Sunday, August 02, 2015

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 2

Today's Happy Cone goes to my trusty Kenmore Energy Star air conditioner.

This was one of those days when I don't want to go outside. Hot and humid. It was such sweet relief to come in and know that within a few minutes I'll be comfortable.

The AC is one of those modern miracles -- like electricity and running water -- that I take for granted until I'm without it. I shouldn't be that jaded, and the Happy Cone shall remind me to be and stay delighted.

What's that you say? What's the August Happiness Challenge?

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the happy chocolate cone. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

The kid is all right

I spent a little over two hours blabbing with my oldest friend, the one who is struggling so in Southern California. At the end of our call I felt better, and I hope she felt less isolated.

She is in a mighty battle with her bipolar disorder. Her body is trying to adjust to the cocktail of meds her shrink has her taking and she's considering a partial hospitalization program at UCLA. It sounds radical, and I know it took me a while to get my mind around it. Even though it will take her 6-8 weeks to complete, I think it's a very good thing for her. She's had a hard time making friends out there. Her cousin Sharon (the one she moved 2000 miles to be near) has been useless. Her psychologist and psychiatrist don't talk -- at least not enough to suit me. By going into the UCLA program she will have a support system. Counselors and other patients. Maybe a new doctor. I think it's all good.

Of course, we didn't spend the whole two hours talking about that. I had to give her a blow-by-blow recount of Macca at Lolla. One thing that came to me while recounting it: this new generation of fans don't call him "Paul," "Sir Paul" or even "McCartney." He's "PaulMcCartney."

And she told me how she and Sharon believe Sharon's house is haunted. I sent my mind away to the happy place during most of that (the Cub game was on the TV screen, after all) but I know she enthusiastically believes in that sort of thing and I'm glad she's engaged in something that makes her happy.

So I think she's going to be all right. I know this takes courage, this battle she's waging. I know her pain is real. And I'll continue to pray for her, support her and love her.

Sunday Stealing

Do you shout out the answers at the TV while watching quiz shows? I have been known to, yes.

Do you get over-involved with TV or movie plots at times? Oh, yes. I still can't get over the fact that Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men gang are out of my life forever!

What's the highest hill or mountain you've ever climbed? Illinois is notoriously flat, so I had to go to Arkansas to climb a mountain. This is the Hot Springs Mountain Tower in the Ouachita Mountains and it provides breathtaking views of green trees and blue skies.

Do you have a piggy bank? Yes. I just emptied it recently and scored $7.51 in pennies! Coinstar gave me a Red Robin gift certificate, so there's lunch.

What's the fastest you've ever traveled in a car? I don't know. I don't drive and don't pay much attention when I'm being driven somewhere.

Could you ever hand milk a cow? If it came between me and dehydration. But for my sake and the cow's, I hope it never comes to that.

Which was your favorite science? Biology, Physics or Chemistry? D) None of the above

Have you ever had a surprise party? (that was an actual surprise) I threw one that was an actual surprise. In high school, one of the girls in our group had a November 1 birthday. So I told her it was a Halloween party. She came dressed as a clown and was shocked to see the rest of us in street clothes.

Have you ever warn clothing with the labels/tags still attached? Not intentionally

Have you ever slipped on a banana skin? No

Are you scared of the dark? No

Do you have a lawyer? Yes

If you had a paid year off, what would you want to do? Chill out for a while (preferably at Wrigley Field). Then do volunteer work.

How long did you last phone call last? A little over four minutes.

Have you ever helped someone across the road? No.

Have you ever been wolf whistled in public? Yes. But not in a long, long time!

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 1

This year's happy icon
What's that you say? What's the August Happiness Challenge?

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

Today is one of those days when the Challenge is helpful because I'm so annoyed by stuff just now. The condo association (see post below). My oldest friend, who emails me about her overwhelming problems but when I call her, she not only doesn't pick up, her voicemail is full (and she only has a cell, no landline). CVS, who it turns out didn't take $2 off for Joey's cat treats, even though they kept my coupon. Grumble, grumble.

Yet, many little things made me happy, and the Challenge helps me focus on them. The filthy towel that survived Lollapalooza came out of the wash looking very nearly good as new. (Or at least clean).  I had a delicious coffee shop breakfast. I took a long, rejuvenating nap. The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo hit a beautiful home run.

