Monday, January 16, 2017

ONEWORD: FOCUS on what counts

to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts

My goal in 2017 is to be able to point to concrete achievements, accomplished because I continued to FOCUS. Today I maintained my focus on my budget, and my goal to reduce my credit card debt.

I was underbudget this weekend, and toyed with buying myself a pizza to celebrate.

But then I remembered, just because I hadn't yet used my weekend money doesn't mean I'm required to use it. So I had a hot dog and salad (all from my refrigerator) instead.

I'm on my way to reaching my fiscal goal. It feels good.

It doesn't get much better than this

Chicago #44 meets Chicago #44 at the last public White House event of Barack Obama's presidency.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Stealing

1. Do you have/have you had any pets? Patience with critters is the best thing I inherited from my mother. When I lived at home, we had two parakeets, a turtle named Bobbie Jo, and always cats. As an adult, I've continued sharing my home with cats. Right now, I have Reynaldo and Connie.

2. Do you play video games? If so, do you have a favorite video game series? No.

3. Any unpopular opinions on anything? Yes. I know some of my more progressive friends are disappointed that I'm not participating in the Women's March on Saturday. It's not that I don't support their policy positions. It's that I refuse to protest Trump until he actually does something as President. Remember how ridiculous RWNJs were over Obama? They declared him a one-term President before he even took the oath of office.
I insist on behaving better than the conservatives did eight years ago.

4. Do you have a favorite gem? If yes, has anyone ever bought you jewelry with that gem? I don't have a favorite gem. But I do have a pair of earrings my cousin Rose gave me -- pale blue parallelograms -- that I am terribly fond of, even though they probably have no monetary value.

5. Favorite story genres? I assume this means in books. Mostly I read mysteries and biographies. In movies, I prefer anything that's not fantasy or sci-fi.

6. What was once a secret that you can now share? (The original question was "What kind of fruit do you hate" which is type of question that I think "who cares?" so I just change them.) The only two answers that come to mind are a little too heavy for a Sunday morning. Let's just say I was ashamed and kept things secret that weren't my fault, and I'm not ashamed anymore.

7. Do you like reading? Yes!

8. What time is it for you now, what are you usually doing at this time of the day? 8:30. On weekdays, I'm putting on my makeup and slipping into my work clothes. Right now, on Sunday, I should be in the shower.

9. What character on TV or in film is most similar to you? You can go with looks or personality. Or you can make a quip and go to the next question. Suzanne Vale, Postcards from the Edge. I so relate to the mother-daughter scenes. Like Suzanne and Doris, my mother and I loved each other but we had a terrible time understanding one another.

BTW, with the current orgy of grief over Carrie Fisher's and Debbie Reynold's passing, I want it known that I mentioned Ms. Fisher and her work at least 15 times on this humble blog before she died. Welcome to the bandwagon, y'all! Carrie was here all along, where were you?
10. What's something weird you wanna do? It cannot be weirder than Mr. Watermelonhead. I'd like to pack a bag and go to Union Station. There I'll check the board and get on the next Amtrak out. I'd like to spend the night in a town I've never visited before, maybe even never heard of before. And I will do it without wearing a watermelon on my head.

11. Have you ever accomplished a New Years Resolution? No. But I'm hopeful about this year's. I want to report less credit card debt on December 31 than I had on January 1.
12. Is there any music artist you look up to? I'd love to be able to tell Streisand what she meant to me growing up. She didn't look like anyone else, she was ballsier than anyone else, and she was more successful than everyone else. She was a force at a time when women tended to be fluffy or silly.

13. Are you allergic to anything? If yes, what? I'm allergic to bee stings and morphine. ("Bee stings and morphine" are not words often seen in the same sentence.)

14. When was the last time you took a swim? Who else was with you? I last swam on Christmas Day. I was by myself in this little pool at the Orchid Key Inn in Key West. I splashed and swam as I listened to carols and looked up at the palm trees. Then, at 1:00, I joined my friends to celebrate the holiday.
15. Would you rather have the ability to sleep for as long as you want, or have the ability to never have to sleep? I wish I could feel refreshed without sleeping.

