Sunday, January 17, 2021

SUNDAY STEALING

 


A - Annoyance: That my work laptop is piece of shit

B - Bestest Friend[s]: My oldest friend

C - Car: None

D - Day or night: Depends

E- Easiest person to talk to: My oldest friend


F - Favorite Month: October, if the Cubs are in it


G - Gummy Bears or Worms: Neither. I'm an old lady with crowns on her teeth.


H - Hair Color: Light brown


I - Ice Cream: Mint chocolate chip


J - Jewelry: I don't my rings or watch since the pandemic to protect them from sanitizer


K - Kindergarten: I remember my teacher was quite beautiful and able to play piano


L - Longest Car Ride: Chicago to Fort Lauderdale with Cousin Rose and her friend Natalie (close to three days)


M - Most missed person: My uncle


N - Number of Siblings:
Two


O - One regret:  No brother, only sisters

 
P- Part of your appearance you like least:
My chins. All of them.


Q- Quote: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you should do for your country. (Updated for today: Quit bitching about restrictions because of the pandemic. Staying home and wearing a mask are, literally, the least you can do for your country, you benighted, selfish fuck.)


R - Reality TV Show:
I don't really have one. Back in the olden days, I was hooked on The Real World on MTV. That was back in the 1990s.

The San Francisco cast was my favorite


S - Shoe: I admit it. Since the pandemic, now that I'm home all the time, I've been wearing my Crocs. Don't judge me.


T - Time you woke up:
8:00


U - Unpredictable: Chicago weather


V - Vegetable you hate:
Peppers


W- Worst Habits:
Sloth


X - X-Rays:
In 2020, I had dental x-rays and a mammogram.


Y - Year you were born:
1957


Z - Zoom:
Where I can be found most weekdays



Friday, January 15, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Thank U, Next (2018)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Ariana Grande thanks her former boyfriends for what they taught her about love, life, patience and pain. Do you believe you have learned more from your successes, or your mistakes? My successes. I'm afraid I don't learn from my mistakes because I seem to make the same ones repeatedly.
 
2) One of the young men mentioned in the song is Pete Davidson, a cast member of Saturday Night Live. SNL has been on for more than 45 years now. Who is your all-time favorite cast member? Chicago's very own Bill Murray. For obvious reasons.
 
3) Thinking of funny people ... As you can see from the video, Ariana performed "Thank U, Next" on Ellen Degeneres' talk show. Ellen makes people laugh every afternoon. Who in your life can you always count on to make you laugh or smile? My oldest friend.
 
4) It looks like Ariana Grande's personal romantic saga will have a happy ending because at Christmastime, she announced her engagement. Do you know anyone who is getting married in 2021? My oldest friend's son is getting married in the spring.

5) Ariana loves Harry Potter and named her dogs Snape, Lily and Sirius Black after characters in the J.K. Rowling books. Are you a Harry Potter fan? Nope.

6) She loves board games, especially Monopoly. Sam isn't crazy about Monopoly because it takes so long. How about you? Are you a Monopoly fan? Nope.
 
7) In 2018, the year this song was released, Toys R Us closed all its stores and went out of business. Who received the last toy you purchased? What was it? My older niece had a baby boy in 2020. When I sent the baby gift, I included a doll for her older daughter, so Big Sister wouldn't feel overlooked. The doll has its own bathing suit, towel and inflatable bath toy. It was quite a hit, though she sleeps with it instead of taking it into the tub with her.


8) Also in 2018, Aretha Franklin died. What's your favorite Aretha song?

 

9) Random question: Are you more likely to shed a tear at a wedding or during a movie? A movie.


 

I'm a Mazurki Maniac

Do you know Letterboxd? It's like Goodreads, but for movies. You can log each movie you watched, rate it, note where/why you viewed it. Like Goodreads, it tabulates your personal year-end stats. 

In 2020, I saw 126 films. 

•  My favorites were (no surprise) The Way We Were and Casablanca. I predict they will be my favorites in 2021, too.

•  I didn't like The First Lady or Mame (sorry, Lucy).

•  The one that I appreciated most that also got a high rating from the rest of the Letterboxd community was Joker.

•  The one that I liked less than the rest of the Letterboxd community was Vertigo.

And here's my favorite stat. My most-watched stars of 2020 were:

•  Cary Grant

•  Robert Redford

•  James Stewart

•  Gene Kelly

•  Mike Mazurki

MIKE MAZURKI? Never once in 2020 did I curl up, grab the remote and think, "I need me some Mike Mazurki." And yet I watched more Mike Mazurki movies than I did Elvis, or Judy Garland, or Katharine Hepburn. 

