Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: I Left My Heart in San Francisco (1962)

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

1) This song is a valentine to the city of San Francisco. Songwriters George Cory and Douglas Cross moved to New York to find fame and fortune and found themselves homesick for the city by the bay. Have you ever been homesick? Or, in the parlance of the song, where have you left your heart? As Eddie Vedder sings, "When you're born in Chicago, you're blessed and you're healed the first time you walk into Wrigley Field." I have not watched a Cubs game since management traded all my favorite players during the infamous 36-hour blood bath/salary dump last week in July. I've followed Anthony Rizzo and have been watching the Yankees battle for a wildcard berth. It's been entertaining -- September baseball with the playoffs on the line! -- but Yankee Stadium is too new. Too slick. My baseball loving heart is still among the bricks and ivy. When I get over my pout, probably in spring, I'll come back home.

2) Cory and Cross were buddies with Ralph Sharon, a piano player who often worked with Tony Bennett. Ralph brought the song to Tony and the results were very happy for all involved. Have you more recently done, or been on the receiving end of, a favor? I suppose I most recently did a favor. I changed my schedule a little to go to the vet after closing to pick up Reynaldo's prescription. The vet tech finds it easier to mete out the meds when there are no patients in the waiting room.
3) The lyrics compare San Francisco to Paris, Rome and Manhattan. Have you visited those cities? I've never been to Rome. I visited Manhattan and Paris and very nearly moved to San Francisco back in the 1980s. Listening to the Yankees on WFAN makes me want to go back and revisit New York.

4) This week's artist, Tony Bennett, sang professionally for the last time in August. He retired after performing at Radio City Music Hall with Lady Gaga. Their musical collaboration dates back to when they both performed at President Obama's inauguration. Though 60 years apart in age, they became fast friends based on their shared love of jazz. Do you find that most of your friends are older than you, younger than you, or within 5 years of you? Almost all my friends are within 5 years of me.

5) While Lady Gaga grew up listening to Tony Bennett, as a young man Tony recalled listening to Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Joe Venuti. Which singers did you enjoy during your teen years? Who I listened to at 13 was radically different than 19. I was seriously into bubblegum in junior high (Bobby Sherman and The Partridge Family). I discovered Barbra Streisand in high school. As my 20s loomed I was seriously into Paul Simon. Through it all there was Sir Paul, as a Beatle and a solo artist and frontman for Wings.

6) While he's famous for singing about San Francisco, Tony is a proud son of New York. Born in Queens, he chose to end his career at Radio City Music Hall and was excited to perform "New York State of Mind" with Billy Joel at Shea Stadium in 2008. Do you have a favorite Billy Joel song? This was me during my partygirl days. Looking back, I was too picky because I was emotionally unavailable. I wish I'd said yes more often.
7) Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra may have been competitors but they shared mutual admiration. Sinatra called Bennett "the best singer in the business," and Bennett did a Sinatra homage album called Perfectly Frank. Think of people you have worked with over the years. Tell us about someone who has impressed you, and why. My new boss. I don't always agree with his choices, but it's obvious that they always come from a place of integrity. This is a big deal. I work in advertising.

8) The 1970s were a difficult period for Tony. During the days of disco and Studio 54, he said singing new songs made him feel like his mother, a talented seamstress, when she was forced to make a cheap dress. OK, so Tony doesn't like disco! Is there a genre of music you just don't care for? Opera and/or classical. If I can't sing along, I'm not interested.

9) Random question: Imagine you're the passenger in a long car ride. Are you more likely to be calm or fidgety? I tend to doze off.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021


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? Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline. Benedetta "Bennie" Rosato is a successful attorney. She's more than a litigator, she's the head of one of Philadelphia's most successful firms. She doesn't like to lose. And now she's face-to-face with one of her losses: she defended Jason when he was 12 and in trouble in the juvenile system and the case went awry. Consequently, he spent his life in and out of trouble with the law and now here he is, 25 and accused of murder. He calls Bennie, because he's got no one else. Here's her chance to make it up to him.
The Rosato & DiNunzio series, about an all-female law firm, is very popular but I'm not always a fan. Two of the central characters, Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier, feel more like "types" than real women. But I've always liked Bennie Rosato, and so far she's center stage. When warned, "Don't get mad, get even," she replied, "Why should I choose?" That's my girl!
2. What did you recently finish reading? Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen MeisterPoet, essayist and critic Dorothy Parker is bored. She's been dead awhile and is haunting the bar at the Algonquin Hotel. At first when she died, she passed on Heaven because the idea of eternity with her "loved ones" doesn't appeal to her, but now she's lonely. She needs to find another spirit who would be satisfied with forever trading bon mots with her at the bar.

