Tuesday, November 30, 2010
1) Horseface. In Chicagoland in the late 1940s, cats were allowed to wander at night. They also weren't "fixed." These two unwise practices led to my uncle's first cat being called Horseface. Quite the Lothario, he cut a wide swath through the neighborhood and got into many fights over his many girl friends. Because he came home every morning with his face looking the worse for wear, my very young uncle christened him "Horseface," and it stuck. Today no one could remember this much-loved old fellow's original first name. He was "Horseface."
2) Dumbo. The unfortunate offspring of Horseface and Snoozer (my mother's calico). Because Horseface was such a randy dude, Snoozer was forever pregnant. My grandmother was a single working mother in the 1940s and trips to the vet were simply not in her budget. So, whenever Snoozer delivered a litter, she put the wee ones in a cigar box, drowned them in the laundry tub, and disposed of the unopened box in the alley. One kitten did not die and made his way out of the cigar box and back into the yard. Snoozer reclaimed her baby and protected him fiercely. The thing of it is, the time under water and in the cigar box did quite a bit of damage to unfortunate Dumbo. He looked odd -- with incredibly over-sized ears -- and he swayed when he walked. These special traits made both Snoozer and my young uncle treasure Dumbo all the more, and he survived to live a happy life.
3) Rover. A huge St. Bernard with a heart to match. Unfortunately, he also had jaws to match. He was very protective of my uncle and this got them both in trouble. While rough-housing, my uncle found himself at the bottom of a pile of kids. He called Rover to help. Rover did, lifting one of the children up with his teeth and removing him from the pile. The big dog didn't mean to hurt the kid, but then, didn't much care if that was the outcome, either. The boy's back looked as though he'd suffered a shark attack and his angry mother went to the police station and demanded Rover be put to sleep. It took all my grandmother's powers of persuasion to bring Rover home, alive and well, but never to be let off his leash.
4) Mr. McDuff. My uncle was very fond of this German Shepard, and was sad that the dog didn't return the affection. It had something to do with my teen-aged uncle first accidentally setting McDuff's tail on fire, then accidentally squishing the poor dog's tail under a rocking chair. McDuff learned to avoid him -- which, while sad, was probably wise.
5) Countless fish. Until recently, he always kept tropical fish and loved watching their lives unfold in a big aquarium. He gave both my kid sister and me guppies which we kept for a long time. And not that long ago he set my young nephew up with a fish tank. My nephew became terribly attached to one of his fish (christened "Hungry") and was inconsolable when he died. Hungry was not flushed but was buried in the back yard. This is the cornerstone of my nephew's relationship with his great-uncle.
6) Dog. A ginormous turtle who required more care than my uncle could give him. It was with a heavy heart that my uncle donated old Dog to the Morton Arboretum. That was about 30 years ago. It occurs to me today that Dog may still be happily paddling around out there. I hope so.
7) Corky. This little old terrier already belonged to my uncle's second wife when they married. His wife kept Corky relegated to the "mud room," not understanding that pets are members of the family. Since my uncle encouraged Corky to enjoy full use of the entire house, they became fast friends. My uncle had many photos of Corky sitting proudly beside the recliner in the livingroom, wearing a variety of neckties. I don't know how this practice began, but it cracked my uncle up that Corky would sit still so patiently, submitting to having a perfect windsor tied around his neck.
8) Brandy. Corky's successor. A huge, big-hearted girl -- part golden retriever, part yellow lab. She died unexpectedly of an undiagnosed heart ailment. By this time, my uncle was already suffering from Parkinson's but he valiantly gave Brandy a proper burial beside the garage, the area she most loved to patrol.
9) Miss Kitty. A tortoiseshell cat my mother found while on vacation in Wisconsin. Since the stray looked so much like her cat, Snoozer, the one she had as a little girl, she really wanted my uncle to have her, and, since he had a great deal of fenced-in land, he was happy to take her. The thing of it is, unfortunately, Miss Kitty turned out to be pregnant. My uncle and his wife found good homes for most of Miss Kitty's offspring, except one ...
10) Bennie. So named because she's striped like a Bengal tiger. She was my uncle's most pampered companion at the end of his life. Now partly blind and a little frail (she had many surgeries related to her thyroid a few years ago and she remains tender at the incision sites), but with a very loud purr, she now lives with my mother. I wonder if, now that my uncle no longer needs her, she will decide to join him in Heaven.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Day 28 :: What if you got pregnant, (or got someone pregnant), what would you do? This question annoys me because it assumes I'm both sexually active and young enough to get pregnant. We're not all potential breeders, about to board the ark in pairs, you know.
Day 29 :: Something you hope to change about yourself and why. My laziness and complete lack of discipline. Because it gets in the way of my happiness and contentment.
He and my uncle were not close. In fact, they clashed often over the years. Recently, when told of my uncle's desperate straits, he conveyed to my mother that he really didn't care much.
Yet he will, no doubt, be in the front row at the service because that's the kind of 14k pig and hypocrite he is. I'll be at my desk, at work. And my family will be fine with this because maintaining the illusion of a "normal" American family is more important than doing what's fair ... or what my uncle would have wanted.
