Thursday, May 28, 2020

I wish today's kids had him

In 1994, when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, my oldest friend's son was in Kindergarten, going to school half days. Because the bombing destroyed a daycare center, she tried to limit his exposure to news coverage. She didn't want him to be scared to return to school.

While she was in the kitchen preparing dinner, she heard Bill Clinton's voice coming from the TV. She went into the living room and saw her little boy, transfixed. He'd been channel surfing and landed on Bill. My friend made a quick decision in the moment. She let the press appearance play out, because she was afraid if she raced over and changed the channel, she'd just be adding drama and import to a moment he may not even understand.

Bill Clinton began:*

The bombing in Oklahoma City was an attack on innocent children and defenseless citizens. It was an act of cowardice and it was evil. The United States will not tolerate it. And I will not allow the people of this country to be intimidated by evil cowards.

He went on to say:

Let there be no room for doubt, we will find the people who did this. When we do, justice will be swift, certain and severe. These people are killers and they must be treated like killers.

He closed with: 

Finally, let me say that I ask all Americans tonight to pray; to pray for the people who have lost their lives, to pray for the families and the friends of the dead and the wounded, to pray for the people of Oklahoma City. 

Bill was followed to the podium by Attorney General Janet Reno. My friend's son was completely uninterested in her and popped to his feet, moving from the TV and heading for something else to do.

"Wait a minute," my friend said to her little boy. "Do you want to talk about this?"

"He's mad and he's gonna catch the guys, and we're supposed to pray."  

When Bill Clinton addressed the nation, he did it in a way that spoke to us all. He sounded sincere, and even a little boy understood and was comforted.

Children know who the President is and what he is supposed to represent. I wish that today's kids had a President who could speak this naturally and compassionately about the pandemic that has interrupted their lives. They can't go to school, they can't play sports or go to dance class, they can't visit their grandparents. They likely know someone who has battled the corona virus, and perhaps even died. 

It would be nice if they could see a President explaining, in simple terms, that hand-washing and masks will help keep us all safe. That he has the nation's best doctors working on this. That we should pray for those who are sick.

Instead, Donald Trump's twitter feed is filled with political grievances against Jim Comey, Barack Obama and Twitter itself. Yesterday, when the nation reached the sobering benchmark of 100,000 Americans dead of the virus, he didn't address the country. He let someone read a statement.

How sad and disappointing (though not surprising). 
Bill Clinton is a far from perfect man. I know, believe me, I know. But he was a good President for his times. I miss having a good President.

*The Clinton quotes are verbatin from C-Span.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 28

A song by an artist whose voice you love. She is known as a leather-lunged lady who can belt, like Judy or Whitney. But singing softly she's just as good. She's a singing actress with a fabulous voice. This is how I sound in my dreams. BTW, this is from Funny Lady, a shitty movie with a fabulous soundtrack. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Cautiously hopeful

I spoke to Henry so long, and so loudly, Monday evening that I woke up hoarse. He called to, of course, complain about his husband, Reg. Complaining is really all he does these days. It's exhausting. For everything Henry complains about is unreasonable. In Henry's worldview, he's always the helpless victim and the only one suffering.

Case in point: He made Reg aware that there was birdshit on the car hood. There were three cars on the street, but only their car was "targeted." Reg replied that he had no explanation and went back to what he doing. ("Just playing on the computer," Henry said.)

Henry said that they don't have $600 to have the car repainted, so this is a problem. What did Reg plan to do about it? Reg grabbed a roll of paper towels and Windex, went out and started to wipe away the birdshit. Henry followed him to tell him he was doing it wrong, that he should be using soap and water. Reg threw the paper towels and Windex on the ground and stormed back into the house, warning Henry to leave him alone. Henry followed him there, too, asking Reg why he was so mad. Words were exchanged. Reg told Henry to leave him alone so he could "just take a fucking nap."

"For how long?"


Then Henry segued into his problems receiving unemployment and his stimulus check from the State of Florida. I told him the stimulus check was from the Federal government and he should check the IRS website to see where it is. He was dismissive. He doesn't know where Reg keeps their tax "stuff."

"Listen to yourself!" I said, disgusted. "You're an adult! Why don't you act like an adult?"

"What do you mean? I am responsible. I take my pills on time. I walk the dogs."

"Why didn't you clean the birdshit off the car? Why don't you check on your own stimulus check?"

I explained to him that he has no empathy for anyone in his life, that he seems to think we're all public utilities like water, expected to be there when he turns on the faucet. I pointed out that maybe, just maybe, Reg was doing something on the computer that was important to him, that gave him joy ...  Henry interrupted to complain some more and I snapped.