But this year's first Happy Cone goes to the first day of Summer Under the Stars on TCM. What a wallow this is for classic film fans, like me! Today Gene Tierney was featured, and I caught parts of her more familiar movies (Laura and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) and one that's legendary but I'd never seen (The Razor's Edge) and here's the happy, happy part -- I DVR'd a movie I'd never heard of but looks like a soapy, Technicolor gem. Discovering movies I've never even heard of makes me happy, happy.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the happy chocolate cone. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find. 

Too much drama and intrigue

In today's mail I received notification of a "very important" condo association meeting for this Thursday. No agenda is included, but all owners are "strongly encouraged" to attend. Yet it's starting "promptly at 6:00 PM."

At previous meetings, many of us (including and especially me) have told the board that it's very hard to get to the meetings before 7:00 because we work downtown.

So I'm wondering if something isn't up. If the board isn't trying to slip something past us. No matter what's going on at work (and it's going to be busy this week), I'm going to be at that meeting.

I just wish the 24 condo owners in this building could get along without all the drama and intrigue.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Heartbeat Song (2015)

1) Kelly Clarkson is singing an upbeat song about falling in love. Think of your favorite love song. Is it about finding love or losing it? I suppose it's advising a friend about how to keep love. My favorite lyric, "Pride can hurt you, too." Advice to take to heart.

2) This song was co-written by Kara DioGuardi, who was a judge on American Idol. Kelly was, of course, the first American Idol. Do you watch Idol, The Voice, or America's Got Talent? Only Idol. I didn't for a long time, but Harry and Keith are hot. I suppose I watch it more for the beefcake than for the music.

3) In this video, Kelly is blonde. Clairol based a famous ad campaign around the assertion that "blondes have more fun." Tell us another commercial catchphrase (it can be for any product at all). McDonald's "I'm lovin' it."

4) As a young girl, Kelly wanted to be a marine biologist. She jokes that she changed her mind after seeing Jaws. Tell us about a movie that really scared you. The Exorcist.

5) Kelly is very involved with NASCAR, performing at pre-race concerts and appearing at their Champions' Breakfast. Are you a race fan? Nope

6) Kelly is married to Brandon Blackstock, stepson of country superstar Reba McEntire. Are you a country music fan? Nope

7) The Blackstocks have a baby girl, River Rose. In May, the family visited an Australian wildlife preserve and introduced her to koalas and kangaroos. Have you visited the zoo this year? Not yet this summer. But I'm a big fan of Brookfield Zoo. They do such a wonderful job informing generations of us about our role in the environment and all that's at risk in the desert and the rainforest. They do it in a way that's fun, too, which is so important. Plus, of course, you gotta love the animals. If you're ever in Chicagoland, go, go, GO!

8) Upon learning that she was getting criticized on Twitter for being "big," Kelly responded, "Say what you will. It's a free world. It doesn't bother me." How about you? Do you worry what other people think of you? Of course I do. Everyone does. Although with time, I'm able to put it in perspective. I try to learn from constructive criticism and set aside snark.

9) She bid over $200,000 and won a ring that had once belonged to Jane Austen. (She doesn't have the ring, though; the British government banned its sale because it's a historic artifact and Kelly's money was returned.) She also has a first edition of one of Austen's novels. Who is your all-time favorite writer? As a big reader, this is a very hard question to answer. But I can narrow it down to two: Doris Kearns Goodwin, who makes history romantic and accessible, and Nora Ephron, who is the older sister I wish God had given me. Let's close with a wise and wonderful quote from her book, Heartburn.

“And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”

You should go!

 I don't like heat. I don't like crowds. And yet I love Lollapalooza!

The crowd was warm, friendly and (reasonably) well managed. On the way out last night, the security guard for the turnstyle I exited through high-fived each and every one of us, saying, "See you tomorrow!" So I sensed no tension between authorities and audience.

The food was great. Like a mini Taste of Chicago. I met a new band. My nephew and I sat through Alabama Shakes' set because it was in the same spot where Sir Paul would be playing and we wanted good spots for him. But I loved Britney, their Janis Joplinesque lead singer. So that was cool.

It wasn't all great. I can't believe how DIRTY I was after my Lolla adventure. Even under my fingernails! And I'll never forget the porta potty (shudder). Trains were packed and noisy, the expressways were a parking lot. Of my 12 hour day, literally 4 hours of it was spent trying to get to and from Grant Park.

But I don't know what the City could have done better. That was a massive influx of people. It was more peaceful than I had expected.