So, Mike Mazurki, let me shine a spotlight on your career. Because of his 6'5 frame, square face and husky voice, he was almost always cast as a gangster or a bully. When his career as a professional wrestler tanked, he tried his hand at acting. In addition to movies from the 40s and 50s, he played his share of bad guys on TV shows in the 60s and 70s -- everything from Mr. Ed to Gunsmoke. Never a star, but always a presence, he worked regularly for more than 50 years. He never actually retired and was still appearing on TV and in music videos when he died of heart failure in 1990. Friends and coworkers recall that he was nothing like the characters he played, that he always had a book in his hand and was very witty in conversation.

As for me, thanks for being a bright spot in an otherwise shitty 2020, Mike Mazurki!



Thursday, January 14, 2021

How can he be sick?

 

Reynaldo seems so content these days! He loves watching the goings on in our home from the safety and comfort of his new favorite box. His appearances in my Zoom meetings are so popular that so far this week, he's received shout outs from both a coworker and a member of my movie group.

Yet my little old man has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. All the symptoms are there -- vomiting, nervousness (no shit, he gets upset every time I leave the apartment, even if it's just to take out the garbage), increased thirst, weight loss -- and the blood work confirmed it.

After consulting with the vet and checking my options online, we're going to treat his condition, not cure it. Reynaldo is 17 years old. (The average life expectancy of an indoor cat is 12-16 years.) With regular medication, he could live three more years. Surgery or radiation could eradicate the disease, but they are more complicated for me and more taxing for him, and he likely wouldn't live beyond age 20 anyway. Of course, if the medication doesn't work, or if there are side effects, surgery and radiation are still on the table. 

The most important thing is his comfort. He deserves to always feel safe and content.



Tuesday, January 12, 2021

WWW.WEDNESDAY

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  
 
1. What are you currently reading? Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes. Lucy and three of her friends visited a fortune teller and, when her friends' prophecies come true, it appeared Lucy just might get married as predicted. What lucky bloke will get to be Mr. Lucy Sullivan? Lucy was skeptical about the whole thing. Not only hadn't she located Mr. Right, she didn't even have anyone to date. Yet after the psychic reading, her friends view every man Lucy meets, no matter how inappropriate, as Lucy's possible life mate.
 
The story is told from Lucy's point-of-view and she's good company. She describes herself as an ordinary girl with brown curls, a mass of freckles and a good sense of humor. At 26, she doesn't take herself, or her career, or much else very seriously. She considers weekdays merely as the time spent between weekends partying with her friends. I like her. (I was her.)

Yes, this is chick-lit. But after the heavy book I recently finished, this could be just what the doctor ordered. I've read Marian Keyes before and know I can depend on her for warm, relatable characters who face life with openness, generosity and humor.
   
2. What did you recently finish reading? Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan. The title couple is the Oswalds, who blazed into American history via the trigger of a rifle. Ms. McMillan is uniquely qualified to tell this story. She worked for Senator John F. Kennedy and was friendly enough with the boss to visit him in the hospital after his 1955 back surgery. He was  buoyant despite the pain, sharing his hospital bed with a giant Howdy Doody Doll. His room was always filled with people, even though the nurses were under strict orders to limit his visitors to immediate family. Fortunately, he had eight siblings, so he could plausibly assure the staff that every woman who entered his room was a sister.  
 
Then, in 1959, McMillan became a journalist assigned to the Moscow bureau. She spent five hours interviewing a young American defector named Lee Harvey Oswald. This makes her one of the few people -- perhaps the only one -- to have conversed at length with both the President and his assassin.
 
Ms. McMillan prepared for the book with months of interviews with Marina. The portrait that emerges is tragic, unpleasant, ridiculous. Two damaged souls came together, a chance meeting at a dance in Minsk, and the results were combustible and, improbably, changed the world. 
 
It's a tough read. Marina is shallow, willful and immature. You can understand why: as an illegitimate child in Soviet Russia, she was unwanted and emotionally abused. Lee is secretive, self-important and entitled. You can understand why: his father died before he was born, leaving him alone with a mother who can best be described as a horror show. Marguerite Oswald is the villain of this piece. The way she controlled and suffocated her son reminded me of Norman Bates' mother in Psycho

So as well-researched and well-written as it is, this is not a book I recommend. Marina and Lee are both intensely unlikable. It's hard to plow through more than 600 pages when there are no sympathetic characters. As their marriage deteriorated into an ugly cycle of workplace failure, financial strife, sexual dysfunction and beatings, Lee became more determined to be noticed by the world. To make history. God help us all, that was the one goal he achieved.