Oh well, it is what it is.
I could go to the service, of course. And risk a scene with the old pervert. At which point I might start screaming. I don't need that kind of stress and crap while I mourn someone who actually mattered in my life. So I'm going to protect myself by staying away.
If there's anything that matters to me more than my family's bullshit image of itself, it's my sanity.
For once I'm going with very recent movies (two are in theaters now) instead of classics.
The Town. The aerial shots of Boston, plus Fenway (which practically has a costarring role) and the car chases down the narrow streets, made me realize I haven't been in that great city since in 2004 -- and that's too long.
Sex and the City. I mean the first movie, not the second. (Part of why SATC2 failed is they moved the action to Abu Dhabi, where they don't belong.) In the first movie, "the city" is, of course, NYC -- Carrie's true love, which is so seductive even Jennifer Hudson has to leave the midwest to give it a try. That scene at New Year's, when Carrie makes her way to Miranda's apartment, is especially moving to me as one who navigates another great (but significantly smaller) city via public transportation. I can't imagine living in New York, but whenever I see it on screen I long to return for a double-shot of urban glamor.
Morning Glory. See above.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I loved him.
In February, 1964, he took me along as he ran an errand. That day he bought me this record and told me that I had to watch The Ed Sullivan Show that night. It was that night that I fell forever in love with Sir Paul.
He wasn't the best man in the world. He could be short-tempered and selfish. Sometimes his actions reflected a deficient value system.
And yet he was always good to me. I judge him by that. I remember him that way. I mourn him.
I like thinking of him as happy and whole and with God.
Note: There were a bunch of rules and mandates that we were suppose to give but Bud lost them. Or hid them, either way it is his bad.
Cheers to all of us thieves!
1. If you could interview anyone on your blog (alive or dead) who would you chose and why? Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. JBKO. My all-time idol. I want her to tell me how she kept her dignity and sanity in the face of unendurable pain and relentless public scrutiny.
2. What do you feel is your strength as a blogger? I post often and write about a variety of stuff.
3. Can you share a little bit about yourself that you have not already mentioned on your blog? Even though I love Chicago with all my heart, I am something of a renegade in regards to cuisine. I prefer thin crust pizza and put ketchup on my hot dogs.
4. If you were forced to change the name of your blog, what would you change it to? Why? "Christmas will be canceled." I'm told that I often threaten my coworkers with this -- as in, "If we miss this deadline, Christmas will be canceled and we'll all die."
5. What do you think is the most fulfilling part of being a blogger? Having a paperless, yet still perfectly organized, chronicle of my life.
6. What would you do with your last day if you found you had only one more day to live? I wouldn't want to know. It would be too difficult.
7. You’ve been doing medical research for decades and have finally found a cure. What was it that you found a cure for and why did you choose this particular ailment? The affection some still feel for bad 70s adult contemporary music. It's not only a scourge, it can lead to addiction. How else do you explain Fanilows?
8. What is your most guilty pleasure? Watching Nancy Grace on HLN. I know she's horrific. And yet I cannot look away.
9. Answer only one. What is your favorite book, movie or TV show? JFK: Reckless Youth. It covers his life from birth to his election to congress. The Kennedy family hated this book so much that they rescinded the author's access to the family papers and there was no second volume. While it is pretty juicy about his fondness for a well-turned ankle, it does a terrific job of chronicling his courage and resilience in the face of pain and obstacles that the public never knew about or could even guess. And it taught me a valuable lesson: no matter how good a life looks from the outside, you have no idea how it feels from the inside.
10. What do you think is the very best smell in the world? The one smell that can take you back to a time and place of a very vivid memory in your past? The minty/licorice mix of these throat lozenges. My beloved Grandpa kept them on his bedside and smelled faintly of them all day. I miss him very much.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
1. Have you ever been to a fortune teller? If yes, what happened? I spoke to fortune tellers and psychics rather compulsively during a rocky, isolated time in a relationship that was very important to me. I was desperate to know what the future held for us. I thought most were charlatans but one gave me a genuinely valuable insight: apropos to nothing I had told her about myself, she told me that I needed to really feel the love I received animals. Not only did I have cats of my own, at that time I was spending a lot of time doing volunteer work at an animal shelter. So it was appropriate and helpful.
2. How do you cope in an uncomfortable social situation? Try to make the best of it until I can high tail it out of there!
3. A genie appears (of course). She asks, “If you had 3 wishes but each took 3 years off your life, what would you wish for and why?” Sorry, but I'm not interested in such a deal. Sounds more like a devil than a genie to me.
4. Would you rather lose your soul mate or never meet them at all? Oh, wow! This one is tough! I suppose I'd rather lose him.
5. What is the hardest thing that you have ever had to do? I ended the relationship mentioned in Question #1. He was a good man, and I loved him, but we weren't happy.
6. Have you ever had a miracle happen to you or your loved ones? I almost got creamed by a cab. No way I would have survived that. I think of it every time I cross the street at that spot.
7. Tell us about a quote that you can relate to. Why can you relate to it? "East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does." Groucho Marx. I love the way it confuses people when I invoke it.