The World Has Lost Its Manners

I know I'm overreacting, but this is how I feel about a Saturday that went like this:

 •  I'm in the crosswalk when "Don't Walk" begins to flash. A couple is eager to glide into a right turn but damn, there's my human body in their way. So they actually have to slow down. And the woman rolls down her window -- it was 28º -- to yell at me, "Don't walk when it says 'Don't Walk!'" Really? The light's still green but I'm supposed to turn around and run back to the curb? And that's worth shouting at a complete stranger?

•  The front desk woman at the hospital scolded me. Had my annual mammogram yesterday. Naturally I was nervous. Who isn't at least a little uncomfortable when preparing for a cancer screen. I arrived early so I could fill out the paperwork. The woman at the desk looked at me like I was in-fucking-sane. "When I made the appointment, I was told to come in early," I explained. Her response was a clipboard of forms, telling me the top one was mine to keep. She was getting her purse when I approached the desk and asked if her she didn't need me to witness me signing it where is said "witnessed by."

"I'll sign it later," she said, heading for the door. "When you're done, just leave your forms face down on the desk."

She was mad that I was early because she wanted to go to lunch!

I was completely alone in the clinic. So there was no to ask when I got to question about my mammogram. I just wrote "See doctor's order attached" and went behind her desk to get a paperclip.

Just then she returned with a Subway bag and a bad attitude. "What are you doing there? That's against the law. There's personal patient information back here!"

"I wanted a paperclip or stapler. You weren't here."

"Going back there is against the law."

I didn't mention that she wasn't all that concerned about my privacy when she told me just leave my forms "face down on the desk." I did say that I kept getting snapped at "for trying to do what you tell me to do."

I've been getting my exams done there for years and they do a good job, so I don't want to change providers because of this. However, I am toying with sending a letter to the facility. Sure she was rude, but more than that, I'm sure the lawbreaker was the hospital worker who left a patient alone in the office with all that personal patient information.

Ah, but at least I had movie group. My movie Meet-Up is always a communal good time, right? And last night it was, until the end. I was wearing my CUBS fleece because the theater is always a little chilly. After the discussion, when we were all filing out, a woman I really didn't know complimented my shirt.

"I'm gonna keep wearing Cub gear as long as I can to keep the party going," I said.

"You enjoy it," she said, continuing the conversation, even though her husband seemed in a hurry to leave. "You keep having fun. You deserve it after 108 years."

"Especially because you'll have to wait another 108 years," her husband sneered.

"Or eight months," I snapped. His wife shrugged, embarrassed.

Really, Mr. Man? You're impatient so you have to rip on my guys and ruin my happy MeetUp buzz?

Oh yeah, and someone was snarky about the Saturday 9 questions.  Sorry I'm not a writer of the caliber you require for your Saturday morning questions, lady. Get over yourself.

The Sound of No Music

Last night, my Movie Meet Up enjoyed a screening of 1931's Miracle Woman. I not only enjoyed it as a film, taken on its own merits, I appreciated it for its place in the canon of filmdom. It was an early talkie, early Frank Capra and early Barbara Stanwyck.

The story, about a shady radio evangelist redeemed by love, wasn't hard to relate to in today's world. Stanwyck's performance was good -- and I always appreciate watching her work in our Meet Up because our moderator, Will, is such a fan and his enthusiasm is infectious. And most interesting of all, for me, was the fact that the movie had no score.

I was told this wasn't really a creative decision on the part of Capra. His later films all had background music. Miracle Woman had no score because in 1931, it simply wasn't easy to do.

In retrospect, it was a good decision. 85 years later, without corny music swelling up, the movie seems less dated and more watchable.

