Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Those halls

I keep thinking of the last time we see Mr. Lincoln alive in Speilberg's Lincoln. It's an evening meeting The White House. He gets word that Mary is waiting for him to accompany her to Ford's Theater. "It's time for me to go," he says, taking his hat and gloves from his valet. "But I would rather stay." Then he ambles down a White House hallway, never to return.


Donald Trump walks those halls now.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My favorite moments

At the Lincoln Presidential Museum, I saw this big bit o' bling.






At the Old State Capitol, where Mr. Lincoln gave his "house divided against itself" speech and then, where his body lie in state. This was taken from his actual seat. (Though, as John pointed out, not the original chair.)


I love being where he was. I love revisiting his life and times. I'm so proud that he called Illinois home.


He's not well

I spent two nights with John in Springfield. I put the trip together as my birthday gift to him. I took care of his Amtrak ticket, bought him a souvenir and a birthday dinner. I made the hotel reservation and played tour guide.

I had such high hopes for this trip because I believe everyone should visit the Illinois Lincoln sites. And he said he wanted to go! The trip was his idea! Which is why I'm so blue about how it went down.

Before we went, I told him there would be a lot of walking involved. The three sites I wanted us to hit -- Lincoln's home, the Old State Capitol and the Presidential Library -- are all within a mile and can be walked well within 30 minutes. I know. I've done it -- several times. With my school-aged nephew, with my oldest friend, and by myself.

Yet John couldn't do it. He walks slowly and it's difficult for him. Granted, the mercury hit 95º that day and he will soon be 63 years old. But I had no idea how his diabetes and heart issues had compromised him. He moves very slowly, which just prolongs the exposure to heat. And he gets easily confused and annoyed. "Why aren't there more trees down here?" he kept complaining. I finally just threw up my hands and we took Ubers.

Then there's his vision. He literally cannot read anything without his glasses, which he refuses to wear. At one point, he started bitching about the map I was using. I told him the problem wasn't the map but the map reader, and admitted to him for the 300th time that I have no sense of direction. "You're welcome to take over as navigator," I said, more than once.

"I can't read that," he'd say.

Only the center dress is Mary's!
He also had no idea what he was looking at in the Museum. There's a display about fashion of the day, with Mary and her dressmaker, Mrs. Keckley, at the center and dresses like those worn of other Cabinet officials (and Mary's rivals in Washington society) surrounding her. John was snapping photos without having any idea that they weren't all Mary's because he was unable to read the cards. Why go to a museum if you can't read anything? "I get the gist," he said.

We each had our own hotel room. Each had two beds. He complained after the first night that he didn't like the mattress. I asked him if he wanted to switch rooms. "No, I'm not that guy." I asked him the next morning if the other bed had a more comfortable mattress. He didn't bother to try it! No, it's easier to bitch than to move to the other bed.

I warned him before we went that, in Southern Illinois, he wouldn't find a Chase ATM on every corner and he should pick up cash before we went. Guess what. He didn't. We couldn't find an ATM. He got angry at me when I suggested he use his card for purchases. 

By the time I got home, I was so dispirited. I had wanted this trip to go well. I had wanted John to enjoy this special birthday gift. And yet, here's the thing: he did! He sent me texts all day Sunday, thanking me and reliving what he thought were the trip highlights.

So why was I so dissatisfied?

I feel my 60 years. I have gut trouble. I have a big kidney stone. I am taking meds that make me goofy. But I can walk. I can see. And I can go 30 minutes without complaining!

But John is 63 and already old. John is sicker. I am going to outlive John, and I hate that. I hate that so much.

Will wonders never cease?

My 6/15 paycheck was bigger than usual. I most unexpectedly got a raise!
No one gave me a heads up, so I thought it was a mistake, a computer glitch.

This is, after all, the first raise I've received in seven years.

I checked an inflation calculator, and you could argue that I'm still not keeping up with the cost of living.

On the other hand, I know my boss had to make the argument to his boss ... who had to take it to her boss ... who has never given me any indication that he knows I'm alive.

Am I confident that I'm no longer on the bubble? A little. Of course, this could just mean I get a little bit more in my severance checks.

Still, I insist on being happy about this.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Dawn breaks slowly

My oldest friend never answers her phone. Frustrating! Especially because I can't even leave her a message! Her voicemail box is always full.

I thought this was a manifestation of her depression, and it terrified me. She was diagnosed as suffering from "bipolar, cyclical, clinical depression" in 2015. I know there have been days that it's hard to get out of bed. I know she wrestles with making decisions. So I thought this isolation had to do with her personal and mighty battle.

Then, over this past weekend, something happened that cast a new light on her behavior. A California finance company called me. She used me as a reference, back when she was getting a new car. They need to talk to her about a personal matter, and wanted me to provide them with a phone number.