"How am I?" I shouted. "Am I scared of the corona virus? Are my friends and loved ones OK? You don't know because you never ask me about me. All you want to do is bitch about your own life."

"But I try! No one understands me. I try every way I can think of."

"No, you haven't tried every way you can think of. Have you called Dr. Rivera?" She's the mental health professional he saw a year ago as part of couples counseling with Reg. He likes her. His insurance would cover sessions with her.

"Reg would have to drive me. It will make him mad."

"Reg would be proud of you for taking the reins! He would not be mad at all."

Round and round and round we went. Finally he promised to call Dr. Rivera.

"You promised to call Dr. Rivera back in February," I said, sad because I was putting those sweaters away for the season and he still hadn't called.

I told Henry I know how lonely and misunderstood he must feel. I told him his unhappiness hurts my heart. But it's on him to do something to fix it. I reiterated that I love him. I always end each call by telling him I love him.

"I promise I will call Dr. Rivera tomorrow."

Exhausted, I wished him a good night.

Tuesday afternoon I received a pair of texts that made my heart sing.


Left a detailed message for Dr. Rivera. She has not called back. But I kept my promise. 


I called my state legislator. Her assistant will help get my unemployment $. I am emotional, but I can do stuff. 

Yes, Sweetie, you can! I know you can!

I just hope you will.


May Music Meme -- Day 27

A song that breaks your heart.  (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 26

A song that makes you want to fall in love.  The video for this song has been removed for some reason. Here are Don Henley's lyrics.

"The Last Worthless Evening"

I know you broke up with him
And your heart's still on the shelf
It's been over two years for me
And I'm still not quite myself
You can't be with someone new
And you can't go back to him
You're beginning to realize
That it's sink or swim

I see you around sometimes
And my heart just melts
You're lookin' like if you had your wish
You'd be somewhere else
And it just breaks my heart
To see you here this way
Someday I'll get the nerve
To walk up to you and say

This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
Just gimme a chance
To show you how to love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
'Cause I'll be there
When your broken heart is on the mend

Every night it's the same old crowd
In smokey rooms
You catch a faint glimpse of love sometimes
But it never blooms
I've been around this block a time or two
And I've made some big mistakes
But girl I promise you, I promise you

This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
Just gimme a chance
To show you how to love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend
'Cause it won't be long
'Till your little heart is on the mend

People inside their houses
With the shades pulled down

God knows, we could use some romance
In this sleepy bedroom town
I know you're still afraid to rush into anything
But there're just so many summers
And just so many springs

And this is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend, baby
Just gimme a chance, gimme a chance
To show you love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend 'cause it won't be long
'Til your little heart is on the mend

That you'll have to spend
Just gimme a chance to show you how
To love again
This is the last worthless evening
That you'll have to spend 'cause it won't be long
'Til your little heart is on the mend

 (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Feeling grateful and respectful

To those who gave all

This memorial is tucked in a corner of the River Walk. It's a respectful distance from the bars, the hot dogs and the ice cream stands. It touched my heart.

May Music Meme -- Day 25

A song you like by an artist no longer living.  My favorite Aretha (1942-2018) recording was cowritten and originally sung by Sam Cooke (1931-1964). Play along! Click here for prompts.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

It started out promising ...

I made my hotel reservation for Christmas in Key West. Usually I would have done this weeks and weeks ago, but with Covid19, well, it just didn't feel safe or prudent. Yesterday it felt forward thinking and hopeful.

America has been having problems. My dear friends Henry and Reg have been having problems. But I have faith that we -- all of us! -- will be OK. And to prove it, I booked a room at a new-to-me bed-and-breakfast. I've passed it a million times and love the history of this place. There's been a hotel on that spot since 1885!

When Henry called me last night, I was excited to share the news. He claimed he couldn't remember which hotel I was referring to. I thought maybe it was his TBI playing tricks on him. But no, I don't think that's what it is.

Henry only wants to talk about Henry. He got a hair cut yesterday. I asked him if he wore his mask the whole time and he said yes, and so did the stylist. He told me that he expects to be called back to his job at the library soon, but he's frightened. This surprised me, because he's spent so much energy bemoaning his medical leave. He told me with -- tremendous gravity -- that three people in Key West have died from the virus

"Did you know them?" I asked. I thought maybe that's why he thought three was such a staggering number.

"No. But do not worry. I am being careful. So is Reg."

"I'm not worried about you, Honey, I'm worried about me. I live in a hot spot. When I go back to work, it will be in a city where 3000 people died."*

"Oh. That is too bad. I think Reg is sick of me. I am tired of being cooped up with someone who is sick of me ..."