She sets her sights on Ted Shriver, an extravagantly talented  but scandal plagued author. He has a brain tumor and decided the surgery to remove it isn't worth the risk. His friends can't believe his decision and try to convince him to fight for life. Mrs. Parker knows the secrets that are motivating him and begins meddling.

As Ellen Meister portrays her, Mrs. Parker is sharp, sad, and witty. The plot is complicated and some of its messages are surprisingly sophisticated: about family and faith and obligation and eternity. I enjoyed it.

3. What will read next?  A biography.

When a lie becomes the truth

Rey upon his return Monday afternoon
I admit it: I was never going to attend my niece's wedding celebration next month. I went to her wedding last October -- an intimate affair in her in-laws' backyard. Seeing her happy and content meant a great deal to me. The guest list was covid-short, and I was touched that she wanted me there. 

The celebration next month will be the wedding reception she long planned. I'm happy she finally gets to realize it. I also know that, with (I believe) 150 people, I wouldn't get to see as much of her. She'll be partying with her friends, dancing to the DJ. 

And, frankly, I can't bear the thought of both of my sisters in the same room. Even a really BIG room. They don't like me, I don't like them and they only sporadically like one another. I don't need this agita.

So I told my niece a plausible lie: I couldn't afford to go because I had to help my oldest friend financially. First, my niece knows my oldest friend. When my niece was still in high school, she helped my oldest friend around the house for money. My niece understands how important my oldest friend is to me. Second, my oldest friend's life has been one crisis after another for the last decade, so what's not to believe?

Then fate intervened and made the lie true. Now I can't afford to go. 

Reynaldo needs to see a kitty cardiologist. Who knew such a thing existed? We had a very bad weekend, and I was prepared on Monday for him to rendezvous with the vet's green needle. I carried his limp, skinny body around and took him from room to room, telling him stories of mischief he'd made. I let him amble down the common hallway he used to run. I snuggled him and told him I would miss the way he squawked at me, bossed me around and tormented me. I reminded him that I have always loved him since that snowy evening we met at the animal shelter in November 2004.

We got to the vet who felt that, even though Rey is sick, it's not his time yet. Sure, he suffers from glaucoma, chronic thyroid and kidney disease, and arthritis and now a heart murmur, but his lungs sounded good and his gastrointestinal tract is OK and he was alert. Tired, but alert. 

He was dosed with intravenous fluids and given an appetite stimulant and we came back home with a referral to a cardiologist. Rey may have a good year or two left, after all. 

He started showing improvement as soon as we got back home. This morning he woke me up, complaining about his empty food dish. (And Saturday and Sunday, I couldn't get him to eat!) He's back to knocking shit over to get my attention. My dictatorial little monster is back!

But now I've got to get him to a specialist to maintain this. 

Now my niece understands my attachment to Rey. He's been my cat since she was in middle school. She and her bridegroom are also very committed to their own cats. She is 100% on board with me putting his welfare over her second ceremony.

"After all," she keeps reminding me, "You saw the real wedding!"


Sunday, September 12, 2021

Well, that was a dose of drama

Our lead minister left. He'd been with us for 18 years which, I guess, is a long ride. His departure seemed sudden to me, but I wasn't that affected by it. I appreciate how he made Sunday School and religious education a priority in our congregation, and he made me more aware of criminal justice reform and the plight of those trying to re-enter society. I'll always remember his oft-repeated admonition: "Don't judge a whole life by its worst moment." 

On the other hand, I don't care that much. I joined this congregation because of Rev. Jay. I adored him. He challenged me to always remember that I'm part of a congregation, a village, a state, a nation and a world. What am I doing for "the glory of God and service to man?" 

Twenty years ago in October, Rev. Jay left. He postponed his leaving by two weeks to help us heal after 9/11, but he left anyway. He wanted to go home to Massachusetts to be near his mother, who was in failing health. I recall taking this very badly, saying to myself, "But we're your family, too!"*

After 9/11, we invited Chicago's Muslim community to worship with us. I'm still proud of that. There was so much bigotry then (and it remains; remember Trump's "Muslim ban?") but not in our house. I remember that as Rev. Jay's last fabulous moment.

The new minister arrived in 2003. Because of the impact Rev. Jay had on me, he was always "the new minister," just didn't engage me intellectually the way Rev. Jay did. Because I wasn't especially involved with him, I didn't notice the fissures between him and congregation. 

Oh, did I find out about them today! Our interim minister is meeting with all of us, in small groups, and she fielded questions. Here's the obvious: the lead minister's parting seemed so sudden. Was it?

Yes and no. It seems there was a revolt of sorts over problems that had been there for quite some time.

•  The paid administrative staff had been asking for job descriptions and formal reviews for years and never got them. 

•  Volunteers felt burned out and were getting embarrassed by always asking the congregation for more money (OK, I noticed that one, but I thought of it as inflation, not mismanagement). 

