Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'll be posting a new peace globe soon

You can, too!

Founder Mimi Lenox describes the BlogBlast for Peace as, "an annual online event that has spread to 185 countries across the globe for the cause of peace."

Mimi believes that it isn't enough for us to "unmake war, we have to remake peace." We bloggers are working toward this worthy goal by creating peace globes and posting them on our sites on November 4, 2013.

To learn more, and maybe participate yourself, click here.  And be sure to google Dona Nobis Pacem on November 4 so you can check out all the inspiring and imaginative globes ... from all over the globe.

Here's my 2011 peace globe. I've done others, but this one is my favorite. Come back on 11/4 to see my next effort ...


an annual online event that has spread into 185 countries across the globe for the cause of peac - See more at:
an annual online event that has spread into 185 countries across the globe for the cause of peace. - See more at:


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy follows the interpersonal relationship between each of our modern Presidents and his predecessors. As I read about the fondness George HW Bush and Bill Clinton share, I wonder how current Washington got so ridiculously fractious.

The linked-to NY Times review says this reads like "the longest Time Magazine cover story ever written," and I suppose that's true. Gibbs and Duffy are Time reporters, not historians, and it shows in their writing. But that's no necessarily bad. Each chapter is neatly self contained, so I can pick it up, read awhile, put it down and then pick it up again without that disorienting moment of, "What was happening?"

• What did you recently finish reading? W Is for Wasted by Sue Grafton. As the series moves to the last letter, our girl Kinsey is growing up. Now 38, she's more concerned than ever with adult issues like family, commitment and finance. Naturally, there's a compelling mystery, too. Santa Theresa finds itself home to two dead bodies. There's a connection between the two dead men, and Kinsey finds it. As always, Grafton shows great respect for her craft, her creation and her audience. The book stands on its own, so no, you don't need to have read every "letter" since A Is for Alibi to enjoy it.

• What do you think you’ll read next? I don't know. Next on the TBR pile is Five Days at Memorial about the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans and how they coped during the crisis of Katrina. But it sounds too intense and too sad for my current state of mind. So maybe Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin.

To see how others responded, click here.

My geek crushes

I admit that none of these gentleman will make People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive cover, but that's People's loss.

I've listed them in alphabetical order, because the one I love most at any given moment is determined solely by which I've seen most recently.

Douglas Brinkley. Author, professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Jay Carney. White House press secretary, former Washington Bureau Chief for Time.

Harold Ford, Jr. Former TN congressman, current NBC news analyst.

George Stephanopolous. ABC host and analyst, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former White House communications director.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play this meme.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, page 265 ...
"I believe you should keep your troubles to yourself," Nixon would say. He could not have been more different than Johnson, the man who could not stand to be alone, or Kennedy with his large family and adoring disciples, or Ike with his many comrades.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wow. This is intense.

About a decade ago, my aunt remarried. He was divorced, too. His first wife had two very young daughters from an earlier relationship -- their father was no longer in the picture -- that he adopted.  When that marriage ended, his ex-wife decided to move away and convinced him to give the girls up. She argued that he wasn't biologically related to them in any way, that starting a new life would be wrenching for the girls as it was and it would be easier for them if it was a clean break. He was reluctant to do this, but his ex-wife really pressed it. She married again and her latest husband adopted the girls.

He was never comfortable with what had happened. He cared about those girls. He heard from the older one a few times each year, but never from the younger one. She wanted nothing to do with him. She was wrestling with drugs and other demons.

It turns out the younger girl -- now age 25 -- was murdered earlier this month. She was buried on the 19th. The older girl just contacted him last night with the news. He never got a chance to say goodbye.

According to my aunt, her husband is reeling. In shock, as I can imagine.

Actually, no I can't imagine it.

PLEASE NOTE: I think I have accurately told the story of his legal relationship to the girls. I don't know that I'm 100% right, but today is not the day to press my aunt for details.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Stealing

They Say It's Your Birthday

1. as you get older, are you jazzed about your birthday?  Still, and always.

2. do people usually remember your birthday? They freaking well better! If you're my friend, you know that fussing over me on birthday is mere "greens fees" for hanging out with me.

3. an ex-coworker used to begin 3 mos. before her birthday flat-out reminding us that it was coming up. it's amazing what no self-esteem does for you. anyway, do you know anyone who pre-announces their birthdays? That would be me. (Though I only give a 30-day warning.) I guess I'm the No Self Esteem Gal.

