Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #106 -- By the Numbers


In May 2009, this humble blog will celebrate its third birthday. In honor of that auspicious event -- and because after more than 100 TT's, it's hard to come up with new ideas -- I am devoting this week's Thursday Thirteen to my online journal and clandestine window to the world.

1) My profile has been viewed 2,700 times.

2) This is my 1,968th post.

3) According to my own labels, the most oft-discussed topic here is baseball (205 posts).

4) The post that received the most comments (44) is Thursday Thirteen #56 -- 13 of my favorite products.

5) The Thursday Thirteen that got the fewest comments (1 is the loneliest number) is the Thirteen Best Supremes Songs.

6) In the last 20 days, the post that has received the most hits is "It was on again this morning," my tirade against killer/narcissist/faux-feminist Bette Broderick way back in 2006. Someone visited this page again on Wednesday, 4/29/09.

7) Likewise, the most popular keyword search that brings people to this blog is tied to "It was on again this morning." The keyword is "Linda Kolkena," one of Bette's victims. 85.3% of new visitors to my blog this past month have found it through Linda.

8) Some of the weirder keywords include: "shirtless photos of the Osmond Brothers" and "gal fucking dressed up." That last person must have been very disappointed when he arrived at my blog.

9) Of those who used search engines to find me, 86% used Google.

10) In an average day this blog receives 44 visitors.

11) 73% leave as soon as they arrived (5 seconds).

12) 78% of my readers are from the good old US of A.

13) But in I had one hit each from Finland, Taiwan, Italy, Brazil, Denmark, Peru, New Zealand, Belgium, Turkey, Croatia and Argentina. This makes me feel truly international.

To participate yourself, or to look up more TT participants, visit the new hub (

My latest obsession

Everyone in the world should go to LIVESTRONG.COM and sign up for The Daily Plate!

This terrific site helps you set your own calorie and fitness goals, based on your age/gender/weight. Then it gives you the tools you need to track your own diet. You enter not only what you eat each day, but also everything you do. It analyzes how many calories you take in vs. how many you burn, and gives you a breakdown on what you eat.

For example, Quaker was outside of the building this morning, distributing free samples of their Chocolately Drizzle Mini Delight rice cakes. I entered that yummy little bag onto my "plate" and found that the 90 calories, 4 grams of fat, 30 mg. of sodium, 14 grams of carbs, etc., were automatically credited to the day's plate.

It's easy, it's interesting (you burn on average 120 calories/30 minutes by changing your sheets), and really very helpful.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Idol Observation

I always agreed with Simon, until tonight. I heard Matt indulge his way through a mannered, synthetic rendition of "My Funny Valentine." Amazingly, Simon thought it was authentic, with hints of Nat King Cole. Really? Oh-kaaaaay ...

I enjoyed everyone else. Kris was an adorable, fresh-faced sincere puppy on "Just the Way You Look Tonight." Alison surprised me with a straight up "Someone to Watch Over Me," which used her youth to a touching advantage.

This week, as last week, belonged to Danny and Adam. Danny was attractively alpha on "Come Rain or Shine," kicking it straight through the goal posts. Adam reminded me of Freddie Mercury as he sauntered down the steps singing "Feeling Good." He succeeded at every ambitious twist and turn Matt tried.

Buh-bye, Matt.

Just not destined to work out

My solid blue flats are a mess, with irreparably scuffed toes. I have two pair of cute Roxys (which remind me of my Vans from back in the olden days), but they are multicolored and sometimes I must dress like a sedate, responsible businesswoman and that calls for navy pumps.

So I found these on Zappos. And promptly ordered them. They were more than I could afford at the moment, but navy flats are hardly a frivolous expense, especially because I believe I'm meeting with the client next week.

However, I ordered them way too promptly because no sooner had I hit "send" than I discovered I already had a pair of almost-new navy flats (each with a tassel!). So I didn't need these new beauties.

But Zappos is so damn nice! I got an email saying they had upgraded and expedited the shipping on my new purchase. Then, for my convenience, I got a tracking number. Zappos is more than holding up their end of the deal, so how could I not keep the shoes?

They arrived today, and they pinch. Yes, I'm wearing heavier socks than I normally would, but still, if they hurt I won't wear them. So back they must go.

Me and the navy Trotters -- an infatuation that will never go any further. Sigh.

A Command Performance

Mimi has bestowed this lovely award on me. Naturally, I am honored, and honor-bound to follow the directions: "The Honest Scrap award comes with a caveat or 2. Firstly you have to tell your readers 10 things about you they may not know, but that are true. Secondly you have to tag 10 people with the award."

1) When I was 15, I loved Cubs first baseman Joe Pepitone so much that I cried when he was traded. And I'm not a crier. It was devastating. (I had this baseball card.)

2) I wear black only when I'm feeling especially lazy. It's really not a good color on me, leaves me looking washed out, but it goes with everything.

3) "Just the Way You Are" is one of those dumb songs that gets me every time. I know that Billy Joel left that particular muse two wives ago. I know it's a favorite of every wedding singer and karaoke crooner. But someone gave it to me once because it reminded him of me -- "I just want someone that I can talk to. I want you just the way you are." Verklempt!

4) I enjoy the show Morning Joe on MSNBC so much that I nearly ordered Joe Scarborough's book. Then I saw the title:
The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise. Oh well, never mind. Still, it's a refreshing show if you enjoy lively political discourse with humor but without incivility.

5) I ordered a pair of navy pumps from Zappos because I thought I had scuffed my only pair beyond the point of repair. Then I discovered I already had another, almost new pair. I really must clean out that closet! (I'm keeping the new ones.)

6) Up until today, when I looked it up, I had no idea where Aruba is.

7) I miss the show Kate and Allie.

8) Bob Hope never made me laugh. Not once. And he lived to be 100! A full century of not making me laugh.

9) If someone wrote my biography, I wonder what the turning points of my life have been. I believe I lack the perspective to recognize these things when they're happening.

10) I still haven't figured out how to hook up my DVD player.

Thanks to Mimi for tagging me. I must get back to work now, but will return later to tag.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mom Update

She's SCRUBBING in the kitchen! It began with her discovering that her kitchen sink was stopped up. Once she fixed that, she noticed that the sink really needed a good cleaning and from there it hit her that the kitchen just looked neglected and she was inspired to get on it.

