Monday, May 31, 2010

Auf Wiedersehen

Tomorrow is June 1. I return to The Daily Plate and go back to tracking calories and exercise. And that means that my first Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup will also have to be my last for awhile.

Clean Me

Every day I am going to do something -- no matter how small -- to improve my standard of living at home.

What was so great about October 2009? I don't know, either, yet for some reason I hung onto a lot of unused bank solicitations that all expired then. Welcome to shredder, bank solicitations! I also recycled dozens of train and bus schedules that were either expired or duplicates. It didn't make a big difference to the way this place looks, but it was a good use of my time -- spent watching the ball game, anyway -- and as I ran the bag of papers down to recycling bin I felt as though I'd accomplished something.

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Soldiers ...
Share your soldierly choices, linking back here at the Bumbles.

Lt. Doug Roberts -- Mr. Roberts. Henry Fonda stars in a movie that is known as a comedy but breaks my heart every time I see it. Doug Roberts is assigned to a cargo ship in the Pacific during WWII. He longs to see real action, to get into the fight, and keeps requesting transfers. The commanding officer (played by James Cagney) selfishly refuses to approve his requests because he realizes all the commendations he receives are really because of Roberts' talents and leadership ability. What we understand is that Roberts is already a hero, right there where he is on the cargo ship. If he doesn't do his job well, the soldiers at the front won't have what they need to wage war. "They also serve who stand and wait." Roberts may not be fighting the Japanese but he's fighting for his crew, making sure they toil away in appropriate conditions so that that their productivity and morale stay high. Roberts does his thankless job with humor and integrity. At one point, near the end of the movie, his crew finally appreciates the full measure of his quiet heroism and they salute him, one by one, sailor after sailor, saying, "Good Night, Mr. Roberts." And this old Gal chokes up every time.

Emmett Smith -- In Country. Bruce Willis is a revelation in his best movie role (and it should be noted that I love just about everything Bruce does). He's a Viet Nam vet who went home to Kentucky after the war. Suffering from post-traumatic-stress-syndrome, he just sits around the house and smokes pot all day, socializing with a small crew of fellow vets. He is supervising -- and lavishing love on -- his teenage niece, Samantha, the daughter of his brother, who died in Nam before his daughter was born. Emmett and his buds don't talk about their heroics "in country" very often because they don't consider themselves heroes. But when, at the end of the movie, Emmett and Samantha visit the Viet Nam Veterans Wall together, he finally seems to be able to appreciate the courage he and his fellow soldiers exhibited and perhaps put the past in its place and get on with his life. As a niece herself who understands the impact Viet Nam had on her own beloved uncle's life, I really appreciate this film.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

We love our teams

I wouldn't disrespect the loyal and long-suffering Black Hawk fans by jumping on the bandwagon and pretending I have been with them all along. I haven't been a fan since the long ago days of Bobby Hull, Keith Magnuson and Tony Esposito.

But I am enjoying their success, and how the city has rallied around them.

Here we have the Art Institute Lions, the MJ statue at the United Center, the Daley Center Picasso and the Field Museum Dinosaur all ready to help out at center ice, as need be. I love it!

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Just Because Meme

1. Make a list of 5 things you can see without getting up. My dark blue sandals, my light blue sandals, my green sandals, my black sandals, and blue sandals with the black buckles.

2. How do you style your hair? How often do you cut it? I wear it short, parted down the side and brushed away from my face. I never cut it, but instead pay a very nice man $80 to do so every 4-5 weeks.

3. What are you wearing now? A Lucy Vitametavegimen nightshirt

4. What's your occupation? Do you like it? I am an advertising writer, and I enjoy the work part of my job very much. The politics of office life in a volatile industry weigh on me at times, but I do like writing.

5. When was the last time that you took a nap? Was there a special reason? Saturday morning, when I returned from an early morning vet appointment with my dear old tomcat, Joey. It was just his annual checkup, but at his age things can go bad very fast so I was apprehensive. He never goes outside, so he was terrified. Fortunately, it went very well. But when we got home, we were both exhausted!

6. Who was the last person you hugged romantically? Ha!

8. What was the last full meal that you ate? Pizza and beer

9. What was the last email that you received? A Chicago Tribune alert announcing that the Black Hawks won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

10. What one website do you always visit when you go online? This one!

11. What was the last significant thing you bought? My tomcat's exam and shots. Significant in expense but also in value, because Joey's health is my responsibility.