It occurred to me that it didn't matter to Henry who he was talking to. This is upsetting. Not because of our friendship: he had an accident and a resulting brain injury. It is what it is. I am committed to this relationship, come what may.

But Henry's mental condition is deteriorating. He was able to talk about things other than himself five months ago, when we were all together at Christmas. I remember specific conversations about former coworkers and about movies. I don't think he could have those conversations today.

It's hard to watch this because I feel helpless. The one who holds the key to Henry's treatment is Reg. He needs to get Henry to a neurologist who can assess Henry's condition as it is now -- 19 months after the accident -- and review his medications. There isn't a doctor who can do that in Key West, they would have to go to Miami. But with neither of them working, with the pandemic restrictions on travel, it's too hard for Reg to set this in motion.

And there's this: something is stopping him. I think it's Boiling Frog Syndrome. You know how it goes. If a frog is dropped into boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put the frog in warm water that is slowly brought to boil, he'll be cooked to death. Spending 24/7 with Henry, day after day, I'm not sure Reg has noticed Henry's creeping egocentrism.

Oh, how I miss my old friend, Henry!

*I lied for effect. The actual number for Cook County is 2,889.

Sad but true

My friend Patrick posted this on his Facebook feed. He didn't mean to offend me. He was just expressing his painful experience with a certain segment of Christians. Besides, he said he doesn't automatically think of me as Christian because I'm "too loving."

Let that sink in.

I still don't agree with him, but I understand where he's coming from. Let's take the current situation. You can refer to it as the pandemic, or the corona virus, or Covid19, or just the virus. If you still refer to it as the China virus or the Wuhan virus, you are choosing to use a term that you know stigmatizes people. And you just don't care who you hurt.

Certain Christians can flood their conversation, their blogs and Facebook feeds with Bible verses, but when they say China virus or Wuhan virus, they show that they really don't care who they hurt.

Let that sink in, too.

Sunday Stealing


1. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again? Person? No. Critter? Certainly.

2. What’s the closest thing to you that’s red? My water bottle, which is purchased at The Coca Cola Store in Las Vegas.

3. Did you meet someone new today? No. But it's not likely I would, since it's still early on a Sunday morning during a pandemic.

4. What are you craving right now? A bit more sleep. I woke up early to go to the bathroom and the cats decided it was time for breakfast. They herded me away from my bedroom and into the kitchen.

5. What comes to mind when I say “cabbage.” Corned beef.

6. What does your last text say? "What did it say?" No, really, that's what it said. My friend Kathy sent me a text saying there was an article I ought to read.

7. Do you bite into your ice cream, or just lick it? Ice cream cones get licked. Ice cream bars get bit.
8. Do you like your hair? No! I haven't been to the salon since February 29. I have an appointment for 1:30, June 6.

9. Do you like yourself? Most of the time.

10. Do you like cottage cheese? Never

11. What are you listening to right now? Willie Geist on the Today Show
12. Is there anything sparkly in the room where you are? Nope

13. How many countries have you visited? Five: Canada, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Germany.

14. Are you sarcastic? Moi? Non!

15. Have you ever crawled through a window? I vaguely remember climbing through the window of a classmate's garage back when I was in high school. We needed the key to the gate around her pool. To be honest, I don't recall if I actually climbed through myself, or helped her do it. 


May Music Meme -- Day 24

A song by a band you wish was still together. 2/9/64. Nothing was the same ever again.  (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 23

A song you think everyone should listen to. You know, I'm surprised how many Elvis songs I've chosen this month. And yes, everyone should listen to this. Here's a message that's far more healing than selfish whining or Qultist imagined "tyranny." Let's put "we" ahead of "me" and dream of a  country "where hope keeps shining on everyone." (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Friday, May 22, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic (1963)

Unfamiliar with Judy Garland's rendition of this week's tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. 

1) On May 30, 1868, President Grant presided over the Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Have you ever visited Arlington Cemetery? Yes. I've been to Washington DC twice and went there both times.

2) On Memorial Day, it is customary to fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset. Will you be flying the flag at your home this weekend? No. I'd like to, but all my windows face the same way, which means the only ones who could see my flag are the next door neighbors. I feel the same way about Christmas lights -- the decorations seems to be lacking something if you can't see them from the street as you pass by.

3) Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, because flowers and ribbons were left on graves of soldiers.  Do you find solace in visiting cemeteries? Not really.

