Sunday, November 30, 2008

Done! (Almost)

I wrote out 26 holiday cards this afternoon. Each one includes a personal message, and I was careful not to send any reference to Christ (in either card or stamp) to my non-believing friends, nor the cat card to my feline unfriendly friends. After all, the point of this tradition is to reconnect and show appreciation for the people in my life, not to proselytize.

But I am, at heart, a Christian cat lover, so here is the combo most people received. If you still haven't purchased your cards, let me refer to you the American Human site, where I got this little angel. I enjoy doing this so much. I hope that I never become too busy to take pen in hand and send holiday wishes. Also, I'm proud of myself for not giving in to my cold and being able to cross off at least one item on my "to do" list.

I haven't done the cards for my coworkers yet. I'm toying with passing those out in person. I picked up some teeny-tiny dark chocolate bars and am considering taping one to each envelope and distributing them on the day before the office Christmas party. It's more personal, and it will save me the cost of more stamps. Yes, this seems like a plan. Unless, of course, we're all let go before the Christmas party, in which case I'll have a dozen teeny-tiny dark chocolate bars to comfort me.

I'm dreaming of $3.5 million

Or I was, until just now.

Saturday's Lotto drawing was for $18.7 million. When I bought two tickets, I didn't imagine myself the sole winner. That would be greedy and unrealistic. No, I saw myself as a modest, multiple winner whose after-tax take was a modest $3.5 million. What was I going to do with this tidy sum?

• Pay off my condo
• Pay off my credit cards
• Get hardwood flooring for my living/dining room and hallway
• New flooring, countertops and cabinets for the kitchen
• New sink, toilet and wall tiles for my bathroom
• Add exposed brick to the dining room
• Shampoo the carpet in the bedrooms
• New window coverings
• Fresh paint for the whole place
• A credit card for my mom to use when she grocery shops
• I'd "adopt" (or sponsor) more shelter animals each month
• Savings bonds for some of my friends for them to have "just in case"
• Savings bonds for my niece and nephew to help pay for college
• A Rolex Oyster watch for my best friend
• A trip to New York with my oldest friend
• Invest the rest into my retirement accounts

I only got two numbers of six. Oh, well. I spent $2 for a fun fantasy.


I feel shitty. I'm rundown, my head hurts and I can't stop sneezing. I had so many plans for today: Writing up my Christmas cards, straightening out my closet, laundry, putting up my tree ... I don't see much of that happening today. I just want to fill up on Tropicana OJ and become one with the afghan.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Because I still can, and because it feels good

A nearby grocery store hangs hearts on their Christmas tree, and each construction paper heart includes the holiday wish list of a neighborhood kid who either lives in, or attends specially-priced daycare at, our local children's home. I took 7-year-old Troy's "heart." Instead of toys, he wants a sweater. And so he shall have one. I picked up a green and blue striped sweater in his size from Old Navy. I'm also going to include a couple Hot Wheels cars in his gift package, because you really can't play with a Christmas pullover, can you?

Toy drives like this are important because all kids should be encouraged to dream and believe in the magic of the holidays. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it would be like to be young and not get anything fun and surprising at Christmas.

If you'd like to participate in a similar program, but don't know how to go about it, here's a link to the Today Show Toy Drive. It explains how you can contribute online, and how the toys collected are distributed to kids in all 50 states through "homeless shelters, children's group homes, schools, foster family services, domestic abuse shelters, Native American missions, military bases, hospitals, preschools, after school programs, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America."

I understand if you're reluctant to give in these uncertain times. I'm afraid of losing my job and am looking for ways to tighten my belt. But charities are in a special bind when the economy is bad. Just when contributions are drying up, more people have a need for their services.

Also, it's fun to think of 7-year-old Troy opening a Christmas gift from a complete stranger and finding it contains just what he asked for.

Saturday 9 -- Just Like a Pill

Saturday 9: Just Like a Pill
1. What was the last pill you took? A multi-vitamin.
2. What time of day do you usually feel most energized? Late morning.
3. Who was the last person you hugged? My mom.
4. If you had a restaurant serve you a perfect breakfast, what would it be? Eggs Benedict and OJ. Or maybe steak and eggs. This is making me hungry ...
5. What did you do on Thursday? Dined at my sister's house with her family.
6. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? I have such plans for redoing this condo. All I need is the money!
7. What is your favorite TV commercial at the moment? The Slowskis, Bob and Karolyn, the Comcast turtles
8. Who would you'd be surprised to wake up and find in your bed? Someone who isn't one of my cats.
9. Who is your favorite 80’s band? The Go-Gos.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday 5

  1. What’s a profession you believe to be overpaid? CEOs of US car companies. Private jets? In this economy? Puh-leeze!
  2. Who’s a musician you believe to be overrated? Madonna. I'm not even sure she is a musician. I think of her as a traveling freak show.
  3. What in your life could stand to be overhauled? My condo! I need to seriously start throwing things away. It could use a nice paint job. The kitchen and the bathroom are tragically old-fashioned. If I don't lose my job soon, I'm going to start saving/planning to do some of this through 2009.
  4. What’s something interesting you recently overheard? That global warming has heated up the oceans, and that's why hurricanes now are so ferocious.
  5. Who is the most overextended person you know? Kathleen springs to mind, because she is juggling a high-stress job, steering her kids through adolescence and shopping for colleges, a reading group, a marriage to a challenging (but lovable) man and yet remains a good, available friend to people like me.
To play along yourself, click here.

A little turkey, a lotta attitude

My 9-year-old nephew can be a sweet and very funny little person. But I have discovered that he can also be an abrupt little shit when he's playing Nintendo, which he was doing constantly before/after we ate on Thanksgiving.

He thought he lost his charger, but in reality he had left it at my mom's house and we returned it to him when we arrived at his house for Thanksgiving Dinner. At first he was excited about the holiday and had much to show me -- especially the placemats he had carefully made. During the meal he was well behaved and engaged. But from the moment his Gameboy was charged, he was lost to us, and made sure I appreciated how annoyed he was by my interruptions.

