Oakland Artist loft fire kills 9, or is it 40?

I’m the type who might build a staircase out of discarded wood palettes. After all, when I want to change the color of my eyeglasses, I paint the frames. With nail polish. Looks great; can’t even tell. I know because people say “I like your glasses” and I say “Thanks”.
I can’t buy eyeglasses in a store for $500 to $800. At Kaiser they consider my glasses a luxury (dispite the fact that I can’t read or drive without them). I think hard before I pay out of pocket for the eye exam, much less the glasses. So, I understand an artist loft in a bad neighborhood and a house full of what not that burns easily.

Truth is, in the Bay Area (home of all things tech)  housing has moved from a right to a privilege; soon to be a luxury. There are some nice tents under the freeways. I even understand the appeal. The freedom. Still, it’s not a way to live.

Nowadays when I see a picture of Obama, I get teary eyed. He’s an intelligent, graceful man. A cool guy even. There was such hope! And now all my people are stunned and afraid of apocalyptic things with a madman at the helm.

These days I feel I could I could burst into tears over any number of situations in my country and in the world at large. But I don’t cry, I sing instead. I sing because neuroscience has shown: a person can not sing and be negative at the same time. The Ah, O and E sounds work best. So I sing because I choose happiness because with that I may be able to do something. 

This morning I went into my copy shop to make the gouache painting I did last night into a holiday card. This shop is close to my house and small. It is owned by an Arab man. He and his son work there. As I am waiting for him to finish my job I look around the shop. Usually I look at the artwork hung on the walls as it changes monthly because the shop is across the street from an art school. Today I am further back in the shop. I am looking at the posters on the walls. They are from “Amnesty International” and “Greenpeace” and “Doctors without Borders”. I say “Hey, we donate to the same places!” and he says back, “They need us now more than ever, right?” And I say “right.”


After my son and I biked 600 miles in 12 days, he jumped off a wall he’s often jumped off and sprained his ankle.

That was a week ago because it takes a 16 year old a week to figure out it’s sprained by the fact that it isn’t getting better.

So we know. He needs crutches. Kaiser doesn’t sell crutches but at the doctor’s visit they’ll give them to you. So, a doctor visit is too much as usual, (due to high deductible) therefore we “google” “crutches”.


I do this first and get offers of surprisingly pricey crutches. They are inexplicably expensive even in supposedly cheap places like Walgreen’s. When Noah googles “crutch”, he gets an entirely different response. He gets all this “church” stuff, referring to belief in god as a crutch.

I probably had the word “buy” in my search. Noah says he had nothing but “Crutch”. Maybe. Noah’s relationship since the get go with reading has been to guess the word first and recheck it later if necessary. It’s gotten him this far. He considers spelling yet another storefront the computer is making obsolete. So maybe his crutch is the computer.

I’ll take “god” over the computer. We ended up borrowing crutches from a friend.


Seeing what is

Not only do I get THE parking space in front of Kaiser (always preferable than going inside a building to park) but the old fashioned meter says “FAIL”.

I am not waiting long before the eye doctor calls me in. I have chosen him online by his name. Not really like guessing a horse for a race or being clueless in a voting booth but still relying a bit on intuition while scheduling my next visit to Kaiser. I chose him because he has the same name as a friend of mine. Never mind that I haven’t seen said friend in over a decade and last I knew he was living in Germany. Still, it’s a connection.

I have made it to the doctor this time. The other two times I made my eye appointment, when they asked for the copayment of $100. I just left surprised. Eye appointments are considered not part of one’s basic needs like Primary or OB/GYN. Hmmm. I’d take vision over sex organs but I’m not running the show so.. now, I am resigned to pay this on top of my insurance.

The doctor is my age and hip-ish, earring and all. He explains to me that my far sightedness is making me want to wear my reading glasses more. In other words, rather than just for reading, I’ll leave them on when I’m doing larger paperwork and such. Tell me something I don’t already know I’m thinking and what I want to know is do I need regular glasses. He does the normal sort of tests asking me to read small and smaller letters and its all good. I don’t really need glasses. I can keep my reading ones on for other things. I can go to the drug store and get different magnifications in different colors. He points out more than once that I can still see when I drive so there’s not much to worry about or do.

I ask him in the middle of all this non advice what I have paid my hundred dollars for but then he gets defensive so I back off and try to get something out of this appointment so I say to him (he’s got on an earring after all) “What about the Tibetan Eye Chart and eye exercises . . Do they help?”
He says, “Sure they help but whose got time for eye exercises?”

Going home, I run into a friend and tell him, “I just spent a hundred dollars to find out my eyes are fine”. He says, “That’s good. It’s better than finding out they are not fine”.