Saturday, March 24, 2018

Saturday 9

Sweet Disaster (2016)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.

1) This video begins outside a convenience store with a sign advertising beer, produce, lotto and an ATM. Will you buy beer, produce or a lotto ticket this weekend? Will you visit an ATM? I must remember to pick up a lottery ticket, as winning the lottery is my retirement plan. I went to the grocery store and ATM on Friday afternoon.

2) As the video progresses, fountain drinks and donuts are consumed. When you stop for a snack during a road trip, what do you usually grab? Coke and chips.

3) The lyrics reference "a river of champagne." When did you last enjoy a spot of the bubbly? About two weeks ago, I had a thimbleful of the stuff at a work celebration. I woke up with a headache! From less than half a glass! So I don't intend to drink it ever again.

4) The end of the video features sci-fi/horror images. Is that a genre you enjoy? If not, what kind of books do you read most often? I simply don't get sci-fi or horror or fantasy. The just feel like such an incredible waste of time. Lately I've been reading a lot of non-fiction (though I have chick lit in my purse right now).

5) The trio that makes up The Dreamers are dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers. If you could live in any city or village in the world, would you move or stay right where you are? I'd stay in Chicagoland, because, you know ...

Opening Day is Thursday! Go, Cubs, Go!

6) The Dreamers describe themselves as "impractical."  What about you? Do you consider yourself practical or impractical? A cursory review of my checkbook would reveal me to be impractical.

7) They also won't "listen to those who doubt" them. Sometimes we find the ones who doubt us most are ourselves. What about you? Are you confident, or do you suffer from self doubt? I'm my own toughest critic.

8) Do you often remember your dreams? No.

9) Random question: Would you rather get $100 today, or $250 on this date a year from now? $100 today. Who knows if we'll be here a year from now?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Positively Biblical

There's a passage from the Old Testament that came to mind today: Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. 

I shot my boss an email this afternoon, reiterating that I'd been at the doctor today and the test results won't be back until Monday. I told him that, since I didn't want to hear the news out in public, I was indeed taking my long-scheduled Personal Day on Monday I gave him a quick overview of all my projects and noted that, since I worked ahead, no one should be inconvenienced by my absence.

His response? Here it is, in total.


Thanks, Boss. That will sustain me and feed my hungry soul.

My morning trip to the doctor

The pain has been unrelenting since Tuesday night. Not debilitating, mind you. Just inescapable. The blood is less visible today, and my urethra has never burned/stung (so I don't think it's a UTI). But there's an awful pressure. Very deja menstrual cramps. It's as though my guts are filled with iron filings and the earth is a giant magnet.

So I went to the doctor this morning. She was wonderful, giving me one of the appointments she leaves open each day for emergencies. She spent as much time with me as I needed, explaining carefully and answering questions.

Behind Door #1, we have a bladder infection. This is the most likely culprit. She says that's the single individual ache that brings most post-menopausal women to her office. Sometimes, she says, it manifests itself as back pain. But just as often, it's bloody urine and abdominal cramps. She's so confident that it's a bladder infection, and so eager to get it cleared up, that she prescribed an antibiotic for me, starting today, even before the test results are back.

Behind Door #2, there's bladder prolapse. Since I had a total abdominal hysterectomy, it's possible that my bladder may have dropped toward my vagina. This is not likely, but it is possible. There are many ways to treat this, not all surgical. If the urinalysis points to this, we will discuss this further.

Behind Door #3 is cancer. She's 99% sure it's not cancer. That's why she prescribed the antibiotics. Bladder infections are terribly common in women my age, bladder cancer is not. If the test results come back, as expected, conclusively pointing to a bladder infection, we need not discuss this again.

I'm cautiously optimistic. Not hubristic -- I know too many people whose lives have been touched by cancer to think that it can't happen to me. But I'm determined not to freak myself out about this until the results come in on Monday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


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? Love the One You're With by Emily Giffen. Newly wed Ellen is very much in love with her groom of three months, Andy. So why is she so very rattled by a random encounter with her long-ago love, Leo?

Yes, it's chick lit. It's about pretty people who are lawyers and photographers and sports agents. They live in cool neighborhoods and eat out every night. They have no money worries but tremendous romantic complications.

Giffen writes well. She's not Jane Austen, but she elevates potentially sudsy material above soap opera level. And the last three books I've read have been pretty heavy. I deserve a little tasty junk food once in a while.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth. A compelling but ultimately very frustrating book about Andrew Cunanan, the subject of the current Ryan Murphy/FX American Crime Story mini-series. This book was the source material for The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

It's a fascinating story because we'll never know why Andrew took out five well-loved and completely decent men. He wasn't your typical mass murderer. He was handsome, bright, funny and well educated. He had a gift for making (though not keeping) friends. He had talents and could have had a successful career (if he'd had any appetite whatsoever for work). There was no prior history of violence. So why in April did he suddenly begin a killing spree that ended with his own suicide in July?