4) The lyrics to this week's song were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861. Her inspiration was a White House visit with Abraham Lincoln. In 2020, under normal circumstances, public tours of the White House are available but you must request your ticket in advance from your Member of Congress (House or Senate). When you travel, do you plan your trip weeks before you go? Or do you decide how your days will unfold once you reach your destination? If I'm going somewhere like our nation's capital (with many sights to see) or Vegas (with shows to be booked), I plan in advance. Otherwise, I play it by ear.

5) Judy Garland performed this week's song before a live audience as a tribute to President Kennedy, who had been assassinated just weeks before. She knew Kennedy personally and considered this a farewell to a friend. While the performance was difficult for her -- at one point she flubs the lyrics -- she believed it was important, and could perhaps help the country heal. Tell us about a song that reminds you of someone you loved who is no longer with us. This was my uncle's favorite song:


He was married twice and had countless girlfriends. I wish I'd asked him which lady was gentle on his mind. He was a very young man when it came out, so maybe it was one of those songs that brought back a happy time in his life and not a specific woman. But I'll never know because I never asked him. I regret that.

6) John F. Kennedy served in WWII and was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps medal and a Purple Heart. His brother Joe also served and was awarded the Navy Cross, but he received his citation posthumously, having died during a flying mission over East Suffolk, England. Here at Saturday 9, we consider everyone who serves a hero and want to hear about the veterans and active military members in your life. 

•  My dad was a corpsman in the Korean War. He was really good at butterfly stitches, which made him popular in the neighborhood. I remember kids with cuts and scrapes coming over with their moms to be tended to, and to avoid a trip to ER. 

•  The uncle I mentioned above served in Vietnam. I was 8 when he was discharged and I invited him to school for show and tell. I was so proud when he showed up in the doorway of my classroom, in his uniform. He looked quite tall, sitting on the radiator, taking questions from my classmates. I remember he stressed teamwork.

•  My oldest nephew was recently discharged from the Navy. He never saw any action, but his service was valuable because he readied the aircraft carriers that did. His first job out of the service began in March. He's now a firefighter in Washington state.


7) Memorial Day is considered the beginning of the summer season. Will you be enjoying warm weather this weekend? It's supposed to be in the 80s. Rainy, of course. It's rained a lot this month.

8) Berries are especially popular in summer. Which is your favorite: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries? Strawberries.

9) If you could attend a Memorial Day picnic with any fictional character, which would you choose? Jo, from Little Women. Her father was wounded in the Civil War and must have had comrades who died, so Decoration Day would have special meaning for her. Remembering how willingly the March family did without while her father was away, can you imagine how disappointed fiery Jo would be in some of us today, whining about something as simple as wearing masks, just to protect one another?

Fins to the left, fins to the right

Valerie is our receptionist. Since our office has been shut tight for two months already and will likely be closed for one month more, she was furloughed. No need to have anyone greeting visitors if your office is closed. But she was able to keep her benefits. Which is good, because her son was just hospitalized with the corona virus. He required a ventilator to breathe. A very tall adult male, he's still under 26 and on his mom's insurance. He is, thankfully, expected to make a full recovery.

Ivy is my friend Nancy's daughter. She's a 21-year-old who just finished her junior year at Minnesota's Macalester College. When school let out early this year, Ivy decided not to come home to Chicagoland but instead crashed with a friend who has an apartment in St. Paul. She planned only to stay until stay-at-home restrictions were lifted, but now she can't come home. Both she and her classmate have the corona virus. They are, thankfully, expected to make a full recovery.

So much for the comforting myth that only residents of old folks' homes get the virus.

It's out there. Covid19 is out there, and every day that goes by that it hasn't touched me or someone I love, I'm grateful.

An unexpected honor

Darius wants me on his Zombie Team! He has enlisted me in the group of those who will help him battle the undead after the Apocalypse. Considering that Darius is a lifer at the Western Illinois Correctional Center and has his pick of younger, tougher and meaner combatants, I take this as a compliment.

How did this overweight old lady make a convict's Zombie Team? Barbicide. It's the blue disinfectant developed specifically for salon/barber shop equipment. I became familiar with it back in the 1980s, when I was a writer for a haircare company. This spring, as Lysol and Clorox began disappearing from store shelves, and salons still closed, I thought, "Hmmm ... I bet Barbicide is available." I scored a 16 fl. oz. bottle and, considering I mix just 2 oz. in a 32 oz. spray bottle, this will last me a good long time.

I shared this little detail of my everyday life with Darius and it delighted him. He praised my "intellectual and resourceful move." He reiterated that he worries about me during the pandemic ("How are you is more meaningful now than ever") and says he's interested in hearing how I cope with it.

