Tuesday, August 31, 2010

10 on Tuesday -- I'm curious

Ten female celebrities and the superficial questions I'd ask them.

1) Elizabeth Taylor. What's it like to have once been the most beautiful woman in the world -- and now not be?

2) Jennifer Aniston. Do you still pine for Brad? Or is it just that you pining for Brad makes such good tabloid magazine copy?

3) Kate Middleton. Do you know what you're getting you're getting yourself into?

4) Nancy Grace. Do you really believe you're "a crusader for justice," or do you realize your show isn't that different from Jerry Springer's?

5) Laura Bush. What's it like to love a man when it seems the whole world is mad at him?

6) Paula Abdul. American Idol is floundering without you. Do you enjoy that?

7) Oprah. You can lay your hands on anything you want, so what's on your Christmas Wish List?

8) Madonna. What do you think of Lady GaGa?

9) Paris Hilton. What do you think of the Kardashian girls?

10) Hillary Clinton. So what's your marriage really like?

Monday, August 30, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 30

Jackpot! My new office really has a great view: Millennium Park and Trump Tower. And to think I actually told my boss I'd swap this office for a smaller one with no window if it would help keep peace within the team. (One of the art directors was upset that there weren't enough wall offices available for her to get one.) I'm so glad he didn't take me up on it. This office is going to be a great place to observe the fall colors and the Christmas lights.

Movie Monday -- Child Actors

Share the roles you've enjoyed from the younger set, linking back here at The Bumbles.

I'm going to take this opportunity to send a Valentine to Karen Dotrice, the British actress whose career began when she was 9 in 1964 and lasted until she was 50 in 2005.

Thanks to her performances in two Disney movies, she was a key stand-in for me when I was growing up. First, she was Mary McDhui, the motherless child who loved her cat, Thomasina, beyond all reason (though her actions made complete sense to me then, and still touch me now). Then she went on to her most famous role as Jane Banks, the girl bewitched by her supercalifragilisticexpialidocious nanny (and who wouldn't be?), Mary Poppins.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 29

Little things mean a lot. This evening my best friend sent a message while he waited in the parking lot outside his daughter's ballet studio. They're waiting together for the 2010 Nutcracker cast. She's terribly excited and very confident and he's nervous -- hopeful but worried he should be managing her expectations a bit.

I love this.

He's very good at sharing the big things -- like when one of us is afraid for our jobs or when we first heard about Kathleen's condition. But sometimes he forgets how valuable it is to share the littler things, too. Because it's moments like this that make up our lives.

PS She got two roles -- a soldier in the first act and a Chinese dancer in the second.

Life imitates art

Tonight's episode of Mad Men ("Waldorf Stories") surrounds the Clio Awards. A commercial done by Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is nominated, and even though Peggy believes the original idea was hers and that her contribution should be recognized, she isn't invited to represent the agency at the ceremony.

This very thing happened to me. Back in the late 1980s, a campaign I worked on won a Clio. I not only wasn't sent to the ceremony, I didn't even get a statue. Why would I? I only wrote all the copy.

I did, however, get a copy of the award certificate with my name listed, and the haircare company I worked for back then paid to have it framed. At the time, I was exuberant.

Didn't occur to me until this evening that I was passed over not because my contribution wasn't important -- it was vital. I was too junior. And back then, I acted like a girl (instead of a woman) on top of it. While my work was taken seriously, I wasn't.

I love Mad Men.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Majorly Personal Meme, Part Two

Cheers to all of us thieves!

21. If you were to live your life without your best friend, what would change? Nothing feels as right or makes as much sense when he's not around.

22. Tell us about a era of your life that you really miss. The 80s. Everything felt new and fun and I didn't think much about consequences. Also, I liked the music.

23. Have you ever been betrayed by someone that came as a complete surprise? Without revealing the person, if yes, tell us about it. Ouch! It cut too close to the bone to go over just now.

24. Do you ever think that is a good idea to hide your feelings? Sometimes it's the wisest course.

25. Tell us about your favorite year when you were a student. 7th grade. I was enjoying my first taste of freedom, being able to go places with my friends without adult supervision. I had a really great cat, Tommy. My parents' marriage hadn't begun unraveling yet. And I was making the move away from kids' books to grown-up ones.

25. When was the last time you were in a very good mood? What caused it? Something happens every day that puts me in a good mood. Yesterday it was watching the Cubs' Xavier Nady have a good game against the Reds. He's got awesome shoes to fill (D. Lee!) and it's fun to watch him take a shot at making the position his, either with the Cubs or another team next year. He's 31 and this is his fourth team. He reminds me of Eric Karros and Todd Walker, two other Cubs who may never become stars but were good-looking and hard working and really fun to watch.

