Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: Ravenclaw

1. Do you have a passion project? What is it? Until this morning, I'd never heard the phrase "passion project." Maybe I'll start one. I have to give it more thought.

2. How many languages can you speak?

3. What was the last book you read? 

4. Where in the world would you most like to visit?
Hmm... I don't have many burning international travel goals. If money was absolutely no option, I'd love to take the TCM Classic Cruise. It's five days, from NYC to Bermuda and back, but that isn't why I'd love to hop aboard. It's also five full days of classic movie events. TCM buys out the entire ship. It's all screenings and lectures and theme parties and everyone on the ship is there because they love classic movies. 

To go the way I dream of going (which is not the cheapest option, obviously) is $5000. That includes onboard meals and events, but not airfare to/from New York, or non-mealtime snacks, or spending money when I'm in Bermuda (because I'd want to venture out onto dry land and into the sunshine sometime). So it's not going to happen any time soon.

5. Top 5 fictional characters?
Because #4 has me thinking of movies ...

1) Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were)
2) Jo March (Katharine Hepburn, Little Women)
3) Rhett Butler (Clark Gable, Gone with the Wind)
4) Toto (Terry the Terrier, The Wizard of Oz)
5) John McClaine (Bruce Willis, Die Hard)

6. Something you miss from your childhood?
It's a someone. My favorite grandpa. I was his favorite grandchild and, in real time, I didn't really appreciate it. I wish I'd been smart enough to really drink in the time, attention and unconditional love he generously gave. Plus, he was a wise and uncommonly good man. He died when I was in high school. I want more time with him!

7. What skill do you wish you had?
I wish I was bilingual.

8. Tell us an interesting fact.
Paul McCartney met John Lennon in July, 1957, when my mom was four months pregnant with me. George Harrison joined them seven months later, when I was two months old. So the Beatles and I were born at just about the same time.

9. What was your favorite subject in school?

10. Favorite planet?
This one.

11. Which historical figure fascinates you and why?
John F. Kennedy. I've learned so much about America, and about life, by studying him. He was, in many ways, more courageous than the average citizen knows and yet so desperately flawed in others. (John Jr. once said, "People tell me I could be a great man. I'd rather be a good man." Those are the words of a little boy who was raised by a broken-hearted mother.)

Still, I am forever inspired by JFK's words and works. He encouraged the country to aspire, to be more, to be better. We are better for his time with us, and his loss remains incalculable for so many reasons.

When President Trump chose to use JFK's Resolute desk in his Oval Office, I hoped that some idealism, elegance and positivity would rub off. I have since given up.

12. Favorite mythical creature?
I'm not sure I have one.

13. Do you believe in any conspiracy theories?
They won't be "theories" anymore, once Mr. Mueller shares the evidence.

14. What is your favorite word?
I like "gubernatorial," because it's fun to say. Living in Illinois, where our governors have an unfortunate tendency to get into legal hot water, I have opportunity to use it.

15. Do you have any obsessions right now?
The Cubs. Spring training starts in less than a month and I simply cannot wait! Yea!


16. Do you play any instruments? 

17. What’s your worst habit?
I'm a slob

18. Do you have a collection of anything?
Stuff from the 1960s (which is now called "midcentury").

19. What’s your biggest ‘what if’?
My friend Barb offered me a job back in 2005 and I didn't take it. I wonder if my finances and career wouldn't be in a better place now.

20. What is your favorite fairy tale?
Sleeping Beauty, I suppose. But I've never been much a fairy tale fan.

21. Have you ever dyed your hair? Is there a color you’d like to dye it?
I was a Lucy redhead for 20 years.

22. If you could learn one language overnight, which would you choose?

23. What’s the most useless thing you know how to do?
It's a toss up between Gregs shorthand and wiggling my ear.

24. What’s the most important change that should be made to your country’s education system?
Free pre-K.


I just didn't feel like it

My movie group met for the first time of 2019, and I wasn't there. I used the season's first big snowfall as an excuse, but that isn't why I didn't go. I just didn't feel like it. I just wanted to cocoon.

Being on the condo board is becoming something of a drag. I won't go into the petty details -- and oh! are they ever petty! -- but it's wearing on me. I fantasize all the time about moving in 2019. I sincerely hope the building deconversion sale goes through.

Work is annoying me. I know, I know. It's called "work" for a reason. Nothing is wrong, really. I just sense an uptick in tension, and with open seating it's impossible to escape.

I owed Henry a phone call. I realize I'm lucky to have him at all, and that it's a privilege that he loves me and reaches out to me during this tender recovery period. But talking to him wears me out. I am very happy to note that there's real, visceral improvement: He barely touched on the accident today, and didn't spend a moment bashing his partner, Reg. He's less about the past and more about the world around him. I believe more and more strongly that he will recover and be his old self again.

