Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Stealing

Happy Birthday, Bev!

Have you ever ...

1. Broken a bone? Yes. My clavicle when I was a pre-schooler.
2. Broken a window? Yes. In the den.
3. Been on TV? Yes. The Congress Hotel, 1992. I was on the local ABC affiliate as a cheering Clinton campaign worker the night we won. My mom was so proud!
4. Had a friend who shared the same birthday as you? Yes. Nancy H. We went K-12 together.
5. Locked your keys in the car? No, no car.
6. Accidentally sent a text or email to the wrong person? Yes. Embarrassing.
7. Sat in the back of a police car? Yes. I witnessed a crime and called 911. The police thought the suspect might still be in the neighborhood so they put me in the backseat as we rode around looking for him.
8. Fallen asleep at work? No
9. Made a snow angel? Yes

10. Ridden in an ambulance No

What is the  ...

11. Worst household chore Vacuuming
12 .Worst color Can't think of one
13. Worst pizza topping Anchovies
14. Worst weather Chilly/gray/rainy
15. Worst self-care job (e.g. dressing, washing, shaving, teeth, toe nails) Tweezing errant hairs
16. Worst game Football
17. Worst school subject Math
18. Worst animal
Can't think of one
19. Worst season Spring, because it has the most chilly/gray/rainy days
20. Worst TV show Trump TV


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Secret Valentine (2008)
Hear it here.
1) The lyrics talk about a song that's so romantic it "turns out the lights." Are the lights on in the room you're in right now? Yes. There's a four-bulb fixture above my head right now.

2) In the video, our heroine's Valentine's Day adventure begins with a note slipped into her pocket. What's in your pocket right now? No pocket in my pjs.

3) This week's band, We the Kings, are proud sons of the state of Florida. Bradenton, to be exact. They even called one of their CDs Sunshine State of Mind. Have you ever been to Florida? If so, where have you visited? Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa and Key West. (Miami, but only to change planes.)

4) Lead singer Travis Clark has a pierced lip but doesn't always wear a lip ring. Do you have any piercings? If yes, are you wearing jewelry in your piercing(s) right now? Just one in each ear, and right now I'm not wearing any jewelry.

5) The band's name comes from a cheer they did when they attended Martha B. King High School. Have you attended your high school reunion? Ew. Ick. No. Thinking of high school gives me PTSD.

6) Hearts are the symbol of Valentine's Day, so here's a little heart trivia: whales have largest heart of any animal. When we say a person is "big hearted," it means we think of them as generous. Think about the people in your life. Who would you describe as big hearted? My friend Mindy. She's top of mind because I'm seeing her today. A very nice woman, she sees the best in everyone.

7) It's estimated that 9 million people buy Valentine's Day presents for their dogs and cats. Have you ever purchased a holiday gift for a pet? Yes, but not my own. At Christmastime, I remember my niece's cats and my nephew's cats, as well (and his tortoise, Georgina, gets a kiwi).

8) Valentines to teachers are also big sellers. Did you ever have a crush on one of your instructors? Oh, yes! One of my 7th grade teachers was dreamy, with wavy black hair. He only lasted a year. I was heartbroken he wasn't there for 8th grade.

9) With the popularity of e-cards, fewer Valentine messages are sent via the USPS. What's the most recent thing you dropped into a mailbox? Payment for last month's doctor visit.

I hurt. Now what?

I spent my long-ago 20s with a bad man. He was handsome, charming and good in bed. He was also impulsive, manipulative and violent. Everything was my fault. If I were more sensitive to his needs, we wouldn't fight and he wouldn't have to "act out." If I were more attractive, he wouldn't have to cheat. If I wasn't always trying to belittle him, he wouldn't have to drink so much. So I spent my every waking hour -- and many dreams -- trying to figure out how to bolster him, how to make him feel more secure.

I almost married him. It wasn't until we were in California -- he was trying to get into San Jose State and I was going to get a job to support us -- that I said to myself, "What am I doing?" I looked at my bruises in the motel shower stall and had an awakening. While he was at the college, I packed and took a cab to the airport. I went to the TWA counter with my paper ticket, told them I was sick (not exactly a lie) and changed my flight. I went back home. I never actually saw him again, though we had some unsavory exchanges over money and belongings.