•  The associate minister felt like an employee, not a partner. 

•  The choir director felt she had no support. Music is a big part of our congregation.

•  There's the cottage next door. Rev. Jay had lived there. The new minister refused to because his wife didn't want to live that close to the church. OK, but it's been allowed to fall into disrepair. The Religious Education team has been using it for Sunday School. Six days/week it's empty, and it's been unused during covid. Meanwhile, we've taken office space on the other side of the tracks. Why? It's a cute little 2BR, 1BA house with a small yard. Why don't we fix it up and make it our office? For some reason, the new minister kept the cottage at the bottom of his list of priorities. Since 2003.

I appreciate how frank the interim minister was, but I felt kinda like a dolt for not knowing all this was going on. 

And I was exhausted when the Zoom ended. I'm not used to this kind of drama in my spiritual life. Work? All the time! Church? Never.

I hope our next new minister touches a chord in me like Rev. Jay did. 

*Rev. Jay died in July of last year at 74. After his mom's death in 2006, he became an interim minister, going from congregation as needed. He retired in 2019. I feel bad that he only got to enjoy six months of retirement before he died. On the other hand, he was such a passionate crusader for human rights that he might have missed this pulpit.

Sunday Stealing

More of Those 5000 Questions

1. Who do you take for granted? I realize I have taken my cat Reynaldo's spirit for granted. It is not indomitable, after all. He is reaching the end and I am heartbroken. (See post below.)

2. Short, knee, or ankle skirts? I don't wear skirts.

3. Do you wear a hat? Very seldom.

4. Who's your favorite cartoon character? Mr. Peabody, with his boy, Sherman, of course. Every dog should have a boy.


5. Does break dancing impress you? I suppose. I mean, I realize it's hard to do. But I haven't seen anyone break dance in years (decades?).

6. Are you a miracle? In the sense that we're each a miracle.

7. Have you ever eaten tofu? I suppose it's been in a salad or on a sandwich I've consumed.

8. Does the moon have an effect on your mood? I have never noticed. But I have friends who believe strongly that it does. It's possible.

9. Many people will say that the Harry Potter books are pure fluff with no literary value. Do you agree? I've never read one. But I'm very much in favor of books that encourage young people to read.

10. What are you doing next Wednesday? I'm having a Zoom with a lawyer about my new will. (Jealous, aren't you?) In December of last year, I signed up for the group legal plan through work. $15.90/month. I enrolled because $190 for a will drawn up by a local lawyer -- not one I do myself through an online template -- is a good deal. (Investopedia says it generally costs $300 to $1,000.) However, it's not a good deal if I don't get off my ass and actually use the benefit. I mean, here it is, September already! For pity's sake, do it, Gal! And so Wednesday, I shall.

11. Why do so many people think Elvis is still alive? Good goobies! I haven't heard this one in years! I'm not sure anyone really thinks this anymore.

12. Are your hands cold? No.
13. Have you ever given blood? Yes.

14. What SCI-fi books do you read? I don't.

15. Have you ever belonged to a sorority or a fraternity? Nope.


Yesterday was not a good day

Friday, Reynaldo was very interested in his food. He greeted me at the door when I returned from running errands. He knocked things off the dining room table to get my attention.

Saturday, he did none of those things. 

All he did Saturday was sleep or, when awake, stare. While this morning he joined me for some snuggles, he seemed unsteady on his feet as he ambled away.

He is not enjoying his life. I know that. We've been together since he was a kitten. I know all his moods. He may or may not be uncomfortable, but I know he is not happy.

I am going to call the vet in the morning. I don't want to wait until Rey-Rey is in pain to do the right thing. On the other hand, I don't want to say goodbye if all he needs to feel better is a short course of meds. 

He is never going to get well. I accept that. He is 17 -- 84 in human years -- and he has a litany of maladies: glaucoma, arthritis, chronic kidney and thyroid and now heart troubles. I know that.

I truly wish he would die overnight. In his sleep. Peacefully. That would be our happiest ending right now.

That's not likely to happen though, is it? Life is seldom that kind, and it seems I have a lesson to learn here.

I pray I do right by him.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Jose Cuervo (1983)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here. 
1) In this song, Shelly West sings that she woke up late on a sunny morning. How's the weather in your part of the world? I'm doing this Friday night. We had a beautiful day. Sunny and 80ยบ. It'll be cool enough tonight to sleep with the window open.

2) She wonders if she started any fights while under the influence. Who's the last person you quarreled with?
Well, I snapped at a jerk who passed me on the sidewalk. Does that count? He came up behind me, out of nowhere, and snarled, "Choose a side." Scared the crap out of me! I snapped, "Get over yourself."  "You were walking down the middle of the sidewalk," he said with disgust, as though I had broken some law. "OOOH! A pedestrian on the sidewalk! Alert the media!" I called after him. He may have had a point. But you don't come up behind someone like that and growl. Not with crime the way it is these days. He's lucky I didn't elbow him in the gut. Besides, I'm a fat old lady. I carry an AARP card! When do I start getting old lady respect?