And I gave my 15-year-old nephew bragging rights. You should have heard his swagger when he took a call from one of his buddies. "I can't talk now. I'm at Lollapalooza." He's a good kid and I'm happy I could give him this.

"OOOH, you were meant to be near me ..."

So I'm standing in Grant Park with 99,999 of my new best friends, waiting for Sir Paul at Lollapalooza. And I admit I'm a little worried. It's a young audience. I was by far the oldest person I could see. How would a 73 year old play to a massive crowd in their 20s and 30s?

Beautifully, thank you. It was during "Got to Get You into My Life" -- a song that was never released as a single when the Beatles were still together -- that I not only knew everything was going to be OK, I realized that my Paul is not really MY Paul and that he's going to be remembered long after I'm dust. For by the third song of his two hour (!) set, it hit me that everyone was singing along, enthusiastically. 100,000 of us were following him, phrase-for-phrase. This song was released 49 years ago.

The boy behind me (25, tops) kept screaming (in my ear), "PAUL! You're bad!" And every time Paul said "thank you," he shouted back, "Thank you, Paul! You're fucking awesome!" At one point he turned to his girlfriend and said with more than a little awe, "I'm seeing a Beatle." He knew which album every song was from, even the Wings and solo stuff. It would have gotten old (I mean, we were so close I could practically feel his breath on my neck) except I was genuinely moved. I told him I thought I was the world's biggest Macca fan, but he was my peer and I was happy to be there with him. He squeezed my shoulders affectionately. It was that kind of crowd.

His Lordship more than earned the audience love last night. He played a full set in the summer heat. Two hours without a break. The other bands played half that.

Friday, July 31, 2015

This is a first

I'm filling the first backpack I've ever carried, in preparation for Lollapalooza. Glasses, contact lens solution/case, comb, sunscreen, wipes, towel, meds (bee sting, tummy trouble, migraines), wallet, phone, camera and ID. Water bottle, if there's room. Oh yeah, and our wristbands.


I'm going to see Sir Paul tonight! I'm going to see Sir Paul tonight.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


This meme is no more. And yet I persist in answering the three questions it asked each week. Stubborn, ain't I?

1. What are you currently reading? Being Nixon by Evan Thomas. A far more engaging book than I expected -- and I'm an Evan Thomas fan. For my whole life, Nixon has been either a villain or a punchline. It's easy to forget that he was a person, and the man whom millions upon millions of
Americans voted for as President three times. So there had to be some real-time appeal there that escapes me now, and that's what I hoped to find when I picked this book up.

I still don't know how anyone could pull the lever for NIXON over KENNEDY or HUMPHREY.* But I'm shocked by the compassion Thomas engenders for this man. Nixon faced prodigious personal demons -- shyness, paranoia, fear of intimacy -- and he tried to face them down. When he was successful, he accomplished much. But when he failed, it was on a grand, historic scale.

Usually when I play WWW.WEDNESDAY, I illustrate it with a photo of JBKO reading. Not this week. Nixon never ever got over his obsession with the Kennedys. He and JFK met very early in their careers, and he liked Kennedy enormously. The Kennedys represented the establishment that shunned him, yet he was as drawn to their charms as everyone else. It was a conflict that bedeviled him to the end of his days.

So instead of Jackie, I show Nixon with Pat. Though not always attentive to her, he was always in love with her. And he worked hard at being a good father.

2. What did you just finish reading? Edith Head's Hollywood by Edith Head with Paddy Calistro. I expected Hollywood dish and I got it. Liz Taylor had a beautiful back; Grace Kelly had perfect posture and a penchant for gloves; Redford was shy about disrobing in front of old Edith. But more than that, I learned how a woman coming of age in the 30s could turn herself into a celebrity and a very successful businesswoman. That part of the story was at least as interesting as the movie star stuff.

3. What will you read next? Probably Calico Joe. This Grisham baseball novel was a surprise giftie from my aunt, who knows how I love the national pasttime.

*I suppose I get McGOVERN, as much as I personally admired the man.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I feel awful

Today my boss called a meeting, a postmortem of sorts to explain what happened with Long Tall Sally. He told us that part of her problem was her inability to get along with Christine.

Oh. My. God. I clashed with Christine and told LTS about it. I may have unwittingly thrown gasoline on the fire. I may have contributed to LTS' dismissal! Because of my actions, this 40-year-old woman who lives with her widowed mother, who has no savings and few friends to turn to or share her troubles with, is now out of a job.