I spent years of couch time discussing him, trying to get over him. I was also blessed with very supportive friends. My oldest friend was especially helpful. She swore to me that if she ever again heard me say of a man who hurt me, "Oh, he didn't mean it," she would kick my ass.

Last week, she kicked my ass.

Henry hurt me. He can't help it, of course. He is recovering from a brain injury. Hyper sensitivity and paranoia are not uncommon. I understand this intellectually, but I'm still in great pain because my dear friend was needlessly mean to me and is not remotely sorry.

I have a tendency to think it's my Christian duty to forgive, to accept people as they are, to love them as they are. But my best friend pointed out that I don't deserve to be hurt.

I get it. I see the pattern.

I know Henry is not totally responsible for his actions. I also know that I shouldn't let it hurt me so. Yet it does.

I think it may be time for a tune up. Perhaps I need to look for a new shrink. Isn't this what insurance is for, to help us when we hurt?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


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

1. What are you currently reading?
No Judgments by Meg Cabot. Sabrina suffered a bad break up and wants to start a new life. So she changes her name (call her "Bree"), her hair (from blonde to pink), her job (she's waiting tables) and addresses (she's now in a tiny apartment in the Keys). Everything is going well, until a hurricane sets its sights on South Florida. Like many conchs, she decides not to evacuate but instead ride it out.

I like chick-lit and know the locale pretty well, having traveled to Key West regularly for decades, and so I'm enjoying this book well enough in a Hallmark movie kinda way. I mean, if you can't tell by page 5 to whom Bree will ultimately give her heart, you have never read this genre.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Cary Grant by Marc Elliot.I read a lot of biographies, and have seldom encountered a subject whose real self is so different from his public persona.

On screen he was suave, immaculate, and witty. Offscreen, he was insecure, petty, jealous and cheap. This, in large part, was due to his upbringing. Hardscrabble and devoid of emotional security, his childhood left indelible scars. Therefore, the man who brought joy to us for decades was really pretty joyless. Fortunately, by the end of this book, when he settles into relationships with both his mother Elsie and daughter Jennifer, he finally seemed happy. 

Which is not to say I enjoyed this book. It tells his story chronologically and, I'm assuming, accurately. But Mr. Elliot seems positively obsessed with proving Grant's homosexuality. And yet he doesn't. Probably because Grant was (again I'm assuming) a bisexual who really did love three wives and had many more relationships with women than with men. Definitely because Grant accepted his sexuality and was less interested with labeling himself than Elliot is with labeling him.

And even after 448 pages, the Reel Cary Grant has a greater hold on me than the Real Cary Grant. Audrey Hepburn still speaks for me:

3.  What will you read next? I've got a couple baseball biographies here -- one about Gehrig, the other about Ruth. I don't know which one I'll choose to take me into spring training.

He can't help it. I can.

Henry was really shitty to me Monday morning. For a quick recap, he sent me a sad email Sunday night, worried about losing Reg and wondering what to do about it. I answered it, thoughtfully, before I went to bed. I told Henry he needed to talk to someone who could help him navigate through his feelings and frustrations and articulate his position to Reg without sounding accusatory. I recommended the psychologist he saw briefly last year and his minister. I looked up phone numbers of both the doctor and the pastor, making it as easy for Henry as possible.

Monday morning, I woke up to an email promising that it will be the last time I ever hear from him. If I can't be there for him during the longest, loneliest night of his life, then I obviously don't care about him and he will respond in kind. He closed by asking, "what else can I do?"

I responded that he could do what I suggested last night -- make an appointment with the psychologist or his pastor. Then I went to take my shower. I was frustrated, but not yet angry.

Then I got the email from Kate. She's an old friend of Reg and Henry's that I've met a few time. She and I have never corresponded. 

"Are you okay?" she asked. "Is Henry okay? It sounds like there's been a meltdown."

Henry sent Kate our email exchange. Bastard!