26. Have you ever had a romantic relationship with a sibling of a good friend? No.

27. Tell us about the last thing that you did that you truly regret. I think perhaps I was too hard on my oldest friend. But her dark moods are forever getting the best of her and it's time she take the reins of her own life! So if I did the wrong thing, I did it with the best intentions.

28. When did you laugh today? When one of the guys on the janitorial staff told me I didn't look old enough to have lived here for 10 years.

29. Do you trust easily? Not anymore.

30. What do you care about that you wish more people would? High-speed rail. Our environmental problems, our international conflicts seem to tie back to our dependence on foreign oil. High-speed rail corridors between Chicago and St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee would get a lot of cars off the highways.

31. Is it easier for you to go without food or go without sleep? Food.

32. What non-alcohol beverage do you enjoy drinking the most? Coke.

33. When you walk into a room full of strangers, generally how is your confidence? What confidence?

34. Does talking about sex with anyone but your lover make you uncomfortable? Nope.

35. Do you tend to believe members of the opposite sex mostly behave the same way? No. We're each individual and unique, like snowflakes.

36. Did you drink any alcohol this week? If yes, what? No, I haven't. Which, come to think of it, is rather unusual for me.

37. Would you ever consider being a vegetarian? No

38. Do you believe that there’s always room in your heart for someone? Yes

39. Do you believe in the concept of soul mates? Yes

40. Last week, we had a few players criticize our victim’s questions. Which is fine to do and we value your opinion. Would you ever consider writing questions for Bud and me to post on a Sunday Stealing? Nuh-uh.

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 28

Cubs win! Cubs win! OK, so it's been a disappointing suckfest of a season. But individual games can still bring me joy. Like today's. 3-2 over the Reds. It had Fukodome making a great catch, and the ump saying he trapped it. Nady swung so hard he fell down in the batter's box -- but he also hit a homer. Randy Wells was great on the mound. Damn, a good, close, exciting game always makes me happy

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

1. Who was the last person you dealt with that felt that they could never be wrong? One of my art directors. Whenever another (or perhaps better) solution is suggested to her, she never evinces enthusiasm. Instead she just says, "whatever."

2. Tell us about one person who is the most like you. My niece just entered her senior year of high school. She is very much her own girl, with her own interests, and a tremendous desire for independence, which is how I was at that age (and now, I suppose). She has a career focus that I didn't at that age, and I admire her for that. Whereas my goal was to get out of the house, her goal is to get out ... and know where she's going.

3. What is something you really want right now? A washer and dryer that work!

4. What are you doing this weekend? The freaking trip to the freaking laundromat is top of mind right now. (Growl.)

5. Are you in a good mood? If yes, Why? Yes. In spite of the washer/dryer aggravation. Because the sun is out and the sky is blue and it's not prohibitively hot outside and (once I get the freaking laundry out of the way), I can do pretty much whatever I want today.

6. Do you have an ex that you are pretty sure thinks about you a lot? No.

7. What's one thing you wish you could do but can't? Sing! In my mind I'm forever the leather-lunged belting diva, a la Streisand. In reality, I'm completely tone-deaf. Bummer.

8. What's one trait you hate in a person? Bullies. Pick on somebody your own size, why don'tcha?

9. What's one thing you like to do alone? Read books or watch movies. It's harder to be transported to another place/time, if you're doing your traveling with someone else.

Friday, August 27, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 27

My new checks arrived! Aren't they great? As this disappointing season limps to an end, it somehow seems even more important to show my support (even if it's just to Commonwealth Edison and the condo association).

If you want your own Cubs checks (or if you cheer on any other mlb team), click here.

Crazy Old Neighbor is at it again

Put a load of laundry in the washer at 7:00. Went down to the laundry room at 7:45 to move it to the dryer and couldn't. Because someone (Crazy Old Neighbor) unhooked the hose from the sink so the water drained onto the floor, and pulled the washer just far enough away from the wall that it was impossible to open the dryer door. With the floor all wet and slippery, it wasn't easy for me to push the washer back.

Last week Crazy Old Neighbor broke the other washer and dryer. So now this building -- 24 units -- has no laundry facilities.

And tomorrow I have to waste my morning at the washeteria.

Right now, I hate Crazy Old Neighbor.

Is it wrong?

My neighborhood Blockbuster will be closing its doors forever -- after 20 years -- in mid-September. And I just spent nearly an hour wandering its shelves, picking up treasures on sale. I got 15 lobby cards for $3 (to decorate my new office and share with friends), a South Park DVD game for my niece, three used DVDs for me and, best of all, a brand new, still sealed copy of An Affair to Remember for my mom, all for $37.77!

