of the very adorable young dog). The children were spurred into action by this, feeling that their personal cats deserved Twitters of their own (the family cat and Mommy's cats were not deemed Twitter-worthy). Six year-old Lola started a Twitter feed for Al, "Allofalbert", which has so far mostly chronicled his giardia infection and his feelings about taking his medication. Nine year-old Iris Uber Alles started "Frowsty" to share the glories of Frowst, our especially charismatic cat.

We have four laptops which can be found strewn about the home, and Iris Uber Alles is prone to using the nearest one and being casual about what identity is logged in at any given time. Therefore it was all too predictable that she'd use the Sober Husband's regular laptop to compose a Twitter for fluffy Frowst, and that my husband would awaken on Christmas morning to discover that after months of silence, he'd sent out his second Twitter:

"I'm lying on my owner's bed, with my legs in the air, waiting for attention."

I laughed and laughed. "They're all going to think you're into SM." I tried to think of a more embarrassing cat twitter the children could have sent out under his name on this account-- which was intended for professional networking-- with no success. Even the messages about giardia would have been less embarrassing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

why, indeed

Nine year-old Iris Uber Alles is reading that timeless classic, "From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler." She has no problem understanding why two children chose to run away from home to live in a museum; her problem is the framework, where the entire work is contained in a letter from Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler to her lawyer, and indeed she is puzzled by Mrs. Frankwiler's motivations vis-a-vis her lawyer. "Why would anyone want to see their lawyer?" she asked with genuine puzzlement.

Her litigator mother snapped back seriously, "Because lawyers are so smart and funny! They're great to be around!"

"I just don't get why someone would want to spend time with their lawyer."

"Lawyers are cute and adorable, like kittens! Who wouldn't want to spend time with them?"

At this point Iris dropped the discussion, unconvinced, but sure there was no point in further exploring her befuddlement.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the horrible timings of things

Two weeks ago my cat Princess Henry became deathly ill. She was repeatedly trying to vomit without success and looking distraught. On the day one, I thought this was a pesky hairball and decided to pick up a tube of that tuna-flavored hairball medicine. The next day I realized, "This is no hairball" and got her down to the vet's. At the vet, Henry was sedated and x-rayed on the theory she ate something inappropriate, possibly a small, plastic object belonging to a child. The vet called me on my celphone to tell me that Henry's stomach was fine, but that her intestines were, if I may paraphrase, all fucked-up. The vet wanted my permission to do an ultrasound on Henry's intestines to determine whether surgery was necessary. The ultrasound showed nothing blocking those angry, angry intestines. Eight hundred dollars later, I took Henry home with a prescription for an anti-emetic and for a soothing medication to calm and coat her intestines. Henry recovered without further incident.

I told my husband repeatedly, "Don't get me anything for Christmas." I felt terrible about spending so much at the vet's.

The next week Al, the skeletal orange cat who is allergic to his own teeth, came down with an epic upper respiratory infection and epic diarrhea, which caused him to have many, many disgusting accidents. I had finally cleared Al up of his chronic flea problem (Advantage does NOT work for Al), only to have him burst out into multiple health crises. The Sober Husband helped me give Al a bath, and cradling him in a towel, I took him down to the vet, having first procured a particularly noxious sample of his diarrhea. "How's Henry? Nice to see you again," everyone said. "Can I give this to you now, rather than waiting for the vet?" I asked, handing over gingerly a sealed ziplock bag which was reeking horrendously. The vet tech who accepted it handed it off with alacrity to another vet tech who was presumably lower on the food chain.

Poor Al had lost over a pound and a half, dropping from seven pounds to just five and a half. (We'd taken to calling the poor thing "the Cat of the Damned"). Even though I'd been holding him wrapped in a towel to warm him up, his body temperature was so low that the tech took it twice disbelievingly. "I had to bathe him," I said. "It was an emergency situation." Al's bloodwork showed that he was anemic and had elevated white blood cell counts. About four hundred dollars later, Al was sent home with antibiotics for his respiratory infection and a stern admonishment that he was never going to be healthy until we got his teeth pulled. I set the appointment for the tooth-pulling for the 29th.