It seems Henry called Kate Sunday night, too. And, like me, she didn't pick up. She assumes he was too lazy or too rushed to personalize the Monday morning "pity party" email and sent it to both of us. She went on to say that my original Sunday message to Henry was "perfect," what she wished she'd said.

Monday was Reg's birthday. I saw photos on Facebook of the two of them at a jazz club. Reg was excited to report that Henry got into the spirit of the birthday celebration and actually danced.

So let's see: I'm walking around feeling angry and wounded because he has disrespected me. He seems to view my friendship as a utility he's paid for, like hot and cold running water. I have no right to not take his call because I'm watching the Oscars. When he turns on the faucet, I simply must be there. It's ugly and unfair.

Meanwhile, he's enjoying dinner at Salute! and dancing by the blue lights of The Little Room Jazz Club

I know he can't help the erratic behavior. He is trying to recover from a traumatic brain injury.I understand the situation and it breaks my heart.

But it does not give him the right to hurt me.

I cannot control his behavior. Hell, since his bike collided with that van, he can't control his behavior.

I must stay positive and loving to Henry, but I also have to protect and love myself. 

I unburdened myself last night to my oldest friend. Our conversation was like a tonic for me. Afterward, she sent me this, advising me to print it out and carry it with me at all times.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tuesday 4

Reading Is Fundamental

1.  Do you have some favorite books to share?
My all-time favorite book is the one I learned the most from:  JFK: Reckless Youth.  It takes our future president from birth to the Senate. He was born with many gifts -- charm, wit, looks, intelligence, wealth. He was also lonely, sickly, and pegged from birth as the lesser son to his older brother. Within the Kennedy clan, Jack was isolated, a brainy, bookish boy in a family that valued action over intellect. Plus, he and his mother never "clicked." There are reasons: Rose Kennedy's complicated marriage, the demands of raising a special needs child (Rosemary) at a time when little was known on the subject, and the basic differences in their personalities. But those reasons are hard for a little boy to grasp. He just knew his mother was remote and this was the beginning of his lifelong difficulty connecting with women on a real level.

You're keenly aware that when the book ends, he's 35, with just 11 years left to live.

So while the world saw a war hero, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the youngest man ever elected to the Presidency, his personal reality was very different. From Reckless Youth I learned that, no matter how a life may look from the outside, you don't know how it feels on the inside.

2.  When looking for a book what things do you look for?
Something different from what I just read. After I finish something involving or complicated, I'll reach for something light. Kinda like sorbet to cleanse the palette.

3.  Does the cover of a book make a difference or help you choose?
Depends on how I come upon the book. If a book is recommended to me (Kwizgiver is a good source), then I'm already convinced I want it, regardless of the cover. 

But so many books that I read come from our neighborhood used book sale. This event is a major fundraiser for the public library, and I help out by sorting the books. We volunteers are rewarded after the sale by being allowed to have as many remaining books as we can carry. I admit that when I go in to the high school gym on that Sunday morning, I am attracted by covers and titles.

4.  What is your favorite genre of book? That is, is it science fiction, romance, mystery, true story, or biography?  
I have three reading "food groups" -- biography, chick-lit, and mysteries. I bounce comfortably from genre to genre.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sorry, but I get the Oscars

Henry called tonight. I didn't pick up. Then he emailed. I'm not answering. I am watching the Oscars. I wait all year for this. I'm not giving it up.

Since his accident in 2018, Henry and I have spent countless hours on the phone. The calls are marathons, and they follow a pattern. He asks me about me, then after a perfunctory few moments, the subject changes to him. His confusion. His frustration. His victimization. Much of what he says is fantasy or drivel.* It gets tiresome, so I try to change the subject again, so we can hang up on a positive note. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

For example, last week I tried to switch to a concert he'd attended with Reg and Reg's friend, Patrick. He didn't care much for the performance, so I attempted to find a highlight by asking about the venue.

"Have you ever been there before?"


"What was it like?"

"It has not changed since last time I was there."

"Honey, that doesn't make sense."

 "Yes, it does. I was there all the time in 2009. That was 20 years ago!"

How do you have a conversation like that?

