Saturday, February 28, 2009

A selfish Saturday

It DID start with a drop off at the food pantry, so I'm not an unredeemably self-centered person, but the rest of the day was all about me, me, me -- and it felt good.

I had breakfast at my favorite coffee shop and continued with my current book -- a "guilty pleasure" true crime tome with little or no redeeming value. Then a massage to work out the icky ooky knots in between my shoulder blades, and a pedicure because ... well ... I wanted one. Then I went to see The Reader. (A perplexing, disturbing movie -- Why did she take her young lover? What was it in her past to screw up her values so much? -- but Winslet was terrific.)

I intend to continue the trend by watching back-to-back episodes of Law and Order while sitting on the sofa, surrounded by cats.

Days like this do wonders for recharging my internal battery and salving my soul.

I love the Ciroc commercials

Like there's any way that hearing Sinatra isn't going to capture my attention. Then I look up and see these commercials are shot in black and white, which makes the entire scene look so elegant. There's Diddy, looking so casual in his black tie, like this is just another day in the life.

I drink vodka but I don't buy it. Vodka is like a Border's Gift Card, the gift all my friends know I can always use. (Right now there's Svedka and Stoli in the cabinet.) But if I were to invest in a bottle tomorrow, it would be Ciroc, just to support this campaign.

Friday, February 27, 2009


That's how I feel -- just blah. I'm tired, my gut is having a difficult time getting back with the program after Wednesday's festivities, I miss my best friend, and while I have a lot to do here at home, nothing captures my interest. I don't feel like going out either. I'm not happy, but I'm not unhappy, I'm uncomfortable.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'd forgotten how much I loved this movie!

I'd also forgotten how much I once wanted to be a nun! Made in 1966, this movie follows the "scathingly brilliant" adventures of Mary (Hayley Mills) and Rachel, best friends at a Catholic boarding school. Rosalind Russell is the Reverend Mother, a stern, yet wise and comforting presence.

The nuns were so compassionate, the girls were so much fun, that I wanted to go to Catholic boarding school and then go on to become a novice, then a nun/teacher. Except I wasn't Catholic, and eventually it dawned on me that something was missing at St. Francis: boys. I was already very much in love with Paul McCartney and didn't see how I could be both Mrs. McCartney and Sister Elizabeth. (I don't know why, I just liked the sound of "Sister Elizabeth.") Still, when I was 8 or 9, there was something very attractive about the idea of having my future planned out … all safe and sound.

I'm so happy that I stumbled upon this gem as I spun the dial on a rainy Tuesday night. It makes me feel happy, safe and sound again.

Idol Observation

Adam made that hoary old chestnut, "Satisfaction," relevant, so I'm very glad he made it through. Also, I like his hair. And I was afraid that Norman Gentile, while entertaining, would be this year's Sanjaya.

Is it OK if I feel sorry for Rielle Hunter?

Regular readers of this humble blog know I consider Elizabeth Edwards a true heroine. Her memoir, Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers, touched me deeply and finally taught this ever-independent Gal the life lesson that sometimes it requires strength to ask for help. Mrs. Edwards' dedication to the causes that matter to her, like universal healthcare, has not wavered as her cancer has progressed. Last summer, as part of a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser, she wrote: "Throughout my battle with breast cancer, so many extraordinary people have reached out to me and my family, holding us up with their gentle but unwavering support. The truth is, I have been very fortunate -- not just because of their support but because I have good health care coverage. I also haven't had to worry about whether I might lose my home to foreclosure or how I'll put food on my children's table or gas in my car." I doubt I would be able to maintain such selfless perspective if I was suffering from inoperable cancer.

That's why I was so disappointed and disgusted that John Edwards would hurt and humiliate her as he did. I admit it, I was so upset you'd think I was the one he cheated on. (Well, that is kinda how it felt!)

Yet as the press starts swirling around the upcoming release of Elizabeth's next book (Resilience, due in May), whispers have started about "the other woman" in Edwards' life, Rielle Hunter. Here's one columnist's take on Hunter's life since the affair was confirmed in August 08: "Soon after that, the private arrangements between Edwards and Hunter more or less fell apart. Fred Baron, an Edwards associate, had been funding Hunter’s stay at a rented Santa Barbara home. But Baron died suddenly and tragically in late October after a short bout with cancer. This left Hunter in the lurch. The lease on her house ran out in December. Since then, she’s been relying on the kindness of friends, sources say, and hoping that Edwards would do the right thing. So far, that hasn’t happened. Hunter has forged on ahead as a single mom, refusing to sell her story or sue Edwards for paternity. The baby’s birth certificate still lists no father."

From where I sit, Hunter and her daughter, Frances Quinn, are victims of Edwards' selfish lack of self-control, too. There are no winners in this saga, just losers.

THURSDAY THIRTEEN #96 -- "The Welcome Back" Edition

First of all, thanks to Mr. Pop Culture Dish himself, Malcolm, for reuniting me with my all-time favorite meme! Because it's too late/too early for me to be up, I'm going to let music, and this post, "soothe the mind and give it rest," so I can go back to bed for a bit. (Please remember that I am a proud Baby Boomer and my list reflects that.)

Without further ado ...


1. 100 Years -- 5 for Fighting
2. (Between a) Rock and a Hard Place -- Rolling Stones
3. Domino -- Van Morrison
4. Martha, My Dear -- The Beatles
5. Just a Little Lovin' -- Dusty Springfield
6. You're My Best Friend -- Queen
7. Jessie's Girl -- Rick Springfield
8. I'm the Greatest -- Ringo Starr
9. Little Sister -- Elvis
10. Love in an Elevator -- Aerosmith
11. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows -- Lesley Gore*
12. Already Gone -- The Eagles
13. The Rising -- The Boss

*Yes, I'm embarrassed that one came up. But what kind of person fakes her TT? I had to include it.