8. What personality trait has gotten you into the most trouble? Being a smartass who enjoys quoting Groucho Marx.
9. For those in The States, how was your Turkey Day? If not from the US, do you celebrate a day like Thanksgiving? I had an unconventional but pleasant family get together.
I lumped these two together because both answers point to Faith.
I am still alive today because God wants to be. As my friend John reminded me last weekend, we "tore up" and "did some damage" in quite a few Chicagoland bars and restaurants in our party days. I drank a great deal and did coke and poppers. My judgment was obviously clouded and bad things could have happened to me. John was beaten and mugged once in those days, and he's a foot taller than I am. Yet I'm here, healthy and not addicted to any of the substances I played around with.
My heart has been desperately broken on more than one occasion. There are times I have hurt so badly that I would do anything to make it stop. And yet, I have never seriously considered taking my own life. I have discussed this at length with my oldest friend, who explains her unhealthy attraction to all things related to Michael Jackson's passing because at the time of his demise, she was praying for her own death. She was having health problems, romantic problems, problems with her children, and truly believed it would get no better and death would be a relief.
As much as I hurt, and as alone as I may appear to the outside world, I know I am never truly alone because I have the Lord. He gave me this life and He will decide when it's over. And I also trust completely that tomorrow has the potential to be better than today because He gave me free will and the ability to see the bright side, the humor, and the small miracles in even the ugliest day.
One day, when I was as miserable as I felt I could be, when the entire world felt gray and rainy and deeply and profoundly wrong, I was running across the street to go to Walgreen's, and out of the blue, one of my favorite songs came on the radio and through my headphones. It made me smile for the first time in days. I will always believe that was God reminding me there is always something in life, no matter how small, to make us happy, to "get our hearts ringing in the key that our souls are singing."
Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn?
Take the quiz.
Excerpted from Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn?, by Pamela Keogh, to be published in October by Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.; © 2010 by the author.
1. DURING TIMES OF STRESS, YOU ...
a) go for a walk on the beach.
c) pour gin in your tea.
2. FOR YOU, SEX IS ...
a) uncomplicated and fun!
b) a way of saying, “Thank you.”
c) a means to an end.
3. BEFORE YOU MEET A MAN FOR DINNER, YOU ...
a) shave your legs.
b) run a Dun & Bradstreet on the guy.
c) break out your tippy-tallest Manolos and hope for the best.
4. YOU WAKE UP EVERY MORNING ...
a) with your day completely planned.
b) and do whatever you feel like.
c) turn to the person next to you, and say, “Hello, dear.”
5. YOUR CHILDHOOD IS SOMETHING ...
a) not discussed.
b) to be celebrated.
c) you've been running from your whole life.
6. YOUR FATHER ...
a) loved you and gave you confidence.
b) was Clark Gable.
c) taught you to throw a football.
7. YOUR MOTHER ...
a) scares the hell out of you.
b) left you all of her Balenciaga and Schlumberger.
c) secretly loves your little sister (you know, the “pretty one”) more.
8. AFTER YOU SLEEP WITH SOMEONE FOR THE FIRST TIME, HE ...
a) offers you the lead in his movie.
b) asks you to marry him.
c) has a Cartier bibelot on the breakfast tray.
9. IN YOUR OPINION, MONEY IS ...
b) no, we mean it—everything.
c) not that important—as long as you have a roof over your head and Veuve Clicquot in the fridge, you're cool.
10. MEETING YOUR FUTURE MOTHER-IN-LAW FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU ...
a) convert to Judaism.
b) brush up on your French.
c) eschew underwear.
11. FORMER BEAUX KEEP UP WITH YOU ...
a) on Facebook.
b) on the front page of The New York Times.
c) they don't. They're still devastated by the breakup. They'll never get over it. Never.
12. YOUR BEST FRIEND IS ...
a) your roommate from prep school.
b) your hairdresser, makeup artist, stand-in, publicist, housekeeper, majordomo, Peggy Siegal—or some varying combination.
c) just you, baby. Just you.
13. WHO SAID, “ALL MEN ARE RATS AND CANNOT BE TRUSTED?”
a) Jackie’s father, John “Black Jack” Bouvier
b) Gloria Steinem
c) Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot
14. WHO SAID, “JUST GIVE ME CHAMPAGNE AND GOOD FOOD AND I’M IN HEAVEN AND LOVE”?
a) Oprah Winfrey
b) Ina Garten
c) Marilyn Monroe
15. OF THESE MODERN-DAY CELEBRITIES, WHO IS THE LEAST MARILYN-ESQUE?
b) Scarlett Johansson
c) Lindsay Lohan
To Determine Scoring:
Tally up your responses, giving yourself one “Jackie” point for each question you answered about her correctly and one “Marilyn” point for each correct Marilyn answer. Whichever score is highest corresponds to your predominant archetype. In case of a tie, you are either kidding yourself or are Uma Thurman.
1) a) Jackie
2) a) Marilyn
3) a) Marilyn
4) a) Jackie
5) a) Marilyn
6) a) Jackie
7) a) either
8) a) Marilyn
9) a) Jackie
10) a) Marilyn
c) Marilyn (of course)
11) a) neither
12) a) Jackie
13) a) Black Jack Bouvier
14) c) Marilyn Monroe
15) a) Madonna while she may have looked like MM in her youth, her MO is pure JKO.