I know he can't help this. But he gets so mad at me he growls. Literally growls like a werewolf. Then I'm upset for hours, or days, afterward. I can't tell you how many showers I've spent replaying these calls in my head.

I know Henry loves me, and that it's a compliment that he reaches out to me. It means he trusts me when he's feeling vulnerable.

But tonight is Oscar night. I love Oscar night. I get Oscar night.

I'll answer his email before I go to bed. I want him to know I'm with him in spirit. I'm always with him in spirit. But I get Oscar night.

*He can't help this, I know. He is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury. If you read the section on "Behavioral Impairments," you'll get an overview of my Henry.

Easier to write

I recently posted about my friend, Kathy, and how concerned I was about her precipitous mental decline. She forgets things she's just said. She has trouble with time. She can't recall major news events that obsessed her just over a year ago.

At 72, she lives alone. But her adult grandchildren are nearby and active in her life. Even better, they have keys to her apartment, so I don't have to worry about Kathy lying confused and injured alone in her home. (You remember that commercial: "I've fallen and I can't get up!")

Those grandkids really are present for her. While she's grown distant from her son emotionally, and her daughter has moved away physically, her grandchildren are emotionally tethered. I was so happy to see a video of Kathy in a sombrero being serenaded for her birthday by the waitstaff at a Mexican restaurant. She was surrounded by her daughter's three adult kids, and she looked so happy.


I still am not convinced this story will have a happy ending. But really, who among us is lucky enough to just close our eyes and die peacefully in our sleep. She is fortunate to have aware and involved young people in her life, and I'm grateful for that.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Sunday Stealing


1. Is it more important to love or be loved? To love

2. If you had the chance to go back in time and change one thing would you do it? I would have moved faster to pull the plug on a toxic relationship

3. If a doctor gave you five years to live, what would you try to accomplish? I'd try to be more peaceful

4. What is the difference between innocence and ignorance? Innocence implies a certain absence of responsibility. You simply don't know better, or haven't been exposed to something. Ignorance is a perhaps willful lack of knowledge. (Am I making sense? I know what I mean but I'm not sure I'm communicating it effectively.)

5. What is the simplest truth you can express in words? Joy comes from helping others

6. What gives your life meaning? See #5

7. Can there be happiness without sadness?  Pleasure without pain?  Peace without war? For this I turn to my all-time idol, JBKO:
"I have been through a lot and have suffered a great deal. But I have had lots of happy moments, as well. Every moment is different from the other. The good, the bad, hardship, the joy, the tragedy, love, and happiness are interwoven. You cannot separate the good from the bad. And perhaps there is no need to do so, either."

8. What’s the one thing you’d like others to remember about you at the end of your life? I was there for them.

9. Is there such a thing as perfect? No

10. What do you love most about yourself? That I have accomplished a great deal professionally with little formal education.

11. Is it more important to do what you love or to love what you are doing? To love what you are doing

12. What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now? Enjoying retirement or pushing up daisies

13. What small act of kindness were you once shown that you will never forget? About a year and a half ago, a rather powerful coworker (several rungs above me on the ladder) just so happened to witness how I was being treated. She gave me a much-needed pep talk. The right words at the right time. I hope I can pay it forward.

14. To what degree have you controlled the course your life has taken? I'm the one steering this ship.

15. If you looked into the heart of your enemy, what do you think you would find that is different from what is in your own heart? Wow. I think I'd be more shocked by the similarities between us. But in terms of differences? Values.

Let's hear it for The Gold Guy!

Sunday means Oscar. And I looooove Oscar. Here are my daring predictions for the acting categories:

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, who was good as the cut throat divorce lawyer in Marriage Story. I liked Florence Pugh better; her Amy was the highlight of Little Women for me. But I don't vote. Plus, Dern undeniably had some great moments, compassionate to her client and brutal to opposing counsel.

