Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 25

Today's happiness -- Summer sandals.  I love it that the last thing I do before leaving the house is slipping into my Birkenstocks. No socks to put on, no laces or buckles to contend with. Yes, I am that lazy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 24

Today's happiness -- That I can.  I dropped off a bag for the local food pantry. Pasta, Spaghetti-Os, tuna, mustard, tomato soup, etc. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive. But every box, can and bottle will go to good use. There's something both humbling and satisfying about being able to help. Humbling because it's reminder that it could happen to me, I could be the one who needs a bag of food to get by. Satisfying because I know I just made a difference. And most of all, I'm grateful and happy that I can make a donation.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Stealing

Click here to play along

1. Favorite fictional couple?  After giving this some thought, I'll go with Bob and Emily Hartley from The Bob Newhart Show. Theirs seemed like a marriage of equals who genuinely enjoyed and supported one another.

2. Favorite fictional character? Jo March from Little Women

 3. Favorite fictional TV show? Mad Men, though I could argue that it isn't all that fictional

 4. Favorite fictional movie? The Way We Were

 5. Favorite fictional villain? Hans Gruber in Die Hard

 6. Favorite fictional hero? John McClane in Die Hard

 7. Favorite fictional pet? Thomasina was a wonderful cat

 8. Favorite fictional setting/universe? OK, ya got me. I have no answer.

 9. Least favorite fictional couple? The Nanny and Mr. Sheffield.

 10. Least favorite fictional character? Anyone played by Patricia Heaton. I can't stand that woman.

 11. Least favorite fictional TV show? Any one starring Patricia Heaton. I can't stand that woman.

 12. Least favorite fictional movie? Star Wars. I don't hate it, I just don't get it

 13. Least favorite fictional villain? I'm sorry. I got nothing.

 14. Least favorite fictional hero? The lead in The DaVinci Code.

 15. Least favorite fictional pet? The Brady Girls' cat. The poor thing disappeared once that group somehow formed a family and became The Brady Bunch.

 16. Least favorite fictional setting/universe? Middle Earth

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 23

Today's happiness -- Saving money.  Instead of spending $40+ in cab fare to the salon for my haircut, I spent $3.50 on the bus. I'm feeling not only happy but virtuous.

Reflections on my Saturday

•  Bromelain is the enzyme in pineapple that causes diarrhea. I ate a ton of it Friday afternoon because it tasted sooooo good and because it's so full of vitamin C and fiber. I didn't know about Bromelain. I do now.

•  Got some serious streaks in my hair today. A good haircut with some highlights is a tonic for anything that may ail me.

 •  Getting caught in the rain exhausts me. I don't know why. The storm cooled things off considerably and made the world more comfortable. Yet when I finally got home I slept away most of my Saturday night. I put on the Cub game -- it was on rain delay, of course -- dozed off and woke up hours later. Even after I finally awoke I was just lazy and rooted to the futon.

Image courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday 9

1) Popular music has produced almost countless groups, but not that many duos. Besides Sonny & Cher, can you name another? Hall and Oates. "She's Gone" has been running through my mind for a week now. That little earwig has really borne in!

2)  Hearing this recording from his clock radio is how Bill Murray woke up every morning in Groundhog Day. What woke you up this morning? My cat Rey decided at 4:30 that it was time to rise and shine. He can be a persistent little shit.

3) When she was growing up, Cher practiced her autograph for when she became a star. Is your signature legible? Or is it more of a scrawl? I have very nice handwriting. Which is worth very little in today's world.

4) In addition to show biz, Sonny & Cher had many careers: Sonny was a restauranteur and politician, Cher is an interior designer. Would you like to try your hand at any of those professions? Nope.

5) In 1965, when this song topped the charts, Sonny and Cher were as famous for their wardrobe as for their music. Sonny was fond of tall, heavy-heeled boots while Cher often paired granny dresses with bare feet. What's on your feet right now? I'm barefootin'.

6) By 1968, their career crashed. Cher's early attempts as a movie actress failed, their records stopped selling and the IRS came after them for back taxes. Have you ever been audited? Not an official audit, though twice I've received letters from the IRS explaining that they took a different view of my return than I did. That means twice they made me drink and cry and swear with worry. Fortunately both times my accountant cleared it up and I didn't have to pay any incremental tax.