Just watched Oprah Winfrey's "Remembering John" tribute on what would have been his 50th birthday (yesterday). That feels so wrong. Both that The Hunk would be 50, and that he's gone.
He was literally a paparazzi target before he was born. Jackie was pregnant during the 1960 Presidential campaign, and he was born weeks after the election. He was two months old when he moved into the White House. So he literally grew up, and died, under the camera's (and our) gaze.
He was pedigreed, wealthy and gorgeous. He worked when he didn't have to. He wasn't known as a randy Lothario. He must have felt tremendous pressure to live up to his parents' legacy, which he bore with grace and did them proud.
Then he was gone. Tragically and unnecessarily. If you're interested in reading more about him, What Remains is very good.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'm also grateful that the get-together was so short. Four hours, start to finish. My family gets along best in short spurts like this. Now I'm happy to be home, in my pajamas, sipping brandy, catching the last episode of the Law & Order marathon.
• A comedian who picked up underage boys, brought them to his playland estate in The Berkshires, and had his way with them ... all the while wooing the parents with money and riches.
• A struggling actress is found dead after a one-night stand with a well-known, eccentric piano player, once considered a genius but now a recluse with a fondness for swords.
• An intern goes missing and is eventually found dead. The New York City assemblyman she worked for denied an affair, yet actually had been intimate with the poor victim and knew more about her disappearance than he told.
Remember, Michael Jackson was a musician and Neverland was in Southern California; Phil Spector was a producer who collected guns, and Gary Condit was a Congressman from California. So any resemblance is purely coincidental.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
For my best friend ...
While you are forever ready with wisdom for me, often delivered in your best "I really mean it" dad voice, you seldom face your own questions or try to find answers in your own search for peace and satisfaction. You try to stay in the moment, putting one foot in front of the other, until you find yourself confused, half a gameboard away from the "start" square, wondering how you got here.
I don't know what you want, so I don't know where you can find it. But I do know you deserve to be happy and content. You are a good man and you take your responsibility to the family you have built very seriously. I admire that enormously. That's why I hope your heart finds happiness.
100 Years -- Five for Fighting -- It's not just you, you know. Every time I hear this song I'm struck by how closely it tracks with your life. "I'm 45 for a moment; the sea is high and I'm heading into a crisis; chasing the years of my life ..."
Ooh, Child -- Five Stairsteps -- You gave me this song once, when I was blue, remember? Now I'm returning the favor. "Oooh, child, things are gonna get easier. Oooh, child, things are gonna get brighter ..."
Badlands -- Bruce Springsteen -- A healthy ambition is one thing, Sweetie, but you should know where you're going and why. You have your own gifts and talents, and while following them may not deliver you to the place your neighbors and family feel you should land, you may just end up happy. "Poor men want to be rich, rich men want to be king, and a king ain't satisfied until he rules everything; I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got ..."
Fine Line -- Paul McCartney -- The older we get, the more spooked we become and making wholesale changes to our lives becomes more difficult. So if you want to do something, do it now, before you turn 50 or 60. Or make peace with the choices you have made (and acknowledge that these are choices you have made). "Whatever's most important to you, well that's the thing that you got to do; whatever's most important to be, well that's the view that you got to see ..."
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
You Are Peter Pan
You are the mischievous type, and you always have a twinkle in your eye. You love trouble!
You refuse to grow up. You don't like to being told what to do, and you have a stubborn, independent streak.
You are brave and bold. You love adventures, and you even believe in magic... at least a little.
When you aren't out on your latest quest, you're at home dreaming of faraway lands.
Day 23 :: Something you wish you had done in your life Oh, hell, I don't know. There are many things I probably should have said, but didn't, over the years. There are also many things I shouldn't have said. On balance, I have learned from these experiences and try not to hurt others if it can be avoided.
1) Huck by Janet Elder non-fiction (PUPPY!)
2) Street Player: My Chicago Story by Danny Seraphine autobiography
3) Blonde Ambition by Zoey Dean novel
4) Till the End of Tom by Gillian Roberts mystery
5) Nightmare in Napa by Paul Larson true crime
6) Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner chick lit
7) The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes chick lit
8) This Charming Man by Marian Keyes chick lit
9) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien fiction
10) Herb 'n Lorna by Erick Kraft fiction
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thanks to all of you in the blogosphere who wished me a happy birthday, and told me to buck up after yesterday's more sad celebration. You helped me feel better about facing today, and I am grateful
PS My kid sister posted a Facebook message for me, wishing me a happy "to you," because "to you" is what she called birthdays when she was little ... back when I still thought she was adorable. So I am taking that as a sign that she truly does want me to enjoy my day.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Dead Again. Oh, shit, how to explain this plot? Kenneth Branagh plays a detective who is called to an orphanage to investigate the strange case of Emma Thompson, a mysterious woman who just showed up one day, mute with shock and therefore unable to explain who she is or why she's there. Through hypnosis, she explains all she knows about a famous murder that happened in the neighborhood decades before. How does she know so much the case, and why is she only able to recall it under hypnosis? Why does she show up now, more than 40 years after the murder and the execution of the killer? Why is he so drawn to her? Why does she seem so terrified of him? How much more can I tell you without giving away the plot twist? This is a classy, cool piece of entertainment, and now that I'm thinking of it, I want to see it again RIGHT NOW.
