Berkeley, July 30

Days slipped by obliquely, with little to remember, just the familiar dent in the sofa cushions…If I kept going, I thought, I’d disappear completely, then reappear in some new form. This was my hope. This was the dream.   –My Year of Rest and Relaxation

I think Ottessa Moshfegh may be a bad influence.

I said “fuck it” after sitting in the same chair working without a break from 9 to 4:30 again today, poured myself a gin and tonic, and brought it into the shower for company. I haven’t showered in three days. Besides, isn’t gin meant to be in a bathtub, or something?

The condensation on the sides of the highball were lovely to the touch, as was the cool clink of the ice cubes and the crisp quinine of the tonic on my tongue in contrast to the humid flux of the shower spray. Yes, gin is best enjoyed in the bath it turns out.

Hours spent sitting in the same attitude had atrophied my muscles and the hot water and cold cocktail worked their magic.

Spruced up, now I’m off to the Safeway to buy something else to buoy the spirit. Wine? Peonies? Twizzler Pull ‘n Peels? All three? I loathe the queue of elderly I’m sure to find there, let alone the judgement of the sales clerk for my being back again in less than 24 hours with such a milieu of items.

My bottles clinking in my shopping basket, admittedly, I’d rather buy Monistat cream, even with the special call button requiring them to unlock the case these days.

At least then they won’t look you in the eye.

Berkeley, July 29

A dear friend called today and rather than answer the phone, I let it go to voicemail. Sometimes it’s too difficult to pretend that everything is okay and that I’m okay and fake cheerfulness.

I just “can’t” with her sometimes. I know that makes me an asshole, but there it is.

After 9 years of friendship, I should be grateful and a better friend to her. Especially for how lonely it is out here; a Midwestern ex-pat. My therapist would say I’m “shoulding” all over myself and he’d be right, but still. Sometimes “should” ought to, in fact, be reality. Even if my heart is lagging.

How long is too long before I call her back? Before I put on my “face” and pretend that California is all I’d hoped it would be?

Berkeley, July 27

I wish they could wrap cheese in something other than plastic.

Being from Wisconsin, cheese is a basic food group in this household and the sound of its unwrapping is the siren call that draws Wendy form whichever pillow she currently resides in the home.

She just KNOWS.

I’ve tried opening a mere cheese single from WITHIN the fridge in hopes of masking the allure, to no avail.

There she is, doe-eyed and expectant. A very good girl. A girl of the streets, sure, who simply needs just this one slice of gouda, smoked gouda being her favorite. But, her palate is ever-evolving.

San Francisco, July 26

I gathered the will to go into the city today. My rescheduled doctor’s appointment to check on my uterine fibroids the occasion. I am still growing another fibroid baby even after the myomectomy nearly three years ago. I’m still relatively young, and don’t want to undergo another surgery in hopes of one day having a healthy full-term pregnancy, so we watch and we wait. My current recurrent fibroid that they can see is a mere 3 cm and has only grown 1 cm in the past year.

In the Lyft on my way to the doctor I passed through my former neighborhood and remembered how my life used to be. How can one not in such a scenario? It was where I first moved to San Francisco from Chicago; the earliest of days. The corner grocery where they’d special order me sugary cereal when my ex was out of town. The coffee shop in which I’d write over a Ceasar salad. The ample hills I’d traverse in search of something…anything else.

Passing through there now, it felt eerie and a lifetime ago. So very much has changed.

Even if only just 1 cm.

Berkeley, July 25

A bad day. I woke up and cleared my calendar and then went back to bed.

I don’t know what to say. Sometimes it’s all I can do just to take a shower and brush my teeth.

This apathy is breathtaking. It just never ends.

Laying in bed, my thoughts wandered back to April when J and I stood overlooking the Seine’s right bank from our VRBO’s floor-to-ceiling windows. It was our last night in Paris and I tossed my only remaining Euro from the Ile St. Louis apartment, watching as it was engulfed by the pulsing water below, alight by the overarching pont.

I made a wish as one would upon a birthday candle then and I remember it now. Will always remember it.

I hope I survive.

Mendocino Grove, July 21

Over coffee at the picnic-table in our campsite this morning, J and I discussed The Handmaid’s Tale, which we’ve been avidly watching. He noted, ironically of course, how the show has ruined so many things for him.

“Like what?’ I asked, semi-judgementally.

“These cars for instance- the Mercedes G-wagons they drive. I used to like them.”

“Ah,” I said. “I wonder how Mercedes feels about their branding these days after formerly being known as Kardashian-wagons. What else?”

He sat a moment and sipped his coffee.

“The color teal?” I offered.

A smirk.

“The name Lydia?”

A nod of agreement.

“Rape, perhaps?”

A look of utter shock and disgust.

“Corporal punishment then?”

“And cattle prods,” he added.

Berkeley, July 19

I mailed my letter to David Sedaris today. Actually, it’s still sitting in the mailbox and I second-guessed myself and about went and stole it back out. It would really be something if he wrote back!

Just before sealing the envelope, I enclosed a feather from one of the parrots, adding a postscript, “Juliette made you a pen.” He likes quirky. Will he take it that way? Enough to reply?

On the way home on BART later this evening there was a black gentleman on his phone bitching about his sister-in-law. He said he wished he could simply say to her, “Love yourself. Love your chocolate self.”

How delicious a sentiment.