7) In 1971 they were on top again with their TV show. But their marriage was coming apart. Sonny said, "For the last 5 years I worried about our career, not about us." Have you ever been guilty of putting career before relationship? No. I've been guilty of the opposite and shirking my professional duties because My Man needed me. Funny but in retrospect I do regret it. The men weren't worth it.

8) By 1972 they were living separate lives -- in the same house. For the sake of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, they pretended to be happily married another year and a half. Tell us about a time when you pretended to be happy, but weren't. HA! Daily! I work in a clown car -- four of squeezed into an office space better suited to two. It's so exhausting to pretend, day in/day out, that I don't hate the proximity of my coworkers.
That's me in the trunk

9) While their separation and divorce were bitter, they resumed their friendship when Cher showed up at the opening of his restaurant in 1976. Have you ever made the first move in repairing a relationship? Yes. I can be stubborn in relationships, to be sure, but if you're my friend I'm quick to forgive.

I wanna hang with these guys

When I was housebound with a cold, I rediscovered Bonanza. My affection/appreciation grows with each episode I watch. Part of it is nostalgia -- when I was a kid, every adult in my life loved the show.* Part of it is quality -- it's well written. Part of it is novelty -- there aren't many westerns anymore.

Part of it is the Cartwright men. They were pretty neat. There's crazy successful patriarch Ben, who built the biggest ranch in Nevada, the Ponderosa. Fair and wise and sensitive. And wildly unlucky in love. His first wife died in childbirth. His second wife died in an Indian attack. His third wife was thrown from a horse. This accounts for two things: 1) since his three sons had different mothers, they can't be expected to look too much alike and 2) why no other woman ever got serious about this sterling man. On the one hand, he must have looked like a catch. On the other hand, I mean really! Marrying Ben Cartwright must be hazardous to your health.

Then there's Adam. Well read and almost always in black. He appreciated art, architecture, and messing with his kid brothers. I have a crush on Adam. Followed by Hoss, the gentle giant who is as strong as he is tender. And passionate Joe, who every now and again can be caught looking at the camera as if to say, "Can you believe how handsome I am?" And he has a point. My mother used to tell me that when I was a very little girl, maybe 4, I loved Little Joe and used to cry when he got punched or shot.

And the Ponderosa. It's a beautiful farmhouse. Living room, dining room and at least seven bedrooms. Of course there was no bathrooms in those days. But so many books! Adam and Ben loved their books and I love their built-in book cases.

Does your cable company carry the Me-Too channel? If so, you can watch Bonanza every day. You might want to give it a peek.

*It was in the Top 10 for 10 of its 14 seasons, and #1 for three years in a row. But my dad liked it because it was always in color. In 1959, it was the only network show in color, when few people had color sets. We were among the first in our neighborhood to have one, and so my dad insisted we watch Bonanza.

Friday, August 22, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 22

Today's happiness -- Checking off the chores.  Here it is, Friday night, and my weekend grocery shopping and laundry are already done! If that doesn't inspire a twirl dance, I don't know what will.

It makes me sad

I want my President to act Presidential. I want the leader of my party, my country and the free world to lead. That's why I have, at times, been disappointed by Barack Obama. I'm no Obamabot. I believe he should have gone to the site of the BP Oil Spill. He should visit our porous border and stand up for the children entering our country.

One thing he shouldn't do ... can't do, really ... is go to Ferguson, MO.

For the benefit of anyone in 2020 who happens to come upon this post, Ferguson is ground zero for racial unrest since the shooting of Michael Brown. I don't know if the kid grabbed for the gun. I don't know if the cop had no cause to shoot. I do know that the city fathers have handled this abominably and that the sight of rioting and looting and police armed as though they were patrolling Gaza instead of Missouri makes me sick.

I wish our President could go there and say something that will bring us together and help us heal. But he can't. Because he's black.

Isn't that a kick? Our first African-American President can't talk about race.