If I had been the only one receiving his scorn, I would have brought it to his parents' attention. But he was just as condescending and pointed with his own dad, so they're aware of it. I'm just the aunt, and there's only so much I can do.

Also, we get the results back from the neurologist next week, so I'm inclined to cut him slack. Because of his headaches, the little guy has been seen by two pediatricians, endured an MRI and a trip to this specialist. While all the doctors seem to believe that the cause of the headaches isn't life-threatening, it's hard not to worry. I know he's very concerned that he is going to hear that his terrible headaches are triggered by dairy. After all, he's just 9. To him, the worst thing that can happen is being told he can no longer have his favorite meal -- a grilled cheese sandwich and milk.

My 16-year-old niece was notably absent. She is spending this weekend with a friend's family at an indoor water park in Wisconsin. She enjoys her new-found freedom, but I missed her.

My mom read an article in one of the Chicago papers about problems at the advertising agency where I work. The first thing she said when she saw me was, "Happy Thanksgiving! I love you." She hugged me often. It took me by surprise. Since her illness earlier this year, our role reversal has been even more pronounced, so it was lovely to have her go all Mommy on me again. She observed that I have always had a hard time "being patient," so she realizes that waiting to see what happens at work must be hard for me. She's right. But I guess that's no surprise. Nobody knows you like your mom.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Aw, ain't they something?

I have so much to do today -- tons of housework, hostess gifts for my mom and sister (who are feeding me this Turkey Day), making myself presentable for Thanksgiving Dinner, getting over to my mom's by 3:30 ... And yet, here I am, still in my jams, developing carpal tunnel and watching The Sting.

There's a school of thought that Redford and Newman aren't really "ac-tors," thespians, as it were. But I must say I don't care. They are great movie stars, and when they fit their parts -- like they do here -- they are so charismatic I can't look away.

Technically they are better "ac-tors" and paid more attention to their craft than I think many high-brows give them credit for. I'm watching how they move in The Sting (Redford's rather athletic and watching him move is quite yummy) and can see that they remained in character for this still. Look at the body language -- even without having seen the movie, you can see which one is the brains and which is the brawn.

I am thankful for film because it's forever. Paul Newman may be gone but he will never be forgotten, no matter how old Redford gets we will always be able to watch him leap over railings and race el trains, and someday my 9 year old nephew will enjoy this movie as much as I always have.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #94 -- Good bad TV


The worse the news gets, the more thankful I am for escapism. That's why I’m a connoisseur of crap TV – programs that are the intellectual equivalent of empty calories. Nowhere can you find more inconsequential programming than during the day, and currently my favorite daytime TV show is The People’s Court. When I’m sick in bed, it gives me something to look forward to. When I’ve got a day off from work, I always try to catch it. To borrow from Tom Cruise in Rain Man: Defendants! Plaintiffs! The People’s Court has it all! They make legal history every day, and I highly recommend it.

1) It is currently the most popular courtroom program with female viewers. (And that includes Judge Judy!)

2) The civil cases shown are resolved legally on the show. The judge’s ruling is binding.

3) The show’s researchers canvass courts to find interesting civil suits that have already been filed. They ask the litigants if they would allow their cases to be decided on TV.

4) The current judge, Marilyn Milian, has been on the TV bench since 2001. She is both the first woman and the first Hispanic to preside over this show.

5) She became a real-live judge in 1999, when she was appointed to the Miami Circuit Court by then Governor Jeb Bush.

6) I love the stuff she says when she’s angry. “I wouldn’t believe you if your tongue came notarized.” “Stick a fork in me, I’m done!”

7) She played herself on As the World Turns and The George Lopez Show.

8) Her baliff is Douglas McIntosh. He has been on the show as long as she has.

9) Curt Chaplin interviews the litigants as they leave the courtroom. In addition to the People’s Court, he also works as voice-over talent.

10) Harvey Levin is the guy who interviews the fans in Times Square and gets their opinions on the courtroom goings on. He’s a lawyer himself and now also hosts TMZ.

11) My unofficial observation is that most of the cases involve Good Samaritans who let friends and neighbors use their credit to get cell phones and then renege when the bills come in. So don’t ever do that.

12) Judge Joseph Wapner starred on the bench for 12 seasons and almost 2,500 episodes.

13) He was immortalized in the 1988 movie, Rain Man. The character of Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) was a big People’s Court fan and said, “10 minutes to Wapner.”

Happy Thanksgiving, TT'ers!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

About Nanowrimo

This month I have been writing a novel. Well, la-de-dah. Just call me Ernesta Hemingway (my tribute to a fellow Oak Parker). It's part of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and it's been great fun.

As a Nanowrimo participant, my goal is supposed to be 50,000 words by November 30. I am going to fall woefully short of that ambitious word count. But that doesn't mean it's been a waste. My novel-writing exercise has been good for me, as helpful as this blog has been in keeping my head (reasonably) clear. For my topic was paths not taken -- how my life would be at 50 if I married the men I thought I wanted so desperately. I have happily come to the conclusion that I am far better off now, and it's helped me remember that "alone" is just a downside to "independent," and for all that "alone" scares me these days (especially in this economy), "independent" is still the right path for me.

It also reminds me, wistfully, that one of the men I've been involved with is definitely the love of my life. He is a good man, with integrity and intellect. I miss the give-and-take with someone who is soooo much smarter and cooler-headed than I. But he was too emotionally remote and I know I couldn't be happy with a man who didn't share his heart as freely as his head. I have been involved with some shitheels in my life, but he was not one of them, and I hope wherever he is, he is happy and healthy because, in my way, I still love him very much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to me, pt. 5

This evening I met two friends at Barro, a Mexican restaurant. We caught up and celebrated my birthday with quesadillas and margaritas. One of my friends works for the Tribune and gave me the coolest gift -- the original press plate from the historic 11/05/08 Tribune front page.