3) OK, margaritas for everyone! Shelly sings that she likes hers with salt. What's your order? Classic or strawberry? Salt or sugar on the rim? Classic with salt, thank you! I do love a good margarita.

4) Jose Cuervo was a real person. He was one of the first to put tequila in bottles instead of barrels. Since bottles are easier to ship, it was a good decision. Tell us about a recent choice you're glad you made. I bought a "value pack" of six chuck tender steaks for $10.40. I'm a terrible cook and culinarily ignorant, so I wasn't sure what a chuck tender steak even is. It turned out to be a good purchase! Yummy, filling and affordable.

5) This week's featured artist, Shelly West, decided upon a career in music while still very young. She went on the road and sang backup for her mom, country music legend Dottie West, when she was still in her teens. When Sam was in her teens, she really didn't give her professional future that much thought. How about you? Did you already have career ambitions when you were in your teens? I was going to be a crusading reporter. I think every kid who was a student during Watergate wanted to be a crusading reporter.
6) In 1983, the year this song was popular, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Do you ever fantasize about being an astronaut? Nope.

7) Also in 1983, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was born. The NFL season is just kicking off. Do you have high hopes for your team this year? It's September! I'm still watching baseball!
My favorite-most Cub is now a Yankee and they're fighting for a wild card berth. I'm glad Yankee fans have embraced him and am impressed that, in little more than a month with the team, he already had his own bobblehead. It's a good likeness as bobbleheads go, but the fact of it hurts my heart.

8) In 1983, Motorola introduced the first cell phone. Do you have an easy time adapting to new technology? No. I'm kind of a Luddite.

9) Think of the last potato chip you had. Was it plain, sea salt, barbecue, sour cream and onion ...? It was plain. Not memorable, really, except that the container of Stax was on sale and near the register and I recall my complete lack of restraint as I grabbed them. 

What they died for

On 9/11/01, 33 civilians and at least 2 crew members staged a revolt aboard United Airlines Flight #93. The plane had been hijacked. These ordinary people did something extraordinary. They stormed the cockpit, and crashed the plane into an empty field in Pennsylvania. Their heroism very likely saved The Capitol from a terror attack like the ones that hit The World Trade Center and The Pentagon.

Imagine getting on an early morning flight to San Francisco and finding yourself facing death. Imagine rising to the occasion and saving lives and a symbol of our democracy. 

Imagine being the loved one of one of those passengers, watching this unfold at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The House Minority Leader doesn't want to cooperate with the investigation of the January 6 riot. He doesn't want his phone records to reveal whether or not he spoke to The President of the United States that day, because the President of the United States that day had addressed this "loving crowd" immediately before they attacked the Capitol, promising, "I'll be there (at the Capitol) with you."*

Remains of UA 93
So imagine you're one of those who lost a loved one in that field on 9/11, who saw the twisted wreckage and knew they died to protect the Capitol.  Say a prayer for them tomorrow, certainly. This 20th anniversary must be excruciating.

But also say a prayer for them every time you hear Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger vow to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6. As a nation, we owe them at least that much.


*As per usual, Corporal Bone Spurs avoided physical conflict that day.


Thursday I ran a quick errand at lunchtime. It was a beautiful afternoon. The sky was blue and the clouds were fluffy white. I was enjoying it thoroughly.

Until I saw the jet.

I don't usually see planes flying this low. It looked like it might be headed east. Which would make sense if the pilot was headed to O'Hare. Also if the pilot was a terrorist headed toward Sears Tower.

Blue skies. Fluffy clouds. Low-flying plane. That's what New Yorkers saw on the morning of 9/11, 20 years ago. I was suddenly scared. I kept checking my phone to make sure nothing tragic had happened.

Some wounds don't heal.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Didn't see this coming

Early next week I'm sitting down with my boss to compose job descriptions for my staff.

Wow. Just wow.

I'm going to have two writers answering to me. This will give me the opportunity to do something I've wanted to do: give my client choices. Multiple ideas and creative concepts to choose from. When all roads lead to me, and me alone, there simply isn't time to explore other ideas. I will oversee the work of the other two players to be named later, and I'll be creating, too. But it won't be all me, just me, all the time anymore.