But there's a pressure inherent in our conversations. I admit I challenge him. He has told me repeatedly since the accident that everyone treats him "like a child," and I have promised him repeatedly that I refuse to. But am I doing the right thing? I'm not a shrink or a physician, I'm just a friend who loves him. And so on Saturday, after we had our chat, I took a nap.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: '65 Love Affair (1977)

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

1) The first line of this song is, "I was a car hop." Car hops used to take orders and bring diners food to eat in their cars. Today, the drive through lane has pretty much replaced car hops. Think about the last time you went to a fast food restaurant. Did you order at the counter or at the drive through window? Friday I went to Subway for lunch. I ordered at the counter. (Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen a Subway with a drive through.)

2) Mr. Davis sings that his girlfriend was "bad with her pom-poms." Presumably she was a cheerleader. Share one of your school's cheers. Beat 'em, bust 'em! Beat 'em, bust 'em -- that's our custom. We are gonna readjust 'em!

3) The lyrics tell us he believes that if he could go back in time, his girl would still be his. If you could travel back in time to your high school years, what would you enjoy doing again? What would you do differently? I enjoyed watching our basketball team (the only sports team we had that didn't completely suck). I would have taken my Spanish class more seriously. The younger we are, the easier it is to learn languages, and I think that speaking Spanish would expand my world immeasurably.

4) During his performing days, Paul Davis sported a full beard and flowing hair. We're using that to check your powers of observation and recollection. Think of the last man you spoke to. Who was he? Describe his hair, and tell us whether he was clean shaven. My neighbor, Mr. Bryant. He has white hair and a sparse, very white goatee.

5) Paul Davis was born in Meridian, MS, and that's where he returned to when he went into semi-retirement in 1982. Meridian's biggest employer is the Naval Air Station in Meridian. Do you know anyone who is currently in, or employed by, the military? My oldest nephew is in the Navy.

6) He was a pool player and a golfer. Which sport are you better at? Ha! I'm bad at both of them!

7) Sadly, he died in 2008, on the day after his 60th birthday. His best friend remembers him as "a homebody," who enjoyed staying up long into the night with his friends, playing and listening to music. Describe your perfect way to spend an evening. Pizza and a movie.

8) The publishing rights to "'65 Love Affair," as well as Paul Davis' bigger hits ("Cool Night" and "I Go Crazy"), are owned by another Paul -- Paul McCartney. Sir Paul's MPL Publishing Company has made him a very rich man, and Paul says that's because he chose to invest in music, something he loves. What about you? If you were to invest in a business or industry you love, which would you choose? Something related to pets.

9) Random question --You're at a party and one of your host's best friends is a real egghead who tries to draw you into a conversation about paradigmatic counter existentialism. Would you: a) just listen politely while letting your mind wander; b) admit you don't know what the hell he's talking about; c) explain why you personally feel that the counter existential paradigm just adds unnecessary complexity to the individual's search for meaning? A. And I hope there's a nearby window my mind can wander through.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks us 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?  

Surrender, Dorothy by Meg Wolitzer. A freak accident takes someone away from those who love her. But who loves her most? The friends she shared everything with for the last decades, or the mother who gave her life?

I picked up this nearly 20-year-old novel secondhand somewhere (my local Little Free Library, I think) but it seems like it will really resonate with me now. For in October, my dear friend Henry nearly died. From his first conversation with me when he came out of his coma, to the most recent one we had last weekend, Henry has regularly said, "You are my sister." He loves, cherishes and needs me more than my biological sisters, the women I have drifted further and further away from since our mother died. Over these past few months, I have wondered about the ties of friendship vs. the bonds of family, and the nature of love.

I have barely cracked this tome open. Let's see if it's filled with the right words at the right time for me.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  

Shadows of a Princess by P. D. Jephson. This is the memoir of Princess Diana's personal secretary. He worked for her through the final years of her marriage to Prince Charles through their separation and divorce, when she set up a separate "court" and began her short reign as The People's Princess. (Jephson resigned before the divorce was finalized and Diana began her fateful relationship with Dodi Fayed.) 
Published in 2000, Shadows of a Princess was controversial at the time. The author maintains it's an honest portrait of his time in the Princess' employ. Princes William and Harry  said it was a hatchet job and cut ties with Jephson. 18 years out, I think both POVs are right. Jephson looks at Princess Diana the way most of us view our bosses. She can be demanding and exasperating. He also gives her credit for her hard work in service to Crown and Country. She is a patriotic Princess, eager to be more than a clothes horse.

He also portrays her as emotionally damaged, jealous and -- too often -- immature and self-destructive. Her fascination with seers and soothsayers, the faith she put in the ones who predicted a tragic future for her and/or Charles, was depressing. She also comes off as a devoted mother. Yes, at times, she allowed her sons to be "used" in her separation and divorce, but I have seen other couples unwisely allow their children to be pawns. Just because the Walses were Royal doesn't mean they ceased to be human.