The next day, the vet called. The disgusting, reeking sample revealed the presence of giardia (where is he getting giardia from??? He rarely goes outside, and the tapwater hasn't given any of the rest of us parasites). I went back and paid for some Panacur.

Tomorrow Al goes back down to the vet for more bloodwork, to see if he's improved enough to be ready for surgery next week.

Of course the cats chose December to acquire life-threatening illnesses. After the nobility of insisting, "Don't get me a thing for Christmas --- those vet bills are crazy", I'm now childishly depressed that I won't have any presents to open on Christmas. My parents very generously gave me an embroidery machine earlier in the year as a combination birthday-Christmas present, so really I should wrap that up and put it under the tree for myself to remind myself not to be such a whiny loser. I keep telling myself that it was my idea to get those cats in the first place.

Meanwhile the stresses of the season have taken a toll. The children's school had three events on one morning for which I was supposed to cook: a third grade holiday breakfast, a kindergarten "homes" event, and the faculty holiday breakfast. This was complicated by the fact that I wouldn't be able to cook the day before, as I was volunteering at the school right in the middle of the day to assist at the kindergarten holiday party (where I was assigned to do an insanely complicated paper craft with the children. The first group to come to our crafts station did only about a third of the project and left frustrated and disgruntled. I unilaterally decided to simplify the project, which drew coos of praise from the other chaperones. "You're so smart!" "I would never have thought of that!" "You're so smart!" It was the most praise I'd had all year). I decided to blow off the third grade breakfast as it sounded like many of the third grade parents were participating(sorry, Iris Uber Alles), buy a quiche for the faculty party instead of baking one personally (sorry, teachers, I would have baked it but then I would have had to get up to drive it over to the school by six frigging thirty in the morning, whereas by taking the easy way out, I was able to drive to a yuppie market after the kindergarten Christmas party, purchase a $12.99 fresh quiche, drive back to the school, and drop off the quiche at the same time as I picked up Lola after school), and focus on making Lola's beloved broccoli pasta for the kindergarten event. That turned out to be the right decision, as almost no kindergarten parents cooked anything. Almost to a woman they decided to take the easy option and bring a drink, so there was still lemonade, sparkling lemonade, sweet tea, apple cider, and apple juice, but only one savory food, my broccoli pasta.

Now the children are home for winter break, alternately fighting viciously for hours at a time and playing delightfully in the "Lola Club" or pretending to be puppies who attend "Dogwarts." I've got hundreds of loads of laundry to do and I've fallen behind on my novel. I missed the registration deadline to sign Iris up for the after-school jewelry making class she wanted, and I forgot to take Lola to ballet on Friday afternoon (in my defense, it was the same Friday of the three cooking conflicts and a "Holiday Sing" at the girl's school). It was time to move my IRA fund to a better home, and the bank involved didn't send me the form they said I needed in a timely way, although we'd sent all the forms the new IRA bank said were required (a bank representative invited me to drop by and pick up the form in person, which I thought was a swell idea given that the bank is in St. Louis and I am in San Francisco). I myself have had a pounding headache for days which never goes away. I'm on medication for my insomnia which means I feel drowsy and hung-over every morning and have a sleepy spell in the late afternoon (supposedly these side effects will go away by mid-January). Head aching terribly, I'm sleepily lurching through the season, hoping I don't forget anything really important.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the good, the bad... the just plain witless

Bonus: more book reviews in the comments!

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. It's amazing what a good novel can do for a person. I've been attempting to write a novel lately myself, so I'm a bit more on the lookout for an author's structuring, her use of foreshadowing, whether the first person or the third person works...

As always, the ultimate craftsman is Donald Westlake writing at Richard Stark. The first sentence of "Firebreak" is, in my personal opinion, the best first sentence of a novel I've ever read: "When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man." Such a mix of the banal and the horrific, such an economic use of words.... and it sucks you in and has you prepared for the rest of the ride, right there in the first twelve words. I think that's a better first sentence than the famous first sentence of "Anna Karenina": "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Donald Westlake is the master, and I hope he lives forever.