12. What musical artist did you not get at first, but then became a fan? Amy Winehouse

13. What do you think about before you go to bed last night? How dog-ass tired I was.

14. What was the last CD you bought? Simply ... Dusty

15. What is your favorite weather, and why? What's the weather like today? Today it's sunny and 88º. I'd prefer it about 20º cooler.

16. If you could have a special artistic talent, what would it be? Sing!

17. Did you watch the Idol 9 finale? If yes, what are your thoughts? Yes. I love Lee and I'll miss Simon.

18. What's something you'd like to say to someone right now? I'd tell my niece, once more, that I'm so proud of her focus, her work ethic, and her sense of humor.

19. Any special plans for this (holiday in the States) weekend? Anything I do has to be planned around Cubs-Cardinals.

20. Besides your current S/O, who was the last person that you loved romantically? His voice sounds just like Robert Downey, Jr.'s

In my prayers

Yes, I know it's Memorial Day and I agree that it's appropriate to hold fallen heroes in our hearts today. But my heart is expansive enough to include everyone involved with this natural disaster, too.

The clean up workers. Two contract cleanup workers were airlifted to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, La., on Friday night after suffering dizziness, headaches and chest pains on boats operating about a mile south of the coast. (Read more:

Our neighbors in the Gulf, who are on the verge of yet another economic disaster. I don't know how much more these poor people can take. First Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, then the same Recession that slammed us all, now this.

The environment. It's sad and unnatural and simply wrong for birds, turtles and fish to die in freaking sludge.

My country. This appalling photo speaks volumes on our dependence on oil and what it's gotten us. But it can't illustrate everything we're losing, every moment that blown out well keeps gushing ... and gushing ... and gushing.

President Obama. It's BP's well but it's our coastline and we're trusting you to do right by it and us, Mr. President.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The right ending to a good day

First Joey and I went to the vet. He hasn't lost any weight, but he hasn't gained any, either, and for a big, 14 year old cat, he's doing fine.

Then I took a nap.

Then I watched the Cubs kick St. Louis Cardinal ass. Yea!

Then I heard from my niece, who was such an asset working my oldest friend's garage sale that she's been invited back tomorrow for apres sale cleanup. Win-win. Good for my friend (who is working toward cleaning out her house and moving to California) and my niece (who is squirreling away money for college).

Then I did a little "Bob Vila work" on my bathroom (see post below).

Then I worked out for the first time in almost a month! Didn't do much -- just a half hour on the stationery bike -- but 30 minutes with my heart rate at 129 bpm was good cardio and maybe even burned off a bit of fat. But best of all, it felt good so I'll be back tomorrow.

So now I'm celebrating.

Clean Me

I touched up even more cracking grout between my tub tiles and realized, yet again, that my bathroom is a mess. I have lots of ambitious plans for it -- but that will cost me thousands upon thousands. So today I decided to get off my progressively fatter ass and do something incremental about it today. I left a message with a contractor who specializes in tub and grout cleaning and replacement. If it's affordable and won't take too long, I'm going to have that done now and leave the more glam, intricate and expensive work for later.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Midnight Confessions

1. Have you ever had to confess something to a lover or friend? Of course. Many times. I think it's just part of being in a relationship.

2. How well do you handle rejection? Personally -- not well, especially not at first. Though I admit that sometimes I have been relieved by rejection, secretly certain that I've been spared something that wouldn't have been right for me anyway. Professionally -- I'm fine with it. For every major project we present multiple concepts and the client usually only chooses one. So rejection is built into the process.

3. What makes you feel old? Last weekend my niece -- a junior in high school -- admitted she had no idea who Joni Mitchell was.

4. What makes you feel young? Partying and laughing with my friends.

5. What’s something you are old school about? Baseball. I'm a Cubs fan and at Wrigley Field there's no jumbotron, no mascots, and no designated hitter.

6. What TV show's seasons would you buy on DVD? Tell us why it rocks. NCIS. I love team members and their camaraderie, I love Gibbs and learning more about his rules.

7. If you could create your own TV channel, what would it be? I'd take the premise established by Chicago's Me-TV and show nothing but reruns of shows I loved the first time around. Only my lineup would include 80s shows like Kate & Allie, Moonlighting and thirtysometing.

8. Where do you like to go for a day trip? Chicago's Museum Campus. It's been too long since I have visited The Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.

9. Name some things that you still want to do in your life. Get my bathroom renovated.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh, but I'm a crafty one!