3. What will read next?  I don't know.



Monday, January 11, 2021

81 Days!

According to Commissioner Rob Manfred, the Cubs 2021 season will start on time on April 1 and will include a full 162 games. Rizz and I are thrilled!

via GIPHY


 

"Let's GO!"

As soon as I took the carrier out of the closet, Reynaldo jumped in. If we're going somewhere, let's GO!

And so we went to the vet. After a quick once-over, the vet declared that Rey is not in any imminent danger -- YEA! -- but agrees that something may be bedeviling him. So blood was drawn. It should reveal whether the problem is his kidneys, his thyroid, or something else.

If the vet were a betting man, he'd put his money on hypothyroidism. While serious, with potential impact on all Rey's organs, it's also easiest to treat.

Fingers crossed that we can find a way to keep my little man happy, engaged and comfortable for as long as we can.


He said this. All of this.

Here's the transcript of what our President said to the rally just before his supporters marched up the street to the Capitol. It's filled with personal attacks, spite and animus. It's really jaw dropping. At the 31:50 mark, even Justice Kavanaugh gets special attention.

And, oh, the baseless conspiracy theories he keeps perpetuating! There is no evidence that any of these things happened. None. Or if there is, President Donald J. Trump has the worst legal team ever, because of the 62 individual lawsuits, filed in both state and federal courts, 61 failed.

So he lied, slandered and incited. He whipped up this crowd and encouraged them to walk up the street to the Capitol, because, in his own words, "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to be strong." 

And this really bugs me. While the President exhorts the angry crowd to "demand Congress do the right thing," he promises, "We're going to walk down and I'll be there with you." The coward did not go with them. He knew it was going to be ugly and he didn't want to get hurt. Cadet Bonespurs to the end.

Here he is, the man some of your neighbors still admire. Many of those who still embrace and support this man love to quote Scripture. Well, let me take my turn:

The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Psalm 11

Deliver me, Lord, from evil men. Preserve me from violent men. Psalm 13

Yes, just because I'm patriotic enough to celebrate the separation of Church and State doesn't mean I don't pray. If you're still supporting this dishonest, cowardly, violent President, perhaps in addition to listening to his words, you should look at your own faith.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

SUNDAY STEALING

JANUARY

1. What are your plans for January? I don't know that I have any! I was sick throughout December and while I'm on the mend, it's not unusual for me to be in my jammies and under the covers by 5:00.
 
2. What do you want to see happen in 2021?
I want my cat to stay well. I'm taking Reynaldo to the vet tomorrow afternoon. I'm worried because he's old (17 in April, or 84 in human years) and he's shown a tendency toward kidney trouble. He's beside me as I write this. He's beside me all the time! Still very lively and sociable. But I'm seeing signs that remind me we're coming to the end of our time together. I want him to feel good and to know he's loved for as long as possible. (PS I also love my girl cat, Connie, too, but she's 8 and so her health is not an immediate concern.)
 
3. What would you give a 5 star rating?
These two! So far they have been focused on healing and action. How will we get vaccines distributed and administered? How will we help businesses recover from the devastating effects of the mismanaged pandemic? How do we restore our reputation among our allies? How can we address domestic terrorism? (The
display Trump supporters put on in the Capitol reminds me that, before 9/11, the most deadly terrorist act on these shores was committed by Timothy McVeigh. Angry, entitled white boys who don't get their way scare the shit out of me.) After four years of Trump's petty name-calling, self-absorption and incompetence, it's a delight to hear Joe and Kamala talk about us for a change. 
 

 
4. Do you have writing goals for 2021? I write for a living, so my goal is to just keep on keeping on for another year.
 
5. How do you feel about memoirs?
Depends on whose they are.
 
6. If you could join any musical group who would you choose? I wouldn't. I can't carry a note in a bucket.
 

7. What are your favorite genres across all media?
I enjoy all manner of entertainment. I like biographies, romance, comedy, mystery ... I just don't like sci-fi or fantasy. I also don't like epics.
 
8. What candle scents are your favorite? I don't have candles around here. But I do enjoy cinnamon, apple and lavender air freshener.
 
9. How well can you mimic other accents or voices?
No.
 
10. What books are on your TBR list in 2021?
There are two books I'm thinking of rereading: The Great Gatsby and David Nasaw's biography of Joseph Kennedy.
 
11. When do you decide it’s time to upgrade/buy something new?
When I'm forced to.
 
12. Why is your favorite color your favorite color? I love Cubbie blue. It's the color of my team.

 
13. Who understands you the best? My oldest friend.
 
14. Do you write letters?
Yes. My Cousin Rose and I exchange old-school, handwritten letters, and I have a prison penpal through a church program.
 
15. How do you keep going when times are hard?
Faith. Faith in God, faith that it will all get better. January 20 is just 10 days away. We just have to hang on!
 