I'm glad, because my pen pal is hard to write to. I don't want to make my life sound too positive, because his life sucks. He is indoors all day most days, spending up to 16 hours a day in the 11.5 x 8 ft. cell he shares with another man. The food is terrible. He has no privacy whatsoever. 

I am willing to accept that he deserves this. He killed two people. But Christ said, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." And so I'll write him every month. He seems to feel a connection to me now, and helping alleviate another human being's loneliness is, almost literally, the least I can do.


May Music Meme -- Day 22

A song that moves you forward. If working out constitutes moving forward, I'll go with this one. They used to play it all the time at the health club, and I loved doing my floor exercises to it. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Let's remember them

From the Chicago Sun Times
Wacker Drive is a main drag in Chicago. It has multiple parallel levels (two in most places, three in others) and snakes through downtown. Cabbies and Uber drivers love Lower Wacker. Since it has all the atmosphere of an unfinished basement, tourists and the faint-of-heart avoid it, and those in the know can zip through it.

It's also the home to Chicago's homeless population. In winter, it's protected from the snow and and in summer, it stays a little cooler. But in spring! It can be pretty awful down there because -- like most unfinished basements -- it leaks when it rains.

This year we've had record-breaking rain, and so it's flooded. Lower Wacker was evacuated. Where will the homeless go? To shelters? Anyone who ends up in a shelter, will necessarily find little public distancing and will be at high risk for the virus. My heart hurts for them.

In a way, I admit I'm jealous of the whiny live-free-or-die, fight-the-tyranny, blame-Obama's-deep-state crowd. They actually believe that the #1 problem in this country right now is that they have to wear masks in public. It must be nice to be so insulated from real pain that respecting your neighbors feels like "oppression." And to be so conscience-free that they aren't even ashamed of themselves.

May Music Meme -- Day 21

A song with someone's name in the title. Little known fact: this was really President Kennedy's favorite song. According to his secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, he'd play this over and over without tiring of it. While he did listen to the Camelot cast recording a lot just before his death, it's because the record was new to him, it was not really a favorite. Jackie, with her unerring sense of what was appropriate to the moment, insisted Life magazine reporter Teddy White mention "Camelot" in his story right after the assassination, and a myth was born. After all, the Knights of the Round Table are more inspirational than Bobby Darin snapping his fingers. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Borrowed from Kwizgiver

If you don't read Kwizgiver, you should!
This is me. Most days I'm fine. Some days I'm depressed. Occasionally I'm scared.

I wish I was one of the silly live-free-or-die, fight-the-tyranny, blame-Obama's-deep-state crowd. Then I'd be fixating on my imagined "oppression" ("Masks infringe on my rights!") instead of worry that I, or someone I love, will contract the virus.

But that's not me.

I believe in STEM. I also believe that God promises me eternal life, but not necessarily an easy one here on earth. So I worry about the virus. I worry about the economy. I get scared.

Then I say a little prayer, remind myself that I'm lucky and loved, and I get on with it.

Because even when I'm not doing my best, I'm still doing.


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? Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy. I'm using my shelter-at-home time to finally get to books I purchased but, for whatever reason, never touched. This little gem certainly qualifies. This Pulitzer Prize winner written in 1955 by the then-junior Senator from MA, and the edition I've got was copyrighted 1999.

Kennedy profiles eight Senators who took the hard stand, the position that would put them at odds with party and constituents, all because it was the right thing to do.

I just started, but so far it feels like the right book at the right time. I hope during this unprecedented crisis, all Senators will rise to the occasion.

As a lifelong Kennedy girl, I appreciate having JFK's voice in my head. His opinions and actions shaped much of my world view, and so I'm especially glad I picked this book up at a time when I could use a boost to my national pride.

2. What did you recently finish reading?
Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout. The 7th book in the Nero Wolfe series was a delight! Set in 1939, on the precipice of the second World War with the first World War fresh in the national consciousness, Wolfe finds himself at the intersection of international intrigue, finance and murder.

The story starts when the lovely Carla shows up at Wolfe's brownstone. A recent immigrant who speaks with an accent and occasionally slips into Montenegrin, she tells Wolfe's right-hand man Archie that she needs help. She and her friend, Neya, also from the Balkans, have gotten into some trouble with the police and need the help of Nero Wolfe, the world-famous, well-connected and highly-successful detective. Oh yeah, and they can't pay Wolfe's fee.

Why on earth would Wolfe want to help them? She coolly responds that her friend Neya is Wolfe's long-lost daughter.