She's not avoiding me or her other friends! She's dodging bill collectors!

I'm not returning the finance company's call. I'm not telling her I received it. She knows she's not making her monthly car payment. She doesn't need me embarrassing her.

I saw a picture of her Sunday on Facebook. She and her cousin visited her cousin's husband in the nursing home for Father's Day. She didn't look great, or especially well, but she was out and about and surrounded by her cousin's kids. Not isolated.

So I suppose under other circumstances, discovering that your oldest friend is broke would be a bad thing. But under these specific circumstances, it's a good thing.


They say it's your birthday

Happy Birthday to Sir Paul McCartney, MBE CH.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Runway


1. Five ways to win your heart
Be nice to my cats
Overlook my idiosyncracies
Care passionately about something (your job, your hobby, your family)
Be politically aware and think for yourself (meaning: no FOX News)
If you can't be a Cub fan, then at least don't cheer for the Brewers or the Cards


2. Something you feel strongly about

The separation of Church and State. The intermingling is a bad business, and something that makes us regressive and less inclusive. (Plus, as a Christian, I don't need these "faith based" leaders pretending they speak for me on policy. They don't, and I have my own minister, thankyouverymuch.)


3. A book you love

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy by Kate Clifford Larsen. It was the best book I read all last year. There's just so much humanity on every page. While Rosemary's story is tragic and at times brutal -- just thinking about the lobotomy makes me shudder -- there's no doubt that her family loved her. The last chapter, "Rosemary Made the Difference," literally made me cry. For this woman who most of America knows nothing about had an impact on all our lives. Her sister Eunice Shriver championed The Special Olympics and her brother Ted fought for the Americans with Disability Act. In October 1962, her brother brought intellectual disabilities out of the shadows by being the first President to ever speak of them, and establishing The President's Panel on Mental Retardation. Hidden through much of her adulthood, Rosemary lives on and that's her triumph.
 
4. Five pet peeves

Space hogs (if you didn't pay for two fares, don't take up two seats); smoking right next to the No Smoking sign; using an umbrella for protection from the sun; not turning off the neon OPEN sign when the business is obviously closed; people who insist that I must be a "cat person" or a "dog person" when I can love them all.



5. What you ate today

A bowl of cereal, some Club crackers, a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, a green salad with vinaigrette, an ice cream sandwich.


6. How important do you think education is?

Very, very, very. 


7. Five people you find attractive

Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Willis, Hugh Grant, Pierce Brosnan, Jake Arrieta


8. What you wore today

Denim shorts, Cub tshirt


9. Something you always think “what if” about
 Oh, romantic choices I made


10. Something you’re proud of

I've given a good, loving and healthy home to cats that someone else disposed of. Adopt, don't shop! 

11. Five items you lust after

A renovated bathroom, exposed brick in my dining room, new hardwood floors, unlimited nights at any Hyatt in the country, $1,000,000.


12. Five words/phrases that make you laugh

These don't make me laugh, exactly, but I do love saying them: Deuteronomy, gubernatorial, penal, pudding, hackneyed


13. A quote you try to live by

"Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim." Nora Ephron


14. Something you like and dislike about yourself.


Like: I'm as strong as I need to be. Dislike: Objectively speaking, I'm a lazy slob.

15. A problem that you have had

Objectively speaking, I'm a lazy slob.




Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday 9



Cat's in the Cradle (1974)


1) This song began as a poem, written by Harry's wife Sandy before the couple even met. Have you ever tried your hand at writing poetry? I suck at poetry. I have no discipline when I write.


2) The lyrics include a reference to "The Man in the Moon." The original Mother Goose rhyme ends: "It's time for the children on earth to think about getting to bed." Do you remember what time your childhood bedtime was? I remember it was a big deal when it went from 8:30 to 9:00. I was probably in 5th grade.


3)  When did you go to bed last night? 11-ish. The Cubs were really creaming the Cardinals (as the Good Lord intended), but that made for a boring game.

 




4) In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the proclamation that made Father's Day a holiday on the third Sunday in June. Can you name all 45 Presidents? (No, you don't have to list them here.) Not in order. But I'd start with the ones I always forget about -- like Garfield and Tyler and Pierce -- and then maybe I could hit 45.

5) Since Sam's father is particular about his Cole Haan loafers, her Father's Day present to him is always a DSW gift card. Who on your gift list is especially easy to buy for? Nobody. I put a lot of thought into everyone's gift, partly because I enjoy gift giving and partly because they each present a challenge in their own way.