I treasure the gift, but I'm kinda blue. None of us feels very certain about our professional futures.

Tuesday Tunes -- The Thanksgiving Edition

What musical things are you the most thankful for? My iPod springs to mind. Before that, my Walkman. Before that, a transistor radio and earpiece. (I never had a boombox.) I'd feel as naked leaving home without my tunes as I would leaving home without my pants. Like the website says, "without music, life would be a big mistake," and I'm thankful that technology allows me to carry it with me.

If you could say thanks to one artist/band who would it be and why?
I'd thank Paul McCartney for providing the soundtrack of my entire life, but not in person. I never want to meet him. There's no way he could live up to the fantasy, the 40+ years of foreplay.

To play along yourself, or to see how others answered, click here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm embarrassingly low-tech

More than a month ago, my ancient DVD/VCR player broke and I got a new one. It couldn't be hooked up to my retro cable box, so I went to Comcast and picked up a new one. I still couldn't figure out how to hook it up. So today I went to Circuit City and explained my plight. I was told that I didn't need a new TV, which was a relief because I like my current little TV. It works well and it fits perfectly atop the cabinet and I may be unemployed soon so I don't feel like spending money on a new set.

After looking at the DVD/VCR instruction booklet I showed him, the gentleman at Circuit City sold me some kind of connector thingie for about $40. I got home and fiddled and played and thought I was following the directions, and still can't get the three components to work in perfect harmony. If I want to watch DVDs on my TV (as opposed to on my laptop), I'll have to have Comcast come out and try to make sense of it.

I predict it will take the Comcast tech about 5 minutes and I'll feel very stupid.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I wish it wasn't like this

Yesterday, after we had dinner and birthday cake, my sister's family went home and my mom and I were alone together in her living room, just gabbing. At the top of the hour she used her Advair Inhaler.

She was very matter-of-fact about the procedure, but her hands shook and she looked so old. That hospital stay earlier this year took so much out of her. It makes me sad.

Happy Birthday to me, pt. 4

My friend Kathy took me out for a birthday breakfast at my favorite coffee shop. I had the 2x2x2 (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, 2 strips of bacon and 2 sausages). She had grits. We both had orange juice. Most of all, it was good to see here again. Her life has been tumultuous (losing her job, losing her health insurance, losing her apartment, losing her cats, moving in with her daughter's family -- who are also on the verge of eviction) and she's been out of touch. I'm thrilled that she remembered my birthday with all that she has going on in her life. I'm relieved that she's OK, and working with her kids to get back on her feet.

I also went through my mail and found a birthday card from Mary Sharon, a neighbor from my high school days. She was friends with my mother and I babysat her kids. (The oldest just turned 46!) She remembers my birthday (and my exact age) every year. This also means a lot to me.

Have I mentioned that I love my birthday?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sunday Stealing #10

Sunday Stealing: The Favorite Meme

Fill in your favorite for each of the following:

1. Political show: Hardball

2. Picnic food: Potato chips

3. Mixed drink: Cranberry juice and vodka

4. U.S. President: JFK

5. Kind of student to teach: I don't know how to answer this, as I've only ever been a student

6. Hobby you do or wish you still did: So many! The first ones that come to mine are learning to play an instrument or speak another language.

7. Sports commentator: Cubs legend Ron Santo, who does color commentary on the Cubs radio broadcasts

8. Sport to watch on TV: If I'm not listening to Cubs baseball, I want to be watching Cubs baseball (I like Cubs baseball)

9. Animal to have as a pet: A cat, like the one draped across my lap as I answer these questions

10. Halloween costume you have worn: Harpo Marx. I loved that horn.

11. Kind of dessert: Strawberry rhubarb pie

12. Comic strip: I haven't read the comics in decades

13. Ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate chip

14. News source: National -- MSNBC; Local -- Channel 5 or the Chicago Tribune

15. Vacation spot: Chateau Elan in Atlanta

16. Wine: White Zinfandel

17. Way to waste time instead of working: Doing this

18. Reality show: American Idol

19. Children's movie: Mary Poppins

20. Celebrity you wish would retire: Madonna

Happy Birthday to me, pt. 3

Today is my real-live, honest-to-God birthday. I treated myself to a massage, which might be my last one with my regular therapist because she's looking for a new job closer to where she lives. I hope she finds what will make her happy, but I'll miss her. She's not only very nice but she does wonders for those knots between my shoulders, too.

Then I went to my mom's for my family birthday party. My niece got me coconut lotion and shower gel. My mom got me a book about the Bush administration's legal problems, a set of body butters and some eye cream. My sister and her husband gave me foot scrub and lotion. My little nephew gave me two novelty pennies -- one adorned with Wrigley Field, the other with the Chicago skyline. I am touched that he put so much care into this.

We all had pizza, black forest birthday cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream. A fine time was had by all.

Saturday 9 -- Dreaming of You

1. What did you dream about last night? I don't remember the context, but Smokey Robinson provided the soundtrack. Considering how I feel about Smokey's voice, I suspect it was a dirty/romantic dream.

2. Do you often have nightmares? Not often. And when I do, I can usually blame it on something specific that I'm struggling with.

3. Do you have any special talents? I have a way with critters, and I can wiggle my right ear.

4. Who is the most talented person that you know? I recently worked with an art director named Steve who was very good at coming up with the absolute perfect graphics to accompany my copy. He had access to the same photo libraries as all the other art directors, but somehow he could zero in on the right image. Often he'd manipulate the shot, like cropping it tight or converting it to black and white. He moved to Portland earlier this year. I miss him. He was a joy to collaborate with.

5. What did you watch on TV last? Larry King Live, though Larry had the night off. Paul Begala was discussing Madame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I'm having a hard time letting the election go and am watching stories about the new Cabinet obsessively.