Saturday night she went to my sister's house to watch my niece and nephew play with their new WII.

She's come a long way in a little more than a week. Being more active makes her happy and I'm proud of her.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hey, Chicago, what do you say? Cubs are gonna win today!

Put those brooms away! The Cubs spanked the Cardinals 10-3, and the four-game skid is finally over. Congratulations to Kosuke Fukodome, who had a terrific day at the plate today, his birthday. I imagine it will be a happy team that flies out to Arizona tonight.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Mud Meme

1. What are your current obsessions? My diet and exercise. I don't know how long this enthusiasm will last, but it's certainly better for me than some of my obsessions in days gone by.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? Jeans

3. What's for dinner? For Sunday dinner I plan on having meat of some sort. Sausage on my pizza, perhaps a juicy burger ...

4. Last thing you bought? Movie ticket for State of Play.

5. What are you listening to? Law & Order: SVU.

6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be? You mean I'm not a goddess?

7. Favorite holiday spots? Key West for New Year's Eve.

8. Reading right now? Go Down Together, the real story of Bonnie and Clyde.

9. 4 words to describe yourself. Strong, sentimental, optimistic, and short.

10. Guilty pleasure? Celebrity gossip. US, People, Showbiz Tonight, etc.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak? My oldest friend. She just has a way of cracking me up.

12. Planning to travel to next? Key West for New Year's Eve.

13. Best thing you ate or drank lately? Steak sandwich at lunch Thursday. Yummy!

14. When did you last get tipsy? I mixed myself a pair of too-strong cran and vodkas one day after work nto that long ago.

15. Care to share some wisdom? If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.

16. Nicest thing anyone’s ever said to you? My best friend told me how easy I am to talk to.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

See this movie

It's exciting and relevant and very well-written (the last plot twist took me completely by surprise, yet in retrospect it makes sense). I forget what a good actor Rusell Crowe is. His celebrity persona annoys me, but it shouldn't get in the way of performances like this one. Rachel McAdams is very good, too. Some of the best lines are Helen Mirren's and Jason Bateman's. Ben Affleck is the weak link, though. He's not bad, he just seems over his head.

If you happen to see Mark Harmon ...

Please tell him that I'm a little in love with him.

Thank you.

Cause for celebration

I completed my goal of 13 workouts this month ... with five days left to go! Today was an especially brutal exercise. My personal trainer, Monette, spent the first of four one-on-one hours with me. Ow! Ow! OW!

I learned how to do the exercises and use the equipment correctly, and how to make my work outs more productive. Also, when we were done, Monette and I had a nice little talk about what my goals are and how I felt about the routine we did today. I told her we are never doing that run up and down the stairs thing because I didn't feel safe, and she promised we'd come up with options I was more comfortable with.

Between this and my obsessive devotion to maintaining my food diary/Daily Plate at, this should be the first of many small victories to come. I must keep reminding myself that many small victories combine to result in major success in terms of my health and fitness.

Saturday 9 -- A Little Less Conversation

1. If you could have just one more conversation with a person from your past, who would it be? I said something unnecessarily cruel to a former lover while we were breaking up. I was weary in mind and spirit and just wanted the drama of that night to end, so I said something that left scorched earth. I am sooooooo sorry. I wish I could tell him that I really did love him, that I believe he's a good man, that I hope he's happy ... and I am sorry.

2. Do your friends tend to be male or female? Both. No, they're not hermaphrodites. I mean my circle of friends includes a pretty even mix of men and women.

3. What is in your car’s trunk? I don't have car.

4. What was the last CD that you purchased? Live Down the Road by Marcia Ball.

5. What is your favorite movie and why? The Way We Were. Because Streisand is so ferociously her own girl. The movie shows the price she pays for her individualism, and the rewards for maintaining her integrity. Oh yeah, and Redford in Navy whites.

6. If you could wake up with a new talent tomorrow, what would it be? I'd sing like Streisand.

7. What is your favorite day of the week and why? Tuesday. I'm pretty productive at work because I've shaken off the weekend, and then I get home and watch Idol.

8. What are you wearing when you feel you’re at your best? Jeans and a t-shirt. Because that's what I'm almost always wearing.

9. When was the last time cried? I don't remember.

Saturday 9: A Little Less Conversation

Friday, April 24, 2009

Alone vs. Lonely

My art director/partner recently broke up with her fella. This has left her bereft. Trust me, she's not much fun when she has the blues.

Yesterday we attended a scintillating forum devoted to the ins and outs of reverse (yawn) mortgages. On the way there, she asked me if I liked living alone. Without hesitation, I said yes. She hates it.

It became obvious that she feels that since we are both alone, we should do more things together. Like dinner, movies, theater, and picking up men. This is the woman who feels that, with the right clothes and makeup and hair, I may actually get laid again some day. I didn't like where this conversation was going.

She seems to want us to enroll in eHarmony together.

I have no issue with eHarmony. I believe it works for many people. I just don't feel like it. And if I did, I'd do it alone. I know it's old-fashioned, but this gal still believes dating should be a one-on-one activity.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #105 -- The Common Cold



Because I'm obsessing about the sniffles, coughs and drips that plagued me for a week and are just now drifting away ...

1) Colds usually begin with a low-grade fever and a sore throat, frequently accompanied by fatigue.

2) It's during the first three days of a cold that you're most contagious.

3) Post-nasal drip causes the sore throat and, eventually, the cough.

4) At the beginning of your cold, your nose will drip with watery secretions.

5) As the runny nose develops into a cough, the secretions will become thicker and darker. Mine were a yellowy-green. Let me assure you, it was as attractive as it sounds.

6) The common cold lasts from 7 to 14 days.

7) Children tend to come down with colds the most often, as many as 10/year, and it's estimated that 22 million school days are lost annually because of colds.

8) It's normal for an adult to have between 2 and four colds a year.

9) Statistically speaking, women have more colds than men. It's often assumed this is because women have closer contact with children.

10) While colds are not caused by cold weather, they do occur most often in the six coldest months of the year (October through March).

11) Some researchers believe this is because cold weather makes the inside lining of your nose drier and more vulnerable to viral infection.

12) Smokers get more colds than non-smokers, because smoke dries out your nasal passages.

