Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Atta girl

I'm listening to Babs' new album, Love Is the Answer. It's the first new music of hers that I've bought in years,* and I am enjoying it thoroughly. It's very mellow, very elegant and she is in very good voice. I'm tempted to say she sounds even better at 65+ than the decades-younger Whitney, but then, Babs didn't have to survive Bobby Brown. Besides, unlike Whitney Houston, Babs doesn't have to "come back" because she's never been away.

I've had to participate in two meetings today, and it's worn me out. (Rather uncharacteristic; I hope I'm not coming down with something ...) So a cup of tea and Babs singing a Marilyn/Alan Bergman song is just what's needed to soothe me. It's even making me wish I was in love.

Is that a Donna Karan Snuggie she's wearing on the cover?

*Since 2001, to be exact. I confirmed this at The Official Barbra Streisand Site.

But he's real, and so is what he did

If Roman Polanski were the invention of an imaginative fiction author with a gift for dialog (I'm thinking William Goldman), I might find him highly sympathetic.

Born in Paris and raised as a Catholic by his Catholic dad and Jewish mom, his family moved to Poland when Roman was still very young and the Polanskis found themselves a target when the Nazis invaded. His mother died in Auschwitz. That's enough pain for a lifetime, isn't it?

Roman proved himself a lyrical visual artist in Poland and France and came over to the USA in the 1960s. Forty years ago he became a household name for directing the movie Rosemary's Baby, and for his marriage to rising star Sharon Tate. She was slaughtered by the Manson Family, along with their nearly full-term but unborn son, Paul. The interest in that crime, and the fascination with Manson himself, has barely abated in the last 40 years. I can't even imagine how painful this is for him.

He went on to make acclaimed and classic films, including Chinatown and Tess. He also went on to give a 13-year-old girl ludes and champagne and then rape her anally. If you have the stomach to read about it, click here. He pled guilty, but escaped to Europe before he could be sentenced. He's been a fugitive for decades, living a glamorous and privileged life in overseas.

He is an old man now, and an acclaimed artist. He was arrested in Switzerland and is awaiting extradition back to the United States to face the music. As fate would cruelly have it, Susan Atkins, the woman who helped butcher Sharon Tate, died this week.

It's a compelling story and a sad one.

But it's not just a story. It all really happened. Including luring a child into a hot tub by pretending to photograph her for a fashion layout and then performing sex acts on her that she couldn't even pronounce.

Pedophilia is serial behavior. Children cannot consent to sex and we must hear their tales and obtain justice on their behalf. Roman Polanski must stand in front of a judge. It's only right. So the pleas that he be forgiven fall on my deaf ears.

Talent, even genius, can only be forgiven for so much. Abusing a child isn't covered.

Inspired silliness

Over 90 minutes and 8 emails, my best friend and I were cracking each other up with goofy, adolescent comments about men's underwear designed for lefties. Sometimes, when the whole world seems so serious, you just gotta be silly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Well, that's over

Chicago is a great place to live. But in addition to the parks and museums and restaurants and theaters, we also have a very dark criminal past that goes well beyond Al Capone and the memorable way he chose to celebrate Valentine's Day. Leopold and Loeb, Richard Speck, John Gacy and Tylenol Killer all spring to mind.

It occurs to me that we remember the killers but not their victims. So today, as the news breaks about a conviction in the second Brown's Chicken murder trial, I choose to show a photo of the victims' families as the exited the court house.

Back in 1993, two men (kids, really) walked into a Brown's Chicken restaurant and, at closing time, herded seven workers into a walk-in refrigerator and alternately shot and stabbed them. The crime went unsolved for almost a decade. Then, in 2002, one of the killers' girlfriends had to share her horrible secret about her fella. When the case was reopened, it was discovered that one of the forward-thinking 1993 crime-scene techs saved a piece of half-eaten chicken. Technology had evolved to the point that DNA on that years-old wing could be compared to and matched with the boyfriend's. And finally, one of the creepier unsolved crimes was on its way to being solved.

It was an ugly, cowardly crime. No motive, these two turds just wanted to see if they could get away with a mass murder. I am glad they are finally behind bars and no longer wandering among decent people. I am glad these family members got to see justice done.

The Queen's Meme -- The Crazy Hospital Meme

1. What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you in a hospital (besides your illness)? Not enough towels? No condiments? Can't get your favorite channels? Come on, you can tell me. **Or....maybe this answer doesn't involve you being the patient.** Six years ago this past June, I had a uterine fibroid embolization. Because the procedure was performed by a radiologist, the hospital did not assign me to an obstetric floor. Instead, for some reason, I was with orthopedic patients. A nurse came in and asked me what I had done and why. She'd never seen a UFE before. It did not fill me with great confidence.

2. If you had your choice of IV cocktails, what would you choose? Vicodin. I like Vicodin. May I have some, please?

3. Tell us your funniest hospital story. Before I went to the hospital to meet my new nephew (almost 10 years ago!), his older sister (then almost 7) promised to handle the introduction and tell me "everything" I needed to know about the hospital. When I got to the room, I didn't even get to hold him before she grabbed my hand and said, "Let me show you the cafeteria. They have Doritos."

4. Do you have any hospital phobias? Nope.

5. Imagine you are in bed trying to get some sleep after a long night of interruptions by the nurse on duty who would NOT stop waking you up to see if you were asleep...It is 3am. You finally get to sleep. She comes in at 3:15 and wakes you up again. What happens next? I can't even fathom this. I had the opposite problem. When I was in the hospital (see #1) I had breakthrough pain so severe it woke me up. I pressed the button to increase the dosage from the dip but it did no good. I buzzed for the nurse, and it did no good. I actually got out of bed and dragged the IV and stood in the doorway and hollered up the hall. This got their attention, and it got me scolded. Like I gave a flying fuck. Excuse me, I HURT!