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!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Now I know my ABC's ...

This seems pretty easy to complete, even after those warm, fuzzy drugs. (Liberated from Kwizgiver.)

Accent: Well, I don't think I have an accent. My best friend, who lives in Denver, maintains I have "a Chicago accent, like Hillary Clinton," which he tells me means my r's are hard and my a's are broad. Which could very well be true, since I don't think Hillary has an accent, either.

Breakfast or no breakfast: Monday-Friday, just a glass of milk and a can of Coke. Weekends, either a bowl of cereal or a big coffee shop breakfast with eggs as the centerpiece.

Chore I don’t care for: I don't really enjoy any chores. I hate, loathe, despise and abominate laundry, though.

Dog or Cat: Cat. Or cats. Today my best feline friend has been my big old black and white tub of guts, Joey. He's been very affectionate and attentive surrounding today's festivities. He has seemed more in tune to why our daily schedule was off and he's been very sweet about it. I've said it before -- Joey may be my dopiest cat, but he's my hero. He has an unfailingly sensitive, positive nature.

Essential Electronics: iPod.

Favorite Perfume: Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

Gold or Silver: Silver

Handbag I carry most often: No such thing. I change my bags at least twice a week.

Insomnia: At times.

Job Title: Associate Creative Director

Kids: None

Living Arrangements: Me and the cats in the a 2BR condo

Most Admirable Trait: I'm strong like bull

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: I was a "loud" child. "Keep it down!" "Shush!" "Will you PLEASE knock it off?"

Overnight hospital stays: In 2003. Removal of uterine fibroids. Much worse than today's festivities.

Phobias: Air travel. No, make that suddenly and violently aborted air travel.

Quote: The proverb, "What man has done, man can do."

Reason to smile: All the kindness and support I received yesterday and today in regards to the festivities.

Siblings: Two sisters with me in the middle

Time I wake up: 6:00 or 6:30 am

Unusual Talent or Skill: I can wiggle my right ear

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Uncooked tomatoes. Their consistency is just wrong and gives me the heebies jeebies.

Worst Habit: I can be a very lazy, lazy slug (A habit Ms. Kwiz and I share)

X-rays: Dental x-rays and an MRI

Yummy Stuff: Whoopie pies. Newly discovered and highly addictive (A vice Ms. Kwiz and I share)

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Okapi

If you want to play along, let me know so I can compare.

Clean as a whistle

That's really all I have to say about today's festivities. I'm tired, I have a caffeine headache, and yet I'm very grateful.

• My oldest friend actually took the day off to get me to and from the hosptial. She's a champ!
• I don't have to go through this again for TEN YEARS
• I am completely healthy, gastrointestinely speaking
• I was strengthened by all the good wishes floating my way from the blogosphere

Nap time!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Now THIS was a feel good

The hospital called about tomorrow's festivities. I was hoping they were calling to cancel. No such luck. They wanted information about my insurance, my next of kin and my religious affiliation. You know, just in case I DIE!!!!* I was hoping that when I told them I was a Unitarian, they would say, "we don't touch your kind here." No such luck.

*It's not the dying part that I'm unhappy about. My faith in Jesus and Heaven give me peace in that regard. However, even though I know He loves me no matter what, I really don't want to meet Him when I've got a tube up my ass!

I'm IT!

Cuz Lulu tagged me!

“Your ship has sunk. You have, of course, been stranded on a deserted island. You have salvaged a copy of the King James Version of the Bible and a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. Nothing else.

“The very next day you find one of those Arabian Lamps in the sand. Of course, you rub it and, of course, a rather grumpy Genie appears.

“‘Let’s get this straight - there is a recession going on. There are restrictions on the three wishes now. I don’t do water or air transport now so no boats, planes or magic carpets. As for electronics, forget it. There isn’t the infrastructure on this island.

“‘I can let you have one book and I mean one VOLUME, one essential item and one luxury item. Now hurry up and make your choices, I have to get to those five other islands you are going to nominate.’”

Book -- JFK: Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton. This warts-and-all study of Kennedy is my favorite book of all time because it reinforces a valuable life lesson: no matter how good a life looks from the outside, you have no idea how it feels from the inside. Also, I may need some survival tips from the chapter on PT-109.

Essential -- Wilson the Soccer Ball. He has experience in situations like this.

Luxury Item -- LOTION! Unlimited moisturizer formulated without fragrance but a high SPF. I'm not turning into a prune for anyone!

Let me know if you play along. (Lulu and) I will want to see how you did.

Tuesday Tunes #15

Wednesday would have been George Harrison's 66th birthday, for our Tuesday Tunes, we're going to have a George theme.

What are 5 things that you like about George Harrison?

1. He was the funniest Beatle onscreen. By far. Remember the scene in A Hard Day's Night when he refers to the spokesmodel as "the posh bird who gets everything wrong? She's a drag. A well known drag. We turn the sound down on her and say rude things." Or when teaching Norm to shave, George instructed him to, "Put yer tongue away, it looks disgustin' hangin' out, all pink and naked." If these words don't look funny on the page, wait for them next time you watch the movie. George's timing was impeccable.

2. He didn't like Madonna, either. I have always believed all the best people dislike Madonna. His Handmade Films made Shanghai Surprise, possibly the worst movie Sean Penn will ever make, starring ol' Madge. I know this will shock you, but George regarded her as a difficult personality and a bad actress.

