Friday, August 18, 2017

August Happiness Challenge: Day 17

Rizz loves Miller Lite
On Day 17, I'm happy that beer has no cholesterol. With that pesky insurance physical coming up Saturday, I've been very careful about what I eat. I miss burgers and cheese and bacon. I hate oatmeal and I'm sick of lettuce.

But beer has no cholesterol! So when I slipped out of this afternoon's bridal shower with a can, I savored every sip.

Legend has it that Ben Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." I heartily agree.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August Happiness Challenge: Day 16

Rizz loves sending it out of the park
On Day 15, I'm happy for Anthony Rizzo.  It was bound to happen -- one day in August I'd be grateful for the man chosen as my happiness icon.

It was the first inning of Wednesday night's game. Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber hit singles and Kris Bryant took a walk. Anthony Rizzo got into the batter's box and, liked the first pitch he saw, and "unpacked the bags."

When Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both score, we Cub fans like to say, "That ball was Bryzzo'd." This ball was Bryzzo'd right into the stands.

Fans like me weren't the only happy ones. If you watch the clip below, you'll see the bullpen break into dance. They celebrate every home run by showing off their moves, but with Rizzo's big swing, they were especially enthusiastic.



PS. This home run was in support of another fine performance by John Lackey, who made me happy last week. I believe this was his sixth consecutive win. Not bad, Old Man.

 
If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Attention must be paid

I called in sick today because 1) I hate the way everyone at work has been leaning on me and taking me for granted and 2) it's Elvis Day on TCM Summer with the Stars.

I've watched Elvis on Tour, This Is Elvis, Girl Happy, Jailhouse Rock and That's the Way It Is. That's a lot of Elvis, I know. But he's the only King we've ever had, and attention must be paid. It was 40 years ago today he died, and yet I still hear him everywhere. Not just his music, but his influence on the music of those who followed.

Including Stitch.

via GIPHY


August Happiness Challenge: Day 15

Rizz loves it when we're a team
On Day 15, I'm happy for partnership.  Today was not a good day. The national news has depressed me literally beyond words. My friend Barb's husband was readmitted to the hospital again, after barely a week at home. I thought I'd find comfort tonight by watching the Cubs vanquish the Cincinnati Reds. Apparently the Reds weren't aware of this plan. 

So as I get ready for bed, I struggle to think of something that made me happy today.

Then I remembered my 2:00 meeting. 

The art director I'm usually paired with is on vacation. She's technically very good and detail oriented, but she doesn't bring much imagination to the table. So today, I got to start working with her back up. Drew. He's extravagantly talented. He's also something of a diva, so I was a little apprehensive.

I needn't have been. After the kick-off meeting, I explained that I knew what I wanted this piece to say and do -- I just wasn't sure how to make my words fit the format. 

"Write it," he told me. "The content will force the format."

He was so casual, so confident. 

I don't have to worry how my story will unfold on the page. I have a creative partner who will run that side of the fence. 

An equal creative partner. Hell, maybe even an extra-equal creative partner. That makes me happy!
If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Monday, August 14, 2017

August Happiness Challenge: Day 14

Rizz loves it when it's free
On Day 14, I'm happy for free food.  My dinner tonight was provided by my employers. First, at 4:00, there was a nacho party. I don't really do Mexican food, but I did go nice, tasty and mild -- chips, melted cheese and rice. Then, when it was time to go home, I discovered a platter of sandwiches left over from an afternoon meeting. I grabbed a roast beef on wheat.

I consumed a lot of cheese today. Not good for my cholesterol, which is being checked on Saturday as part of an insurance exam. But I did have oatmeal for breakfast and a fruit salad for lunch, so I like to think that balances it out somewhat.

And free food is good for my budget. 
If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

August Happiness Challenge: Day 13

Rizz loves new old movies 
On Day 13, I'm happy for Turner Classic Movies.  Every August, we classic movie fans celebrate Summer Under the Stars. TCM devotes 24 hours to a single star. And every year I discover a gem I've never seen before.

Back on Day 8, the star of the day was Franchot Tone. A typical Hollywood leading man of his day, handsome but bland, he was often paired with the biggest female stars: Hepburn, Crawford (to whom he was once married) and Davis.

And it's his movie with Davis that I DVR'd on the 8th and watched today: Dangerous (1935). He's torn between two lovers: the sweet, funny brunette Gail and Joyce, played by Davis. Joyce is a tempestuous blonde with a secret.

