Wednesday, September 16, 2020

What the hey ...

I'll remember this morning for a long time. I woke up and flipped on the TV. I heard a "breaking news" story about a shooter on campus at Western Illinois University, where my nephew is a student. The campus was on lockdown.

I told myself to stay calm. My landline phone hadn't rung overnight, and certainly if my nephew was in trouble I would have heard. I got to the kitchen, where my famished cats awaited me and my cell was charging. I figured I'd text my nephew as soon as I fed the cats.

I turned my phone on and saw lots of texts. Uh-oh! Someone had been trying to reach me overnight! But it wasn't my nephew. 

•  My oldest friend (two hours earlier in Southern California) wanted to let me to know she's suddenly having unscheduled surgery. She's suffered with tenacious bladder issues forever now. She's on Medicare/Medicaid, and they have been slow to get her treatment. (The pandemic? The fires? The fact that she's not paying for it? I don't know.) Anyway, she got the word that they were ready to operate. Wednesday, aka today. With all her myriad medical problems, I'm worried that they aren't thinking of her care holistically. The whole "we got a bed, come on in!" thing makes me wonder if they've considered her pre-diabetes, her bipolar disorder, her heart and the way her meds interact. I know the surgery needs to be done, I just hope and pray the doctors are taking her care seriously.

•  John chose to text me overnight Tuesday because he didn't want to talk. (I do the same thing; I used to be famous for leaving boyfriends personal voicemails at the office when I knew they weren't there.) John wanted to explain why he's been incommunicado for nearly a week. My dear friend -- who is 65 and suffers from both diabetes and congenital heart trouble -- is "feeling rundown and monitoring symptoms." He doesn't have a fever, so that's good. But I bet he also still doesn't have a doctor -- I've been nagging him off and on since July -- which is why he didn't want to talk to me in real time. He knows I'll scold. 

It was not yet 7:00 AM! Can you believe it? A shooting ... an operation ... a covid scare ... That's a lot of horror for first thing in the morning. I really wanted to toss my phone out the window so it couldn't hurt me anymore.

But I needed to check on my nephew. He got back to me right away (he's a good boy) and told me not to worry. Yes, it was his dorm where the shooting occurred. It was a roommate dispute between freshmen, settled with a gun! His RA pulled the fire alarm so everyone evacuated, and then the police shut the campus down. My nephew let it slip that, even though it was against covid protocol, he was crashing with his girlfriend in another dorm. GIRLFRIEND? I didn't know he had a girlfriend!

Love in the age of the corona virus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

 1. What are you currently reading?  Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace. This is the right political thriller for me to read at this moment. It's about our first female President, Charlotte Kramer. She has the first-ever female White House Chief of Staff, Melanie Kingston. Network star Dale Smith covers the White House and is the first woman in history to find herself in illicit love with America's First Gentleman.
I knew I would enjoy it when it opened with Melanie treating herself to a designer bag. In this beltway fantasy, brilliant and ambitious women wear Jimmy Choos, drink martinis and bake in the sauna as they determine the fate of our nation.  

I like these women and I'm getting a kick out of the book. It's written by the same Nicolle Wallace who worked in George W. Bush's White House and helped manage John McCain's White House bid. Now she's a commentator on MSNBC. She's my TV BFF. She writes like the savvy insider she is, and she's spinning a fun, gossipy, exciting book. It's of no real consequence, but in this season, in the run up to a most consequential Presidential election, that's fine with me. (PS The acreage of the title refers to the White House grounds.)

2. What did you recently finish reading?  The Father Hunt by Rex Stout. This book has everything I've come to love in Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries: twisty plots, minimal violence, maximum atmosphere, and a supporting cast of colorful characters. Every few pages, I felt like saying, "Hello, old friends! I've missed you!"