6. Is there a new TV show that you would recommend? I don't know how long it's been on, but I am a recent convert from the Today Show to Morning Joe on MSNBC. They cover politics/current events well, present a variety of opinions, and at times it's very funny. (I love the references to cohost Mika Brzezinski being on Ambien and vodka that early in the morning -- we've all had days at work where Ambien and vodka would help). Hearing Scarborough accidentally slip and say "fuck" when he clearly thought he'd said "the F word" was a lovely moment of schadenfreude. (He was telling a story about Chicago's own Rahm Emmanuel). The show is now on 7-second delay. Also, I've developed serious crushes on two regular contributors, Willie Geist and Harold Ford, Jr.

7. Who was the last person you phoned and why? I returned my mom's call. She wanted to know what kind of ice cream I want at my birthday party tonight. (Mint chocolate chip.)

8. Who was the last person who phoned you and why? My mom wanted to know what kind of ice cream I want at my birthday party tonight. (Mint chocolate chip.)

9. What was the last snail mail letter that you received? The last personal letter was from my cousin Rose.

Why not play along? Saturday 9: Dreaming of You

Friday, November 21, 2008

Soooo tired

For the last three days we have been busy at work, concentrating on a high-profile project. We're trying to establish a new brand image for our venerable client. I still think it's a "Hail, Mary" pass -- trying to justify our fees and defend our contributions -- and it may be too late. But no matter. It's been an exciting challenge and even though the input we received was muddled and the pace has been strenuous, I've really had fun. It's possible that this could be my swan song with this client, and with this job, and I'd like to do a good job. Since I'm taking Monday and Tuesday off, today may have been my final day of really concepting.

So I'm feeling tuckered out. But it's a good feeling. I contributed work that I can be proud of. If this really is it, I know I did my best. My professional pride is in tact.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to me, pt. 2

Last night my friend Barb took me to dinner (I had lobster lasagna) and then we went to see the pre-Broadway engagement of Dirty Dancing. Never a big fan of Patrick Swayze, I enjoyed the live production more than the movie. I was also amazed by the gorgeous, imaginative staging.

She also gave me a vintage "cat feeder" -- a goldfish treat jar from the 1950s. It comes in three parts: a lid decorated with a gold fish, then the treat bowl and finally the stand, which is a gray kitten who looks thrilled to have purloined a fishbowl filled with treats. I won't use it for it's intended purpose. I'm too fond of it for that. It's lasted more than 50 years -- it would be cruel to expose it to my Reynaldo's manhandling (cathandling?) I think I'll fill it with pale blue marbles or glass stones that look like water. That way the smell won't attract him, and it may be too heavy for him to mess with, anyway.

I love my birthday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #93 -- Is there someone named Max waiting for you at home?



The ASPCA asked veterinarians for the most popular pet names, and Max tops the list. I got the idea for this TT when I took one of my cats* to a new vet and saw they had displayed their own list of their most common patient names and yes, Max was on theirs, too.

1. Max
2. Sam (Samantha placed #19)
3. Lady
4. Bear
5. Smokey
6. Shadow
7. Kitty
8. Molly
9. Buddy
10. Brandy
11. Ginger
12. Baby
13. Misty

Does your pet's name appear on the list?

*Joey, a name not on the list.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Back to work

I took two days off and was nothing but LAZY! I did laundry, but that's about it. My home is completely overrun by papers and mail and magazines. Did I do anything about it these past two days? No. I napped and farted around on the computer and stared slack-jawed at the TV.

When I do this once in a while, it feels stolen and wicked and delicious. But when I do it whenever I'm home, it just feels slovenly.

I'm taking another long weekend this week and I simply MUST do something constructive with it. Otherwise I'll have to deal with this self loathing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Memory of Paul Newman

Angel Tales, the magazine of Paws Chicago, gives credit where credit is due. Since 2004, Paul "Newman's generosity found its way to PAWS Chicago, where to date he has donated over $15,000 in support of the organization's mission to save the lives of all homeless animals and ultimately make Chicago a No Kill City."

I think it's interesting, and very sweet, that the magazine speaks of Paul Newman in the present tense. None of us like thinking he's gone.

For more about Paws Chicago, click here.

Heads & Tails #18

This week's theme is "Share an Autumn Memory."

Four years ago at this time, I was about as miserable as I've ever been. I'd spent a year working on Senator John Kerry's Presidential campaign, and we know how that ended. My lovely and loving ragdoll kitty, Billy, was literally wasting away before my eyes. He was diagnosed with untreatable bone marrow cancer, and I had to make the difficult decision that pet owners always dread.

I was confused and heartbroken by Senator Kerry's loss. I missed Billy. It not only was getting dark earlier, it was raining all the time. My world was so oppressively dark and sad. It felt as though I'd never be happy again.

Then, as I was running across a busy street, en route to Walgreen's to buy something mundane and boring, like cotton swabs or maybe Nair, this song came through my headphones and it lifted my heart. It sounds happy, the lyrics are hopeful, and it brought back memories of a happier time. So now, this is my autumn song.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to me, pt. 1

This weekend, my oldest friend and I took the train down to Springfield, IL, to celebrate my birthday. We went to the Lincoln Library and Museum. As always, the museum is the best way to feel close to the man who gave us all the United States and the liberty we enjoy today. Today, as we welcome another President who, like Lincoln, toiled only briefly in Springfield and was accused of being "not ready" for the office, it was all especially poignant. I find it comforting to know that Obama is a student of Lincoln.

We also spent a lot of time in the library. It has ancestry/geneaological databases that anyone can search for free, so my friend and I looked up our families. I was tickled to find my grandpa's name on the manifest of the Bergensfjord, the ship he took from Norway to Ellis Island, back in the 1920s. I wish he was still here so I could ask him how/why he came over from Norway, instead of Germany where he lived my greatgrandparents. I also found my parents' marriage license. It was so cool!