3. "Savoy Truffle." An ode to candy and a cautionary tale about toothaches.

4. He loved to play the ukulele.

5. The Concert for Bangla Desh. He originated the supergroup fundraiser.

Happy Birthday to George Harrison, The Scouse of Distinction.

To play along yourself, click here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Today I touched on three different projects! Everything went so smoothly that I wasn't even tempted to strangle anyone, or touch my secret stash of vodka! I appreciate this sudden flurry of activity because: 1) it distracts me from the joy that begins tomorrow night and 2) it makes me more confident about taking that vacation I booked. Because if I'm busy, I'm billable. If I'm billable, my agency gets more money ... and my paycheck is secure. Yea! (Yes, we were promised no more layoffs, but who knows what unforeseen fiscal maladies could plague us next. I like the reassurance.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Watching the Oscars, I'm a little in love

Watching the Oscars tonight, I'm reminded that I love Robert Downey Jr.'s voice. I think it's because it reminds me of a former lover, and in only nice ways. I also love the way his attitude transcends his size (he's only about 5'8). I'm glad his career is back on track and I hope he stays clean, so I can stay a little in love with him for years to come.

I'm also reminded how much I loved Sydney Pollack's work, both as a director and as an actor. From This Property Is Condemned to The Way We Were to The Firm. As an actor, I loved him in both Michael Clayton and as Will's dad in Will and Grace. I was happy to see him remembered on the Oscars tonight.

And Paul Newman. It seems he was as well respected by his peers as he was well loved by all of us.

All this is why I love the Oscars.

Indulge me as I send my mind to the happy place

I'm dreaming of my vacation again. Dreaming is very important now, when I have to do laundry and wash the kitchen floor ... today, when I had to buy Gatorade, Dulcolax and Miralax in anticipation of Wednesday's "big event" ... it helps to concentrate on what's beautiful and luxurious. Like tonight's elegant women and handsome, tuxedoed men at the Oscars. And my upcoming spa vacation at Chateau Elan, just outside of Atlanta.

To help me set the scene, let me share the weather -- it's sunny and 25º warmer in Atlanta than it is here today -- and these photos. The robe-clad women eating heart-healthy food prepared by Chateau Elan's chefs are dining right there in the spa. The suites, where I'm staying, are in the hallway past the blonde. The spa treatments -- and my spa representative Larissa has two days of them scheduled for especially for me -- are performed down the hallway behind the gray-haired lady. Out the window you can see the gazebo, which is the centerpiece of the next photo. Isn't it great that I'll be right there on the water? From this vantage point, my suite appears on the far left and the spa itself is on the far right. Note the woman in the gazebo in her fluffy robe. It's perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, to wander around this building and the nearby grounds in the robe and flip-flops provided.

Much better than bleaching my whites down in the laundry room, isn't it? And certainly much, MUCH better than Wednesday!

The Blogthings Oscar Quiz

Thank you, Kwizgiver.

You Would Win Best Supporting Actor / Actress

You are a quirky, fascinating person. You understand the world well.

There's no one quite like you. Your uniqueness leaves a strong impression on people.

You are bold and willing to take risks. People may love or hate you, but at least they'll notice you.

You are just different enough to make a great character actor. You can make a smaller part come alive.

It's Oscar Time

The Gal Herself shall return to the Academy Award telecast the way the swallows return to Capistrano, partly because I'm hot for Hugh Jackman, but also because it's the Oscars. It's glamour, it's history, it's Hollywood!

Of this year's crop of actresses, I can imagine Anne Hathaway dressed beautifully enough and moving gracefully enough to join these two in the pantheon of Oscar elegance. (Plus, her against-type performance in Rachel Getting Married could be as big a revelation as Grace Kelly's in The Country Girl, approx. a half century before.)

To make it even better, Jerry Lewis is scheduled to be honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. One of my guiltiest guilty pleasures is listening to Jerry's incoherent and frequently offensive ramblings. I enjoy it so much and so wickedly that I give generously to MDA in an attempt to cleanse my conscience.

It was on again tonight

I have never seen My Cousin Vinny. But obviously the Cable Gods think it's desperately important that we all watch this movie, since it seems to be on every day.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My tummy hurts

Could it be because I finally read that packet of materials I received from the hospital -- the one that details my upcoming colonoscopy? I have never had one and am not looking forward to Wednesday, when I submit to my first. Ugh. Not very attractive, is it?

Saturday 9 -- Letting the Sparks Fly

1. Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity? Water is very good for me. A quick shower, a leisurely soak in the tub, even a walk along the Lake. I get my best ideas when I'm near water.

2. What would be one thing that would embarrass you a great deal? I can't sing worth a damn, so the thought of soloing at a karaoke bar is just too awful.

3. What values did your parents instill in you? I got my patriotism from my dad, and my love of animals from my mom.

4. What’s a fad of your teen years that you remember well? Smiley faces. "Have a nice day."

5. What is your favorite breakfast? Eggs. I switch it up from time to time (scrambled, poached, over easy), but I love eggs.

6. What is the best birthday gift that you have received? When I turned 50, my best friend got me the book that was at the top of the best seller list at the time of my birth, the movie that won Best Picture that year, etc. I loved it.

7. What gadget could you not live without? My iPod!

8. Do you collect anything? Purses. I looooove them.

9. What website (non-blog) do you regularly visit? MSNBC. I'm a news junkie.

Saturday 9: Letting the Sparks Fly

Friday, February 20, 2009

What I've been dreaming of

It's official: This March I'm returning to Chateau Elan in Atlanta. Here are photos of the suite I booked. Isn't it grand? Larissa, my personal spa rep, helped me put together my own individual"spa itinerary." Two full days of yummy, relaxing pampering. I'm going to be made up and massaged and exfoliated and wrapped. Since all my meals are included and my suite is right there in the spa, it's possible that I could literally stay in my fluffy white robe for both days. (I tend to get antsy, though, so I'll probably get dressed every now and again to wander the vineyards.)