After the meeting, I went straight to my boss and told him it was me. That I had bumped heads with Christine and that LTS was probably defending me. I asked him if he thought I should talk to Mr. Big.

He told me to forget it, that it would have happened to LTS anyway, and he added the names of others
who wanted her gone.

I still feel terrible. My conscience is not clear and besides, I'm worried about LTS. The comments left in a previous post by you blogging buddies have me thinking that she may be bipolar. She needed this job. It makes me very sad that she lost it, even though it may be for the best.

Birthday Girl

“Once you can express yourself, you can tell the world what you want from it or how you would like to change it …  All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.” Jacqueline Kennedy to daughter Caroline

On this day in 1929, the woman who made it chic to be bookish was born.

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's almost Happy Time

Every year I take the August Happiness Challenge. Here's a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

You're invited to join me. Visit me with a link to your daily happy, and I'll come read it. I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.

It helps if your Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you. Here's my 2015 Happy.

P.S. Thanks for the reminder, Kwizgiver!

Cue "Taps"

Long Tall Sally was let go Friday afternoon. Turns out she simply didn't show up for a client meeting on Thursday, nor did she come into the office.

I am simply relieved.

On the one hand, I realize that this is a career setback for LTS, and I'm sorry about that. She was, in her way, very good for me and I appreciate how she enhanced my profile with the client.

On the other hand, she was simply too much drama and I couldn't bear being around her anymore. She's 40, lives with her mother, has no savings and now no job. She doesn't have a lot of friends because she was working overseas for a few years. She rather glommed onto me, talking ad nauseum about what was wrong with her life and all the work she had to do. It was exhausting. And then, to blow off a client meeting ...

I believe she has a good heart and a generous spirit. I hope she gets her life together so her career can recover from this setback.

And I shall enjoy the quiet.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Odds are good that you annoy me

Everyone seems to be bugging me these days.

1) Barb. We go to the theater together. She orders the Broadway on Chicago subscription. That way we have a reason to get together on a regular basis. Otherwise, she reasons, we'll drift apart. I completely laud her intentions, but she forgets to write the playdates down and then I end up scrambling for a seat filler. She's doing it again this coming week for Pippin. Of course she is. Maybe I won't go. Maybe I'll go alone. (That doesn't bother me.) But I don't feel like asking someone else to accompany me. I don't like anyone well enough these days.

2) Rose. Ah, Cousin Rose. Once again exhibiting why I love her but don't like her. We're related on our mothers' side, which gives us each a father's side filled with relatives we don't share. When she goes on and on about cousins, nieces and nephews I either haven't met or don't recall, I feign interest and try to ask polite questions. Most recently, it concerned her taking young-uns to NASA and Cape Kennedy. Again, I don't care. But to be nice, I asked if the name hadn't been restored to Cape Canaveral. She wrote back that was something I could just "look up on Wikipedia." How about you fuck yourself? I took several deep breaths and counted to 10 a few times before answering that letter.

3) Kathleen. Last year, when we celebrated my birthday/her birthday and Christmas, she gave me a card and said we had a date to see a Cub game at the renovated Wrigley Field. The season started in April. When, in May, she still hadn't mentioned it, I sent her a list of games and dates that were good for me through July 26. May ... June ... July. I told her I didn't want to do August because I don't like heat, and September is always iffy because rainouts are notoriously hard to reschedule at that late date.

First she set a date in June. Then she changed it because her daughter's college roommate would be visiting and wanted to join us, so she chose another date. Then she cancelled that one because her husband wanted to take her to a concert that night. Then I had to commit to the first weekend in August, even though I didn't want to go that late in the season, so she could coordinate with both her adult son (he now lives in Detroit) and daughter. Then she cancelled that one because it's too confusing for her son and daughter and what about September? I told her to forget it. If it's too hard, we just shouldn't do it. 'SHUT UP," she emailed back. "I love you and want to see you." That was July 17. I still haven't heard back.

So basically, it seems, she's trying to consolidate my birthday -- which was more than eight months ago now -- with spending the afternoon with her kids. And when it comes to dates and preferences, it's obvious my wishes come in third, after her kids'. I'm hurt and embarrassed. Clearly this is not a priority for her, and it would be less humiliating if we just forget about it.

4) My Clown Car cohabitants and everyone else at work. Can't stand their faces. Need a day off desperately. All I really did today was nap, because the thought of going in and facing them, my grumpy old boss and Long Tall Sally -- who, while well meaning, really is insane -- exhausts me.