I do not mean to content that "Firebreak" is a more important work than "Anna Karenina." "Firebreak" does not attempt to grapple with the big issues of infidelity, a woman's place in the world, social hypocrisies, etc.. I assert only that Donald Westlake/Richard Stark writes one hell of a sentence.

More along the lines of "Anna Karenina" (and covering much of the same ground regarding a woman's place in the world, marital infidelity, etc..) was "While I was Gone" by Sue Miller, a thought-provoking and serious novel spanning much of a complex and sometimes dislikeable heroine's life. This was a big bestseller back in 1999 but I just got around to reading it. I hated it for the first forty-five pages or so, stopping every now and then out of disgust to wonder, "Is this really the same Sue Miller who wrote 'The Good Mother'? How can this be so bad?" Then gradually the book became good, so very good I could not believe it, so gripping I could not put it down, and with twists and complexities which had me going back to reread various sections over and over again. Like Donald Westlake, Sue Miller is an astounding master of craftsmanship, and she's not afraid to make her characters deeply flawed. She doesn't play to your sentimentality.

Another surprisingly gifted writer, but writing in a comic vein, is Lisa Lutz, whose "The Spellman Files" is so funny and good that it had me laughing out loud on a filled-to-capacity 1 California bus... after I'd boarded the bus in tears after a traumatic marriage counseling appointment. Lisa Lutz seems to like the review which called her heroine, Isabel Spellman ,the love child of Harriet the Spy and Dirty Harry, and that description does fit, but it's not the character I was so crazy about, lovable as Izzy is. It was Ms. Lutz herself, who deploys the word "fuck" better than anyone this side of Elmore Leonard and builds an insane, but highly plausible, world. (Again, this was a bestseller a few years ago which I just got around to. Ms. Lutz has another book featuring the same characters just out in hardback, but I haven't read that yet and can't vouch for it. I hope she hasn't suffered that sophomore slump so unfortunately common in talented authors... e.g., Curtis Sittenfeld and Chelsea Cain).

"The Spellman Files" is set in San Francisco, and it is dead on. The characters eat where they should go to eat, they live where it makes sense for them to live, in neighborhood-appropriate homes at that. They inhabit the real city of San Francisco (and they don't get all gooey about it). I loved it when one character was sent on an crazy errand to Fisherman's Wharf and stopped for that quintessential tourist treat, a bowl of clam chowder where the bowl is actually constructed out of sourdough bread. The character wondered, given how much he loves this meal, why he never goes to Fisherman's Wharf, but then quickly concludes that even the chowder-in-the-bread-bowl isn't worth going there for. (That is us: people who actually live here avoid Fisherman's Wharf like the plague).

Another novel set in San Francisco that I recently read had it all wrong, wrong, wrong to the point of being maddening: the just-out "The Dirty Secrets Club" by Meg Gardiner. Do NOT waste your money or time on this book, not when there are treasures like "The Spellman Files" or "While I Was Gone" or anything by Richard Stark. Ms. Gardiner starts with an interesting concept: a mysterious organization of powerful or wealthy people who are joined together by criminal or scandalous pasts, who dare each other to do more and more dangerous things. However, Ms. Gardiner doesn't fulfill on the promise of that premise, and the book falls apart.

How many things did I hate about this book? Well, for one, she has her heroine, Jo Beckett, burdened by not just one huge, life-altering and made-for-TV trauma but two. As a child, Jo was trapped with her family in a car beneath the rubble of an Oakland freeway after the big 1989 earthquake... with her brave father singing to keep his children calm. If that's not enough for poor old Jo, later she became a doctor, and she failed to save her doctor husband's life in a helicopter crash due to an elementary error in basic triage principles. (If this isn't schmaltzy enough right there, the helicopter crash HAD to be during a medical emergency evacuation of a sick, angelic little girl with a warm, trusting personality who also dies).