6. You are stuck in the elevator with an attractive person of the opposite sex. You notice there is no wedding band. Do you strike up a conversation? If so, what is the first thing you would say? Are we at Seattle Grace, the hospital on Grey's Anatomy? If so, then we just start making out. I suspect that's why the elevators on that show are so big.

7. A very odd patient wanders into your room from the upstairs psychiatric ward. What do you do? First, let's establish what kind of odd. Dangerous, waving his privates and claiming Obama wasn't born here crazy? Or just lifelong White Sox fan crazy? If I ascertain that he's not dangerous, then we'll chat and I'll see what he wants. After all, my own train of thought has left the tracks a time or two.

Play the Queen's Meme yourself by clicking here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Can't stop thinking about her

I saw a dead cat in the gutter yesterday afternoon. She got hit, hard, while almost making it across the busiest street in the village. Small and gray, her face was completely shmushed. I didn't mean to look because this sort of thing upsets me so. But I thought she might have been a toy or a stuffed animal and if so, I would have pulled her out of the gutter and onto the grass in case her rightful owner came back looking for her. Instead I recoiled in horror and console myself with the thought that she couldn't have suffered.

I am wrapping up The Cat Who Read Backwards, the first in the LJB series of books about Qwill and Koko (and later addition, Yum-Yum). So far this story features two murders, bloody stabbings, in fact. Yet I'm captivated by how non-cat-person Qwill becomes enamored of Koko, just as I'm more upset by the real-life sight of the dead cat than I am the gory portrayals of the fictional murder victims.

Is it any wonder I foresee the next stage of my life as Crazy Old Cat Lady?

Monday Movie Meme: School

Share movies touching upon the world of education and then link back here at The Bumbles.

Splendor in the Grass. (1961) I saw this on TV when I was in grade school. My takeaway was that if you don't have sex in the car with best-looking boy in school, you'll go crazy and your life will be blighted.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (1982) I love this movie because during my high school years, everything and everyone that mattered could be found at the mall.

The Breakfast Club. (1985) Ally Sheedy gave an eerily accurate portrayal of me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baby, I love you

Meet my new jeans: Relativity Modern Straight Leg, relaxed through the hip and thigh for a comfortable fit, classic 5-pocket styling. Petite so I don't have to hem!!!! They had been $40, marked down to $24.98. I bought two pair. I am washing them now.

This makes me happy.

Words of wisdom from the eternal Golden Boy

Redford's missive from the Fall 2009 Sundance Catalog:

We've all heard how as one ages, the time around us moves faster.

Aging has signs. One moment you're fit, you dance, you make love, you bike, you ride, you ski. And then you begin to find yourself drooling. You get in your car and put your room key in the ignition. Your rage doesn't start the car.

And so it all seems like yesterday.

The catalog seed that was sown 20 years ago was a seed with no real sureness that it would blossom forth. But it has.* It has aged gracefully. And with a new and exciting line of design and purchasing talent we are moving to a new feeling and look. I hope you enjoy our new growth.

As for me -- Where did I put my keys?

*Thanks in no small part to the Gal's consistent support.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What the hell was that?

Love Happens is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. It's not the performances -- Jennifer Aniston and Martin Sheen are both quite charming. It's the story, or lack thereof.

A famous self-help guru travels all the way from ... where? I don't know ... back to Seattle to teach a weeklong seminar about overcoming grief. The big plot twist/shocker couldn't happen to a best selling author in this 24-hour news cycle/Internet age. (James Frey, anyone?) We never know how our hero happened into this line of work and how he became such an expert. Jen has a difficult break up as the story opens, but she doesn't seem to agonize over it very long. This isn't in keeping with the sensitive, intuitive character she's playing. The title doesn't even really mean anything.

It's not over-the-top lunatic bad. It's just huh/what/that-doesn't-make-sense bad. Keep your money and just stay on your sofa watching the Lifetime channel. You are sure to see something just as mediocre and corny without even having to get dressed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Today is my uncle's birthday

I mailed his card back on Monday, so he should have it by now. I hope he's having a good day. He suffers from Parkinson's, and doesn't know until each day dawns whether he'll be high functioning or not.

I love him and think of him often. So I figured today would be a good day to paint a bloggy picture of him.

He is 67 today, nearly 15 years my senior. He was a sophomore in high school when my mom asked him to be my Godfather.

He bought me my first Beatle record (Love Me Do/PS I Love You) before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. How do you thank someone for giving you the soundtrack to your life?

He could make me laugh harder than anybody, before or since, whether he was holding me by my feet and tickling me or telling corny jokes.

For Easter one year, he gave me a copy of this book. He hid it beneath the the floormats of his blue 1964 Mustang convertible.

He was in Viet Nam for two years. I loved getting letters from him and looked forward to seeing his handwritten "FREE" in the upper right corner instead of a stamp.

He enjoyed getting tapes from me. My grandmother bought a reel-to-reel tape recorder so he could hear our voices. But most of the family was tongue-tied, whereas I was a naturally blabby young thing. He still remembers how I updated him on Batman and Robin TV show or my school lessons. One of his fellow soldiers christened me "The Magpie."

When he came home from Viet Nam, I brought him to school for "show and tell." I still remember him sitting on the window sill of my third grade classroom, in his uniform, answering my teacher's questions about teamwork. I was so proud!

He believes that repeated exposure to Agent Orange exacerbated the Parkinson's Disease he now struggles with. If he's right, that's a sin.

Upon his return from Viet Nam, he put what money he had in real estate. By going in with an investment group for a building on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, he became a millionaire. He's very proud that he showed such exceptionally good judgement, even though he only has a high school education.

When I moved out on my own, he taught me about money. I know I probably rolled my eyes a lot when he took me to get a new stereo and pay for it on time so I could build a good credit rating. Not the sexiest of topics, you know. But now that I'm older and wiser with a 700+ FICO score and a good mortgage, I'm grateful he shared his wisdom.