 


Saturday, January 09, 2021

Looking somehow less arrogant

President Donald Trump has never hidden his misogyny. Remember when Megyn Kelly asked him why he publicly dismissed women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals?" He complained that her question -- not his behavior -- wasn't appropriate, not from a woman who had "blood coming out of her eyes and blood coming out of her wherever."* He was not yet President. Somehow, as a nation, we decided that this attitude was acceptable in our Commander in Chief.

It's no surprise that his supporters have been emboldened. After all, if Donald Trump, holding those views, could run for the highest office in the land and win, why shouldn't they say what they're thinking? Women in power are uppity emasculating bitches. They deserve to be brought down a peg, and in the most vulgar way possible.

So I don't know why it wounded me so to see this man, Richard Barnett, bragging about how he violated a successful woman's space. During the Capitol riot, he broke into Nancy Pelosi's office and, he told us, sat at her desk and proudly "scratched his balls." Then he left her a "nasty note," in which he referred to her as "Nancy, you bitch." He left a quarter on her desk, "even though she ain't fucking worth it."

Richard Barnett is one of those Donald Trump referred to as "very special" and said, "We love you." 

I would not have recognized him in his mug shot. Apparently, being in FBI custody is something of a buzz kill.

*I heard that live. I was scrolling through my DVR, deleting things, with Don Lemon's CNN show on in the background. I thought, "Did I just hear that? Did he just say that?"

Friday, January 08, 2021

Saturday 9


Saturday 9: All Shook Up (1957)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

Chosen because January 8 is the anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth.

1) In this song, Elvis shares quite a list of maladies: he's itching, his hands are shaky, his knees are weak, he has chills ... How are you feeling this morning? My gut is still rather reactionary, but that's the last remnant of my battle with the corona virus.

2) He also mentions being "tongue tied." The dictionary defines it as, "unable to speak freely, as from shyness." Do you often find yourself tongue tied? Never. I'm naturally blabby.

3) Even after he was wealthy, Elvis never lived away from his parents. At one point Graceland Mansion was home to four generations of the family: his grandmother, his father and stepmother, Elvis, his wife and daughter. Have you ever lived in a multi-generational household? No.

4) Thinking of family, Elvis Presley was a distant cousin of President Jimmy Carter. Both of their family trees can be traced back to the 18th century and Thomas Preslar (before the surname was changed to Presley in the early 1800s). Have you traced your ancestry? If not, is it something you'd like to do? No. To be honest, I don't much care. It's a passion of my Cousin Rose's, and I love listening to her discuss it because of her joy and enthusiasm. But for myself? Eh.
 
5) As an adult, Elvis never wore denim (except for a movie role). That's because when he was in school, his classmates teased him for "dressing poor" in jeans and coveralls. Is denim a big part of your wardrobe today?
I don't think a week's gone by in the last 50 years that I haven't worn jeans. For a long time, I was an Old Navy girl. Now that I'm a portly old lady, my brand of choice is "Amanda" by Gloria Vanderbilt.


 6) Before becoming famous, Elvis drove a truck in and around Memphis. Have you ever had a job that kept you behind the wheel most of the day? Nope.

7) In 1957, the year this song was a hit, the Allstate Mechanical Freight Set was popular, too. Kids would wind up the engine and watch it pull two cars and a caboose around the track. To enhance the realism, sparks would shoot from the engine's smoke stack as it rumbled by. Did you ever play with a toy train? If not, tell us about a childhood plaything you remember fondly. My grandparents had a train around their Christmas tree, so I played with that one every holiday season. But Barbie was a real favorite. She and I were great pals. We had such glamorous adventures.

8) The best-selling book of 1957 was Peyton Place, a scandalous tale of life in a small New England town. Do you suppose there are enough steamy stories behind closed doors in your town to fill a novel? Yes. And I bet there are in your town, too.

9) Random question: Can you do 10 push ups? Ha! No.

 

Joy and respite

Today would be Elvis' 86th birthday. It's Friday. I'm weary from a busy week at work and a sad and sorry week in Donald Trump's America. I want it to be 12:01 PM on January 20. I'm tired of being tired and afraid. 

And so I turn to The King. I'm watching King Creole again. It's cinematic mac and cheese, and I feel warm and happy. Thank you, Your Highness.

via GIPHY

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Take heart! This happened, too.

 

I went to bed Tuesday night so happy. I'd spent the evening watching my beloved Steve Kornacki at The Big Board, and it was a good night for The Good Guys. Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock flipped the Senate.

I postcarded for Jon Ossoff. I did it in memory of my late blog buddy Book Mama, who introduced me to Postcards to Voters. Georgia is Blue. We did you proud, Andrea.