So Jo limps through life (symbolically, not physically), scarred and traumatized and unable to try relationships again but making a fabulous living as a forensic psychiatrist. Her job is to investigate suspicious deaths and determine whether they were suicides or not by delving deeply into the suspects' lives. The San Francisco Police Department pays her very well and values her extremely. This basic concept right there would be highly painful to any of the families of murder victims whose deaths were ruled suicides by the SFPD. (The most notable of these is the case of Hugues de la Plaza. Police say that after an enjoyable night of clubbing, he stabbed himself to death. The problem: no bloody knife was found in de la Plaza's tiny apartment and there were traces of blood on the staircase. Answer: the police say Mr. de la Plaza obligingly washed and put away the knife after stabbing himself but before he fatally collapsed. The French authorities, disgusted by this, actually sent investigators over to do the work which should have been done by the SFPD). The SF Weekly did a cover story not long ago rounding up quite a few of these "suicides", an appalling, appalling history which should cause Chief Heather Fong much guilt.

Author Meg Gardiner was completely tone-deaf in her description of San Francisco. Her jacket bio said she now lives in London but used to live in Los Angeles. One wonders if she ever even visited SF. Among other ridiculous things in a book not meant to be a comedy: Ms. Gardiner said that everyone in San Francisco is in a state of nonstop rage due to the consistent parking problems, and therefore there are no anger management classes in our city because the people who teach anger management are so terrified of parking-enraged San Franciscans that they fear for their lives too much to venture into our city. Uh huh. I have noticed that at most events I attend, the people do not show up in rages. Many of us take mass transit or own bicycles, and taxis are also quite fashionable nowadays. It's also quite easy to park in many areas of the city.

Gardiner also had earthquakes occurring on a near-daily basis. You can actually go years without feeling one here. Her description of a little earthquake where everyone in a Mission taqueria hid under their tables was risible. I've lived here over twenty years, gone through many a quake (including the big one of 89), and I've never seen anyone hide under a flimsy table. When there is a quake, people usually hold still and stay silent, and then as soon as it's done, they all say the same things: "Didja feel that?" "How much do you think that was?" "I bet that was at least a four!" Et cetera, et cetera. It takes a lot to actually get us under a table or in a doorway (the only time I ever did that was during that actual 1989 quake. I was chatting with a classmate from New York at the law school when it hit. A few seconds into it, I realized, "This one is different" and got into a doorway, bracing myself against the frame. My classmate ran about nearby, unsure what to do, and I called to her, "Gina, Gina! Get in a doorway!" She came and took my same doorway with me, and we stared at each other until it was done).

On a regular day, poor old traumatized Jo sees the walls of her house bucking to and fro wildly. (I've never seen that in my own house. My life here is so much duller than Jo's). And of course, by the end of the book, old Jo is trapped once again by falling wreckage in a monster quake. How can regular people survive in San Francisco? You'd think they'd have as much sense as an anger management instructor and shun the city.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

want to try out cat ownership with no obligations?

Catless people! Here's your chance to try cat ownership without strings!

From my cat rescue:
We have been asked to foster a 9 month old Maine Coon kitten for 6 weeks. The cat has tested negative for FELV/FIV, but they need to retest in 6 weeks. The reason for this is because of the area where the kitten came from. Some of the cats there tested positive, but not all. The kitten would have to be isolated, so someone who can either keep this kitten separate/not have any other cats/kittens. I know not many fosters don't have cats/kittens.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

elevator malfunctions of my own life

We here at Drunken Housewife Dot Com like to run a topic into the ground. Give us a dead horse and a stick, and we will go to town. Before we change the topic back to The Drunken Housewife's Neuroses and Her Really Weird Children, a bit more on the elevators:

* During the time in my life when I was a sole practitioner of the law, I had a couple of really great clients who paid me by the hour to handle anything that came up, big to little. One of those clients had built a little condo building with a new elevator installed in it. That elevator was a lemon, and one of the condo purchasers was obsessed with that elevator. The elevator never actually risked anyone's health while I was involved (at a safe distance from the actual thing); it was just oh so very, very slow --- well below the speed it was warranted to rise at. Every so often the condo purchaser would make a big stink to the developer (my client), who'd call me on the phone, I'd get out the file again, and I'd fax another demanding letter to the elevator manufacturer, who'd send out someone out to go time the elevator and tinker with it but who'd basically do nothing. The nice part of this was that then I'd collect a few more hundred dollars.