It was also cool to see Joanna again for the first time in 2017. We really have to get together again. But I know the next two weeks are going to busy for me at work, and she said she'll be traveling for business, so I guess that will have to wait.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Saturday 9

1) This song was inspired by a note WHAM! partner Andrew Ridgeley left for his parents. He accidentally wrote "go" twice. What was the last handwritten note you left for someone? It was to a local charity and I mailed it along with my check. Last year I had a coupon book to remind me to contribute to them, and I asked them to please send me one for 2017. They are a small animal shelter and I know they appreciate all the help they can get, but I admit without the reminder I might forget. BTW, here's their link: Harmony House for Cats. (It's MLK Weekend, you know. That's a good reason to do some good and support a charity, isn't it?)

2) Born Georgios Panayiotou, George Michael was the son of the Greek restauranteur in East London. When you think of Greek cuisine, what comes to mind? Flaming cheese. OPA!

3) He was a terrible driver and admitted his license was suspended a number of times. Have you ever lost your license? Nope. 

4) WHAM! partner Andrew Ridgeley, on the other hand, is a talented driver who got to live his fantasy by racing Formula Three in Monaco. There are companies that sell racetrack driving experiences that allow you to spin around the track at dizzying speeds. Is this something you like to try? Nope.

5) In 1990, Frank Sinatra famously gave George Michael advice. Ol' Blue Eyes told the younger man to enjoy his fame, to remember all those lean nights traveling from gig to gig by bus and, now that he's successful, "loosen up and swing, man." Who last gave you advice? Did you take it? One of my coworkers advised me to try not to take it all so seriously. I really like and respect our client and sometimes I feel unable to do my best work because of circumstances here at the agency. "Perspective," he advised. "Keep it in perspective." Wise words. I can make myself crazy with work stuff.

6) Mr.  Michael's neighbors have reported since his passing that he seemed to live rather quietly, and that they usually saw him when he was out walking his three dogs. Tell us about the last time you spoke to one of your neighbors. Friday morning I commiserated with one of my neighbors about the sad state of our condo building's common areas. Really, you should see our laundry room. :(
7) Fansites tell us that George Michael's favorite cereal was cornflakes. What breakfast cereals are currently in your kitchen? 

8) In 1984, when "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" was popular, Murder, She Wrote premiered on CBS. Today it's still seen in reruns all over the world. Are you a fan? No. Back in 1984, I dismissed it as a show for old ladies. Now, in 2017, I am an old lady.

9) RANDOM QUESTION: What's your secret to a good night's sleep? I bought myself a new pillow back in August. I loooooove it. With the ubiquitous Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon, it was just $10.99, including tax. At that price I should remember to switch out pillows more often. What a cheap but satisfying little luxury!

OneWord: FOCUS on my self restraint

to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts

My goal in 2017 is to be able to point to concrete achievements, accomplished because I continued to FOCUS. Tonight I sharpened my focus on my budget and went straight home after work.

There's a nice little restaurant right off my el stop. They may call themselves a deli, but they have the best chicken. Specifically breaded chicken strips and a honey-friend chicken dinner to die for.  I wanted some. More than that, I felt I deserved it.

You see, the weather here has been gloomy and icky. I don't mind cold, but it's been worse than cold. It's been chilly and raining, raining, raining. On Tuesday night it rained so hard that my feet were soaked -- not from stepping into puddles but from the torrents making their way into my boots through the laces. I'd rather have subzero and snow than this.* Once you get chilled in the weather we've been having, you stay chilled.

I haven't gone out for lunch for the last two days because it's been too forbidding. I haven't liked what I've had to eat because I've been limited to the offerings of our cafeteria. So when I saw Erik's neon sign, I was sorely tempted.

But just then I had $18 in left in my budget for the week. More than enough for lunch tomorrow, but not enough for Thursday dinner AND Friday lunch. I could have charged it, or borrowed from my weekend spending money, or kept walking.

I reminded myself that I have food in my refrigerator and kept walking.

I can stay on budget. I just have to FOCUS.