Which is not to say it doesn't stand well on its own. A case comes to world-famous detective Nero Wolfe through his assistant, Archie Goodwin. Archie meets a woman socially who asks him for help in a personal matter. She wants to learn the identity of her biological father. With her mother's recent death, she thinks this is an almost impossible task. Archie and Wolfe predict it'll take about a week. Boy, are they wrong. Soon the case takes them and us into the worlds of investment banking, network TV and public relations. Along the way, they identify the culprit in a previously unsolved murder. 

Complicating things is the fact that the book is set in 1967. Blood tests aren't considered conclusive in determining paternity. Forget DNA. Do today's mystery writers have it easier, or harder, in our technologically advanced world?

3. What will read next?
Since Eighteen Acres has me all ginned up on girl power, I am considering a biography of one of three women I've long admired: Lucille Ball or Carrie Fisher or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

I loves me some Bryzzo


When Kris Bryant gets on base, and then Anthony Rizzo gets a hit to move him around, we Cub fans say the ball was Bryzzo'd. So far this season, there's been no Bryzzo. First KB was hurt, then he was sick,* then he was slumping. Rizz hasn't been that consistent, either.

BUT TONIGHT! Against Cleveland, my boys Bryzzo'd. KB crossed home plate 3 times and we won 6-5. 

I shall have sweet dreams tonight. Go, Cubs, Go!

*NOT the corona virus, though.

Now HE expects compassion

Three years ago, I was a newbie on our condo association board and found myself embroiled in my first controversy. Nearly 30% of the units were illegally rented. All three of us on the board admitted it was a problem. The issue was how to deal with it.

Our then-treasurer, a young man who loves Ayn Rand and proclaimed himself "all about personal responsibility," wanted to evict all the renters within 30 days. We could have legally done that since they were living here with invalid leases. "Rules are rules," he insisted. 

But the renters signed those leases in good faith! It was the unit owners who rented their condos illegally that were at fault. I didn't want to toss those poor people out into the autumn night. (The 30 days would have been up on November 30.) We fought and fought and finally agreed on a humane compromise -- all renters had to be out in six months, or May 30.

Fast forward three years: guess who wants special permission to rent his unit because of hardship. Yes, it's Ayn Randman. He can't sell his unit for a decent price because of the corona virus, can't afford to pay the mortgage and assessments because he lost his job, and wants to rent it out for a year while he moves in with friends. But "rules are rules," and rentals aren't allowed. Wah wah. 

It gets better. While he has a tenant waiting in the wings, Mr. Personal Responsibility has also asked those of us now on the board to look the other way because he can't scrape together the money to pay a lawyer to put together a rental agreement. Wah wah.

What happened to "rules are rules?" What happened to being "all about personal responsibility?"

Of course, I'm going to vote to let him rent his place because it's the decent thing to do for a neighbor who is struggling during a pandemic. I suggested we let the association lawyer review the rental agreement and we'll absorb the cost (about $200) because a properly-worded lease protects us, too.

But galls me. It really does. 

There's a line from the Hal David-Burt Bacharach song, "Alfie," that keeps running through my mind, "If life belongs only to the strong, what will you lend on an old golden rule?"

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Monday Madness



1. You are at a party in a very bad mood. There is an obnoxious guest with a camera snapping pictures of everyone in sight. Do you allow the photographs or ask them to stop? Since I'm not the hostess, I  wouldn't feel comfortable telling another guest what to do. I think I'd just try to avoid the snapper. Or, since I'm in a bad mood already, I might use this as an excuse to go home.

2. You are on your way to a formal affair and running late. You are the guest speaker at this event and everyone is waiting for you. A police officer pulls you over for speeding. Do you make up a story or tell him where you are going and try to talk your way out of the citation? Or do you make up a wild excuse? If so, tell us your tall tale! Well, I don't drive, so this isn't anything I have experience with. But I guess that, since I'm in a hurry, I'd just say, "Sorry, Officer," and take the ticket so I can be on my way.