* I did once climb out of an elevator between floors, which is a truly stupid thing to do, but I didn't know that at the time. I was a freshman at Boston University, living in that infamous, massive three-pronged monstrosity of a dorm, Warren Towers. The elevators were an endless source of annoyance, and I lived on the 14th floor. Before I gave up on them and took to using the stairs almost exclusively, I was in one with several other students when it stopped between floors. After some little time, a bright freshman pried open the doors, and we discovered we were between floors. We all climbed up and out. One of the other freshmen asked me for my phone number, and the only lasting trauma from that experience was that I embarked upon a near-epically dysfunctional relationship of sorts.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

our continuing coverage of elevators

Today's Chronicle reported that "San Francisco police have all but concluded that pro-Israel activist Daniel Kliman got stuck in an elevator between floors last week, pried open the doors and accidentally fell nearly seven stories to his death."

So let that be a lesson to all of you: if you're stuck in the elevator, wait it out. Poor Nicholas White, trapped in a Manhattan elevator for 41 hours, tried repeatedly to pry the doors open. He was lucky the elevator didn't open in a way he could have fallen down the shaft.

And here's another piece of elevator lore, which I learned from the New Yorker: elevator experts say the close door button is meaningless. It doesn't actually do anything. The doors shut on a timer. If the door closes during or after you pressed it, it was accidental. (So why is that button there? It works for firefighters who have a key. Also, it gives elevator riders a sense of control they find comforting).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

elevators and an update

The Chronicle reported about the crime scene I walked through earlier this week. It turns out that the elevator did it. A man who sounds fascinating, Dr. Dan Kliman, a dynamic vegetarian doctor who was an anti-car and pro-Israel activist, stepped into a malfunctioning elevator and fell to his death.

Elevators, I tell you. I'm resisting with all my might becoming phobic of them ever since I read in the New Yorker about poor Nicholas White, who went out for a cigarette and got stuck in an elevator for FORTY-ONE HOURS. Forty one hours. This, without exaggerating, appears to have ruined his life. I cannot imagine that ordeal (although I can compare it to the birth of Iris, which took about that same length of time and was pretty frigging awful, but yet didn't completely come out of the blue).

Ever eager to support my mental health, the Sober Husband hunted up the video of Nicholas White's ordeal after we read the New Yorker article (security cameras were on the WHOLE FORTY ONE HOURS that poor bastard was trapped in that little box, but no one bothered to glance at them) and nagged me to watch it.
Poor Nicholas White.

Now every time I get into an elevator, I think of Nicholas White and worry. But in memory of Dr. Dan Kliman, I will always look down first and make sure that the door didn't open on emptiness.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

the clash of the socioeconomic classes and why it's nice to stay home

Yesterday I went downtown to see my First Ever Shrink. (My marriage counselor referred me to a psychiatrist to treat my chronic insomnia with medication, and I like him. I've seen him twice, and we're trying a course of medication for my sleep problem). I had to pass through a crime scene to get to my appointment. The Medical Examiner's van was out front of the building, which meant there was a corpse inside, and there were four police cars. It turned out that the crime scene was one of the elevators, which had its workings revealed and was surrounded by a swarm of officers, including some interviewing various, shaken-up looking people. The building's extroverted super whisked me into another elevator and up before I could say, "Wait! I want to know what that other elevator did before I commit!"

The other occupant of my elevator was a freaked out hipster with dark, horn-rimmed glasses and trendy hair. He was completely unnerved. I tried to cheer him up. "At least it's not us. We're fine." He was not so sure he -- or I -- was fine. "We're ambulatory, aren't we?" I said.

That made him smile, and he thanked me. By the time I left, the lobby was quieter, with one uniformed officer guarding the crime scene elevator. This morning's paper revealed that a man had indeed died in that elevator's workings in some sort of mysterious way and that he'd been dead for a week before he'd been discovered. I've been working up a bit of an elevator phobia ever since reading in the New Yorker about a man trapped in his office elevator for FORTY-TWO hours in Manhattan, and this didn't help.