6) Sam's father is a voracious reader. So much so that the local librarian knows him on sight and by name. When did you last visit your neighborhood library? Ooh! This is a sore point with me. I'm trying to visit it more often, specifically for each of our condo board meetings, but one of the members is resistant. The rooms are free and available every weeknight until 9 PM. But our board president has some arcane complaint about the library parking lot. It's less than two blocks away! Why does he have to drive?

7) Back when Sam was in high school, her father gave her driving lessons. Do you consider yourself a good driver? No. I'm even worse behind the wheel than I am at poetry.


8) He is a stickler about car maintenance and reminds Sam to check her car's air filter regularly, because a dirty air filter can reduce mileage. Share your own car maintenance tip. Nope. Sorry.


9) Whenever he fills up the car, Sam's father also stocks up on his favorite candy: LifeSavers. So Sam is celebrating Father's Day by giving everyone a roll. Would you prefer Wild Cherry, Butter Rum, Winter Green or Peppermint?  One of the mints.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Stuff


I just finished three days in our new office. I am trying to adjust to "open seating." I thought four of us, sitting one on top of the other in an area built for one, was bad. But this! A row of four seats facing another row of four seats, with little or no delineation.

Everyone is trying their best to get along and make it work. Okay. I'm chipper. I'm chatting with the intern whose face I mindlessly stare into. I miss looking out onto The Lake, which was always awesome and inspiring. But this 10th floor view onto Michigan Avenue makes me feel more connected to the vibe of the city.

But I miss my stuff. My massive plants, Audrey and Audrey, are in the den at home. My photos of my niece and nephew and my cats, are all in boxes. My work files were all unceremoniously dropped into a dumpster and hauled away. There's no place for a vase and fresh flowers. It makes me sad.

But I do have a Cubs pennant tacked to my 10" divider. I've got a Sir Paul magnet on my metal desktop file organizer. I'm trying to make it my own.

Fingers crossed that it all goes well. Or at least, OK.


Shocked

This evening, as I was headed home, I ran into Caleb and Napoleon. Caleb was hiking up his pants in a most obvious way, like the corner of Michigan and Lake was his bedroom. He didn't mean anything lewd by it -- I know his belt was broken -- but I was surprised he was so indiscreet.

When I said, "Hi, guys!" to him and the cat, he hugged me and thanked me for my friendship. This is only the second time he's hugged me. Then he sat down and I got a good look at his face. He was high.

I've seen him beyond sleepy, but this was different. Red eyes, one lid heavier than the other. This was stoned.

I just put $1 in his cup and disappeared into the crowd.

Maybe I'm naive, but I truly didn't think drugs were part of Caleb and Randi's lives. Seeing him like this left me disappointed. Really? This is how you're spending your money? And sad. The other day, a woman gave him $100 because she touched his heart with this earnestness and ingenuity. None of that was on display to the people walking past him today. And worried. How could he keep a careful eye on his cash or his belongings or, most of all, Napoleon when in that condition?

But I wonder if I have any right to feel disappointed. He is under so much pressure -- Randi has battled cancer and a heart ailment. He is working overnights and panhandling by day. He is trying to find a new furnished room. With Randi still requiring a wheelchair much of the time, living in their tent outdoors is an impossibility. Indulging my not be noble or smart, but it's very human.

Still, it leaves me distinctly concerned and unhappy. Please be a good boy tonight, Napoleon. Don't wander away from your dad.




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Every day, and for the rest of his life

Have you ever worked on a political campaign? It bonds you to your candidate. By donating your time, your money and your heart, you're invested in their successes and feel a sense of responsibility for their missteps. 

Bill Clinton's was the first campaign I ever really threw myself into. I believed in him, with all my heart. Then he broke it.

His behavior in the Lewinsky scandal was ugly and cowardly. I knew it as I was watching it unfold in real time. I know it now. For while I am a loyal Democrat and a devoted Clintonista,* I am also a woman.

As Bill Clinton promoted his new book on The Today Show, I was surprised and saddened by how tone deaf his responses were when (inevitably) asked about Ms. Lewinsky and the #MeToo movement. Here's what he said to Stephen Colbert:

From RealClear Politics

I can't speak for Hillary or Chelsea Clinton or for Monica Lewinsky, but as The Gal Herself I can say:
STILL NOT ENOUGH.

I want Bill Clinton to apologize to me personally. I want him to lock eyes with me when I tell him what a profound disappointment he is ... that I appreciate he's a good man who has done good things for us all, but he could have been a great man. Instead he squandered it for no better reason than he couldn't keep it in his pants. I want him to tell the Secret Service it's okay after I slap him across the face. (He deserves a slap across the face, specifically, for referring to Monica Lewinsky as "that woman" -- as in "I never had sexual relations with that woman.")