Orth breathlessly tries to explain it away by pointing to his fondness for porn and drugs. Even in the pre-internet 1990s, porn was easily accessible. So were drugs. And yet somehow, South Beach wasn't crawling with serial killers.

There was one passage that stayed with me, that went further toward an explanation than any of her tsk-tsk-ing about gay porn and tweaking. His killing spree may have begun because his life of lies was about to be exposed. " ... the men he cared for most were turning their backs on him, banishing him to struggle alone, insecure, depressed and overweight. It was all their fault. They were forcing him to expose the sham of his grandiosity like a mangy peacock."

He had no faith, no sense of values, no sense of self. All Andrew Cunanan had was grandiosity. Perhaps that final, pitiless exposure was simply too painful for him to bear.  

3.  What will you read next? Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both. 


My gut hurts, and there's blood in my urine. I took a pair of Excedrin, soaked in the tub, and scoured the internet for possible causes.

It could be cancer, which is always on my mind. After all, my friends (Barb, Kathleen and Ed) have all battled it. Instead of "why me?" I tend to think, "why not me?"

It's more likely a urinary tract infection. A painful, but rather common, malady. Fortunately I already have a doctor's appointment scheduled for Monday.

Napoleonic Update

Monday I saw Napoleon's dad, Caleb. He reports that his wife is home and resting in their indoor, above-ground bed. He's worried about her moods -- but I told him that after a hysterectomy, any woman's hormones are going to be messed up -- and he doesn't think her pain meds are doing the job. For reasons I didn't quite follow, he "lost" his phone. (Has he misplaced it? Or did his carrier shut it off? I wasn't sure what he meant.) I let him use my phone to contact Kaye, a woman who has been helping them out.

Napoleon is quite a comfort to Randi. Caleb says he's very protective and sensitive to her during her recuperation. That made me smile. Fingers crossed that things continue to improve for this little family.

She's Ba-ack!

My oldest friend contacted me! Suddenly her cousin's house required a router. Now that they have one, their internet is up and running. She sent me a link to the MeTV March Madness poll where we viewers will pick our favorite classic theme. No doubt about it, here's mine:

Look how cute and charming The Tommer was back in the day. Now, whenever I see him either on Blue Bloods* or in those reverse mortgage spots, he looks so serious. Why so glum, Tom?

But I digress.

My oldest friend wants to keep things light, so we'll keep them light. I sent her the online pics I found of Sir Paul's recent trip to Beverly Hills. I'm just glad the lines of communication are open.

*I've never been able to get into Blue Bloods. Yet for a network show, it's crazy popular. Maybe it's me.

First the good news

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Sir Richard Starkey (who prefers to be known as Sir Ringo Starr). He was knighted by The Duke of Cambridge (aka Prince William).

I love The Lads from Liverpool. I love Diana's Boys. I love this picture.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Worried. Relieved. Guilty.

I haven't heard anything detailed from my oldest friend in weeks. This is the longest we've gone without keeping in touch in, literally, decades. This worries me because she has been battling health and severe depression. She has no income, and she was wrestling with California's welfare system so that she can get the pharmaceuticals and medical attention she needs.

Her recent emails were always chatting, superficial affairs. Mostly they were about how long it was taking her to unpack. I never understood this. She began the new year moving in with her cousin, into the attached "mother-in-law's" apartment. As I understand it, she has her own kitchen/dining room, bedroom and bathroom. My first place was a two-room apartment. I can't for the life of me figure why such a place would take two months to move into. A weekend, of course. A week, perhaps. But two months?

She said she was online all day looking for jobs. And getting rejections, which was breaking her heart. Then all of a sudden, I got a text that said their internet is out. That was March 7. I haven't heard from her since.

I know she doesn't like to talk on the phone anymore. At least not to me. I've heard her, in her own words, "blab away" with her kids and her cousin, but whenever I call, she doesn't pick up. So I don't bother to call anymore. So it's been radio silence since March 7.
On the one hand, I'm worried. She doesn't have resources for handling adversity. She copes by staying in bed. Getting up to eat and smoke*, but not to bathe. I'm afraid that the months she went without meds or a shrink have only exacerbated her depression. Then there are her other physical problems -- bad teeth, bad knee, incontinence. Pre-diabetes and ongoing heart trouble. She should be moving a little every day. It disturbs me to contemplate what she's doing to her health.

But then, I'm relieved. She loves her cousin so. She's always idolized this woman. In fact, it was one of my late mother's most vivid memories of my friend: When we were kids, my friend came over with some dimestore trinket anyone could have purchased anywhere in the country. But my mom remembers my friend saying, with a heartbreaking mix of pride and awe, "This is from my cousin. In California."  Now she's living with that cousin. If anyone can get through to my friend, it's her golden cousin.

And I feel guilty. I just saw a picture of my friend on Facebook, celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a Trump-loving friend of Cousin's. Seriously, here's what else is on their hostess' page.

I mean, really! How does this shit help anything?