3. When you drive down memory lane for the last two years of your life and look in the rear-view mirror, do you see a happy journey or a bumpy ride? Bumpy. Especially this year. I've posted this before because it sums up how I feel during the pandemic. Some days I'm fine. Other days, I'm not fine at all. I know I should feel lucky to be healthy and working, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to sometimes really battling the blues.


The complete irresponsibility of online conspiracy mongers especially depresses me. No, you stupid fucks, wearing a mask won't make you sick, but it does protect me. No, you paranoid nut jobs, Dr. Fauci doesn't profit when Remdesivir is prescribed. I could go on, but why? The people who cotton to and perpetuate these theories are obviously both reason- and conscience-free.

4.  Who makes you laugh when no one else can? My oldest friend. We met in Kindergarten, when her family moved in across the alley from mine. In those days, we made each other laugh until we peed a little. Guess what: 55 years later, we can still make each other laugh until we pee a little.

5. What are your superpowers? Grudge carrying and worrying unnecessarily.

6. What is the last thing you memorized? Yet another computer password. (Yeah, this is a vast improvement over, "What's the last song you heard?" ๐Ÿ˜œ)

7. Tell us something you once took that you wish you could give back? I once spooned a ton of avocado onto my plate, but it was wasabi. You do not want to dip your chip in wasabi, but you cannot give it back.

8. The iPhone just gave birth to the next generation of phones. What would you name them? 

      The i_____? The iGotNothingforThisQuestion

9.  How much mystery should be in a relationship? Is it a good thing or not? To me, everything about enduring love relationships is a mystery. People speak freely about their break ups but really, I find happily married people more interesting.

10. What is your weekend blogging routine? I'm a loyal acolyte of Bud's: Saturday 9, Sunday Stealing and now Monday Madness.


Cinderella Boy Alec Mills!

"What an incredible Cinderella story. This unknown comes out of nowhere to lead the pack." Cub fan Bill Murray won't mind me invoking his immortal lines from Caddyshack to describe Alec Mills today.

The 28-year-old that nobody ever heard of just threw a no hitter. He was a walk on in college who barely made the team as a reliever. They didn't let him start until he was a junior. Then the Royals signed him, but he never made it out of the minors. He came to the Cubs, but if lefty Jose Quintana hadn't sliced his hand while doing dishes -- honest, I'm not making this up -- Alec Mills likely wouldn't be a starter for the Cubs this year. 

This is why I love baseball. You just never know.

One group hug, boys, then it's back to social distancing

Saturday, September 12, 2020



I remember Bankerchick. She was a good blogging buddy, but she hung it up.

1. Tell us about any lawn or garden plans you have for this month. I don't have a lawn.

2. "Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there."~Thomas Fuller  What does this quote mean to you? That life gives us unintended consequences to contend with.

3. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about God? Love. He knows how hard I try.

4. If we were chatting in person, how would I know if you were nervous? I talk faster and my leg jiggles.

5. Do you like the color yellow? Would I find any in your home or wardrobe? I like it to look at, but I look hideous in it. My kitchen is yellow.

6. Daffodils, tulips, roses, sunflowers, day lily, black-eyed Susan...which yellow bloom on this list is your favorite? Roses. Though you left out my favorite: yellow carnations! 

7. Flip flops or bare feet? Bare feet


8. Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fishbowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, fish or cut bait...which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life? Workwise, this week I had bigger fish to fry.

9. Have you ever been fishing? Did you catch a fish? If so did you keep it or throw it back? If you haven't been fishing is that something you'd like to try? I went fishing exactly once, when I was very young. (Kindergarten, maybe?) I caught a small fish and felt bad that it died on the bottom of the boat.

10. What's something you're always fishing for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer? Most recently it was my library card in my wallet.

11. Your favorite fish tale or movie? 

12. Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight or night? Explain why you chose your answer. Daylight. I like the color of the sky.

13. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear? I have a sweatshirt that's 20 years old. I don't throw things away unless I'm forced to.