It's a "best of all" because my mom is broke these days, and she feels very bad that she won't be able to fuss over my kid sister very much for her upcoming birthday. Well, when they were on vacation together last week, my mom and my sister were talking about movies and Mom was scandalized that my sister had never seen An Affair to Remember, which is one of Mom's favorites. Even though I'm not wild about my sister these days, it was well worth $7 to pick it up for my mom to give her. Because really, not being able to spoil us is the hardest part of the Recession for my mom.

So I was happy about this until it occurred to me -- Blockbuster itself could be creating more victims of the Recession. After all, that location has employed people in this town for decades. Is it wrong for me to get happiness out of their "going out of business" sale? I feel a little like a vulture.

I don't get it

I admit it -- I'm an unabashed fan girl. Whether it's Sir Paul McCartney or my beloved/beleaguered Chicago Cubs, or more recently NCIS' Jethro Gibbs, once I give my heart it's given. I'm as passionate and loyal to men I'll never meet as anyone on the planet.

But I'm sorry, I don't get this. There's so much darkness attached to Michael Jackson's legacy, so much denial in regards to his eccentricities, problems and character, such romance attached to his tawdry death … and this seems to be celebration of much of that.

On the other hand, the people of Gary are really suffering during this Recession, and the influx of cash will help. So I guess it's a good thing.

I'm just so much more ambivalent about this rather maudlin event than I am regarding so many other fanventions, which seem like good, life-affirming and completely silly fun.

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 27

Watching Reynaldo make a friend. My neighbor across the hall has her 7-to-8-year-old grand daughter visiting her. The three of us rode up in the elevator together. "Are you the one who keeps cats?" Jasmine (or is Yasmine?) asked me. I responded that I was and asked her if she wanted to meet Rey. She did. Grandma said, "Ok, girls, you know where I live," meaning we were on our own, which I took as a compliment -- my neighbor trusts both me and Rey.

I explained to Jasmine that since I had been gone all day, Reynaldo would be very eager to see us. And he was. As soon as he heard my voice and the key in the door, he was there. He was happy to see me, and her. I showed her how to let him smell her hand and explained that is a cat's way of figuring out who we are. Then he started to purr and rub against her. What a champ he was!

After a few minutes of bonding, I realized that Reynaldo and Jasmine were beginning a love affair and could be here all night. So I explained that he needed his dinner and she reluctantly agreed, but asked if she could visit him next time she came to see Grandma. I reassured her that Rey would like that very much.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why is this man smiling?

This is Robert Blagojevich, Rod's brother. He's grinning because he just learned that the government has dropped all charges against him and he won't be retried along with his brother next year.

Robert and Rod were tried together -- when it came to their charges, the jury had to either acquit or convict them both. The jury couldn't reach either conclusion. No one knows for sure what the jurors told the Feds, but it's safe to assume that the jurors were closer to acquitting Robert than his more famous brother. Perhaps that's because Robert willingly took the stand and testified under oath.

Until relatively recently, the Blagojevich Brothers were estranged. While Rod followed his shooting political star in Chicagoland, his older brother served in the armed forces and lived in Kentucky. When Rod got in hot water with the local Democratic Party, he became paranoid and reached out to his brother, explaining that he needed a political operative he could trust and there was no left in the local establishment who fit that bill. So Robert came up here, worked as his kid brother's fundraiser and, presumably, found himself being used by the government for leverage when the indictments first came down -- rumor has it, Blago was told, "Take a plea and we'll let your brother go." Rod refused the offer and so Robert stood trial.

Now, after two years and huge legal bills, it's over. Did he break the law in his efforts to help his brother raise campaign cash? Probably. Was it intentional? Probably not. Has he paid a big enough price for his really very minor role in this mess? Undoubtedly. Thanks to Patrick Fitzgerald for saving tax payers the expense of a second trial.

And now it looks like the brothers' relationship is going back to the way it was. When asked if Rod had called to congratulate him on the good news from the government, Robert said, "No. When it comes to my brother, I'm an afterthought." When asked if he "blamed" his brother for dragging him into this, Robert said, "I don't discuss my relationship with my brother."

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 25

FREE pizza! Since I stayed late to (almost) finish packing, a team that was working late* and ordered dinner invited me to partake of their leftovers. I knew I should partake of the salad, but instead I went for the pizza. Free food always takes better.

*Enough work that at least four coworkers had to work overtime is also good news.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

That's approx. $8.75 I saved

I rescued 24 letter-sized folders from one of the dumpsters outside my office. On the one hand, I'm pleased that I am able to recycle & reuse, saving the agency money and shooting an assist to Mother Earth. On the other hand, I suspect I may be dumpster diving because it distracts me from the daunting task of packing up my own office, which has to be completed by end of day tomorrow. GULP!