Wolfe always lived a very male-centric world and became unhappy and irascible in the presence of women. The very idea that he had a child -- a daughter! -- is preposterous. And yet, the man himself acknowledges that it's true.

From there the action escalates. Two men end up dead. The FBI and several embassies don't seem to want these murders solved. Archie and the police were confused. Wolfe, being a genius, can keep it all straight. It's exciting, complex and, at times, very funny. My favorite scenes revolved around the colorful, sexy couturier named Madame Zorca. Was she a suspect, a co-conspirator, or just an irritant who wears lingerie whenever possible? I won't give it away, but she did make me smile.

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

May Music Meme -- Day 20

A song that has many meanings to you. It's a break-up song that we enjoyed at the beginning of our relationship. It's a funny song about a sad moment. There's a lot going on here. (And yes, Garth joins Justin on stage.) Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Another bad dream

Any dream that features a Trump loyalist is, by definition, a nightmare. And I just had one with Rudy Giuliani in a starring role. For some reason, he was in a position of professional authority over me. In my dream, he didn't approve of the work I'd just done for my client. "We can do better. No, YOU can do better!" He just kept yelling and yelling at me.

This is my second nightmare in three days. My slumber is not usually disturbed like this. 

I discussed this with Patrick, who mentioned his dreams have been "weird," too. We compared notes, and agree that it's because both of our lives are changing.

I haven't been in the city since mid-March. I haven't gone this long without the sights of the Loop since Peter Frampton was on the charts. I miss it. I also haven't done any in-person socializing in two months. It's been an unreal existence, but I've eased into this unreality. It's become comfortable. And every day I receive another email from corporate:

•  How comfortable are you returning to the office on June 15?

•  How do you feel about taking public transportation?
•  Read the new procedures for cleaning and disinfecting the office. 

I know these messages are meant to make me feel more secure, but they don't. They remind me that I live in a county where nearly 60,000 have died of the corona virus. I am trying to keep things in perspective and remind myself that most people don't get virus and that most who do aren't hospitalized. But that 58,457 number is sobering.*

I appreciate how lucky I am to have a job in this economy, but I can't be unreservedly happy because there is something real to fear outside my front door.

Part of me is afraid to go back to work. Hence, the nightmares.

Patrick is  the maître d of a high-end restaurant in Portland, Maine. After Thanksgiving, when the weather gets rough, business drops off precipitously. They don't need a full-time maître d and he goes back to waiting tables. He doesn't make much money doing this and they really don't need another waiter, either. They just give Patrick that wintertime option because they appreciate how much he adds to the dining experience when they are busy, and they want to keep him happy.

Patrick has worked it out with his boss that he take six months off without pay. All they have to do is keep his job open for him when the busy summer season starts. He then moves down to Key West, moves in with Reg and Henry, and waits tables during South Florida's busy season. It's hard work, but it pays so much better than serving in a half-empty Portland eatery. Also, Reg likes having Patrick around. They have been friends for decades, and Reg appreciates Patrick's support as he deals with Henry's traumatic brain injury.

Well, Covid19 changed all Patrick's plans. He's been unemployed in Key West since mid-March. He has yet to receive payments from Florida's overburdened unemployment system. Yet he couldn't go back to Maine. While he's in terrific shape -- you can bounce a dime off Patrick's derriere -- he has serious health problems. He's HIV positive and he has a defibrillator implanted in his chest. Flying at the height of the pandemic was inadvisable. PLUS the restaurant in Portland closed because of the virus. He had no job there, either.

He wants to go home. He's eager to go home. Being locked in that house with Reg and Henry isn't conducive to good health. He wonders about his backyard in Portland. He worries a lot about money. He has a tenant and they need to talk -- face-to-face -- about finances, since his tenant is currently out of work. 

Restrictions are starting to loosen. His boss hopes to reopen the Portland restaurant in July, and says he's welcomed back if he quarantines himself at home for two weeks. He's booked his flight. He's going home (I think) June 1.

But he's scared to expose himself to all the other passengers as he navigates his way back to Portland. So he's been having weird dreams, too.

Restful sleep: one of the forgotten victims of the corona virus.

*As of 5/18/20.

May Music Meme -- Day 19

A song that makes you think about life. I'm 62 for a moment and the sun is getting high ... (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Monday, May 18, 2020

May Music Meme -- Day 18

A song from the year you were born. The King dominated 1957. I bet some of his tones made their way to me in utero, accounting for my affinity for him. Also, this is just a magical movie moment. I think the tragedy of Elvis was how great he could be with the right material, and how seldom he was given the opportunity to rise to occasion. I believe he died as much of ennui as drugs. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Sunday, May 17, 2020

What was Michael Douglas doing in Marquette County?