I'll come back revitalized, refreshed, and ready for baseball season!

Friday 5

Friday 5 for February 20: Souvenirs

  1. Is there a certain kind of souvenir you always bring back for a particular someone? My 9-year old nephew loves those little plastic bracelets first made popular by Livestrong. If I can find one bearing the name of place he's never been, it makes him happy.
  2. Of the souvenirs you’ve collected from your travels, what are some that have special meaning for you? I have a snowglobe from a quick jaunt to LA with my best friend. I don't know why, but it really touches me.
  3. What’s the silliest souvenir you’ve brought back for yourself, or what’s the silliest souvenir someone has brought back for you? My friends in Key West got me my very own Robert the Haunted Doll. The original Robert is in a museum down there, and he's supposedly imbued with dark magic powers, and the tales completely cracks me up. I'm proud to have my own.
  4. If you were going to send someone a souvenir from places you visited today, what might it be? A pencil with a worn out eraser. That kinda sums up my day so far … a lot of writing and a lot of rewriting.

This goes out to You Know Who (both of 'em)

For different reasons, of course.

MY BELOVED FUTURE HALL OF FAMER GREG MADDUX. This is my first spring training in more than 20 years without you!

MY BEST FRIEND. This is your first trip to Chicago where we haven't even spoken to one another!

Fortunately, I ain't missing either of you. No, not at all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hi! I'm buzzed!

This is what comes from having cranberry juice and vodka on an empty stomach. This buzz is very pleasant, though. Maybe if the writer thing falls through, I should consider becoming a bartender so I can spread this joy.

In the meantime, I will amuse my drunken little old self by seeing how much of the dialog I can recite along with the characters from Godfather II:

"I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!"

"Old man Roth would never come here, but Johnny knows these places like the back of his hand."

"I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart!"

I can sense his presence

My best friend is in town today, but alas, I cannot see him. He landed this AM (sent me a text so I wouldn't worry about his flight), is giving a presentation today, taking his clients out to dinner tonight, and returning home in the morning. The unfairness of this is staggering! This Recession has stopped being a joke when a client won't spring for an extra night in Chicago!

Seriously, though, I miss him something fierce. Everything is easier to both stand and understand when I have him to talk to.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ah! That feels good!

Been very busy here at work yesterday and today and while the workload and truncated timelines have caused me to miss my workouts, which is a bummer, it's still rather satisfying. Like stretching creative and collaborative muscles you haven't used in a while. Plus it's been a good antidote/distraction from my icky mood.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tonight's Idol Observation

Ryan Seacrest, quit trying to be a stand-up comic. You're not Don Rickles, you're a pretty face, so there's no reason to attempt "jokes" about Simon's anatomy. Introduce the contestants, recite their phone numbers, and then shut up. Thank you.

Vodka, chicken fingers and American Idol

Vodka and chicken fingers are not exactly a heart-healthy meal, especially for a pudgy middle-aged woman, like me, who missed her workout. However, I'm in a mood and it's what I want when I watch American Idol, and I am too sensitive, darling and compassionate to deny someone as adorably poignant as me anything. On the way home, I stopped at a popular dine-in/carry-out place.

At least it used to be popular. Tonight it was damn empty. There was just me, waiting for my yummy fingers, and (I suspect) a long-married couple sitting together, eating their meals in silence. Last time I was there, around Christmas, it was bustling. I couldn't read the menu specials board for the people milling around. Not tonight.

Worse, I can tell they're paring back. No more free chips for us to enjoy while we wait (which is OK, because I really didn't like them), no more bakery for dessert (just ice cream). It makes me sad.

I know I haven't been there in nearly two months because I'm economizing. Perhaps others in the neighborhood feel the same way. All this fiscal self-restraint must be hell on small businesses. I hope the stimulus package stimulates consumers in time.

In A Mood

First I held him lightly and we started to dance.
Then I held him tightly, what a dreamy romance!

And I said "Hey, baby, it's a quarter to three
There's a mess of moonlight, won't-cha share it with me?"

"Well," he answered, "Baby, don't-cha know that it's rude to keep my two lips waitin' when they're in the mood?"

NO! That's "In THE Mood!" I'm in A mood. A pissy, melancholy, discontented mood … not the good, old-fashioned, sugar-coated horniness that Patty, Maxine and Laverne sang about. (Though I'm sure a nice carnal interlude would do me a world of good.)

I didn't work out today … my hair feels all thick and frizzy … I'll probably never have sex again … I'm short on my self-monitored "allowance" for the rest of the month ... I miss my best friend … I'm worried that Highball the dog lived out his life traumatized by what he witnessed on Valentine's Day 80 years ago ... to paraphrase Crash Davis in Bull Durham, "I'm dealing with a lot of shit."

Mostly hormones, I suspect.

Don't screw with me, though. I may bite you. Or cry. Right now, I could go either way.

Tuesday Tunes #18

Tell us your biggest musical regret.

Not treating my vinyl with more respect and tender loving care. I have cartons of old LPs and 45s in my closet, but they are virtually unplayable. Yet I can't part with them. I know that, as delivery systems for sound, downloads are superior. But records! You could fall in love with a record! Cover art, liner notes ... stacking LPs on the spindle ... I miss 'em.