*I shouldn't complain about rain like this, though, because I know how important it is to the environment, especially Lake Michigan.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Royal Sisters by Anne Edwards. A sympathetic look at Elizabeth and Margaret Rose before and after their uncle gave up the throne and turned their lives upside down. I picked this up last summer at my library's book sale and this feels like the right time to read it. Queen Elizabeth is 90 now and it feels like she's been old forever. Not true! She was once a child and a student and a sister and a dreamy, romantic girl. 

2. What did you recently finish reading? An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette. I wish I liked this book more. It's the first in a cozy, foodie mystery series by an author who clearly knows and loves Key West. I always appreciate it when a book can create such a unique sense of place, but the heroine, Haley, is such a ditz! When a woman she has complicated connections to is found murdered -- poisoned by Key Lime pie -- the Key West PD comes knocking at the door of Haley's houseboat. Hayley then goes on to behave unwisely and implausibly and does everything she can to remain a person of interest in the case. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll be reading another installment in this series anytime soon (ever).

3.  What will you read next? A biography from my tall TBR pile.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


I recently saw a Trump supporter refer to those who voted for the next President as, "the silent majority." That phrase was, of course, made famous by Richard Nixon, whose Presidency ended in scandal and the only resignation in our history. It makes me wonder why Trump supporters would so willingly wrap their arms around that legacy. Maybe they don't know?

But it got me thinking about the similarities between Richard M. Nixon and Donald J. Trump. They include:

•  Law and order. Both Nixon and Trump exploited fear about violence by promising that the Federal government could help curb street crime. This has always seemed cynical to me: Men who decry Federal interference in our lives suddenly try to inject themselves into local issues when it helps them earn votes.

•  Demonization of the press. Trump's "dishonest media" is easier to remember but not as musical as the way Nixon's Vice President Spiro Agnew referred to the press: "nattering nabobs of negativism."

•  High-profile daughters. Before Ivanka tried to convince us all that her father cared about women's rights, Julie tried to soften her father's image.

•  Secret plans. Trump doesn't want the bad guys to know how he's going to defeat ISIS, just as Nixon touted a "secret plan" for an end to the Vietnam War. We were in Vietnam for another 7 years. Just sayin'.

There are some very important differences. With time and maturity, I've begun to view Nixon as a multi-dimensional man and think of him with more compassion. Therefore I realize that in some very important ways, the Trump-Nixon comparisons are very unfair to Nixon.

•  Military service. Nixon enlisted in the Navy during WWII. Trump was eligible but avoided military service during Vietnam (even though he was comfortable making fun of John McCain's time as a POW).

•  Public service. Instead of practicing law, which would have been more lucrative, and perhaps easier on his basically introverted nature, Nixon went into politics as a young father and was still in his 30s when he served in the House and the Senate. When Trump was in his 30s, he was starting his own real estate business, seeded by a $1 million loan from his father.

  Marriage. No matter what other sins one may wish to put at Nixon's doorstep, there has never even been a whisper about infidelity in his marriage to Pat. Trump was already married to third wife Melania when he made his infamous Access Hollywood comments about how easy it is for him to fondle women.

Oh yeah, and Nixon voters actually were in the majority.  
If Trump would like to enjoy a smoother ride than Nixon, he might want to remember that Hillary Clinton got 3 million more votes than he did.

Monday, January 09, 2017

I may get altitude sickness

That's how high my high road is today!

I not only worked out for the first time in 2017, I also brought my lunch. And said lunch was actually (reasonably) nutritious: tuna salad, crackers, applesauce and chocolate pudding. I admit that when I eat healthy my meals tend to sound like they were planned by the junior high lunch lady, but never mind that now.

I was a good Gal at lunch today!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

OneWord: FOCUS on my empty wallet

to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts

My goal in 2017 is to be able to point to concrete achievements, accomplished because I continued to FOCUS. This weekend I stayed focused on money, and I'm proud to report I stayed on budget.

I had allotted $50 for groceries/household supplies this week, and spent $51.41. I gave myself $50 in spending money and today my wallet is completely empty,* but I didn't go over. (And I paid cash for Kathy's birthday lunch!)