It's soapy and dramatic, but at times, a glossy soap opera really hits the spot. Davis is a bit of a ham hock, and her performance often goes over the top. But she has some genuinely effecting moments, especially at the beginning, when she's beaten down and doesn't think life has anything to offer her anymore. 

This movie is legendary for a couple reasons. 1) It won Davis her first Oscar and 2) she was rumored to have enjoyed an on-set romance with Franchot Tone. Even though he was engaged to Joan Crawford. Dangerous might have fueled the epic Crawford-Davis feud.

And today, I'm glad I finally saw it.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Make a difference today

1.  What is the favorite piece of art you own?

I have this, numbered and signed by the artist. I love it and never get tired of gazing upon it. Klaus Voormann is a real Renaissance man. He not only did this, The Beatles Anthology CD/video cover, he also did the famous Revolver artwork. And he's an accomplished bass player. That's him plunking out the first chords on Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."



2.  The most expensive bill you paid last month.  Comcast Xfinity.

 
3.  What’s the last thing you apologized for? Crowding the aisle at Ulta. That store is awfully tight.


4.  If you could do today over, would you change anything? I wouldn't have wasted as much time as I did watching a rather hysterical TLC documentary about Princess Diana's death. No, Princes Philip and Charles did not have Diana killed because she was carrying Dodi's baby. Because they wouldn't do that, because she wasn't pregnant, and because orchestrating an assassination in a tunnel would be ridiculously difficult.



5.  What is the largest TV screen in your house? 20". It's a 17-year-old set and it's hopelessly out of date, technologically speaking. But it still works and it seems a shame to toss it into a landfill when the picture and sound are still so good. When the smaller set in my bedroom finally kicks the bucket, I'll move this warhorse back there and get a new set.


6.  What did you buy today? Moisturizers. Murad and Neutrogena.


7.  I wish I had a million dollars.


8.  How many photos did you take today? None.


9.  Last thing you wanted and didn’t get. Thousand Island dressing. I forgot to pick it up at Whole Foods.


10.  What was the last new thing you tried? I read a story I wrote in an open forum.


11.  Who is your hero? Right now, my friend Barb. She is facing a tremendous amount of adversity with grace. I admire her, and hope I can help her.


12.  Today I feel really secure knowing that when I start receiving Social Security, it will be enough to help me make ends meet.


13.  Whose life did you make a difference in today? My cats, Connie and Reynaldo. Because of my opposing thumbs, I can open the kibble and fill their bowls.


14.  What would have made today perfect? If the Cubs had won. Alas, they did not. I'm not even sure they're in first place anymore! (I can't bear to check the standings just now.)


15.  Did you thank anybody today? Oh, sure. Like when someone held the door for me, bagged my purchase for me, etc.

Bonus: If you were a Muppet, which would you be? Beaker. I like Beaker.





August Happiness Challenge: Day Twelve

Rizz enjoys paying the mortgage
On Day Twelve, I'm happy for Social Security.  I received a statement from the Social Security Administration today. It explained that if I began taking payments as soon as I'm eligible, at age 62, I'd get $1,849/month.

That would more then pay my mortgage and monthly assessment.

Since I'm a big fan of having a roof over my head, this made me happy.

Let's hope Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to leave Social Security alone, honors his word.
If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Prayers for my country

Last weekend, a mosque in Minnesota was bombed. My President still has not issued a statement.

Today, in Charlottesville, a woman was killed in a rally where my fellow Americans were waving Confederate flags and swastikas. My President denounced "violence on many sides." He repeated that phrase, "on many sides."

Why do I keep expecting better things from him? After all, he began his political life as our Birther in Chief. Where did he think that dog-whistle rhetoric would lead?


My heart is sore. I do not want to believe that the 49% of the country that elected Donald Trump is racist and anti-Semitic.

I hope that in the coming days, I'll see more and more Republicans come forward. For now, I'll hold these tweets dear.





The Hot 100

Thank you, Endomental! I love this list.

Rotten Tomatoes aggregates the 100 most popular movies into a list, using the criteria of number of reviews and their fresh/rotten ranking. Technically, it could change every time a new review is posted. So here's where we stand today.

BOLD -- I've seen it
BLUE -- I've seen it and liked it
RED -- A fave!