Also, after 9/15, I will no longer be working on the automotive client. They have been lovely -- it's not their fault I have less than no interest in their products -- and I have learned a lot about writing for the web. But upper management feels that I should concentrate exclusively on my primary client. I asked who is going to pick up my monthly assignments for the automotive client and was told, basically, not to worry about it. There is a feeling that I was mismanaged and misused by the team in charge of that project and now it's time for them to clean up that mess. I kinda/sorta feel bad about this, since again, the automotive client pays us good money for good work and I would like them to continue getting consistent quality. On the other hand, I have mentioned many times to that team that they should have someone on the on deck circle who can also handle this big monthly project. You know, in case I get sick or when I'm on vacation or if my primary client needs me. "Yeah, yeah, we think you're doing fine." They put it off and put it off and now that laissez-faire attitude has come back to haunt them. 

So right now, at this moment, I seem to have what I want professionally. I am appreciated. My strengths are recognized and now actually played to. How funny that it happens to me now, when I'm 63. When I'm tired and eager to hang it up. For the past dozen or so years, I have felt underappreciated and on the verge of a lay off. It would have meant more to me to get this recognition and vote of confidence then. Oh well, it happened when it happened and I'm glad it happened.

I did have an awkward moment with my boss this afternoon. I told him that, while I was once a creative director and I know how to be a creative director, I won't play that role ever again. I prefer to be head writer. First of all, that's in line with my pay. Second, I am not going to be responsible for firing anyone, ever again. I simply will not do it. I told him I know it must have sounded odd that I'm already considering firing writers I haven't even met yet, but I wanted this to be clear. I said, "I have worked my way down to the corporate ladder, just to avoid firing people." He says he understands completely, and that if those tough decisions must be made, he and HR will make them. 


Wednesday, September 08, 2021

And not a single roll of paper towels was thrown

I know, I know: Joe Biden looks old and Trump supporters like to make fun of him for that. I get it. Born in 1942, he's not the dewy and energetic stud 75-year-old Donald Trump is! Maybe Trumpers are just not used to seeing a POTUS who is not dipped in spray tan and Miss Clairol. 

And yes, Biden stumbles over words and reads from a teleprompter and perhaps that should be mocked, but not by people who enthusiastically support a man who can't pronounce "Yosemite" and depended on teleprompters and scripts as often as he didn't. 

I wonder if Trump and his son will depend on a teleprompter when they do color commentary for the upcoming Evander Holyfield fight? Yours for just $49.99. Why does Jimmy Carter waste his time helping others with Habitat for Humanity when he could charge people to listen to him talk about a (far) less than legit fight? No wonder Donald Trump Jr. mocks President Carter. SUCKER!

I'm glad Joe Biden is President simply because he has a soul. That's how low the bar has sunk post-Trump. If he can give a press conference without demeaning the reporters asking tough questions ... if he can tour the site of a natural disaster without throwing paper towels at those in need ... if he can respect the Capitol and our democratic process without inciting a riot ... well, I'm happy.

I recently read a biography of Ronald Reagan, a President whose policies I disagreed with vehemently but who I find I improbably miss for his civility. How strange that just being decent now looks like heroic. 

Most of all, there's this. It's an oldie but a goodie. Yes, it's funny. But it breaks my heart, too. Millions of Americans (a minority, for sure, but still ...) actually support this shit. I'd really like my Christian faith back.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021


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? Dorothy Parker Drank Here by Ellen Meister. Poet, essayist and critic Dorothy Parker ruled the bar of the Algonquin Hotel in life, and now in death, she haunts it. But she's lonely and bored. As a ghost she's making highly sophisticated mischief as she searches for a newly-dead-but-not-ready-for-Heaven companion to keep her company.

She focuses on Ted Shriver, an eccentric but extravagantly talented author who has checked into The Algonquin with no plans for checking out. He has a brain tumor and has decided the surgery to remove it isn't worth the risk. He'd rather die in a hotel room than wake up with in a hospital bed with diminished capacity. His earthbound friends try to convince him to get the surgery so he can share more of his gifts with the world. Mrs. Parker, who knows all Ted's darkest secrets, wants him to join her for eternity in the bar.

This is one of the most thoroughly original books I've read in a long time. Well written, witty and (so far) carefully plotted. As portrayed here, Mrs. Parker is not exactly likeable but she certainly is fascinating. I can tell Ellen Meister is a fan and works hard to stay faithful to Parker's voice.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Reagans: Portrait of a Marriage by Anne Edwards. I'm very glad I read this book. As a liberal Democrat, Ronald Reagan's policies were and remain anathema to me. But before this I knew little about him as a man. He was corny, sincere and more genuinely spiritual than I realized. While I still disagree with much of what he did as President, I find myself liking him. There was an optimism to him that is nearly irresistible. From lifeguard in Dixon, IL to president of the Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood to the White House, he truly believed he was helping people. We can debate the result, but I no longer question the motivation. Reading this while Trump's malignant shadow is still so dark and prevalent left me hoping the GOP returns to someone as authentic as Reagan. Soon.