I know it's still just January, but I think I can maintain this. I just have to FOCUS.

*Really. All that's in the coin section of my wallet is a paper clip and a breadbag tie.

Little things can mean a lot

Today I surprised Kathy with her ideal birthday celebration. It was so easy to do that I feel a little guilty.

She moved away from my neighborhood years ago and really misses it. She thought it would be nice to spend the day around town, starting with church, then a trip to the local bookstore, and lunch.

I told her I'd be happy to since, after all, today is Elvis' birthday and I felt a glass should be raised in his honor. But my flippant response camouflaged my real plan.

Kathy desperately wanted a ticket to see Obama's farewell address at MacCormick Place. I was pretty sure she wouldn't get one. After all, she now lives way out there in The Land Beyond O'Hare, and getting to the city by car at dawn, then finding a place to park, then getting into line in time seemed daunting.

So I decided to give her a way to celebrate Obama from her home on the day of the address. I found this glossy Conde Naste retrospective -- so she could flip through the pages and relive the glory days -- and made a contribution to Organizing for Action in her honor -- so that while she watches she'll know she has a part in helping his work continue.

On the way to church, as soon as I got into the car, she told me how disappointed she was that she didn't get a ticket to the farewell address. She noticed the envelope I was carrying and I lied, telling her I had some questions about my condo association's 2017 budget that she, as a realtor, might be able to answer.

I let her choose the restaurant and she selected a downscale but yummy Thai place. After we ordered, I handed her the envelope and she was so, so happy.

Her birthday isn't for another three weeks so she wasn't expecting it. It really didn't take any effort at all to put it together and surprise her. I must remember to be more thoughtful and do things like this more often in 2017.

Out, damned spot!

When I was a kid, we were not supposed to touch our dad's Lava Soap. My mother insisted it was too rough for our skin, and that it was only for the dark, ugly stains that our mechanic father brought home from work.

I think it's time for Bernie Brats to get out the Lava Soap. How else can they wash away the stain of helping to elect Donald Trump?

All last summer they bitched, they whined and obsessed about the Wikileaks about Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile. It was as though Julian Assange had re-released Shakespeare's witches chant around the cauldron: Double, double, toil and trouble!*

I couldn't help but notice that by the time the convention rolled around, even Bernie Sanders himself asked them to shut the fuck up about it. And, shockingly, they booed him.

They also booed Cory Booker, Elijah Cummings and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake -- making sure that voters of color all over the country knew how little respect they had for black voices. I'll always wonder what impact last summer's nationally televised display had on voter suppression.

Donald Trump has said that Vladimir Putin is a smart man. He's right. Through hacking and Wikileaks, Putin manipulated Democrats into carving one another up on the public stage -- over nothing that really mattered.

No one understood this better than Bernie Sanders himself:

“It is easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face if we are living under a Trump presidency. Politics is not easy stuff. You don’t get everything you want tomorrow — ask the people who fought in the civil rights movement.”

Grab the Lava soap, boo-birds. Start scrubbing.

*Props to me for keeping the Shakespeare references from the same play. Somewhere my high school English teacher is smiling.

Attention must be paid

Today I celebrate the King's birthday. I honor what he means to America and to pop culture. And, of course, his influence on those the Lads from Liverpool.

It felt good at the time, but ...

Today began with a lovely coffee shop breakfast (ham and cheese omelette, English muffin and a pot of chamomile tea). Then I ran some errands -- grocery shopping, camera store. After about four hours out and about I came home and took a two hour nap.

Woke up feeling refreshed, but then all I had time to do was my laundry ... and my Saturday was gone! I was so ambitious, and now ... pfft!

I guess that I should call my doctor and get that sleep study scheduled!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Saluting our favorite son

I was touched to read about the crowd who waited in the frigid weather to score tickets to see Barack Obama's final national address as President.