It was an interesting read for its portrayal of day-to-day life for the Windsors. I learned what goes into a "walkabout" (when you see the Royals working a rope line), a visit to a hospital or senior center, a diplomatic trip to Egypt. The Brits do get something in return for the tax dollars that support this family. As a Yank, I'm not sure I understood that before.

3.  What will you read next?  
I don't know.

It has a name!

I suffer from spinal stenosis. And I am delighted. I don't mean I'm happy to endure a stabbing sensation up and down my calf, or stiffness in my hip or pain in my knee. Of course I'm not. But I'm happy to know what's causing it! All anyone has been able to tell me up until Tuesday is that it's not DVT.

My friend Barb recommended her chiropractor, who took a pair xrays and did some manipulations and voila! I had a diagnosis and treatment plan -- with no additional meds. That's important to me. I don't want to take another drug in addition to the fexofenadine for allergies and the statin for cholesterol and the NSAIDs always in my bag in case my kidney stone flares up.

What I didn't expect was to be greeted by Anthony Rizzo's jersey! I fangirled so hard when I saw #44. Aside from loving Rizz, I found this enormously comforting. Between them, Anthony Rizzo and Jonathon Towes make nearly $13 million/year. That makes these two men very expensive assets. If the Cubs and the Black Hawks have faith in this doctor, I do, too.

So what's going on? It seems my spine curves to the right and probably has for decades. This angle has caused the spinal canal to narrow and this is messing with nerves up and down my right leg. It's also had a negative impact on my balance, which is why I've been falling down more lately.

The doctor feels that eight or so decompression therapy sessions will help reshape my spine and alleviate the pressure and therefore the pain.

If I'd dealt with this when I was younger, he believes he could have had more success actually correcting it. I'm 61, so that's simply not going to happen. But there's no reason to believe that he can't reduce the pain. And that is very good news.

Monday, January 14, 2019


This weekend I missed two calls. One from Henry, one from my oldest friend. I didn't pick up for Henry because I was feeding the cats. I was taking a nap when my friend called.

I texted both of them, suggesting times to connect. Neither of them called back.

I am concerned, of course. I love them both. He had an important doctor's appointment Friday about his ankle.* She may find herself homeless soon. Sharon, the cousin she's been living with, just turned 70. Sharon's kids are pressuring her to sell that big house and downsize to a trailer.† I suspect those family conversations may have become firm plans.

If they had called back, I would have listened sympathetically and maybe offered suggestions.

But I must confess I was kinda glad neither of them called back. It was nice to have a weekend where the only drama was at the movies.

*I saw from Reg's Facebook post that he got to lose the boot.

†Though I don't know why she can't buy a two or three bedroom condo. It would still be considerably more economical than the 6BR, 4 1/2 bath house the two women currently share.

She's adorable!

Remember when you were watching Steel Magnolias and thought the girl who played Shelby was a charmer? In a movie filled with established stars like Sally Field and Shirley MacLaine, she stood out. You'd never seen her before, but you knew you wanted to see Julia Roberts again.

Or when you first started watching Friends and were charmed by the one with the hair? The spoiled, spunky one? You knew you liked Jennifer Aniston.

That's how I felt when I was watching If Beale Street Could Talk. Veteran actress Regina King is getting a lot of gold and glory for her performance as the mom, but I sat there in the audience just waiting to see KiKi Layne again. She plays Tish, our protagonist and narrator. She is open and authentic and simply darling.

Do we have an opening for America's Sweetheart? If so, I nominate KiKi.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Stealing


1. The strangest place you've ever been. I never considered it "strange," but I remember seeing raised eyebrows when I went to Hot Springs, AR, year after year. It boasts nice, affordable -- if not luxurious -- spas, good food and some wonderful natural wonders. For example, I love this waterfall. The water flowing over the rocks is just naturally 143º, which accounts for the steam. It's completely enchanting.

2. Unusual food combinations you enjoy. I prefer ketchup on my fish to tartar sauce. Don't judge me.
3. Your best cure for hiccups. Waiting them out.
4. Something you have never done but would like to try. A horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow.
5. A routine you do every day without fail. I cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize my face each morning. (I wish I was as dedicated to skincare at night.)
6. Something new you've recently learned. I'm reading a book about Princess Diana, a memoir by her personal secretary. I didn't realize how much behind-the-scenes diplomatic work the Royal Family does for the UK. They are very effective trade ambassadors, and their overseas trips (like Megan and Harry's recent jaunt to Australia) do benefit their subjects.
7. Your keenest sense. Righteous indignation.
8. Whether you prefer cooking or cleaning up. I don't mind doing dishes.
9. Where were you the last time you saw the sun rise. At the airbnb suite I stayed in while my bathroom was being remodeled. It was right here in my hometown, but the windows face east whereas mine here at home face west. It was something of a revelation to see the sun go up over the treetops.