Suddenly, Last Summer. Oh, shit, how to explain THIS plot? Katharine Hepburn is the incredibly wealthy old socialite mother of a very famous, newly dead poet. She wants Dr. Montogomery Clift to lobotomize her breathtakingly beautiful niece, Elizabeth Taylor. Kate insists Dr. Clift do it now, before Liz gets over her temporary amnesia. She'll give him scads of money for his hospital if he piths the poor girl's brain before she can reveal what happened last summer, and the scandalous and truly, truly weird family secret that shocked and traumatized her into memory loss. Like Dead Again, this movie is top-flight, with a multi-Oscared cast and director and a story by none other than Tennessee Williams. Which is not to say the story won't end with you saying, "God, I'm glad I'm not rich and brilliant because this family is fuckin' NUTS!"
My mom's house smells overwhelmingly like cat urine, but she doesn't seem to notice. I suppose if it doesn't bother her, it shouldn't bother me.
Oh, and I found out that she and my kid sister decided we're all going to Old Country Buffet this Thursday for Thanksgiving, which is fine except for the fact that I just spent $20 on a Pizza Hut gift card for my sister as a hostess gift. Now what the fuck am I gonna do with it?
Most of all, I'm rattled that neither my sister nor my mother asked how it went with my Aunt Jo. Plus my mom's memory gets worse and worse every time I see her. At least as it relates to my life. Today she admitted she had no recollection whatsoever of my 2-year crush on Bobby Sherman, or how my bedroom door was covered with his pictures and it was the first concert I'd ever attended. She can remember -- and not forgive -- my Aunt Jo for whatever went on before I was born, but things about my life escape her. I know it's not her fault ... she doesn't choose what to forget. But it still hurts.
In short, today's birthday celebration just left me depressed. I'm sorry anyone even bothered. We could have just lumped it in with Thanksgiving like we usually do and let me go a day without taking a bus and a train over and the $20 cab ride back.
Oh well, I'll give my nephew the Pizza Hut card in his Christmas stocking. After all, he enjoys going out to dinner alone with his dad ("Boys night out," he calls it) and this way he can pay. He was adorable today -- that's what I should try to remember. And I'll try to get my mind right in time for Thanksgiving. It just confuses and hurts me that of all the people who think I'm special and worth celebrating, my immediate family is not among them.
Saturday it was packed with my people. People who love Valley of the Dolls. Fans who, like me, can recite the dialog:
"Sparkle, Neely, sparkle!"
"It's a rotten business."
"I know, but I love it."
"Oh, the hell with 'em. Let 'em droop!"
"Now get outta my way. I got a MAN waiting for me."*
"Boobies! Who needs 'em?"
"Art films? NUDIES! That's all they are!"
"All cats are gray at night."
"I'm gonna heat up the lasagna."
The men sitting in front of John and me brought pill bottles filled with "dolls" … OK, they were really M&Ms. As a sign of unity for those of us who love this cinematic classic, they turned and rewarded me for knowing the film so well by sharing their "dolls." But not all of them. They needed to save enough to shake and rattle the pill bottle every time Anne, Jennifer or especially our beloved Neely popped a pill (or two, or handful.)
As if seeing this camp classic in a theater among my own for the fist time wasn't delightful enough, after the movie, Neely HERSELF came out on stage. Yes, Miss Patty Duke was there, live and in person.
What's more, she's Cathy who's lived most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Berkeley Square, as well as Patty, who's only seen the sites a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. And, of course, Helen Keller.
It was a real-live icon, right in front of me. A small, slender woman who looks every one of her 65 years, but still has a great figure and a terrific sense of humor and warmth. She freely admitted that she used to abhor Valley of the Dolls but now she loves it. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say she loves how much we love it. She told stories about Sharon Tate and Judy Garland, about Anne Bancroft and Gregory Peck and the night she won her Oscar for The Miracle Worker. She even sang a duet of "Come Live with Me," aping this most tasteless scene from the Valley of the Dolls.
On the way out of the theater, our eyes met and she said "hi." I was thuh-rilled! I can't imagine a better present. Then he and I went out for tapas and sangria. I had a lovely time.
I always do with John. As with my best friend, I can be myself -- my goofiest self -- with him. Sometimes I think that's been John's greatest gift to me, the way he simply takes me as I am.
*I included that one for you, Snarkela.
Day 21 :: (scenario) You’ve gotten into a fight with your best friend and an hour later, he’s in a car accident. What do you do? The very thought of this creeps me out. I worry about my best friend so much, especially that he might be injured or ill and no one will think to contact me. Since he lives in another city, I would figure out how to get word to him that he is my thoughts and prayers. I would talk to his family or, if he's in the hospital, the nurse on his floor. I would help in any way I could. Any battles we'd had would be irrelevant.
Cheers to all of us thieves!