To play along yourself, click here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sorry, but I can't watch it

I had a plan for this President's Day morning -- settle in on the sofa with my laptop and get a headstart on a project for work tomorrow while watching the NCIS marathon on USA. This plan made me happy. For even though my oldest friend once told me she uses work like mine "to light the grill," I still find it satisfying. 95% of my audience treats advertising the way she does. But trying to figure out what will grab that 5% and get them to buy -- even after all these years, I still get off on it. And, even after all these years, I still get off on Mark Harmon. So, as I say, I had a happy plan.

But then USA had to run the NCIS episode featuring Abigail Breslin -- the Oscar-nominated child actress of Little Miss Sunshine and Kit fame -- as a blind girl who is kidnapped and terrorized. There's something about this kid that touches me deeply and it upsets me to see her in peril, even though I know Harmon/Gibbs will save the day. So there goes my plan! I have defected to the Biography channel and their President's Day special on JFK.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Breaking in my brand-new Avia cross trainers

I walked my 10,000 steps through town today and was sad to see two more stores are going or gone. One was an American Mattress location, which is sad for the people who work there, of course, but there will still be two other stores within a 5 mile radius. The other was an independently-owned design studio that specialized in feng shui. I'm afraid high-end decorating is not a high priority for most home owners in this economy. This is all so sad ...

Which makes me feel almost predatory for being so excited about my trip to Famous Footwear. The new cross trainers were on sale for $30, thank you very much. Also picked up these adorable Roxy plaid flats for 1/2 price. I haven't been shoe shopping in soooo long and I was gratified to find such great deals. While I'm confident that I'll be employed through summer, I still don't think it's wise for me to spend the way I used to. (It's possible it was never that wise, but that's another story for another time.) I understand that the retail sector has been hit very hard by the economic downturn, but I have to tend to my personal economic health and welfare, too. It's seductive to rationalize indulging in retail therapy as my patriotic duty, but that's a trap I'm trying to avoid.

Sunday Stealing #20

Sunday Stealing: The Q & A Meme

1. where is your significant other? In my imagination.

2. your favorite thing? The clear blue sky I see out my livingroom window.

3. your dream last night? Don't recall.

4. your goal? Getting organized.

5. your hobby? Reading or farting around online

6. where do you want to be in 6 years? Margaritaville

7. where were you last night? Right here

8. what you're not? Thin

9. one of your wish list items? Cash would be nice

10. your pet? Reynaldo is sitting on the window sill, looking at me. Hi, Rey!

11. missing someone? Yes

12. your car? Don't have one

13. something you're not wearing? socks

14. love someone? Yes

15. when is the last time you laughed? SNL last night

16. last time you cried? Don't remember
17. favorite past time? See #5

18. are you a hater or a lover? Depends on the circumstance

19. any vices? Sloth

20. favorite meme other than Sunday Stealing? I miss The Thursday Thirteen ...

Happy 80th Anniversary

On Valentine's Day, 1929, it was snowy and cold in Chicago. Al Capone said he was in Florida that week to escape the bad weather. The police believed he traveled south to establish an alibi for what became the biggest event of his criminal career, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

This is Highball, the only survivor of the Massacre. Highball belonged to John May, a mechanic who did jobs for the Moran Gang and quite literally lost his head that day. Police heard Highball howling from under one of the beer trucks. The killers knew he was there but they spared him. I find that fascinating. They fired seventy machine-gun bullets and two shotgun blasts into 7 men -- at close range. Yet they didn't touch this dog, leaving him tied up to plaintively howl and bring the police to the garage.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


"Life sucks and then you die." That's the phrase that goes through my mind this morning as I watch an episode of Biography about Princess Diana. Beautiful but insecure, adored by the public, hunted by the press, betrayed by her husband ... her life was cut short in the most tawdry way -- by a drunk driver. She never got to see her sons grow up. She never knew contentment. Her life was a tragedy.

As my heart goes out to this poor girl (and Diana will, eternally, be a poor girl), I remain in awe of "America's queen," Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Like Diana, she was both a loving mother and a betrayed wife … a paparazzi target and the subject of international scrutiny … a damaged daughter of divorce and a Daddy's girl who had a turbulent relationship with her mother. Unlike Diana, she was an eyewitness to one of history's most famous murders, she cradled her husband's bloody head in her lap, and had to honor him with a state funeral as the world watched. She also had 5 difficult pregnancies in 10 years, with only two of her children surviving to adulthood.

But Jackie was made of very stern stuff. She lived her life the way she wanted to, despite the disapproval of her formidable in-laws or (when she married Onassis) the entire world. Instead of alternately fleeing and wooing the press the way Diana did, Jackie took the paparazzi to court and got a restraining order. She worked before marrying JFK and went back to work after her children left home, finding fulfillment as a book editor. She always put her kids first and saw them grow up and embark on successful careers of their own. She lived to hold her grandchildren. She found, if not great passion, then love and companionship with a man who shunned the spotlight. This photo was taken of her near the end of her life, well after she had passed her 60th birthday. It makes me sad that there is no similar picture of Diana as a mature woman who could luxuriate in having made it through the bad times.

There was no scandal or gossip attached to Jackie's passing, of natural causes at the age of 64. She even died in her way own way. She checked herself out of the hospital and went home, to be (as son John later said) surrounded by her books and the things she loved. There were crowds outside her Park Avenue apartment, but her death was private and attended by family and friends.

No matter how you measure a life, Jackie's must be considered a triumph. Others remember her for class and beauty and style. Yes, she exemplified all that. But it's her personal integrity and her guts that inspire me. "To thine own self be true." That's a helluvalot more positive than, "Life sucks and then you die."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ha! I believe I have thwarted him.