ANYWAY, clearly their internet is back up, or Cousin couldn't have posted the photo of the St. Patrick's Day soiree. But I don't feel like reaching out. I'm not liking my own life right now, and I don't want to be weighed down by my friend's. Isn't that awful of me? We've been friends since Kindergarten. I know I should reach out.

But not tonight. I don't have to do it tonight, do I? I know she's surrounded by her cousin and her cousin's family and friends. If she wanted to talk to me, she could email or pick up the phone. All the work shouldn't be mine, should it?

OK, with her health issues, the heavy lifting has to be done by me. But I don't feel like it tonight. And, in my own defense, I sent her a little newspaper article via USPS last Wednesday, so she knows I've been thinking of her.

I love her, I do. I understand and accept that, for the foreseeable future, our relationship is going to be one sided. But I think tonight, I'm going to input my 3/15 finances into Quicken and wash my kitchen floor.

*Or vape, which she insists is "just steam," no matter how many articles to the contrary I send her.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sunday Stealing


1. Do you tend to have a guilty conscious? No

2. Do you still have your wisdom teeth?  No

3. Peanut Butter - creamy or crunchy?  Crunchy

4. Get up off your butt. Take 5 steps. Which leg did you start out on?  Right

5. What color is your favorite kitchen utensil? It's a a can opener with a white handle.

6. Did you watch the Michael Jackson memorial/funeral?
Yes, I streamed it online. God, that was a long time ago. I can't believe I actually cared.

7. Do you know anyone who graduated from high school this year?Were you invited to their graduation party? Did you go?
I didn't know any 2017 grads. My nephew will be graduating this spring and I intend to go.

8. White with black stripes or black with white stripes?
Black with white.

9. If we were to call your 6th grade teacher, what would they say about you?
Since that was decades and decades ago, I don't think you'll be able to find any of my sixth grade teachers.

10. Can you draw a perfect circle?

11. What was your favorite scratch & sniff sticker scent? Strawberry

12. What does your sibling do for a living? My older sister is a CPA. My kid sister is a lunch mom.

13. How many light switches and electrical outlets are in the room that you are in right now? One light switch, two outlets.

14. Do you know sign language? A little. I had to learn the alphabet for a Girl Scout badge and I still recall much of it.

15. Do you step on cracks in the sidewalk? I suppose. I don't pay attention.

16. And the sheets on your bed look like....? They have a sea shell print.

17. What is something that everyone else has, but you don't? Netflix.

Feeling good about helping

One of the reasons I worry about losing my job is that a precipitous drop in income will mean a reduction in what I can give to others. Lest you think I'm too saintly, let me tell you that giving to others gets me high. It's right up there with a can of caffeine and sugar laden pop. When I'm too much in own head, giving snaps me out of it. So being unselfish can be very selfish for this gal. As I watch others close to me battle with depression, I realize how lucky I am that I know a quick, reliable way to lift my mood when it veers toward darkness.

Our office is collecting professional attire to donate to Dress for Success, so women on a limited budget can look good and feel confident at their next job interview. I brought in a 12P, fully-lined Lauren skirt that I never wore (and never will). It retails for about $50. I was a little disappointed by how empty the rack for donations was, so I made a mental note to visit the neighborhood rummage sale this weekend. The sale is held in a big old Victorian house, and there's a room devoted to "Women's Better Clothes." I hoped to find something there for Dress for Success. And, since proceeds from the rummage sale go to local charities, I thought it's a win-win.

Well, it was a win-win-win. For not only did I find a pair of gray Lauren slacks (like new and just $4), I got myself this coat! $178 new at Nordstrom (of course, it's not new) but it's now mine for only $14. I have a belted, hooded black trench! Happy, happy, happy!

Then I found out, much to my dismay, that my local camera shop is closing its doors at the end of the month. I love this store. But, as digital revolutionizes photography, their business model has changed. First they gave up half their floor space to a toy store. Now they've decided to move a much tinier storefront in a far off suburb, and concentrate only on photo finishing.

I understand their decision, and wish them well, but it still made me sad.

Until I saw that all the toys are 50% off! So now some little kid is going to get the Cha-Cha Chihuahua board game from Santa and Toys for Tots ... and me.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Danny Boy (1956)

1) This is a sad song of farewell. Who is the last person you said "goodbye" or "so long" to? One of my coworkers is moving on to greener pastures and Friday afternoon, I wished him goodbye and good luck.

2) According to the 2000 Census, Massachusetts is the state with the largest percentage of residents of Irish descent. Have you ever been to The Bay State? Yes. Twice. I really enjoyed it and would love to go back.

3) "The wearing o' the green" is one way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day? I have two green sweatshirts. I will don one of them.

4) What color makes you look best? I'm fair skinned with green eyes, so green flatters me.

5) Will you drink something green in honor of the day (like a Shamrock shake or a green beer)? No.

6) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm? A friend gave me a Guatemalan worry doll. When I fly, I transfer my terror to her.

