Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Stealing

To play along, click here.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper? I'm a bit of a dinosaur, I guess, but I write letters about once/month. This past week I enclosed a letter with a souvenir theater playbill I sent to my aunt.

·  Can you change the oil on a car? No.

·  Ever gotten a speeding ticket? No.

·  Run out of gas? No. It's not that I'm a careful driver. I don't have a car.
·  Favorite kind of sandwich? Ham on wheat, with lettuce and relish and mayo.

·  Best thing to eat for breakfast? Eggs Benedict.

·  What is your usual bedtime? I'm a grown up. Whenever I wanna.

·  Are you lazy? Fuck yeah!
·  When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween? I had a different costume every year.

·  Do you have any magazine subscriptions? Allure, Glamour, People, US and O.

·  Which are better, Legos or Lincoln Logs? I played with Lincoln Logs at my grandparents' house. Never had Legos.

·  Are you stubborn? Yes.

·  Who is better…Leno or Letterman? Colbert.

·  Ever watch soap operas? No.

·  Afraid of heights? No.

·  Sing in the car? No.

·  Dance in the shower? Isn't this dangerous?

·  Dance in the car? No.

·  Ever used a gun? Most emphatically no, and God willing I never will.

·  Do you think musicals are cheesy? Yes, but I love them anyway.

·  Is Christmas stressful? Yes, because I travel. Airports are a nightmare over the holidays.

·  Ever eat a pierogi? Yes.


·  Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid? Teacher, nurse, reporter.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday 9



1) Are you a veteran? Are there veterans in your family? Do you know anyone who is active military? (We are grateful and want to hear about it.) My dad served in Korea, my uncle in Vietnam and my oldest nephew is currently assigned to The Nimitz.

2) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food? It's the only time I ever eat potato salad. Love it outdoors off a paper plate.

3) Let's celebrate the Memorial Day holiday with ice cream. What's your favorite flavor? Cone or cup? Mint chocolate chip in a cup, please.

4) This marks the weekend when Americans step up their outdoor activity and do things
they may not have been able to do during the winter months. For example, when is the last time you rode a bike? Other than a stationery bike, I haven't pedaled in years. The last I recall was a trip to the Key West public garden. It was a lovely afternoon. I don't know why my conch friends and I haven't been back.

5) Or went hiking? We walked the beach on Christmas Day. I think that counts.
 
6) Or rode a horse? Decades ago! In New Mexico, visiting my cousin and her then-husband.

7) Or toasted a marshmallow? Don't even recall.

8) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on? The fan's whirring away in the window.

9) Crazy Sam needs your help: What song or a performer would you like to see featured in a Saturday 9 this summer? You'll begin seeing your suggestions as Saturday 9 themes in mid-June. Thanks! I defer to everyone else.


Bed Bugs!

Friday morning, while in the tub, I noticed a cluster of welts on my foot that was (pardon the phrase) bugging me. I have extremely tasty blood and am often the only one at a gathering to be bit by a mosquito, so I didn't think much of it.

Until I got the email at 1:00 that says next Friday, we're all having a mandatory inspection for bed bugs. That means a day off on Day 3 of this year's biggest project. Maybe I can work from home. It's not optimal. But maybe ...

I may have to miss my niece's graduation as I prepare for the fumigation, or whatever it will be. I was going to fly to Muskegon to celebrate her big event, but now that's in jeopardy. I've got to board the cats* and put some things in bags and other things (aerosols, medications) in the refrigerator and, oh, I'm sick just thinking of it.

Also, I'm in hell. I don't people picking and poking and prodding through my belongings, which is what one of these inspections entails. It so offends my sense of privacy. I don't want to have to dry every article of clothing I own in high heat. We only have two dryers for this entire building (24 units), so it makes more sense for me to spend an entire day (or two) at the laundromat.

Of course, I don't know that I have the bugs. My brother-in-law, a maintenance man at an apartment complex, feels that if I had an actual infestation I'd be "covered in welts." But still, the way this year is going, I'm sure I do have them

This is continuing to be the worst year of my life. One thing after the other.

My tenacious illness ... Joey's death ... Rey's and Connie's ongoing health problems ... Barb's cancer ... John's hospitalization, amputation and the cancellation of our trip ... the HUGE special assessment for the elevator and now, perhaps, the expense of bug eradication .... time off work at the worst time ...

Right now I hate my life.

Thank God the Cubs won yesterday.







*One of the day's few bright spots: The vet's office will take Rey and Connie.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Me and Hillary

Sometimes I think I'm the only one who remembers the high school lessons of Romeo and Juliet.

1) Do not let hate become ingrained.

2) The more you ask a person to defend a lover, the more in love that person falls.

As I watch Hillary Clinton defend herself on two fronts -- from Bernie Sanders supporters and Donald Trump -- I find myself admiring her more than I ever thought possible. I mean, I don't like the woman, and I see her flaws rather clearly.