My traveling companion
I had a bad dream Saturday night. It woke me up with a start and left me terrified. And, like many nightmares, it sounds stupid in the retelling.

I Googled the resort my family traveled to every year when I was a kid, just because I was curious about it after all these years. (See Q.5 in Sunday Stealing.) The kitchens and bathrooms have been renovated in the intervening decades, but the cabins and bar/restaurant are all recognizable as the place I hated all those years ago.

In my dream, I was back there! As an adult, not a child or a teen. Apparently as the guest of Michael Douglas. Now why would Michael Douglas be at a tiny, rundown resort in Marquette County, WI? How did Michael and I know one another? If you going to be analytical, we'll never get anywhere in this dream.

You know who else was there? My friend Kathy and her crazy-lady friend. Kathy's friend doesn't -- to my immense relief -- exist in real life. Her friend tricked Kathy into leading her to Michael and me. This friend had a mass of dyed yellow blonde hair, wore flannel shirts and was convinced Michael Douglas would marry her if not for me. (I suspect Crazy Lady was kinda based on Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, only shorter and pudgier and very likely related to the guy on the porch in Deliverance.)

I don't know where Kathy and Michael were, but Crazy Lady was chasing me between the cottages at night. I saw the orangey-red color of the clapboard. I felt the wet sand and stray grass and stones under my bare feet. Crazy Lady said she was going to kill me. I was desperate.

Kathy suddenly appeared and intervened. I woke up with my heart beating through my pajama top.

Come to think of it, I never saw Michael Douglas in my dream.

Dream logic says being chased in a dream tells me I am running from my emotions. OK, I'll buy that. I am a WASP, after all.

May Music Meme -- Day 17

A song you'd sing a karaoke duet. This is hard for me, because I'd never sing karaoke alone, much less in a duet. But this is the song I'd be likeliest to sing -- solo, duet, at all! -- because it really involves very little singing. (Play along! Click here for prompts.)

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Sunday Stealing


1. Where did your name come from? My mother simply liked it. 

2. Where were you born? Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois. When a new facility was completed in 2009, the building where I was born was closed and finally sold to a developer last year. MY Sherman Hospital was suddenly on the news again in March of this year, when the National Guard and Army Corps of Enginners arrived to get it ready to handle Covid19 patients.

3. What as your house like, growing up? It was a 3 BR ranch house, built by my grandparents in 1952. After about 8 summers of tending the big backyard and dealing with a leaky basement, my grandparents decided they wanted to try apartment living and sold the house to my mom and dad. I was still a toddler and my older sister a pre-schooler. In the mid-1960s, when my kid sister arrived, my parents added a bedroom and a half-bath. After my mom's death in 2014, the house was sold. I know she would have hated that. She seemed to think of it as Tara, where only her family had lived.

4. What was your childhood bedroom like? It was the smallest bedroom, but the only one with a view of the front yard. It was a mess, which is unsurprising because I am a messy clutterbug.

5. Did you travel as a child? Where? We did precious little traveling when I young. My mother loved this godforsaken resort in Wisconsin and insisted we go every year. Year after year. I hated it. Writing this makes me smile, though, because I realize anew I get my sentimentality from my mom. We were just sentimental about different things,

6. Write about your grandparents. I've been thinking about my grandparents -- my dad's folks -- a lot lately because of Covid19. My grandfather was a new immigrant and so very grateful to be an American when he married my grandma, who was then still in her teens. They spoke often about doing their duty by their country during WWII. Ration stamps, saving bacon grease and aluminum foil, tending a Victory Garden. etc. They felt it was a privilege to do without when your country asked you to. I can just imagine how shocked and disgusted they would be with whining REOPEN NOW crowd who believe that staying home to protect their neighbors and stop a virus is somehow "oppression."

7. Who taught you how to drive? Mr. Brown was a boy's PE teacher and a terrible drivers' ed instructor.

8. When did you first leave home? After high school I worked two jobs to afford 1) a trip to Europe and 2) my own apartment. It took me a little over two years, but I accomplished both!


9. What did your parents do for work? My dad was an auto mechanic, my mom tended house.

10. Who inspired you as you matured? A desire to be independent.

11. What was the best part of your 20s? Meeting John, Gregory, Kathy and Mindy, all of whom are still in my life to this day.

12. What as the best part of your 30s? I began taking myself more seriously and concentrate on my career. To borrow from Amy Winehouse, I decided to "be own best friend and not fuck myself in the head with stupid men."