I Want Wednesday

I want perspective, to have it and to share it. I realize none of us sees our own lives clearly. Watching how my oldest friend keeps self-sabotaging, I wish I could shake her and show her the err to her ways (smoking, not exercising, indulging in things she knows will upset her -- and then getting upset with herself because she's depressed and not feeling well). Then I remember how she watched helplessly as I wasted my 20s on a real repulsivo. So that's why this Wednesday, I want 360º perspective.

What about you? What do you want today?

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 24

Done! After six months and countless hours and $700 (it would have $1075 without insurance), my tooth is finally done!

Why was it so complicated? In the 18 years since I first got a crown in the back, my gums have receded. This allowed a cavity to form beneath the crown. Unusual, but not unheard of. The cavity grew horizontally across the tooth, rather than down into the gum. Also unusual. This made it easier for my dentist to save the tooth (yea!) but also entailed some surgery on the gums on either side. And, unfortunately, the old crown which had served me so well came apart upon removal, so it had to be replaced.

But what matter now? As of 7:20 on August 24, my long dental nightmare was over!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 on Tuesday

About the move.

1) We're changing offices on Friday.

2) I'm moving down the hall, and I believe I'll be getting a nicer view of Michigan Avenue. (Yea!)

3) The weekly beer cart parks right in front of my new office, which is also good.

4) But I'm not sure where my new printer and copy machine will be.

5) Our team is moving closer together, and a team from another floor is moving up here.

6) This is good because seeing all these empty offices, reminding us all of layoffs and fallen comrades, hasn't been good for morale …

7) And because the agency gets to make a little money by subletting one of the floors downstairs.

8) But I'm shocked by how much waste occurs every time we move. Reusable binders and paper clips by the ton get tossed into the dumpsters.

9) I have a hard time parting with anything, but I'm really going to try this time.

10) But I will take care to keep my recyclable paper out of the dumpster and in the blue recycle basket under my desk.

The Queen's Meme -- The Back to Fools Meme

1. Do you know your primary colors? Describe for me, if you will, the colors red, blue and green to a blind person. Red is cinnamon. Blue is ice. Green is leaves and grass.

2. What was your adult summer reading? My favorite book this summer was Heart of the Matter. It's the story of an extramarital affair as told alternately by the wife and the other woman. I ached for both of them, and it got me thinking that no one sees him (or her) self as a villain.

3. When you assembled your clothes last night for today's activities - you did do that, didn't you? - what did you choose to wear? Dark wash jeans and one of those pullovers I bought at Carson's.

4. What's in your lunchbox? Tuesday I'm buying lunch. But yesterday I brought spinach salad and apple slices w/caramel.

5. Imagine that your teacher is your fantasy crush. What would you bring her/him on the first day of school? Hmmmmm??? A sachet redolent of Lovely cologne, my scent. I want him to become familiar with it, as he'll be breathing it in as he leans over me in class, discussing my schoolwork.
6. No rest for the weary. Your child's teacher just called. A big ole' bully knocked your precious one into a locker for no good reason at all. What is your response to the principal? Set up a meeting for the three of us -- Principal, me and Ma Bully.

7. You have been given a pair of scissors, a glue stick and copy of Entertainment Weekly. Whose picture do you cut out and who do you glue to your headboard? George Clooney on the red carpet, wearing a tuxedo and roguish charm.

8. TEN POINT BONUS QUESTION! Now that you have time to watch all those Gilligan's Island reruns, tell me....What was the Professor really doing with Mary Ann all that time they were lost in the jungle? Hiding from Gilligan and the Skipper. Gawd! All that bickering!
And remember this uplifting quote:

"If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers."

Edgar W. Howe

Now save yourself from the dungeon by playing yourself. Click here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 23

My virtue. I not only worked out at lunchtime, I brought my lunch. AND I resisted the seductive scent of barbecue and made my own dinner at home. Brings me just that much closer to my dual goals of no longer being fat and poor.

Introducing Urban Shocker

Is this not one of the greatest baseball names ever?

Born in 1890, Urban played for the Yankees and the St. Louis Browns from 1916 to 1928. According to my baseball page-a-day calendar, yesterday would have been his 120th birthday. I wish I'd known so I could celebrate accordingly.

"Oh, Gal, this is AWFUL!"

That's how my 10-year-old nephew responded last night when I said, "Hello." The family has been away all week, up in Wisconsin in a cabin without a TV, and he didn't find out until Sunday morning (from friends at a birthday party) that the Cubs had traded D Lee and Lou had suddenly retired.