He had a major blind spot: Nancy. Growing up the son of an alcoholic, then dumped by his more successful first wife (Oscar winner Jane Wyman), he was at a low point in his career and his self-esteem when Nancy entered his life. She loved him and believed in him and encouraged him to go further than he ever would have dared on his own. In return, he saw her as perfect. She was not.
Her relationships with her stepson, Michael, and her biological daughter, Patti, are appalling. When the kids bought these issues to their adored father, he responded with, "Why do you lie about her? She loves you." His dismissal must have been as devastating as their mistreatment at her hands. (Please note: this is not a Nancy hatchet job. Edwards explains at length how Nancy's childhood damaged her. Nancy's dedication to "Ronnie" as he succumbed to Alzheimer's is portrayed as heroic. She was still an abysmal mother and employer and an unimpressive First Lady. I wouldn't want to have known her.)

Anne Edwards' biographies are high level. If you've been reading about Reagan for years, there is probably little new here. But since I picked it up knowing little about the man, I learned a lot.

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


Saturday, September 04, 2021

Sunday Stealing

100 Questions (or 10)

1.What's your favorite TV channel to watch in the middle of the night? Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. Magnum PI is on overnight. I've seen every episode so many times that I can doze off easily without wondering how the story ends. Even more than watching Thomas solve the case, I like seeing him and his gang (Higgins, TC, Rick, Zeus, Apollo). Spending a little time with them isn't a bad way to fall back asleep.

2.Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why? I'm fascinated by the 1960s. I love the music and the fashion, and I see it as a moment in time when everything changed. I was happiest in the 1990s. I went from having a job to having a career and I was happy in love.

3.What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song? I have many favorites. This is the first that comes to mind.

4.What Disney villain are you the most like and why? Sorry. I've got nothing for this.

5.Have you ever been a girl scout/boy scout? Brownie, Junior and Cadette.

6.If you were traveling to another continent would you rather fly or take a boat? I think I'd like to try a cruise. But only after covid is a memory.

7. What are three of your favorite dog names of all time? I don't have favorite dog names. But these are names of two dogs I loved: Sheba, NouNou.

8. How do you feel when you see a rainbow? Wonder

9. If you were in the Land of Oz would you want to live there or go home? Stay! I know it's not the message of the movie, but I think I'd prefer to live in color than black and white.

10. What is the first word that comes to mind when you see the word:
Air: Water
Meat: Burger
Different: Same
Pink: Blue
Deserve: More
White: Room (with black curtains, near the station)
Elvis: King
Magic: Trick
Heart: and Soul
Clash: Train in Vain
Pulp: Fiction



Color him indulged

I now keep two grocery delivery boxes in my living room. Reynaldo likes the one on the left (limes) for sleeping and the newer one (apples) for observing me as I move about the room.

He doesn't play with toys or Connie Cat anymore.* He doesn't look out the window for squirrels and birds anymore. He moves from perch to perch throughout the day. These include:

•  My dining room table, where I work. He loves to tuck himself as close to the computer as he can get.

•  The top shelf of the kitty condo, next to the dining room table. 

•  The boxes in the living room.

He no longer spends time in the bathroom (he used to loved walking along the ledge of the tub, having adventures between the shower curtain and liner) or the bedroom, unless he wants to cuddle with me in the morning. 

He is tired. He is dying.

But he also seems happy. He loves his food, he loves being carried and when I rub his head. In the morning, he opens and closes his paws in delight as he parks himself beside me, happy I'm (finally) awake.  

I am watching him closely. When it begins to seem that he is in pain, or that little in life brings him joy, I will put him to sleep.

In the 70 days since I learned about his heart trouble, and have tried to come to grips with the fact he will never get better, I have noticed decline but it's nothing precipitous so far. 

I went through this six years ago when beloved Big Tub of Guts, Joey, died. There is much to be learned about life as it ebbs away. I want to savor every moment with Reynaldo, and learn all he has to teach me.

*I can tell she misses him. He really has no interest in her anymore at all.

Friday, September 03, 2021

I hate giving up on people

... but alas, Warren gives me no choice.

Warren is a former coworker of mine. 53 years old. When we worked together, he was in our mail room. He moved to a competitive agency in February 2020. There he handles catering for client meetings, making sure the conference rooms are set up properly and that everyone has the office supplies they need. But here's the thing: once March and covid arrived, everyone worked from home and there were no big meetings in the conference room, and everyone was in charge of his or her own supplies. His new employer has kept him on anyway, at 75% of salary. It's been like that for 17 months now. 

Warren recently moved to a trendy Chicago neighborhood with a lot of bars and a lot of young people. He spends a lot of time partying with twentysomethings he has nothing in common with. He says this leaves him lonely.