10. A recent time you were embarrassed. In June, I literally walked into a glass wall. I'd been taking painkillers for my kidney stone, but thought I was OK. I kinda wasn't. I should have worked from home. My cheeks still burn when I think of it.
11. An everyday sound that delights you. Cat purr.
12. The last conversation you had with a stranger. I enjoyed chatting with my Uber driver yesterday.

A slice of pizza, a side of concern

I had lunch with my nephew yesterday. It's the last time we'll see each other until he comes home again for spring break.

It was good to see him, of course. It amused me to see how typical he is in some ways. Saturday saw our first major snowfall of the season. He showed up looking like a snowman himself, literally covered with the white stuff. But that's because he was wearing a Cubs cap and a fabric jacket for protection. Nothing to deflect the flakes and moisture. He has an umbrella -- I know because I sent him one. But he left it in his dorm room, 200 miles away. To borrow from Chandler Bing, could he be more of a teenage boy?

As he snarfed down his pizza, he told me about how he's looking forward to the new semester. He's got geography (which he considers the only yawn), creative writing and an important class on American government. The last is a three-hour lecture, one night/week, with his favorite professor. He's enthusiastic, but he finds it daunting, as well. We talked that through, though. The professor will download his overheads, so if my nephew doesn't completely trust his notes, he'll have a back up. This professor has also demonstrated a willingness to meet with my students outside of class.

So while this seems to worry my nephew a little, it doesn't worry me.

What does concern me is his social life. He's been home for a month, and has seen none of his high school friends. He brushed it off, saying the only one he's interested in is Xander, and Xander spent Christmas with his father in Milwaukee.

My nephew and his parents -- especially his mother -- are close. If it made him happy to cocoon with his folks, that's great. But my nephew has suffered from depression in the past. I wish I knew for sure that his withdrawal from the local social scene was only that and not something more serious.

I didn't know how to ask without sounding intrusive or hovering. I just tried to create an opening he could dive into and share.

Instead he wanted to tease me about my obsession with Anthony Rizzo's wedding ("I expected no less from you"), talk about the movie Vice (which he liked better than I did), and get my opinion on the pathetic specter of a President so sleazy he's been investigated by his own FBI (yes, you Donald Trump).

So I will try to shake my worry and remember how comfortable he seemed over our lunch. (I don't know if I'll be successful, of course, but I'll try.)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: I Forgot to Remember to Forget (1955)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Elvis sings that he thinks about this girl all the time. What person or topic is on your mind this Saturday? My nephew. I'm having lunch with him one last time before he returns to college for the spring semester.

2) He wants to forget the day he met his girl, but simply can't. Think about someone very important in your life. Did you know right away that they were going to be influential? I'll go with Joanna. I wouldn't refer to her as influential, exactly, but she certainly always impressed me. I met her through my classic movie Meet Up. She's always impressed me with her style -- everything she does has a touch of glamour -- and I recall being very surprised and flattered when she wanted to get together away from the movies. 

Since this week's song is about memories, let's check on how well you recall events in your own life.

3) What was the first concert you ever attended? Bobby Sherman at The Auditorium Theater in 1970. Me, my oldest friend, and 3000 other pre-pubescent girls. Sure, go ahead and mock. But you wish you could rock 70s fringe like Bobby.

4) Where did you get your first piercing? (Not only where on your body, but who did the deed and where did they do it?) One in each ear. It was done by "a professional" (at least I had to pay her for the service) at the jewelry store inside a local hotel.

5) What's the name of the bank where you had your first checking account? Harris Bank. They gave away plush Hubert the Harris Lions, which were crazy popular in Chicagoland. (They bent the rules a little and gave me one for $500 in my first-ever checking account.)

6) Tell us about your first bicycle. A pink Schwinn coaster bike. Pink and white streamers from the handles.

7) Who received the first text you ever sent? I'm sorry I don't remember.

8) What had you been drinking when you suffered your first hangover? Harvey Wallbangers.

9) Whose was the first wedding you ever attended? I've told this story before, so if you remember it, excuse the redundancy. When I was in Kindergarten, I was madly in love with our neighbor's adult son. Billy had shiny black hair and always, always wore black t-shirts. Sigh. He came home on weekends to do his laundry and wash his car in his parents' driveway. He let me suds up his hubcaps and told me that, since I was such a good helper, he would marry me some day. What a lying sack of shit Billy turned out to be! He had no intention of ever making this 5-year-old Gal his wife. What's worse, when he married someone else, my parents dragged me to the wedding. It was my older sister's first wedding, too, and she was transfixed by the beautiful bride. Not me. I was all about the faithless groom. To her dying day, it made my mom smile to remember how sullen I was about losing "my husband."