We agreed we would rather keep losing with a team we like than say goodbye.

He's a Cub fan.

Movie Monday -- Prison Movies

Share movies you've enjoyed featuring jail time or the escape from them, linking back here at The Bumbles. However - NO SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION ALLOWED - that is a slam-dunk automatic. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Cool Hand Luke was just on over the weekend so it's very top of mind. So many favorite scenes! The 50 eggs, "Plastic Jesus," and the montage at the end, when the guys are recalling "that Luke
smile." I may be alone among women on the planet, but I never found Paul Newman sexy. However, when you see "that Luke smile," you can't help but smile back. He was, without a doubt, the coolest man ever.

Brubaker. How can I think of Newman without Redford? I believe this is the only movie where Redford played a character on the right side of the law. He plays a high-minded pris
on reformer, sometimes so stubbornly high-minded he gets in his own way. It's almost as though he's playing the Streisand/Way We Were part this time, with Jane Alexander as the one who is willing to work within the system and compromise. While non-sexual, the conflict and respect between these two characters is unusual and interesting to watch. He's so sure he's right, so convinced that he can help these men (whom he admits are probably very bad men) that he gets himself fired. Could he have done more good if he hadn't been so hellbent on being right? I like movies that are about something, and this one delivers.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 22

The boys. Reynaldo and Joey have become best buds. It amuses me that they play, roughhouse and nap together, because they seem oblivious to the disparity in their sizes. Joe is so happy to have his best friend nearby that he's making curly paws.

So far, this is my "happiness moment"

This makes me laugh, even though the Blago was photographed in the Batmobile at Comic.con yesterday. Watch for the Cubs logo. It's even known in Taiwan!

Farewell, Sweet Lou!

With the announcement that Lou is leaving the Cubs forever after today's game, I will treasure having seen him one last time -- live and in person -- last Thursday even more.

My favorite skipper since Leo back in the 1960s.

Like the song says: "You may have been a headache, but you never were a bore.
I'm awfully glad I met you. And thank you, so much."

My scale once said this

It may never say this again, but I am posting it as a reminder -- What [wo]man has done, [wo]man can do.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Majorly Personal Meme, Part One

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Are you happier now than you were five months ago? Healthier, certainly. Happier? I guess so. Feeling better physically contributes to being happier.

2. Have you ever slept in the same bed with anyone that you shouldn't have? Oh, yes.

3. Can you sleep in total darkness? Yes.

4. Your phone is ringing. It’s the person you fell hardest for, the one who got away, what do you say? "I hope you're happy." Because of what I learned recently, that's not a question asked lightly.

5. What do you think about the weather this summer? Too freaking hot.

6. How many people do you trust with everything? I don't trust anyone with absolutely everything.

7. What was the last thing you drank? Classic Coke.

8. Is there anyone you want to come see you? I always want to see my best friend.

9. Name one thing you love about winter? Holiday lights brightening the city. What a nice thought on a sticky summer day!

10. Have you ever dated a Goth? No. I'm over 50. Dating a Goth would be pathetic.

11. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? I'm writing this on Saturday night, so on Sunday I'm looking forward to working out. It'll feel good to get this old heart of mine racing again!

12. Name something you dislike about the day you’re having? It's too freaking hot.

13. What's the longest that you have committed to one person and one person only? Six years.

14. What’s the first thing you did when you opened your eyes today? Tried to remember if it was the weekend, so I could decide whether I had to leap out of bed or just the waking up process unfold naturally.

15. Has anyone ever told you they never want to ever lose you? Yes.

16. Is there anybody that you wish you could fix your relationship with? Yes. I'm far from perfect as a friend or as a romantic partner.

17. Could you go out in public, looking like you do now? Yes. But to borrow from Jurassic Park, just because I can doesn't mean I should.

18. Do you think things will change in the next 3 months? How? Define "things." Do you mean national, international, professional or interpersonal situations? Yes, some "things" will definitely change in the next 3 months. Personally, I'd like to be less fat and less broke.

19. Do you believe that you never know what you got until you lose it? I think that's often true. "We take paradise and put up a parking lot."

20. Do you have a friend of the opposite sex you can talk to? Yes. My best friend. All this talk of him this meme inspires me to shoot him an email. Gotta run!

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 21

Plenty of nothin'. Today I got a haircut, went to the movies (The Switch), wandered around the bookstore, enjoyed some Ben and Jerry's Mint Chunk Ice Cream, got home and curled up with Cary Grant. A very good, albeit blissfully uneventful, day.