I hope I get to work out at least once this week. The lack of physical activity isn't helping my mood.


Face forward, Old Gal. To paraphrase his lordship, it's going to get better, a little better all the time ...

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: I'll Spread My Wings ...

1. Have you ever had a pen pal? In junior high. It didn't last long and I don't remember much, if anything, about her.

2. What’s your favorite breed of dog? A mixed-breed shelter rescue. Open your heart and look for your next best friend here.

3. Can money buy happiness? It can buy comfort and security, which can give happiness the time and space to grow.

4. Do you listen to music when you’re down? Yes

5. What is one thing you spend way too much money on? Watches. Instead spending $10 to replace the battery in my favorite watch, I'll replace it for $30 or $40. Which is stupid.

6. Can you honestly say you’re okay right now? Yes

7. What was the last thing you spent money on? Movie ticket (see post below)

8. Is your current hair color mostly your natural hair color? Augmented by highlights

9. Who have you texted in the last 24 hours? Nobody

10. Were you in a good mood last night? Yes. I spent a lot of time on the phone, catching up with my oldest friend. Happy to report we're both doing better this Saturday than we were last Saturday.

11. Do you have a reason to smile right now? Yes. My wonderful old cat Joey is sitting next to me, purring loudly and feeling healthy. I'm so grateful he's still with me at 20 years of age.

12. How often do you hold back what you want to say? Not as much as I should.

13. Do you think that in the end, everything will fall into place? Yes

14. Are you currently looking forward to anything? This Friday I'm seeing Sir Paul at Lollapalooza!

15. Do you have any TV shows on DVD? Yes

Oh, yes!

I really enjoyed Trainwreck. Yes, at times it was vulgar (but, at times, so am I) and yes, some of the jokes were a little too raw for me. But on whole, it was a blast.

The POV was unique. Not all women are aching to marry. Some of us are relationship-phobic. As one who spent her 20s and early/mid 30s partying too hard and sleeping with the wrong men (though my body count was nowhere near as prodigious as Amy's), I can relate to much of what the main character had to say. And that's why I doubt that these two continue enjoying their happy ending after the cameras stop rolling. But that didn't stop me from laughing loudly and heartily at this raunchy rom-com.

BTW, Amy Schumer reminds me of the star of the other summer comedy hit, Melissa McCarthy, in that my response to her TV show is lukewarm at best. I think that perhaps the demands of budget and time make it more difficult to produce consistently good TV.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: All the Way

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here. (You'll thank me. It's beautiful.)

1) In this song, Frank sings, "who knows where the road will lead us?" Which leads Sam to ask, does your vehicle have GPS? No vehicle. But, since I have no sense of direction whatsoever, I'd like to have one implanted in my wrist.

2) Sinatra introduced "All the Way" in the movie, The Joker Is Wild. During that film he also sang "Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)." A few years later, in the movie Robin and The Seven Hoods, he declared Chicago as his "kind of town." Besides Chicago, can you think of another city Frank immortalized in song? That would be the city doesn't sleep, New York, New York.
3) When Frank was 19, he saw a pretty girl sitting on her front porch, giving herself a manicure. He went and got his ukelele and serenaded her. That girl became his first wife, Nancy. Tell us how one of your romances began. This coworker and I were working late and I thought we were alone at the office. Because he was behind his desk, he couldn't see me from the waist down so I got comfortable. I twisted around and threw my skirted leg over the arm of the chair. Not ladylike, to be sure, but since he couldn't see me I figured, "no harm, no foul." Well, we weren't alone, and Dan most unexpectedly walked by. I'll never forget the look that most fleetingly passed his face when he saw me like that. Our eyes met and we both said, "Sorry," at the same moment as I composed myself. Heretofore he'd been a very cold fish (my nickname for him was "cyborg"). Seeing me like that warmed him up! He turned out to be a very lovely man -- more than a little emotionally shut off, to be sure, but a good person. I enjoyed our subsequent romance very much.

4) Both Frank and Nancy grew up in New Jersey. When you think of NJ, what else comes to mind? That it's a death trap, a suicide rap ... at least that's what BROOOOOCE tells me.