I remember after he spoke candidly about the Trayvon Martin murder -- where the facts were, to my eyes, more obvious than in the case of Michael Brown -- some people were ridiculously up in arms. Two women that I've cybermet through Saturday 9 were especially hostile and, I feel, representative. One said that if there was rioting after the Martin verdict, it would be the President's fault. The other slagged the POTUS and then posted photos of Trayvon flashing his tattoos and exhaling smoke -- as though body art and pot were death penalty offenses, and that the punishment should be meted out by some cop wannabe on community watch. (You know, the man the 911 operator told to stay in his car.)

That second woman really roasts my chestnuts because she begins her blog with a psalm and is so unbearably sanctimonious about all the many hours she spends at church. I just hate it when people wrap themselves in faith so they can feel warm and cuddly with their racism. I realize that the people with the darkest hearts are the ones who can benefit most from church, but I doubt that she spends time looking at her own sins. If she does, she never posts about it. Instead she concentrates on her litany of complaints.

Consequently I no longer watch the news the way I used to -- which was rather compulsively, I admit. Between Ferguson and ISIS, I just can't. It makes too sad.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 21

Today's happiness -- Getting it done.  I completed my session with my personal trainer, having done everything he requested. I was sore, I was sweaty, I was tired. But I was accomplished!

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 20

Today's happiness -- Through a tourist's eyes.  The sidewalks are filled with tourists, both downtown where I work and in the neighboring suburban village where I live. On Wednesday I stumbled upon something that not only makes me more patient when I encounter them, it makes me happy.

When a tourist suddenly stops in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture, I no longer roll my eyes and exhale loudly as I walk around them. Instead I stop a moment and look at what they're photographing through their eyes. It's a lovely reminder of the architectural marvels I'm lucky to see every day but have come to take for granted.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie. This is my first Miss Marple book and I'm enjoying it. What a cagey, dear old girl! The book it itself is an easy read, a collection of short stories about mysteries and murders that appear unsolvable ... until Miss Marple looks up from her knitting.
• What did you recently finish reading? At Risk by Patricia Cornwell. A dreadful book. It's not often I say this, but I'm sorry I read it. A MUST TO AVOID! The plot is convoluted and every character is unlikeable, except our hero. He's poorly written. I'm a Cornwell fan, but as I read it I thought to myself, "I wonder what big thing Patricia just bought -- helicopter? summer house? -- that she cranked this crap out to pay for."
• What do you think you’ll read next? I don't know. I've got a Linda Fairstein sitting here, but I'm kinda jonesing for a biography.

To see how others responded, click here.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 19

Today's happiness -- First-aid ointment.  I have long had Walgreen's antibiotic cream in my bathroom in case of cuts or burns. I discovered recently that it's good for so much more! Once a pimple is broken, it's no longer "acne," it's a sore just like any other. And when you're of "a certain age" like me, acne treatments like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be very drying and don't seem to help healing. I began applying the ointment and the zit is clearing up much faster! I've begun applying it to the spot where I scratched open a bug bite, too.

So I have found a new way to reduce redness, and that makes me happy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 18

Today's happiness -- The infield.  Rizzo, Baez and Castro. How I love this young Cub team! That's three hot bats, three competent gloves, all under age 25. I feel free becoming very attached to these kids because they're so young they'll probably be my guys for seasons to come. Sure, we're cellar dwellers now but, should I dare to dream, these could be the players that lead us to the promised land, or at least the play-offs.

There's a popular t-shirt with a Cub logo and the phrase, "Just once before I die." So I am a little afraid that if we do get to the World Series, I'll have to croak.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 17

Today's happiness -- Nothing.  I don't mean that nothing made me happy on Sunday. I mean that doing nothing made me happy. I spoke to a neighbor in the building laundry room and to the pharmacist at the drug store, but other than that I was silent and solitary all day and it suited me just fine. Every now and again I need to be alone to recharge.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing

Would you ever consider becoming a teacher? Yes. When I was a kid I wanted to be a teacher.

 Would you ever give a hitch-hiker a ride somewhere? No.

 Would you ever try fasting for a whole week? No.

 Would you ever try to quit one of your addictions? "One of" my addictions? What a cheery question! I probably am addicted to caffeine, and I should give it up. Sorry that's all I have to report.

 Would you ever dye your hair purple? I did. It was the 80s.

