The Newsletter Thingy

The Sybarite Newsletter: Pink Phones, Home Economics, Writer’s Block, Father’s Day and I Need a Lawyer

There’s a lot going on this week.

Adeline Dimond


The Author with her father, sometime in the 1970s

***Weird, spooky update! As soon as I published this newsletter, NPR aired a story about why woodpeckers bang on metal, and it’s not because they’re confused! It’s because they are trying to make noise. So my whole metaphor below doesn’t make any sense. But too tired to change it now, so carry on.***

Buckle up, Sybarites. I have a lot on my mind this Monday morning, so let’s get the basics out of the way before I explode all over the page with anything and everything that’s going on in my head, where it is currently very, very loud.

This week we again have the inimitable Kyrie Gray with a touching story — and I really mean it when I say “touching,” even though I think that adjective is super overused — about sisterhood and it’s inevitably intense, combat-level competition. Also, I just love her illustrations so much. They sort of remind me of Lynda Barry or Hyperbole-and-a-Half, which is very high praise considering I clipped Barry’s cartoon’s from the Village Voice decades ago and Hypbebole-and-a-Half has made me snort coffee out of my nose more than once. If Kyrie continues to submit, I might just dedicate a whole section of the publication to her, because those drawings give me joy sparks, to bastardize a phrase from Marie Kondo.

Speaking of Marie Kondo and home stuff, I wrote a piece this week about a longing to be taught home economics because I feel like I missed out on learning important things I was supposed to learn. To me, adulthood sort of feels like cosplay, like I was allowed to graduate to adulthood from adolescence without taking the required classes. Sometimes when I’m pushing a shopping cart through a grocery store, I think to myself “This is what adults do,” and I wonder if I’m going to be found out.

While I didn’t go this deep in the piece, I did try to explain the feeling of missing out on something important, some user’s guide that everyone else has but me. But based on the comments, it seems like I failed at communicating this because most of the people seemed to think my problem was that I don’t know how to cook. And that couldn’t be further from the truth; in fact, my cooking is one of my most-often used feminine wiles. Typically by the second date I am roasting a chicken for some guy or making pork tinga. During my longest relationship all I had to do was make chicken curry to smooth over any disagreement. (I don’t recommend courting men through food, and I’ll write about why someday). I am, after all, the person who brought you instructions on how to cook a single piece of fish perfectly.

For the last few days I’ve been wondering where the disconnect was between the piece and the comments, and I concluded that my writing is getting worse, not better. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m a good writer. But there was period of steady improvement, then I really hit my stride, then I guess I plateaued and now I’m sliding down the other side. I currently just don’t know how to use words in a way that smacks the reader in the face with a two-by-four, or makes them feel like someone plunged a knife into their heart.

I don’t think all essays need to be so violent, obviously, but there has to be clarity, something that makes the reader pick up exactly what you’re putting down. I looked over some of my earlier pieces and found this one that I truly love, (I think) when I was trying my best to teach myself how to write. But right now, even though I try to follow my own writing advice, it feels like I can’t quite hit the mark.

Luckily, I can still recognize a metaphor when I see one. Yesterday I took Fish to a new park, and we saw a woodpecker trying to peck a hole in the metal pole holding up a parking sign. The pole had man-made holes in it already, so I could see why the woodpecker thought it was on to something. It was heartbreaking to to watch, and this is kinda how my writing feels now.

So I think I’m going to take a little break, until I can stop pecking at metal poles and write something with true clarity. This means if Sybarite is going to survive, it really does need more submissions from far and wide. I’m working on getting a few people I know in the real world to submit, because it turns out that if you start talking to people in earnest you find out that they know things like how to forage mushrooms or how to to find nudibranchs in tide pools. Medium readers, I’m sure you know something cool like that too, so write it down and submit. (If you aren’t already a Sybarite writer, send me a draft at and we’ll go from there).

It was Father’s Day yesterday, and I was surprisingly okay, even though it’s been less than a year since my dad died, a process I considered to be a pretty harrowing experience. But I’m healthy enough to not be moved by holidays that have been entirely co-opted by 50% off sales.

That said, I do need a good medical malpractice lawyer on behalf of my dad. I’m becoming discouraged in my search for one, and I thought that maybe, just maybe, one of my readers would know someone interested in taking a chance on what might be a novel legal theory. I haven’t written about any of this yet (I will if a lawsuit doesn’t materialize) but I believe my father’s estate has a cause of action against Kaiser for its failure to issue a hospice order — despite my begging and pleading for one for more than a week — leading to severe pain and suffering.

The problem, however, is this: medical malpractice lawsuits are typically based on wrongful death claims, or permanent pain and suffering. Obviously because my father is dead there is no permanent pain and suffering, and failure to issue a hospice order did not cause his death. However, in 2022, California implemented CCP § 377.34 which allows a decedent’s estate to recover damages for pain and suffering prior to death.

I’ve been trying to find an attorney who will take this on, based on the theory that the failure to issue the hospice order led to unnecessarily intubating him, but I’m not having a lot of luck. (I engaged one attorney initially, but I just don’t like him). Most attorneys don’t want to take the case because these cases are typically based on a contingency payment structure, and I guess the potential payout isn’t entirely clear. But I’m so disgusted with Kaiser that I’d be willing to pay by the hour.

For those of you who are about to write BuT YOu’Re aN ATtOrNeY wHy DOn’T YOu dO iT — otherwise known as the people who have been commenting on my piece on Israel that I must be a fake attorney because I’m not buying into the mass delusion that there is a genocide in Gaza — that’s like asking a dermatologist to do brain surgery, or an ENT doctor to review your kidney function. Kaiser has made the arbitration process incredibly opaque and Byzantine, and I’m smart enough to know that I need an expert.

So, if anyone knows of a good medical malpractice attorney in Southern California who knows how to manage the labyrinth of Kaiser arbitration, please send them my way. We have until July 31, 2024 to file.

Until next time, Sybarites. In the meantime, pour yourselves a pint of Carlsberg beer in honor of my dad.

AD, Sybarite-in-Chief

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Here’s a former introduction to Sybarite, before we (I) decided to open it up to personal essays.