A naturally gifted athlete, he tried to teach me to ski. That didn't go so well.

He once had a turtle named Dog. Or was it a tortoise? Anyway, Dog got too big and he reluctantly donated the pet to the Morton Arboretum.

He loves cats. He named his first cat Dumbo because of its ears. He currently has a very chill gray and white striped cat named Bennie. She's a blessing because she doesn't seem to mind, or even notice, the spasms he suffers on his bad days. (He frightened the new puppy he had recently and that broke his heart; that dog now lives with his stepdaughter.)

He loved the Florida Keys. As do I. Unfortunately, he can't travel anymore. So I always remember to send him a postcard when I'm down there for the holidays.

He's my mom's baby brother. It's sweet to watch to them now, the last left of their family, when they reminisce. I especially like the stories where he's the obnoxious kid brother tormenting his goody-two-shoes big sis, like when he put harmless green snakes in the clothes hamper on laundry day so my mom would reach in and ...

God bless him.

Friday Fill In


2. I HAD A CRUSH ON MICHAEL LANDON when I was young.

3. Mama told me NOT TO COME. (A top 40 hit by Three Dog Night)

4. JUST BETWEEN you and me.

5. Take your time. WHAT'S YOUR HURRY?

6.THIS TOO will pass!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to WORKING OUT, tomorrow my plans include SHOPPING and Sunday, I want to GET A MASSAGE.

To play along, click here.

I'm the center of the universe!

First, suspended Chicago Cubs dick Milton Bradley apologized to me … and all Cub fans, of course. He came here for me in the first place, after all, to finally bring fans like me a World Series Championship. Instead, alas, he behaved like a dick. He says he looks forward to better days. I believe all days will look better when the Cubs find a way to unload him and his multimillion dollar salary on some other unsuspecting team.

As if that didn't make me feel special enough, former Governor Rod Blagojevich appeared on The Daily Show last night and reassured me that everything he did, he did for me because he loves me ... and all the citizens of Illinois, of course.

No wonder I feel as though I'm the sun and everything revolves around me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I wonder what I'd do

I'm almost done with Clara's War, Clara Kramer's memoir about hiding from the Nazis in a bunker under a neighbor's home in Poland during WWII.

As I read, it's not really trials of the families who are living in what we'd call a crawl space that really grip me. I know it's horrible: Living for years in a space where the ceiling is so low you can't even stand up … subsisting on potatoes and bread for so long that simply eating an apple gives you diarrhea ... having to use the toilet in front three families ... waiting to hear word about how your cousins, classmates and grandparents are doing, or if they're dead …

Perhaps it's too horrible. That could be why I can't relate.

Instead, it's the Becks that fascinate me. They are the German Poles who hid a total of 18 Jews -- including Clara -- under their home. They knew that if the bunker was found, the Becks would meet the same fate as Clara. Julia Beck cleaned houses and worked for Clara's family. Her husband was a big-talking anti-Semite who drank too much. Part of why the Becks were so successful in hiding the families under their home is that Beck was known to be very proud of his German heritage and so contemptuous of Jews.

Why did they do it? Because they believed in God. It seems to be that simple and that powerful. "We are in God's hands," or "It's out of our hands," made up Beck's oft-repeated refrain in response to whether all them -- upstairs and down -- would survive.

Naturally, reading this, I can't help but wonder what I'd do in the Beck's position. And I hope I never, ever have to find out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

She sounds like she lived this

I have been listening to Whitney Houston's new CD, I Look to You. She's back and I'm glad.

Her voice is deeper than I remembered, but still lush and gorgeous. She doesn't hold notes forever and ever like she did on songs like "I-ee-I-ee-I Will Always Love You," but that's OK because that showboating annoyed me. Her performances here seem more real and tempered, even enhanced, by what she's been through. For example, here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs on the CD, "Nothin' But Love:"

I could hold on to pain but that ain't what my life's about
I ain't blaming nobody if I ain't got my stuff worked out
I got love for my self, ain't gonna regret anything I've done

I just wanna sing my song, ain't got nothin but love

Or how about "I Didn't Know My Own Strength:"

I crashed down, and I tumbled
But I did not crumble

I got through all the pain
I didn’t know my own strength
Survived my darkest hour

My faith kept me alive

I picked myself back up
Hold my head up high

I was not built to break

I didn’t know my own strength

I recall an interview with Margaret Mitchell in which she said Gone with the Wind is really about who survives and who doesn't. It's an interesting question: who is "built to break" and who isn't? Ms. Mitchell believed that Ashley was not a survivor, nor Scarlett's father, Gerald. Yet even though their styles were very different, Scarlett, Rhett and Melanie all had enough intestinal fortitude to make it no matter what. (After all, it wasn't war or hunger or deprivation that brought Melanie down, it was that her body just quit on her.)

When I was in high school, I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. To me, she seemed the perfect feminist cautionary tale -- "Look what happens when you live for men!" I still admire her beauty and talent, but I've outgrown her when it comes to heroines. The ladies I look up to now are the ones who weren't "built to break."

That's why I'm enjoying this CD so much. Whitney sounds like she's been to hell but she's learned from it and ain't going back.

Feeling kinda creepy

This is one of those posts where I share an unpleasant truth about myself.

Yesterday afternoon, while riding the el home, I had a very, very drunk boy as my seatmate. He smelled like booze and stale cigarette smoke. No, he REEKED of booze and stale cigarette smoke. He kept weaving and sliding in his sleep and often leaned into me. I COULD NOT STAND IT, so I woke him up so I could change my seat. I hoped I didn't hurt his feelings, but I COULD NOT STAND IT.

The part I felt bad about is this: I get off at one stop before the end of the line. I should have awakened him before I exited the train, just to make sure he got home safe. I didn't. I don't know why I didn't ... I think it's because I was so physically creeped out about myself.