But I understand why she is winning. It's not because of Super Delegates or Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, it's because of the popular vote. 2.9 million more citizens voted for her than voted for Bernie Sanders. I suspect the Sanders supporters who insist otherwise do not have many friends of color. I have friends who are Puerto Rican, Cuban and African-American, and they all view Sen. Sanders with great skepticism. They eloquently explain their discomfort with Sanders' stand on guns, their sense that he doesn't understand urban issues, their suspicion that he can't be trusted to maintain the Obama policies they support. Now that I think of it, none of them even mentioned Hillary when I asked why they didn't vote for Bernie Sanders. It was really more about Obama than Hillary.

I admit that they have influenced me. Not because I agree with them about Sanders. I don't. If he becomes the candidate of my party I will enthusiastically support him. I'm an old-school Kennedy girl/liberal who believes in inclusion, and the Democrats are about the government providing more  opportunities for more people than the GOP is.

I also believe demographics are destiny. If people of color don't come out to vote, my party won't win. And I'm convinced a large swath of the minority community isn't hearing Bernie Sanders. So when rabid Sanders supporters make it sound like Hillary has stolen this election and that people who voted for Hillary are stupid or just not listening, I'm offended on behalf of my thoughtful and involved friends. They are NOT stupid. They ARE listening. They just don't trust Bernie Sanders. And, in part, when I stick up for Hillary I'm responding emotionally because I don't like hearing my friends belittled or dismissed. R&J Lesson #2 applies here.

I am grateful to Bernie Sanders. I love the passion he has engendered in young people, like my nephew. I hope he stays in through the Convention and he makes himself heard in Philly. But he's not going to be the nominee. Because 2.9 million more citizens voted for her than voted for Bernie Sanders. This is where R&J Lesson #1 kicks in. Sanders supporters have convinced themselves that she is their hateworthy enemy and they can't let it go. Hopefully, when Barack Obama speaks out for her forcefully, his eloquence will snap 'em out of it.

via GIPHY
In honor of Cher's 70th birthday


And then there's Trump. Blaming Hillary for the way she responded to her husband and his women? Really? It's painful to watch. I was desperately offended by Bill's behavior in the 1990s and it's difficult for me to accept today. I reflexively wince and turn away when it's brought up. And again, I find myself defending her.

Trump is a fucking bully
I suppose, when examining the complicated web that is the Clinton marriage, there's a justice to her being blamed for Bill's lazy zipper. After all, 20 years ago, he was blamed for her greed in the Whitewater mess.* But bring up the women and I relate to her in a more personal and powerful way than I otherwise would. 

And then there's Vince Foster. A man she saw day in/day out during two different chapters of her life committed suicide while she was dealing with the death of her father. At the time I remember wondering if any of the RWNJs who soullessly blamed her for Foster's actions ever lost anyone. I guess they had fallen victim to R&J Law #1. 

And what's the point of bringing it all up again? Instead of tarnishing her, it makes her appear rather valiant, like Don Quixote. Say what you will about Hillary, the woman can take a punch. And for a woman born in 1940s, being POTUS probably is The Impossible Dream. See? Here I am defending her. R&J Law #2.

So yes, I'm with Hillary. A little more every day. A bit more every time Sanders supporters and Trump lay into her.




*While you'll never convince me of her illegality, I am completely on board with her involvement. I don't have many illusions concerning the Clintons.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On the mend

Spoke to John briefly. He's happy to be home, and looking forward to this new, healthier chapter in his life. I'm so relieved. He gave me quite a scare.

My friend Barb was supposed to call last weekend and didn't. I did, however, enjoy a rather silly text exchange with her. I know she's been depressed about how her reconstruction has been progressing, so I take her ability to laugh and tease as a good sign.

So good to have something positive to report!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Ask Questions Meme

1. What type of criminal would you be? I want to sell drugs in exchange for Tide detergent. Specifically Tide Ultra. I recently found out why every bottle of Tide at CVS and Walgreens has a security sensor affixed to it. It gets shoplifted and then used to pay for drugs. I'm not kidding. And since Tide Ultra is by far my favorite, and I find this phenomenon fascinating, that's the line of "business" I choose to enter.

2. What are you listening to right now? The Sunday morning news shows.

3. If you had to choose a stripper name, what would it be? Tiffany Peacock.

4. If your phone started ringing, who would you hope is calling? Either John or Barb. Both of my friends have been in the hospital lately, and I'm always eager for good news about how they're recovering.

5. Do you drink alcohol? Well, I can't smoke it or wear it.

6. Do you smoke? Ew. Ick. No.


7. What is the first thing you notice in someone? Hair. I've always been this way. My first and most lasting crush is on Sir Paul McCartney. My mom used to remind me of my pre-school crush on Bonanza's Little Joe. They were both all about the hair.

8. Do you get attached to easily? No.

9. Do you like your eye color? Yes. 
 
10. Have any stupid human tricks? I can wiggle my ears.

11. Humor me. What physical ideal do you imagine in a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner? Really great hair. Nice arms.