Best of all, I will remember this weekend for the salmon. We enjoyed a room service dinner and I opened my gifts (a heartwarming cat book and a movie trivia calendar -- does she know me or what?) and I had shrimp cocktail, baked potato and grilled salmon. Then, for breakfast, I had lox and bagels. I do sooooo love salmon.

I'm home now, and boy do I know it! No one is celebrating me (and won't until I go to the theater with Barb on Wednesday), I'm eating a Lean Cuisine instead of salmon, and I've got two loads in the dryer downstairs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A way-long meme

Liberated, once again, from Kwizgiver.

1. My eye color: Green
2. Favorite car: One driven and completely maintained for me by someone else
3. Right-handed or left-handed: Right
4. Shoes you wore today: Blue/white tennies
5. My fears: Air travel, clowns (My idea of hell is being stuck on a Barnum & Bailey's charter flight filled with clowns)
6. Goal you would like to achieve this year: Stop gaining weight
7. Thoughts first waking up: Huh? Wha?
8. My bedtime: Midnight-ish
9. Pepsi or Coke: Coke
10. Single or Group Dates: It's been so long, I don't remember
11. Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate
12. Do you smoke: Nope
13. Do you sing: Yes, quite tonelessly
14. Have you been in love: Yes
15. Do you want to get married: No
16. Do you get along with your parents: Depends on which parent we're talking about
17. Do you play a musical instrument: No
18. In the past month have you smoked: No
19: Favorite candy bar: Three Musketeers
20. In the past month have you gone on a date: No
21. All-time favorite sports team: Chicago Cubs (if you didn't know that, you don't come by here too often)
22. Ideal girlfriend/boyfriend: He should be independent, gentle, and have great hair
23. My best friend(s): The guy I refer to on this site as My Best Friend
24. Do you believe in love at first sight: No
25. Favorite clothing brand: Jones New York
26. Dream vacation: Manhattan on an expense account
27. My favorite singer: Paul McCartney
28. My favorite movie: The Way We Were
29. Have you ever fired a gun: I'm told I did as a child, but I don't remember (It caused quite the row between my parents)
30. Do you like answering these questions: I do
31. Do you like yourself: Usually
32. I am addicted to: Purses, totebags, laptop bags, etc.
33. Favorite drink: Coke
34. Do you have a crush on anyone: Oh, yes. Sigh …
35. Are you ticklish: Yes
36. Favorite ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate chip
37. Define yourself in 3 words: Loyal, verbal, independent
38. Do you believe in God: Yes
39. Favorite day of the week: Friday
40. Heads or tails: Heads
41. Favorite author: Marian Keyes (fiction) and Doris Kearns Goodwin (non-fiction)
42. What magazines do you read: Time and Newsweek and People and Us and Allure and Glamour
43. Sweet or sour: sweet
44. Favorite chewing gum brand: Big Red
45. My hair color: strawberry Bronde (Brownish-blond)
46. Height: nearly 5′ 2"
47. My heritage: Irish & German
48. My weakness: Complete lack of discipline
49. My perfect pizza: Stuffed spinach
50. My most overused phrase on IM: LOL
51. My best physical feature: My nose
52. Do you get motion sickness: No
53. McDonalds or Burger King: Micky D's
54. Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: I HATE ICE TEA
55. Cappuccino or Coffee: I HATE COFFEE
56. Do you swear: frequently and with panache (Kwizgiver's original answer, but I'm keeping it)
57. Do you want to go to college: Not anymore
58. Do you think you’re attractive: No
59. Do you like thunderstorms: I like all weather
60. In the past month have you drunk alcohol: Yes
61. In the past month have you been on drugs: Nothing illegal
62. Favorite cartoon as a child: Magilla Gorilla ("Take our advice, at any price, a gorilla like Magilla is mighty nice...)
63. Favorite sport: Cubs baseball
64. In the past month have you been on stage: No
65. Ever been beaten up: Yes
66. How you want to die: Suddenly
67. Number of piercings: Two -- just my ears
68. Favorite color: Blue
69. Favorite food dish: burgers
70. My parents are: Separated, seeing as my mom's alive and my dad's dead
71. Do you have children: No
72. Do you have pets: Three enormously entertaining cats
73. My favorite music genre: Pop
74. My favorite season: autumn
75. Silver or Gold: Silver
76. Who was the last person that called you: My mom
77. Are you a good driver: Haven't driven since Reagan was in office
78. Would you rather be rich or famous: Rich
79. When I’m sad or down, I prefer to… wash my hair
80. What is your phone’s current ringtone: the generic one it came with
81. The longest you’ve gone without sleeping: 24 hours
82. What would you do with a million dollars: Pay off my condo and then redecorate it
83. What makes you laugh: Lucy and Ricky. Still.
84. Your favorite book: JFK: Restless Youth
85. Most embarrassing moment: Lots of 'em
86. Favorite item that you currently own: My cognac handbag
87. Have you ever moved: Yes
88. Kisses or hugs: Depends on who is doing the hugging and/or kissing
89. Are you a very emotional person: Yes

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Cubs: Kerry Wood won't be back after trade for Kevin Gregg

I NEVER would have gone along with this move. I LOOOOVE Kerry Wood. Yes, he's been injured a lot. OK, so maybe he hasn't delivered on his terrific "Kid K" potential. But he's got so much talent and so much heart!

I get very sentimental about my guys, and so I hate to see him go.

Pinella Named NL Manager of the Year

So tell me something I don't know!

If I were the kind of fan that assigned blame, there are some folks I could single out regarding the Cubs rather rapid fall from the play-offs. But this man isn't one of them. Love 'ya, Lou! Can't wait till April so we can do it all again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #92 -- One reason why we fight over the remote ...