4. what was your best birthday? why? 2004 was good. I had worked very, very hard on John Kerry's Presidential campaign and weeks before my birthday that election did most decidedly not go as I'd hoped and prayed. And my beloved cat, Billy, had just died. I was so blue about life, and my friends really came through that year.

5. what was your worst birthday? why? When I turned 6. Lee Harvey Oswald effectively ruined the day for me. My mom cancelled my birthday party with classmates because the nation was in mourning, and when the adults came over (theoretically) to celebrate me,
all they did was yell at me to be quiet and sit in front of the set and stare. My mother cried nonstop for days. It was disappointing and confusing and scary and a lot to expect a first grader to comprehend. For years afterward, when I'd give my date of birth to the librarian for a new library card or the school nurse or my Girl Scout leader, the adult would invariably say, "November 22. Oh, I remember ..." and then look sad. Which would piss me off, because my birthday should be a happy time.

Good came of it, though. I'm always very sensitive to children when major, tragic events happen. I warn parents, "Your kids are watching you, and they take their cues from you." Trust me, it scarier to be little and not understand that darkness around you. And at that tender age I began reading about JFK and I have learned so much about politics, government, celebrity, human nature and courage from the hours I have spent with The Kennedys.

6. name your best birthday gift. My then boyfriend was on a business trip in New York and saw an official, framed Elvis gold record in the window of a Soho antique store. He knew I'd love it and bought it on the spot and had a terrible time getting it home on the plane. BTW, they're worth less than you'd think. Only about $300, because the RIAA and record companies give them out to anyone who anything to do with the record's success. (Mine had belonged to a New York disc jockey.) Still, it was perfect and thoughtful and I love, LOVE the thought of him going through security and then boarding the plane with it under his arm.

 7. name the best birthday gift you've gotten for someone else.  I give very good gift. I don't mean to be immodest, but I'm a naturally good gift giver. For example, this week, I'm giving a friend a t-shirt with the logo of the law offices of, "Stern, Lockhart and Gardner." She's obsessed with the TV show The Good Wife, so I know she'll love it and I bet it's something she didn't even know was out there. I can't wait to give it to her!

8. as i age, i value SLEEP as a priceless commodity. i didn't get any for my birthday, however. what do you want this year for your birthday? Just to be fussed over. I don't much care what form the fussing takes. (Why would I? After all, we've established I don't have any self esteem, as per Q3.)

MY BIRTHDAY IS 11/22. Please make a note of it!

Major Cause for Concern

Mr. R. lives across the hall and is on my mind this morning. He thought he was having a heart attack last night and was taken away by the local fire department. I offered to go to the hospital with his wife and sit with her, but she said no, "No use in both of us worrying." I wish I'd insisted. She looked so tiny and vulnerable as she got into her car.

His wife stopped by this morning with good news. It wasn't a heart attack -- "just afib," she said. It was scary, but he'll be fine. I'm so grateful. And she'll be so happy in a day or so when he comes home.

Mr. R. is such a nice man. Big, courtly, with a very deep voice. I suppose some might find him intimidating. I know Crazy Old Neighbor did. During our bizarre neighbor's reign of terror, he used to offer to accompany me when I did laundry, just so I'd feel safe. I always did feel safe -- I never thought Crazy Old Neighbor would hurt me -- but I loved Mr. R. for the chivalrous gesture.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Demographics are destiny

I spent today in the town I grew up in (aka, the town I left). I got my hair cut and then I walked to the train (cheaper than a cab) and found myself in the thick of the village's Halloween celebration.

The costumes were soooo different than in my town! Today I saw lots of superheroes and soldiers with sabres and guns. I didn't realize how unpopular weapons are in my very PC community until I encountered little boys brandishing them. And, to be fair, one little girl, who was in full police regalia -- including badge, hat and gun. Here in my town, even the ninjas were unarmed.

The towns are 20 minutes -- and a lifestyle -- apart.

Saturday 9

Sheryl Crow is a breast cancer survivor and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please spread the word about early detection.

1) What's something that always makes you happy? I'm with the late Mr. Gorey. I have books and cats, so life is good.
2) In the lyrics, Sheryl refers to a poncho. How do you usually protect yourself from the rain? Poncho? Umbrella? Raincoat? Hat? Umbrellas. I carry one with me almost all the time. And I am forever losing them.