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt. This is my favorite category because I've seen all five performances, and think all five are worthy.  In Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Tom Hanks doesn't imitate Mr. Rogers, he evokes him and fleshes him out and makes him four dimensional. Similarly, Anthony Hopkins makes Pope Benedict warmer than I'd thought possible in The Two Popes. (I laughed out loud when he said, "It's a German joke, so it doesn't have to be funny.") In The Irishman, Joe Pesci is a quiet menace, a monster benign in appearance and manner. His costar, Al Pacino, is so warm and alive as Hoffa that you're sad every moment you see him, anticipating his inevitable demise. But Brad Pitt ... His Cliff Booth is heroic and silly and irreverent and completely charming. And this was a surprise for me, as I'm not much of a Brad Pitt fan. But in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (like in Moneyball) he disappears into the part and wins me over.

Best Actress: Renee Zellwegger. I adore Judy Garland, and approached the movie Judy with a healthy skepticism. And I wasn't crazy about the film because it focused so narrowly on The Wizard of Oz Judy and end-of-the-road Judy, ignoring the stunning career she had between those touchpoints. But still, Zellwegger is awesome. It's a fair, affectionate, tender and funny performance. She gives Judy her due, even if the script does not. (The Academy never did, either. Zellwegger could win an Oscar for playing an actress who was denied her Oscar.)

Best Actor: Oh, just give it to Phoenix already! I admit I didn't care for the movie Joker. It's too dystopian, even by comic book/fantasy standards. And it's too, too long -- I stopped caring what was real and was imagined. I just didn't give a shit anymore. But Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant. He makes you see how the world broke him, and you feel compassion for him. You understand Joker/Arthur and you give him credit for owning his madness. "What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that treats him like trash?"

I'll leave you with Joker/Arthur literally descending into insanity. Compare this performance with Phoenix's turn as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, and you'll be blown away.

"Hi, Neighbor!"

I had a happy encounter today on my neighborhood's busiest boulevard. I'd just been to the dentist -- that tooth sensitivity I'd experienced earlier in the week turned out to be nothing (yea!) -- and was headed to Target when a couple half a block ahead of me turned around and the woman said, "Hi, Neighbor!"

I think they forgot my name. I know I forgot theirs. But we lived next door to one another for a few years, until they moved out about three neighbors ago. We had a lovely moment when their daughter was born, just after my mom died. I told them how happy it made me to hold a baby, when I was mourning. Also, since my mom loved both The Brookfield Zoo and babies, I gave their newborn a teeny-tiny t-shirt I'd picked up at my first trip to the zoo after my mom died. I did it more for myself than for them, really. It felt right and helped me heal. But still, it meant a lot to them. Funny how little things make an impact, isn't it?

Anyway, that baby girl is now in first grade and they wanted to share photos. In the February cold, we stood there together as scrolled through their phones and showed me pictures of her. I noticed that, in all of the recent ones, she was wearing a Gryffindor scarf, so I know she's a young Harry Potter fan. They told me that she's attracted to the magical and supernatural, but is learning to make choices. When something scares her, she turns it off herself.

Anyway, between the blissful outcome at the dentist and my encounter on Main Street, I was happy. Happy is good.

Saturday 9

Two Divided by Love (1971)

Unfamiliar with this week's song? You can hear it here.

1) Sam's teacher told her she'd use math every day. What's the last math problem you solved? (Did you add to/subtract from the balance of your checkbook ... use division to figure out how much you'd save with 25% off that sweater ...) I figured out how much tip to leave the server.

2) The lyrics tell us that if you take away the rain from a flower, the flower just won't grow. Do you have any indoor houseplants? Could they use a drink of water this morning? I have two philodendrons. One is big, the other is massive. They get water and attention without fail on Mondays, and whenever I go into the den. I fantasize about draping them from the ceiling, the way Hepburn did with her philodendron in The Desk Set.

3) This week's artists, The Grass Roots, are introduced in this video by country music superstar Kenny Rogers. Who is your favorite country music singer? Garth Brooks.

4) The two unmarried members of the group -- guitarist Warren Entner and drummer Ricky Coonce -- competed for a lady's affection on a 1968 episode of The Dating Game. Neither of them won! She chose Bachelor #1. Anyway, have you ever appeared on a game show? Do you know anyone who has? My friend Nancy was on Jeopardy. She did pretty well, too.