12. Any other essential quirks/interests/other you look for in a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner? A sense of humor and an operating moral compass.

13. Have you ever stolen anything? No

14. Any romantic gestures you really like? Yes.

15. What’s your favorite color and why? Blue. Specifically Cubbie Blue. Because I'm a Cub fan.

16. What were you like when you were a kid? I'm told I was precocious.

17. What would your dream house be like? I'd love to live in a penthouse with a view of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, they go for $10 million+.

18. What last made you laugh? My friend John.

19. Do you have a place you like to go to collect your thoughts? Sure.

20. What is your favorite word? Gubernatorial.
 
21. What is your least favorite word? Trump.



22. Would you go bungee jumping/sky diving if given the chance? I might.

23. Do you have any siblings? Yes.

24. Do you like to dance? Yes. However, I'm dreadful at it.

25. What is your definition of cheating? I bow to the dictionary, which says cheating is, "to act dishonestly or unfairly for personal gain." 


Saturday, May 21, 2016

That was creepy

My retired neighbor at the end of the hall, Walt, is 90 years old and alone. So when he appears to be in need, I try to help. After all, that could be me some day.

So this afternoon we rode up together in the elevator. We'd both been grocery shopping. We chatted amiably.

Then I got into my apartment. The heat has been on until just recently and so it was sooo hot and stuffy in here. After I put my groceries away, I turned on the a.c. and stripped down to my underwear as I waited for it to cool off in here. That's when Walt decides to come over.

Fearing that he needs help, I put on my robe and answer the door. He is having trouble with a bill of some sort and wants to come in and show it to me. I don't want him in my apartment because I'm not dressed and my place is a mess. But he is pushy about it.

Now I am covered, more than I'd be at the beach or the health club. But he tells me twice, as I look at his Comcast bills, that he finds me "sexy" in my robe. The first time I told him I was uncomfortable. The second time I told him we were done.

It wasn't hostile. I was telling him he should abandon Comcast and switch to AT&T and then I said, "Well, we're done," and handed his papers back to him.

But I am finished with Walt. He has always been entirely too interested in me, I don't like being interrupted on a quiet Saturday afternoon, and I don't appreciate being leered at. From now on, whenever I see him, I will pretend to be on my phone. When he knocks at my door, I will also pretend to be on the phone.

When I was a little girl, I used to fantasize about living atop a lighthouse. That isolation has never held more appeal to me than it does at this moment.




Saturday 9

Saturday 9: What Hurts the Most (2006)

1) What hurts Sam the most is her sole, since she just found that earring she thought was lost by stepping on it with her bare foot. How about you? Any aches and pains to report? My right ear lobe is so itchy! I think I dried out the skin when blow drying my hair.

2) What's the last thing you misplaced? Did you find it? My gray sock is still missing.


3) Lead singer Gary LeVox sings that he's not afraid to cry. When is the last time you shed a tear? While reminiscing with my nephew about my much-missed old tomcat, Joey.


4) Gary auditioned for another country group, Little Big Town, but didn't get in. Considering how successful Rascal Flatts has been, he's probably not sorry. Tell us about something you thought you wanted, but later weren't so sure. The beef barley soup I ordered. It was more tomatoey than I was expecting. I finished it -- I paid for it, dammit, and the vegetables were delicious -- but I'm still not sure if I liked it.


5) The country group has their roots in Columbus, Ohio. What else is Ohio known for? Going for George W. Bush in the 2004 election.

6) Lead guitarist Joe Don Rooney married model and former Miss Georgia, Tiffany Fallon. Many major pageants give prizes in the talent, congeniality and swimsuit competitions. Would you prefer to have exceptional skills, a great personality, or a terrific body? First of all, I love that someone named Joe Don married a beauty queen named Tiffany. Don't they sound like they could be a couple in a Lifetime movie? Now to answer the question: exceptional skills.


7) 2006, the year this song was popular, was a very good one for tennis pro Roger Federer. He reached the finals in all four Grand Slam tournaments, and won three. What's the last game you won? (Yes, Words with Friends counts.) I may not have won, but I did do very well on Farmville this week. I've reached diamond level.



8) Actor Tony Shalhoub won an Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of detective Adrian Monk on Monk. Who's your favorite TV detective? Thomas Magnum on Magnum, PI.

9) Random question ... You've just won an all-expenses-paid trip but now you have to choose: Carnivale in Brazil, the Bordeaux Wine Festival in France
, or the Running of the Bulls in Spain? Wine gives me a headache and the running of the bulls is cruel. So I'll see you in Rio!

Not the news I was expecting

Had a nice, long chat with my friend John today. He's spending one last night at the hospital, and it's been a very positive and productive stay. He sounds better, even laughed a bit.