3) Early in her career, Sheryl made ends meet by singing commercial jingles, including one for McDonald's. When was the last time you visited The Golden Arches? I had Burger King for lunch on Friday, but I think it's been months since I've been to Mickey D's.

4) Sheryl rode a horse into the ring of a Wyoming rodeo and then sang. Have you ever been to a rodeo? Once. NEVER AGAIN. It was awful. I know there are animal rights zealots out there who decry zoos but their ire is misplaced. Zoos do important research and protect endangered species. Rodeos exploit animals and cause them discomfort and anxiety for our "entertainment."
5) Sheryl lives outside of Nashville, which is known as Music City. What type of music do you listen to most often? The kind of music that soothes the soul.

Some of Tom Cruise's offscreen behavior has been so bizarre that it's easy to forget what a wonderful onscreen presence he can be. I so love the moment when he flips up his collar.

6) Crazy Sam is a massive Sheryl Crow fan, and is sure that the only reason why she and Sheryl aren't best friends is that they haven't met. What famous person do you think could be your BFF? Jennifer Aniston. I think she's adorable and probably a lot more fun than that icky Angelina.

7) Sheryl and cyclist Lance Armstrong were once engaged. Had they tied the knot, she would have become stepmother to his three children. Are you a step-parent, stepsibling or stepchild? Nope.

8) Sheryl has performed carols at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington DC. Have you ever visited our nation's capital? Not for years. I'd love to go back. I remember how beautiful the Jefferson Memorial was at dusk. Those monuments can really take your breath away.

9) Do you consider yourself easy going or do you have a fiery temperament? Depends on the situation.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I'm still legal

The State of Illinois wants to check my vision before renewing my driver's license. That's reasonable, as it's been more than a decade. If I were them, I'd make me take the driver's test, too, as I remember little if anything about operating a car. I shouldn't be licensed.

And so I'm not anymore. When I went in today I saved $10 and a lot of time by skipping the vision test and going for a state-issued ID. I really only used my driver's license when I boarded planes, checked into hotels or did banking. My new ID card will suffice. So I'm still legal.

The time I saved at the DMV I wasted in the Pedway. I got completely turned around. It's funny. I've worked in this city almost continuously since I was 17 years old, and yet I can still get lost!

Distracted by the wrong stuff

I can be such a jerk.

There's a letter on my dining room table from my cousin Rose. It's been there for weeks. Every day I'm going to answer it. But I forget to put it in my bag before I go to work. Or I don't have a notecard with me. Or those last chapters of the mystery I'm reading are just so compelling.

Got an anxious email from her last night. She tried calling when I was on the phone with my friend Barb and I messed up trying to navigate call waiting.* That, combined with my silence, worried her. "Write or give me a call. I love you and miss you."

I'm so sensitive about my own feelings and have been so thoughtless of hers. Hearts as good as hers are too important to take so casually.

Shame on me.

*I hate call waiting in both principal and, obviously, practice and wouldn't have it if it wasn't mandatory to my "bundle."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? W Is for Wasted by Sue Grafton. For light reading, there's a lot in this book. At age 38, our girl Kinsey meets her extended family (some cousins) for the first time under stressful circumstances. A former lover reappears. And she interacts, in a personal way, with Santa Teresa's homeless community. Grafton's unsentimental yet compassionate approach to this last is really staying with me. I'm very nearly done with it, and suspect I'll look back on this as one of the more memorable "letters" in the series.

• What did you recently finish reading? Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and The Marriage of the Century. While I'm not unsympathetic to the easily accessible human tragedy -- two people genuinely loved each other but their relationship is derailed by drink and drugs -- it's not why I reread this book.

It's indescribable fun to shove quarters into the coin-operated dryer downstairs and then pick up this book and read about jets, jewels and jaunts to Budapest and Rome and Puerto Vallerta. In 1968, they actually rented a yacht for $2,400/week ($10,000+ in today's dollars) to house their dogs on the Thames. England requires pets entering the country be quarantined for six months and Liz just couldn't bear the idea of her two Pekingnese and two Yorkies being caged for that long. At the end of his life, when Burton was living quietly outside Geneva with fourth wife, Sally, he was shocked by his own excesses during his marriage to Taylor.

• What do you think you’ll read next? I don't know. Next on the TBR pile is Five Days at Memorial about the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans and how they coped during the crisis of Katrina. But the heartbreak of Katrina is still fresh and so that book might be too intense for my current mindset. Maybe The President's Club.

To see how others responded, click here.