7) Though she's singing an Irish ballad, this week's featured artist, Joni James, is of Italian heritage. Can you think of a song as identified with Italy as "Danny Boy" is with Ireland? The first one that comes to mind is "That's Amore." But I don't know if it counts, since Dean Martin was from Steubenville.

8) Soda bread and potato bread are popular in Ireland. Are there any rolls or bread in your kitchen right now? No. I've been eating a lot of crackers lately. Ritz, saltines, graham crackers ...
9) Ireland is known for its whiskey. Do you enjoy Irish coffee (black coffee, whiskey and whipped cream)? No! I really hate all manner of coffee.

Friday, March 16, 2018


Here's the skinny on Napoleon and his family: I saw a very, very sleepy Caleb Tuesday evening. He told me that this week, his wife was undergoing a hysterectomy. The hospital feels that this is the best way to combat her cervical cancer. Many details fell through the cracks as we spoke, since he was just so tired. (For example, he kept saying "artery" when he meant "ovary.") But of course he's exhausted. He works overnights, visits his wife in the hospital, sleeps a little, panhandles on the corner, visits his wife again, and goes back to work. It's a grueling and uncomfortable life.

But at least they've moved indoors. They had been living in a tent with a flap that never stayed completely closed, but now Caleb can safely leave his much adored Napoleon in the bedroom they now rent while he's working or at the hospital. For himself, he's got a sleeping bag on the mattress, but he's saving for sheets for Randi when she comes home to recuperate. It's important to him that she have clean sheets as she recovers from surgery, possibly four weeks.

Randi's boss at the salon sounds like a nice woman. She sent cosmetology books for Randi to study during her recuperation. She can't afford to pay Randi for work not done, but sending the books is a gesture of support. The boss is letting Randi know that when she's well, her job will be waiting for her.

I am cautiously optimistic for this little family. Snarkypants suggested crowd funding and it's a good idea. But it's hard to do because I wouldn't be raising the money for myself, it would be for Napoleon and his parents. How would I transfer the money to them? Or could I get their banking information? And what about photos? Caleb would have to bring Napoleon downtown or I'd have to go to their new home to take pictures? It's worth exploring, but I need Caleb to be able to focus, and he was just too tired to be my partner in this right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I soooo get this

Last week, two-year-old Parker Curry became a media sensation because she was caught staring, transfixed, at the portrait of Michelle Obama at The National Gallery. The little girl became so popular that word reached the former First Lady, who invited Parker to her office for a dance party.

I was her once. I was Parker. I was a little older -- perhaps 4. I know it was before Kindergarten and before I could really read yet. I could make out words here and there but I still needed help.

My grandparents always kept glossy magazines on the lower shelf of their TV cabinet. While the rest of the family was blabbing the kitchen, which was the real heart of my grandparents' home, I sneaked into the living room to peruse the magazines.

It was a thin, bound oversized softcover volume that I guess was about the Presidents and First Ladies of the 20th century. Lying on my tummy, flipping through page after page of black and white photos, I was distinctly bored. And who could blame me?

Florence Harding. Grace Coolidge. Lou Hoover. Eleanor Roosevelt. Bess Truman. Mamie Eisenhower. Even if the photos had been in color, these women would have looked black and white.* Then I got to the end and I saw her. Jackie.

If it wasn't this very photo, it was one similar. She wasn't portrait posed, like the others. She wasn't wearing "grandma" clothes and jewelry, like the others. She didn't look like she would smell of mothballs, like I was sure the others would.

Whereas little Parker said Michelle Obama looked like a queen, I thought Jacqueline Kennedy looked like a doll. A Barbie doll that I would send on glamorous adventures.

I quickly moved on, of course. Pre-schoolers have notoriously short attention spans. Besides, at that stage I was seriously into my collection of model horses. But that moment on my grandparents' living room carpet had an indelible impact.

In a few short years, when her husband was murdered on my birthday, thereby disrupting my 6-year-old life and completely ruining my party, I felt that God gave JFK to me. Obviously I was supposed to learn all I could about him. And while reading about him, I naturally learned about her.

She never broke down when her husband died in her arms, so she was tough. But also beautiful. She spoke French, Spanish and Italian, so she was smart. But also feminine. She cared about Important Things, like art and ballet, but she dressed just as well, if not better, than my Barbie doll. So she could still be cool and fun.

First Ladies matter. I realize that there's a racial component to Parker's adoration of Michelle Obama, and I appreciate it. But that doesn't diminish Jackie as my early role model. I predict Michelle Obama's impact will be felt for decades to come, just as Jackie came to represent the ideal American woman to many of us Baby Boomers.

*As an adult, I realize how unfair this assessment was. Especially about the esteemed Eleanor. But I was not much older than Parker, so you have to cut me slack.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing

1. What’s the coolest item you’ve found at a garage sale, flea market, etc? I have picked up a number of sweaters that I really like: the black/white diamond patterned one, the brown v-neck, the green Izod, the purple and gray jersey, the royal blue cardigan with navy polka dots ...