 


What he said

As I've always and often said on this blog, "Mitt Romney is a gentleman with whom I disagree on everything." But he is a gentleman, a patriot, and a Christian. I've seen no credible evidence that the current resident of the White House can claim any of those titles.

Today, when his nation needed him, Sen. Mitt Romney said this:

 

I don't pretend to know how Trump supporters or conspiracy theorists think, but I hope he speaks their language and that they hear him. 


 


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Heartsick and disgusted

First, my President told his supporters that, "We will stop the steal!" He said, "After this [rally], we're going to walk down there, and I'll be there with you, we're going to walk down ... to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong."

He did not walk with them, of course. He is not strong or brave. 

His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the same crowd that Wednesday was their opportunity settle their election "dispute" with "trial by combat."

Then this happened.




If these people were foreigners, we'd be calling them terrorists. If these people were Black, they'd be dead.

Later in the day, Donald Trump posted a video aimed at the mob he incited that says: "We love you."

No, Mr. President, "we" don't love them.  


Sunday, January 03, 2021

Sunday Stealing

 THE END OF THE YEAR

 
First things first, did you have a good year? NO! However, there were bright spots. My niece was a beautiful bride in her small, safer wedding.After more than a decade, I've got a new supervisor and I adore him. With all due respect to The Who, the new boss is nothing like the old boss.

What was your favorite article of clothing this year? I wore sweatpants more this year than I have in years gone by. I like the elastic ankle bands. I'm short and am so sick of hemming jeans and slacks.

What song sums up this year for you? I'm sorry but I've got nothing for this one. As for 2021, I'll go with this. New POTUS, new vaccine, new year, new hope.


What was your favorite movie of the year? I really enjoyed this documentary on Showtime.
 

Did an actor/actress catch your attention for the first time this year? Not really, but one did change my perception. Early this year, before everything shut down, I saw Marriage Story with Scarlett Johanssen. She's an actress I never had much use for before, but she was impressed me.

Favorite new TV show? I was hooked on Tiger King.

Did you make any big permanent changes this year? I refinanced my mortgage. 30 years. At this stage in my life, it doesn't get more permanent than that.

What was one nice thing you did for yourself? Replaced my air conditioners. My home was quieter and more comfortable this summer, and my electric bill actually went down.

Did you develop a new obsession? Masks, I suppose. I discovered a world of masks on Etsy and got special ones for just about everyone on my holiday gift list.

Did you move? No.

Did you get a pet? No.

Do you regret not doing anything? I regret not ignoring the improperly masked woman at the post office who needed help. It's a good guess that she's the one who gave me the corona virus.

Do you regret doing something?
Similarly, I regret getting in line at the post office that day, and not just buying my holiday stamps from the vending machine. It's funny how a single, unimportant decision can have real consequences.

Did anyone/thing make you so mad it stayed with you for days? Donald Trump and his lies about our free and fair election. Fifty nine (59!) different judges have thrown his cases out because there is no evidence of election fraud. His own attorney general agrees with the courts. And yet Trump spins and his supporters gullibly accept whatever he says, so the Republicans cynically pander. We're suffering through the nightmare of Joe McCarthy on a grander, more national scale and it's obscene.

Did you lose anyone close to you? No. (Knock wood.)

Who was important to you this year but wasn’t important last year? The corona virus!

Who wasn’t as important to you this year as they were last year? Cologne. We're all wearing masks, so I no longer give a shit about fragrance.

What was the best moment of the year for you? Being included in my niece's wedding. The guest list went from 250 to 20, and the venue went from a reception hall to her new mother-in-law's deck. Yet she wanted me there. The spontaneous hug she enthusiastically gave me was beautiful. I'm so glad the wedding photographer caught the moment for me!

What was the worst? Getting my corona virus results.

What have you learned about yourself this year that you didn’t know in the years prior? That many of Donald Trump's supporters will stand by him through anything. And he stands for nothing. It's a tragedy.

What do you wish for others for the coming year? That we open our eyes and our hearts and let old Joe remind us who we are.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
What do you wish for yourself? Peace.



They've been there for me

  

When I think back on my battle with covid -- which is, blissfully, nearly over -- I will remember the comfort of Friends. In addition to Henry, Reg, Carla, Kathy, Joanna and all you blog buddies that I'm lucky to have in my life, I'm grateful to Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Monica, Joey and Phoebe. It's on every afternoon, for hours, on TBS. When my fatigue was at its worst, when I was just drifting in and out of wakefulness, there was something so reassuring about looking over and seeing their familiar faces, no matter how many times I dozed off.