This morning, while riding the el to work, I was near an entire smelly family. Mom, Dad and Baby. Sweat and cigarettes mixed with urine wafted my way. They were alert and chatting among themselves. Dad wore a lanyard and badge that showed he was an official vendor of Streetwise, the newspaper sold by Chicago's homeless. So I know they were industrious and probably doing the best they could to keep it together. Yet when I saw the pack of Newports in Mom's pocket, I wanted to yell, "Instead of cigarettes, why not buy SOAP?" But I just got up and stood by the door.

These people are my neighbors. I shouldn't be so judgemental. I am not proud of myself right now. But I want my blog to be an accurate portrait of myself at this point in my life, and this is part of who I am. (Unfortunately.)

Originally viewed over at Kwizgiver's

You Are North

Like a Viking, you are assertive, decisive, and dominant. You seek power and destroy those in your way.

People admire that you are so confident and independent. You seem to have the world figured out.

Sometimes you come across as pushy and aggressive... not that you mind! You like being seen as tough.

You make a fairly good leader, especially in times that require grit and ruthlessness. You are a warrior.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It just gets worse and worse

Here's the latest in the John Edwards saga, as reported today by CNN:

Edwards paid Hunter's production company $114,000 for a series of videos featuring him before and during his 2008 campaign ... Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN that if Edwards willfully failed to report payments to his mistress that could be considered campaign contributions, he could face felony charges that carry prison terms of up to five years.

"A lot of this comes down to civil penalties -- $5,000, $25,000, $50,000," Hostin said. "But there are also criminal penalties -- and when a grand jury is convened, that usually is what the prosecutors are looking for. They're looking for a criminal indictment."

I could cry out in disgust that this humiliation and stress is not something Elizabeth Edwards deserves at this time in her life … or rail about how, by his cynical and sleazy behavior, Edwards has let down the poor he championed so eloquently … or express my deep sympathy for the campaign workers and contributors who gave of themselves for a Presidential campaign that never should have been waged ...

But mostly, I guess, I'm disgusted with myself because I was not only attracted to this douchebag, I voted for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Twice.

God, what's wrong with me?

(I know, it could be worse. I could have voted for John Edwards and been hot for Blago.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Movie Meme

This week's movie topic is all about Your Childhood Favorite...

For me, it's all about her. Julie Andrews.

Back in my long-ago childhood, movies opened at "selected theaters," (around here, that meant downtown Chicago) played there for a while, and then finally made their way to the suburbs. My first-ever movie theater experience was also my first-ever trip into the city. It was to see Mary Poppins. I not only loved the movie, I loved going downtown and the whole experience of seeing a movie in the theater. I still remember the curtains parting a little and the lights going down a bit for the coming attractions ... then the lights went dark and the curtain revealed the entire big screen ... and there it was, the skyline of London. I really was transported to a magic place.

Not long afterward, my Scout troop rented a bus and drove us downtown to see her again. Julie Andrews had gone from nanny to novice for The Sound of Music. I still associate Julie with only good things.

If you'd like to play along with Bumbles' Movie Meme, click here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Don't do it! PLEASE don't do it!

The Saddest Boy in the World and I are doing laundry at the same time this evening. I try every hard to avoid him because I know he has a crush on me and I'm sooooooo not interested, yet I have loads of compassion for him. He's in his 40s, lives on the first floor with his elderly/ill/unpleasant mother, and works at the local grocery store.

This evening, as I was moving my clothes to the dryers from the washers he was waiting to use, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a writer. Thirty mins. later, when we were both down there again, he brought a 20-year old compilation from a local poetry contest. He was a runner up and he read his poem to me. It was a sweet, touching and profoundly embarrassing moment.

Please don't ask me out, Saddest Boy in the World.

How to describe Milton Bradley? What's the word I'm looking for?

(Snapping my fingers. Scratching my head.) Oh, yeah. "Dick." Read the comments that got this $30 million, .257 hitter suspended for the rest of the season.

In a brief one-on-one interview Saturday with the Daily Herald, Bradley talked of his unhappiness and said, "you understand why they haven't won in 100 years here."

"It's just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment. There's too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly. Everything is just bashing you. You got out there and you play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it. It's just negativity."

Asked whether he was talking about the fans, the media or even the Cubs organization, he replied: "It's everything. It's everybody."

Sorry playing here has been such a trial for you. Hopefully someone will take your ordinary bat and your extraordinary salary off the Cubs' hands during the off-season.


A Quandry

My brother-in-law is a good father and a hard worker. He's also having employment problems these days. His boss, a developer, hired a crew to update and convert condos back into an apartment building. The boss planned to pay his workers, including my brother-in-law, once the sale went through. Due to delays on the buyer's side (including a vacation over Labor Day), the closing now won't happen until this Wednesday. So my BIL hasn't been paid at all yet in the month of September.

Some of his coworkers are threatening to quit but not my brother-in-law. He reasons, correctly I feel, that as long as his boss is still providing medical benefits and a company vehicle (a fully gassed truck), it's better than being unemployed. Three weeks without a paycheck has left his family struggling.

I would be eager to help out except my brother-in-law is married to my kid sister. We have an ugly history when it comes to finances. In a nutshell, she believes our family (mostly my uncle and me) are somehow obligated to help her family. I can see how I may be partially to blame for this more-than-healthy sense of entitlement -- since she's the baby of the family I did my part to spoil her when we were growing up. Still, her complete lack of gratitude is disappointing.

On the other hand, when our mom was ill earlier this year, my kid sister was completely there for her, providing the lion's share of the hands-on work to care for her.

What to do?

I am helping her family but not her. First I sent my niece and nephew each $25 gift cards (hers at Penney's, his at GAP) to help with back-to-school clothes. Today I sent her cat a 41 lb. bag of litter and 12 cans of cat food. The package is addressed to "Amelia" the cat herself, and the note inside is signed from two of my own cats.