What was the last thing you put in your mouth? A water bottle. This answer does not make me happy for a variety of reasons.
How late did you stay up last night and why? Just before midnight. I would have stayed up later, but I was full off booze and dope, as Helen Lawson would say. Actually it was sangria and M&M's, as my friend John took me to a special screening of Valley of the Dolls. I am going to devote a post to this fantabulous experience later.
If you could move somewhere else, would you? No. I love Chicago. Last night the Christmas lights went on, and it's so gorgeous!
Have you ever been kissed under fireworks? No. And come to think of it, that makes me sad.
Do you believe ex’s can be friends? It does seem difficult. I don't know why having loved someone once precludes ever liking them again, but somehow it does. I do have one former boyfriend who keeps me involved in his life, albeit from a distance, and it means a great deal to me.
When was the last time you cried really hard? I don't remember. I'm not much of a crier.
What items could you not go without during the day? My laptop, my iPod, and my sunglasses.
Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? I don't recall.
How do you feel about your life right now? I'm kind of emotional about everything right now. I'm touched by how people are fussing over me, but now I'm bummed that I've never been kissed under fireworks.
If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find? A couple of friend requests.
Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Yes, because they weren't really pills I took last night, just M&Ms.
Has anyone ever called you perfect before? No.
Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m.: who do you want it to be? My best friend.
Do you think too much or too little? Too much, but perhaps about the wrong things.
Do you believe in fairy tales? Nah.
Have you ever licked the back of a CD to try to get it to work? Really? People do this? Is it ever successful?
What’s the largest age difference between yourself and someone you’ve dated? Twelve years.
Have you ever been on a blind date? Yes.
Do you have any friends that you’ve known for 10 years or more? God, yes! Most of them, in fact.
Have you ever had a crush on a teacher? Yes.
What song do you want played at your funeral? Let It Be.
Would you tell your parents if you were gay? Dunno. I mean, I never told them when I started having heterosexual sex.
What would your last meal be before getting executed? Steak and eggs. Chocolate mousse for dessert. Something that would send me into a food coma.
Do you walk around the house naked? Yes.
What do you do as soon as you walk in the house? Do a headcount of the cats.
Who is the person you can count on the most? Depends on the situation. I look to different people for different advice/solace.
What is your favorite Holiday? Memorial Day or the 4th of July. I like the long weekends.
Would you ever get plastic surgery? No. Maybe. Depends.
Have you ever caught a fish? Yes. A small one. I let it go.
What is the first thing you notice about people? With men, it's hair. With women, it's their handbags.
What is the farthest you’ve been from home? Paris
How did you meet your spouse or significant other (or most recent one)? Work
Where was the last place you drove (other than home/school/work)? I don't recall. I haven't been behind the wheel since the Reagan administration.
This was very important to me because this is the first year that I haven't, and won't, hear from my uncle/Godfather -- my mom's kid brother. God knows the man has a lot of faults and has done a lot of people bad over his lifetime, but he's always been good to me. I even recall getting birthday wishes from him when he was a soldier in Vietnam. But he's very ill and, for all intents and purposes, is lost to me. So having my aunt/Godmother reenter my life just as he exits feels very important to me. Perhaps I'm just trying to impose order and purpose where there is none, but I want to believe this timing is significant.
In addition to the gettogether, my aunt gave me a ring that had been my grandmother's and my cousin gave me Grandma's Ryne Sandberg jersey! My grandmother loved her Ryno more than any other Cub ever, and I think of her every time I see his #23 pennant flying over Wrigley Field. My cousin gave her this jersey to wear to their annual Mother's Day date at Wrigley Field, and he said I should have it since I have taken her place as the family's "insane Cub fan." So it was like having my Grandma there with us, too.
It was lovely of my aunt to do this. I haven't seen her or my cousin since my Grandma's funeral back in 1997. There was quite a to-do over Grandma's will, with my older sister trying to get as much for herself and me and my kid sister as possible. It was an ugly matter and I dealt with it by not dealing with it, by withdrawing completely. I didn't want my Grandma's money, I wanted my Grandma. So I am grateful that my aunt and cousin don't bear me any ill will as a result of all that.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
10 years ago … I was a little in love with a guy whose voice sounded just like Robert Downey, Jr.'s
5 years ago … I was really happy at work
1 year ago … My nephew was planning my family birthday party
Yesterday … was busy at work, which is a good feeling
Today … I was a lazy slug
Tomorrow … I may be reuniting with my aunt/Godmother, if plans go well
5 snacks I enjoy … Apples, American cheese, Original Fritos corn chips, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Raisinettes (at the movies)
5 bands I know most of the lyrics of their songs … The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, The Eagles, The Supremes, The Doobie Brothers
5 things I would do with $100 million … quit my job, take care of my family, travel, start a charitable foundation, enjoy (These are Kwiz' answers, but they're perfect)
5 bad habits I have … cluttering, farting around on the internet when I should be doing something productive, not drinking enough water, spending too much time in the tub, wasting electricity
5 locations I would run away to … Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Toronto
5 things I would never wear … fur, short shorts, spaghetti straps, bikini, or latex (Again, these are Kwiz' answers, but they're perfect)
5 things I like doing … emailing friends, watching movies, reading, playing with the cats, playing Canasta on Pogo
5 biggest joys of the moment … my cat Reynaldo being sweet with the little neighbor girl, having our laundry room in working order again, feeling a bit more comfortable about my job security, my PEOPLE magazine arrived, my ongoing birthday celebration
5 famous people I would like to meet … Tom Ricketts (owner of the Cubs), Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Harmon
5 movies I like … The Way We Were, Valley of the Dolls, Mary Poppins, Holiday,
Bonnie & Clyde
5 TV shows I like … NCIS, American Idol, Morning Joe, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report
5 favorite toys … Pandora.com, Pogo, this here laptop, my iPod, Airwick Freshmatic
Day 18 :: Your views on gay marriage According to the Bill of Rights, each state has to provide equal protection under the law to everyone. So to me this is like interracial marriage -- controversial now, but in 40 years, schoolchildren will wonder what the fuss was about.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Today, Streisand and Redford reunited on Oprah. I'm watching the rebroadcast right now.