1          The Wizard of Oz (1939) 
2          Citizen Kane (1941) 
3          The Third Man (1949)
4          The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) (1920) 
5          All About Eve (1950) 
6          Metropolis (1927)  
7          Modern Times (1936)  
8          It Happened One Night (1934)  
9          Singin' in the Rain (1952)  
10        Casablanca (1942)  
11        Laura (1944) 
12        Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (Nosferatu the Vampire) (1922) 
13        Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) 
14        A Hard Day's Night (1964)
15        La Grande illusion (Grand Illusion) (1938)
16        North by Northwest (1959)
17        Repulsion (1965)
18        Sunset Boulevard (1950) 
19        King Kong (1933) 
20        The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 
21        Rear Window (1954) 
22        Rashômon (1951)
23        Psycho (1960) 
24        The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
25        The Philadelphia Story (1940)  
26        Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai) (1956) 
27        The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) 
28        All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
29        The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) (1959)
30        12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men) (1957) 
31        A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 
32        Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
33        Rebecca (1940) 
34        Vertigo (1958)
35        Rosemary's Baby (1968)
36        Frankenstein (1931) 
37        Touch of Evil (1958)
38        The 39 Steps (1935)
39        Gone With the Wind (1939)
40        The Last Picture Show (1971) 
41        The Grapes of Wrath (1940) 
42        Roman Holiday (1953)
43        On the Waterfront (1954) 
44        Battleship Potemkin (1925)
45        Anatomy of a Murder (1959) 
46        Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 
47        The Lady Vanishes (1938)
48        The Leopard (1963)
49        Chinatown (1974) 
50        Cool Hand Luke (1967) 
51        An American in Paris (1951) 
52        The Searchers (1956) 
53        The Gold Rush (1925)
54        It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
55        Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
56        The Red Shoes (1948)
57        The Big Sleep (1946) 
58        Mary Poppins (1964) 
59        To Be or Not to Be (1942)
60        City Lights (1931) 
61        The French Connection (1971)
62        Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
63        His Girl Friday (1940) 
64        Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
65        Throne of Blood (1957)
66        Barry Lyndon (1975)
67        Freaks (1932) 
68        Badlands (1974)
69        Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
70        Mean Streets (1973)
71        The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
72        Spartacus (1960) 
73        The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)  
74        Forbidden Planet (1956)
75        The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 
76        101 Dalmatians (1961) 
77        The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 
78        Duck Soup (1933)  
79        Fantasia (1940)  
80        2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 
81        The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
82        Some Like It Hot (1959) 
83        Bringing Up Baby (1938)  
84        Ran (1985)
85        Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
86        Peeping Tom (1960)
87        One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) 
88        The Birds (1963) 
89        A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari) (1964)
90        Rebel Without a Cause (1955)  
91        Paths of Glory (1957)
92        The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)  
93        Goldfinger (1964)
94        Night of the Living Dead (1968)
95        Don't Look Now (1973)
96        Dr. No (1962)
97        The Apartment (1960) 
98        From Russia With Love (1964)
99        L'Avventura (1960)
100      To Catch a Thief (1955)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Start Me Up (1981)
... because Kwizgiver recommended The Rolling Stones

1) That's a goat wearing a high heel. What's on your feet as you answer these questions? Just toenail polish.

2) More fashion: In the video for this song, Mick is wearing white pants with an elastic waistband. Are you wearing a belt as you answer these questions? Nope
 
3) In this song, Mick pleads, "Don't make a grown man cry." When is the last time you shed a tear? I don't remember

4) Keith Richard has said this is a song he could play "forever and ever." What in your life doesn't get old, no matter how often you do it? I'm watching a TLC documentary on Princess Diana. It occurs to me that I've been reading about Diana and the boys for more than 30 years now. So I'd say, for me, royal watching doesn't get old.

5) While The Rolling Stones enjoy performing songs, like this one, from Tattoo You, Mick Jagger has dismissed the songs from their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request as "rubbish." Do you have a favorite Rolling Stones song? I'm not much of a Stones fan, but I do enjoy this one, also from Tattoo You.


 
6) This recording of "Start Me Up" features a cowbell. Do you remember which Saturday Night Live host made, "More cowbell!" a catchphrase? Christopher Walken. I can't get over how often I still the meme and this t-shirt, even after more than 15 years.


7) Bassist Bill Wyman once said he thought he should have been a archivist because he loved to make lists. Do you have a to-do list? No

8) Mick finds it hard to stand still when he sings, not only on stage but also in the studio. The engineer for this song reports that Mick would have to run across the room to get back to the microphone for his vocal. Are you more fidgety, or still? I'm a fidgeter.

9) Random question: Do you believe men are inherently more sensible than women? No.