None of this, though, excuses the pig who resides in the Oval Office right now. He needs to own the way he treated, and continues to treat, women. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani recently dissed Stormy Daniels for being a porn star, while placing no judgement on the President for having sex with her. (And yes, we all know he did. Otherwise you'd have to believe he paid her more than $100,000 because they didn't have sex. Did you receive a check for not having sex with Donald Trump?)

But this isn't about equivalency. It's about hurt and atonement and healing. Bill Clinton has an opportunity to save his legacy -- which matters to us lowly campaign workers who helped put him in office -- and to finally be a great man. He has to stop being defensive. He has to acknowledge what he did to "that woman" -- who is now 44 years old and has lived more than half her life as a punchline to a dirty joke because of this scandal. Monica Lewinsky is the victim here, not President Clinton. He needs to say that. He needs to apologize every day, to all of us, and for the rest of his life.

I hope he will. I hope he doesn't disappoint me again.



*Meant as a derogatory term when it was tossed around by Mary Matalin back in 1992, I have always embraced it.

Sunday Stealing


Bloggone

1. What brand & flavor of toothpaste do you use? Colgate, "Great Regular Flavor"

2. What is your earliest memory?
I was a toddler.

I pressed my hand flat on the leather ottoman and tried to raise myself. Just a flash, just that little moment, is all I remember.

3. Hot Dogs or Hamburgers?
If I'm at the ballpark, I want a hot dog. Otherwise, cheeseburger.



4. If you could bring any one famous person back to life, who would it be? My all-time idol, JBKO. So much I have to ask her!

5. What is one thing we would always find in your fridge... what one thing would we never find?
Always: Ketchup. Never: Tomatoes.


6. Did you have to go and look for the answer of #1?
Yes! Busted!


7. Why don't watermelons grow on trees?
They grow so big they would break the branch.


8. What is something that you own that you should probably just throw in the trash, but you never will?
My cassettes.


9. I push you into a room and lock the door. I leave you there for 6 hours. The walls are chalkboards and in the middle of the room there is a box of colored chalk. What will be written/drawn on the walls when I let you out?
Lyrics to Beatle songs.


10. When was the last time you changed the oil on your car?
No car


11. In your extended family, who has been married the longest?
My kid sister


12. Name one thing that is so normal to you now that someone who was your age 50 years ago would think was abnormal.
Women doctors. I was watching reruns of What's My Line? from the 1950s, and the panel and audience seemed to assume every woman was a school teacher, elevator operator or secretary.


13. Have you ever wanted someone or something so bad that it hurt?
Oh, yes.


14. What do you dip your french fries in?
Ketchup


15. What was the last picture that you took?
I came home the other day to the open cabinet and cat food on the floor ... yet no cats were anywhere in sight. I suspect Pink Mouse and Green Fish were being framed for this crime.






Saturday, June 09, 2018

Still, I'm glad I went

Deanna Durbin was a huge star in the 1940s, and today she's mostly forgotten. Tonight I learned why. Her singing is annoyingly operatic. Give me Judy Garland any day.

That said, I'm still glad I went to my movie group's screening of Durbin's It Started with Eve (1941). The film featured a completely charming co-starring performance by Charles Laughton, and it got me out of the house and socializing.

I almost didn't go. I have work to do -- an assignment that needs to be completed before Monday afternoon. I assumed (correctly) that Joanna wouldn't be going because her dog has been so sick. And It Started with Eve isn't a movie I was even remotely curious about.

But I'm glad I did. First of all, of the 11 who RSVPd yes, only 3 of us showed up. Our moderator, Will, works so hard on these Meetups. I'm glad I could show my support.

And then there's the depression thing. This past week, two celebrities committed suicide. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. The news coverage of these events got me thinking about depression, and how easy it is for me to slide into it. It's a fine line with me. When does the alone time that energizes me turn into isolation that damages me? I must be vigilant.

Saturday 9


Saturday 9: (There's) No Gettin' Over Me (1981)
 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Ronnie Milsap sings about how worrisome it can be when you realize you forgot to pay a bill. It's happened to all of us, hasn't it? Tell about about a time you accidentally missed a payment. Here's why I hate 5/3 Bank: Back in December 2010, I misplaced a bill. It fell behind my desk. I found it the day after it was due. 24 hours! I called Fifth Third and told them what happened. The customer service rep was sweet as could be. She asked me how much I would be paying, told me she was noting it on my account, and recommended I drop the check in the mail right away. She did not tell me to take it to a branch, or use FedEx. She did not offer to take my payment over the phone. She instructed me to drop it in the mail. Which I did. Because of Christmas, and no mail collection/delivery and banks being closed, the payment wasn't credited to my account for a week.

So I'm at the airport in Tampa, having lunch as I'm switching planes en route to Key West to ring in the New Year with friends, and my 5/3 credit card is rejected.