14. What's been the best and worst part of your summer so far? The best part? Cubs baseball! The worst part? You selfish conspiracy theory fuckers who refuse to wear masks and are prolonging this pandemic for the rest of us. WWG1WGA, indeed!
Doesn't it get hot under that hat?


15. Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? If so, what's your favorite JB tune?

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: So Emotional (1987)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Whitney sings that she keeps her lover's photo beside her bed. What's on your bedside table? Alarm clock, tissue box, landline phone.

2) She's getting frustrated, waiting for the phone to ring. If your phone were to ring right now, who would you expect to be on the other end? As election day approaches, it's likely a campaign organization. I'm very proud of my work as campaign volunteer and consider involvement part of my civic duty. But boy, once you get on one of those lists ... ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

3) The video was filmed at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. It seats 6,200. As the nation reopens from Covid19, would you feel comfortable sitting knee-to-knee with a stranger in an arena like this? Hell to the no. I just passed on an outdoor dinner for 5 because of the virus. I'm not doing a concert any time soon. (BTW, 6,200 sounds pretty small to me. Chicago's United Center seats 23,500 for concerts.)

4) This week's featured artist, Whitney Houston, appeared on the

daytime drama As The World Turns. She played herself, performing with Jermaine Jackson at the Miss Cinderella contest in the fictional town of Oakdale. Have you ever been hooked on a soap opera? I grew up on Erica Kane and the gang in Pine Valley from All My Children. And I loved Dallas. 

Pam, Bobby, Jock, Sue Ellen, JR, w/Lucy & Miss Ellie in front

5) Whitney had a sweet tooth, and her favorite breakfast cereal was Fruity Pebbles. Do you often eat cereal for lunch or dinner? It has been known to happen.

6) At Whitney's wedding to Bobby Brown, her bridesmaids all wore lavender dresses and the groomsmen had custom made alligator shoes. Have you ever "stood up" for a friend or relative? If so, do you remember what you wore? I especially recall one cap-sleeved, v-neck bridesmaid dress because the color was so awful for me. It was called "dusty rose." I remember because the bride's mother -- who was really calling the shots, not her daughter -- would correct me every time I said I was dubious about how pink would look with my red hair. I saw resistance was futile and gave up. After all, the bride wanted me in her wedding party, and that's an honor. So I spent a day looking like a jaundice sufferer.

7) In 1987, the year this song was popular, Cher won the Oscar for Moonstruck. Her most famous line was, "Snap out of it!" When you think of Cher, do you first think of her movies, her TV show, or her music? Probably her music. Though mostly I think of her as CHER, a force of nature.

8) Michael Douglas won the Oscar that year for Wall Street. His most famous line was, "Greed is good." His character goes on to say that, "Greed in all its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of all mankind." Do you agree? Kinda. It sounds ugly the way ol' Gordon put it, but he's describing capitalism, isn't he? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," sounds more generous and fair, but that's socialism.

9) Random question: When you woke up

this morning, were you ready to get out of bed? Or do you wish you could have snoozed for a bit longer? My cat Reynaldo was my alarm clock this morning. He snuggled up so close to me that he unintentionally woke me up. Then I had to pee. He did not wish to be disturbed, but once I move from the bed, he demands and deserves his breakfast. I'm going back to bed for a while after I post this.


Friday, September 11, 2020

The happiest thing you will see all day

9/11 is so solemn. 

To cheer you up, here's my favorite Cub grinning with Kevin, who is wearing a birthday hat. 