"The crowd in line Saturday mostly was a younger one, packed with college students, some of whom wore University of Chicago maroon or carried backpacks weighed down by textbooks. Families brought their young children, who sat in strollers padded with fleece blankets. Older couples wrapped quilts over each other’s shoulders, and little kids skipped in and out of line, their parents calling after them."

Photo credit: the Chicago Tribune

I keep trying to muster a modicum of enthusiasm about Trump.
I'm a patriot, after all, and respect the electoral college and the peaceful transfer of power. Maybe the new President will pass the infrastructure bill that Obama could not and we'll have a renaissance of public transportation and a greener, safer country. But then I read his petty tweets about Arnold Schwarzenegger's ratings on The Apprentice and the derogatory way he refers to the Senate minority leader as a "clown" and my heart sinks.

Obviously we're going from a man of grace and intellect, who turned the other cheek and tried to rise above the indignities hurled his way, to a man who seems to revel in -- or at least is unable to resist -- the deplorable.

I don't want to give President Obama a halo he doesn't deserve. He wasn't perfect. I'm disappointed that Gitmo is still open, that we still don't have common sense federal gun laws, that apparently the VA is still as messed up as it was under George W. Bush*, that he couldn't figure out how to turn his public popularity into legislative success.

But I'm grateful for what he means to us here in Chicago. From Grant Park in 2004 to McCormick Place next week, he's made us proud and he's given us hope.

*That's when my uncle, a Vietnam vet, found nothing but roadblocks and dead ends when he needed help. No one who wore the uniform should be treated that way.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: A New Day Has Come (2002)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a new day. Here we are celebrating a new year. What do you hope for in 2017? A little more serenity. More freedom from worry about health and finances.

2) Ms. Dion has said this song was influenced by the events of 9/11, and how a new day dawned after tragedy. Looking back on 2016, did something happen that you're glad to leave behind and move away from? All of it. 2016 was a tough year for me personally, politically, financially and physically. I'm happy to leave it all behind. Except of course for my WORLD SERIES CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS! Thinking about my guys makes me so happy.

Anthony Rizzo, you are the sunshine of my life.

3) In the video, Celine serenades us from billowy white clouds. Describe the sky where you are as you answer these 9 questions. It's the middle of the night as I answer these, so it's pitch black out there. It's been so cold I haven't ventured far at lunchtime and it's dark when I get home from work, so these days I feel kinda like a mole girl. I must, MUST get out in the sun sometime Saturday.

4) This video was shot in West Palm Beach, FL. When settlers arrived in the late
1870s, the town was called Lake Worth County. OK, your turn. Tell us something about your hometown. This is the old Chicago Water Tower. This tough old girl is the only public building to survive the Great Chicago Fire. It's amazing to consider everything that's gone on before her doorstep in the last 100+ years.

5) Celine Dion's native tongue is French. Dites-nous quelque chose en Français. I know "Je m'appelle Barbra" means "My Name is Barbra" because of an old Streisand album.
6) Celine's mother, Therese, is known in her Quebec neighborhood as a terrific cook. Think about your own domestic talents. Where do you excel? (Food prep, house cleaning, laundry, scheduling, etc.) I may hate doing laundry, but I am good at it. (Tip: Go to a Sally Beauty Supply and buy a bottle of clarifying shampoo. It's awesome for removing blood, food and grass stains.)

7) Growing up, Celine and her siblings often performed in her family's piano bar. Where did you most recently enjoy an adult beverage? I had a beer with lunch Friday at the pizza place next to my office building.
8) In 2002, when this song was popular, Kmart was in the news because the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. What department store to you shop at most often? Carson's. It may be called Bergner's or Yonker's in your neck of the woods. 
9) Random question: It's time for a midnight snack and you have your choice of one of these three -- a slice of sausage pizza, a bagel with lox and cream cheese, or a piece of carrot cake. Which will you have? And what shall we bring you to drink? Oooh, I love lox! And a Coke. Thank you, Carson. (I've been watching Downton Abbey again.)