5) The Grass Roots were originally called The 13th Floor. They chose this cheeky name because many high rises do not have a 13th floor since 13 is considered an unlucky number, and they were thumbing their noses at superstition. Are you superstitious? Only about airline travel.
6) At the time of his death in 2011, group leader Rob Grill was still playing music, touring with a reconfigured Grass Roots. His widow Nancy referred to him as "one lucky son of a gun" because he'd been able to support himself as a musician, doing what he loved for 45 years. In what ways do you consider yourself fortunate? My body is pretty resilient. Come to think of it, so is my spirit.

7) In 1971, the year this song was released, Walt Disney World opened in Florida. The Epcot Center was added in 1982. Have you ever visited this, or any, Disney theme park? I've been to Disneyland twice and Disney World once.

8) Fresh chicken was just 43¢/lb. in 1971. Do you prefer the breast or drumstick? Drumstick.

9) Random question: Do you work well under pressure? I work best under pressure.

I suppose this was "locker room talk," too

George Romney's son honored his father by acting on their shared faith, by discussing how seriously one must take an oath before God.

This is how Donald Trump's son followed his lead. The Trump men do love the word "pussy," don't they?

I'm offended as a Christian and a woman. There are uber "Christian" women in the blogosphere who complained about the knit "pussy hats" worn in Woman's March after Trump's election. They railed against the vulgarity of these women when discussing our President. I'm sure these same women are offended by DJT Jr.

No, I'm not. I'm sure they excuse it.

They somehow insisted that Trump is "prayerful" and his family can do no wrong.

Then there's this display of our "prayerful" President at the National Prayer Breakfast. The keynote speaker, a Harvard theologian, encouraged those assembled to "love your enemies." You know, like Christ tells us in the Book of Matthew.

Our "prayerful" President Donald J. Trump opened his remarks by saying, "I don't know if I agree with you."

How's that for Christian values? (What do you bet he's never opened his Bible?)

Young people are turning away from organized religion. The hypocrisy of Boomers and Xers is where I place the blame. How can they look at this sort of thing and see anything but bullshit?

Monday, February 03, 2020

Tuesday 4


1. Are you an impulse buyer or do you weigh the value/cost/necessity before you buy? Impulse

2. What do you really resent having to pay for?  Duller-than-dull necessities, especially light bulbs.

3. Do you have  favorite brands of household cleaners, detergents, soaps? Can you tell us why you like them? Maybe you will give us better ideas. (1) I have two cats, and it seems I'm always cleaning up after them, so I take my paper towels very seriously. My go-to is Viva. They don't tear or fall apart, and they don't leave "lint" behind. (2) I've tried many ways to clean my toilet bowl, and have decided old school is best: Comet cleanser and a brush. (3) For protein-based stains -- like blood or chocolate -- shampoo makes a good pre-treat.

4. What is a typical day of housekeeping for you? Procrastination and avoidance.


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sunday Stealing


How do you like your eggs? Usually over easy. Sometimes scrambled. Occasionally in an omelette, if I'm in a particularly cheesy mood. Now and again, hard boiled. Oh, hell, I really like eggs.

How do you take your coffee/tea: Tea, not coffee. With sweetener.
Favorite breakfast foods: Eggs. Wheat toast or English muffin. Bacon. Though every once in a while I like pigs in a blanket.

Peanut butter: smooth or crunchy? Crunchy.

What kind of dressing on your salad? Either 1000 Island or honey mustard.

Coke or Pepsi? Coke

You feel like cooking. What do you make? A grilled salmon filet and a salad.

You’re feeling lazy. What do you make? I nuke something from Stouffers.

You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? I stop at the pizza place around the corner for a slice of thin crust, cheese and sausage.

Is there a food you refuse to eat? Uncooked tomatoes.
Favorite fruit & vegetable: Strawberry and corn.

Favorite junk food: Sometimes I want a Big Mac, and nothing else will do.

Favorite between meal snack: Crackers

Do you have any weird food habits: I eat one food item at a time. I don't think this is weird, but it annoyed the living shit out of my icky grandmother and one of my old boyfriends.

You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? I've never dieted. Which is not to say I shouldn't diet.

How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? Not spicy at all.

