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2001-05-04 | 7:08 p.m.

I am a freelance writer and editor living in Northern California. If I were reading this myself I'd wonder if I were a new-age wackadoo, but that would be jumping to conclusions. I live in sin with Duff, the father of my three children, who is a generally good and honorable all-American man. Despite his merits, I complain about him here a great deal. I can't afford a therapist; I just have this diary.

[Warning: this entry is unaccountably long. Well, not really unaccountably; I just repurposed some biographical information I wrote for a profile and then decided not to use. Anyway the point is you might want to stop here. Suffice it to say I'm just a big schlub.]

I am part intellectual, part activist, part buffoon; mostly I don't accomplish much. As my New Year's resolution, I made a shelf of books I want to read before I die. Among them were Moby-Dick and Faust. I'm a bit of a snob about books and movies but I find it a difficult position to defend, especially since I enjoy mainstream entertainment (I don't want to say slumming) almost as much as the next person. This year I read Timeline, by Michael Crichton, because I really wanted to (it was pretty weak, but I'm a sucker for time-travel stories), and I've loved all the Harry Potter books and the two Bridget Jones diaries, which brought me to tears of hysterical joy. Right now I'm reading Margaret Drabble's The Peppered Moth and hoping my review of it will be printed in a local arts weekly.

My pet political issues include education, the environment, and human rights; more specifically, I'm interested in things like prison reform, especially in women's prisons, changing the way drug offenders are sentenced, ending sweatshop labor, and things like that. My closest friends also know that I am an almost militant atheist and skeptic, though I try to stop short of being an absolute crank. I've read that Joseph Campbell said "God is a metaphor," and that sounds about right to me. But I do leave a little room in my life for absurdities like horoscopes and personality tests. But I refuse to read my children's horoscopes because I don't want to start thinking of them in terms of their supposed traits, as distinct from their actual traits.

A while back I took a women's magazine quiz, one of those assessment tests that sums up your personality in a four-letter code, and I realized that I am probably an introvert, not an extrovert (as I had believed all my life), which helps explain why I have panic attacks every time I throw a party or have to go to one. As I get older, I become more attached to the idea that there is something slightly wrong with me: I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, also chronic stress and anxiety. Maybe I am rotting with cancer inside, or my arteries are plugged solid. This is what I think to myself, mind you--I really don't go around glooming it up to everybody.

After living in college towns for 15 years or so, I'm now living in a blandly religious, relatively culture-free and (compared to what I'm used to, at least) conservative suburb where my only friends are other mothers I've met through my kids. Banal, but not evil, unless you believe that banality is evil. I do hope I don't live here for the rest of my life. Or even for the rest of the decade. I'm writing a screenplay, and have another in mind--I'm hoping to make enough money to escape. But I've barely written anything.

I still keep in touch with many old friends through e-mail, and every now and then I drive down to Berkeley or San Francisco and fight for a parking space and come home a few hours later, exhausted and grateful for my driveway.

Like I said, I'm a schlub. Kinda lonely, mildly depressed, often disoriented, but never bored.

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