The Chicago Bears and an old photo

I really don't do football. I can't really enjoy a sport when I know that the young men are seriously risking their futures for my entertainment. As I go through TBI with my friend Henry, I feel this even more keenly. Baseball is a more graceful, fairer game and the injuries are seldom brutal.

Still, I am happy for the Chicago Bears and their fans. The 2017 team was 5-11. The 2018 Bears were 12-4 and finished first in their division. Last Sunday, they faced the defending Super Bowl Champions and were in it until the end, when the placekicker missed. 16-15 final score.

That was Sunday. In Monday's mail, I got a photo. My aunt sent me a picture I took on Christmas Eve in 1983. It was my family around my Uncle Ted's fireplace. It made me so happy to see him again. And my late grandmother. My mom was refusing to look at the camera, which amused me. She hated having her picture taken. While I don't remember that Christmas celebration, that 1983 was exactly how everyone looks in my mind's eye.

Even my dad. He had less than a decade left to live. He was only his 50s, but looked much older. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and too many cigarettes. He was an unhappy, unhealthy man and it shows in his every line.

He was a Cub fan, but I didn't like watching games with him. For me, a Cub game is 3 hours with my guys, with players I have genuine affection for. For my dad, that was ever enough. A win was probably too close, or marred by an error. And a loss! What else could you expect from The Lovable Losers? He was gone long before the magic 2016 World Series season. I'd like to think that he would have at least taken joy in that. I take comfort in thinking of him in Heaven, with my grandparents and my uncle, watching Rizz make that last out.

He loved the Bears, too, but they made him miserable. Because the pace of the game is faster and more aggressive, his response was louder and more passionate. I remember him bouncing around in his recliner, groaning and yelling and complaining. How can you enjoy a game with all that tension swirling around?

He would not have enjoyed the 2018-19 Bears season as a worst-to-first scenario. He would have concentrated on that last, missed kick.

I don't think it's an accident that I received that photo on the day after the Bears game. I am keeping it on my desk. Not only because I'm happy to see my uncle, my mom and my grandma. But because seeing my dad reinforces my OneWord for 2019. We can't let one final play diminish a winning season. We should be enjoy the first-place finish, not dwell on the missed kick.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

My friend is coming back!

Since my sad and frustrated post below, Henry has called me twice. First to apologize, then to just to say hi. "Just me, checking on you," was the message he left. The same message that he left me for decades, before his accident.

I think something I said got through. Saturday night, I lost my temper with him. As our marathon phone call entered its second hour, I snapped: "Do you know you have never once asked me how I am?" He found this sobering. He apologized that night, and then again on Monday. On Tuesday, he called just to see how I am.

Since his life threatening accident and his brain injury, he's been staggeringly self-centered. I understand that it's to be expected, but it's jarring because it's not him. My Henry is sensitive and thoughtful. This Henry has been thin-skinned and self-absorbed.

But, since we argued Saturday night, he's been more thoughtful toward me and has acknowledged -- for the first time -- how difficult this ordeal has been for his husband, Reg. I wish he would say it to Reg and not to me, but this is a start.

I know it's likely one step/two steps back on the road to recovery. It's only been two and a half months and the doctors warned us it could take six months or more.

I appreciate what a privilege it is that Henry turns to me. He is frightened, his world is in turmoil, and he trusts me. I treasure that. But I've also been confused and frightened myself, wondering how to best respond to him and terrified I'll make a mistake and retard his progress.

These last two days have been a joy and a relief.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Wasted weekend

I had a weekend with nothing on my calendar. I had looked forward to doing a lot of housework ... to accomplishing something. Anything! And none of it happened.

I slipped on some mud Thursday night. My left foot twisted around in my boot. The result was a bruise on the top of my foot and it made it very painful for me to bend my toes. Trust me, you can't walk without bending your toes. It was stupid. It was embarrassing. It left me filled with self loathing -- and over-the-counter painkillers.

Saturday I was not at my best. My energy did not match my ambition. I got up early, went to the vet and picked up Reynaldo's prescription food, took myself out to breakfast and did a little grocery shopping. I started to lag and promised myself a nap. After all, I was a little dopey and walking had been difficult -- my calves began to hurt as I walked differently to compensate for the toes on my left foot. I made a bargain with myself: I'd allow myself a nap Saturday afternoon if I then spent Saturday night doing laundry.

Then Henry called. He was miserable about ... everything. Apparently he was mad at his coworkers for the way they treated him during his seizure on Thursday afternoon. He was mad at Reg for not asking the right questions at the hospital.

Whoa! I told Henry he has to get over this being mad at Reg bullshit. Henry is responsible for Henry.

"But he is my husband! He is my partner!"