And I learned that the issue bedeviling John isn't his heart. Yes, he still suffers from heart failure and that condition has not made him any stronger. But what landed him in the hospital this past week is diabetes. Long-term, untreated diabetes. It resulted in the amputation of the third toe on his right foot.

He was pleased to report that he'd spoken to human resources and has hospitalization and short-term disability. Much of his prodigious hospital bill will be paid and once he gets home he'll receive 60% of his salary while he recuperates. This is quite a relief.

He was talking about dietary changes and physical therapy and living another 20 years. This lifted me heart because I love him and can't imagine my life without him.






Friday, May 20, 2016

What is happening to us?

Man wounded in shooting on Dan Ryan

The Dan Ryan shooting was the third on a Chicago expressway since early Sunday and the twentieth since the start of 2016.

This morning the police can't say if this is random, like the 2003 DC Sniper, or an escalation of road rage or a case of gang retaliation where the wrong target was hit.

My city is literally awash in guns. It sickens me. It frightens me.

I am a single-issue voter, and that issue is guns.

Do not even try to argue that the solution to bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. Look at that window. The truck driver was shot in the face. If he had a gun, how could he have reached for it with a bullet in his mouth?

This was the third shooting on a Chicago expressway this week.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

What the hey?

I've been thinking a lot about two friends I met back in the 1980s -- Mindy and John. In those long ago days, we talked about movies and music and bars and boys.

Today we talk about angioplasties (Mindy's husband) and heart failure (John) and dementia (Mindy's mother) and c. diff (me).

Barb and Kathleen entered my life in the 1990s. Back then we talked about our careers and our love lives. Today we talk about oncologists and gastroenterologists and our prospects for retirement.

Suddenly, it feels like we all got old. I don't like it and want it to stop.


"Old age is a shipwreck"

My friend Mindy is one of the nicest people I've ever met. She forever sees the best in people, and has almost infinite patience.

Over the decades of our friendship I've come to know her family rather well, and I see how she became the woman she is. Mindy is the younger of two daughters. Her older sister would've made a great hippie. Sis doesn't care for makeup or fashion, is happiest in jeans and a t-shirt riding her horse or playing with her dogs and cats. Sissy got good grades and graduated from a Big 10 college, but when she married she chose a laborer. Last I heard, her husband was a carpet installer. The couple scandalized Mindy's and Sis' mother by getting married in the park. (People sat on folding chairs!) Sis and her husband now live in a working class suburb with a median HHI of $73,000.

Mindy followed the path her mother wanted her to take. She dieted religiously and still watches every forkful that goes into her mouth so she'll stay thin. She married a boy from a good family in a huge ceremony (I was one of the bridesmaids). He's in banking. She's in PR. They have two sons, and live in an elite suburb with an HHI of $110,000.

Their mother has never bothered to hide that Mindy is her favorite. This has defined my friend her entire life. She has always felt a tremendous responsibility to live up to her mother's expectations.

Mindy's mother is now dying. Her lifelong smoking habit, problems with her legs and dementia have caught up with her. She's in hospice, and she's a handful for the caregivers.


Tuesday Mindy confessed to me that she hates visiting her mother. It's disconcerting to see how much the old woman enjoys being fed like a baby. Mom complains that the nurses aren't attentive or fast enough to help her into her wheelchair or, preferably, carry her when she gets bored and wants to get out of bed. She's bitter that her daughters do not spend enough time with her -- they each visit once/week. Yet when they try to reminisce with her about her husband of more than 50 years (dad died 9 years ago), she barely remembers him. Mom has no interest in hearing about her grandsons anymore, either, and seems to resent it when she isn't the topic of conversation.

Mindy knows that much of this is meds and disease. But it's difficult for a daughter to see. And it hurts Mindy that her mother has forgotten her father and ignores her sons.

Sis also hates spending time with Mom but Sis doesn't feel guilty at all, maintaining that this is how their mother has always been, it's just illness has left her unplugged and unfiltered. Mindy fears that Sis might be right. And this makes her feel even worse.

What kind of daughter reassesses her mother like this? What kind of daughter resents visiting hospice? Certainly not the good daughter!

I reminded her that, after visiting his father who'd been debilitated by stroke, President Kennedy said, "Old age is a shipwreck." No one wants to see their parents this way. No one enjoys time spent in a care facility. I told her that what she's feeling is perfectly normal. I confessed how angry I was (and still am) at my own mother for some of the choices she made at the end of her life, but that at the same time I still love and miss her.

So it was clear I was not shocked by anything my friend said. I told her that any time she wants to vent about this, she should vent to me. I promised her I won't even bat an eyelash.


Liz and I are back together!

I don't like smelling like anyone else. As I make my way through the cosmetic department I swat away the testing strips of Coco Mademoiselle and D&G Light Blue. If a cologne is popular, I don't even want to try it.

Until recently, I've been wearing Exceptional, a scent I've only been able to find at fragrance.com. I discovered it when they included a sample with an order. I've been happy with it, but I ran out of the small size so I couldn't replenish it after I worked out or late in the afternoon. I'm trying to economize, and placing another order right now just isn't in my budget.