5) Sinatra made Las Vegas as famous for entertainment as for gambling. He was so identified with the Strip, that when he played Caesar's Palace the marquee simply said, "He's Here." Have you ever been to Vegas? Yes. Love it because it's such a silly escape from reality. Celebrating my birthday there again this year. This time we're staying at Excalibur.
My favorite Italian restaurant
6) Thin for most of his life, Frank was blessed with a metabolism that allowed him to whatever he wanted without gaining weight. He especially enjoyed clams posillipo. What's your favorite Italian dish? Manicotti. Especially at LaCantina. "Baked ricotta cheese filled crepes served with tomato or cream sauce." I always choose the tomato sauce. Unfortunately, unlike Frank, I do gain weight when I eat Italian food.
7) Perhaps because of his hardscrabble childhood, Sinatra was a soft touch for charities devoted to kids. One of his favorites was Variety, which sends disadvantaged children on day trips to museums, zoos and sporting events. Here's your chance to tell us about a cause that's near and dear to your heart. Toys for Tots. Every child deserves something from Santa. People forget that they collect all year around, and that early contributions help them plan. To learn more about their wonderful work, click here.

8) Sinatra was a neat freak who couldn't stand dust or clutter and showered at least twice a day. He got this from his mother Dolly, who was compulsive about housecleaning and hygiene. Can you think of a time when you caught yourself doing something and thought, "I'm just like Mom/Dad!" My home is maintained for the convenience and comfort of my cats. I got that from my mom. She taught us that our pets should be loved and respected as members of the family.

9) In 1998, Sinatra was buried with the things he always had in tow: a bottle of Jack Daniels, a pack of Camels, a Zippo lighter and 10 dimes. Why the dimes? According to his daughter, "He never wanted to be caught not able to make a call." Of course, 17 years later cell phones have replaced pay phones. Anyway, tell us what you always carry. I never leave the house without my watch and rings. Oddly, I remove them -- looping the rings on the watch band -- as soon as I get home. But I've always got them on when I go out the door, so I'd want them with me through eternity.

A matinee, a cocktail and an apology

Last Sunday our movie group had our summer outing. We saw Double Indemnity on the big, big screen at the multiplex. Because they had a bar, I took a Cosmo into the theater. Fred MacMurray's character, Walter Kneff, would have wanted me to.

Afterward I was going to head to the office to finish up a little in-office brochure. Between jury duty and Long Tall Sally's blabbing, I was behind on The Big Project. But Joanna, my best movie group bud, convinced me to stop for just one drink so we classic movie lovers could discuss Double Indemnity.

I didn't have a second drink. I still had to go back to work. But Joanna did (or maybe it was her first). At any rate, I've never been around her when liquor was involved. Good God, but it loosened her tongue! I couldn't finish a sentence without her interrupting ... or disagreeing ... or just hijacking the conversation.

I found myself snapping at her. I was brusque and sarcastic. When I got to the Sunday-silent office, I felt terrible. She's a warm and smart woman and didn't deserve that. Especially not when you consider that the topics we'd been discussing were Marilyn Monroe's oeuvre and whether there were five Marx Bros. or six.

So I shot her an email, apologizing and trying to explain how raw I felt after such a rough week. She was very gracious, telling me to forget about it because she intended to.

I'm grateful she was so understanding.

I took the high road

I don't drive, so I don't think about potholes very much. I know that, every spring, they are a major issue throughout Chicagoland. But they really aren't anything I consider.

Which, according to the City of Chicago, made me an acceptable juror. The lucky individuals who weren't impaneled were the ones who said they hated potholes and had elaborate, gruesome stories about the damage done to their cars.

The case I got was a woman who sued the city because she fell in a pothole and messed up her knee. She requested $17,000 for medical bills, pain and suffering and loss of ordinary use. We awarded her just over $9,000. As a jury, we felt that her accident was more than half the City's fault, since the law states that maintaining the roads is their responsibility. On the other hand, $17,000 was steep and "loss of ordinary use" felt to me as though she was gilding the lily. She didn't lose her leg, after all.

I feel good about the verdict, the award, and our ability to reach consensus. But I hated jury duty.

Too many people (12 jurors, 2 alternates and, at times, a sheriff's deputy) in one small room while we waited for court to begin and while we deliberated. And some people are such assholes.

The judge told us not to consider the woman's health insurance. It was in writing, too, in the jury instructions. Insurance is a private contract and has no bearing on whether or not the City was responsible for the woman's injuries.

So what's the first question that comes up? "I wonder how much her insurance paid ..." The man who asked made it clear he thought she was "double dipping."

"We're not supposed to consider that," I said.

"I think it's important and so I'm putting it out there."