13) It's been suggested that exercise can help prevent colds because it makes you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood. If this is true, why did I get sick almost immediately after joining a new fitness club? HUH?

Thanks to WebMD for all this information.

To participate yourself, or to look up more TT participants, visit the new hub (

I'm with you, Professor Jennings

As Faber College's renowned English instructor, Professor Dave Jennings, famously said to his class at the bell, "Now I'm waiting for reports from some of you. Listen, I'm not joking. This is my job!"

That's how I feel today. One of my coworkers and I didn't agree on a headline for a postcard. She wants me to replace it with a headline we have used elsewhere. I have no issue with changing my headline, I just don't want to do the same thing we've done before. It's an infinite universe -- I'm sure I can come up with something new and different. I'm not being a diva, I just believe that recycling that old headline is sloppy and lazy. And she wants what she wants.

When I left my office for less than 20 minutes to pick up a ham and Swiss sandwich, she took the postcard to my boss. Then, while I was on the phone checking on my sick mother, she left me her revision on my desk with the notation, "As I discussed with Mike ..."

My boss is a go-along-to-get-along kinda guy, way more concerned with the Big Picture than I am and a big fan of workplace harmony. So when I confronted him about this, he was very conciliatory -- telling me he didn't think her suggestion compromised the project in the consumers' mind. After all, they won't remember a simple postcard headline once they have read it. True, but while consumers won't remember the majority of what I write after they read it, clients do, and that's no excuse for sloppy, lazy creative. I'm also less than thrilled that a coworker did an end run around me.

He was sorry I was upset and then I began to feel I was over-reacting, and … OH, HELL! Yes, I take it seriously. Because listen, I'm not joking. This is my job!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Idol Observation

Let me preface my comments by stating plainly:

Hated it back then, hate it now.

So I expected to hate "Disco Night" on American Idol. WRONG!

Four of this year's contestants took disco songs and made them palatable, even ENJOYABLE!

Kris was a true original and a pleasant surprise. Allison was a tough cookie with an edge. Danny and Adam were, again, the best. Nothing new there. But this is the first time I'd give the night to Danny. Strictly personal preference, because I like "September" and thought he did it justice, while Adam's slow and passionate "If I Can't Have You" just seemed to emphasize how redundant the lyrics are.

Lil's going home. Who will leave with her? I guess Matt or maybe Anoop. If it's Kris or Allison, I predict the judges will be sorry they used their one "save" last week.

Two personal calls from work

A fairly steady of stream of work has made its way into my office today. And that's a good thing, since I'm interested in keeping this job. But the best things that happened today at work have nothing to do with work.

My best friend is in town! We won't get to see each other because after spending the day in the Chicago office, he is being driven out to the far western burbs, near where his boss lives, and then tomorrow at dawn they are driving together out to Cincinnati. (Welcome to business travel in the Recession: hotels are cheaper in the way western burbs, and driving to Cincy in one car is cheaper than airfare for two.) Still, we enjoyed a lively conversation as he took a cab from the airport to the Chicago office. I didn't expect to be able to connect with him at all and it was a lovely surprise. Everything makes more sense after I talk to him. Hopefully his boss won't insist they have dinner together tonight so my friend will have time to chat with me tonight, too.

My mother did her own laundry! Now this is big news because her laundry room is downstairs in the basement. That's 11 stairs. She made the trip up and down those stairs 5 times in the course of washing and drying. Just a few days ago, that would have been impossible.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Thank you, Kwizgiver ...

7 Things That Scare Me
1. squirrels
2. clowns
3. flying
4. being alone in an elevator (from the movie Dressed to Kill)
5. sudden noises late at night
6. waiting for test results
7. bees (I'm allergic to bee stings)

7 Things I Like
1. cats
2. Cubs baseball
3. cheeseburgers
4. potato chips
5. the morning paper
6. hot stone massages
7. shades of blue

7 Things I hate
1. THIS COLD!!!!
2. laundry
3. hot weather
4. having my picture taken
5. the sound of cardboard scraping against itself (think of folding a new moving box)
6. waiting in line at the post office
7. any itch I can't scratch (literal and metaphorical)

7 Things In My Room
1. bed
2. clothes hamper
3. TV
4. armoire
5. my very own Robert the Doll
6. makeup
7. lotsa magazines

7 Things About Me
1. I have a cold
2. I find humor in most things
3. I like my nose (when it's not stuffed up)
4. I love going to the movies
5. I love old black and white movies
6. I can be very sentimental
7. I am fascinated by our First Ladies

7 Things To Do Before I Die
1. see more of the US
2. redecorate this condo
3. pay off this condo
4. lose weight
5. get those varicose veins treated
6. find my perfect handbag
7. see the Cubs in the World Series

7 Things I Can Do
1. wiggle my ear
2. listen
3. think fast on my feet
4. recite all the lyrics to "American Pie" (all 20 verses)
5. remove stains
6. hem slacks/sleeves (important when you're 5'2)
7. easily get along with kids and critters

7 Things I Can't Do
1. paint
2. stay organized
3. sing
4. blow dry the back of my hair like Tony does
5. drive
6. grow my fingernails long
7. math

7 Favorite Movies
1. The Way We Were
2. The Godfather
3. My Man Godfrey
4. A Hard Day's Night
5. Gone with the Wind
6. Holiday
7. Die Hard

7 Things You Say The Most
1. The thing of it is
2. What the fuck?
3. Rey! (My cat, Reynaldo, is the feline version of Marley)
4. I'm sorry, but ...
5. It's an infinite universe
6. I could -- if I were someone else entirely
7. Cool

7 Favorite Songs
1. I Will by the Beatles
2. Why Haven't I Heard from You? by Reba McIntyre
3. River by James Taylor
4. My Brave Face by Paul McCartney
5. September by Earth, Wind & Fire
6. More than You Know by Barbra Streisand
7. What a Fool Believes by the Doobie Bros.

If you play, too, let me know so I can compare answers.

President as hero

I just saw a kid outside my building, skateboarding. He was about 12 and seemed to have a ton of pent-up, stuck-in-class-all-day energy to burn off. He was wearing a t-shirt similar to this one.

That's one of the reasons why I want Barack Obama to succeed.