If you're a movie fan, you should have bookmarked. It's a treasure trove of verified information and fascinating trivia about films (TV, too). The film buffs who run this site recently asked their registered users to name the top movies of all time. I think it's interesting how the boys' list differs from the girls'. Here I thought Titanic would be the ultimate chick flick, but I guess it's The Lord of Rings Trilogy.

First, the men have their say:

1. The Godfather (1972)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3. The Godfather, Part II (1974)
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
5. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
6. Pulp Fiction (1994)
7. Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
9. Schindler’s List (1993)
10. Twelve Angry Men (1957)
11. The Seven Samurai (1954)
12. Star Wars (1977)
13. Goodfellas (1990)

Now here are the top films of all times, as rated by women:

1. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
3. Schindler’s List (1993)
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
5. Rear Window (1954)
6. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
8. The Godfather (1972)
9. Casablanca (1942)
10. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
11. The Usual Suspects (1995)
12. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
13. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

This just in! Job security into December.

My boss told one of the art directors that there's an important agency-client meeting set for December 5. Management will have a solid idea of what's coming in, and how many of us will be needed, then. I choose to believe this, even though I didn't get it first hand. I suspect my boss will share similar information with the whole team tomorrow during our status meeting, and besides, I like believing I have until December 5 before I begin freaking out again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheers to the Cubs' award-winning All Star rookie catcher

Geovany Soto is the National League's Rookie of the Year! Catchers are often passed over for thiss prize, but Soto's numbers this year were hard to ignore -- he hit .285 with 23 homers. Just as important as his wicked bat, he gained the respect of a seasoned pitching staff, especially Dempster and Hardin. Congratulations, Geovany! Enjoy the honor, enjoy your winter vacation, and we'll see you again in April.

Tuesday Tunes #15

November 10th was the anniversary of the day The Edmund Fitzgerald went down during a storm on Lake Superior. So we're going to have a nautical theme meme, word association style:

Ocean: "Out on the ocean, sailing away. I can hardly wait to see you come of age." (Which, of course, he didn't because some bastard murdered him before Sean grew to adulthood.) "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon.

River: "Ain't no river deep enough to keep me from you." You may call her, "Miss Ross." (I love divas!)

Sea: "I'd like to be under the sea in an Octopus' Garden." The Beatles

Sailor: "Sail on, Sailor." The Beach Boys

Ship: "There's a port on a western bay and it serves 100 ships a day." Brandy by Looking Glass

Wave: "Changing my life with the wave of her hand." Here, There and Everywhere by the Beatles*

Sand: "Along the sand, let's walk together now, just hand in hand." California Nights by Leslie Gore

Sail: "Till every fear you've ever felt bursts free and goes tumbling to the sea." Janey, Don't You Lose Heart by Bruce Springsteen

Navy: "In the Navy" by the Village People

Deep: "How Deep Is Your Love?" The Bee Gees*

*OK, so they aren't nautical. But they're the first lyrics that came to my mind.

To play along yourself, or to see how other bloggers responded, click here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Manic Monday #20

What was the first thing you thought when you looked at yourself in the mirror today? Gawd! My bangs are curling!

Do you have a recurring nightmare? If so, explain. Not lately. But I used to have a dream that I was in Thomas Magnum's Ferrari when it exploded and he had to save me. This dream bothered me for two reasons: 1) I don't find Tom Selleck attractive and don't even think of him very often; 2) the damn car is a convertible and how can I not be able to figure out how to escape on my own? I mean, isn't this akin to being trapped on an escalator? My shrink told me that dreams are symbolic, not literal, and that this dream reflected troubles I was having at the time at work, when I wasn't sure who my allies were in the convoluted game of office politics.

List three foods you can’t stand: Tomatoes, melon, and Buffalo wings

To see how other bloggers responded, or to play along yourself, click here.

Yup, that's Debra Winger

I saw Rachel Getting Married yesterday. Yes, the critics are all correct -- Anne Hathaway is that good in the lead role (but the movie ran a little long, perhaps because we saw every virtually every damn moment of the wedding and reception). But for me, the revelation was Debra Winger as Abby, the withdrawn Mother of the Bride. She's so good, and playing so far against type, that I didn't even recognize her at first. Guess it's because, to me, she'll always be the small town girl who gets carried out of the factory and onto Happily Ever After.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I simply can't live like this

Am I going to be let go tomorrow? Wednesday? After Thanksgiving? Not at all?

I don't know. And there is nothing I can do about it.

I resist situations I can do nothing about. It's my nature to stir things up and force an issue, because doing something almost always feels better than doing nothing. But that would be stupid. Every day that I work is another day I get paid for. I must remember that I am the only asset The Gal, Inc., has. I don't have a working spouse or wealthy relatives. All I have is me. So while it might be satisfying to go into my boss' office tomorrow and say, "If you're gonna lay me off, just do it already!", it would be ridiculously unwise.

But this is all I think about, and it's pointless. So I'm going to the movies, maybe a little Christmas shopping.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sunday Stealing #9

Sunday Stealing: The Nudder Meme

1. Who did you spend at least two hours with today? Tony

2. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks? A lot! A trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln (and now Obama!) sites, Thanksgiving, my birthday, and my mom's birthday.

3. Who was the last person you called? My mom, but she wasn't home. (Party girl!)

4. What were you doing at 12am last night? Probably watching a campaign-related post-mortem on CNN or MSNBC.

5. Are your parents married/divorced? Well, they were married, but my dad's been dead for years.

6. When did you last see your mom? About 10 days ago.

7. What are you wearing right now? A fabulous cat nightshirt.

8. Where is your favorite place to be? Tucked in the corner of my sofa. I find this a very comforting spot.

9. Where is your least favorite place to be? The doctor's office. I really should go in and see my GP, but I don't wanna.

10. Where would you go if you could go anywhere? The Chateau Elan spa outside of Atlanta. I think my shoulders, aching back and soul could use a little pampering.

11. Where do you think you'll be in 10 years? Hopefully right here. I worry about becoming unemployed for a long period of time and not being able to make my mortgage payments.