You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

 1. What are you currently reading? The Father Hunt by Rex Stout. It's good to revisit the Manhattan brownstone of world-famous detective Nero Wolfe. This time his assistant Archie brings him a case. A woman Archie met socially takes a shine to him -- women are always taking a shine to Archie -- and asks him for help with a personal matter. She wants to learn the identity of her biological father. With her mother dead, she thinks it's an impossible ask. Archie and Wolfe expect this simple case of paternity to take about a week. It becomes more complicated than they anticipated, with twists and turns along the way and even an unsolved murder. Every time I think I know who the father is, and whether he is somehow involved with the murder, I'm wrong. I do love being fooled, and this one has me going.
This is #43 of the 45 books Stout wrote. While the earliest stories take place in the late 1930s, this one is set in 1967. Wolfe's brownstone has air conditioning and a color TV and his client wears a miniskirt. (Wolfe only approves of air conditioning.) While it's modern compared to the rest of the series, it still seems primitive at times. There's no such thing as a DNA test to prove paternity, and no one considers blood tests reliable. I wonder if mysteries are easier, or harder, to write now, with today's advancements in STEM.
2. What did you recently finish reading?
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. A completely charming book. Motherless Katie grew up on an English dairy farm, just her and her dad. When she hit her 20s she reinvents herself as "Cat" and moves to London. She gets a bottom-rung job at a marketing agency and wants to make a success of herself. She creates perfect Instagram posts of her not-so-perfect life, and assumes that if she works hard enough, some day her real self with match her cyber self.
Cat has a love-hate relationship with her boss, a beautiful and brilliant woman in her early 40s who has countless awards but few people skills. In this way, the book is kind of like The Devil Wears Prada, only here I like our protagonist. (I wasn't at all fond of Andrea on the pages Prada; I liked her better in the movie.)

Katie-Cat is a three-dimensional character and she keeps the story grounded. That's important to note because while Kinsella is a very funny writer, sometimes she veers off into silly. Some of her later Shopaholic books and a standalone I read, The Undomestic Goddess, descended into slapstick unreality. I'm happy to report that this is NOT the case with this book. 

In short, this is the best chick-lit I've read in a while and I recommend it.

3. What will read next?
Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace. Now that she's on MSNBC (at least) two hours every day in the run-up to Election Day, I forgot that between being a GOP political operative and a TV analyst, Nicolle Wallace tried her hand at writing. This is her novel about the first woman President and I'm looking forward to it. After all, Wallace worked for Bush 43 and has inside knowledge. For example, the 18 acres of the title refer to the space taken up by the White House grounds.

I guess that's over

It's been two weeks since I've received an x-rated comment.

They used to arrive regularly, often daily, on posts that were always more than a year old. They seemed to be promoting an adult "dating site," except the author was always UNKNOWN with a protected profile. I added that extra "prove you aren't a bot" verification step, but that didn't really have any impact on the comments.

Then they just stopped.

I don't for a moment think it was personal, or anyone trying to harass me (although I did feel harassed). It was most certainly a bot, and a broken one at that, considering that it didn't link back to anything. I wonder if its disappearance isn't a "New Blogger" thing. Maybe there's some innovation or upgrade that now protects us from anonymous dirty comments.

PS By the way, if you're looking for a graphic like the one I used above, do yourself a favor and be absolutely certain you click Safe Search first. I mean, that was creepy there for a moment.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Today was Labor Day

So I labored. Four hours Saturday. Three hours Sunday. Five hours today. It was the beginning of my work on the latest Big Project. I had to come up with four different ways to sell the same service -- to 25 to 35-year-olds, 36 to 50-year-olds, 51 to 60 year-olds, and those 60+. That was only Phase One.

Phase Two is an 8-page brochure about the service. I don't have the input I need to start on this yet. It's due 9/11. I don't see how that will happen. The stress is making me trรจs nerveux.

I used to get off on the deadlines. But after 40 years of doing this, I'm just upset and resentful.

Oh, well. The good thing about working from home is that I was able to pound away on my laptop while the Cub games were on. They're still in first place, having squeaked out two wins against the Cardinals in this five-game series.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Sunday Stealing

1. A person I like and why I like them. My oldest friend, because she makes me laugh.
2. A famous person I’ve been compared to. Julie from The Love Boat. Back when the show was on, I heard this a lot. (Of course, the show was on more than 40 years ago. I no longer look like this. Neither does she.)