The opposite of Cary Grant

A homeless man was being questioned by police, right next door to the ice cream parlor. He was short and unkempt and missing his front teeth. He was also pissed that the police were detaining him, he was adamant that he'd done nothing wrong. I heard one of the cops say, "Harvey? Did you use their bathroom and then forget to put your penis away?"

It was sad and probably very innocent on poor Harvey's part. But it's a pleasant August night and there were families sitting at the tables in front of the ice cream parlor. I'm sure the parents were disturbed by the show Harvey was putting on, even if it as unintentional.

Isn't he terrific?

I'm halfway through the PBS Cary Grant marathon (a special about his life and career, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Bringing Up Baby). I don't know that I'm in love with him, exactly. But I do believe he may be the most appealing man ever captured on film. I can't imagine anyone looking at him and not being charmed. William Powell could also be elegant and funny, and of course, today George Clooney is irresistibly sexy. But are either of them as unutterably adorable and completely seductive as Cary Grant? I don't think so.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Welcome Back

1. Where were you the last time that someone welcomed you back? Absolutely nothing comes to mind. Isn't that sad?

2. Tell us who is you favorite non-family member to hang out with? My best friend. I'm both my most comfortable and my most engaged with him, and time flies.

3. What was the last thing that happened to anger you? My crazy old neighbor vandalized the washers and dryers ... again.

4. What was the last thing that you saw that was shocking to see? That people (OK, a friend of a friend on Facebook) actually believe Obama is a "Muslim traitor." I thought such people were an urban myth, like Bigfoot.

5. What is your favorite thing to do on Saturday besides Saturday 9? Nothing. I love being lazy on the weekends.

6. Have you had your summer vacation yet? If yes tell us about it. I don't take summer vacations. I take a spa trip (this year to Colonial Williamsburg) in the spring and visit friends in Key West between Christmas and New Year's. That gives me a perfect balance of pampering and partying.

7. Pick out one of your cousins and tell us about them. My poor Cousin Kathy. She is my uncle's only child, and his mental and physical disintegration must be very hard on her. I can't imagine being her position, and having to deal with the choices she has to make when it comes to dealing with an ailing parent while trying to be a good mother to her own sons.

8. Do you have any special plans for next week? Yet another trip to the dentist! Yea! I'm only being a little sarcastic. This dental work (all for a single, exceptionally troublesome cavity) has taken up entirely too much of my time, energy and money … since March! I hope that Tuesday's appointment is the last in the series.

9. At what age will you consider yourself old and why? Oooh, that's a tough one. Sometimes I feel older than Methuselah right now, and other times I feel like a kid.

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 20

They're Playing Our Song. In 1979, this was the big hit on Broadway, Marvin Hamlisch's followup to A Chorus Line. I loved it then but kinda forgot about it. Probably because it was never a movie and it's never enjoyed a big stage revival. Too bad, because it's quite charming. I was so happy to find this clip from that year's Tony Awards. Robert Klein is playing Vernon, a character clearly based on world-class geekatroid Marvin Hamlisch, and doing a wonderful job. And Lucie is a revelation. Sure, the 70s poodle perm makes her eyes look too close together and her dress looks like it was borrowed from Ann-Margret's nightclub act, but listen to her sing and watch her dance -- in heels! There's not a trace of Lucy Riccardo there. Maybe that disappoints people, but I think she was great.

Rediscovering Sonja and Vernon was like hooking up with old friends again. I got the CD from Amazon, and it makes me very happy.

Just pouring it out

This post has been bubbling up inside of me for a while now, and I'm just going to let it flow. Maybe getting it out of my system will help me feel cleansed inside.

First of all, I want to say that I love my mother very much. I also know that, since she's in her mid-70s and in compromised health, I won't have her that much longer. So I can't/won't talk to her about this. I don't want this poisoning our remaining time together.

When I was a little girl, I loved my Grandpa (my dad's dad) to distraction. I think it's because he loved me so much. There's something sublime about that kind of completely unquestioning love. I still remember how he smelled (like cigars and licorice lozenges). He died of a massive heart attack when I was in high school. He's been gone longer than I knew him, but I still miss him.

Those grandparents had one child still at home when I was growing up, my Aunt Jo, my godmother, about a decade my senior. My mother and my Aunt Jo never hit it off. Don't know why, exactly. It was just always there. Consequently I spent a lot of time over there as a kid with just my dad. Sometimes Aunt Joanne was there -- she'd take me miniature golfing and paint my toenails -- sometimes I'd just snoop around in her bedroom. She seemed quite glamorous to me. She'd doodle the name of her then-boyfriend (later husband) Bob on her desk blotter, had a framed photo of President Kennedy over her door and had a sloping ceiling over her bed, which gave it an especially cozy look.