I pointed out that I don't have a husband. I don't have a partner. I am responsible for my own care, just as Henry is responsible for his. It was one thing immediately after the accident, when he was unconscious. But now? I asked him if he knew what drugs he was taking and what they are for. He does not. Reg puts them in little baggies for him marked "AM" and "PM."

I told him if he doesn't want to be "treated like a child," which he complains of often, he has to stop acting like one. Get the pill bottles or, better yet, the print outs attached to the bags by the pharmacy. Research what you are taking, the interactions and the side effects. Stop blaming Reg and educate yourself!

I know I'm right, but I began to feel like I was beating him up. So I asked him why they thought he had a seizure. "It was my brain recovering from the accident."

"So you did have a brain injury of some sort?" This was crucial. Henry has always maintained that he does not have TBI. 

"No. It was the shock of the accident."

Sigh. I told Henry that does not make sense. That people who received "a shock" do not have seizures 70 days later. I told him I was not mad at him, I was not accusing him of anything, and that I doubted his doctors were telling him the truth.

This, of course, was a lie. But I didn't want him to feel like I wasn't on his side. So I painted his doctors as the bad guys.

We went round and round about semantics. I thought it was revealing that Henry substituted "neurological" with "mental." Clearly, he worries about being crazy. My heart breaks for him. I know how vulnerable he must feel, how embattled. I tried another tack.

I told him that, while I don't want him to divorce Reg and leave Key West, I want him to be able to. I want him to have the strength and ability to do whatever he decides is right, and he can't do that if he isn't well. He can't get well if he doesn't know what's wrong.

We continued spinning round and round. And round and round. It was dizzying and exhausting. Finally, I snapped.

"Do you know you have never once asked me how I am?" I asked. "Reg is mean. Your coworkers are mean. The hospital was mean. All you, Henry! How long is our relationship going to be all about you? I'm in this, too!"

He surprised me. He went from angry and self-righteous to sweet. "I am sorry. That is true. I am sorry. I love you."

We talked about my foot. He wondered if one of those blue boots -- like the one he wears -- wouldn't help because it would immobilize and protect my toes. We talked about our New Year's celebrations, about how I didn't want to go to Joanna's and he didn't want to go to the dinner Reg accepted for him, and yet we each had a good time, after all.

 He was my sweet Henry again. He's still in there somewhere.

After 2.5 hours of this, I was too tired for laundry. I was too tired to think. I was in bed for the night by 9:30.  Sunday I felt a little better, but still run down. All I managed to accomplish today was laundry and new laces for my tennies. I even fell asleep during The Golden Globes!

I have to learn how to better deal with Henry. I am letting it deplete me. I'm no good to him if I get short tempered and angry. I'm no good to myself when I'm running on empty

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: You Make Me Feel Brand New (1974)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

Welcome to the first Saturday 9 of 2019!

1) As 2019 kicks off, what are your hopes for the brand new year? I want to remember to be grateful. I spend so much time wondering and worrying about what should be or what was that I lose sight and forget my blessings.

2) Just because an item isn't brand new doesn't mean it isn't valuable. Have you scored any fabulous finds at a second hand store or website? I found this belted, hooded trench. It retailed for $178 at Nordstrom (of course, mine isn't new) and I only paid $14. Yea! I didn't get to wear it much this past autumn because the weather went from summer to winter without much fall. But spring will be here, and this beautifully crafted coat is waiting.

3) This song is sung by The Stylistics, a group from Philadelphia. Have you ever been to Philly? Yes. I was in a long-distance love affair and spent a great deal of time there. I love some of the Welsh town names: Bala Cynwyd, Bryn Mawr, Narberth.

4) This song was co-written by Thom Bell, a Philadelphia-based musician/producer who was born in Kingston, Jamaica. The average daily temp in Kingston in January is 87º. Do you have plans to get away this winter and go somewhere warm? I just got back from somewhere warm. I spent Christmas in Key West.

5) The Stylistics took their choreography very seriously. As you can see from the video, they even carefully synchronized their hand movements. Do you use your hands much when you talk? Not too much. I do gesture at my computer screen, though. When a page takes too long to load, I find myself encouraging it to speed up.

6) The lyrics tell us that the singer is grateful for a friend who will walk with him along a path that "sometimes bends." Looking back on 2018, tell us about a time that life's path took a bend you didn't quite expect. Since my friend Henry's accident, all of us who love him have been traveling a long, confusing and unexpected path. He is recovering from traumatic brain injury and isn't always quite himself. We long to have him back! But it's going to take time.

7) In 1974, when this song was popular, Chicago's Sears Tower opened and was for years the world's tallest building. Its elevators can carry you to the 103rd floor in approximately a minute. When were you last on an elevator? I hurt my foot, so I take elevators whenever I can. Thank goodness we have one right in my condo building.