"And I'm batting it back because the judge said we're not supposed to consider it."

Good, Gal. You just caused tension in this tiny room. I didn't want to, but I couldn't help it.

He also wanted us to do this "in a hurry" so we could "get out of there." After all, we jurors had trains to catch and this wasn't "that big a deal, anyway."

I countered that I was going to take my time. I pointed out that it was a big deal -- this case had taken two years to come to trial -- to the plaintiff. And I reminded him I'd taken an oath. One of the other female jurors actually said, "amen," and that's when I saw I was speaking for the women in the room. Here I was afraid I'd made the high road so high that I would get a nosebleed, and it turned out I was doing something important.

But it took me days to shake how angry I was at that man, my fellow juror. At least I know I'll never have to see him again. (Though actually, I might. He happens to work at the hospital just up the street, the one where I go to get my annual mammogram.)

Friday, July 24, 2015


I am the world's worst housekeeper. I believe that's indisputable. And yet what happened last week freaked even me out.

First, my bathtub was stopped up. So I snaked and plunged it, loosening stuff and letting it come from the drain into the tub. I identified hair and globs of the clay mask I use a couple mornings a week. A lot of it I couldn't identify, and didn't want to. Before I could rinse and scrub it away I had to wipe away the big stuff. So I grabbed the white towel from the rag drawer. When I was done, it was creepy/ooky.

Then I went out for brunch. On the way back, a pigeon pooped on my head. Talk about creepy/ooky! The birdshit felt warm as it ran down my face! I couldn't get home fast enough to wash it off. Once again, I reached for the big, dirty white towel because I didn't to ruin my linens with pigeon poop.

I washed the big white towel and not all of it came out. That's how filthy it was. It went through the washer and still came out filthy.

This weekend, it gets bleached. If any of the creepy/ooky is still visible, I'm giving it up to the dumpster.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Being grown up is for the birds

... Like the pigeon who pooped on my head, literally, as I walked under the el tracks Saturday.

Last week was a rough week. This week doesn't look to be much better.

I'm trying to take Sir Paul's advice and accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative.

But what I'd really like is alone time to relax and recharge. To lay around all day, dreaming of my
cowboy, catching up on my blogging and playing Farmville.

Unfortunately, I've got to go to work. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Stealing

Let's Not Be Difficult

1. Do you like your movies and books to be more lighthearted or serious?   Depends on  my mood.

 2. What’s more important, first impressions or lasting impact? 
Lasting impact.

 3. Order these areas of psychological health from what you need the least improvement into what you need the most improvement in: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, spiritual.
I have a hard time discerning the boundaries between emotional/intellectual/spiritual. So I'll make my own life easier and say physical. I haven't worked out in more than a week.

4. Do you react appropriately to things and control your feelings? 
I try to control my feelings. I am not always successful, and  often  doing so costs me. Maybe I'd do better to just say "fuck it" more often.

5. Do you have stable relationships? 
Some. Not all

6. Do you need to be in a relationship to feel good about yourself? 
Of course not.

7. Which is the clearest and most concise, your thoughts, your speech or your writing? Which is the least clear and concise? 
I'm very verbal. I'm best  in writing, but I'm clear and concise in conversation, too.

8. Are you always trying to learn new things?
Yes. Like right now, I'm learning all kinds of things about Richard Nixon, the villain of my girlhood years, and I find myself surprised by the compassion I feel for him.

9. Do you feel at peace?
More often than not. But not always.

10. Do you have strong morals and ethics that you believe in and adhere to?
Yes. I'm not always successful, but I try. I believe in God's grace, and I try to deserve it.

11. Do you think of the needs of all humanity or just the needs of yourself and those you know? 
While I believe in the needs of all humanity, I also think charity begins at home, so  it becomes a question of whose needs get top priority.
12. Do you recycle?
Of course.

13. Are you active in your community?
Not as active as I should be.

14. Are you sensitive to the needs of others?
I try. Every day  I do try.

15. Do you dress up to go out?
As seldom as possible.

16. What could make you lose respect for someone? 
Small mindedness. The inability to walk a mile in the other guy's shoes.

17. If you won $1,000 every week until you die, would you still go to work?
Before I answer, tell me if that 's $1,000 before or after taxes.

18. What trend has been getting on your nerves lately? 
Donald Trump. I hope that yesterday's ugly and stupid comments about John McCain put an end to his stunt candidacy.