Shortly before Grandpa died, Aunt Jo married Bob and they had a baby. My Grandma, now a widow, spent more and more time at our house and consequently I saw less and less of my Aunt Jo.

It's about this time that I was also molested by one of my relatives -- on my mother's side.

There. Now you have the cast of characters.

Recently my Aunt Jo has begun corresponding with me and my kid sister on Facebook. She's unemployed, lives in Florida with her second husband, and has a lot of time on her hands and is reaching out. I'm OK with being reached out to. At my request, she posted a treasure trove of photos of my Grandpa (her dad) and even one of me when I was tiny. In that shot I'm in her lap, we're in the backyard at my grandparents' house and I can barely make out the swing where I would spend so many happy hours in a few years. My aunt also sent me a family history that some distant cousin did -- it just arrived today and I'm going to pore over it this weekend.

I have copied my kid sister on everything because, well, her kids never knew our Grandpa and only my niece knew Grandma and they may be interested in all this. After all, it's her family, too.

She apparently told my mom. I think she may have emphasized how Aunt Jo wrote things like, "You were so the favorite in our house" because when my mother mentioned it to me, her voice had something of an edge to it.

"Your sister tells me you and your aunt are corresponding on that Facebook thing."

"Yes." And I told her about the photos of Grandpa and the family history.

"I don't care," was my mother's response.

"You wouldn't," I said, trying unsuccessfully not to get testy. "It's not your family. It's dad's."

"I wouldn't care even if it was my family."

"You asked what Jo and I talk about. I'm telling you."

My mom started on what a spoiled brat Jo was, how she was "beyond fat" as a young girl and very jealous of everyone who was prettier, which according to my mom, was everyone. OK. I believe I've heard this before. It may even be true. I mean, when my mom married into that family, she was barely out of her teens and Jo was not yet into adolescence and may very well have hated my mom and acted out. Whatever. It has nothing to do with me.

And maybe, just maybe, I'd like to have a more solid tie to a simpler time, to a woman who wrote that, "to me, you'll always be my sweet little niece who liked to snuggle on the couch with me and her Lassie dog." (I loved that plush dog, and was touched she remembered.) Maybe, just maybe, after my mother dies, I'll want to have some link to family who actually LIKE me. Someone who also loved Grandma and Grandpa (though, as I told Aunt Jo, I appreciate that my pining for Grandpa might sound insensitive to her since, after all, he was her dad and she must miss him even more than I do).

If my mom doesn't want anything to do with Jo, that's fine. I understand. That's why I never brought our communication up to her.

But what I can't understand, what hurts so, is that my mother can dismiss someone whose only sin seems to have been being bratty while young, and yet keeps a framed photo of my molester in her bedroom.

My mom has been away for a week. Maybe now that I've written this, shared it with the cyber universe, put it out there, I won't be as angry and hurt when I talk to her again this weekend.

What the hey?

My brother in law quit his job. Quitting means no unemployment. His boss wouldn't give him the whole week off to go up to Wisconsin and get my niece, suggesting he leave early today instead. Since they agreed he could have this week off months ago, he lost his temper and quit.

Did I mention quitting means no unemployment?

He had health insurance, a truck and gas with that job, too. All gone.

I can't help my mom AND take care of them, too. Not to mention that it's a little galling to help someone who judges you as harshly as my sister does me. Or that when I'm old, I won't have a Gal equivalent to turn to.

On the other hand, they have two kids and two cats who didn't choose which home they landed in. So I sent the kids giftcards to help with back to school clothes and supplies. I have a coupon here for a free bag of premium catfood from Petco. Bet you can guess what I'm gonna do with that.

My sister's job as lunch mom begins again next week. Her take home is $45/week. The school year is only 9 months. Taking school vacations into account, my sister contributes less than $2000/year to that household. That's less than I give my mom.

What the fuck are they going to do?

Trying not to obsess …

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 19

The Stadium Club at Wrigley Field. One of the coworkers who went to the game with me knows people who are actually members of the exclusive Stadium Club, the upscale sports bar within Wrigley Field, and she got us in! After the ninth I had a drink and rehashed the game and enjoyed the atmosphere. Her friends, while older and wealthier than we are, are season ticket holders and true fans, so it was great to go indulge my inner Cubbie blue fan girl with others of my ilk. Margo actually carries a signed photo of herself with Ryan Theriot in the same album that features pictures of her grandchildren! Great folks and a good time.

Melancholy afternoon

Cubs lost 5-3, but it was an entertaining game. We were ahead at one point, and in the ninth we closed the gap. Our seats were so good that I was able to take this photo of Starlin Castro without even getting up.