The perfect nightcap? Bailey's Irish Creme. Have you tried it in hot chocolate? I highly recommend it.

Good company

I fell asleep at 7:30 and woke up four hours later, almost in time for my next dose of inhaler. This bronchitis is a drag and I can't stand how it's dominating my life.

Anyway, I switched on TCM and there she was. First she was Fanny, now she's Katie. But she's always ineffably Barbra.

After Katie and Hubbell say their final goodbyes in front of the Plaza, I'm going back to bed. In the meantime, I'm glad she's been here for me.

Funny Girl
The Way We Were

Even harder to write

Last weekend, I spent the day with Kathy in Dekalb. I didn't want to go. It's an hour of travel time each way. I was exhausted by my battle with bronchitis and embarrassed by my coughing fits.

But this day in Dekalb was a gift to me from Kathy. She got us tickets to see Casablanca on the big screen at the village's historic Egyptian Theater. This is something she isn't interested in, she chose to do it for me. She also promised me breakfast. It was very important to her, and my conscience wouldn't let me cancel on her.

It's the first time I spent time with Kathy since November. We've been in touch regularly through social media and email, but not in person. I was shocked Sunday by her mental decline. Kathy's mind retains little. I'm not exaggerating. My day with her was disturbing.

Example: the movie started at 2:00. She knew this. She bought the tickets in advance and was so excited about it, she texted me a photo of them. Yet she insisted I come on the train that arrived in Dekalb at 10:00 AM. That not only meant that this sickly gal had to get up and get going much earlier than I'd intended, it left us four hours before the movie. Turns out she forgot and thought the movie started at noon. She kept asking me, "Now what do you want to do?" As if arriving at 10:00 was my idea.

Example: she told me she was buying me breakfast. Great! Few things make me happier than a good coffee house breakfast. So I was surprised that, when the waitress asked us if we wanted separate checks, she said, "yes." Then she grabbed my check and sniffed in disapproval. "Why would she give us separate checks?"

Example: she forgot a family birthday party. She didn't "connect" that the movie and her great granddaughter's first birthday celebration were both on January 26. After the movie, we went to the party, arriving very late but at least in time to see the cake and sing. I felt terribly out of place, especially since Kathy made it sound as though I was the reason she missed the beginning of the party. And let's not forget, I was coughing on little kids.

There's more, but I can't bear to detail it. It's too depressing.

Kathy is 72. That seems young to me to be battling dementia. I mentioned to her that she should see the doctor. She said she's due to go in April. I intend to remind her.

Her three adult grandchildren are always in and out of her home. They all have keys. The eldest -- the mother of the birthday girl -- even commented on Kathy's forgetfulness. Good naturedly and casually, but it was obvious this was a conversation they'd had before and more than once.

Since her family is there and aware, I don't want to press. Kathy is proud, and I know she would resent my intrusion.

I had dinner and drinks with John this past week to discuss this, and he agrees. He worries about her, too, and will continue to reach out, continue to recommend that she see her doctor. But beyond that, he doesn't see what we can do. He believes that, if we press, Kathy will just withdraw.

President Kennedy observed, after his father's stroke, that "old age is a shipwreck." I get it now.

Hard to write

I returned to the office on Tuesday after being away for a week as I battled bronchitis. I'd been in constant touch with my team every day but one, the day I went to the doctor. I dialed in to a couple meetings, I handled a few revisions, all from my dining room table. It was a nice respite from the stress and tension of being in the thick of it.

But it couldn't last forever.

Tuesday I learned three women I work with -- all vice presidents -- were leaving at the end of the month, which was also the end of the week. Only one openly admitted she'd been let go. But I'm not stupid. I'm supposed to believe that three vice presidents, each from a different department, simultaneously decided to leave on the same day ... a day that just so happens to make life easier for accounting.

When Production VP and I got a moment alone together, she admitted that she began "negotiating" her departure with management back in October. She was told lay offs were imminent and volunteered to go herself. She'd been with the agency nearly 25 years (an almost unheard of tenure in advertising) and wasn't ready to go back into the trenches of handling day-to-day projects, which she'd have to do after her team was decimated. She chose instead to walk away, thereby saving their jobs. I admire her self awareness and the generosity of her choice. She was very teary-eyed on her last day. It was hard for her.