I had Friday off and spent it doing my chores. But I put aside one load of laundry (my darks, to be precise). Then I contacted my oldest friend -- who had to work on Friday -- and asked her if she wanted any help preparing for her garage sale. She said no, she'd hired a consultant to help with that, but she was happy to just hang around. I asked if it was OK if I brought my darks -- which would save me the time and quarters it would take in my building's laundry room. But really, it gave me the opportunity to help her make a dent in that overwhelming pile of dirty clothes at her house. After all, she worked all day and her household is completely disrupted by the garage sale and she's wrestling with whether or not to move to California. My little ruse enabled me to do three loads of her wash, along with mine, without compromising her dignity.

That's why I gave myself a break from "Clean Me" for Friday. Now I have to get back on the stick and take care of my own damn housework!

Behold my wake-up call

Thanks to The Chicago Tribune for this terrific photo from one of last night's opening numbers at the Diana Ross concert. While I don't especially agree with the review (her voice was deeper than I expected, but not necessarily weaker), this pic serves my purpose here perfectly.

For this is a 66 year old woman. Who has had 5 children. While not the waif-thin girl she once was, it was still sobering to realize that one of my thighs weighs more than she does.

To make the message even clearer, my friend John's 80-year-old aunt came with us. Wearing a suit, stockings and 2" heels and looking better -- head to toe -- than I do. Really. At first I hoped I could look that good when I'm 80. Then I was honest with myself and realized I wished I could look that good tomorrow. I know Aunt Marie is blessed with exceptional genes, but still. She's 80! I have no excuse.

I mentioned yesterday that Miss Ross was one of my role models growing up. Today she is one again. While I still can't work out (vein treatment) until Sunday, I can resume eating better TODAY. And I must shake the self loathing I have let permeate my personal life! It is, after all, my life. I can change it.

I know the meds I have been taking, as well as the physical maladies I have had this year, have taken their toll. But God gave ME this body and this spirit and it's up to me to rehabilitate them. He expects nothing less.

And besides, it's what Diana would do!

Baby's First Group-on

I just bought a $220 hot stone massage for $55 through! That's 90 minutes of luxury at 75% off. (It's always easier for me to enjoy luxury at a discount.)

If you're a Groupon virgin (as I was until very recently) here's an explanation from their website:
  1. Each day we feature something cool to do at an unbeatable price.
  2. You only get it if enough people join that day… so invite your friends!
  3. Check back the next day for another awesome Groupon!

Still have questions? Check out the FAQ

God, I love the Internet!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Clean Me

Every day I am going to do something -- no matter how small -- to improve my standard of living at home.

For Thursday I only deserve the dust pail. I don't think I did enough to earn the broom, too.

I have boxes of gifts in my closet -- birthday and Christmas gifts purchased for family and friends while I was on vacation, or when I happen upon just the perfect thing at an unbeatable price. Anyway, last night when I couldn't sleep (it was after midnight, so it counts as Thursday) I started digging around up there, looking for what I already bought for my two June birthdays.

It was good to organize and take inventory, but the exercise revealed that a couple items are missing -- which means I never put them away up there in the closet. Where are they? Those birthdays are almost upon us, so I better track them down. Something else to do over Memorial Day!

The"fan girl" in me is so happy for them!

Here's a Chicago Tribune photo of the Mount Prospect American Idol viewing party at the moment their hometown hero, Lee DeWyze, was named winner. Look at those faces! They are TOO adorable. Why, you'd think he was Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy or somethin'.

It's One Night Only -- And I'm THERE

I grew up on Diana Ross. I can still recall The Supremes' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and the impact they had on me. It wasn't racial -- though she does deserve to be lauded as one of the first crossover performers (yes, after Lena Horne but decades before Michael Jackson) but that wasn't what made her special to me.

She was one of the few young female stars who came into my family's livingroom through the magic of television and dominated. No wussy Leslie Gore. No hippie/dippy Michelle Phillips. Miss Ross was always front and center, always dripping in jewels, high atop the coolest shoes, always looking as though this was about her, and she was seizing the moment.

Diana Ross was the first emblem
of female empowerment I encountered.

I didn't discover Babs until much later. But just as I felt liberated when I saw Fanny Brice steering a tugboat while belting "Don't Rain on My Parade" or Katie Morosky speaking her mind in The Way We Were, Miss Ross showed me that women can unashamedly love what they're doing and revel in their own success.

So tonight, I'm thrilled to be paying homage to the old girl. Rumor has it she's opening with my favorite song, "The Boss." Yea!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Congratulations to MY American Idol!