"I don't care"

I'm annoyed with my Annoying Coworker.  When she's working on a project with our boss, she's completely engaged. Otherwise ... not so much. She doesn't care.

How do I know she doesn't care about her contribution to my projects? She is always on the phone (her cell, so she's not even pretending it's work related)  or working on her favorite freelance project (updating the menu for the restaurant owned by her sister and brother-in-law).

Oh yeah, and because she FUCKING TOLD ME.

Our creative team -- four of us -- all sit together in a super cube. I call it, "the clown car." Interior designers who specialize in offices call it, "open work space." The four of us are together all day long,
5 days a week. This was designed to help us collaborate but I think that in reality it just emphasizes our differences.

When I was done writing a project, I turned to our art directors and said, "Now who wants to work on this?" She didn't even turn away from her big Google Mail home page. "I don't care," she nearly moaned.

Later in the day, we were talking about another project and I asked her to try something a little different, design wise. She wrinkled her nose. Literally. Wrinkled. Her. Nose. I asked her what the problem was. She didn't already have the piece of artwork we'd need to explore as I requested.

I suggested ways we could get it. I was surprised she didn't know this, as her job is the pictures and mine is the words, but I was trying to be helpful and encourage her.

"I know," she responded sullenly. Meaning she just doesn't feel like doing what it takes to make our work better.

I like and admire our client. I want to do a good, honest job for them. I'd also like to keep this agency gig for as long as I can.

So sometimes I hate her.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Here's how to play this meme.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From W is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton (page 366)
He was bleeding out; heart slowing, belly filling up with blood. Not a bad way to go, he thought.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Space is scary

The movie Gravity is vast, beautifully made and ingeniously plotted. And I hated it.

I don't like space. I don't like infinity. I don't like silence and extreme temperatures and airlessness. I don't like the idea of hurtling weightlessly and uncontrollably.

It's as though director Alfonso Cuaron crawled inside my head, found all the things I find completely unacceptable and put them on screen.

I suppose all the things I hate about space are also true of the sea. But I do not fear water. I did nearly drown once but didn't realize it until afterward because the undertow that had completely taken control of me felt so confident and trustworthy. I understand intellectually that it might have taken me way, way out to sea and not returned me to shore (which it did with a painful thud) for days, but I just somehow knew when it was happening that the sea wouldn't do that to me and I'd be fine.

I don't like space. Space is bad. 90 minutes of Gravity scared me the way the shower scene scared audiences in Psycho.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sunday Stealing


1) What room are you in? The parlor. (I usually say "living room," and I felt like mixing it up a little.)

2) Can you solve a Rubik's cube? No.

3) Are you psychic in any way? No.

4) What star sign are you? I'm on the Scorpio/Sagittarius cusp. My birthday is 11/22 (in case you want to make a note of it and then send gifts and good wishes)

5) What's your favorite color? Blue. I wear a lot of blue.

6) What's your lucky number? 7

7) Do you have any chores that should be done now? HA! Just dirty dishes, a ton of paperwork to go through and three loads of laundry. I'm told some people wash floors, too.

8) Did you have a cherished childhood teddy bear or other toy? I had a Lassie dog who went with me everywhere.

9) What was the last thing you bought from a vending machine? 

10) What shoe size are you? 6.5 or 7, depending on the pair.

11) How many pairs of shoes do you own? Nine that I can see from here.

12) If you were prime minister/ruler of the world what laws would you make? No one can take up more space than they deserve/pay for. That means you can't take up the bench in the ladies' locker room with your mp3 player and water bottle when I need it for my ass, and you can't take occupy two seats on the train because your backpack likes to sit by itself. Do any of this shit again and you'll do time.

13) If you were a super hero what powers would you have? I'd like to slide up banisters, fly at the end of my umbrella, jump in and out of chalk drawings and attend tea parties on the ceiling.
She so is a super hero!

14) and what would your hero name be? Mary Poppins

15) and what outfit would you wear? Hat, jacket, skirt, sunny disposition

16) What was your last dream about? A Boston terrier. I think it was symbolic, as I am cheering for the Boston Red Sox in post-season play.

17) What would you do if you won the lottery? Move into a motel while my whole place is renovated. I want exposed brick in the dining room and hardwood floor in the living room and the hall and a whole new bathroom and a whole new kitchen. Then it would be spring, and I'd buy season tickets at Wrigley Field. My nephew would be able to go on his 8th grade class trip to Washington DC and my niece would never again have to worry about how she'll pay for her her college textbooks. Then we'll see what's left. There are some charities that could really use help and my friends in the Keys would be very happy to receive a check, too. (I have given this considerable thought.)