It feels so important -- like I'm watching an important touchstone of my personal life come to life. Such is the power of movies.
Such is the power of Katie and Hubbell.
1) Cosmo -- vodka, cointreau and cranberry juice
2) Seabreeze -- vodka, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice
3) Apple Martini -- vodka and green apple schnapps
4) Flirtini -- vodka, cointreau and pineapple juice
5) Pomegranate Martini -- vodka, cointreau, pomegranate juice
6) Chocolate Martini -- vodka, white creme de cacao, and a Hershey's kiss
7) Fuzzy Navel -- vodka, peach schnapps and orange juice
8) Lychee Martini -- vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, lychee juice
9) Campari Cocktail* -- vodka and Campari
10) Red Snapper* -- vodka, amaretto, and cranberry juice
* I've never had either of these, but am willing to try them
Day 16 :: Someone or something you can definitely live without Madonna. Or Kathie Lee Gifford. About the only two things these two women have in common is how much I cannot stand them.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
On Halloween I saw Hereafter, the wonderful Clint Eastwood movie about the afterlife that's in theaters now. Since I just blogged about that one, I decided to muse about these two of an earlier vintage.
Heaven Can Wait. One minute, NFL QB Joe Pendelton is peddling his bike down a California highway, the next moment he's in a "waystation" between this world and the next. His guardian angel plucked him away from the scene just before the moment of impact, hoping to spare Joe a gruesome death. But his timing was off -- because of his superior reflexes, it was Joe's destiny to avoid the accident, and he would still be alive if the angel hadn't intervened. So now what? One of Heaven's higher-ranking "escorts," Mr. Jordan, tries to find another body for Joe to live in until his pre-destined moment, years in the future. At first Joe rejects the body, and the new life, he's given to inhabit. But then he meets Betty and falls in love ... Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are Joe and Betty, and they are so dear and sweet and romantic. While I'm not sure I believe that destiny has but one perfect person for us to love, this movie makes a most convincing argument.
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Dickens gave us the Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and Mr. Magoo gave me my first and still most favorite Scrooge.
Dear Mr. President:
Every time I think of you, that old Laura Nyro song starts playing in my head. You know the one, "BILL! I love you so, I always will ..."
And I did and I do. But you broke my heart.
It wasn't the infidelity that bothered me. Hell, I'm a Kennedy girl. I grew up believing we can and should separate personal behavior from public performance.
It was the way you allowed your good ol' boy horndog behavior to seep from the personal to the public that makes me nuts. You did a young and emotionally vulnerable girl in the Oval Office! How did you think you were going to get away with that? And I don't for a moment think you cared for that poor kid. You saw more interesting, more attractive women every day on the rope line in front of the White House (remember, this was before 9/11 when we could tour 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). You chose her simply because she was there, and you did her simply because you could. And then you not only lied about it, you demeaned her ("I never had sexual relations with that woman ..."). The imbalance of power between you two and your fates appalls me. YOU were the most powerful man in the free world, YOU were the one with a wife and daughter (a daughter not that much older than your mistress). Yet today you remain one of the most popular men on the planet, and she's a punchline, a synonym for oral sex. How is that fair?
You're a good man and you have done a lot of good. But you had the capacity to do more and be a great man. I believed in you, and you let me down. You let the nation down. And you let yourself down. Every account of your presidency will include the phrase, "impeached by the House of Representatives."
And yet ... and yet ... When you talk about the Clinton Global Initiative, I'm transfixed. When I watched you walk Chelsea down the aisle, I got misty. Every time you have a health problem, I say a little prayer.
So even though you broke my heart, I love you so, and I always will.
She's either 62 or 63 now, and is learning graphic design because she has her sights set on a new career and dreams of being able to afford her own home. (Because of financial setbacks, she is living with her daughter, son-in-law and stepchildren.) At times Kathy exasperates me, but I admire faith in herself and hopes for the future.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Cheers to all of us thieves!
1. Lots of pillows or just one? Describe your pre-sleeping rituals. I sleep in a full-sized bed with two pillows. This is, I believe, rather standard.
2. What kind of books do you read? See the bar at right. As you can see from my blog template, I love books and I'm always reading something.