2. Describe how your day went yesterday.
See post below.

3. Do you have issues with people entering your personal space? What do you do when your personal space is violated?
Oh, yes! I pout and scowl when anyone gets too close.

4. What is the one meal recipe you think you’ve mastered?
I throw a salmon filet on my little George Foreman, mix a salad while it's grilling, and then slather it with barbecue sauce. 

5.  If you could take back something you did to someone, what would it be? I did the same crappy thing to two different men, and I wish I could take it back. Years apart, I acted as though my voicemail was on the fritz to avoid going out with them. They both liked me too much too fast and it scared me. Naturally it was my right to back away. Still, there was a much better, more compassionate way to handle it.

6. Would you describe yourself as spiritual, religious, or something else?
I'm more spiritual than religious, but I am glad that I have a church to go to when I feel the need.

7. Did you ever receive detention in school? What sort of kid were you in school – bookworm, smart kid, troublemaker, quiet … etc.
Disaffected nerd.

8. When’s the last time you ran a mile? How often do you exercise?
I don't know that I've ever run a mile. I try to get to the gym twice a week. I make it once a week.

9. What would you say to your 16-year-old self, and why?
Mom is soooo wrong: these are not the best years of your life.

10. What are you avoiding?
I'm fighting the urge to go back to bed. The spring ahead shit hurts this morning.

11. Describe a “Hah! I told you so” moment you had recently.
Nothing springs to mind.

12. What’s more important, where you live or what you do for a living? Why?
It's so easier for me to make a living in advertising here in Chicago than it would in other major cities, so it's hard for me to separate the two.

13. Swear words: Are you pro or con? Why?
I don't give shit.

14. Paper or plastic? Do you prefer to pack your own groceries?
Canvas. No.

15. Do you have a shoe fetish? How often do you buy new shoes? Do you ever get rid of a pair of shoes?
No. I used to love buying shoes, but since my heel spurs 20+ years ago, I'm really limited on what I can wear. And when they wear out, I throw them out.

Good Saturday, Good Friends

I have decided to stop cocooning and get back out in the world! First I had dinner with Kathleen, then Barb, and last night I saw Joanna. While I kinda have to force myself to do get dressed and go out, I find it improves my mood.

Joanna and I met for an early tapas dinner at Valencia. I had empanada de buey (beef in pastry) and datiles con tocino (dates wrapped in bacon) and mango margarita. Joanna didn't have a drink with her tapas but she had dessert. It was good to catch up.

Our lives are surprisingly similar right now. At 65, she finds finances chaotic and she's unable to retire. She has a dog and cat she completely dotes on. She's had good girlfriends who have disappointed her. She has a mad crush on tennis' Roger Federer. The details are different, but in broadstrokes, our stories track.

She may have freelance work for me. I may have a job lead for her. But this was not a networking dinner. It was good food with with a good friend.

Then we saw To Be or Not to Be with our movie group. Only three people showed up with week: me, Joanna and a newbie named Penny. I didn't really like the move, but I love Carole Lombard. I love her look and the sound of her voice and the special way she delivers a funny line. This was her last movie (she was only 33 when she died) and here she is in her final onscreen credit. Gorgeous!

It was good to see Will, our moderator. I was surprised when he greeted me with a hug, but it made me happy. I was supportive of his search for a new venue for our little group, and I did make a memorial donation in his mother's memory. I think he appreciates that. But we never hugged before. It surprised me, and it was nice.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday 9

On and On (1977)
Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.

1) This song describes the plight of "poor ol' Jimmy," who caught his girlfriend kissing someone else. Have you ever spied on a romantic partner? Yes. I remember it vividly. I wasted my 20s on a guy who was so completely not worth it, but it wasn't his all fault because he gave me soooo many signs. We worked together at a big company, and I noticed a new coworker's name cropping up in conversation a lot. Like when we were buying grocery shopping, "the new girl likes strawberry ice cream," etc. He said he had to work late one evening, and I didn't believe him, so I hid behind a pillar in the parking garage and watched the front entrance. Sure enough, he left with her. I could tell she was smitten by the way she was hanging on his every word as they walked and talked. Actually, they didn't sleep together that day, as he just made up an excuse to stay late so he could walk to the train station with her. He beat me home by just a few minutes. It's funny, but I felt sorry for both her and myself. Her, because while he might cheat one me, I knew he was never going to dump me for her and she was doomed to disappointment. Me, because I was in this relationship where I felt I couldn't be happy but I couldn't leave. I finally did -- about 3 years later. (Gee! This was a happy answer, huh?)

2) In this song, Stephen Bishop sings that he "smiles when he feels like dying." When did you recently put on a happy face, even though you really weren't all that happy? Every day at work so far this year. The coworker I sit with day in/day out is so consumed with her own family issues, and she's constantly on the phone with her family issues, and it weighs on me. But I do my best to stay perky! I channel my inner Dick Van Dyke, 40 hours/week.