This is not the first time the gang from Central Perk has come through for me. In 2011, when I had a hysterectomy, I vaguely recall waking up in the hospital ... the room was dark and I was disoriented ... my eyes fixed on the TV suspended from the ceiling and I reached for the remote and there they were! I fell back to sleep, reawoke in the dawn's gray light, and Friends had been replaced by a weather map and a traffic copter. I turned the TV off. The local news lacks their warmth.

Then, when I got home from the hospital and I was on pain meds, I turned again to Friends. When the medication wore off, the pain would wake me up. I'd take a dose and have an unpleasant half hour or so, waiting for the new pills to kick in. I couldn't read because the codeine messed with my vision and besides, I didn't want to think. I wanted to be amused by people who are pretty and nice.* 

Fast forward nine years, and Friends is still the tonic I need. I think Friends is the new I Love Lucy. My niece, in her mid-20s, has seen every episode of Friends and can quote dialog. Back in the olden days, when I still went to the health club, I regularly saw a Gen Xer carry a gym bag emblazoned with the photo at the top of this post.

I mentioned this to my Cousin Rose. For her, it's MASH.  First, when she was going through her very painful divorce, and then, when she had a benign breast lump removed, she turned to the gang from the 4077th. 

*This is why I never could bear a Seinfeld marathon. I am not amused by people who don't seem to like one another. I don't care how clever the dialog is. Same with The Office. I just don't enjoy these characters.




Friday, January 01, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Feels like the First Time (1977)


1) Look up from your screen. What's the first thing you see? The armoire.

2) Looking back on 2020, what surprised you? That I contracted the corona virus. I was soooo careful -- except for about 15 minutes, when I helped an improperly masked grandmother at the post office. Isn't that a kick in the ass? Help a neighbor, get sick. From now on, I will turn my back on anyone I meet who is not wearing a mask.
 
Graphic: State of Michigan


3) Have you made any resolutions for 2021? Nope

4) In Italy, it's said that if you wear red underwear on New Year's Eve, you'll have good luck all year around. Do you have a lucky charm? A friend gave me a Guatamalan "worry doll." When I travel, I transfer my fear of flying to her.
 

5) In Spain, some New Year's Eve revelers believe that, at the stroke of midnight, you should eat exactly 12 grapes, one at a time and one right after the other, to bring you luck for the next twelve months. Did you have anything special on your New Year's Eve menu? I had roasted turkey breast and dressing with gravy. It was exciting because I've been on the BRAT diet* for the last three weeks. I savor the new foods I'm able to add to my daily menu.


6) In this week's featured song, Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm lets us know that he'd sail across a stormy sea to reach his true love. How is the weather where you are today? Are you kicking off 2021 under calm skies, or is it stormy? Saturday will be about 30ยบ and cloudy, but no precip.
 
7) In the 1990s, Gramm joined forces with Billy Joel in a series of concerts to preserve the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Do you have a favorite Billy Joel song? I like lots of them. This is the first one that came to mind.



 

8) In 1977, when this song was popular, Star Wars was breaking all box office records. The Spy Who Loved Me, a James Bond movie, was also a hit. If you were going to binge on one of these film series, would you choose Star Wars or Bond? Bond. James Bond.


9) Random question: Would you rather have nothing but green lights for all of 2021, or never have to stand in line for anything all year? I don't drive, so I'll go to the head of the line, thank you.


*Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Though I substituted saltines for toast, and had LOTS of chicken soup.

 

Reluctant to throw 2020 away

Same photo, new year
Last year, in my kitchen I hung a wall calendar that I'd purchased to support Colonial Williamsburg. I used it for reference only. The planner on my desk is where I notate appointments and birthdays. 

Except in December. Last month, my wall calendar is where I kept track of my covid symptoms. I wanted all the details easily accessible when I spoke to my doctor or the Department of Health. What a sad tale of woe it tells!

•  When I noticed I'd lost my sense of taste and smell, and when they returned (smell first)

•  The four days of fever

•  The day my rash appeared

•  The 24 days of gastrointestinal upset

I have a new calendar for 2021, featuring dogs and cats adopted from a local animal shelter. It's certainly a more joyous addition to my kitchen than my diarrhea diary. But here's the thing: I was one of the 12,685 new cases reported in Illinois on December 1. I am a part of history. I am a victim of my President's mismanagement of this crisis and lack of concern for the citizens he should serve. I benefited from the infrastructure put in place by Governor JB Pritzker, because my state government stepped up with rapid results and the offer of help with food/medication delivery.

These are unpleasant notes I scrawled in December, but they feel important. So instead of throwing it away, I'm tucking my 2020 calendar away in a drawer.


 

Welcome, 2021!

OK, so 2020 wasn't a good year. But it ended on a high note.