8) Also in 1974, the 55 mph speed limit was imposed nationwide. When you drive, are you careful to stay within the speed limit? Or do you have a led foot? I don't drive.

9) Random question -- It's time to pose for your Saturday 9 yearbook picture. Will you show us your right profile, your left profile, or will you look directly into the camera? Oh, please, NO profile! Let's not highlight my plethora of chins. I'd prefer to look directly into the camera.

Friday, January 04, 2019


Henry was rushed to the hospital this afternoon. He was working at the library and suddenly became disoriented and incoherent. His coworkers first called 911, then Reg.

Henry spent five hours enduring tests. He and Reg left the hospital with no answers, but a lot of drugs. My friend went to sleep tonight in his own bed, but terrified. He has trouble focusing (mentally, not visually) and doesn't understand what is happening to him.

The only bright spot in all this is that Henry recognized that Reg was there for him. He took comfort in the support of his husband. I hope this indicated a turning point in the healing of their relationship.

It is not uncommon for victims of TBI to develop epilepsy. That is something that has to be considered. Alcohol exacerbates this. When I was in Key West for Christmas, I refused to drink with Henry. He either didn't notice by abstinence or didn't care: he drank each day and one afternoon I saw him down three glasses of wine in three hours.

I did not argue with Henry about his drinking. I could see no point. I was only down there for five days. Who would police him the other 360 days? He has to decide to stop drinking on his own. Since he will not admit he has a brain injury, it's not likely that he will own up to his alcohol problem.

I love my friend. He is a special person -- kind, smart and fundamentally good. I wish I knew what 2019 holds for him. I wish I could protect him from what I fear will be a perilous journey as he recovers.

Six two and even, over and out

Between the ages of 15 and 30, Judy and I were best friends. She literally broke my heart, as only a close friend can. She wasn't easy to be friends with, but I worked at it. I believed in her talent, I was dazzled by her smarts. She repaid my loyalty with cruelty. It hurt, it was unfair, it made me question my judgement about people and who to trust. If you're interested in what happened, click here.

Ten years ago, out of the blue, she reached out to me on Facebook. I didn't respond. From what I'd seen on social media, she was still self-absorbed. When I thought about Judy, a song from the 1970s popped into my head, "Haven't Got Time for the Pain." Life sends enough drama our way without us creating melodrama. I decided that was the lesson she was sent to me to teach. I'd learned it. Time to move on.

Then over Christmas, something big happened. You know how you click on something and then you click something else? Eventually I stumbled on Judy's Facebook page and discovered that she now has cancer. She is broke and is forced to sell off her personal belongings to pay her bills: Her late father's ring and tie clasp; her grandmother's silver set; a ring that I remembered on her hand when we were in her room in her parents' house, where she taught me how to play canasta. It left me overwhelmingly sad.

I had a powerful impulse to help. I could buy something from her online "shop." I could contribute to her Gofundme page (which has been up for three years and has netted her $7000; Henry's has been up for 2 months and has $11,000 in it). But as I read the fine print, I realized I couldn't do it anonymously. Something told me that I wanted to -- needed to -- keep my contribution anonymous. Judy = drama. I was afraid of being sucked in.

I mentioned all this to my friend Kathleen. I was surprised by her vehemence. She knew how Judy had hurt me. She said the past should stay in the past. She maintained that if someone is alone in the world with no one to help, there's a reason for it, and I was likely not the only one Judy had screwed over the years. Kathleen mentioned the homeless young man she met on her way to the restaurant. He warned her not to park there, in case she'd missed the no parking sign (she had). "If you want to help someone, help him and not that twat." And Kathleen never uses vulgarity!

I understood the wisdom in what Kathleen said, but I just couldn't shake the need to help Judy. She was a big part of my growing up, and I should honor that. It's Christmastime, and I should honor that. I really do try to live as Christ wants me to.

I explained the situation to a coworker, who placed an order on my behalf but in her name. I bought this agate stone necklace from Judy's online store.  It cost me $25, including shipping and handling, and Judy will not see my name attached.

When it arrives, I will say a prayer for her every time I put it on.

But now I have no reason to continue cyber checking on Judy. I have helped her while still protecting me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

OneWord for 2019: Grateful

So many people around me are struggling. I am not as happy, as healthy or as worry free as I'd like, but I'm fine. While I don't mean to settle, sometimes "good enough" is, indeed, good enough and I should stop and realize that I'm OK. And be grateful that I am OK.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Isn't it nice ...

… when things work out better than you thought they would?

I didn't want to go to Joanna's New Year's open house. I was pretty sure I wouldn't know anyone, and the friends of hers I'd met before intimidated me. Sophisticated and learned about things I know nothing* about -- like architecture and classical music.

But the party meant a great deal to her. First, because she wanted to use the occasion to introduce me to Tony, the man with whom she'd been carrying on a long-distance romance. Then because on 12/23, they broke up. Now, as of last night, they had reached a tentative reconciliation. With all of this emotional tumult, she wanted me there.