Pets are expensive and, like children, they have no control over the work history of the adults they depend on. Also, my brother-in-law is doing the best he can in a difficult situation and I want to lighten his emotional load. Lastly, I feel I owe my sister something for stepping up to the plate and helping my mom when Mom needed it most.

I am confident I have done the right thing.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: One Long Meme (Part Two)

27. Do you prefer to sleep or eat? I don't have a preference. When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm tired, I snooze.

28. Do you look like your mom or dad? Neither. Both of my parents had brown eyes/brown hair and tanned easily. Though I got my pale skin and light eyes/hair from my dad's side of the family.

29. How long does it take you in the shower? I know it's not environmentally sound but I spend forever in the shower. 20 minutes is about standard.

30. Can you do the splits? No. Never could. This is not something I feel bad about, either.

31. What movie do you want to see right now? Informant with Matt Damn.

32. What did you do for New Year's? Had a lovely dinner al fresco with friends in Key West.

33. Do you think The Grudge was scary? Didn't see it. Like the splits, this is also not something I feel bad about.

34. Do you own a camera phone? Yes.

35. Was your mom a cheerleader? No.

36. What’s the last letter of your middle name? N

37. How many hours of sleep do you get a night? About 6.

38. Do you like Care Bears? Um ... I have no issue with them.

39. What do you buy at the movies? A small Coke and candy of some sort. I'm not that big on popcorn.

40. Do you know how to play poker? I get the basics.

41. Do you wear your seat belt? If I'm riding in the front seat. I always forget to buckle up in cabs, which is not smart.

42. What do you wear to sleep? A nightshirt.

43. Anything big ever happen in your hometown? No

44. How many meals do you eat a day? 3

45. Is your tongue pierced? No

46. Do you always read MySpace bulletins? I'm not on MySpace

47. Do you like funny or serious people better? Depends.

48. Ever been to L.A.? Yes

49. Did you eat a cookie today? It's only 7:30 AM. It's a little early.

50. Do you use cuss words in other languages? No.

51. Do you steal or pay for your music downloads? Pay

52. Do you hate chocolate? No. I love chocolate quite dearly.

53. What do you and your parents fight about the most? When I was a kid, everything! The older I get, the less I argue with my mom.

54. Are you a gullible person? No

55. Do you need a girlfriend to be happy? Yes. I would be lost without my collection of good girlfriends (even though platonic sisterhood is not, I suspect, what this question is about).

56. If you could have any job (assuming you have the skills) what what would it be? Pet sitter.

57. Are you easy to get along with? I think so. I don't know that everyone would agree.

58. What is your favorite time of day? Early morning.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy to be home

... in front of the set, already in my jammies, watching the Cubs play the Cards. This is a great rivalry, and both teams seemed stoked for it. I endured a rather (unnecessarily) shitty afternoon (see post below), but I'm home now, enjoy the ballgame and remnants of my beer buzz. Ah, bliss!

Where's that beer cart?

You know how annoying it is when little things somehow become big, hairy things?

Before he left for the day, my boss let me know that next week he's going to be tied up in the studio (which is on another floor) and not around very much. I am the only one of the team he shared this with.

We have a pair of assignments that must be presented to the client this coming Thursday. I let the art directors know that even though Boss Man said he wanted to see things Monday afternoon, his mind no longer seems to be in our projects because of the studio work and it makes sense to send him an invitation via computer, choosing a time when they agree they'll be ready on Monday. That way they have a deadline to work toward, and my boss can plan his studio time around that Monday afternoon meeting.

"No," said the art director I'm partnered with. "We'll just catch him and show him when we're ready."

But, I explained again, he made it plain to me he wouldn't be around this floor very much on Monday, so the whole "catching him" thing may not happen.

She replied that "he knows he needs to see this stuff, he knows when it's due." She maintained that sending him a formal invitation and getting on his calendar would be "redundant."

Now my portion of these projects -- the writing -- is done. It's all up to the art directors to take it from here. I can't possibly know how long it will take them to complete their portions. I know that, in order for us to meet the deadline, my boss needs to see everything and request his changes by end of day Monday. I also know that he made it abundantly clear that his focus next week is going to be on broadcast, not our print projects.

I don't KNOW why there is such resistance to setting a time on Monday, but I suspect it's because my art director has been farting around today and isn't anywhere near as done as she should be or expected to be.

I backed out of the art department and fled for the sanctuary of my office. Monday is going to be a cluster fuck, but I refuse to "mother" three art directors, especially since the youngest is nearly 40. I'm just going to keep my head down and hope that the Friday Beer Cart gets here early. Then I'm goin' home!

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Saw this lovely in the window of the Nine West store. I don't need it, but I surely do want it. Sigh.

September Fitness Challenge

Friday. I am a good girl, all the way around. I had a 775-calorie lunch from Subway instead of the 820-calorie one. I did 32 minutes of cardio, some lateral pulls and lots of leg exercises. My legs feel delightfully noodley.

It's just me and horny teenage boys

I dozed off on the old sofa again. At a little after 2:00 AM I woke up and found myself very, very awake. So I checked out what's on cable and found a funny comic named Jimmy Pardo. I would have enjoyed it more if not for the commercials.

It's not that they interrupted the comic's flow. Comedy Central's editors preserved that. It was their content: Extenze "male enhancement," phone lines for singles right here in my neighborhood, and "love in a tube" lube. I somehow feel that I am not in the demographic these ads are aimed at.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September Fitness Challenge

Wednesday and Thursday. A tale of two moods. I dunno. I just didn't get around to working out yesterday because of my work load (which is kind of a bogus excuse). Then, to make it worse, I let my sweet tooth get the better of me and I exceeded my 1890 calorie limit. I was too disgusted with myself to even blog about it.