 Would you ever spend $100 for the best tasting hamburger in the world? Sure. Though I insist that the bill include the side of my choice, tax and tip. $100 for a beef dish dinner in a really nice restaurant is certainly not unheard of.

 Would you rather chew gum off the ground or kill a squirrel? First of all, what's the penalty for doing neither? I suppose I'll go with the gum. Children do it every day and they somehow manage to grow up into adults.

  Would you rather play Monopoly or Operation? Monopoly

 Would you rather eat chocolate or fruity candies? Chocolate

 Would you rather listen to one CD forever or become deaf? The CD ... and it's going to The Beatles White Album. If it's Barry Manilow, I'd rather be deaf.

 Would you rather be deaf or blind? Deaf

 Would you rather text or talk on the phone? Talk on the phone

 Would you rather spend a day with Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus? Gaga

 Would you rather learn to play piano or guitar? Guitar

 Would you rather have a stomach-ache or headache? Headache

 Would you rather be overly interesting or overly dull? Overly interesting

 Would you rather be too loud or too quiet? Too quiet

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 16

Today's happiness -- A day at the zoo.  My cousin Rose and I went to Brookfield Zoo, walking distance from where I grew up, and a staple in my summers as a kid. We spent about 10 hours together -- which was about 1 hour too long because at dinner we did start to get on one another's nerves -- but it was by and large a very good day. Okapis, giraffes, penguins, primates, lions and tigers and a rhino. I learned a lot (most especially that I should avoid palm oil for the sake of the rainforests and orangutans) and thoroughly enjoyed a day that, frankly, I'd been kinda dreading. My cousin has always loved me very much, and I get much warmth and comfort from it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday 9

1) The lyrics mention his respect for "90 proof and Marlboro Red." What was your most recent drink? When was your last cigarette? Cranberry juice and vodka/never

2)  They also reference "singing like crazy fools." What's the last song you sang? "She's Gone" along with Hall and Oates on my shower radio.

3) Blake Shelton won a Grammy for his performance of this song. Crazy Sam won the award for "most improved bowler" when she was in third grade, and it's now in a closet somewhere. Do you have any trophies? If so, where are they? No trophies. Projects I've worked on have won industry awards, but the companies I worked for got the hardware.

4) Blake is currently on tour. The merchandise sold at concerts brings in big money for the artist. Do you have any tour memorabilia (like a poster or t-shirt)? Lots. I'm having a quilt made from some of them.

5) In addition to The Voice, Shelton is on TV a lot with his Pizza Hut commercials. What chain restaurant is nearest your home? Do you eat there? Subway, and I go there very seldom. It's so easy to make a sandwich I can't see paying someone else to do it.

6) Shelton has a million-seller CD called Cheers! It's Christmas! What's the first Christmas carol to pop into your head this hot summer Saturday? "Oh, Come All Ye Faithful"

7) Shelton and Miranda Lambert were married in front of 550 guests. Do you enjoy weddings? Not really

8) The wedding took place on a big Texas ranch. Have you spent much time on a farm or a ranch? No

9) In 2013 he helped organize a relief benefit concert for victims of the Oklahoma tornados. Tell us about a charity you support. The last one I wrote a check to is Planned Parenthood. I like thinking about a world where every woman is healthy and every child is wanted.

Friday, August 15, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 15

Today's happiness -- Eating like a child.  For lunch I had fish sticks with a side of buttered peas. I chose this because I found myself imagining the way the fish would smell. And then for dinner I had hotdogs and a side of canned peaches, chosen because I forgot to defrost the steak I was gonna have.

It was all very deja childhood and it made me smile.

Frank conversation

Robin Williams on his last birthday 7/14
In the wake of Robin Williams' death I've had two very honest and revealing conversations with close friends about depression and suicide. Inspiring us to speak candidly about this problem could be the funnyman's final gift to his audience.

My oldest friend confessed that she recently had contemplated suicide. I was not surprised to hear this -- I think I know exactly when it was -- but it was, of course, troubling. She said the only reason why she didn't do it was that she had the wrong kind of pills (meaning, for the most part, non lethal) in the house and was afraid that if she tried and failed she'd end up in the psych ward.