Behold my weapon -- the simple, interoffice envelope.

Regular readers are familiar with my ongoing battle with my cat, Reynaldo. For the last four years, he and I have been engaged in a battle of nerves. No, wait, that's not right. Rey has no nerves. Make that a battle of wills. For you see, like Stitch in Lilo and Stitch, Rey is programmed to destroy. Sometimes he gets so wild, so pumped on adrenaline, that he can't seem to stop his little furry self from knocking over all my manila folders, letting the contents spill onto the floor, and then digging around in them so there is no semblance of order anymore -- none whatsoever. Last time he did this, I was so overwhelmed by the mess he made that I nearly cried.

After giving it some thought -- and reminding myself that as a human, I am gifted with both superior intellect and opposing thumbs, so I should be able to win this battle of wills -- I have stumbled upon the solution. I replaced the manila folders with interoffice envelopes that have velcro on the flap! These well-worn envelopes were en route to being recycled anyway, so I have given them a new lease on life. And, should Rey knock them over, the contents can't come out and he can't dig around in the paper like a picnicer digging for clams at the seaside.

He watched me move the files last night. Very attentive. All purry and affectionate. Poor little guy. I bet he didn't realize he was watching me stage his Waterloo.

In praise of Border's

I live in the navy blue village of a deep blue state, and we tend to examine and protest everything. Especially big chain stores, which are perceived as the death knell for the small, independently-owned shops that add to our town's character. That's why I signed petition after petition to stop Border's from opening on the main drag in my town.

I was wrong. I am so glad Border's is there. It's my first choice when I'm buying books, DVDs or music. Why?

1) They have an enormous selection. Smaller bookstores just can't carry all the titles.

2) They're one-stop. I can buy gifts and cards in one place. Also, when I don't know what to buy someone, I buy them a Border's giftcard. Who doesn't like books, music, DVDs or magazines?

3) The help is always helpful. We have two independent booksellers on the same street as Border's. I admit that if I'm not in a hurry, I like to browse in one of them. It looks and smells like a nice wooden loft. Customers in there take their books seriously and so there's always a good conversation going on. They also have way-cool wooden postcards! Alas, they aren't open as early, nor as late, as Border's. But the other one (Barbara's Bookstore) is icky and I will never go in there again. The staff is too cool for school. They actually scoffed at a friend of mine who asked if In Cold Blood was in stock -- apparently they didn't feel it was worth carrying, ordering or even reading. (And here I thought it was a classic. Silly me!) At least he got someone to wait on him -- they're usually too busy chatting with one another to be bothered. Worst of all, they recently had Sam Giancana's daughter signing books on 11/22 -- the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, which she claims her father was involved in. That was tasteless. At Border's, the staff is always accessible and helpful, and I've never seen them mock a national tragedy.

4) Border's Rewards.
I admit it: I'm a loyalty-points whore.

5) They give local charities a chance. For example, over the holidays, I was able to have my gifts wrapped right there in Border's by developmentally-challenged adults from Lamb's Farm. It was lovely to interact and support people I wouldn't see otherwise.

Rumor has it that Border's is suffering in this economy, so SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BORDER'S. This weekend I may just hit Border's again. I suggest you all do the same. I bet they're an asset to your community, and if they disappeared, you'd miss them.

Book Mama, this one was for you.

It won't be long now!

Pitchers and catchers report for training camp today!

Alas, this is the first spring in decades that I'm not checking on my beloved future Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux.

But poignancy is part of the beauty of baseball. So as I look back I will also look forward -- to April 6, when the 2009 campaign officially begins in Houston.

One President Honors Another

Barack Obama came home yesterday. Two years ago, he announced his candidacy in Springfield. Today, he returned to honor the only other President to serve in the Illinois Assembly -- Abraham Lincoln. It was very exciting for me as an American, as an Abe-o-phile, as an Obamaniac ... and as an Illinois citizen who hungers for something to wash away that bad Blago taste.

The President was clearly in a relaxed, happy mood: "The former state senator said the roomful of supporters reminded him of what Lincoln once said to a favor-seeker who claimed he helped the president get elected. 'Well,' said Lincoln, 'it's a pretty mess you've got me into. But I forgive you.' So whoever of you think you were responsible for this, we're taking names," Obama said."

On a more serious, more inspirational note, Obama invoked Lincoln's view of government, which couldn't be more relevant today: "He recognized that while each of us must do our part, work as hard as we can and be as responsible as we can—in the end, there are certain things we cannot do on our own," Obama said. "There are certain things we can only do together. There are certain things only a union can do."

The 44th President spent all day Thursday remembering the 16th. While Lincoln certainly earned all the honors, it occurs to me that invoking Abe could be dangerous for Obama. For it invites comparison -- and was anyone ever braver, kinder or more wise than Abraham Lincoln?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday Thunks #1

This week's crazy questions are brought to you by Berleen, the color Cotton Candy Pink and the number 3,333,333,331.

1. You are driving down the road and there is a puddle in the road. A big puddle. Not one that will really wreck your car or anything, but a big puddle. There is no other cars in front of you or behind you - do you drive through the puddle or drive around it? Through it so I can enjoy the splash.

2. Go to Google Images, type in any word that comes to mind and post the 1st picture you see.

A college calls you up and says that you have been selected to take get any degree that you want on their dollar.... what do you choose? Film appreciation.

4. Are you blogging on a laptop or desktop? Laptop

5. Which store, excluding a grocery store, do you shop at most often? Border's

6. My daughters tried out for the school musical last night. Were you ever in a school play/musical? Which one? No school musicals for this gal.