When I got to Key West, I called them and was basically treated like a criminal. Because of one missed payment, which I handled as I'd been instructed to. They even had the temerity to assess a late charge! It took tons of phone calls and nasty letters, but the late charge was finally reversed and my card reinstated. 

But no, I didn't close the account. I still have it. I use it every now and again for a small purchase, which I pay in full. I know enough about banks to know I'm more expensive to them this way -- as a non-lucrative open account on the books -- than I would be if I closed it. Yes, I am that petty and I'm still that angry.

 
2) He also references a dream that keeps him awake. Do you have any recurring dreams? More than once, I have dreamed about trying to rescue a dog from The Chicago River. The dog changes -- sometimes it's white with black ears, sometimes it's a brown mutt -- but it always ends the same way. I'm always hanging onto him with one arm while clutching the bottom of the Wells Street Bridge with the other. All things considered, that's a happy ending so I don't think we can consider this a nightmare, even though it is stressful.

3) He sings about the face you see in the crowd. Tell us about someone you see regularly, but don't really know. Ah, that would be "Cancer Lady." I used to ride the el with the same woman, day after day. She would crush a cigarette before going up to the platform, and light one as soon as we got off, just a half hour later. She disappeared for a month or so, then returned. No longer smoking, now wearing head scarves. In time she abandoned the scarves, and her once-black hair was now close cropped and gray. I surmised that she'd had cancer treatments. The day weeks later that I saw her light up again, I wanted to slap the weed out of her hand and yell, "What are you doing?" But then I remembered, I don't know her. (I started taking a later train, so I don't know if she's OK or not.)

4) He mentions the book that you just can't put down. What's the last book that you finished? The last book I finished was a Spenser mystery a month ago. I've had a hard time paying attention to my read these days. It seems I'm interminably distracted.


5) Ronnie Milsap is a big fan of new technology, and believes the advancements make both his professional and personal lives easier. What about you? Do you embrace new technology? Or do you long for the good old days, when we weren't so connected to personal devices? I'm conflicted. At times, I'm amazed by convenience and how much they help me accomplish. On the other hand, I rue my lack of productivity because the internet is such a time suck. (Did that make sense?)

6) As a child, Ronnie used to surreptitiously listen to late night radio, especially gospel broadcasts. When you were a kid, what rule did you break again and again? I just remember my Icky Grandmother always, always repeating to keep my voice down.

7) Country star Blake Shelton says Ronnie Milsap was a big influence on his music. Do you watch Blake on The Voice? I'm sorry, but I couldn't care less about Blake or The Voice.

8) In May, Ronnie appeared at the Choctaw Casino in Grant, OK. Do you enjoy games of chance? Yes. Which in no way implies I'm any good at them.

9) Random question -- When did you last "do it yourself" and repair something around the house or yard? Just this morning, I glued the wood finial back to my bedpost.



Nowhere to hide

Wednesday morning, as I walked to the train, I spotted a young rabbit. Huddled up against the curb in front of a parking meter.

What to do? Leave it on the side of the street with no grass, no water, no shade, and nowhere to hide? It looked so exposed and vulnerable, I had to do something.

I crossed the street to the grassy parkway and dumped my purse and computer.* Then I came back, bent down and tried to pick up the bunny.

Who was much faster and more determined than I expected, and raced under a car, out of my reach.

I couldn't crawl around under the car, so I reluctantly bid adieu to Bunny and headed to work.

But I was haunted by the rabbit all day. On the way home, I walked past the spot, looking for evidence of Bunny, or of roadkill. I saw nothing. I'll take that as confirmation that somehow the little rabbit found a haven. (Please don't disavow me.)

 
*At first I was worried that they might be swiped when I wasn't looking. Then I remembered how heavy they are and thought, "Good luck with that, Mr/Ms Criminal."

Happy I was there for it

I haven't been able to spend much time with Caleb and Napoleon this past month. At lunchtime, I've often been too busy to venture out, and after work I've been taking taxis and Ubers because I've had so many personal items to ferry home from the office.* I just haven't had many opportunities to visit.

But Wednesday, I got to catch up with them at their usual spot on busy the corner of Michigan and Randolph. Caleb and Napoleon were enjoying the unseasonably cool weather. Napoleon was curled up, tight as a little fur shrimp, sleeping soundly, as though he didn't have a care in the world. And you know what? He doesn't.

They were visiting with a woman, a tourist from St. Louis who was wearing a CAT LADY t-shirt. She seemed fascinated by how well-fed and decidedly chill Napoleon is. He's big now, formidable, with a good coat. So secure that he didn't even lift his head when we all stood nearby, talking about him.