He was sure he had neuralgia, until the doctor assured him he doesn't. He insists he had long-term "inflammation" and "nerve damage" from the Pfizer vaccine. He says he can't be alone because it stirs his anxiety.

Warren also insists that he knows the way he's living would not have pleased his mother, a devout Jehovah's Witness. This makes him sad. He has tried to fill the spiritual void in his life by watching and listening to Joel Osteen. But now he believes Osteen is too greedy to be a reliable messenger.

He went to the Kingdom Hall not far from where he lives and was told by an elder that he is "not ready to serve God." I was shocked by this. I don't know a thing about Jehovah's Witnesses, but I can't imagine a minster of any kind discouraging a parishoner that way.

But now I get it. Warren is not ready to serve God or make any constructive changes to his life. I have recommended to him -- time and again -- that he should volunteer at a charity. After all, he now only works on site 2 days/week, so he has time. If he wants to hang around with like-minded people, instead of partiers young enough to he his kids, he'll meet them there. If he wants to serve God, helping his community is a great way to start. I mentioned to him that he has many organizational and people skills, and it would be lovely if he could put them to use for his neighbors.

"I hear you, Gal, but I don't have time. I may be back at the office full-time."

I sent him the link to local food pantry that needs volunteers. He could walk to it. They need help organizing and manning the donation tables at upcoming local events, like Oktoberfests. This is exactly what Warren is good at!

"It just doesn't fit my plan right now."

This he has time for
You know what does fit his plan? Partying at Sluggers. I cannot tell you what a fucking zoo that place is. Tonight he's posting pictures of himself with his favorite (30something and blonde) bartender with captions about how young he believes he looks in the photos and how happy she was with the $50 tip he gave her. (He can't afford a $50 tip; he's only getting 75% of his paycheck.)

He also wants to start an official Facebook fan page for a former soap opera star. He is hoping for a zoom with this "celebrity" after Labor Day.

This is all just sad.

I wish Warren understood that doing for his neighbors would help him feel more grounded. That living his faith would bring him closer to God. But I can't make him understand.

I am sure something bad is going to happen to him. I feel helpless watching.

But I'm letting Warren go.  

Not all victims of Covid have the virus. 

I want to cry.

Saturday 9


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

1) John Lennon sings that he's been working like a dog. What's the hardest job you've ever had? What made it so difficult? Being a secretary (in those days, we were still called "secretaries") at the corporate offices for what was then the world's largest retailer. I hated it. My bosses were all condescending jerks. The women I worked with could be very petty. I realize now -- hindsight is 20/20 -- that when you're treated badly, you respond badly, but I wasn't that smart or sensitive back then. I was just unhappy. It was my first full-time job and I stuck it out four years. I got a couple of promotions and raises, and thought that being unhappy was just the working girl's lot in life. I'm so very grateful I became a writer! Now, even though I have tough days, I really enjoy what I do.

2) Despite the hard work, he likes his life and asks, "So why on earth should I moan?" What's the last thing you complained about? Who were you talking to? I complained about being caught in some interdepartmental cross fire. Person A expressly told me to do something. Person B specifically told me not to. I was whining to a coworker.

3) John was raised by his Aunt Mimi. She meant well when she told the teen-aged John, "The guitar's all right, but you'll never make a living out of it." What's the worst advice you've ever received? I had just emerged from a very bad relationship with a very bad man. I was confiding this to a new friend, trying to explain why I didn't share her enthusiasm for fix-ups and husband hunting. I was healing. She advised me to return to my abusive lover: If someone had that big an impact on your life, maybe he's supposed to be in your life. That attitude helped explain all the drama that was always in her life. We weren't friends for long.

4) This week's song was cowritten and also sung with Paul McCartney. Paul's father was more supportive of the lads' show business aspirations than Aunt Mimi was, but he still worried that his son wouldn't be able fully support himself as a musician. To please his dad, 17-year-old Paul worked over the Christmas holiday season as the "second man" on a delivery truck. Paul would be the one to hop off the truck and drop off the packages while the driver could keep the motor running and the heat on. Where was the last package you received from? (Extra points if you share what was in it.) Clinique cream from Kohl's. I earned $5 in Kohl's Cash.
5) After Christmas was over, Dad insisted Paul get a full-time, year-around job. He ended up at a factory, winding heavy coils to be used in electric motors. He hated the work but enjoyed the lunch hours, eating jam sandwiches and, weather permitting, kicking a soccer ball around the yard with his coworkers. What's for lunch at your house today? I'm doing this Friday night, so I'll tell you what I had for Friday lunch. I took myself to my favorite neighborhood bar to enjoy a Moscow Mule and a BIG bowl of their signature clam chowder as I read People magazine and watched the end of the Cub game. (My first Cub game since management's inexcusable July 29-30 bloodbath trades.) I was celebrating Labor Day. After all, I've been a tax-paying laborer since I was 17. (See Question #1.)