7. I read yesterday that a school PTA group wants to try to ban white bread, cakes, brownies or any other "treat" from their lunch menus... plus make kids' lunchboxes brought from home not include any "junk food". Thoughts on that one? As a barren spinster, I don't think I'm qualified.

8. How many people can your kitchen table seat? No table in my kitchen. But the kitchen floor does comfortably serve three cats.

9. What time is it right now? After 4:00 PM

10. Walk out the front door of your house/apartment, turn right, walk 2 blocks. What do you see? The Competitive Foot, a store that specializes in workout attire.

If you'd like to think along, click here.

Thinking of you today, Mr. President

Happy Birthday to one of the heroes of my girlhood -- one of the few who actually deserves the adulation of schoolchildren. I fell in love with American history by reading about Abraham Lincoln. He's a leader who changed the world in his own time and continues to inspire today.

This is an old Life magazine shot of his living room in Springfield, IL. I've visited his home many times, and plan on going there many more. Hopefully, this year I'll bring my nephew. I am proud to be from The Land of Lincoln.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Idol Observation

Tatiana is soooooo obnoxious when she walks, talks, cries and squeals. Yet when she sings, she's awesome. Go figure. She's not only a good singer, she makes good TV, so I'm glad she made it to the next round.

Nathaniel, on the other hand, is an annoying basket case both when he sings and when he talks. I'm sorry that he made it through. Together he and Tatiana are too much. Hopefully one will be eliminated soon.

Gnoshing, watching American Idol and blogging

Completing a meme stolen, as usual, from Kwizgiver:


What is your salad dressing of choice? French
What is your favorite fast food restaurant? McDonald's
What is your favorite sit-down restaurant? Flat Top Grill
On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant? 15 to 20%
What food could you eat every day and not get sick of it? Burgers
What are your pizza toppings of choice? Sausage
What do you like to put on your toast? Strawberry jam
What is your favorite type of gum? Cinnamon


Number of contacts in your cell phone? a dozen
Number of contacts in your email address book? about 70
What is your wallpaper on your computer? A nice big Cubs logo
How many televisions are in your house? two
Do you use a laptop or desktop? both


Are you right-handed or left-handed? right
Do you like your smile? No. My upper lip kinda disappears and I show too much gum
What's your best feature? Dimples
Have you ever had anything removed from your body? Yes. Uterine fibroids. Wanna hear more? I thought not.
Which of your five senses do you think is keenest? Smell
When was the last time you had a cavity? Last month
What is the heaviest item you lifted last? My gym bag
Have you ever been knocked unconscious? No


If you could, would you wanna know the day you were going to die? no
Is love for real? yes
If you could change your first name, what would you change it to? Grace
What color do you think looks best on you? teal
Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake? Yes. I was in a meeting. The client brought donuts. I bit into one and, as I swallowing, I was aware that there was a (shudder) HAIR in donut. I am very proud of myself that I didn't start screaming or gaaking like a cat with a hairball.
Have you ever saved someone's life? by donating blood (Kwizgiver's answer)
Has someone ever saved yours? yes (see above)


Would you walk naked down a public street for $100,000? no
Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100? sure
Would you cut off one of your little fingers for $200,000? no
Would you never blog again for $50,000? sure
Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000? no
Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000? Yes
Would you give up watching television for a year for $25,000? NO!!!


What is in your left pocket? Tissue
Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house? Carpet
Do you sit or stand in the shower? Stand
Could you live with roommates? No
How many pairs of flip flops do you own? None
Where were you born? Elgin
Last time you had a run-in with the cops? never
What do you want to be when you grow up? Taller
Who is number 1 on your top 10? Abe Lincoln (his birthday is tomorrow, you know)


Friend you talked to? John
Last person you called? My accountant (I'm getting a refund)
Person you hugged? John


Number? 7
Color? blue
Season? fall


Missing someone? Yes
Mood? Content
Listening to? American Idol
Watching? American Idol
Worrying about? My best friend


First place you went this morning? The el station
What can you not wait to do? Get that tax refund!
What's the last movie you saw? Revolutionary Road
Do you smile often? Yes
Are you a friendly person? Yes
Now that the survey's done what are you going to do? Blog a bit more

If you play along, let me know, so I can check out your answers.

Dear John

I had dinner with my old friend, John, on Monday. I'm just now blogging about it because it's taken me this long to collect my thoughts.

John and I have known one another forever (28 years this June). We have gone through so much together: the death of my dad, the loss of both of his parents and his baby sister, medical problems, new jobs and career setbacks, love affairs that almost worked out, love affairs that never stood a chance.

Aside from "time served" and the accompanying memories, the glue that holds us together as that we accept each other. I'm animated and he's calm, he's black and I'm white, he's gay and I'm straight, he's tall and I'm short. Yet everything is always cool between us. In nearly 30 years, our friendship has never even hit a speed bump because we have the ability to just laugh and relax completely with one another.

Because he is so open and accepting, he often finds himself in complicated situations. Like the one he's in now. I want to just slap him, a la Cher in Moonstruck, and yell, "Snap out of it!" I hate the path he's on, and I told him so Monday night. But I have to remind myself that he's John. A 50+ year old man with gray in his hair and his beard. A friend who always accepts me no matter how ill-advised my actions have been over the years. He needs an understanding confidant, not a judgmental mommy.

About 6 years ago, he found himself assigned to mentor a new hire. A big kid from St. Louis that I'll call Robbie. Young Robbie acted as though he still had straw in his hair, all "aw shucks" about the big city. (Frankly, this annoyed me; yes, St. Louis is smaller than Chicago, but it's certainly not as rural as Dogpatch!) John found himself flattered by the way this much-younger man looked up to him -- professionally and personally. Eventually Robbie began getting flirtatious.