I had two books for Caleb -- he goes through them so fast it's like he eats them! -- and he had one for me. This interested CAT LADY, too.  He had one for me, too. Thereby Hangs a Tale is a mystery narrated (and, I suspect) solved by a dog, with the help of his human.

I asked about Randi, Caleb's wife, who has had such serious health problems. She's up and walking, though the doctor would prefer her to stay in her wheelchair whenever possible. Frustrated by inactivity, and worried about money, she is helping her former boss, the salon owner, by running errands a couple afternoons/week. I wasn't completely clear on what she's doing, but it involves going to the bank. Her boss is giving her $40/trip, which includes cab fare. Randi's take home then is about $20/trip. The extra money is important because neither Randi nor Napoleon like the man who owns and lives in the house where they have a furnished room. "And," Caleb told CAT LADY, "Napoleon likes everybody. So something is up with that guy."

He also told me how excited he is about his own job. He drives a forklift overnights at a food distribution facility. Later this month, he will be able to work double shifts when his coworkers take their summer vacations. That time-and-a-half!

I could see by CAT LADY's face that this was all very moving to her. This man clearly loves his wife and his cat so much. He is hard working, and so is Randi. He's articulate and bookish. Caleb is not what CAT LADY expected from a panhandler.

She asked if she could take Caleb's and Napoleon's picture. She wanted to show her husband who she met this afternoon, and besides, she wanted him to see that Napoleon is more spoiled than their cats, home in St. Louis. As she was walking away, she slipped a bill into Caleb's hand.


Caleb was thrilled! He said nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He told me the story of last "Christmastime" -- he wasn't sure of the day -- when Randi and Napoleon were out on their corner and a woman handed Randi an envelope. The woman had just left her mother's visitation at St. Peter's in The Loop. Family and friends had left cash to help defray funeral costs but, in honor of the season and her mother's memory, the woman thought it would be better to share the money with Randi. When Randi got back to their tent -- they weren't in the furnished room yet -- she was surprised to find over $200.

I liked Chicago, and I like the world, for the rest of the day.



*Our last day at this location was June 7.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Friday Five

1. Is there a smell that will immediately sicken you? I hate the smell of coffee.
 
2. When you want quiet, where do you go? Home

3. Do you need/prefer total darkness when you sleep?
No. It makes me nervous.


4. What is your least favorite taste?
Peppers


5. How heavily do you rely upon your sense of touch?
A lot, I suppose. But not as much as sight/sound.


6. Do you mostly prepare your meals at home or do you eat out more?
I'm eating out less and less.


7. Is there a time of day when you are more likely to buy food already prepared?
Lunch


8. What is your average weekly grocery bill (for how many people)? What is your total restaurant/fast food bill for an average week?
This week, I spent $27.38 at the grocery store, just for me. Approx. $55 for restaurants/fast food.


9. What is your favorite meal to prepare at home?
Dinner.


10. What is your favorite meal to order in a restaurant?
Breakfast.


11. Do you believe in fate?
Sometimes.


12. If Karma was to visit you now, would it be kind or kick you in the butt?
I hope karma would envelope me in a fond embrace. I'm a good person.


13. Do you believe you have lived another life previous to this one?
No.


14. What do you believe in with an unshakable resolve?
Separation of Church and State.


15. What one factor influences your life the most?
Trying to live as He would want me to. I fall short, I know, but the effort counts for a lot.



How did I spend Saturday?

I slept. I took Connie to the vet, then took a nap. I did laundry. I napped. I watched baseball. Then, I went to bed.

Not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary is good for my budget. I woke up this morning with the same $12 I had in my wallet when I got home Friday night. It was probably good for my skin, too. I did put on makeup for the 9:15 AM trip to the vet, but washed it all off when I realized I wasn't going anywhere (except to bed).

Two of my friends -- Nancy and Joanna -- have mentioned that they miss me and never see me anymore. It occurs to me that I haven't seen Nancy at all in 2018, and that Joanna and I have only gotten together twice this year. Similarly, I've only seen John three times. I've really got to work on the reaching out and going out thing. Otherwise I'll sleep all my weekends away.

Oh! I caught up on my junk reading, too! Did you know Brad Pitt is dating an architecture professor from MIT? She's beautiful, too. How very George/Amal!




Saturday, June 02, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: It's Impossible (1970)

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

1) In this song, Mr. Como maintains it's impossible to ask a baby not to cry. When did you most recently hold a baby? Did you ask him or her not to cry? I can't recall the last time I held a baby. I've chatted with a few when their moms or dads brought them into the office. But I never reach for them. I always feel kind of sorry for them, handed back and forth from stranger to stranger. They look so overwhelmed. I think sometimes we forget babies are people, too.