Yes, because if he does well, we all do well. Of course, because I love my country and always hope my President will exercise good judgment, whether I voted for him or not. And because I find it very moving that a kid would feel good enough about the President that he'd proudly wear his face when he went out to play.

I Like to Share

Here's something I learned while looking up something else: The average cell phone plan is $60/month.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The 40 Meme

1. My uncle once : drove a really terrific, light blue Mustang convertible

2. Never in my life : have I smoked anything.

3. When I was seventeen : I graduated from high school.

4. High School was : shitty.

5. I will never forget : how shitty high school was.

6. I once met : Caroline Kennedy. She seemed a little sad and painfully shy, so I wasn't surprised at all that she dropped out of the running for Hillary Clinton's NY Senate seat.

7. There’s this girl I know who : won first place in her category at the statewide culinary competiton!

8. Once, at a bar : I wore a Shriner's fez. I don't recall why I did this, but it did earn me quite a few free drinks.

9. By noon, I’m usually : either working out or eating lunch.

10. Last night : I slept fitfully because of my damn cold.

11. If only I had : the ability to breathe through my nose!

12. Next time I go to gym/church : I'm confused as to why gym and church are interchangeable here ...

13. Susan Boyle : is suddenly a mainstay on CNN.

14. What worries me most : is being poor and dependent.

15. When I turn my head left, I see : a Thomas McKnight print of New Year's Eve on Michigan Ave.

16. When I turn my head right, I see : my TV

17. You know I’m lying when : I pretend to care about the White Sox

18. What I miss most about the eighties : my waist

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be : Kate the cursed

20. By this time next year : I'll be a size smaller

21. A better name for me would be : Sneezy

22. I have a hard time understanding : Rush Limbaugh's popularity. I mean, he's so putrid.

23. If I ever go back to school, I’ll : take it more seriously

24. You know I like you if : I give you advice preceded by, "Promise you won't be mad at me?"

25. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be : my director, or maybe my agent, who has been with me from the beginning

26. When I compare 80’s rock to 90’s rock : I prefer the 80s

27. Take my advice, never : date a man who is over 3o and still prefers to be called, "Stevie." (RED FLAG!)

28. My ideal breakfast is : Eggs, bacon and a muffin with strawberry jam

29. A song I love, but do not own is : "Katmandu" by Bob Seger

30. If you visit my hometown, I suggest : visit my church, Unity Temple. It's a wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright building.

31. My favorite Beatle is : Paul, of course. (If you didn't know that already, you must be new here.)

32. Why won’t people : be quiet during movies?

33. If you spend the night at my house : you'd better like cats.

34. I’d stop my wedding for : a Cubs play off game

35. The world could do without : so many cars! Let's take buses and trains whenever possible.

36. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than : lick the butt of a cockroach. (They have butts, right?)

37. My favorite blonde is : Nice 'n Easy #9A Light Ash Blonde

38: Paper clips are more useful than : White Out

39. If I do anything well, it’s : write

40. And by the way : I'm really worn out today. I HATE this cold!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"I got first"

That was the three-word text I received this morning from my niece. She's been away since Thursday, participating in a statewide culinary competition. It was exciting enough that my niece, a sophomore, was one of the few lower classmen invited to participate. But to get first place! I don't know all the details yet, but I'm as proud of her as she is excited.

"This means I'm old"

So said my mother. She's home. Not an assisted living facility, but her own home. Her bedroom is filled with oxygen tanks and there's a sign on her front door that forbids smoking. In the living room is a walker that she needs to go from room to room. Using the walker and having the oxygen nearby depresses her because, "This means I'm old."

I reassured her that if she takes care of herself, in a few weeks the oxygen and the walker will be gone. Her pneumonia isn't necessarily that serious, but it is tenacious, and will insidiously sap her strength if she's not careful. I hope she gets it.

She refused to go to the assisted living facility, but a nurse will visit her 2 or 3 times a week. I'm hopeful that the presence of the walker and the oxygen will rattle her and make her take all this more seriously. I'm encouraged by her new fiesty attitude. She's my mother and I love her and I want her to fight for herself and her independence and health.

I would have liked to have visited with her longer, but I hated sneezing and coughing around my mother when her resistance is low.

A Revelation

I'm watching HBO's Grey Gardens and am amazed by Drew Barrymore's performance as Little Edie. She's disappeared into this part.

Jessica Lange plays Big Edie. She's an actress I appreciate but don't like. (There's something too technical/theatrical about her.) Drew Barrymore is a star I've never even thought of as an actress. More the fluffy, goofy red carpet clothes horse. But here in Grey Gardens, she's eccentric and touching.

As a Kennedyphile, I've always been aware the Beales' story (they're Jackie's crazy, impoverished cousins). I wonder how explanatory this screenplay is to the uninitiated. But that aside, I'm really enjoying this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back in the hospital

My mom can be a very bad patient. The fluid has returned to one of her lungs and she's back in the hospital to have it drained. Normally this could be done as an outpatient procedure, but her doctor doesn't trust her to take care of herself -- eat regularly, move regularly, take her meds as prescribed (not when she feels like it or remembers to) -- so he has admitted her.

An assisted living facility has been recommended for a week or two, so that she can recover fully under the watchful eyes of nurses. My kid sister and I are trying to convince her that this makes the most sense. We have to face facts -- my mother doesn't listen to her kids. Passive yet very stubborn by nature, she fibs or omits or out-and-out lies, tells us what we want to hear, and then follows a path that causes her harm over the long term. Perhaps she would do better with trained professionals who have seen all the tricks patients typically have up their sleeves.

I had to come back some time

I'm back at work. My cold is in the juicy, tiring, runny nose/phlegmy cough/endless wet tissue stage. So it's progressed from sore throat and fever to weak and headachey to this in just three days. I like to think I'm racing through the damn thing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comfort in sameness

Last night I saw A Chorus Line. It's my favorite show, and I think that's because it's the show I know the best. I saw it during it's original 1970s run in Chicago (back then I was still living at home and going downtown to see a lavish production was quite a big deal) and it was the first play I saw on Broadway on my first trip to New York (followed by dinner with Sardi's; oh, the glamor!). I had the soundtrack on vinyl and listened to it neverendingly on the portable stereo in my little yellow bedroom in my parents' home.

