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March 11, 2000

I love women. Most of the books I read are written by women. Half of my CD collection is music by women. I could listen to the sound of women's voices all day. I even know a few, though not as many as I'd like.

Ordinarily I enjoy movies about women. Just this year I've seen Girl, Interrupted and Boys Don't Cry and Lucie Aubrac and All About My Mother. Liked them all.

Today I saw a movie written and directed by women, and starring three wonderful actresses. My expectations were not high, based on reviews I'd read, but I thought it had to be better than the critics said. After all, it was written by Delia and Nora Ephron, and directed by Diane Keaton, who stars in it with Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow. How could it be so bad?

It was bad like moldy bread. It was as limp as last week's lettuce. It was so mind-numbingly dull that even I didn't laugh or cry. And I'm a great audience. I will laugh at your lamest joke, guaranteed. I cry over phone company commercials. But I didn't see a moment of genuine emotion or honest humor in Hanging Up. The only thing I liked about it was that it was short. And it gave me something to write about here.

I think Mom liked it a little more than I did. Maybe there's some secret to this film that no man can quite grasp, even a man who loves women and sometimes watches the movies on Lifetime cable starring Veronica Hamel or Connie Sellecca. It's not that I think that makes me an expert. But I prefer to think that if something was missing, it was from the movie and not from me.

I was a little restless after the movie, so I attacked some things around the house that have been bothering me. I shuffled some boxes between rooms and rearranged my CDs, putting away the ones I haven't been listening to lately. I boxed up some video tapes, got some old magazines ready for recycling, and cleaned the kitchen. I couldn't concentrate on any one thing for long, so I just kept busy until my mood changed. I'm not sure I made any improvements to my place (except for a cleaner kitchen), but I felt better for having done it.

When I picked up the Company's mail this afternoon, there was an envelope from the IRS. Sometimes I save the weekend mail for Monday morning, because it eats into what little free time I have. But I couldn't resist finding out what the bad news was. Usually it's an underpayment on payroll taxes due to some mathematical error I've made, with penalties and interest added. I guess they didn't want me to panic, this friendlier tax agency, because the words at the top of the notice read, "We changed your return. You are due a refund." Somehow they've figured out that they owe us $3.62 on unemployment taxes from 1998. The check, they tell me, is in the mail. So I guess I'll be opening envelopes carefully for the next few days.

It was a beautiful day in the North Bay, with a promise of spring. Hazy blue sky, mottled gray and white clouds, just enough breeze to remind us that winter hasn't finished with us yet. The hills are green this time of year, but by June they will all be back to their familiar shade of gold. Some of the trees, a bit ahead of their time, are showing some color as well. Tomorrow it will rain again, but for today there is nature's promise that she will soon lead us out of the dark, as she does every year.

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