Food, glorious food! I went to Boston Market and picked up my celebratory meal: roasted turkey with dressing and steamed vegetables. I've been eating a bland diet for so long that it was like ambrosia. Since the stuffing contains onions, carrots and mushrooms, I saved the vegetables for my New Year's Day lunch. I don't want to overdo and disturb my gut. So far this week, I've already added berries without incident. I hope to have a healthy, well-rounded diet soon. (Oh yeah, and anyone who tells you that the corona virus is "just the flu" is a complete ass. I've now been living like this for a full month. And I'm one of the lucky ones! Stay home, comply with lockdown regulations, and value your life more than your livelihood.)

Carla. She and I have worked at the same company for more than 5 years and ran into one another at all-agency meetings. I liked her well enough because she always laughed at my jokes, but to be honest, I never gave her much thought. Anyway, because of the spring lay-offs, we ended up working on the same team and because of work from home, we discovered we live in the same neighborhood. When she learned I had covid, she offered to do my shopping for me. I didn't take her up on it, but I appreciated the gesture. And on Thursday, I was touched that she included me in her family tradition by bringing me some of the homemade tamales and salsa they have every New Year's Eve. I can't eat it, of course (see above), but that's not the point. She was enormously thoughtful and I appreciate it.



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

WWW.WEDNESDAY

 

WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan. Ms. McMillan examines one of the most unlikely and at the same time most consequential marriages in modern history. A pretty Russian girl moves to Minsk to live with her uncle. At a dance, she happens to meet a former US Marine, a local celebrity because he was one of the few Americans to defect to Russia, instead of the other way around. They married just six weeks later, emigrated back to the United States and landed in Dallas. Their tempestuous marriage exacerbated the husband's financial, sexual and emotional issues until, on 11/22/63, he murdered John F. Kennedy.
 
This is one of those books I've always meant to read, and now is finally its time. After reading Vincent Bugliosi's brilliant Reclaiming History, I am convinced Oswald acted alone and McMillan attempts to explain why. Like the Civil War, JFK's assassination is one of the wounds this country has never recovered from, and it's important to understand it.
   
2. What did you recently finish reading? The Battered Badge by Robert Goldsborough. I love the adventures of genius detective Nero Wolfe and his sexy, smart ass assistant Archie Goodwin, so I'm enjoying this one. It's not written by Rex Stout, who created these wonderful characters, but Robert Goldsborough who took over the series after Stout died. He does a creditable job.

The story starts at breakfast, when Archie sees a newspaper article about a murder. Lester Pierce was a crusader with the GGG (Good Government Group), a consumer organization that had been campaigning for the removal of Inspector Cramer from the homicide division for going easy on organized crime. When Pierce is assassinated, it looks like Cramer might somehow be involved, and the NYPD suspends him. While never friends, exactly, Cramer and Wolfe have been crossing paths and annoying one another for decades. Wolfe is a good judge of character and simply cannot believe that, despite all his shortcomings, Inspector Cramer could be a murderer. Savvy Archie smells a set up. And so they set out to clear Cramer's name by solving Pierce's murder themselves.
 
This mystery was entertaining and comfortable as a pair of slippers. The old gang is here: Fritz, the chef who serves Wolfe and Archie gourmet meals and insights on what he naturally overhears; Saul, the homely but fabulously talented private investigator hired by Wolfe when an extra pair of hands or legs is required; Lily Rowan, Archie's girlfriend, of whom I am insanely jealous. 
 
My only complaint is that one of the characters stutters, and Archie stoops to imitating him. Archie is a wiseacre, but he's never cruel. This was sadly out of character. I don't recall Stout ever writing Archie this way.

3. What will read next?  I don't know.



Monday, December 28, 2020

Guess who's feeling passive aggressive

Ah, my oldest friend. I love her more than anything, but man, she can grind my gears. Case in point: She is very comfortable going weeks without conversing with me. Remember, this is a woman who is retired, does no volunteer work, has no circle of friends and takes no adult education classes. I do not understand how she can't carve out 30 minutes on a Wednesday night to call me, but she cannot. She has no explanation for this. Yet if I -- who has a job and does have commitments to other friends and my movie group -- don't instantly return her calls or emails, she wants to know what's up.

Similarly, I have often called her and gotten a text in return that says, "Sorry, I was having dinner with my cousin" (with whom she lives) or "Sorry, my daughter is here visiting." OK, so when she told me earlier in the month that she was spending Christmas with her cousin and her daughter, I didn't bother to call. She questioned me about this, to which I responded I didn't want to bother her. "Oh, Dear, you never bother me!" Then why do you screen me and let my calls go to voicemail?