For the first time in years I heard "Dance 10, Looks 3," "At the Ballet," "Nothing," and my favorites, "What I Did for Love" and "One." (That's the finale of "One" shown above.) The magic is still there. Maybe it's because I'm still sick. Maybe it's because I'm worn out by work and worried about Mom. Perhaps watching this production was like revisiting an old friend. Maybe it's because the play really is exceptional. I'm willing to entertain any of these options.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #104 -- The Shelfari Edition



Complete reviews and purchase information for each of these books are available at Shelfari --, just click on the book on my little bookshelf at right.

1. Oxygen by Carol Cassella. The best new novel I've read in quite some time. With the compassion of Jodi Picoult and the medical realism of Atul Gawande, Oxygen is a riveting new novel by a real-life anesthesiologist, an intimate story of relationships and family that collides with a high-stakes medical drama.

2. The Kennedy Legacy by Vincent Bzdek. John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy's individual stories can be seen as essentially one, each successive brother striving to fulfill the interrupted promise of the brother before. The closing of Ted Kennedy's chapter in America’s political and cultural life means that, for the first time perhaps, the real measure of the Kennedy legacy can finally be taken.

3. Crimson Joy by Robert B. Parker. An older Spencer I somehow missed, and really enjoyed. They call him the "Red Rose Killer" because he leaves one on the body of each woman he kills. But then the madman's eyes turn to Susan Silverman, and Spenser is on the case. For when Susan's life is in danger, Spenser becomes a hard-fisted, unstoppable locomotive--determined to bring the criminal to justice no matter what the odds!

4. Die, My Love by Kathryn Casey. True crime. The day before Halloween 2004 was the last day on Earth for respected, well-liked college professor Fred Jablin. That morning, a neighbor discovered his body lying in a pool of blood in the driveway of Jablin's Virginia home. Police immediately turned their attentions to the victim's ex-wife, Piper, a petite, pretty Texas lawyer who had lost a bitter custody battle and would do anything to get her kids back. But Piper was in Houston, one thousand miles away, at the time of the slaying and couldn't possibly have been the killer . . . could she?

5. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot. Interesting approach -- a story told entirely through emails and voicemails. Meet Kate Mackenzie. She works for the T.O.D. (short for Tyrannical Office Despot, also known as Amy Jenkins,Director of the Human Resources Divisionat the New York Journal), is sleeping on the couch because herboyfriend of ten years refuses to commit, can't find an affordable studio apartment, anywhere in New York City and thinks things can't get any worse. They can.

6. Stranger in Paradise by Robert B. Parker. As bad as Crimson Joy is good, and a good example of why Parker has to be the most frustating author EVER! An Apache hit man arrives in Paradise to find a missing girl and snuff out her mother. But his conscience is getting the best of him. If he doesn’t make the hit, he’ll pay for it. So might Jesse Stone, who’s been enlisted to protect them all.

7. Dewey by Vicky Myron.
Recommended for all cat lovers. How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

8. Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker. A Spencer mystery that I enjoyed. (Maybe I should just stick with Spenser and forget Stone.) A hurricane hinders a kidnapping and Spenser goes on a search for the man responsible— the infamous Gray Man, who has both helped and hunted Spenser in the past.

9. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. Much better than I expected. On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.” A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I got more out of this as adult than I did as an adolescent. A classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.

11. Jemimia J: A Novel about Ugly Ducklings & Swans by Jane Green. The best Jane Green book I've read. Jemima Jones is overweight. About one hundred pounds overweight. Treated like a maid by her thin and social-climbing roommates, and lorded over by the beautiful Geraldine (less talented but better paid) at the Kilburn Herald, Jemima finds that her only consolation is food. Add to this her passion for her charming, sexy, and unobtainable colleague Ben, and Jemima knows her life is in need of a serious change. When she meets Brad, an eligible California hunk, over the Internet, she has the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself–as JJ, the slim, beautiful, gym-obsessed glamour girl. But when her long-distance Romeo demands that they meet, she must conquer her food addiction to become the bone-thin model of her e-mails–no small feat.

12. Up for Renewal by Cathy Alter. Very cool premise. By age thirty-seven, Cathy Alter had made a mess of her life. With a failed marriage already under her belt, she was continuing down the path of poor decisions, one paved with a steady stream of junk food, unpaid bills, questionable friends, and highly inappropriate men. So she sat down and asked herself what she truly wanted. A decent guy. A nicer home. More protein. When she took a closer look at her wants, she noticed something that seemed very familiar -- with the addition of exclamation points, her list could easily be transformed into the cover lines on every women's magazine: Find the love you deserve! Paint to the rescue! Eggs-actly perfect meals! So Cathy gave over her life to the glossies for the next twelve months, resolving to follow their advice without question. By the end of her subscriptions, she would get rid of upper-arm jiggle, crawl out of debt, host the perfect dinner party, run a mile without puking, engage in better bathtub booty, ask for a raise, and rehaul her apartment.

13, The Cat Who Moved a Mountain by Lillian Jackson Braun. I enjoy this series, and this is one of the better installments. On vacation in the Big Potato Mountains, Qwilleran stumbles into a mystery involving the murder of J. J. Hawkinfield, the developer who was pushed off a mountain years before after announcing his plans to develop the region.

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How can this be?

I've been eating healthier. (A serious reduction in sweets and increase in fruits.) I've been working out more. (Refer to the ticker on the right.) So how can I have a fever this morning? IT'S NOT FAIR!

I have theater tickets for tonight. A Chorus Line. I'm going anyway. Comfort food at South Water Kitchen and one of my favorite musicals can only be good for what ails me. (At least that's the plan now ...)

I did stay home from work today, though. I'm missing the How to Rectify the Gal's Fuck Up meeting. It's been scheduled and rescheduled so that we can have a full house and my humiliation is complete. I've had this damn meeting hanging over my head since last week. Scheduled for Friday but the office closed early. Then for Monday, but one of the art directors took a long weekend. Then yesterday, but one of the account execs was out. Now today. and I have a fever. If it was a migraine instead of a fever, I'd accuse myself of falling victim to a psychosomatic malady.

Atta Girl!

My mother went to see her doctor on Tuesday! I'm so happy. Since leaving the hospital, she has not been bouncing back as well as anyone had hoped. She's weak, she's breathless, she has trouble walking ...