13. Where is the most fascinating place you’ve visited? Oh, golly, I don't know. I've enjoyed my solo vacations so much! There has been something wonderful about each place I've gone. I like places with ties to American history. Williamsburg, VA, Washington DC, Boston and Illinois' own Springfield with all the Lincoln sites. I'd love to revisit them all!

14. What is your favorite family story? As a family, we went to see Mary Poppins at one of the big movie palaces downtown. It was the first movie I'd ever seen in a theater (as opposed to the drive in) and it was fantastic! I will always remember sitting there in my plush seat in the dark, the big drapes opened, and I was transported to the rooftops of London. Magic!

15. What was your most memorable birthday? I love my birthday. They're all dear to me. I encourage my friends to celebrate it early and often!

16. What was your favorite food as a child? Other than sweets, it was a tie between fish sticks and ham sandwiches.

Farewell M'Lady

Astrid Kirchherr, who died this week, was more than a talented photographer. She was a Renaissance woman. Fashion, music, sculpture, philosophy ... she had her own unique take on it all. And in time the world became aware of her taste because of her influence on The Beatles. 

She met The Lads in Hamburg in 1960, before Ringo joined the band and four years before they conquered America and the world. She loved their music and their energy and photographed them extensively. They loved her visual sense and her intellect. She's credited not only with cutting their hair into bangs like her own, but with encouraging them to explore Sartre and Kierkegaard. These poor boys from the Liverpool docks had never before met a woman like Astrid. 

Her passionate, tragic love affair with bandmate Stu Sutcliffe had an impact on the band, as well. I've always suspected that John and Paul saw Astrid in the strong, artistic women they eventually married.

I feel bad for Paul McCartney. There are fewer and fewer people left who knew him "before." Ringo, Pete Best, Klaus Voormann, his brother Mike ... it must be lonely to watch your past evaporate. His twitter feed has been silent since Astrid died. Perhaps this one cuts too close to the bone for 280 characters to do it justice.

Saturday 9

Always Remember Us This Way (2018)

1) In this song, Lady Gaga sings about the Arizona sky and California gold. Have you visited many of our western states? I spent time in New Mexico when my cousin lived there. I've visited Las Vegas a handful of times. I've been to Disneyland and Hollywood. Decades ago I spent quite a bit of time in San Francisco. But that's about it.

2) She sings that she's overwhelmed and can't find the words to express herself. Do you find it easier to share your feelings verbally or in writing? Words are in my wheelhouse. I do better in writing, though. I don't know why, but I seldom have trouble finding a word when I'm at the word piano,* while at times I struggle in conversation.

3) Her real name is Stefani Germanotta. She took her stage name from the Queen song, Radio Gaga. Do you have a favorite Queen song? 

4) Her dad is Joe Germanotta, president of GuestWifi, a company that enables hotels and restaurants to offer high-speed wifi to their customers. Do you consider yourself tech savvy? Ha! No! It took me three hours to get my new phone loaded with my apps and contacts. I suspect it would have taken my Millennial nephew 30 minutes (if that).

5) Early in her career, Lady Gaga performed songs for a children's audio book called The Portal in the Park.
Tell us about the last book you finished -- did you listen to an audiobook, or read a download to an electronic device or a bound book with pages? I just finished Over My Dead Body, a Nero Wolfe mystery I got decades ago. I listened to it on cassette. It was kind of neat to hear this again: "This book is continued on the other side of this cassette. Please reverse or turn the cassette over now."

6) She prefers dogs to cats and tea to coffee. Do you agree with her? I have never finished a cup of coffee. The smell is too strong and the taste too bitter. The cat vs. dog thing is, I believe, a false choice. Like Elly Mae, I just love critters. I adore being a cat mom. But if I could share my home with a dog, I would.

7) Back in 2015, she appeared at the Academy Awards, performing a medley to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music. The movie's star, Julie Andrews, graciously came onstage to thank Gaga for her showstopping performance. Whom did you most recently thank? The counter person who rang up my "to go" order and threw in extra napkins. With paper products still at a premium around here, I appreciated it. I've found everyone is just so much nicer during this pandemic, and I'm so grateful.

8) In 2018, when this song was first released, retailer Toys R Us closed all its stores and went out of business. What's the last toy you purchased? A jungle play set -- gorilla, lion and tiger -- for my niece. She and her fiance are in training to be foster parents, and I wanted her to have toys ready when the time comes.

9) Random question: How has social media made your life better? It's made it easier to keep up with people over the miles or from the past.

*Author Rex Stout's synonym for keyboard