3. What are your neighbors like? There are eight condos on this floor, two empty. (Welcome to the age of foreclosure.) The six of us who remain are a pretty diverse lot: Newlyweds with a lot of tattoos, a couple that frequently has his college-aged son from a previous marriage staying with them, an older couple whose kids are gone but whose young granddaughter visits (and stops by to play with my cat, Reynaldo), a very nosy retiree, a family with a new baby, and me, the cat lady.
4. What's really creepy to you? Clowns. See? Even lovable George Bailey, Bedford Falls' favorite son, looks creepy in clown make-up.
5. What's your current fandom/obsession/addiction? The Beatles and the Cubs. If you needed to be told that, you don't come here often.
6. Do you prefer your junk food sweet, salty or savory? Yes. That's why I like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups so much.
7. What was the last thing you expensive bought? My airline ticket to Los Angeles (ORD-LAX) was $279.
8. What is your greatest fear? A plane crash.
9. Do you get cravings? If so, what do you crave? Yes. Mark Harmon.
10. What do you do to change your mood? Since Mark Harmon often isn't available, I listen to the Beatles.
11. What was the last meal you ate that you loved? Last weekend I had a huge, gut-buster breakfast of eggs, wheat toast, hashbrowns and a ribeye steak. And then I took a long nap.
12. Do you want to learn another language? If so, why? I am taking a weekend crash-course in Spanish this winter. I think it'll be fun. I chose Spanish because I have a friend and a coworker who are both fluent and can help me stay sharp.
13. What's something that you'd like to say to someone right now? "Come play with me." I miss my best friend very much.
14. What are you looking forward to? I have a lot of vacation time scheduled between now and the end of the year.
Her leukemia is in remission, yet she needs another round of chemotherapy and doctors are very guarded about her chances of surviving 5 years. This confuses Ed, because he loves his daughter and wants definitive answers where it seems there aren't any.
But while it doesn't look like she has a long and healthy life ahead of her, her death is no longer imminent. Last month they were rushing ahead with a small wedding because they believed his daughter's condition was terminal and she wanted to die married to the man she loves. Now the reason for the small, intimate wedding -- in New York instead of here in Chicago -- is that she doesn't want any of her girlfriends to see her gaunt and without hair.
Wanting to be a pretty bride is such a sweet, normal dream for a 24-year-old. Normalcy is just what this family needs right now, and this is very good news.
He became a ward of the state back in March -- 8 months ago. Which means that the possibility of institutionalization has been hanging over his head for 8 months. That's how long it's taken the gears of bureaucracy to grind to this point. I don't doubt that losing his home and his freedom is awful for him, I'm grateful that it's finally over.
Everyone he meets for here on out will know him only as the man he is now: a broke and very ill old man who is not able to handle his own affairs. He won't have to pretend he is who he once was -- a dynamic self-made millionaire, a lion with the ladies, an athlete. Being able to let his guard down and be himself must be a relief.
1. Who was the last person who entered your life and was just what you needed? This past August, I met Bob and Margo. They're both in their 60s and have been together since college, more than 40 years. I met them at the Stadium Club, the exclusive bar for season-ticket holders within Wrigley Field. I may never see them again, but the time I spent with them had a real impact on me. Bob is newly retired and trying to adjust to all this time on his hands. Margo is having no trouble at all -- filled with ideas for cruises and projects. The thing I liked about them was their warmth, their obvious love for one another, and their unabashed Cub fandom. Margo actually carries a signed photo of herself with Ryan Theriot in the same album that features pictures of her grandchildren! They represent karma -- people who are nice and hardworking who played by the rules finally getting to enjoy what they have coming. I liked how they welcomed into their midst based on nothing more than our shared love of the Cubs, which made me feel way less geeky about bleeding Cubbie blue. I guess they are real life role models for me, even though they probably don't think of themselves as anything special.
2. What is one of your fondest childhood memories? When I was 7, my parents surprised me by taking me and my oldest friend to see the Beatles' HELP! at a drive-in. I was riding my bike and the three of them pulled up in an unfamiliar car, a blue station wagon. My dad had swapped cars with a coworker so we could have the back of the wagon to bounce around in when we screamed and cried over The Lads.
3. What would you like to be doing in 7 years? I'd like to be like Bob and Margo, contented and comfortable and completely Cub obsessed.
4. Tell us about a blogging pet peeve. Dopey comments. Like the time I wrote a long post about how much I liked Little Women and how much it influenced my perception of romance. And a blogger I barely knew commented that she never liked that book. ARRGH!
5. Tell us about a general pet peeve. People who take up too much space in public -- like taking up the bench in the locker room for their iPods or water bottles, or an extra seat on the el for a briefcase or back pack.
6. For one day, who would you like to trade places with? Bob and Margo (see Q1). Or maybe I'd just like them to adopt me.
7. Where is your least favorite place to be? Doctor's office waiting room
8. What do you like about fall? My sweaters
9. If you or someone you know are chronically late, do you believe it's the result of poor planning or choosing to be late? In my case, yes to both. In the morning, when I don't feel like going to work, I find all kinds of things to do to distract me from getting ready.