 

August Happiness Challenge: Day 11

Rizz is refreshed
On Day Eleven, I'm happy I took a nap. Our office closes early on Friday afternoons. These days always feel delicious and somehow stolen. 

Today I used the time to take a nap. Sprawled out on the sofa, I snoozed and snored for nearly two hours. Bliss!

Then I went grocery shopping, ticking one of the "must-do's" off my list.
If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

August Happiness Challenge: Day 10

Rizz is happy for me
On Day Ten, I'm happy I got high five'd. For the last three weeks, I've been in this Second City storytelling workshop sponsored by employer. Monday I wrote this story, recounting a true story from my childhood. The praise from my two instructors was universal, and I didn't really trust it.

Let's face it: this is a business for them. My agency paid them to run this three-session workshop and hosted a pizza/wine/beer party Thursday to celebrate the results. They needed us to participate and share our stories or it wouldn't look like the agency got what it paid for.

So before I committed to reading this in open forum, I shared the story with John, Kathy and Henry. All three of them are writers. None of them has read my personal writing -- just my professional, marketing-based stuff. When all three of them assured me that it was good and I wouldn't embarrass myself, I committed to reading it at the party.

The reception I received was positive! People actually laughed out loud, and at the right places. As I made my way back to my seat, I received applause and high fives. It was very encouraging, and I'm glad I did it.

Praise feels good.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Hi, I'm Fatty McFatterson

Twenty years ago, I was worried about my mom, her finances, and what would happen to her if something happened to me. Yes, I already had a group life insurance plan through work, but advertising can be an insecure industry, so I wanted a policy independent of my job. So, just a month  before my 40th birthday, I got a $50,000 level term life insurance policy.

That policy expires on October 15. Now I need a new one.

Now I'm worried about the debts I'll leave behind, the expense of laying me to rest, and cost incurred in selling my condo and disposing of my stuff. By the time that happens, I'll likely be retired and there won't be a group plan anymore. I still want that $50,000 level term policy. I found a company willing to give me one -- at a higher price than I expected but, after I did a little homework, is competitive with the marketplace.

But first I have to pass the physical.

Gulp.

I know my gut is OK. I have photographic evidence of my colonoscopy. My weight is a big problem, but there's not a lot I can do about that before next week's physical. Then there's my cholesterol. I've got make sure that's down, or this policy will be difficult to afford.

So for the next week it's oatmeal and salad and fruit. The heavy, fatty foods I love so much will be consumed only sparingly (if at all).




Thursday, August 10, 2017

August Happiness Challenge: Day 9

Rizz appreciates characters
On Day Nine, I'm happy about Gray and White Kitten and The Walking Dude.  

Gray and White Kitten was born in Millennial Park at the beginning of summer. He was all alone, without mama kitty or littermates. A homeless couple adopted him and are taking the best care of him they can. He's got a small portable litter box, a collar and leash, and toys -- all donated by passers by. He's amazingly chill about noises and doesn't even blink when a bus belches by or a siren blares. He encounters many dogs during the day but doesn't care much about them either. This is not to say he's not alert. He is. I've watched him enthusiastically take down a knotted pair of white socks. 

I realize that the two who adopted Gray and White Kitten are pimping him for donations. It's effective, too. I manage to scrounge change or a dollar bill every time I see them. And I've tucked a couple cans of canned food into my bag's side pocket.

I also know that it's more than likely that, without these two homeless kids, Gray and White Kitten would have perished in the park like his siblings, become road kill on the very busy streets, or fallen prey to some of the very sick fucks that are out there. I worry about what will happen to this cat come winter. I know there are homeless shelters that allow pets, but I doubt that the other dogs and cats that spend the night there have been immunized or fixed. 

But still, it was nice to see Gray and White Kitten looking healthy and loved. It's been a pleasure this summer to watch him grow, to see his ears go from round to pointy.

The Walking Dude is a Chicago staple, a homeless man who walks ... and walks ... and walks. He is tall and thin, with flowing white hair and a mustache. (Think a white-haired Barry Gibb.) His clothes are well worn, but the hair on his face and head are always immaculate as he walks all day and all night. In all weather. In May of 2016, he suffered a severe beating. He was hospitalized for a while and citizens contributed $40,000 for his care. News reports said he was "fine," but I no longer saw him walking, walking, walking. Today I did! And he looked fine.

I'm happy that the city is a vibrant place filled with unique and special characters, and I must remind myself to take the time to look.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Does anyone do Facebook right?

That provocative question appeared on my Facebook feed Sunday. I've been thinking about it ever since. And the answer, I've decided, is "no."