6) In early March 1961, the Beatles accepted a booking to play lunch hour gigs at Liverpool's Cavern Club, and so February 28, after less than two full months, Paul said goodbye to factory work. What's the shortest you ever stayed at a job? I worked in corporate communications for 90 days. Normally I believe in committing to a job for at least a year, but I left this position as soon as I could. It was ill-defined and they didn't know what to do with me. They were shocked because they were a software development company and thought they were cutting edge and hot shit. Maybe they were effective developers but they were awful communicators. I couldn't see staying there when I could tell it wasn't going to get better. I just ripped the Bandaid off and moved on.

7) Enough about these Brits! Labor Day was introduced to celebrate the achievements of the American worker. How many different employers have you had? I am currently working with my 9th (and likely last) employer. (Not counting high school jobs.)

8) This weekend may offer a golden opportunity for napping and sleeping in. Do you snore? Yes. Or to paraphrase John to Ringo in A Hard Day's Night, "I'm a window rattler."

9) Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the new school year. When she was a kid, Samantha was crazy for her brand new box of 96 Crayola Crayons. It even had a sharpener in the back! What do you remember about preparing to go back to school? If you're an educator, let us know how you get the classroom ready for the kids. I remember going to the la-de-dah, fancy mall with my mom and sister to pick out back-to-school clothes from Marshall Field's. I found the shopping itself boring, but I loved the mall with its fountains.
The fancy mall, circa 1966


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 31

 Today's happiness -- Not alone. Last week I was tired because I found myself doing more than my fair share of the work for my "team." Today got off to an equally exhausting start because, even though we were charged with coming up with even more new ideas by end of day, my art director told me she couldn't really work on it until 11:00, after her pedi. Yes, she made a pedicure appointment during work hours because, well, with work from home, who's to tell if we're home or not?

Why not stick me with the lion's share of the work again? It's what she's been doing for years anyway.

At 11:00 we talked for a while. We agreed to flesh out ideas independently and touch base again at 1:00. I tried to stay upbeat because 1) she did just get over a bout with breast cancer and I don't want to beat up on "cancer girl" and 2) this is who she has always been. She's 59 years old. She's not going to change now.

Well damn if she didn't! Of the 5 new ideas we sent to our boss at 4:00 today, two were hers! I had to tweak them a bit and she balked at first. But I explained that my little changes to her concepts would amplify what made them unique. 

Then, to assuage her wounded ego, I told her something that was very true: I am grateful for her input.

I cannot do everything all by myself all the time.

Isn't it nice when a day starts out crappy and ends surprisingly well? Isn't it nice when people surprise you for the good?

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.


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

1. What are you currently reading? The Reagans: Portrait of a Marriage by Anne Edwards. I recently watched, and enjoyed, a Ronald Reagan movie on TCM and it occurred to me I know very little about the man. Oh, I know about his Presidency and I admit his worldview left me cold. Today I'm curious about Ronald Reagan, the person, not the politician.

So I picked up this book by Anne Edwards. Ms. Edwards writes highly readable biographies. This is another. It's moving along at a brisk pace and yes, so far I'm getting an idea of the man behind The Reagan Revolution. I admit I like the old boy. An interesting combination of spiritual, optimistic and remote. That ability to withdraw, to keep a part of himself to himself, seems to be the coping mechanism of a preternaturally upbeat man who grew up loving his disappointing alcoholic father. 

Nancy is even more complicated. She loved her husband sincerely and put him first. Ahead of all else, all the time. This made her a deficient mother, stepmother and employer. The book attempts to explain this by sharing Nancy's childhood -- her father abandoned the family, so her mother left two-year-old Nancy with grandma when she traveled with a theater group and just swooped in and out of the girl's life for years, then Nancy's adored stepfather was reluctant to adopt her and give her his name. This left Nancy insecure, and caused her to cling to "Ronnie" desperately. OK, that's an explanation but not an excuse for how she treated her household. You would think that a woman who longed for her own stepfather's love and approval would have been more sensitive to Reagan's children by his first marriage. I guess this is a real-life example of how toxic family cycles come to be.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Someone We Know by Shari Lapena.  Plot synopsis from 40,000 feet: Raleigh is a typical teenager with a penchant for computers and a bad habit: he breaks into neighbor's homes, and their laptops. Not to steal! Just for kicks and to make a little mischief. When one of the neighbors is murdered, the fun goes out of Raleigh's "game." The community has to face that fact that "someone we know killed someone we know."
This is really about much more than that. What's really going on? With your neighbors ... in your marriage ... with your kid ... Does anyone truly know anyone else and what they're capable of?
This paranoid little yarn has many twists and turns, but I was able to follow each one and never felt deceived. The plotting is that good. Shari Lapena has a new fan.

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