2) Perry Como was known for his casual, easy going style. Therefore people were surprised to learn that he could lose his temper. His long-time musical director reported that bad drivers really got under Perry's skin. What is one of your pet peeves?
She didn't pay a fare for those bags!

3) Though Perry Como was born in Pennsylvania, he didn't speak English until he began grade school. His parents were Italian immigrants and the family only spoke Italian at home. Do you know any words/phrases in Italian? Manicotti, carbonara, pizza ...

4) He met Roselle, the girl he would marry, when they were both still in high school. Tell us about a high school classmate you were crazy about back in the day. He was the second tallest boy in the whole high school (6'4) and incongruously drove the tiniest VW Beetle. He had to practically fold himself in half to get in and out. He had the shiniest black hair. He was a year ahead of me. I was besotted. He didn't know I was alive.

5) When he was just 14, his father's ill health made it essential that Perry begin working after school to help support his family. He apprenticed to a barber but was so short, he had to stand on a box when he cut hair. Again, going back to school, were you taller than your classmates? Shorter? Or were you the average height for a kid your age? Shorter.

6) While taping his annual holiday special in 1971, he fell from a platform and broke his knee. He had to wear a cast and endure 8 months of rehab. Have you ever broken a bone? I broke my clavicle when I was still in preschool. I have only the vaguest recollection of being in my mother's arms as my aunt (whose home I'd been at) explained to my mother that I'd been playing on the stairs. I've seen photos of myself in a sling, but I don't remember it at all.

7) During the decades when he was a recording and television star, Perry Como was also an avid golfer. He was so popular that many of the best pro golfers of the day -- Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, etc. -- were happy to play with him. It's estimated that it takes about 4 hours to play 18 holes of golf. What celebrity would you most like to hang around with for four hours? Harry and Meghan!

8) After he retired, Perry's passion switched from golf to fishing in the waters near Palm Beach, Florida. His catch of the day often ended up as his family's dinner. What's for dinner at your house tonight? #3 has me thinking Italian.


9) Random question -- They say "birds of a feather, flock together." But that's not always true. Can you think of an area where you are out of step with most of your friends/family? I'm more conventionally spiritual than my friends and family. I'm the only one in my immediate circle who belongs to a congregation and actually show up at church every now and again. I don't know what's in everyone's heart so I don't know whether they have a relationship with God. I just know I'm not surrounded by churchgoers.



I walked into a glass wall

No, really. I missed the doorway and walked slam-bam into a glass wall. It was painful, and not just to the hand that I shmushed against the metal doorway.

I was one of the last to show up for the meeting, so everyone saw me do it. The Gal knows how to make an entrance.

What disturbed me about it wasn't the pain or the embarrassment. It was the fact of it. I have been going to 10:00 AM meetings in that very room for four years. I know I was distracted, eager to discuss some revisions with Emily who I'd just caught sight of at the conference room table, but still.

I haven't taken any hydrocodone/aspirin since Sunday night, but I have been taking OTC pain killers along with my alpha blockers. I think that's why I'm fuzzy.

Oh yeah, and I'm old and fat.

I think I that I may be hitting a wall* with my health like I am with my finances. I'm just sick of being sick. And the only one who can do anything about health and my finances is me. It looks like me, myself and I are going to have to have a serious conversation.



*Ouch! Pardon the pun! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gifts from the blogoverse

Ok, I admit it: I've been battling the blues lately.

It's too hot ... I don't feel very well ... I worry about money all the time ... I hate my condo ... I feel trapped in fat ... I'm undervalued at work ... I'm restless because I alternately miss my closest friends but want to be alone.

If you saw me day in/day out, you probably would have no idea I'm struggling. I make superficial conversation, I fuss over those around me. I get my work done on time. I maintain my appointments.

But if you read this blog, nothing in the second paragraph is news to you. It's here that I come with my hurts. In a way, you know me more authentically without meeting me than the people I know do.

Which is why I'm grateful. For the hits my page gets. I know there are people who visit here regularly and stay for more than a minute or two. You ladies* hear me. Even if I don't know who you are, even if you don't comment, I know from my stats that you've been here and I appreciate it so much.

And for two very special blog buddies who responded to two specific posts from Sunday, 5/20.

•  About the stray cat I saw and was helpless to rescue. Our eyes locked, and I felt she was my responsibility and I let her down. Kwizgiver responded, and made a donation to her local animal shelter on behalf of my Reynaldo and Connie! How generous and thoughtful! It lifted me, assuaged me.

Thank you, Kwizgiver.

•  About the book I lost. I got a perfectly perfect hardcover book for Christmas and I saved it for now. About Bobby Kennedy, I wanted to be reading it when we observe the anniversary of his death. That was important to me. Because I mourn Bobby Kennedy. Because I miss the friend who gave me the book. And then I lost it. Carelessly lost it in a cab or on the train. I was bereft. And then Snarkypants sent me a copy of the book! Anonymously, but I figured it out. So you're getting credit, Snarkela, even if you didn't expect it.