3. Best thing that happened to me this week. I read a completely charming book: My Not So Perfect Life. It was "just" chick lit, but it was funny, well crafted, and I liked the protagonists. With the news pretty unremittingly bad these days, I enjoyed the time I spent with this book.
4. Weird things I do when I’m alone. I get up and stand in front of the TV when I'm  really into what I'm watching. Example: Friday night, TCM showed Elvis: That's the Way It Is. I moved closer to the set to dance along with "Suspicious Minds."  I sometimes touch the screen when my favorite Cub, Anthony Rizzo, is at bat.
I'm sure I look quite ridiculous.

5. How I’d spend $10,000. Let's just assume this is after-tax money. The first $1,000 is split among my favorite charities. The second $1,000 goes into my checking account for happy "whatevers." The remaining eight goes into my home. (Extra mortgage payments? Much needed repairs? I don't know.)

6. My last night out in detail. Wow. It's been a while. Last month, I had dinner with my friend Nancy and her husband. We went to her favorite little "greasy spoon" restaurant. I had a grilled cheese/bacon sandwich, Nancy and her hubs had the chicken. We ate outside at a wrought iron table under an umbrella. I drank root beer, they had shakes.

7. Something that makes me sad when I think about it. That because of the virus I don't actually see people as much as I'd like to.

8. Something I’m currently worrying about. The current big project on my plate. Everything in the world is due on September 17. It makes my throat close up a bit, just thinking about.

9. Something I do without realizing. See #4.
10. A drunken story. I wasn't drunk, exactly. I was coming out of anesthetic after my colonoscopy. I was convinced I'd lost my keys. I reported them as lost to the hospital on the way out. When I got home, I got the extra keys I keep in the lock box I keep on the fence in the parking lot. I called a locksmith ... then I reached into my pocket. Guess what.

11. Something I regret. Reading the book Road to Jonestown last month. It's well told and well researched. But I never should have picked it up. The Peoples Temple mass suicide is not the saga I needed when I'm battling the blues during a pandemic.

This is me

12. 5 things within touching distance. My day planner (yes, I'm old school); my checkbook; one of my new Bic pens; a tissue (allergies are bad this morning); the letter from my cousin that I'm going to answer.

13. Something I’ve lied about. It's a lie of omission. When I talk to my oldest friend, I don't admit I looked at her novella on the website Wattpad. I couldn't read it objectively -- so many of the characters are thinly veiled versions of people I know (including me) -- so I don't want to discuss it.

14. Lyrics that apply to my current mood. Running on empty, running blind/I'm running into the sun, but I'm running behind.

15. My longest relationship


Friday, September 04, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Work Hard, Play Harder (2009)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) We're celebrating the last holiday of summer by going country. Who is your favorite country music artist? Garth Brooks

2) Gretchen Wilson sings that on Tuesdays, she gets up before dawn. This morning, did you awaken on your own, or did you need an alarm clock? Since I am answering these on Friday, I have go with alarm clock. The handyman was here at 9:00 AM, and I had to be ready.

Not a good look
3) She tells us that she doesn't waste her time on manicures or spay tans. How about you? Have you recently spent any money at the salon? Since the salon reopened in June, I have returned faithfully every 4-5 weeks. I'm afraid the guv is going to shut it all down again, and I can't bear that mullet again. I looked like The Tiger King.

4) She sings that she's the first to clock in at work. Have you ever worked a job that required you to punch a time clock? I have to fill out a time sheet. My agency bills the client based on how much time I spend on a project.

5) Gretchen Wilson says she is a big fan of McDonald's and tries to eat there once a day when she's on tour. In terms of sales, America's 3 most popular fast-food lunch destinations are McDonald's, Starbucks and Subway. If you could choose a gift card to one of those three, which would you select? Subway, I suppose. I like McDonald's, but Subway is more convenient, now that I'm working from home.