3) Stephen Bishop always wanted to be a musician, and as a child he began playing the clarinet. Did you take lessons -- dance, art, music -- as a child? If yes, did you take them because you enjoyed them, or because your parents made you take them? I took ballet because my older sister wanted to take it and my dad wouldn't drive to two lessons on Saturday mornings. I had no talent for ballet and wanted to take guitar so badly!

4) When he was 12, inspired by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he switched to the guitar and began writing songs. Tell us about someone or something that influenced your career path. When I was a secretary (back in those days, we were still called "secretaries"), I worked for an officious, rather silly man. One of the company's few women VPs had the office next to his, and she took a liking to me. "Doesn't it bother you that you're smarter than your boss?" she'd ask me. She gave me pep talks all the time, and when the opportunity arose to take the test to become a copywriter, she literally placed it in my hands (and in the hands of her own secretary). Her name was Celeste. I am eternally grateful to her. She really paid it forward.

5) Stephen Bishop attended Will C. Crawford High School in San Diego. This school requires students complete 20 hours of community service every year. Tell us about an organization, cause or campaign you volunteered for, either as a student or an adult.  

Oh, I'm always doing little things, but frankly not enough. Last summer I worked the library book sale, and I'll do that again. I regularly drop canned goods off at the local pantry. But nothing has captured my interest and heart and time in a big way since John Kerry's 2004 Presidential campaign. I dedicated myself and my finances to that. I think you know how it turned out, and it broke my heart 10 ways to Sunday.

6) In 1977, when this song was popular, Seattle Slew won racing's Triple Crown. Sam's mother has always been afraid of horses. Is there an animal you're uncomfortable with? I'm afraid of squirrels. When I was a little girl, I fed a squirrel every morning through the mail slot in our front door. My dad discouraged me by telling me about a little boy ("just your age") who was bit by a squirrel. The squirrel clamped his jaws so tight onto the kid that even after the police shot him, the squirrel didn't let go. None of this was true, of course. But it terrified me and stayed with me.

7) Also in 1977, moviegoers waited in line for hours to see Star Wars. What's the longest line you waited in recently? The post office at Christmastime.

8) The mini-series Roots first aired in 1977. Today Americans are spending more time and money than ever to research ancestry. How far back can you trace your family tree? I know of four of my great grandparents -- both my grandfathers' parents. On my dad's side, they were in Berne (Germany). On my mom's side, they were already here in Chicagoland.

9) Random question: It's often said that nobody's perfect. How about you? What quality keeps you from being perfect? I am lazy.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Shocked. Heartbroken.

I left work tonight through the east door, which is closer to my train. Naturally, Randi and Napoleon were not on their usual corner, since she's been in the hospital this week. Why would I expect her to be panhandling in front of Starbuck's on a cold night?

I really wanted an update on her. I really wanted to hear that she and Napoleon are OK. So I circled around to the other entrance and there was her husband, Napoleon's dad, Caleb. The news he had for me was anything but OK.

Randi has cervical cancer. Yes, she was hospitalized for a lung infection. They were running all manner of tests on her, trying to get to the cause of her infection, and something suspicious showed up in her bloodwork that led them to the diagnosis. The doctor said that it's possible that the lung infection saved her life, because it brought them to the cancer discovery early.

Caleb was going to the hospital this evening, before going to work (!), and he had hoped to raise the $20 left to pay the first two months' rent on the bedroom they hope to move into. He still had $15 to go. Randi needs to stay in bed for two weeks, and it would be nice if the bed was off the ground. And safe.

I gave him $21. "I can get the key," he said. Followed by, "You don't have to do this."

I squeezed his hand. "Yes, I do. I'm your friend."

He started to cry. "I'll be praying for you guys," I said, moving away. I didn't want to embarrass him.

He said nothing about Napoleon. I hope the cat is OK, and that Caleb just didn't have time to update me on him. He and especially Randi love that cat so much. Now is not the time for them to lose him.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

And in Beatle News

Two photos that make me happy.

Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland shooting who has become an anti-gun activist, chose The Lads when she appeared on CNN.

Sir Paul was spotted last week visiting Beverly Hills. He's quit coloring his hair, and I applaud his decision. He's going to turn 76 this summer. Think of it: 76. He's still here when lesser lights have fallen by the wayside. He's earned those gray hairs and should be proud of them!

At least we're on the same side of this one

I had dinner with my friend Barb last night. It's the first time I've seen her in months, and I think it did us both good.

She is completely obsessed by the Robert Mueller/Russia Investigation. She was even all over the latest news about that secret Seychelles meeting. She admitted she has CNN on 24/7 these days. Her certainty that Trump is a sleazeball criminal has left her both engaged and exhilarated. It's the first time I've seen her this into a news story since her "I-hate-Obamacare" days. Clearly Barb's umbrage does not follow party lines. But I'm glad this time, it's an interest/opinion I share.