When she still hadn't mentioned the Christmas gift I sent her in plenty of time for the day, she responded that she "left it on the dresser and forgot about it." Oh, and my gift won't be here until God knows when because it's so hard for her to get a ride to the post office.

I am hurt and saddened by all this. I have always felt so close to her, ever since her daddy took us sledding and then out for hot chocolate. She is my touchstone. No one makes me laugh harder or makes me feel more comfortable. When I embarked on my battle with covid, she nurtured and supported me by calling every day. So it hurts to suddenly feel superfluous.

She has done this to me before, and I think I know her reasons. One is balance of power. I think that she resents that I'm still working, and as a writer,* while her career came to an ignominious end when she helped her doctor-boss merge with another medical practice and was repaid for her efforts by being let go. She was unable to find another job and became so broke that the finance company that had her car loan called me, as her reference, in hopes of getting paid. When she lost her apartment, she moved in with her cousin because she had to.

Another is depression. She battles it, it's a physical condition, and it's real. I think she gets so blue that she feels frozen. When I think of how she faces her depression day in and day out and tries so hard to be happy, positive and "normal," my heart breaks for her.

Her life is more difficult and more complicated than mine, so allowances must be made. I will make them. But I have to be allowed to work through my feelings before I just verbally open my arms to her again.


*She writes fan fiction every day and has begun reading "how to" books for aspiring authors. I've been supporting myself as a writer for 41 years now. She once said something so cruel -- so out of character -- that it revealed her resentment. "No offense, Gal, but I use what you write to light the barbecue." 

 


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Bread! How I've missed you!

Yesterday I had a Potbelly turkey sandwich, on white with mayo and lettuce, for lunch. For dinner, I grilled myself a hot dog and served it on a bun. I also ate two chocolate chip cookies!

So far, no adverse reaction from the interior.

It isn't just that I like baked goods (though I do). It's that I felt like a regular person again, instead of a corona virus sufferer. Other people don't just eat a slab of plain white chicken on a plate. Other people put it between two slices of bread and garnish it with condiments. This weekend, I feel like other people!


 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Sunday Stealing

 For Those Who Celebrate Christmas/Part Two

Star or Angel? I have a kitty angel to top my tree.

White Lights or Colored Lights? White.

Blinking Lights or Still Lights? Still.

When do you open your gifts? I opened some on Christmas Eve during our Zoom celebrations, others on Christmas morning.

Do you buy gifts for your pet? No. Because I spoil them 365.

Be honest: What's the worst gift you've ever gotten? Nothing that rises (or sinks) to the title of "worst."

Have you ever traveled for the holiday? Oh, yes. Most years I'm in Key West for Christmas. Hopefully I'll be back there again next year. I miss celebrating with Henry, Reg and Patrick. There's so much love there.

Did you see Santa as a child? Only at the mall.

Can you name all the reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.

Have you ever gone caroling? Nope.

Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights? My mom loved it and nagged my dad until he acquiesced. So we'd pile into the car and drive out to the fancier suburb and look at the lights on the bigger, nicer houses. I was sensitive to the tension between my parents, and wondered about but couldn't articulate my problem with the class distinction thing (which felt very unChristmasy), so I didn't enjoy it. My sisters both loved it, though. In fact, my kid sister and her husband just posted Facebook pictures of their drive to that same tony suburb.

Have you ever left Santa cookies? Yes

Have you ever had a white Christmas? Not this year. In fact, not most years. January is, unfortunately, the big snow month here in Chicagoland.

Have you ever made a gingerbread house from scratch? From a kit? Nope.

Be honest: Do you think the season is too commercial? Nope. It's as commercial as you allow it to be.

Imagine you were going to create the quintessential holiday soundtrack -- which song(s) absolutely must be included? "The Christmas Waltz," "Blue Christmas," "Silent Night," "River," "Joy to the World."

What are your Christmas pet peeves? ONE: Die Hard is so a Christmas movie! Your basic holiday tropes are there: It takes place on Christmas Eve, the hero heals his estrangement from his family, and the disgraced cop is redeemed at a critical moment. TWO: "My Favorite Things" is not a Christmas song! Maria sings it during a summer rain storm in Salzburg. Trust me, it snows in Austria. If they wanted snow behind her as she sang, they could have it. Plus, in those days, brown paper packages tied up in string usually came from the mailman or the butcher, they were not gifts. She recalls her favorite things when "the bee stings," and bee sting is not one of your typical wintertime maladies. So leave "My Favorite Things" off your Christmas playlist.
 
In the movie, this was just days after she sang "My Favorite Things."  Clearly not Christmastime.
                          

I kinda like being the arbiter of these things. Let me know if there's anything else Christmasy you need me to decide.