If a person shares that they something did well, are they being "self congratulatory?" Are they trolling for praise? Or are they just happy that they had a personal victory and they're sharing the moment?

If someone posts about an annoyance or disappointment, are they being a "downer?" Should they keep their shallow, First World problems to their damn selves? Or are they wisely letting their frustrations out so that they don't fester?

To the original question -- "Does anyone do Facebook right?" -- a woman snidely responded, "High school never ends." Just because she was being bitchy doesn't mean she wasn't right. Those adolescent feelings of vulnerability and that need for peer approval never really go away, and social media just exacerbates them.

This week I saw a post by a friend of a friend, a woman who took a selfie of herself at the beach. You can't see her face, but you can see her tummy, bikini bottom, legs and bare feet. Her body is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Yet she wrote how nervous she was, posting this picture to share and preserve her happy, peaceful moment on an empty beach.


"It's hard because with every picture you post you're hoping someone will like it and say something positive. However your gut tells you someone in the world is going to hate and criticize how you look. So here's me conquering my everyday anxiety and 
thinking I look nice in this picture."

My friend Amy posted the perfect response to this woman: "The only thing wrong with this picture is we can't see your pretty face."

But by admitting that she wants someone to like the picture and say something positive, is she begging for approval? Is she pathetically trying to compensate for some hole in her soul? Or is she courageously making herself vulnerable?

I don't have the answers. But I'm grateful to the woman -- someone I don't even know -- for raising the question. This stranger has made me more thoughtful and empathetic as I scroll through my feed.

Social media makes it easy for each us to be a distant, almost anonymous audience member in a cyber colosseum, giving our thumbs up or thumbs down to the poor schlubs who share their lives with us.

I must remember that each of us is doing the best that we can, and that it was a person who wrote that post I find it so easy to mock. A fellow human, not a cartoon or bot. Just someone expressing themselves and looking for validation.

While I'm sure my current moment of kum ba yah will wear off and revert to elitist, impatient eye rolls in the future, I must restrain myself from actually commenting. My nasty comments could harm the person they're aimed at and, I've learned this week, they also diminish me.


WWW.WEDNESDAY

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? Mrs. Jeffries Learns the Trade by Emily Brightwell. This anthology introduces Scotland Yard's Inspector Witherspoon and his maid, Mrs. Jeffries, in the their three earliest adventures. I've barely dented the first story, but so far I'm enjoying it. Ms. Brightwell successfully creates a veddy-veddy Downtown Abbey atmosphere. And I know this will definitely be more "cozy" and less Cornwell -- meaning I expect little that's grisly in these books.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Kennedy and Nixon, by Chris Matthews There is little new in this book. It's the way Matthews frames the contrast between these two historic men that makes this a good read. He casts Kennedy as Mozart, naturally gifted and charismatic, the one to whom everything appeared to come so easily. Nixon, then, is Salieri, hardworking but workmanlike, consumed by, and eventually destroyed by, jealousy.

Matthews treats both men with respect and compassion. It's especially evident in the passages about their deaths. I'm paraphrasing here, but JFK died as he lived -- in an open convertible, with a beautiful and loving woman at his side, charming everyone he saw. His death was sudden and fast, which he expressed more than once was how he wanted to go. Nixon died a lonely widower who lingered four days after suffering a stroke. Kennedy once famously said that life isn't fair. If he were able, Nixon might argue that death wasn't fair, either.

3.  What will you read next? I've got Sue Grafton's X, a Kinsey Milhone mystery I've yet to crack open.
 

August Happiness Challenge: Day 8

 Rizz is happy I found what I'm looking for
On Day Eight, YouTube made me happy. I learned Tuesday afternoon that Glen Campbell died after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

"Gentle on My Mind," "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I get to Phoenix," "Rhinestone Cowboy" ... all hits, all mentioned prominently in his obituary.

But the song that nagged at me and nibbled tenaciously at my consciousness was a little-known country ditty I remember hearing at my uncle's house. The last line was, "I'd say 'no thank you, Lord, I'll just keep Ann.'"

So I went to YouTube and searched for "Glenn Campebell Ann." I found it! On record and performed live on a Bing Crosby TV special! 

It was so satisfying to find it. I love YouTube!



PS RIP to Glen Campbell and Uncle Ted.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

August Happiness Challenge: Day 7

Rizz is happy to just write a check
On Day 7, I was happy I have an emergency fund. The  hospital bill for $412.94 arrived in today's mail. Obviously, that is not the source of my happiness.