Up until Easter. she was refusing to call the doctor and update him. It didn't matter what I said, or my sisters said. Every day she said she wanted to give it "one more day" before she spoke to her physician.

On Easter Sunday I had a private conversation with her. I told her that if I sounded as though I was angry with her, it's because I was. I felt as though she was choosing to leave me. Choosing to die rather than get well. I told her that she's still my mommy and I still need her. She promised me that day that she would phone her doctor on Monday.

I didn't expect she'd really do it, but she did!

She called on Monday, went in for tests and a consultation today, and should return later in the week after the results are in. The doctor is unhappy with her recovery, but doesn't feel she needs to go back into the hospital. We're all grateful for that!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Big Day in the Land of Blago

I have to admit it: I'm amused by his chutzpah, despite myself.

First, Rod Blagojevich pleaded "not guilty" to 19 counts of of corruption. He's facing substantial jail time if found guilty.

Then his lawyer requested "loosened travel restrictions" on the former gov. so that he can star in I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here beginning on June 1 on NBC. According to the Chicago Tribune, NBC "describes the show as Swiss Family Robinson-type competition in which 10 celebrities are dropped in the heart of the jungle 'to face fun and comedic challenges designed to test their survival skills.' American viewers decide which celebrities stay or go, in addition to selecting the challenges used to earn food, supplies and luxury items."

For anyone who has been curious ...

This is a self portrait of The Gal Herself. Really.

If you can't be with the one you love

I want to be true to Mr. Rowing Machine. I've been told he's the best for me at this time of my life. But what's a gal to do when her Mr. Right isn't available? She has to settle for Mr. Right Now ...

You see, there's the downtown health club I try to go to (with only limited success) at lunchtime and there's my neighborhood health club I go to on weekends and evenings if I've missed by lunchtime workout. The personal trainer I met with on Saturday gave me sound reasons* why Mr. Rowing Machine should be my workout partner of choice. But the downtown health club doesn't have a rowing machine! So I had to make do with the elliptical.

I am enormously proud of myself. As of today, I've already completed 10 of my target 13 monthly workouts ... and it's only the 14th! I hope I start seeing results so I will be compelled to keep moving, even after this initial burst of enthusiasm wears off.

* Low impact and easy on my feet and knees, good for my shoulders and back -- which spend hours jus as they are now, hunched over a keyboard

Monday, April 13, 2009


Hey, hey! Holy mackerel! No doubt about it!

This was an exceptional game for Ted Lilly. The weather really sucked -- about 40º and drizzling throughout the game. Yet he had a no-hitter going for (I think) 6 innings and ended up with a shutout.

Easter reflections

My mom was happy to have us at her house, but too weak to participate much. My uncle, her baby brother, suffers from Parkinson's and he was having a bad day, punctuated by uncontrollable twitching in his eyelids and his left hand. It was sobering and sad to see the siblings interact, though it seemed to mean a lot to them to be together on the holiday.

Still, it wasn't all sobering and sad. My niece handled her first family dinner with aplomb. Her menu: Glazed ham, mashed potatoes with herb butter, crescent roles, broccoli with cheese sauce. It took her hours, but she seemed to enjoy her labors and did a wonderful job.

Her kid brother behaved very well. Age 9, he still believes in the Bunny and was up at dawn. Because my mom and uncle were moving so slowly, the festivities were over until almost 8:00 -- his bedtime. He made it through this long and exhausting day with no whining, no crying, no pouting. He was helpful as can be, pleased with his baskets, and an all-around champion.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Green Meme

1. What is your current obsession? Getting back into shape. I didn't expect to be thinking of it as much as I am.

2. What’s a good coffee place? I don't drink coffee. Sorry.

3. Who was the last person that you hugged? Dave, one of the art directors at work.

4. Do you nap a lot? I only nap on weekends.

5. Tonight, what’s for dinner? It's Easter, the first holiday that has my niece (a high school sophomore) taking over the cooking chores. I know we're having quiche, a broccoli dish and ham. The rest will be a surprise. She's very excited and serious about this.

6. What was the last thing that you bought? Chocolate covered strawberries. (I'm in charge of dessert for Easter dinner.)

7. What is your favorite weather? I love those perfect transitional days in spring and fall -- 65º or so and sunny and dry and filled with promise of the days to come.

8. Tell us something about one blogger who you think will play this week? Kwizgiver has a new puppy in her life.

9. If you were given a free house that was full furnished, where in the world would you like it to be? Right here. I love my neighborhood.

10. Name three things that you could not live without. iPod, cable TV, moisturizer

11. What would you like in your hands right now? (Diverting eyes demurely as I blush) It's inappropriate to answer that truthfully on Easter Sunday.

12. What’s one of your guilty pleasures? I looooove bad TV. Like Nancy Grace.

13. What would you change or eliminate about yourself? I want to feel sexy and feminine again.
14. As a child, what type of career did you want? First a grade school teacher, then a journalist.

15. What are you missing right now? My former, thin self.

16. What are you currently reading? At this moment, nothing. I finished the wonder Oxygen yesterday, and haven't chosen a new one from the TBR pile yet.

17. What do you fear the most? Plane crash.

18. What’s the best movie that you’ve seen recently? Duplicity. It didn't get great reviews, but I enjoyed it.

19. What’s your favorite book from the past year? Oxygen, a fascinating, highly relatable novel.

20. Is there a comfort food from your childhood that you still enjoy? Hot chocolate with little marshmallows.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cubs come from behind in the 9th

What a great game!

I am celebrating with this picture of Ryan Theriot. He didn't have an outstanding game the way Fukodome or Soriano did. But he gave in a solid performance and besides, he's so much better looking.

A brighter new day

Spring is the time for rebirth, right? So today I am trying to start anew and concentrate on what I do have, instead of what I want desperately.

Spent an hour with Monette, my new personal trainer. We discussed my general health and specific issues and then she introduced me to my new best friend -- Mr. Rowing Machine! Devoted 15 minutes to him and then 20 minutes on the exercise bike. My shoulders are a little sore but it's not a bad kind of sore. Next Sunday she and I are meeting again to go over the personal fitness program she's developing for me. All I need is perseverance.

The sun is out. I feel stronger. I'm going to spend this Easter with my mom, which is a good thing and I must concentrate on that. It's not forever, but it's for now. My moments are good. I must remember to just appreciate them.