Monday morning I grabbed the lonely little bottle of Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls body lotion that had been, literally, gathering dust on my counter for years. I wasn't sure it would still have any scent at all. That little frosted bottle was at least 10 years old.

It smelled wonderful, just as I remembered. Spicy, vanilla floral. Very unique. I tossed it into my purse and wore it happily all day, occasionally stopping to sniff my own wrist. I tried to remember why I stopped wearing it ...

Oh yeah, Liz discontinued it. I recalled that I went on a buying binge, snapping it up wherever I could find it and then not wearing it because I didn't want to use the last of it. (Really, that makes a kind of twisted sense.)

I found my stash in the closet, in a dresser drawer. Bottles and bottles of it. Even though it's cool and very dark in the closet, much of the eau de cologne has completely lost its scent and I had to toss a few bottles. But all the body lotion, in various sized bottles, is still good.

I'm so happy. I have enough of it to make my new scent one of my favorite old scents. And I discovered that since Miss Taylor's death it's been reintroduced and is now available again on Amazon. The bottle looks a little different than it does in the ad above -- from its original introduction in 1996 -- and I've read online sniping that it's been reformulated. On the other hand, I got the Amazon link from the official website. So when I run out of what I've got, I may buy some more.

Or maybe I'll go back to Exceptional.

It's scary how much thought I give this, isn't it?

At any rate, I'm happy to be wearing Black Pearls again.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sometimes they haunt me

Sunday afternoon I saw a homeless man in front of my local movie theater. His right arm was mangled, or misshaped, or something. I couldn't see it clearly because he worked so hard to tuck it off to the side. I think he was afraid it was offensive to the passers-by he was soliciting.

I had, ironically, just left a bag of canned goods in the local food pantry's drop box and was regretting the little can of mandarin oranges. It had a pop-top, it's content doesn't require heating, and I could have just given it to this gentleman. There was such a sad dignity to him. After I ran my errands I slipped a dollar and some change into my jeans pocket and went looking for him, but he was gone.

Then this morning, on a very busy corner downtown, I saw a husky man in a pink tutu, holding a sign that said, "This is the most humiliating thing I have ever done. But I'm hungry as fuck." I know why he was trying to stand out. It's a competitive corner. On the other side of the street was a man in a wheelchair, holding a sign that says he's a starving disabled veteran.

I went out at lunchtime to buy flowers and saw him again. Here I am, with money to buy flowers, and he's reduced to wearing a pink tutu on a cloudy day. I dropped some silver into his Big Gulp cup.

They're everywhere, the unemployed and homeless. Just as I often don't hear traffic noise, I often don't notice them.

And then there are those who burrow into my imagination and take up housekeeping. I'm grateful to them. They remind me I'm human.




Monday, May 16, 2016

I don't want to hover

I can be something of a drone friend. If I don't think you're doing your life right, I can be quite persistent and bossy and ubiquitous.

I resent when people treat me this way, so I try to do it sparingly. And I have been resisting the impulse to do it to my friend, John.

But I am scared. When I spoke to him Saturday, he admitted that his health was precarious and that he needed a cardiologist's care. He also promised he would go to the ER on "Monday morning."

I thought Sunday afternoon was a better idea.*  I told him so. But I also tried to be respectful of his feelings, of his autonomy, of his dignity. So I didn't say, "Don't be an asshole. Go Sunday!"

But then all day Sunday, I could see him dead. Alone in his apartment. I could actually imagine getting the call from his Cousin Lori Monday afternoon. I was regretting my impulse control.

Complicating matters is that John's younger brother has gone all bossy pants, which rattled John enormously. Kid Bro told him things like, "You can't live alone anymore. Get out of your lease, sell all your belongings and move in with us." This frightened and humiliated John. He has a life here in Chicago and he doesn't want to leave it. He doesn't like seeing his life reduced to a spare bedroom with his brother and sister-in-law in Attapulgus, GA (or wherever the hell it is they live).

So this afternoon I called the hospital and received confirmation that he did, indeed, go to the ER and he's being seen by a cardiologist. Now I can stop worrying for a while.

Tomorrow I'll call the hospital to get his room number and talk to him -- or at least a nurse -- in real time.

I don't want to hover.

But I don't want John to be sick, either. I really, really don't.



*If we lived anywhere but Chicago, I would have told him to go Saturday. But Saturday night in a metropolitan ER? With gangbangers and other assorted shooting victims? I agreed he was better off in his own bed Saturday night.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Doodley Doo

Do you keep notes, drawings or letters that people give you? Not anymore. I used to save greeting cards, but then I realized I never took them out and looked at them. Now I send my old and unused cards to the St. Jude's Ranch Recycled Card Program. Children at the ranch use the cards they receive to make and sell new ones.