18) Would you like to build/design your own house? I'd be satisfied to just fix up this one.

19) Which form of public transport do you prefer? The train.

21) Can you juggle? I am the least physically coordinated person you will ever meet. So the answer is no.

Sending it out, not getting it back

I'm feeling a isolated these days because both my Best Friend and my Oldest Friend are going through their own stuff and don't have the resources to be there for me.

They don't know each other, have never met, so this is just some sort of unfortunate convergence.

He's been out of work for a year, with few prospects. Part of the problem is that his background is in financial marketing and he's relocated to a city that doesn't have a big financial marketing community. It's as though he decided he wanted to teach surfing on the Great Lakes. It's not impossible for him to find a high-paying job in his wheelhouse in the community where he now lives, but it's unlikely. And at his age, in this economy, making a switch is hard. He's also dealing with problems with his own family and with his in-laws.

She's made some bad choices made way worse by bad luck. She's on her third job since moving to SoCal and she's making considerably less now than she was when she first arrived out west. Her kids have taken turns giving her (big) problems. Her health has been difficult. The cousin she moved 2000 miles to be near has been maddeningly unavailable to help and support her.

I am not unsympathetic to their plights. I just wish they wouldn't ask me how I'm doing, how I'm feeling, what's up with me. Because it's embarrassing to answer those questions honestly and get nothing back.

So for the foreseeable future, it's going to be, "How are you?" and my response will be, "Fine!"

This Halloween, Tails Are Key

My village sponsored a "Green Halloween" (healthy and environmentally friendly) event for the kids in town. I spotted plenty of dragons (tails) and cats (tails) and devils (tails). The most popular non-tail costume seems to be ninja. The well dressed mom wore a cat's ear headband as they accompanied her little trick or treater.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Come to My Window

Melissa Etheridge is a breast cancer survivor and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please spread the word about early detection.

1) This song is about a woman passionate about love and willing to pursue it, no matter what "they say." Are you fearless when it comes to public opinion? Or do you worry about what "they" think of you? The older I get, the less I care.

2) Melissa's father was a high school teacher. Tell us about a teacher who had an impact on you.
I had an American History teacher in high school who made the past feel relevant. Very theatrical, to keep us all interested. Ahead of the curve in introducing other media (movies like The Candidate). I remember being shocked to learn that he sold ties at Marshall Field's over Christmas break. He worked so hard in his classes! He should make a living wage teaching.

3) Melissa won a Grammy for this song. If you won a major award, where would you display it? My office.

4) Which TV game show do you think you'd do better on -- The Price Is Right or Wheel of Fortune? Wheel of Fortune

5) Are you neat and organized? Ha!

6) When was the last time you went more than a day without washing your hair? When I was in the hospital two years ago. I'm not kidding. It takes losing an internal organ or two to keep me from the shampoo.

7) When you eat Chinese food, do you use chopsticks or

a fork? Fork. I'm hopeless with chopsticks.

8) Are you a good cook? Well, I'm a better cook than housekeeper, which is sooooo not saying much.

9) We're having a party in your honor! Would you prefer a costume party, a bowling party or a pool party? Halloween is almost upon us, so I'll go with costume party.

Friday, October 18, 2013

At least he's good looking

I found out Thursday that I will cost me an estimated $670 to repair the damage to the walls in my living room (courtesy of a leaky air conditioner and my cat Reynaldo, who repeatedly pulled down the curtain rods) and my bathroom (shower head replacement gone wrong).

Looking for the bright side here, coming in the front door to see new window treatments will raise my spirits. The curtains that are up there now are old and dirty, but I can't replace or even wash them now because so much damage has been done to the rod I'd never get them back up again. And I can't tell you how icky it is to start the day looking up at a barely functioning shower head surrounded by a white plastic trash bag.

Oh yeah, and my handyman is cute in a scruffy way.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


To play along, just answer the following three questions ...

• What are you currently reading? W Is for Wasted by Sue Grafton. In previous "letters," we met orphaned Kinsey's relatives on her mother's side. This time around, we're introduced to the Milhones, dad's side of the family. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and there's a pervasive sense of melancholy and danger throughout this book. Very little violence but a lot of tension. And a new character, Henry's cat Ed, is a welcome addition to the series.