Friday, January 06, 2017

This will stay with me a while

My Green Line train was in sight. This made me happy because it was cold and I was carrying a lot tonight (my favorite Tide was on sale!). I was eager to get on my train, find a seat and put this shit down and warm up.

But first the Brown Line train had to leave the station. As passengers were disembarking, I heard screams. "He's got my phone! He's got my phone! Stop! Thief!"

A young man not really dressed for the single-digit cold came barreling through. Running like a linebacker doing drills. He got to the turnstyle and had to jump over. Since this was rush hour, there was a crowd trying to enter but most got out of his way. Except for one kid. (At least he looked like a kid to me -- he might have been 30.) He slowed the phone thief down by throwing a shoulder into him. They both fell down but the thief -- perhaps propelled by adrenaline -- got up first and managed to get away down the two flights of stairs and into the night.

The kid got up, brushed himself off, and paid to go through the turnstyle. (Really, CTA? You couldn't open the gate for him?) A woman near me went up to him and said, "I think you're a hero. Let me give you a hug." He seemed both embarrassed and validated by her embrace.

Watching the emotions pass across his face, I felt very connected to him. And suddenly I was mad at him.

The thief could have had a knife or a gun. Could have body slammed him. Could have really hurt him.

Over a phone.

Not worth it. That kid has his whole life ahead of him. I didn't want him hurt. I know his heart was in the right place, but I don't care. Ubiquitous technology isn't worth that lion's heart of his.

And I'm glad my phone is a piece of shit that no one else would want.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

OneWord: Continuing to FOCUS

to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts

My goal in 2017 is to be able to point to concrete achievements, accomplished because I continued to FOCUS. Here it is Wednesday, and I've saved approximately $15 by brown-bagging it twice this week and last night I took a bag of magazines out to the recycling bin.

Do $15 and a bag of paper make an appreciable dent in my debt or my clutter? No. But the saving and disposing do make me feel better about myself and make me want to continue in this vein.

A positive sign of the times

This sign is about to begin appearing on Chicagoland commuter trains. I'm THRILLED! This has always been my biggest pet peeve about public transportation. So glad others feel the same way. Maybe things will begin to change.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

OneWord: FOCUS


Today was our first day back at the office, even though January 2 was a Federal holiday this year. To compensate for making us commute downtown on a day when public transportation was on Sunday/holiday schedule, our office president had Potbelly's bring us sandwiches.

So I began 2017 NOT paying for lunch! What's more, I tucked one of the leftover ham sandwiches into our little refrigerator for Tuesday. So I'm maintaining my FOCUS on money. Yea, me!

"Stacks of money"

I rang in New Year's Day with the Crawleys, watching the Downton Abbey marathon on PBS Prime. I may not have been productive -- my place remains a mess now, days later -- but I was happy.

Until I heard the insistent pound, pound, pounding down the hall. It sounded heavier duty and took far longer than hanging a picture or anything involved with taking down holiday decorations. I poked my head out the door and was surprised to see a quartet of cops in front of Pervy Walt's door.

"Do you know him, ma'am?" one of the officers asked.

"Not really," I said, which is true.

"Is he older?"

"He just turned 90."

The officers were trying to break into Walt's apartment without destroying the door. I saw Brian, my neighbor and our condo board president and I went over and laced my arm into his. This looked to me like we were expecting to find Walt sick or dead, and I wanted to show Brian a little moral support.

Brian called the cops because there was water dripping into his bathroom from Walt's directly above him, and when he knocked on the Walt's door, there was no answer. The police were having no better luck.

They got the door open and announced Walt was conscious and in the tub. That's when I took my leave. I have made it clear to Walt that since he can't be trusted not to go all pervy on me, we have no relationship, and I think it's important to maintain that.

I don't know why he didn't answer when Brian phoned or knocked ... why he didn't get out of the tub when he heard the police bashing in his door ... but I did hear the officers as they walked past my door on the way out.

"Did you see the stacks of money?"

So I guess he keeps a lot of cash out in plain sight in his place.