How many true best friends are present in your life?
Two or three.

Do you currently have a significant other?
No.

Would you be able to stand being in the same room as someone you hate?
I do it all the time.



Do you depend on people at all, in any way?
Oh, for heaven's sake, of course I do. I depend on my neighbor's to pay their taxes so our sidewalks don't fall apart. I depend on Com Ed for my electricity. Questions like this annoy me. Remember that silly manufactured controversy over Obama's statement about how people don't build their business alone? Yawn.

Have you ever lost a close friend?
Yes. I had to cut a close friend out of my life after decades.

Has anybody ever held a grudge against you for a dumb reason?
Probably. Though the grudge didn't/doesn't seem dumb to me.

Have you ever stayed up late talking to someone you like on the phone or online?
Yes.

Have you ever felt backstabbed by a close friend?
Yes. The aforementioned "close friend."

Have you ever regretted ignoring anybody?
Yes

Has a friend of yours ever confessed their love to you?
My close friends and I tell one another "I love you" all the time.

Have you written or drawn anything for somebody else?
Yes! For my friend John's 60th birthday, I worked with an art director to create a card listing all the famous people he'd outlived. It made him very happy.

Do you tend to hide your emotions from certain people? How do you hide them?
I'm very bad at this. I should work harder/more successfully at not wearing every emotion I feel on my face.

Do your friends know how to make you smile in tough times?
Yes. I'm lucky that way.

Could you picture yourself on a reality TV show?
Sometimes I already feel like I'm on a reality show.

 Are you better at drawing or coloring?
I'm not especially good at either.

Do you prefer meat or seafood?
Depends on the seafood, but generally I'd choose meat.

Have you ever read the Bill of Rights / Declaration of Independence?
You mean like Article 6 of the Constitution? I must ruefully point out that the same members of the Religious Right who demand to know (and somehow manage to judge) exactly how Christian a candidate is are the same ones who maintain they are Constitutional absolutists whenever Obama does something they don't like. They conveniently ignore that every time they demand to know about a candidate's personal relationship with Christ, they are violating the spirit of Article 6, which states, "No religious test shall ever be required for President."

Would you rather become a police officer or a firefighter?
I'm too chickenshit to be good at either one.




More bad, more sad

2016 continues to insist on being the worst year ever.

My friend John and I were really looking forward to our trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites. It was amazing to both of us that he had reached the ripe old age of 60 -- 40 years of it spent here in Chicagoland -- and he's never walked where Abe (and Obama) walked. Because I've been there so many times, I was prepared to play tour guide. Since we always have such fun together, he was looking forward to the road trip aspect of it. "The times in my life I've laughed the hardest, I've been with you, Gal," he said.

We were going the second weekend in June. We considered it his 2016 birthday celebration. Now it looks like we aren't going at all. Because John had a cold last month.

You see, John suffers from heart failure. While his April cold came and went, the fatigue and shortness of breath continued and worsened. To the the point that he took the last week off work to do nothing but sleep.

I didn't hear from him at all last week, and that's not like us. I emailed him at work and got no response. I called his house, but he didn't pick up. Finally today he called me back, and the hoarseness and shortness of breath was startling and disturbing.

He hasn't called his cardiologist -- as he said he would two weeks ago! -- because he says he knows what will happen. He is sure that with his symptoms, which also include swelling of the ankles, she's going to tell him to check himself into the ER and then she will admit him. They talked about a defibrillator years ago, and he's sure she's going to insist on one now.

He is afraid. Afraid of going into the hospital and not coming out. Afraid of losing his job. "I can afford to die," he said, "but I can't afford to be sick." His brother, a nurse, has been pressuring him to quit his job, give up his apartment, leave Chicago, and move in with them. That makes him feel like an invalid. He responded to all this tumult by doing nothing.

I tried to be the voice of reason. I told him that he cannot legally be fired for going into the hospital. While his medical insurance doesn't sound great, he does have it, and I'm sure he has short-term disability, too. He says he doesn't know, but that's just the fear and panic talking. He's still a responsible adult. He knows. He's just forgotten.

And that's just it. I'm not treating him like an invalid. His kid brother is doing that and it's debilitating him. When John told me not to worry, that he would reimburse me the non-refundable $187 for the hotel for our trip (as he was always going to do), I lightly said, "I've never been worried." I admit my first impulse was to tell him to forget it. But he has been mentioning to me that he has the money set aside for months. He knows I have my own money worries. And I don't want to infantilize him. He is a responsible adult who can handle his own affairs and make his own decisions. He's just forgotten because he's under pressure.

John and I have been close friends for more than 35 years. Together we've had our career ups and downs, bad breakups, and we've buried our parents. We are superficially different in every obvious way: he's black, I'm white; he's gay, I'm straight; he's tall, I'm short; I'm Christian, he's agnostic. Yet the bond between us is strong and he's dearer to me than family.

I love him, and I'm scared for him.