But I was a little blue throughout. When the game was over, I didn't want to get up and leave because when this season ends, I feel like I will be losing something dear. Derrick Lee is gone. Lou has announced his retirement. Both Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot are gone.

This happens every 5 years or so. Management loads up the truck and hauls away players that I have come to care about. It bothers me more than the losing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 18

A moment of class. After more than 14 years with the agency, my boss' boss was let go on Monday. He was back in the office today and packed up his stuff. After he was done, he stopped by to shake my hand and say goodbye. He didn't have to do it. He was frank and unsentimental but not bitter. It is what it is, he saw it coming, and he'll be fine. It was as though he didn't want me to worry about him, or to have what happened have any impact on how I feel about the agency. Very impressive, very classy.

The upside of a bad situation

OK, so maybe my agency has sustained even more lay offs. And perhaps the Cubs do suck this year. But that doesn't mean I can't find the pony amid all this shit.

I get to sit in the agency's PRIMO box seats at tomorrow's game!

Never mind that I only get this opportunity because so many people no longer work here and so few people still care about the season. I still intend to go and have a fabulous time. And I'll be wearing my official MLB Greg Maddux #31 Cub jersey!

I Want Wednesday

I want Blago to go away.

He's been found guilty of one count, a felony, which has jail time attached. I don't care that it's a "lesser" charge. He's now a convicted felon and he should serve time for that. Do we really need a retrial? Do we really need to go through all this again?

He's no longer in the statehouse. He's no longer in politics. He's broke. He will probably be disbarred. That's enough for me.

Now I simply want Rod Blagojevich to go away.

What about you? What do you want today?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everyone needs Frangoes

According to Macys.com: "A delectable combination, smooth milk chocolate and refreshing mint come together to dazzle your taste buds. Since 1918, Frango has been cooking up batches of savory, yet refreshingly melt-in-your-mouth mint chocolate."

Until recently, Frango Mints were the trademark of Chicago's Marshall Field's. When the Field's name disappeared, Macy's picked up the banner. While I'm a fan of the original milk mint, you can also enjoy double chocolate, dark mint, toffee, sugar free and milk caramel.

They are fabulous. Completely fabulous.

August Happiness Challenge 2010 -- Day 17

91¢ A tourist did the nicest thing today! As I cut through Macy's at lunchtime today, I decided I deserved a four-pack sampler box of Frangoes (retail: $3.25). While I was paying, a young man suddenly appeared at my side and handed me a Macy's gift card. "It's got less than $2 on it and I can't use it. I want you to have it." Then he disappeared.

There was still 91¢ left on the gift card. My Frangoes were even more delicious than they would have been at full price. Thank you, generous tourist.

10 on Tuesday

Where It All Goes

I have two credit cards in my wallet. One I use for big purchases that I intend to pay for over time, the other for more expected things that I charge so I can get airline miles. I pay this second one off every month. I'm budgeted for $650, and it's always way more. And I'm always surprised. For example, this month it's $737. This warrants closer examination.

The last 10 purchases to post to my Citi/American Airlines credit card statement:

1) Guthy-Renkor Principal Secret. My moisturizer, cleansing mask and tinted moisturizer are delivered to 4 times a year, and my card is billed automatically for this every month. A good deal, and not a surprise.

2) Groupon -- $5 for $10 worth of frozen yogurt. An impulse purchase, yes, but undoubtedly a good deal.

3) Book of the Month Club. A Robert B. Parker tribute/Spenser compilation. This one I kinda regret. For while I loved Robert B. Parker and Spenser, I don't think I will ever reread these mysteries. PLUS it violates my "no new books in 2010" edict. So that's $13.78 I wish I hadn't spent.

4) Paypal for computer software. I hated spending this, but it was necessary.

5) Peapod. Grocery delivery service. It's been so freaking hot, there's no way I was going to lug a 15-lb. jug of cat litter, carton of Coke, bottle of bleach and Lord knows what else home. I stand by this one, too.

6) Quinn for Governor. Don't know if you've heard, but Illinois has had some bad luck with Governors lately. I hope this turns out to the a good investment.

7) Pumpkin Moon. Local card shop. I stocked up on silly cards and funny notepads and magnets to send to my friend Kathleen as she deals with her treatments. I couldn't have seen this coming, but it was $16.33 very well spent.

8) USPS. A month's worth of stamps, plus postage for a package of paperback books to Operation Shoebox. Obviously money well spent.

9) Comcast. Cable and Internet. More important than air and water for this Gal.

10) The Humane Society of the US. My monthly contribution, automatically billed to my card. How can we not help our furry friends?

Reviewing these, I feel better about going over budget, even though the frivolous, unnecessary purchases that I should be ashamed of and regret undoubtedly appear further down the statement.