Did you see all those cheering suburbanites in the Mount Prospect Village Green? I'm so happy for them ... and Lee DeWyze ... and me, because he was my favorite all season. I loved Lee's spontaneously sweet reaction at being named American Idol for Season #9.

And I loved that I didn't turn the TV on until 8:54. The last ten minutes of the results show is really all I needed to see.

"I Want" Wednesday

I want to catch up my housework. (Duh.) I especially want to regrout between some of my shower tiles. The thing of it is, it's a messy job and I must actually sit in the tub to do it. Also, I have only one bathroom so it's hard for me to coordinate the need to bathe with the need to keep the regrouted area dry. So odds are good I won't get to it this weekend. Still, handling that would make me feel more caught up.

What about you? What do you want to catch up on?

You're bugging me, Bud

I'm a fan of Obama's. I want him to succeed and am pleased with much of what he's accomplished in a tremendously complicated world. But his laissez faire approach to the BP spill is getting on my last nerve.

He went to San Francisco and attended a fundraiser for Barbara Boxer last night, playing politics while the Gulf is polluted, businesses are destroyed, the ecosystem is threatened and seafood is contaminated.

Oh, I know he cares. But then, I also believed that George W. Bush cared about Katrina. Concern doesn't necessarily equal competence.

I want more action. Smart, targeted action. And I want leadership. While Bill Clinton didn't personally take off and find Timothy McVeigh himself, we were reassured daily that he was on Oklahoma City. I want similar exhibitions of conviction from my President now.

C'mon, Barack!

New Clean Me

Every day I am going to do something -- no matter how small -- to improve my standard of living at home.

This morning I took inventory of my watch drawer. Perhaps it's crowded because at least five of the watches require new batteries. At approx. $10 a pop, I can't afford to handle this all at once, especially not this late in the month/pay period, but I did slip a couple into purse and will drop them off at lunchtime. (After all, I can't exercise at all this week -- sclerotherapy -- but that doesn't mean I can't be productive.) Then I'll look them over, decide which stay, and put the others aside for Goodwill.

At any rate, I'm organizing the drawer and removing any temptation to buy another watch!

The Subconscious Doesn't Lie

While I have often admitted my abiding fondness for George Clooney, I didn't realize how graphic -- and I do mean explicitly detailed -- my fantasies about him were until I woke up blushing this morning. That dream last night shows George to be very imaginative indeed. Oh, my! Good thing I had a cold shower to dive into.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lovin' Lee & Crystal

I could be watching the NCIS finale on CBS -- an episode sure to pack an emotional punch. Or I could be watching the Cubs take on the Dodgers within the Friendly Confines. But I'm going with the American Idol finals. And I'm not sorry.

Crystal is really in a special place tonight. Lee DeWyze is my sentimental favorite, and I wish he'd sung "That's Life" instead of "The Boxer," but he's redeeming himself right now with "Beautiful Day." Touch me … teach me ...

Crystal is in the zone. Can't wait to hear what she sings.

I'll switch to the Cubs game at 8:00. (4th inning, maybe?) Comcast On Demand should begin showing the NCIS finale tomorrow. (All I have to do is avoid Googling for spoilers.) And I'll continue thoroughly enjoying Crystal and Lee.

And Simon. I can't imagine Idol next year without him. I'm getting a little sloshed on Pearl Pomegranate Vodka in his honor. Here's to ya, Mr. Cowell! You will be missed.

10 on Tuesday -- "The Peanut Butter Cup Break" Edition

As I sit here at my desk, filling my face with the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups I got out of the vending machine, I will list the


1. Finishing Girls Like Us, the bio I'm oh-so-close to being done with.

2. Starting a new book (I can't decide which one from my daunting TBR list)

3. Listening to the amazing, exhaustive 4-disc Dusty Springfield anthology I just received yesterday

4. Writing to my friend in the Keys, letting him know that for his birthday this December, I already have a reservation for us at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Restaurant. As a local, he doesn't get to do many of the more fun, tourist-y things unless I'm visiting.

5. Drinking pomegranate-laced vodka on ice. (Jimmy Buffett makes this gal's mind turn to booze, in more ways than one.)

7. Petting a cat. That's the glory of having three at home -- one of them always needs a little attention.

8. Sending a little something to an old neighbor. Back when I was in high school, I cared for this woman's sons and daughter. She has been very good about keeping in touch with me over the years and across the miles, and I want to let her know that the house she lived in -- way back when -- is for sale again. I think she'd really enjoy seeing the flyer.