6) Gretchen has endorsed Redneck Riviera Whiskey. What's your favorite adult beverage? Lately I've been ordering margaritas, so I guess it's tequila.

Since this Monday is Labor Day, the holiday established to celebrate the American worker … 

7) Approx. 10% of Americans are self employed. Have you ever been your own boss? Yes. For 13 months I was between jobs and freelanced to keep the lights on. I enjoyed the freedom but hated the recordkeeping. Quarterly taxes! Ugh!

8) According to, 50% of workers have left a job to get away from a boss. Are you one of the 50%? Yes, but I'm not elaborating because I don't want to give her another moment's thought.

9) Farmers feel the impact of extreme weather events. Have you ever had a job that required you to be outdoors most of the time? No.

Well, I WAS happy there for a while

 Thursday night, I had a nice conversation with Henry. It was 90 minutes long, which didn't give us enough time to venture into Crazy Town. Much of the call -- most, in fact -- was about me and about how very anxious I've been lately. He was compassionate, supportive and completely non-judgemental. 

I know that's the the way friends are supposed to act, but there's the thing: since Henry's accident and TBI, he's been staggeringly self-absorbed at times. That he was able to put me first and be helpful not only made me feel loved, it made me happy because it meant he's still my dear old Henry.

Then the conversation changed. We started talking about Trump. Henry ALWAYS wants to talk about Trump. Always has! (I remember saying to Henry over Christmas 2015, "Stop it! He'll never be President!") Henry started voicing some conspiracy theory about the electoral college.

"Why are we even talking about this?" I asked. "We can't change the Constitution in 60 days. What are we doing to do to help Joe over the next 60 days?"

Henry kept going back to the electoral college and bribery. I couldn't steer him away from it. Now while I admit that Donald Trump has proven to us -- day in and day out -- that's he's indecent, I won't discuss conspiracy theories. Not QAnon shit, not the Clintons killed Jeffrey Epstein, not Princess Diana's "assassination." None of it. It's all nonsense and it insults my intelligence.

I finally told Henry that, unless he can tell me which state Trump bought and how he bought it, he was just as bad as the WWG1WGA nut jobs. I backed up my argument by saying that -- except for a handful of swing states -- the electoral map has been pretty much the same since Bill Clinton beat George H. W. Bush. And besides, how does any of this help Joe Biden? Let's talk about Joe. Let's be positive.

Henry said he would research his electoral college conspiracy theory and email me links to back it up. Confident that he never will -- because he'll either forget or because, since it's a shit theory, he can't find anything -- I promised him I'll examine whatever he sends me. Then I told him I had to go.

I thanked him so much for being my friend and listening. I told him I loved him. He said he loved me. I told him that, Thursday night, he made a difference in how I felt about the world. He said I was his "one true sister" and I could always count on him. 

I thought we were fine.

Today, Reg called. He wanted to know what Henry and I talked about that had him so upset this morning. Reg told me Henry wouldn't articulate it, just that our conversation left him feeling "bad."

WHAT? I was gobsmacked. Two-thirds of our 90 minute conversation was loving and positive. And the last half hour was just silly. I didn't think it was angry or argumentative. I just kept trying to change the subject and then I dropped it. Besides, the conversation was negative and ridiculous.

I apologized for upsetting Henry. In fact, I thought our conversation would have the opposite effect. Henry is forever complaining that everyone treats him like a child, I said. And Thursday night, I turned to him as an equal and he responded. I thought that was wonderful.

Reg reassured me that it is wonderful, and that the problem isn't me, it's his TBI. Henry has trouble processing information and moods and it causes him to lose perspective, to cling to the bad and dismiss the good. He reminded me of something I've said ever since Henry's accident back in October 2018 -- "Henry is still in there somewhere." The old Henry came out on Thursday night, Reg said. It was the TBI Henry who woke up Friday, feeling agitated.