Taylor snaps Burton in Mexico (1964)
• What did you recently finish reading? Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and The Marriage of the Century. I read this book when it first came out (2010) and stumbled upon it again this week, letting it distract me from all those books in the TBR pile.

Forget Brangelina and Rob/KStew! I grew up on these two larger-than-life characters and their love story continues to fascinate me. Burton was a voracious reader with a photographic memory, a master story teller and an avid journal writer. He was enormously proud when a scholarly magazine asked him to write a book review. Throughout the book, Taylor is shown reading only scripts and the occasional poem given to her by Burton. (Often embarrassed by her lack of formal education, she is charmingly self deprecating when the gaps in her knowledge are exposed, tossing her head back and chirping, "But I'm a STAR!") The irony is that literary Burton died before he could fulfill his dream of writing his autobiography, whereas Taylor published four lightweight tomes in her lifetime, beginning with Nibbles and Me (1946), about her pet chipmunk.

• What do you think you’ll read next? Five Days at Memorial about the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans and how they coped during the crisis of Katrina. I meant to be read this now, and did in fact start it, but it was too intense for my state of mind just now. I'll return to it in a few weeks.

To see how others responded, click here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Missing You

The government is still in shut down. The House Republicans have allowed a hand full of Tea Partiers to march them into a box canyon and it's hard to feel sorry for them as their poll numbers plummet to historic lows.

As appalling as the GOP's behavior has been, I'm not loving President Obama so much right now, either. He's distant, aloof, seemingly almost disengaged as the Republicans wage war on one another. It's as though it's not enough for Obama to win this round. The Tea Party has to suffer a humiliating loss, as well.

Which is why I'm thinking longingly of JFK.

As JBKO recounted in Historic Conversations with John F. Kennedy, he never lost his empathy. No matter how angry he became with an opponent, he always kept his adversary's situation top of mind. During political negotiations and fights, he kept his public and private faces separate. He could cajole and threaten and berate in private, but in public he was always respectful (if, at times, frosty) so that his enemy could make a graceful exit.

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully, without a shot being fired and with nuclear war averted, because while he played hardball with the Soviet leader and gave up nothing behind the scenes, JFK was willing to let the world believe that Krushchev had won an important concession from the mighty US. He knew how important it was for the Kremlin to tell the Russian people that America removed missiles from Turkey as part of a negotiation with Krushchev, even though they were obsolete and would doubtless have been removed that fall anyway.

War hero, Lothario, intellectual ... Kennedy was supremely confident in his masculinity and his abilities, which made games of "¿quien es mas macho?" irrelevant. Those qualities helped the world avoid tragedy.

I hope President Obama puts the full faith and credit of the United States ahead of his own political victory. I worry about another Recession. And while it will undoubtedly be the Tea Party's fault, the President won't be blameless.

My mother's legacy

I've been worried lately. Because worrying about situations upon which I can have no impact is what I do best.

My niece is so happy away at college in Michigan. She's escaped the ties that bound her to family in Chicagoland and has come into her own. Blossomed. She's so proud of the home she shares with her boyfriend, of her job at Culver's, of her good grades and new circle of friends.

The only dark cloud on the horizon is that she feels so limited in her options after graduation. Not because of student debt or the job market. Because of her mother, my kid sister. My niece worries that she has to live somewhere where her parents can find employment.

My niece was very close to her grandmother, my mother. She never went more than a week without visiting Grandma's house. She saw how close her mother and grandmother were, how interdependent. Similarly, my mother and her own mother were very close and both lived their entire lives in the same suburb, just blocks from one another. When I was a toddler, my parents bought my mother's girlhood home from her parents, and that's where my mom was living when she died last year.  My grandmother died without ever having boarded a plane.

But my niece is a more independent, ambitious, and curious soul than her mother, grandmother or greatgrandmother. I'm not sure that consciously choosing a constricted life would make her happy. Instead, it might leave her resentful.

And if she marries her boyfriend, which is her current plan, there's another wrinkle. Unlike her father, whose family is small, scattered and a bit estranged, her boyfriend's family is vast and loving. And nearby where they live now. It's possible -- even likely -- that he will want to be near his own parents, aunts and uncles. So what will they do? Find a city equidistant between families and hope they can find jobs?

I fear that my mother's legacy to her beloved granddaughter is a life full of "what if's." I hope I'm wrong. I'd love to be wrong.