19. Do you forgive yourself when you make a mistake?
Depends on the mistake.

20. Is ignorance really bliss? 

21. What can be described as ‘even better than the real thing’? 
Huh? You mean, like margarine vs. butter? I really can't think of anything.

22. What’s in your wallet right now?
Money, credit cards, store discount cards, and way, way too many ATM receipts.

23. Do you write letters that you never send

24. Do you ever get the feeling people are laughing at you? 
On occasion.  And I'm not sure they're wrong.

25. Who’s the one person you’d like to drop a house on? 
Just one?

Our $155,000,000 Man Comes Through

Jon Lester had a NO HITTER going into the 8th inning last night!

He's our new ace, the Christmas gift management bought us Cub fans during the off season. He came with that massive price tag (though the $155 million is over six seasons) and lots of high expectations. Expectations he hasn't met yet. He had a slow spring and, while things picked up for him in July, he still wasn't winning.

Until last night! Wow! Was he good last night! His first game after we hit the halfway mark and he was un-freaking-stoppable. Maybe he needed the weather to get really hot -- it was in the 90s yesterday in Hotlanta, while it's been unseasonably chilly here in Chicago* all season. Maybe he needed to get used to NL rules -- pitchers get pulled earlier on this side because we don't have the DH. Maybe something just clicked. But he was great.

So Saturday night, we saw the pitcher Theo Epstein -- who doesn't necessarily believe in big contracts -- is worth that massive paycheck. And now I get it.

*Though Friday and Saturday, it was 90º+ here, as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Shut up!

I am a blabby person. Chirpy, even. I think I use up my day's allotment words at the office, which is why I'm so comfortable being alone evenings/weekends. I've talked enough Monday-Friday.

But Long Tall Sally (aka The New Girl) leaves me in the shade. She's not only verbose, her conversation is always drama laden. And inopportune. And she took an already bad week and made it far worse.

Wednesday was my first day in the office after two days of jury duty (more on that in another post). I had a lot of work to do, many emails to catch up on. And yet, after everyone else had gone home, LTS chose this time to sit down and start taking to me about Life at The Agency. What I like, what I don't like. She asked a lot of questions but didn't do much listening (as we will see later). I told her how claustrophobic our seating is in The Clown Car … how tense the atmosphere among the four of us becomes, and why … how hard I try to keep things copacetic … how tired I am when I get home each night, that I'm too exhausted to talk to anyone … Then she took over and told me about her travails with her boss and Christine the Mole. I know she's lonely and doesn't have a lot of friends, and I do appreciate how supportive she is of me professionally, so I listened. For hours. Until well after 8:00. I'd say I resented the time I put in with her, but emotionally I was too empty to screw up that much feeling.

So what does Long Tall Sally do on Thursday? She brings her computer in to our little Clown Car, parks herself and starts asking one of our coworkers incredibly provocative questions. Questions she knew the answers to, because he's an outspoken RWNJ. About religion (dislikes this new Pope), global warming (doesn't accept it), homosexuality (the choice of the depraved), and rape (all about sex, despite what "they" want you to believe about rage and power). It was so loud, went on so long, and was so offensive that one of our teammates from across the aisle sent me this gif.

I was upset, highly upset. So were two of the coworkers who also share The Clown Car. I told LTS it was unwise and upsetting.

"Why?" she asked. "He's got free speech."

I was beyond exasperated. "I'm not talking about imprisoning him! I'm talking about my right to do my work without listening to his bile!" I told her how I was going to have to spend all evening trying to figure out how to forgive him. After all, this is a man I can reach out and touch for 40 hours/week. I already have to overlook the picture of Obama as a rodeo clown and the cartoon mocking Mohammed he tacked on his bulletin board, in my sight line all day/every day. Now this.

When I tried to explain this to LTS, she said, "So I suck. That's it, right?"

"Why are you determined to make this about you and me?" I asked. And then I went home.

On Friday, the office closes at 1:00. I didn't get out until 3:30. Why? Guess. Go ahead. Guess. She went on, and on, and on ... just wanting to make sure she and I were still OK.

And I had work to do! 

I'm tired. Tired. Tired.

Tired of all of it.

Of the Big Project. Of last summer's Big Project, which has now sprung back to life and is now on my plate. Of my coworkers. Of my friends. (I should do a post about them, too, but I'm too tired and it makes me too sad.)

I won't be able to take any real time off until September. I have a ton of vacation time, but I haven't been able to take it.