So today, driven by guilt and self-loathing, I forced myself to work out. Naturally, I feel terrific! I always do after I work out. Why, oh why, can't I remind myself of that when the sloth monster threatens to take over my body?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Taking a walk, thinking of you"

So went the message I received from my buddy today. I was so happy to hear from him! He works on the other side of the Loop, he's married now and lives in the burbs, and we just kinda drifted apart. But this afternoon we caught up on his job, my job, his summer, my summer, our Cubs ...

He sounds very settled into his married life (complete with stepson) and I'm glad. Being sweet and thoughtful like this is so like him!

Me in my new glasses

"I Want" Wednesday

This week's question is:
What do you want to discover?
I have had a fantasy for decades now about walking along and discovering a new color just laying in the grass. It's either a stone or a leaf. Holding it in my hands, it fills me with a remarkable sense of well being. Then I ponder what to do with it: Do I share it with the world or keep it to myself?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September Fitness Challenge

Day 15. Stick-to-it-ive-ness. Met my friend John for drinks after work at our favorite burger joint. Only I didn't have a burger, nor did I have fries. I had a grilled cheese and knoshed on the peanuts on the table and "spent" the calories I saved on beer. Of the 1890 calories I'm allowed today, I came in at (drumroll, please) 1875! Yea!

PS John, who hasn't seen me since mid-summer, noticed I had lost weight!


I just heard from my friend Barb. The next theater season begins in early November. I owe her $303 for the tickets. I have $77 put aside. Gulp.

The Queen's Meme -- The Tick-Tock Meme

1. Are you a Rolex watch, a Mickey Mouse watch, or a pocket watch? I'm a Timex kinda gal. A former lover used to tease me about wearing "nun" watches because I favor white faces and easy to read, sanserif numerals. I wear a watch to tell time, not complete my outfit.

2. Can you think of a time when you couldn't see the forest for the trees? This happens to me often when I'm working on a project. I can focus so much on making a deadline for the task at hand that I lose sight of the impact it has on the whole assignment.

3. Can you think of a time when you were on the outside looking in?

What did you see? I once had 5th row tickets for a Wings concert. When the stage was black, the musicians paid no attention to those of us in the crowd who were close enough to still see. Paul McCartney was so solicitous of wife Linda, holding her wrist as she navigated over the electrical equipment to go from one set of keyboards to the other. After all those years of marriage and 4 kids, he obviously really cared about her. I don't think I understood that before.

4. Go back in time. Maybe a long time ago, maybe today. Pick an hour you'd like to freeze frame forever and tell us why. It doesn't have to be THE most important hour of your life, but make it a good one. It was 3 years ago. I was visiting my best friend, who was on a long assignment with a client in Los Angeles. He was at work and I was farting around in a Hollywood hotel, getting a luxury pedicure by the pool, listening to Enya and sipping a beer and looking at the palm trees against a very blue sky. I was very happy.

5. If you were a cuckoo clock, what would others say about you? "I'm not surprised. I always knew she was a little cuckoo."

6. Can you think of a time when time stood still? I'm sorry, my Queen, but you stumped here. I answered the other 7, though! Shouldn't that keep me out of the dungeon?

7. Watch this! You are a stopwatch. What would you stop?
I would stop all this divisive and angry talk that is just going to lead to no good. The President is NOT a Kenyan by birth. He is NOT a Socialist. You do NOT have to protect your children from him. STOP IT NOW!

8. Imagine you were just born and have infinite wisdom. After the doctor smacks your newborn dust ruffle you look around and say to the Universe: "Give me a whole lifetime to do "this" and I will bless the day I was born."
What did you choose? Hang out around critters. I have infinite patience with dogs and cats (and, unfortunately, little else.)

If you have time to play this meme, click here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm singing "Go, Cubs, Go!"

What a fun game! Dempster won his 10th. D Lee's bat is on fire. Sam Fuld is our future outfield superstar. Vince Vaughn sang the stretch and was amusing in the booth. I am happy.

September Fitness Challenge

Day 14. Fitness Failure. All I have done today is take a shower and put on makeup. While I'm very alert brain-wise, I am weary and lack the energy to move much. Wish I could give myself credit for at least one healthy habit, but alas, I cannot.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I'm almost done putting together a pair of Christmas packages for a pair of soldiers. I'm doing this on behalf of my uncle, a Viet Nam vet. Since he knows firsthand how lonely Christmas in the jungle can be, I thought he'd appreciate making two troops' lives a little better as they celebrate Christmas away from home and in the desert.

From I just ordered:

Zinc oxide cream (SPF 45)
Toenail clippers
Hand sanitizer
Shave cream

I'm combining that with what I've already purchased:

Powdered drink mixes (lemonade and sweet tea)
Granola bars
Individual serving breakfast cereals (Sugar Pops and Apple Jacks -- how can they not brighten your day?)
Comfort Twin razors
Q tips
Body wash
Baby wipes
Playing cards
Mystery novels (someone gets Janet Evanovich, somebody else gets Agatha Christie)

When you think of it, this really isn't very much to give someone who volunteered to take a bullet for you, is it? Judging by this photo of WWII soldiers sharing similar gifts from home, I guess it's always been this way.

I hope to have this whole project done and in the mail by mid October. Operation Shoebox needs donations by early November so they can put together the gift shoeboxes and get them to the soldiers in time for the holidays. I am putting the organization's "thank you" note into my uncle's Christmas card.

If you would like to spend these last sunny days of autumn getting a headstart on Christmas, click here to found out what Operation Shoebox needs to go into their holiday packages for the troops.

Movie Monday

ON LOCATION -- Share movies set in your part of the world and then link back here at The Bumbles.

The Break Up. Vaughniston's sad valentine to love gone wrong. Since they meet at Wrigley Field, and he's a tour guide, there are many great shots of Chicago, the best city in the world.