I didn't respond by telling her to "buck up." I know that she views me as tough ("Life can grind you into the dirt and yet you somehow get back up") and I didn't want to make her feel inferior. Instead I told her of a time more than 25 years ago when I thought about it. I was in so much pain that killing myself seemed like respite.

I didn't do it that night because I didn't have any pills and my little disposable Bic shavers couldn't do sufficient damage to my veins. I remember laying in bed, too depressed to move, cataloging everything I had failed at and was sadly amused that I could now add "coming up with a way to kill myself" to list. I heard the train rumble past my window and contemplated throwing myself on the tracks.

But then the sun came up again. I had a cat (her name was Wilma) to feed. I took a shower. It was a new morning. God had given me another day. So, as my oldest friend put, I somehow got back up. She seemed surprised that suicidal despair had washed over me, too. I wonder how many people we pass on the sidewalk each day are suffering similarly.

I think my confession helped my oldest friend feel less alone in her thoughts and fears. And, hopefully, she knows she can turn to me when she feels desperate and I'll understand.

I also talked to my friend John. He's no stranger to depression. He's been unlucky in love, lost the mother he was very close to, lost his kid sister to drugs, and has battled heart disease. Right now, at 60, he's underemployed and frightened about his financial future. Yet he says he's never entertained ending it. Ever.

This surprised me. For while I'm a Christian and my oldest friend dabbles by reading Depak Chopra, Joel Osteen and the Dali Lama, John is not spiritual in any conventional way. Yet his reason for not doing it was simple and powerful -- "What about the person who finds me?" Looked at that way, suicide to him seems monstrously selfish. He's right, of course. Suicide is (almost always) a selfish act. And it's good to be reminded what a nice man John is.

These conversations were sobering but they weren't sad. Sharing the intimate stuff is important. It brings us closer. And it helps combat the isolation that can be so crippling when we're depressed.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 14

Today's happiness -- Water.  Thursday found me staring out onto water a lot. The fountains in front of the building where I work are gorgeous. My table at the restaurant where I had lunch looked out onto a fountain, as well. As I waited for the elevator at the gym, I watched the water in the pool. And, best of all, Lake Michigan is visible from many windows at my office (though, alas, no longer my own). There's something very calming about gazing at water.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 13

Today's happiness -- Bringing the outdoors inside.  I always have flowers on my desk (this week it's orange and yellow carnations) and then there's my massive philodendron. A coworker abandoned it when he was let go 9 years ago, and I rescued and nurtured it. It's grown to fill a 10 gallon planter and a clipping occupies its own 7" pot.

I hate my office. Four of us are squished into a space originally designed for two and it feels like I work in a clown car. Having the flowers and the plants improves the space and ups my happiness quotient.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 12

Today's happiness -- Like minded people.  Tonight my classic film group met and more than 20 of us watched Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion together. It was the first time many had seen this classic and it was neat to see their reaction.

More than that, I like how movies bring me together with people I wouldn't otherwise even meet. Tonight I sat with Bella, a girl young enough to be my daughter -- a budding workaholic who wanted to spend time with people who won't want to talk shop. Afterward, I got a ride to the train from Martha, the bus driving Buddhist. What do the three of us have in common? A crush on Cary Grant!

Someone I didn't know at all died yesterday

I wasn't a Robin Williams fan, especially. I liked him as Mork and loved Moscow on the Hudson and Good Will Hunting. But he worked a lot and consequently made a lot of drek. He also was such a scenery chewer that he frequently threw the balance of a piece off with his "look-at-me, look-at-me" improvising.

So why did I feel so awful yesterday when I heard he took his own life?

Because there was a naked vulnerability to him that I responded to. He was going to make us laugh, or cry, or at the very least pay attention, even if it depleted him. He put it all out there. Like Judy Garland or Janis Joplin. He was like those ladies in ways my antenna picked up and I just naturally felt something for him.

I also appreciated his willingness to playing against type. He played a psycho on an oft-repeated episode of Law & Order: SVU -- which was so poorly written it proves my point about his appearing in a lot of crap -- and hauntingly good as the villain in Insomnia and the desperately lonely clerk in One Hour Photo.