It's helping her get through. She's packing up her home here in Chicago, selling off her belongings, in anticipation of her big move to Hilton Head -- probably in late summer. It's not going as easily or as quickly as she thought it would, because she still can't shake her crippling heartache over the loss of her husband. He's been gone seven months now, and, in her own words, she's "not doing well."

He was the love of her life, and she's packing up the only home they shared. The home where much of his grueling cancer battle took place. She's moving to the dream house they had built in Hilton Head. The one she will now live in alone.

She's energized by her hatred of Trump. She's excited by selling her stuff because it feels like a game for her, using Craigslist and the Let Go app. She's seeing a shrink who is helping her deal with her grief, and she feels these couch sessions are helping.

But she's still shattered. Every day begins with tears, as every day she realizes anew that he's gone. Then during the day, she fights the desire to say to people -- the girl at Starbuck's, the man coming over to buy one of her bookshelves -- "Don't you know my husband is dead? Don't you feel it?" At times she's furious that the world continues spinning without him in it.

We ate too much, laughed a surprising amount, and drank. I'm happy that I helped her. It did me a lot of good, too. I've fallen into an unfortunate rut of getting home from work and sleeping. I've been letting the sadness around me at the office become routine, and to take over my life. Spending time with Barb this week, and Kathleen last week, has been good for me.

I must learn from this. Kathleen called me for dinner, but I called Barb. I must reach out to people, not isolate myself, waiting for someone else to bust me out of my malaise. I need to regain control of my own life!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Oh, no!

Things had been going so well for Napoloen and his humans, Randi and Caleb. After more than a year of living on the streets, the tide was turning. Caleb has been driving a forklift in a grocery warehouse. Randi works in a salon, answering phones and doing laundry and sweeping up. In addition to their jobs, they have continued to panhandle, saving up the money they'll need to pay two months' rent in advance on a bedroom in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood. Once they move indoors, they'll have so much more freedom (a room with a door means they can leave their beloved cat alone) and so many more options (having an address and the ability to shower every day makes them more employable).

But in their quest to get off the streets, it seems it's always one step, two steps back for this little family. Randi spent last night and all day in the hospital! She has a lung infection. Her boss at the salon has been understanding -- keeping the job open for her -- but isn't paying her for the time off.

Caleb is worried that the hospital won't release her this afternoon. He's concerned that even if she is released, he won't be able to raise the $35 he'll need for her meds. It's hard to beg on street corners during today's intermittent snow showers because people don't want to stop. If he can't raise the $35, he'll have to dip into their rent fund, which will push their dream of living indoors further away.

I saved $5.96 at Walgreens today, and so I gave $6 to Caleb. I want to help, of course, but I don't want them to depend on me too much financially because I still feel my own job is tenuous. On the other hand, that $5.96 is what I saved with my AARP discount, so it's like found money. And it brings the total Caleb needs to earn today down to $29.

PS Every now and again, a shaft of sunlight shines through this saga. Today I'm happy to report that the hospital bent/broke the rules and allowed Napoleon to stay indoors, in Randi's room! Caleb explained that they had nowhere to safely leave the cat (don't forget, he works overnights) and Randi refused to stay in the hospital without Napoloen. God bless that doctor.

36 years ago this evening ...

Four of us were doing the bars that Friday night. Me and my boyfriend, John, and Kathy. (John and Kathy were not a couple, much to Kathy's chagrin, because John insisted on being gay.) First up was Juke Box Saturday Night in Lincoln Park. We were in a booth, waiting for another round and a refill on our popcorn, listening to Ricky Nelson and Dion and the Belmonts (it was a 50s themed bar).

Our waitress brought us our pitcher and my sangria (I didn't drink beer in those days). She told us it was on the house and said, as if sharing a confidence, "John Belushi died. Heart attack."

John and I looked at each other and said, "Drugs."

The bartender got on the loudspeaker and reiterated the sad news. "Belush" came into Juke Box Saturday Night every night while filming The Blues Brothers. According to the bartender, he drank and sang and danced like a maniac and then came behind the bar and literally sank his head into the ice. Thus refreshed, he'd continue singing and dancing and drinking.

The bartender made it clear that "Belush" was like family at Juke Box Saturday Night. This round we were enjoying was in his memory. Then they blasted "Soul Man."

We toasted John Belushi and then, as the bar filled up and got noisier, we moved up the street to The Drink Inn on Lincoln. It was starting to fill up, too, and we were lucky to get a table. It was a more folkie bar and there was a girl on stage, strumming and singing songs that reminded me of Jim Croce. Then the club owner took the stage.

He announced John Belushi had just died in Los Angeles of a heart attack. The next round was on the house in memory of our fallen comrade. He came by every night while filming The Blues Brothers. He got on stage and jammed with band and danced and drank. Then he'd go behind the bar and sink his head in the ice. Thus refreshed, he'd continue singing and dancing and drinking.