12. What was the last thing that really made you laugh? The antics of Lucy and Ricky Riccardo

13. What cities/towns/villages have you lived in? I've only ever lived in the Chicagoland area. I love it here.

14. Are you a social person? Sometimes. I also really value my alone time.

15. Do you sleep alone? Yes. Dammit.

Why do I let such things bother me?

My bus driver this morning was so freaking hostile! Even worse, it's been bothering me all day. Why did I let her talk to me that way? It's not right. Even worse, why do I let this get to me? I know I did nothing wrong or rude and besides, I know I'll probably never see that woman again. What difference does it make?

Saturday 9 -- So Far Away

1. Where is the furthest place that you have traveled and how far away from home is it? Berne, Switzerland; 4443 miles from Chicago (I looked it up)

2. What is a blog that you would recommend for us to read and why? Wonkette. It's a deliciously gossipy, very funny political blog with tons of links to actual, more serious articles from all around the country. (I'm often pissed off by the content, which leads me to believe that Wonkette is an equal opportunity offender.)

3. What is the biggest surprise you ever have had and was it a good one? I cannot come up with anything that's easy to explain so I'm going to pass. Sorry. I'm probably overthinking this.

4. What is your favorite quote? (We know we've asked this recently. But there is always another great quote! :) "Books. Cats. Life Is Good." Edward Gorey. As it looks more likely I'll lose my job soon and my professional future is hard to predict, it's important to remember the permanent things in my life that I'll always have and that will always bring me joy.

5. Have you ever been hospitalized for a major health situation? I was hospitalized for a day and a half after a UFE. It's a chick procedure, fellas, so if you're squeamish, don't look it up. Ladies, it's a safe and non-invasive fibroid treatment and if you're plagued by this problem, I recommend you look into it.

6. Do you prefer long hair or short hair for yourself? Since my hair is currently growing out after I spent decades of wearing it short, I admit I am embarrassed by how much I think about this. Once I come to a conclusion, I'll let you all know!

7. What was your favorite amusement park ride growing up? Tilt-a-Whirl. Loooove it!

8. How long do you talk on your phone on a typical day? Not so much anymore! It seems everyone emails and texts.

9. Other than Saturday 9, what is your favorite meme to do each week? Thursday Thirteen. I've been doing it so long it's a habit, like brushing my teeth.

For more about Saturday 9, click here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This may be true ...

But if it sounds a little downbeat, I think it's because I was imagining spooky old Collinwood (technically speaking, it was a "manor," rather than a "castle") with Barnabas and Angelique racing about.

The Castle Personality Test

You are scared of new experiences. It's hard for you to break outside of your comfort zone.

You like to think that people see you as dramatic and fascinating. You do your best to seem mysterious.

You are a very realistic person. You see the world as it is, flaws and all.

Right now, stress occasionally makes you feel trapped in your life. You usually have a clear perspective on things though!

Overall, your life is dramatic and unpredictable. You life in interesting times.

You aren't optimistic about the future. You worry about what will happen to the world and if we'll be able to clean up the messes we've made.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Oh, leave her alone!

I never thought I'd say this, because Sarah Palin makes my skin crawl, but the McCain staffers who trash her simply are not being fair.

If she's not qualified to be VP, who is responsible for putting her on the ticket? Many of these same McCain campaign "insiders." Not to mention John McCain himself.

According to legend, she and McCain met once and spoke on the phone before he chose her as his VP candidate. Think about your own job. How many interviews did you have? How detailed were they? It bothers me that the HR department at the agency where I work spent more time with me than John McCain spent with Sarah Palin before deciding to put her a (70-something) heartbeat away from the Presidency.

So let's leave Caribou Barbie alone and hope she simply disappears from the national stage forever. And let's be grateful that our new President is the one who is putting together the Cabinet that's going to help him run our country. He may have less experience than McCain, but his campaign ran more efficiently and suffered fewer leaks. He added Joe Biden to the ticket without uproar or internal dissension. He has demonstrated greater people skills and comforting judgment in these matters.

President-elect Obama. To borrow from Tom Petty, we got lucky when we got him.

PS I really do love those jackets Sarah Palin wore during the campaign. Aren't those navy buttons cool? I wish I had her figure so I could carry this stuff off.

The News from Greg Maddux Land

I thought it was a done deal that my beloved future Hall of Famer was hanging it up. But not so fast!

DANA POINT, Calif. -- If right-hander Greg Maddux doesn't follow through on his intention to retire, he'll be welcomed back to the Dodgers for the 2009 season, general manager Ned Colletti said …


LOS ANGELES -- In what likely amounts to a parting gift, Greg Maddux won the Gold Glove Award for the 18th time in the past 19 years ...

Please don't leave me, Professor! April won't be the same without you!

Blog Blast for Peace: An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

As the leader of the most powerful country on the planet, you now have the ability to help make our world a more peaceful place. I like to imagine that, as you walk the halls of the White House, you will draw inspiration from the great men who served us before you … men who, like you, were great orators, and both warriors for liberty and believers in a peaceful, more unified world.

Thomas Jefferson
“Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy."

Abraham Lincoln
“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”'

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

John F. Kennedy
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures."

“Our duty as a (political) party is not to our party alone, but to the nation and, indeed, to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power, but the preservation of peace and freedom.”
(Undelivered speech planned for Dallas Texas, 11-22-1963)

Doe more information about the Blog Blast for Peace, click here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It was hope vs. fear, and HOPE TRIUMPHED

Barack Obama ran a masterful campaign that centered on change. Not smaller government, not bigger government, but more effective government. But change can be scary, and so he was demonized. I'm not sure how much of this crap can be laid at McCain's feet, even though it certainly was spread and even embraced by many of his supporters.