So I went. I wore my nicest sweater and boots, but lost an earring on the el so I felt a little worse dressed, a little more self-conscious.

The party was already in full swing when I arrived. The food was wonderful, a menu based on what her mom prepared for the family each New Year's Day -- fish sticks, ham, cornbread and black-eyed peas. One of her girlfriends, Nancy, remembered me but didn't seem to regard me as a bumpkin. And there were men there. Tony -- the object of her affections and a little full of himself -- and two other men whose names escape me now. But we talked about politics (national and statewide) and current movies (Vice) and as the afternoon progressed, we all talked about the pluses and minuses of data mining. I know all that stuff! I'm good at all that stuff!

As I was packing up to leave, Joanna followed me into the bedroom and filled me in, briefly, on other areas of her life that seem to be veering off the rails. I appreciate what an act of courage going through with the party was, what a gesture of faith in the future it represented for her. She hugged me a lot and thanked me repeatedly for coming.

Having me there meant something to her. Two hours of my life was really a small expense. (Especially when you factor in how good the food was!) And I wasn't the social nothing I thought I'd be.

It made me feel good about 2019, too.

*and, to be honest, care nothing

Monday, December 31, 2018

She better treat him right

My favorite Cub, Anthony Rizzo, got married Saturday. They are off to Zanzibar for their honeymoon.

I really would like to hug him. He's a great ball player, a great role model, and I want his happiness so much.


Christian Bale is terrific as Dick Cheney in Vice. He completely disappears into the role. You forget that you're watching the actor who was once Batman and the sad/bad brother in The Fighter. He's got the voice, the minimal hand gestures, the stillness that can seem avuncular and/or deliberative.

Amy Adams is also good (isn't she always?) as Lynne Cheney. As an old-school feminist, I've always found Mrs. Cheney's public persona appalling, and this movie does nothing to change that.

Which is rather the problem I had with it.

Vice presents Cheney as evil. Non-ideological, power hungry, malevolent. Except for loving his lesbian daughter -- and he lets her down in the third act -- he is completely without redeeming qualities. In that way, the screenplay lets Bale down. He is valiantly trying to play Snidely Whiplash as a three-dimensional person.

Also, the movie makes the staggering assertion that Lynne Cheney's father murdered her mother. Or, to be precise, that Lynne and Dick Cheney believe that her father murdered her mother. I've done some internet searches and can find nothing to back this up.

The movie is obviously a cautionary tale for the Age of Trump. I get it. If you are even a casual reader of this blog, you know where my heart and my politics are in these matters.

But I worry about history. I've seen enough movies and miniseries about the Kennedys to know how myths can take hold ... and sully and obscure the truth.

So despite the performances, I'm sorry I paid to see Vice.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. Are flowers a nice gift to give someone? Yes. But you have to take their circumstances into account. Do they have allergies that flowers could irritate? Do they have a cat (like mine) who will view a floral bouquet as a salad bar?

2. Do you wear any jewelry? I wear a ring on my left hand, a watch on my left wrist, earrings and a necklace.

3. Have you ever laid in a field of flowers? No.

4. Do you like tea? Hot tea, yes. Iced tea, no.

5. What would you do with a million dollars? Before or after taxes? I want to know how much I'm playing with before I start fantasizing.

6. What word do you have trouble saying? "Halcyon."

7. Favorite fairytale? Rapunzel is the first that springs to mind.

8. Do you sleep with stuffed animals? Nope. But frequently this real one curls up with me.


9. Do you prefer the city or the country? City

10. Are you a big fan of makeup? Yes

11. Favorite drink? Coca Cola

12. What’s the longest amount of time you’ve stayed awake? 17 or 18 hours.

13. Have you ever traveled outside of your country? Yes

14. Do you like spring? Yes, because it means BASEBALL!

15. Lipstick or lipgloss? Chapstick

16. Favorite color? Cubbie blue. Especially when worn by Anthony Rizzo. The Cub first baseman reportedly got married this weekend.

17. Do you like to decorate? Not especially.

18. Do you ever go barefoot when you’re outside? I have.
Christmas Eve in Key West
19. Are aliens real? Today, our sermon was delivered by a Romanian immigrant. He looked very real to me.

20. Does you zodiac sign fit your personality? According to, a Sagittarius woman is "unfussy and liberated" and "never really seem able to save." That's true. It also says that men who have loved me "pine" after me after I'm gone. If that's true, they're very good at hiding it.

21.Favorite sea animal? Manatee

22. Are you a nice person? I try.

23. Favorite word? "Gubernatorial." It's just fun to say.

24. Night or day? You are the one. Only you beneath the moon or under the sun ...

25. What would make you happy right now? The million dollars you mentioned in #5.