At this point, John was a middle-aged gay man who had endured quite a few broken hearts. He told Robbie straight up that he wasn't willing to be "an experiment." If Robbie wasn't committed to a gay lifestyle, he should do his erotic exploration elsewhere.

But John and Robbie still worked together, still had lunch together, went to movies together more than once, and the line started getting blurred again. The sexual tension between them intensified. John found himself daydreaming that this kid was finally The One.

Then Robbie dropped a bomb. He had met a girl at one of Chicago's outdoor summer festivals. They had only dated a few times, but now she was pregnant. Robbie barely knew the woman, but he wanted to "do right" by her. Soon a wedding was in the works. John was heartbroken.

Robbie insisted that he needed an older man's friendship now more than ever. Robbie was scared of marriage and fatherhood. He was confused about his sexual orientation. He didn't have many friends in Chicago, and his nearest family was a pair of grandparents in St. Louis. He pleaded with John not to abandon him.

One thing led to another and John and Robbie finally indulged in some sexual play. I don't know how far they went actually, but it doesn't matter. Robbie also persuaded John to lend him money and buy him some coke.

After he got the coke and the cash, this poor, confused country boy turned into a thug. (Like you didn't KNOW that was coming.) He said some very threatening, very ugly things to and about my friend. Now working together was unbearable. Happily Robbie left his position shortly after his baby was born. Whether or not he ever married the baby mama is up for debate -- I ran into Robbie months later and he talked about his wife; he told John they never made to the altar. Whatever.

For the last 4 years, John has heard NOTHING from Robbie. Until last week.

Robbie left John a message saying they had to speak. John asked me what he should do. I said erase it and move on.

John met him.

Robbie has no friends, not a one. He's also unemployed. He's living in a motel, but soon his money will run out. He can't leave Chicago, though, because he can't bear to be away from his son.

They are back to having dinner and going to the movies again. (Guess who pays.) Robbie has apologized for how he treated John and is back to implying that they can be more than friends. "You were the best friend I ever had … Why didn't I appreciate how wonderful you really are? … I wish I'd stayed with you … A day hasn't gone by that I haven't thought about you …" Barf.

I told John how incredibly awful idea this is. I said that the ice is thin and the sun is warm, and they're going to end up in bed together and then Robbie will suddenly remember he likes women, and John will find himself with less money but more heartache for having let Robbie back into his life.

"But, Gal! He's all alone! Completely alone! He's just a few steps away from sleeping on the streets."

Good, say I. Robbie just discovered where his seat is on the karma train. Besides, he can go back to his grandparents in St. Louis. I don't think people like Robbie ever actually hit rock bottom, anyway.

That was Monday. Yesterday and today our conversations have been limited to the play John is going to and the Caylee Anthony case. He hasn't brought up the subject of Robbie, and neither have I.

Which is not to say it's not KILLING me! You have no idea how much I hate this. But John and I are equals, two adults who respect one another … and one another's opinions. He knows how I feel because I was pretty blunt about it. He hasn't asked me again, which means he doesn't need a refresher course.

I'll just wait here. Waiting for the emotional explosion that's about to happen in his life again.

Poor, dear John.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

But I miss him!

My best friend is very busy at work this week and simply cannot play with me. He explained this, and I said I understood and that I was fine with it. But I was lying. I keep refreshing my mailbox and checking my phone log to see if he's tried to contact with -- which save for a single email this morning, he has not. I feel neglected, and then I get to add a lovely patina of self-loathing because I know I am being an unreasonable brat.


That's how big my unexpected refund was! It was credited to my Discover Card last month, after my trip to Key West -- a credit from my hotel.

So it was "found money," and even though it wasn't a gift, it felt like one.

I bought new jeans, a big breakfast, all my groceries for the week, a book for me and some gifts at Border's, and financed a very successful trip to The Body Shop.

I blew through it in four days. It's all gone. But it was fun while it lasted, and made it so much easier to stretch my 1/31 paycheck until 2/14.

Mimi's One-World Meme

My idol, The Queen of Bloggingham, very nearly completed the one-word meme challenge. Since I am naturally loquacious, it will be interesting to see if I'm up to it, as well.

1. Where is your mobile?

2. Your significant other? Fantasyland

3. Your hair? Frizzy

4. Your mother? Home

5. Your father? Disappointed

6. Your favorite? Paul

7. Your dream last night? Forgotten

8. Your favourite drink? Coke

9. Dream/goal? Organized

10. Virtue? Loyalty

11. Hobby? Books

12. Fear? Crash

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Margaritaville (Funkytown?)

14. Where were you last night? Beagle

15. Something that you aren't? Tall

16. Muffins? Waistline

17. Wish list item? More

18. Where you grew up? Chicagoland

19. Last thing you did? Emailed

20. What are you wearing? Jeans

21. TV? New

22. Pets? Three

23. Friends? Many

24. Your life? Mine

25. Your mood? Relaxed

26. Missing someone? Yes

27. Car? None

28. Something you're not wearing? Pantyhose

29. Your favorite shop? Border's

30. Your favorite color? Sage

31. Glass half empty, or half full? Full

32. Shiver, quiver or slither? Shiver

33. When is the last time you laughed? Today

34. Last time you cried? Dunno.

35. Who will resend this? Huh?

36. One place that you go over and over? Bathroom

37. One person who emails regularly? Karen

38. Your favourite place to eat? Restaurant

If you play along, let me know so I can check out your answers.