Then Strategy VP and I had a chat. She's the one that really hurts. She relocated a year ago October, moving to Chicago from Atlanta, uprooting her husband and twin boys for this job. A position this agency recruited her for. I was furious! She told me not to be -- that this was "mutual." The relationship wasn't a "good fit." Well, fuck that! Her team loves her. She's accessible and has tremendous integrity. She was also extremely helpful to me when she watched me going through a bad patch. She's a generous soul, a good egg. A mensch. Unfortunately, she's also her own girl and she called them as she saw them. She was too squeaky a wheel in too high profile a position.

I told her that if she didn't fit "our culture," there's something wrong with "our culture." She laughed and reiterated that this wasn't a bad thing. She told me about one of her boys, the more sensitive one. She said every time she left on a business trip, he'd say, "Mommy, why do you have to go? You don't want to go." He's 11, and she's been traveling for work his entire life. Why was he piping up now? Was it a phase he was going through? No, she said, it was a phase she was going through, and her son was picking up on it. Her professional unhappiness was affecting her personal life, and so it's time to move on.

I have an email from her personal account. I haven't opened it yet. I'm still too sad about losing her.

Four other people -- folks I don't know -- also left on Friday. There are inevitably more to come. Maybe me.

I truly don't believe it will happen, not yet, but I can't afford to be surprised. This morning, I ran the numbers. Between severance and my emergency fund, I can go about 40 weeks before touching my retirement savings. That will give me some time to regroup and look for another job.

I don't know what I want to do, but I don't want to do this anymore. When this job ends, I will be done with agency life. I've felt the blade touch my neck over and over for the past 28 years. I'm tired.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Waiting All Day for Sunday Night (2012)

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

1) This week's Saturday 9 has a football theme because there's a big game Sunday. Will you be watching? Nope. I can't watch football at all. I see players like Mike Adamle and it breaks my heart, the way they were permanently damaged for our entertainment. I admit that watching a loved one -- my dear friend Henry -- deal with TBI exacerbates my feelings on this subject.

Also, I'm in advertising. By now I'm saturated by talk about the commercials and half time show, so The Big Game feels more than a bit like work.

2) The Super Bowl is a big day for food consumption in the US, second only to Thanksgiving. What's on your menu this weekend? Nothing planned. I'm just going to see how the weekend unfolds.

3) The NFL has decreed that the Super Bowl will never be played in a city that has a median February temperature of less than 50º. Would your hometown qualify for the Big Game? The median February temperature here in Chicago is 32º. You know, freezing. So no. (Though it is supposed to be unseasonably warm here on Sunday.)
4) This version of the NFL theme song mentions the Steelers and the Broncos. During the regular season, which team do you root for? How did they do in 2019? I don't really have a football team. I'm happy for Bear fans when the Bears do well, but I don't watch games.

5) This version of the Sunday Night Football song is by Faith Hill. She also has ties to the MLB, since her husband is Tim McGraw, son of the Mets' pitcher Tug McGraw. Which sport do you prefer -- baseball or football? Baseball. Specifically, Cubs baseball.

6) Faith has performed live at more than one The Super Bowl in the past, performing both "America, the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner." What's your favorite patriotic song? "America, the Beautiful" always gets me. When we sing this at church, the third verse is always included, and it's my favorite:
O, beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife
Who more than self thy country loved
And mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine.
Til all success be nobleness and every gain divine.
7) She has a perfume line with Coty that was a big seller at CVS during Christmas 2018. What's the last item you bought at a drugstore? Allergy meds and a bottle of shampoo.

8) Faith Hill is the producer of a talk show on CMT called Pickler and Ben. Is the TV on as you answer these questions? If so, what are you watching? An old movie called The Last of Sheila. It's good, twisted fun.

9) Random question: You've got a chip in your hand and three dips to choose from -- guacamole, salsa, and onion. Where does your chip get dipped? Onion. Though I have no problem devouring a nice, plain corn chip or two. (Or ten.)