Thanks to everyone who weighed in about my bluesy moment yesterday. I appreciate your kindness and support.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Maybe it's because my first week back from vacation was pretty rough. Maybe it's because holidays tend to make me a little more introspective than usual. Maybe it's because the Cubs lost to the Brewers. But tonight, I'm filled with longing, an ache for things I can't have.

I want …

• My mom to be young again.

• To have someone who loves me, romantically loves me, that I can have good, clean, dirty fun in bed with.

• My former size 6 body.

• A pretty face.

• To know when the Recession will be over.

• To convince everyone to adopt shelter pets.

• Just a half-hour more with my grandpa. Just 30 more minutes.

• To have more and need less (of everything).

I know, I know. I have been blessed with much in life and I really am grateful. But still, I want ...

A 35¢ Act of Kindness

Today at lunch I stopped at McDonald's on my way back to the office. As I waited for my order (I substituted fries with a healthier yogurt parfait) I observed the man at the next register trying to place his. I don't know that he was homeless, but his clothes were unmistakably not Downey fresh. I don't know that he was deaf, but he certainly was mute. He handed the cashier a list and kept gesturing "three." Then he laid two singles and four quarters on the counter. Unfortunately the tab was $3.35.

I lingered a moment because I wanted to make up the 35¢ if it was necessary. It wasn't. The cashier filled the order, even though his customer was 35¢ short. This was done with a minimum of fanfare. The manager wasn't called over. I'm not even sure the customer realized what kindness he'd been shown.

It made me very happy.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Who do these two think they are?

Whenever I am in danger of feeling sorry for George and Cindy Anthony, they turn out to be haughty, elitist liars. They have been subpoenaed, and today were compelled to answer questions under oath in the suit Zenaida Gonzalez filed against their daughter, the infamous "Tot Mom" Casey Anthony.

They were hostile and controlling from Square One. Clearly they don't feel that the laws apply to them, and they shouldn't have to answer questions that are difficult, embarrassing or painful for them. As opposed to all the people who are deposed in cases every day? Who have to participate in legal procedings regarding the consequences other people's actions? No one wants to go court, but every day people have to. What makes the Anthonys better?

I understand that they have lost their grandchild. I sympathize with the anguish not only of losing that adorable little girl, but their anonymity and life as they knew it a year ago.

But instead of blaming the one who put them in this position, their daughter, they blame every one else in the world. They perjured themselves today, with statements different than those they made to the police. I need a Silkwood Shower after seeing this.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #103 -- Stolen from Snarky Pants

Yes, I'm stealing from you again, Lisa! I'm too distracted to come up with a real, original TT idea, so this week I continue to recycle from Snarky Pants and present 13 more previously undisclosed facts about moi.



1) The movie character I relate to the most is Katie Morosky (The Way We Were) in that I believe everything we do matters to our fellow man in some way and so I can't not pay attention and I can't not care. I'm also very sure of everything I'm sure about. I've been told this makes me a wee bit too intense at times.

2) Janis Ian's "At 17" is still painful for me to hear. ("I heard the truth at 17 that love was meant for beauty queens …")

3) Kathie Lee Gifford ties with Madonna as the female celebrity who annoys me the most.

4) My legs are still good. If/when I get those varicose veins taken care of, I intend to wow the unsuspecting Midwest by showing off my gams.

5) I used to be a pretty fair tree climber, back in the day.

6) My most horrifying amusement park moment didn't involve a roller coaster. No, it was the bumper cars. I got stuck beside the empty tires and couldn't get out, and the pimply kid with the microphone kept yelling, "Come on, #3! Get out of there, #3!" Like I wouldn't if I could!

7) I'm really not as smart as I may seem. The first time I saw the headline, "BREAKING NEWS! Pirates Take Hostages," I actually thought that some of the Pittsburgh players sprung out of the dug out to confront rowdy fans. Really. I'm not kidding. Would I cop to such a ridiculous notion if it weren't true?

8) I'm inexplicably drawn to marathons on the USA Network. I have put my life on hold to indulge in episode afer episode of Law & Order: SVU, Monk, Psyche and NCIS.

9) I've been to Germany, France and Switzerland but really have no desire to return to Europe at all. If I had extra money to spend on a vacation, I'd rather go to the Grand Canyon (which I've never seen) or New York (which I loved).

10) Between the time I spend at my keyboard at work, and then while farting around online, I worry about getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

11) I'd much rather bake than cook (though I don't really enjoy either).

12) I'm sorry I never saw Elvis or Frank Sinatra in concert.

13) One of my favorite oldies to sing along with is "You Were on My Mind" by the We Five, even though the lyrics make no sense to me whatsoever.

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I won't be sorry when this work day ends

I've been busy today. I'm done taking lumps for my screw up, which wasn't as painful as I feared. Embarrassing? You bet. Humbling? Oh, no doubt about it. But not really painful.

Then I asked my boss if the lay-off rumors were true. He said they weren't. Just to make sure, I asked someone who has direct, daily client contact, and she said they weren't true either.

Then I called to check up on my mom. She still sounds weak as a kitten, but she's happy to be home, so that's good.

This stress (along with a nice, 35-minute cardio workout and a Xanax) have left me feeling pretty drained. I just can't wait to get home and flip back and forth between American Idol (go, Adam!) and the baseball game (go, Cubs!).

Poor, poor pitiful me

I screwed up at work a few weeks ago, and it's just now coming to light. Everyone is being very nice about it: "I understand how it happened," etc., but they would be well within their rights to not be. I screwed up.

I screwed up.

This is not a good time for screw ups. Not with the rumors flying that the client may be considering giving us less, not more, work. It was sloppy and ugly and irresponsible of me to give them a reason to place a black mark beside our name.

"It's not that big a deal." Yes, it is. The client shouldn't expect to have to do my job. Grammar and spelling are my job here. I must be more careful going forward.

We're having a meeting today at 2:00, in a small group, to discuss how to make sure this doesn't happen again. I'm not looking forward to it. I was told that the point of the meeting was to discsuss process, not to just "point a finger at you," but I'd be OK with it if they did.

I hate this.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


My mom is home. Fatigued, but happy to be home. I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her tonight and she said no. She craves normalcy, sitting quietly in her own livingroom on her own sofa surrounded by her cats. I'm grateful she's home and that she should bounce back from this bout with pneumonia.