We got an extra round free because my friend John could honestly claim to being an extra in The Blues Brothers (he's in the car crash scene at the Daley Center).

That was how news traveled 36 years ago. Before the internet and cell phones, breaking news came to us from Lincoln Avenue waitstaff.

Belushi is gone. That boyfriend is long -- and blissfully -- out of my life. But John and Kathy are still in my life. John, especially, is very dear to me. We partied a lot in those days. While I don't specifically recall it, I have no doubt that Stevie, John and I all did coke that night. I always tried to augment my drinking with coke because it minimized the hangovers. Odds are good that the coke was provided to me by a stranger.

Looking back to that night, I feel lucky. Lucky that Chicago is a city that makes it easy to just fall into a cab or onto a bus, so no one had to drive impaired. Lucky that I didn't snort anything too dangerous. Lucky that I finally rid myself of Stevie. Lucky that I have so much history with John.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

See it!

If I was voting for tonight's Oscars, Saoirse Ronan would get a gold guy tonight. She's idealistic, selfish, shallow, dreamy, yearning ... She plays every high school girl I ever knew, including me. She's the opposite of Frances McDormand in Three Billboards. Mildred Hayes is a ball of rage I hope never to encounter, Lady Bird is who every girl sees when she looks in the mirror.

Just in time for Oscar, Lady Bird is available OnDemand. Do yourself a favor: rent it and enjoy it.

BTW, even though I think Allison Janney should and will win Best Supporting Actress, if I was a voter I'd vote for Laurie Metcalf, who played Lady Bird's mother. She does a lovely and loving job. Also, Metcalf is a Chicago girl. And I think if she won, it would annoy Roseanne Barr. (I hate Roseanne Barr.) The Roseanne reboot is airing soon, and I get a kick out thinking how Roseanne's kid sister Jackie would be the one with "award winning actress" before her name. (No, really. I hate Roseanne Barr.)

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Saturday 9

1) This song is about a woman who married at 20. It's estimated that the average American groom is 2.5 years older than his bride. Why do you suppose that is? Peer pressure, I suppose. Until recently, it wasn't fashionable for women to date younger men. And if you're not dating them, you're not marrying them.

2) A 2014 study shows the bigger the age gap in a marriage, the more likely the couple is to divorce. What do you think is the reason for most divorces? Infidelity, at least on the face of it. Though I guess under closer examination, we'd discover that people cheat because they're unhappy ... and they're unhappy because they've been fighting about money, or kids, or they feel misunderstood or unappreciated.

3) Reba's second marriage recently ended. Statistics show that second marriages are more likely than first marriages to wind up in divorce. Why do you suppose that is? Oh, hell! I don't know! There are few topics this old spinster is less familiar with than matrimony.

4) This week's featured artist, Reba McEntire, was discovered when she sang The National Anthem at an Oklahoma City rodeo. Have you ever been to the rodeo? Yes. I didn't care for it. It seemed terribly unkind to the animals.

5) Reba dropped out of Southeastern Oklahoma State University to go to Nashville and pursue a recording career. In that way, she's like the woman she sings about in this week's song. "She's done what she should, should she do what she dares?" Do you ever regret a risk or opportunity you didn't take? As Francis sang, "Regrets, I've had a few." I think we all have. I try not to think about my regrets too much, though. Not productive.

6) Reba's heroine is "dying to try something foolish, do something crazy, or just get away." Does that sound like you? What would you do, just for yourself, if time and money were no object? Really fix this place up! I have such plans, so many daydreams about how I'd redecorate my home. New flooring, new bathroom, new window treatments.

7) Reba recently became a spokesperson for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Whose chicken do you eat most often: Popeye's, Church's, Chick-fil-A or KFC? Popeye's, because it's the most convenient option that's not Chick-fil-A. I refuse to support a company that opposes equal rights for my gay friends, who are dearer to me than family. Also, as a Christian, I am offended by the way Chick-fil-A has (at least in the past) marketed their Christianity. Too often they have sounded like they were saying, "Eat here because we love Christ!" To me, that's selling faith, and I learned in Sunday School how Jesus felt about moneychangers and church. I'm sorry for the mini-rant, but this is a firmly held conviction.

8) In 2001, Reba starred in her own sitcom. On the show, her character is first an administrative assistant and then a real estate agent. Have you ever tried your hand at either of those occupations? If
not, which do you think you would be a better fit for you? I actually did both at once, when I was an admin at a real estate office. It was a second job that I got when I was just out of high school so I could pay for my trip to Europe. I got there at 8:30 on Saturday and Sunday, opening the door, turning on the lights, making coffee and manning the phones until the agents -- who wanted to sleep in -- made it to the office. I got to leave at 12:30. I liked it. It didn't pay very much at all, but it was low stress. It's the kind of job I'd like to have again, when I retire from advertising.

9) Random question: Which of these super powers would you rather have -- extraordinary strength or invisibility? Extraordinary strength!