I guess the authorities took Walt to the hospital, because this morning there was a note taped to his front door from Brian that said, "Walt, I have I your keys." Walt's newspaper was downstairs in the lobby all day.

This made me so sad. And I worry about my own future.

First I encountered Cynthia, the barrista in Key West who had a stroke and now has to depend on the kindness of her bartender. Now this with Walt. I am scared of being alone, an embarrassment and a burden.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: Bud's Last Stand of 2016
1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Watched the Cubs in THE WORLD SERIES!

2. Best thing that happened to you was... Watching the Cubs in THE WORLD SERIES!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Two coworkers gave birth, but they were nowhere close to me when they did it.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, I had a tough September. Mindy's mom, Katie's brother and Henry's friend.

5. What countries did you visit? Red State Florida and Tennessee. No kidding. Being from true blue Chicago, it felt like I was in a different world.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? Health. I've been weary and sick for so long, beginning in late December 2015. So far we know everything I don't have -- we've eliminated diabetes, thyroid disease, malfunctions of liver/kidneys/hormones and autoimmune disease. But what is bedeviling me? In 2017, we'll test me for sleep apnea. Wish me luck. Sleep apnea is really not that hard to treat, and it will be such a relief to finally have an answer!

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 2. Game 8 of THE WORLD SERIES.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting through it. Really, except for the Cubs, this year really sucked.

9. What was your biggest failure? My home and finances are still a mess.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I began the year with c. diff. It's a tenacious gastrointestinal malady. You don't want to hear any more about it, trust me.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My new mid-century modern sofa.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? The Chicago Cubs, who won THE WORLD SERIES!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Donald Trump. And, if you think it's OK to mock the disabled, Hillary was right: you are deplorable. My uncle suffered mightily with Parkinson's, so this is very personal to me.

14. Where did most of your money go? Well, I spent more on that sofa than I should have. And I had to fork over special assessments to pay the exterminator because my condo building had bed bugs. (Really, 2016 was awful for me.)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The Cubs in THE WORLD SERIES!

16. What song will always remind you of 2016? "I'm just like my country, I'm young, scrappy and hungry and I'm not throwing away my shot."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? I suppose I'm happier than I was New Year's Eve last year, but fatter and maybe not poorer but certainly not richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercise.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Spend.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve? Cocooning. I do not wish to leave the house tonight.

21. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "There is no more status quo. But the sun comes up and the world still spins." Hamilton again. "What'd I Miss?"

22. What was your favorite new TV program? This Is Us

23. What was the rudest thing someone did to you in 2016? Oh, some woman on the el. It's always someone on the el.

24. What was the best book you read? The Chairman, James Kaplan's bio of Frank Sinatra.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lin-Manuel Miranda.

26. What did you want and get? Hamilton tickets.

27. What did you want and not get? The winning lottery numbers.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Jackie was riveting. Since it deals with rage and grief, it's not a feel-good film. But I thought it was important. For me, the takeaway was that we can handle what we must. She sure as shit did.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I took myself to Graceland this year for my 59th birthday. I had a wonderful time, but it was sobering. After all, I've now outlived The King by a good long while, and that made me sad. He deserved a longer, happier ride.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The Cubs won THE WORLD SERIES!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? I've embraced wearing Cubs gear everywhere and anywhere.

32. What kept you sane? The Cubs.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Henry Talbot. He was Lady Mary's yummy second husband on Downton Abbey. The actor's name is Matthew Goode. He was also yummy in The Good Wife.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Which major Presidential candidate will choose Supreme Court justices over the next four years? I believe in women's and LGBT rights, so I am worried about the outcome of the last election.

35. Who did you miss? My dad, my grandparents, my uncle. Cub fans all. They should have been here to see and celebrate the Cubs win THE WORLD SERIES!

36. Who was the best new person you met? I suppose Dru. He a design guru at the office and we clashed a lot at first. But then we began circling one another warily and now we admire one another's strengths. In 2017, he promises to help me learn a new software program. That will be nice. I like learning new things.