In the evening we all went downtown again by subway to a skating party. The parents of one of Iris Uber Alles's classmates had rented out the entire Embarcadero skating rink for a private party, and the girls were beside themselves with excitement. We skated, Iris doggedly working until she could go around the rink without holding the edge. Lola took great pleasure in falling down and started falling down on purpose, giggling and giggling. I took quite a few turns around to loosen up (I used to love to skate as a child in Maine), but it was hard to safely maneuver around all the falling children. After some time, I returned my skates and joined the parents who had chosen to drink in lieu of athletic activity. I chatted with a number of other parents, including a mother I like a lot, who told me that the thing she was most uncomfortable with about our school was the ostentatious display of wealth by some parents (an example she gave was a limo at a child's first grade birthday party). I laughed and told her that she wouldn't have to worry about that from me because I don't have any money. We discussed our unglamorous socioeconomic backgrounds.

Eventually the party drew to a close. Our hospitable host had ordered massive stacks of pizza and encouraged everyone to take some home. I took a cheese pizza, thinking it would be good for the children's school lunches. Then I went back for another, which I thought I could give to a homeless person. The Sober Husband thought that was not such a good idea. "It's hard to give food away." I disagreed, saying that when I worked downtown, homeless people were happy to get leftovers I gave them, and it was a nice, hot, fresh pizza.

We walked towards the subway. The first homeless person the Sober Husband asked about the pizza declined, saying he'd already had a big dinner. He seemed stoned and barely able to understand the concept. The second person we asked accepted the pizza and called over two other street people. As we walked down into the subway, I turned and saw the three of them eating the pizza with abandon. That made us all feel good, and the Sober Husband decided to give away the second pizza as well (although I wanted to keep it). We ran into a different sort of street person at the fare gates, an enterprising one who had been rummaging through the trashcans for November fastpasses. People who bought December ones threw those old ones away, although they were still good for another three days. We accepted all the Fastpasses and thanked him enthusiastically. The Sober Husband offered hm the pizza. The man hesitated and confided that what he really needed was money, perhaps half what we would have paid for taking the subway. I gave him a five dollar bill because he had been helpful and hadn't asked for anything until we brought up the idea of giving something.

On our way down into the bowels of MUNI, the Sober Husband gave another man our pizza.

While we were waiting on the platofrm, our Fastpass friend came up to me, upset. He said that he'd gone over to the man he saw take our pizza and asked him if he could have just one slice of the pizza, telling him he knew us. Instead of sharing the pizza, that man pulled a knife on him. The Fastpass street person came to me and told me what happened, upset. The Sober Husband was off fiddling around with his iPhone, and I asked him to call the police. A MUNI worker nearby refused to get involved. "I didn't see a thing."

While we were on the platform, discussing this, the pizza-having guy came sweeping down, with a knife in one hand and the pizza box in the other. "What you go telling these people for?" he said to the Fastpass man in a hard voice. He chased towards the other street person, who was right by me on the platform. I pulled Iris and Lola in to me, faces to me, so they wouldn't see anything if someone got stabbed. "Stay close to Mommy." The knife-wielder circled us with his knife out in his hand, me holding the children close and the other street person looking very frightened, and then ran up the stairs with the pizza. "You saw that? You saw that?" said the frantic Fastpass street person. "I saw it, I saw it," I said.

After what felt like a long time, a police officer with two MUNI workers arrived on the platform. I told the officer what had happeneed and that I had seen the knife myself. They all took off in pursuit of the man with the pizza and the knife. Our subway arrived. I was reluctant to get on it, thinking that we might need to give a statement, but the Sober Husband insisted. "I guess no one told us we had to wait," I said as I relented.

On the way home, I reflected about the different socioeconomic classes cheek and jowl down at the Embarcadero Center. One minute we'd been skating with hedge fund managers and drinking wine with millionaires; the next minute, we saw a man pull a knife on another over a piece of leftover pizza. I also thought about the crime scene I'd gone through earlier in the day. I leaned over to the Sober Husband. "You know, it's pretty quiet when you stay home with the cats. It's nice there, staying home with the cats."