The Blues Brothers. The quintessential Chicago movie, starring our gone-but-not-forgotten most-favorite favorite son, John Belushi.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If Belushi is our favorite son, then John Hughes is our cinematic poet laureate. This movie perfectly captures the greatest temptation of my boring suburban high school years -- sit through another boring day at school or have an adventure in that nearby and so glorious city on the Lake?

My Best Friend's Wedding. Union Station and The Chicago River look so lovely (remember when they dance to "The Way You Look Tonight?). Plus, a friend of mine is an extra and you can see her very clearly in the scene where Julia Roberts catches the bouquet.

Back Draft. Maybe it's not a great movie, but much of it was filmed in the office building on Wells Street where I worked at the time. I stole chips from the caterer. I felt entitled since our building only had two elevators, and we were inconvenienced because "Mr. De Niro" refused to ride with any of us and commandeered one, so I either had to wait for the other elevator or take the stairs. (Fortunately it wasn't a high rise.)

Worn down, worn out

I'm soooo tired today! Had a nasty bout of indigestion last night and this morning I am weak. Took a shower, needed a nap. Makes me wonder if yesterday's nap wasn't sloth, after all. It's almost 11:00 and I'm eating a warm bowl of oatmeal. I feel that if I never have to move from this spot, I could be a happy woman.

Left a long, rambling message for my boss, updating him on the one project that may need tying up today. I handled my portion, now all he has to do is approve it or add to it. Or, if the account exec was able to get us more time, just pass it back to me. I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September Fitness Challenge

Day 13. Bad choices have consequences. I had a lovely, large coffeehouse breakfast. On the way home, I did a little grocery shopping and consumed a box of Hot Tamales candy, satisfying my cinnamon craving. All that heavy food and followed by a sugar crash left me a little sleepy so I lay down for just a moment ... and woke up during the 4th inning of the (also very satisfying) Cub game.

Dammit! I was going to use most of my naptime to do my laundry! The healthclub closes early on Sunday! I screwed up. Dammit.

So I'm paying the price. Just a bowl of oatmeal and some rice cakes for dinner. Period. I'll do leg lifts and maybe some sit ups during Mad Men.

Yesterday I had a good reason for missing my workout. A dental appointment to repair my crown and my friend Kathleen's problems are more important than my health regime. If there's a valid reason for a lapse, I'll forgive myself, toss the calorie count out the window and start anew tomorrow. But a lazy-ass nap and a big, movie-sized box of candy don't constitute a reason.

Go, Cubs, Go!

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

Now that I have made peace with the fact that post-season play is not in my future, I'm back to enjoying the games. Ted Lilly was awesome today. They're playing with a lot of heart again. What more could a fan ask for?

"Back to school" takes on a poignant meaning

I have recently conversed with 4 parents (2 moms, 2 dads) who saw college freshmen off to begin a new chapter in life. "Wistful" is the word that best describes them all.

"The house is so quiet."
"My wife couldn't stop looking back."
"She's always been independent, so she's doing fine."
"He couldn't wait to get there."
"I miss him so much."
"Can you believe it? I can't believe it. His childhood is over."
"The dogs sure miss him."

I reminded each of these parents how happy she (or he) was last May when high school graduation season was upon us. It didn't seem to help much.

I just hope as Jenna, Joshua, Max and Harry begin their college careers, they realize how very much their parents love them.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: One Long Meme (Part One)

1. The phone rings. Who will it to be? Number Blocked. They call me all the time but I don't know what they want because I don't pick up.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart? Yes. Always.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener? Blab, blab, blab. A Talker.

4. Do you take compliments well? Depends. If it's professional, yes. If it's personal, well, aw, shucks, not really.

5. Do you play Sudoku? No.

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive? Not happily!

7. Did you ever go to camp as a kid? I was at Girl Scout camp all the time -- day camp every summer and overnight camp several times a year.

8. What was your favorite game as a kid? Clue.

9. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew she was married, would you? No. I'm simply not into women.

10. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you? Yes. While my faith is important to me, I don't really much care what anyone else believes.

11. Do you like to pursue or be pursued? Pursue. Being pursued makes me a little uncomfortable. My therapist would tell you I have control issues. But it's Sunday, so let's not bother her today.

12. Use three words to describe yourself? American, Cub fan, Beatlemaniac.

13. Do any songs make you cry? "Save the Best for Last." It so perfectly captured our relationship at the beginning. Unfortunately it ended badly, so that song tugs at my most sensitive heartstrings.

14. Are you continuing your education? No.

15. Do you know how to shoot a gun? No.

16. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth? Yes.

17. How often do you read books? Right now, only once. My TRB pile is so deep I don't have time for rereading. Though there are some books I have read more than once (Gone with the Wind, The Princess Bride, The Lord of the Flies, In Cold Blood).

18. Do you think more about the past, present or future? Past and future. I have a hard time staying in the present.

19. What is your favorite children’s book? Sheila Rae the Brave. I so enjoyed my niece snuggling up beside me and laughing as we read this together.

20.What color are your eyes? Green

21. How tall are you? 5'2.

22. Where is your dream house located? It's a highrise in the Loop.

23. If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed? My cat Charlotte. My boys cats would get themselves out the door in the even of fire, but she would hide.
24. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden? Last November, for my niece's birthday.

25. Where was the furthest place you traveled today? About 15 miles to my dentist.

26. Do you like mustard? I don't hate it.

September Fitness Challenge

Day 12. Priorities. I stayed within my 1890 calorie limit and walked a little more, but no workout. My friend Kathleen needed me. She was very upset about her job and I couldn't fit my hair and dentist appointments as well as dinner with Kathleen and a workout all into one day. So I will exercise on Sunday isntead. Some things are more important than a nicer ass.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday 9

1. If everyone liked each other, what would we complain about? The weather

2. If you were most powerful person in the world, how would you use that power? I would somehow get everyone to listen, really listen, to each other … and themselves. I think much of the silly talk that becomes dangerous and divides us would evaporate.