Thanks, Snarkypants.
Writing is cathartic. Writing is what I do. I'm so fortunate to have people reading and hearing and responding. It means all the world to me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.



*I always assume you're women.

A close second


In my last post, I said truthfully that there's nowhere I'd rather be than Wrigley Field. But our national past time is not the only intrinsically American thing that's captured my heart. I also love the movies.

I ended my long Memorial Day weekend watching a classic with my movie Meetup. A Letter to Three Wives (1949) is what's known as "a woman's picture." No car chases, no gunfire, no heist. The action all centers on the female protagonists, how they relate to one another, how they feel about their men.

It's about Debra, who married a small town scion and wants desperately to fit into his country club world. And Rita, who has a pair of twin sons and an English teacher husband whom she loves and so juggles home life and career. And Laura Mae, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who married her way into money, if not respectability.

The girls are all friends, bound by neighborhood and social/charitable commitments. And by Addie Ross. They're all crazy jealous of Addie.

Before he went away to war, and met Debra, her husband had been engaged to Addie. Beginning in high school, and continuing throughout their lives, Addie shared a love of music and theater with Rita's husband -- a passion Rita just didn't have time to share. And before he even met Laura Mae, her husband was in awe of Addie, whose "class" he so coveted.

One day, as the girls were about to board a boat for an outing with schoolchildren, they received a letter from Addie. She wrote that she wouldn't be able to help with the boatride or picnic because she was leaving town forever ... with one of their husbands.

In the days before cell phones, these three are trapped first on a ferry and then on an island, wondering ... wondering .. wondering. Whose husband gave in to temptation and left with Addie?

Is A Letter to Three Wives high art? No, of course not. Is it enjoyable? I devoured every minute. And I loved getting my geek on among other classic movie lovers.

Monday, May 28, 2018

No place on earth I'd rather be

Game Time
When we arrived at the park, it was 6:30, a sunny 90º, and rapidly filling with 40,000+ blue-clad bodies. We were among the last to leave nearly four hours later, when it was cooler, dark and empty. I'd still be there now, if it wasn't for security rousing us from our seats.

It was a fun game. My guys got off to a rocky start. Yu Darvish is on the DL, so Tyler Chatwood took the mound in his stead and promptly gave up 3 (gulp!) runs. But we tied the score just as quickly and never looked back. The final score was 8-3.

I was nervous about the game. My kidney stone has been bedeviling me so I've been taking serious pain meds. And I hate heat. Even under the best circumstances, it leaves me miserable -- and being filled to the gills with opiods and alpha blockers are not the best circumstances!

But I had a great time. Especially seeing Javy Baez smack one into the stands. Noting that he was 0-2 so far for the night, I said to my friend, John, "You know, he's due for a big at-bat." And then POW! My lips to God's ears. The ball went into the bleachers.

I drank water all night and headed off to the bathroom three times. Now at Wrigley Field, three tips to the ladies' room could mean that you miss a lot of game. But where we were sitting (Section 240) is tucked away where the first baseline meets the right field wall. So as luck would have it, once you navigate the steep cement stairs, there's one of the ladies rooms. I never had to wait, so it wasn't so bad. (Of course, taking those steps when I'm a little high was an adventure.)

9 innings later
Then we watched the park empty out. After the game, it was cooler and very, very dark. But still pretty in it's own way.

Apres game we stopped at Mordecai Brown's Bar at the new Hotel Zachary, right across from the park. It's very la-de-dah, very high-end. The bartenders wear white shirts and garters on their sleeves. The decor is all clean lines and class. And yet because it's literally across the street from the park, it was filled with sweaty fans in blue tees and jerseys. I imagine that, on non-game nights, it draws a very different crowd.

John was a little grumpy about the bar, even though he chose it. (Since I was unable to drink anything alcoholic, I didn't much care where we went as long as it had air conditioning.) He thought it was too high-end for families who want to come to Wrigley Field. I pointed out that there was a Taco Bell up the street and a McDonald's next door. I suppose I get his point, though -- Wrigleyville is changing and it's tonier than the dives and hook-up bars we knew in our 20s and 30s.* I know John blames Millennials, but I think it's merely free enterprise. Mordecai Brown's will attract tourists and date night crowds all year around, not just during baseball season. I think that's just smart.

At any rate, it was good to get my mind off my gut. It was good to be within The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. It was good to be with John and to watch the W fly high and proud.



*Come to think of it, it's never been family friendly. More beer friendly and casual sex friendly. I wish I'd said that last night, but I was medicated.