I'm happy, though, that I don't have to put that $412.94 on plastic. After all, my 2017 "OneWord Goal is to focus on what counts," including my credit card debt.

Right now, my emergency fund has $1350 in it. I won't like seeing that total dip below $1000. But like the last check I wrote from this fund -- $175 for HVAC repair on 6/24 -- I'm happy I have the cash on hand. Now I'll have to build it up again, by adding between $20 and $25 every month.

While I'm at it, I'm also happy I still have good insurance. Part of why I wanted to have the colonoscopy this summer was that I wanted to make sure I could pay for it. Looking over the bill, I see that the procedure cost $8196. My total responsibility is less than 10% of that.

After my bout with c.diff, this test was wise, if not immediately necessary. I'm fortunate that I have the insurance and funds to pay for good healthcare.

 

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for the Happy Cub. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Let me tell you a story

This month I've been attending a storytelling workshop here at the office. It's taught by members of Chicago's Second City troop.

Here's the story I'm telling/reading presenting at tomorrow's workshop (if I can get away from my desk). The prompt was, "Tell a true story about one of these things: your earliest memory, feeling lost, or being transformed." 

"Feeling lost" was the easiest for me, and I was surprised by how vivid this memory was.



FEELING LOST

When we’re little, we’re like corks on the water. Where we go depends on where the currents, or the grown-ups, take us. So I don’t know how or why I ended up at This Grandma’s house for a sleepover. I only know that my mother presented the idea to me as though it was going to tremendous fun.

I knew it wouldn’t. 

Spending time with This Grandma wasn’t as much fun as being with my Other Grandma. While This Grandma promised to teach me how to polish her silver some day, my Other Grandma laughed at my jokes and let me read to her. This Grandma didn’t get my jokes and told me she preferred it when I read silently.

This Grandma was all about noise. She didn’t like anything loud. She hated “disruption.” 

So when I woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee, I was conflicted. I was unfamiliar with my surroundings and unsure how to find the bathroom in the dark. I was also reluctant to call out for help or turn on the lights. The house was dark and completely still, just the way This Grandma liked it. I decided it was best to keep it that way.

I got out of bed and walked carefully through the bedroom. A bit of gray light from a street lamp showed through the window shade. I was tempted to roll it up to let more light in, but that roll-up shade could make a sudden and startling “snap” noise, and that would not be good – not in This Grandma’s house in the middle of the night.

Now I was in the hall. It was long and really dark. I felt along the walls until I reached the door and knob that would let me into the bathroom. I stepped in and felt cool tile, instead of carpet, under my feet and was certain I was close to the toilet and the relief that would come from finally being able to pee. 

Only I could not find the toilet! Somehow, I was hopelessly lost in the pitch-black bathroom. I reached out and touched the smooth sink and the bumpy wicker clothes hamper. But where had the toilet gone?

I started to panic. It had to be here somewhere. I had to pee. 

Reaching up and around me in the dark, I felt the towels on their rack. Was I moving in the right direction toward the toilet? I could no longer remember how the room looked with the lights on. Suddenly I was scared. I was lost in the bathroom.

I took a step forward and felt something on my face. I didn’t like how it felt or smelled so I quickly turned away but it followed me. I tried to push it away but I fell down and it fell with me. Together we made noise and I started to cry.

The bathroom light came on and I heard This Grandma’s voice. 

“She’s wrapped in the shower curtain,” she called to This Grandpa. Then she came over and unwrapped me. 

“I’m sorry,” I cried, stepping up and out of the shower curtain. “I really have to pee.”

“Did you wet your pants?” she asked, pulling me toward the toilet, which now I could now clearly see was right where it belonged. I wasn’t afraid of the dark anymore. I was still a little afraid of This Grandma.

I shook my head, pulled down my pants and sat down. She leaned against the door, waiting for me. I looked up into her face. She didn’t seem mad, or even disturbed. She was all squinty and barely awake.

When I was done, she put a hand on each of my shoulders and steered me out of the bathroom. I started to remind her that I should wash my hands, but thought better of it. 

Filled with light from the bathroom, the hallway looked much shorter than it did in the dark.

Wordlessly she put me back in to bed and left the room. My mother or my Other Grandma would have said something reassuring, but This Grandma just shuffled out of the room and back up the hall. 

I noticed she left the bedroom door open and the bathroom light on. That made me happy.

And I remembered that even though I had been lost and scared, I didn’t wet my pants.  That made me happy, too. I fell asleep feeling almost brave.