So here is my dilemma -- Henry hates to be patronized. He complains about everyone treating him like a child. But maybe that's what I need to do. Maybe instead of saying, "I don't believe in conspiracy theories," I should have jumped ahead to, "Send me your research and I'll read it." Perhaps that way I could have gotten him to abandon the Trump toxicity without him feeling so bad.

I'm learning. In my way, I'm getting better, too.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

 1. What are you currently reading? My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. I'm really loving this one. We meet Cat at the beginning of her career in marketing/advertising in the heart of London. Her point of view and observations are so charmingly spot on that I feel I not only know her, I feel I was her.

So far, the story is shaping up to be a second cousin to The Devil Wears Prada: You know, a young woman discovers the darker side of a glamorous industry when she finds herself at the mercy of a rather monstrous older woman. But the characters here are less arch and more likeable.

I like Kinsella, too. I know from her Shopaholic series that she's a funny writer and am happy to report that here, she's not overly jokey. The humor flows naturally.

2. What did you recently finish reading?
The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn. Was he born evil, or did he become evil? That's what was on my mind as I traveled from Indiana to California to Guyana and certain death with Jim Jones.

After this telling of the Peoples Temple horror story, I've concluded that Jones wasn't evil after all, just crazy. Instead of getting the help he needed, he took drugs and more drugs. Pharmaceuticals fed his delusions of grandeur, paranoia and obsession with control.

This is a hard book. There's exploitation, cruelty and the inexorable march to mass suicide in the jungle. But there's also the congregants of The Peoples Temple -- so many of them good people who believed in racial equality and social justice. They gave over everything to "Father" (aka Jim Jones) because they believed in helping the poor and empowering the disenfranchised. My heart breaks for them. They thought they were serving a higher, completely laudable purpose, when in reality they were victims of a mad man.

Well told and engrossing, I recommend this book if you're interested in the tragedy that took more than 900 lives in a matter of hours.

3. What will read next?
I think it will be time again for a mystery.


So far, so good

I just did the dishes and this tape seems to have solved my plumbing problem, at least for now. I am so freaking relieved.

One less thing to distract me! And make no mistake about it, I am most distracted. For example, today I paid the same Citicard bill twice. Work ... the pandemic ... economic uncertainty ... racial unrest ... Trump ... I admit it: it's all getting to me. I appreciate that we are living in historic times, but I wish we were looking back on them.

Not much named for Nixon

I have been thinking about Gerald Ford, because next month I'm flying into Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. In retrospect, I appreciate Gerald Ford way more than I did in real time. I was furious about The Pardon in 1974, but I know now he was right. No American President should end up behind bars -- no matter how much I would personally enjoy seeing this one in a jumpsuit that matches his spray tan -- because that's not who we are as a country. After an ugly chapter, we should move on and and seek healing, not retribution.

Anyway, as my mind ping ponged from Ford to Nixon, I wondered if there was a Nixon Airport. There is not. There is a Nixon Freeway in California, and two elementary schools (one in Iowa, one in New Jersey). It's pretty amazing, when you look at the enormity of his electoral victory in 1972. You would think that after such a landslide, you could take a Nixon highway to a Nixon Airport to a town called Nixon where there would be a Nixon University. Yet clearly, he appealed to a massive segment of our population, and then those very people seemed to want to forget him.
Stolen from Wikipedia

After Donald Trump leaves the White House, I wonder how his current supporters will treat him. After all, Trump didn't come near Nixon's vote totals in 2016. He didn't even win the popular vote. Will MAGA hats still be worn proudly? Or will parents and grandparents be like my own mother, who explained voting for Nixon in 1972 this way: "I went to vote for Ogilvie and Percy,* and Nixon was so far ahead in the polls, I just voted straight party Republican." She always sounded apologetic and embarrassed.

*IL's incumbents were Gov. Richard Ogilvie and Sen. Charles Percy.