My best friend and I are still us. He's been worried about his own job, especially after having to take several previously unscheduled days off due to, of all things, a blizzard. Consequently he hasn't been as available to converse as I'd like. But he's back, and we're still as comfortable with one another as ever. His dad is getting divorced (again) and the office politics at his agency are disturbing him. But he's reasonably certain I won't lose my job and he's been very sympathetic about my mom. He's my bud. Everything makes more sense when he's around.

I'm still inspired. I've worked out 3 days in a row! It feels good.

So everything in my life at this moment feels pretty good. If only the Cubs had managed to win in extra innings.

Someone to hang onto

Good news! My mom should be home this afternoon or this evening! She doesn't sound so good -- tired and distracted. But both her cardiologist and her lung doctor tell her she's cleared to go. Now she only has to get the OK from her GP and she'll be in her own bed, surrounded by her cats, tonight.

I'm so grateful. She's my mommy. I still need her.

What's more, my oldest friend has generously offered to step up to the plate. She says that if my mom or I needs anything, "Put up the signal. I'm there." I've known her since we were in Kindergarten together. I still need her, too.

As I've grown up (older?), many things in my life have changed. But I've still got these two women, who have known me virtually all my life, to hang onto. I'm very lucky.

Rumor has it ...

... that my client is going to suspend promotions on another product. And that would just happen to be the very product I work on. Uh-oh.

It wasn't that long ago that I thought I escaped the shadow of the grim reaper's scythe. I may have been too optimistic.

Or maybe not. This is an unpredictable industry in a depressed economy. Who knows what will happen next? I must remember to breathe deep, take it one day at a time, and not freak myself out. Though I suppose it wouldn't hurt for me to reapply the brakes on my spending ...

Tuesday Tunes #22 -- Mix CDs

Have you ever made a mix CD for someone or had one given to you? My niece, currently in high school, is a newly-minted Beatle fan and her favorite is George. For Christmas, in an attempt to convince me that he was as talented as Lennon-McCartney, she made me a pair of CDs -- All Things Must Past and a mix of her favorite songs from other George albums (as well as the Willburys). I appreciate the gesture and enjoy the songs, but I'm still a Paul Girl.

What way do you share music with friends? Mix CDs, tapes or other means? Just yesterday I sent an email to my best friend with Martha Reeves' version of Van Morrison's "Wild Night" as an attachment.

Why do you usually make a mix CD? I've only ever made three mix CDs:
1. to re-introduce said best friend to Bruce Springsteen.
Back in the 1980s, when Bruce hit it big, my friend was going through one of those "if it's commercially successful, it can't be good" phases that we all have fallen victim to. (Back in the 1970s I resisted Elton John for the same reason, so I don't judge.)

2. A 15-song overview of Paul McCartney's career for my best friend's little girl. She discovered that they shared a June 18 birthday and wanted to know as much about him as she could, as fast as she could. I think Sir Paul may have since been displaced for the Jonas Brothers.

3. a collection of my friends' favorite songs for my uncle. He's ill, stricken Parkinson's, so I thought I'd expand his world a bit with music he may not be familiar with. My friends are an eclectic bunch, and it was reflected in their contributions -- from Laurie Anderson to Johnny Cash to the Doors to Cesaria Evora.

If you could make one person a mix, who would it be and why? Hmmm ... I can't think of anyone. Is that bad?

To participate yourself, click here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Go, Cubs, Go!


It's always nice to win. It's really nice to win on Opening Day. It's really, really nice to win a game that starts with Alfonso Soriano getting a homerun, the lead-off man, with his first at bat of the season.

This is gonna be another exciting season. I can feel it!

Sisterhood Is Powerful!

Look what I got from Mo! In addition to basking in the warmth of her kind words, I get to pass this along to others.

The rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link the person from whom you received your award.

So here are my self-proclaimed cyber sisters:

Book Mama. I know that after the twins, the last thing you think you need is another sister! Too bad. I check out your blog every day, hungry for news about your job situation, LS and BB, Tim, and, of course, Snowbird. I admire the integrity with which you are raising your kids, and the affection within your family.

Jenny McB. One of my first blogging buddies. She loves her cats and her knitting and her boys and her golf. I wish she posted more. She takes what's serious seriously. The rest of the world? Not so much.

Kwizgiver. Dedicated teacher, big reader, and George Clooney lover. She very generously and frankly shares her everyday joys and triumphs, and it's comforting to learn that we're more alike than we may have realized.

Lisa. Her blog is, as promised, "all snark and no pants." She's a riot. A genuinely original voice in the blogosphere, and a woman who unashamedly loves her Cookie.

Vivian. Positive and sincere and genuine, Vivian is one of the kindest bloggers I have ever encountered. I'm proud that she swings by, and always comforted when she wishes me well.

Mimi. She's both visual and verbal, both funny and sensitive. Best of all, she's royal. So if we're sisters, I get to claim royal blood!

The Silver Neurotic. First of all, she's a Beatle fan, as all the best people are. She's at such an interesting time in her life! It seems she comes upon one crossroad after another as she evolves, and always responds with a good and open heart.

Cupcake. Intense and always very involved -- whether it's with her Tommy, her Geniuses, The Pro and Secondo and The Queen, or the not-so-secret love we both share, The Boss. As with Jenny McB, this is my chance to tell you in an open forum that you should post more!

It's not Christmas, but it's close

The Cubs begin their quest to three-peat in the division with today's 6:05 p.m. CT opener in Houston. Carlos Zambrano makes his fifth straight Opening Day start.

Manic Monday #24

How often do you change your toothbrush? I don't have a formula for it. Each time I go to the dentist (because he gives me a new one) and then at least once in between visits so that would be ... um ... every 3 months or so. How often am I supposed to do it?

What is your favorite item of clothing to shop for? Do purses count? I looooove looking at purses. If purses don't count, then sweaters in fall/winter and lighter-weight pullovers and t's in spring/summer. I have more fun shopping for tops than bottoms (because I have a criminally fat ass).

Do you use social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)? Which do you use most often? Twitter. I never check Facebook. Between this blog and Linked In (a networking site) and now Twitter, I don't have time for Facebook.

To play along, click here.