I'm scared for me, too, because I don't want to imagine life without him.


We love them, yeah, yeah, yeah

Saturday I had lunch with my nephew. We talked about how excited he is about school ending (he hates math). We talked about American history (his favorite period is post-Revolution). We talked about the Presidential campaign (we're both still shaking our heads over Trump). We talked about Captain America: Civil War (we're both big Iron Man fans).

But most of all, we talked about The Beatles. Our favorite albums (he votes for Abbey Road, I'm White Album all the way). What we'd ask Sir Paul, if we could (he wants to know if the break up was really inevitable; I'd ask which of John's songs is his favorite). The Lads dominated the two hours we spent together.

My nephew was born in this millennium. The Beatles broke up in 1970. Two members of the group are dead. The passion he and his classmates feel for the Fab Four is really astonishing.

I work in a very busy part of downtown Chicago. Lately one of the ubiquitous sidewalk musicians has been playing the xylophone. Every time I pass, he's playing a Beatles tune. (It was "Penny Lane" on Friday afternoon.) He's doing this to get tips from business people and tourists alike. Clearly he chooses these tunes because they are fun to play and familiar to people from all walks of life, from all over the country and all over the world.

Sir Paul is on tour again. He was just nominated for a Grammy last February. He's still working, still creating new music, still performing to sell-out stadiums a staggering 52 years since The British Invasion.

If I could ask him a second question, it would be, "Do you feel the love?" Does he understand how much he means to everyone from millennials to boomers?

I think it must be really lovely to be Paul, and know far his reach is, how much joy he's brought.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: These Boots Were Made for Walkin' (1966)


I dearly love this video.




1) In this song/video, Ms. Sinatra's boots make a serious fashion statement. Do you choose footwear for comfort or fashion? Comfort. When I was a young and leggy girl, I chose for fashion, and I got heel spurs and bunions in return.

2) This is by far the biggest hit of Nancy Sinatra's career, which includes 6 top ten hits. Can you name another? "... and then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin' stupid like I love you." With Papa Frank. "Sugar Town." "Jackson."

3) Nancy recorded it on Reprise Records, which was founded by her father, Frank. Did your parents give you a leg up in your chosen career? Nope.

4) Professionally Nancy has been involved in espionage, singing the theme to a James Bond movie and appearing in an episode of The Man from UNCLE. Do you enjoy spy/secret agent stories? I suppose so. I enjoyed the Bourne movies, and some Bonds, and the UNCLE TV show.

5) Nancy maintains the official Sinatra family website, which includes a link to the site of Mia Farrow. Ms. Farrow was, briefly, Nancy's stepmother, and obviously they are still on good terms. Do you have a big, extended family? Nope

6) Nancy's music -- and posters -- were very popular with the troops during the
Find out more
Vietnam War. Nancy continues to return their loyalty and affection with her efforts on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Here's your chance to promote a cause that's near and dear to your heart. What charity gets your support? I'm a big fan of food pantries. Every time I buy food for myself, I pick up something for $1 or less and toss it into a bag for the hungry in my community. In no time I have a bag filled with pasta, condiments and canned soups and vegetables. People eat, and I don't even notice the expense. Some food pantries prefer cash contributions. To find the pantry near you, go here. BTW, today is the USPS Stamp Out Hunger Drive. In my neighborhood, the mail carriers mess this up, so I don't participate. But in case your local post office is more together than mine, here are the details.


7) Nancy hosts a Sirius radio show devoted to her father's music. Do you have a subscription to a satellite radio or podcast network? Nope

8) Nancy has said that she and her sister Tina had a more comfortable relationship with their famous father than their late brother, Frank, Jr., did. Do you think it's easier for mothers to get along with their sons, while fathers have an easier time with their daughters? I only had sisters, so I can't answer this first hand. But watching the couples in my life, I see that they are parents to lots of Mama's Boys and Daddy's Girls.

9) Random question: Tonight's dinner is on us. Would you prefer to eat at a casual restaurant with exceptional food, or an exclusive restaurant with so-so food but a celebrity clientele? I think it might be fun to dine with the famous. I had a great time in Beverly Hills, eating at the famous Ivy. I'd do it again. But partly because I didn't have to dress up. If I have to dress up to go exclusive, I'll settle for the hoi polloi.

I mean a lot to him

My cousin is a very talented man who has followed his heart and managed to make his career in music. He gives private music lessons to kids and plays in a big band on weekends and, until recently, was a professor at a local university.

For reasons a bit too complicated to go into, we grew up separately, even though his mother is my godmother and we lived not far apart. I'm a little older, and apparently, he always thought I was pretty neat. Five years ago, we had a reunion when his mother returned to Chicagoland for a visit and looked me up. Ever since, he has been very good about reaching out to me. Whenever he plays gigs in my neighborhood, he invites me, and we trade messages on Facebook all the time.