I hate suicide. I am sorry for the assistant who found him, sorry for his wife who has to decide whether to stay in the house where it happened, sorry for the children who now must cope with an inescapable patina of guilt on top of the pain that comes with losing a parent. Most of all I am sorry for the man who felt so smothered by circumstances that he couldn't see any point in waiting for another sunrise.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 11

Today's happiness -- Back in the saddle.  I returned to the health club for the first time all month and did 30 mins. of cardio. It felt good.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 10

Today's happiness -- Spiritual reassurance.  Went to church this morning. Wasn't sure what I was going to get, since our reverend is on vacation. When we have lay ministers, the quality of the sermons can be rather spotty.

But I really wanted to go today because I've been so conflicted about how I feel about my older sister's health scare. Am I being self protective by keeping my distance in this family drama? Or am I cold? Will I regret not reaching out to her?

I needed God today, and God provided.

In addition to the comfort I get just from being in the sacred place that is our church, I got support from the congregation. For today, the subject was mental health and mental illness. The offering went to support NAMI, and the three sermonettes were enlightening and inspiring. The first two were caregivers, mothers of adult children with severe issues. The third was a very courageous member of our congregation who lives with bipolar disorder.

My takeaway is that it's OK for me to take care of myself in all this family drama. It doesn't make me selfish or bad. It makes me a person who loves herself.

I know this conclusion may seem like a "duh" moment to some of you (I read your comments to my original post and appreciated them more than you know) but sometimes there's a chasm between what I understand intellectually and what I feel in my heart.

Thanks to that hour at church, my head and my heart are in synch. And that makes me very happy.

Imaginative and provocative

Boyhood is a very ambitious and original movie. I've never seen anything quite like it. It was filmed over 12 years with the same cast, so we get to watch the characters age before our eyes.

Especially Mason, the "boy" of the title. He's a first grader when the movie begins and a college freshman when it ends. He goes from adorable to precocious to pretentious -- as we all did as we grew up. I didn't always like Mason, but I always related to him.

Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke are his parents. They, too, age over 12 years. I've never liked Hawke very much before, and didn't at the beginning of this movie, either. But he's matured and become more subtle as an actor, and that really pays off in the later segments.

This movie has no real plot. But then, neither do our real lives. It's a collection of moments, and it"s these moments that make up our lives. Because so much of it is effecting and so much care has gone into it, I felt guilty when my mind wandered. At more than 2 1/2 hours, it's too long.

Sunday Stealing


1. Outside my window… is a big, leafy tree

 2. I am thankful… for my independence

 3. In the kitchen… is a counterfull of stuff

 4. I am wearing… jeans

 5. I am creating… this blog post

 6. I am going… to take a nap and watch the ballgame

 7. I am reading… my first-ever Miss Marple book

 8. I am learning… that I'll never stop learning

 9. I am pondering… the random nature of things

 10. A favorite quote… "Forget your perfect offering/there's a crack in everything/that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

 11. One of my favorite things… Turner Classic Movies Summer Under the Stars. Today is 24 hours of Carole Lombard. She's completely charming.

 12. A few plans for the rest of the week… Classic Movie Meet Up on Tuesday. My cousin visits next Saturday.

 13. A peek into my day… I unintentionally answered this already (see #6).

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 9

Today's happiness -- Sleep. Since I came down with my cold last week, I've been feeling run down. Yesterday, I surrendered to the impulse and dozed whenever I felt like it. The result? I felt more vital and truly awake. I may try it again on Sunday.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Super Duper Love

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here.

1) The lyrics say, "I'm as proud as a girl can be." Tell us about something you're proud of. I'm proud of my career. I had little formal training for it, and yet here I have done rather well for myself.

2) This song is from her first CD, The Soul Sessions. She's told interviewers that the first CD she ever owned was by Aretha Franklin: Greatest Hits. So while we're talking firsts, do you remember your first CD (or tape or record)? It was most definitely vinyl. Meet the Beatles.

3) Last year, two men were convicted of plotting to kill Joss Stone. Even though she had (fortunately!) never even met the men, she still had to testify during their trial. Have you ever had to speak to a judge? I answered questions asked by a judge during voir dire. I've been called for jury duty three times, chosen once.