3. If had exactly one year to live, what are the three things you'd want to do before you died? Fall in love, have lots of sex, see as many Cub games (both at home and on the road) as possible

4. If you could change one thing about the world, what would that one thing be? Insecurity and depression would make us more attractive. (Borrowed from Broadcast News)

5. If you could take one thing back, what would that one thing be? I once said something very mean to someone. It left nothing but scorched earth between us and I'm very sorry.

6. If you were stuck on an island forever but had all the water, food and shelter you needed. What would be the three other things you'd bring with you? My iPod, some kind of generator to recharge it, and a generous supply of books

7. If the internet didn't exist, would the quality of life go up or down? Down, because productivity goes down.

8. If a million dollars fell off a back of a truck, would you keep it? I'd like to think I wouldn't ...

9. What is something you said, something you stole, something you did wrong? "The thing of it is," a few moments of happiness, and see #5.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You were on my mind

As I rode the train in this morning, through the shadow of Sears Tower, past Marina City, to my office more than 40 stories up in the Aon Building, today's date took on an ominous meaning and I was frightened again -- remembering what happened 8 years ago at that very hour, and wondering if "they" were going to try it again, but this time in Chicago.

I love downtown Chicago and it pisses me off that the very structures that are so beautiful against the bright blue sky that they take my breath away suddenly look dangerous. How dare those frigging terrorists do that to me! I can only imagine the rage New Yorkers must feel.

9/11 pops into my mind, unbidden, every day. I suddenly see cops patrolling Millennium Park, or police with dogs standing near trash cans on the el platform, or police boats under the tracks in the Chicago River, and I know there's "chatter" out there and the City is trying to keep me safe. If I'm in an office building that requires an ID not only to get in but to leave (or like this one, to enter the restroom), and I remember why. If I leave my home on a cloudy/foggy morning and can't see Sears Tower from my porch, I imagine that's how New Yorkers feel every day when they look for the World Trade Center.

So New Yorkers, here's to you. Your spiritual sister in The Second City can only imagine your pain, anger and pride today when you look over to where these towers once were.

September Fitness Challenge

Day 11. 100 lbs.! I worked out for a good, challenging 40+ minutes today -- 32 devoted to cardio. Then I moved on to do 12 reps each on a trio of machines. Being 5'2, I spend a lot of time adjusting and readjusting the seats. When I got to the leg press, I was so focused on getting the seat right that I didn't even check on the weight, I just started moving my legs. It was hard, to be sure, but it felt good, too. I looked at the weights and saw it was set at 100 lbs.! I didn't realize I had become that much stronger (if not slimmer) since I've been taking all this more seriously. I'm really very proud of myself.

"Maggie Poppins"

This summer, one of my least favorite coworkers was on maternity leave and the agency replaced her with an independent contractor, Maggie. She was terrific. Not only did she more than fill the new mom's shoes professionally, Maggie was like a balm for the creative team here. She was so easy to work with! She took the time to listen to me regarding the new mom, who Maggie has known for years. She then explained that the new mom is defensive and nervous because she's very young to have risen to the position of Account Director. It's not even a job the new mom wanted yet, it was offered to her. Maggie assures me that she's really very nice, just insecure.

I decided to keep Maggie's insights in mind and, when the new mom returned to work, treat her like a new employee. Tabula rasa.

Yesterday the new mom and I were together for about 5 hours, some of it with the client, much of it just the two of us. I believe we got along very well! She was less defensive and respectful of my contributions and responsibilities when it came to the presentation, so I suspect Maggie may have given the new mom some insights about those of us on the creative team, too.

Life is easier and more pleasant when there's less tension in the air. So even though her assignment here is over, I send a thank you through the cosmos to Maggie. She's like a marketing Mary Poppins, landing in an agency, healing the rift between account and creative, and then, just as suddenly, flying away to help others in need.

September Fitness Challenge

Day 10. Good choices. Yesterday morning I rode Amtrak down to the client's offices. I got there just in time for a quick meet 'n' greet with our client before The Big Presentation. We sat in the company cafeteria. Both she and my coworker/copresenter had salads. I really wasn't hungry but hadn't eaten anything all day and was worried that my stomach would make an unattractive rumble during the song and dance. So to stave off rumbling, I reached for a bag of chips. And put it back, instead opting for a low-fat raspberry yogurt.

My healthy wisdom didn't end there. Last night I stubbed my toe (I am a klutz) and sustained an interesting but unacceptable break on my right toenail. Part of it just chipped away and it looked like the eye of a hook-and-eye pair. I have plans Friday PM and all day Saturday so I decided I would just have to get a new pedi over Friday lunch ... even though I had planned to use that time to work out.

"Wait a moment!" I said to myself. "Does anyone really have to get a pedi?" So I actually grabbed the nail clippers and emery board and took care of it myself. Just like the pioneer women did! Thereby preserving time for my workout.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trying not to think about it

There's a certified letter waiting for me at the post office. Aren't these things usually legal? Uh-oh. What have I done?


While I wish The Bumbles were correct in guessing the contents, the certified letter didn't fill me with delight. Nor with dread. It was just an, "eh!"

The developer who was going to tear down the shops around the block and across the street from my building went bankrupt. So now those store fronts and empty and there are no plans for them. Until September 1. My village recently passed an ordinance that states that, since I live within 500 feet of the property, I have the right to question the new developer who just bought the parcel of land.

Since I can't see that property from my condo, I don't much care. But it's nice to know that the developer is following all the rules and touching all the bases and dotting his i's and crossing his t's.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

September Fitness Challenge

Day 9. Self restraint. Lunch at my desk, meeting prep for tomorrow, a new assignment ... It was a busy day. Limited myself to one 20-oz. bottle of Pepsi. That's the only caffeine I had during the workday. The rest of the day I drank water. I heard a can of Red Bull calling my name, but I resisted!