He got a job playing in the orchestra for the touring company of Chicago during its short run here in ... Chicago. This is put him in pretty elite company and he was proud to get the job. And nervous, very nervous. He kept sending me reminders about the short, one-week run.

We've been crazy busy at work and instead of seeing Chicago again (I've seen the play at least twice on stage and then, of course, there's the movie) I really wanted to sleep. Plus, I'm broke and spending beaucoup bucks on a play I know so well just wasn't on my agenda.

There was just something about the way he asked me that got under my skin. And so on Thursday morning, when I found a $30 ticket on StubHub for Thursday night's performance, I snapped it up.

The production was very entertaining. John O'Hurley is a most talented old hand at the role of Billy Flynn, and both Roxie and Velma were very good.

Best of all, in this production the orchestra was on the stage, not in the pit. So I was able to watch my cousin at work all evening.

Afterward he walked me to my train. One of his sons saw the production ... and me. That was it. Not his wife, not his other son (his daughter lives in New York). This is probably because the show was only in town for a week, but still. He thanked me for coming and repeatedly told me how "sweet" I was for coming out. Having someone in the audience there for him was a big deal.

I felt very good about having gone.

So often, when I think about family, it's easy to fixate on what's wrong with my relationships. Instead of concentrating on the love I don't get, I should stop and feel the love I do get.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WWW.WEDNESDAY

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

1. What are you currently reading? The Litigators by John Grisham. A declasse Chicago law firm, whose partners literally chase ambulances, gets a jolt of fresh blood from a hard-working new young associate just as they decide to "punch up" and go after big pharma in a risky class-action suit.

I'm really enjoying it. Grisham is known for his plotting and pacing, but I like the unique sense of place he creates in this one. I feel like I'm in the backseat of the cab with Wally as he takes off on his tawdry and predatory mission to drum up business by visiting funeral homes. I can hear the glasses clinking in the dive where David is hiding from the world. What's missing so far is the tension, but since it's Grisham I'm sure it's just a few pages away.

I'm so glad I'm into it because the last novel I tried, Mother by Linda Ann Rentschler, left me cold. Not only didn't I finish it, I barely dented it because the writing felt so soapy. I know it's chick-lit, but there's plenty of fun chick-lit out there. (It wasn't that long ago I was immersed in my Marian Keyes period.) This read like a treatment for a Lifetime movie. I may try to pick it up again, but not any time soon.


2. What did you recently finish reading? Three Witnesses by Rex Stout. I adored this charming trio of novellas. It's a Nero Wolfe volume, and if you're into mystery series I highly recommend the adventures of Archie Goodwin on behalf of that rotund genius, Mr. Wolfe. But I wouldn't start with these short stories, charming though they are. This book is #26 in the series, and it does depend rather heavily on the reader's familiarity with the characters. 

3.  What will you read next? Not poor Mother!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

You better let somebody love you before it's too late

I know this is very lowbrow of me to admit, but of the music icons we've lost this year, the one whose work I felt greatest affection for was Glenn Frey. I know, I know. Prince and Bowie were the artistes of the first order. The Eagles were just Top 40 crap.

What can I say? I like Big Macs, too.

Anyway, the Glenn Frey-Don Henley composition that means the most to me is "Desperado." Because it's me. I do always want the one I can't get. I do prize my independence above all else. I do often isolate myself so much that "my prison is walking through this world all alone."

So while I was blue today -- for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it feels like I'm the only one on the entire planet not celebrating Mother's Day -- I also didn't reach out. This is a weakness of mine, this reluctance to let others see that I'm hurting and that I need help. My self sufficiency isn't a gift to anyone, I see that. It's just that it's a hard habit to break.

Two acts of kindness meant a great deal to me today. The first happened first thing in the morning and came from an unexpected source. My neighbor Sally, whom I've helped over the last year or so, shot me an email with this attachment. She's both a mother and daughter, in addition to being a doting dog owner, and yet someone sent this to her and she was kind enough to send it to me. Not to a long list of email contacts, just me. It made me very happy.

And then my friend from Key West called. I owe him an email, actually, but he's not one to keep score. He and his partner are the most casual of Facebook users and just the other night caught up with my posts of the last month. They just now saw the one on April 26 where I shared the unfortunate news about my big special assessment -- $4,500 for the new elevator. They considered that a big bill and were worried about me.

We talked ... and talked ... and talked. We talked about my aborted bathroom renovation. As a fellow animal lover, I appreciated his take on my predicament with Reynaldo and Connie. We talked about their three dogs. We talked about my job and his job(s). About the car accident that injured no one but nearly totaled their car. About my health problems, about his partner's health problems.

We talked and talked and talked. It felt sooooo good to feel so connected to someone. I'm so grateful that he's willing to put in the effort it takes to keep a friendship intimate and vibrant, even across the miles.

I have to remember, too, that I can be the one to pick up the phone, too. I'm comfortable reaching out to my oldest friend, but she's the only one. I need to widen the net.

I need to remember to let people love me.