4) Joss is frequently in the British press because of her friendship with Princes William and Harry. Who among your friends leads the most exciting life? Though she doesn't consider herself very glam, I guess it would be my friend Barb. She and her husband recently bought themselves a summer home -- a Hilton Head condo just walking distance from the beach. Now she has two homes that are nicer than mine. :)

5) Because of dyslexia, Joss had trouble in school and dropped out when she was 16. What's the last grade you completed? I have some college hours. Not even enough for an Associate's.

6) She provided the voice of the villainness for the James Bond video game, Blood Stone. Do you have a Playstation or Xbox?  No.

7) Sam is especially crazy this morning because she can't find her phone. What's the last thing you misplaced? Nothing specific right now. Though historically I'm always losing umbrellas and sunglasses.

8) After composing this Saturday 9, Sam is off to Lowe's to pick up some heavy duty indoor/outdoor trash bags. Will you be in any stores this weekend? I have a coupon for CVS! 25% off my entire purchase!

9) Do you consider yourself more book smart, or street smart? Sometimes I don't consider myself either. But, I suppose, street smart.

Friday, August 08, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 8

Today's happiness -- Javier Baez. Our brand-new second baseman made his debut at Wrigley Field today and got a noisy, bat-breaking single. He's a 21-year-old phenomenon who joined the team on the road last week and got a home run in each of those first games.

So now joins All Stars Anthony Rizzo at first and Starlin Castro at short. All are on the green side of 25. While it's obvious that this year isn't the year for my Cubbies, I am confident that better times are ahead.

Me and Morales

My older sister had heart surgery yesterday. According to my kid sister, the surgeon found blockages but she's going to recover and is leaving the hospital tomorrow.

I feel terrible about this. Because I don't feel bad.

I don't want her to be sick or die. I don't wish her discomfort or pain. I just don't care. And that makes me very sad.

She's a year older than I am, so we grew up together in the same house, and I have no good memories of her. Not a one. I have many bad memories. But I can't think of any shared jokes, whispered secrets, games or songs we shared. No advice she gave me. I just remember her hating me.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence she competed with me and belittled me -- at home, on the playground, at school, in Girl Scouts, at Sunday school. She always used to beat me. My oldest friend, an only child, recalls spending the day at our house and seeing my older sister wale on me with a pink hairbrush. When my friend got home, her mom asked her if she wished she had a sister; she thought a moment and said, "No." She scalded me … stood on my hair while she kicked me in the small of the back … threw me into the stove with such force she caused a gas leak …

My parents were in denial about her temper and her poor impulse control until the day she went at my mother with a broom. Then we all got dragged into family therapy -- for one session. My takeaway from this was (and remains) that within my family, it's OK for anyone to treat me anyway they wish. There's no downside to hurting me. As long as it's just me you're hurting. Lay a hand or utter a cross word to anyone else and it's a problem. But when it's me, well, it's not really a problem.

As women, I've avoided her. I saw her a few times this millennium as a favor to my mother. It made my mother so happy to see us together. I didn't feel that I'd found my soul mate or best friend. I just felt good that I was giving my mother the gift of seeing her children together.

Then my mom died and my sister got vicious about "her mother's estate." All "the estate" included was headaches and bills. My sister stuck me with all the expenses and then had the chutzpah to accuse me of trying to rip her off and threatened to sue me.

Threatened to sue me.

The rational me realizes that she was mad at my mother, not me. That by naming the executor, my mother was stirring up all the old competition and feelings of jealousy my older sister felt. She was hurt, and when she's wounded she's vicious.

I get that. And with that understanding comes a certain amount of compassion and forgiveness.

But not love. I don't love her. I don't even care. That makes me like Morales in A Chorus Line.

I was obsessed with A Chorus Line when it first came out. I've seen it onstage at least three times and have memorized the soundtrack. And all afternoon I've been channeling Diana Morales. Because I'm so very sad that I feel nothing.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 7

Today's happiness -- Beautiful summer weather. Upper 70's with a slight breeze. The sky filled with big, puffy white clouds. The sidewalks were filled with happy people, both downtown and at home in my village. Window shopping, dining al fresco, walking dogs. A good summery vibe all around.