Psst! Obama "pals around with domestic terrorists," like William Ayers. Never mind that the rumor is just that, nor that in addition to Joe the Plumber, Senator McCain pals around with another Plumber -- the unrepentant former convict, G. Gordon Liddy.

Psst! Instead of backing Israel, Obama supports a radical Palestinian named Rashid Khalidi. Never mind that not only is this not true, but John McCain supported Khalidi's foundation financially.

Psst! Michele Obama is an elitist bitch who dined on lobster at the Waldorf Astoria! I don't understand why ordering lobster makes her elitist, but never mind. It never happened.

I could list more, but I'll only give myself a headache. Also, I want to make it clear that I don't know for a fact that these smears actually originated with McCain.

The thing of it is, though -- the American public heard the spooky, ugly whispers and rejected them.

We voted FOR one candidate
instead of
AGAINST the other one.

We listened to soaring rhetoric and took it to heart. We allowed ourselves to have faith that we can come together, can reconcile, and move the country forward. We want to believe that we can have a strong but respectful presence in the rest of the world.

I was genuinely inspired by the crowd I was in last night. In the 40 years since we lost Dr. King and Robert Kennedy, in the same Grant Park was the site of the miserable 1968 Democratic Convention riots, we came together to peacefully celebrate the election of a man who embodies our desire to change and our belief that we can make tomorrow better.


Proud of my country and VERY proud of my city

It was my distinct privilege to be in this integrated, peaceful, friendly and overwhelmingly positive crowd last night.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Shout out to Jenny McB!

I have tried to leave a comment on your "7 Weird Things" post but the "comments" box disappears before I can finish! Is it my browser?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Good News!

Over the weekend my family got word that my nephew's MRI shows no abnormalities! The search for the cause of his headaches goes on, but now the prospect of visiting a pediatric neurologist is neither urgent nor daunting. I believe the next step is for him to have a thorough examination by an allergist.

Look who has the hottest ticket in town!

I'm going to the Obama Rally! I'm going to the Obama Rally!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

7 Weird Facts about Me

I liberated this one from Canada's own No Nonsense Girl.

1) After decades of loyalty to The Today Show, I have switched my allegiance to MSNBC's Morning Joe, with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist. I think it's because I prefer Mika to Meredith Vieria. At times I miss Matt Lauer. As you can see, I think about this way too much.

2) I think I'm the last blogger in North America with dial-up. I keep meaning to do something about it, but it seems like so much work to decide which service I want to get.

3) Looks like my nemesis from the third floor -- that snotty, snippy neighbor of mine -- has moved out. This makes me sad somehow. I never liked her, but I feel bad for her recent financial setbacks. I didn't expect to care what happened to her one way or the other, but I guess I do.

4) I have an issue with bags. I have a hard time parting with them. I have bags of bags under my kitchen sink.

5) I can wiggle my right ear and pick up things with my toes.

6) When my nephew was a baby, I was afraid of him. His whole head -- face, ears, bald head -- would turn red and then he'd emit the loudest, most piercing cry. He could howl like that forever! My nickname for him during this period was "Scary Baby Person." Now 9, he finds it amusing that he could terrorize me.

7) I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt.

If you play, let me know so I can swing by and see what makes you so weird.

Senatorial Musings

Senator Kerry appeared on Meet the Press, acting as an Obama surrogate. He praised Obama's talent and ability to inspire the electorate. I was impressed. If I were him, I'd be grumbling about all the Obama donors and saying, "Where were you four years ago? If you had supported me with this much enthusiasm, I could have helped you avoid this mess!" But I cannot imagine John Kerry saying that. To improbably borrow from Peggy Noonan's assessment of Ronald Reagain, Senator Kerry is "hardwired for courtesy."

On a separate note, I am saddened to learn of the death of my "other" senator's daughter, Chris Durbin. She was only 40. As he approaches a landslide reelection to his third term on Tuesday, I hope Senator Durbin can take solace that his daughter is at peace after enduring a long battle with heart disease.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Lunch with my niece

We celebrated her birthday, just she and I, at an Italian restaurant. Now a sophomore in high school, she's taller than I am. She came in with a big beige fabric handbag decorated with peace signs. We talked about school, Halloween, her upcoming birthday party, her driving, and, best of all, The Beatles.

She has become a rabid Beatles fan, and I couldn't be more pleased. Her screen name is taken from a Beatles song. Her desktop is Abbey Road. She wore a Beatles t-shirt in her yearbook picture. All she wanted for her birthday this year was Beatles "stuff."

So I got her necklace with this logo, a pin that's a replica of John Lennon's guitar, a George Harrison notepad (he's her fave), a Beatles wallet, a t-shirt adorned with the Rubber Soul cover art, and the Concert for George tribute concert DVD.

I'm so glad that we have a passion in common. I love her very much, but I worry that as she grows up, she'll grow away. Now we have the Lads will keep us tethered to one another.

Saturday 9 -- Being a Good Sport

1. Were you raised around a lot of sports? My dad was a big Cub and Bears fan. My grandparents on both sides were Cub fans. My mom is a Michael Jordan-era Bulls fan, but I was long out of the house by then.

2. What is your favorite sport? Chicago Cubs baseball.

3. When did you last play a sport? I never play sports unless absolutely forced to. I played pool very badly in a bar a few months ago. Does that count?
4. When did you last attend a professional sporting event and what was it? I had the pleasure of taking my 9-year-old nephew to his first Cub game in Wrigley Field this past July.

5. What was the last sport you watch on TV? Dodgers/Phillies earlier this month.

6. If you have children, do they play the same sports that you did? If not, someday if you have kids, would you like them to? I am such a klutz I was even bad at jump rope, and I don't have kids, so I don't know how to answer.

7. Do you think other people care too much about sports? No.

8. Do you have the freedom to be as involved in either playing or watching as much sports as you’d like to? Yes.

9. Who is your favorite sports team? If you don't know the answer to that question, you haven't been reading very carefully. I bleed Cubbie blue.