9. Getting out of these freaking support hose and in touch with my feminine side by reading the latest issues of Glamour, Allure or More -- all of which are home, just waiting for me!

10. Looking back on the project at hand, satisfied that I have done it well!

New Clean Me

Every day I am going to do something -- no matter how small -- to improve my standard of living at home.

Today it was the medicine chest: I disposed of three tubes of ... stuff. First aid for cuts and rashes. It was all expired. I also removed four individually wrapped bars of bath soap -- two were gifts and two are souvenirs from the Marriott. Those are going to soldiers via Operation Shoebox. But first I have to send off the condiment packets I have been saving in the kitchen. I'll do that TODAY.

Thank you, Carole

I am reading Girls Like Us, the biography of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. "You've Got a Friend" figures prominently, since Carole wrote and recorded and James Taylor (Carly's soon-to-be bridegroom) had a hit with it. I learned from the book that music executives weren't crazy about the song because it was too long -- but both Carole and James insisted on recording it. Millions of people were glad they did.

Like everyone else I knew, I bought Sweet Baby James' 45 back when I was 13. I loved singing tunelessly along with it. But lately I have listened to it, really listened to it, again and it means more to me than ever.

My best friend and I are bonded. No matter what happens to one of us (and much has been happening to both of us!), we know the other one is there. Out there. Somewhere. I mentioned it yesterday and he agrees: this says it better than either of us could.

When you're down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name,
And you know whereever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby
To see you again.
Winter, spring , summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.

If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
And soon I will be knocking upon your door.

You just call out my name and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring , summer, or fall,
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah …

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend?
People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you.
Well they'll take your soul if you let them.
Oh yeah, but don't you let them.

You just call out my name and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Don't you know that
Winter, spring , summer, or fall,
Hey now, all you've got to do is call.
Lord, I'll be there, yes I will.
You've got a friend.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Introducing "New, Clean Me"

Every day I am going to do something -- no matter how small -- to improve my standard of living at home. And this blog is going to help keep me focused. Here it is, not even 8:00 AM yet, and I've already accomplished my Monday task:

Disposed of an expired tube of insect repellent and expired Gyne-Lotrimin, as well as body mist that I never really liked, from the shelf in the bathroom.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Brothers...
Share your selection of movie brothers, linking back here at The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Love Me Tender. This Civil War saga is about one woman who loved two brothers -- first Vance, and then, after Vance was presumed dead in battle, his kid brother, Clint (portrayed by Guess Who in his movie debut). When Vance comes home, the love triangle nearly destroys the family. The brothers end up realizing how strong their bond is, fortunately before one of them dies doing the right thing in a subplot about stolen money. I won't be a spoiler and say which brother dies, but he does ascend to heaven with his guitar. I know Toby Macguire and Jake Gyllenhaal did a movie that had basically the same plot with the Afghanistan war as a back drop, but it couldn't possibly be as impossibly, CinemaScopically glorious.

The Godfather, Part 2. "I'm your older brother, Mike, and I was passed over!" and "I know it was you. Fredo, you broke my heart." Those Corleone boys gave one another an operatic level of grief.

She's a good kid, & I have nothing to be ashamed of

It's becoming a weekly thing -- My niece pulls up in front of my place and work begins. Last Sunday she helped me organize my paperwork, this week we helped my oldest friend prepare for her mega-garage sale next weekend.

My niece was like a machine -- plugging away at the task at hand, working hard until she was done. She cleaned away dust and nail polish and then waxed a butcher block table, sorted four shelves of books, and tirelessly hauled cartons out to the POD in my friend's driveway -- even though it was the first 85º+ day of the year. In nearly 4.5 hours she took only two breaks -- one for lunch and one to drink cold water and catch her breath. The second one was at my insistence because I thought I caught a quaver in her voice during her trips in and out of the heat with the heavy cartons.

"I'm fine," she insisted, rolling her eyes. "And I'm the boss of you," I countered, pressing a mug of ice water into her hand. I can't believe I actually said, "And I'm the boss of you." Teenagers bring it out in us, I guess.

Anyway, I was terribly proud of my niece. My friend was so impressed that she gave her a check for $40 and invited her to make even more money next weekend, working the garage sale. I'm going to pass on the garage sale.

While my niece was handling the physical exertion, I boxed some photographs, sorted some books, and did three loads of my friend's laundry. I devoted myself to moving clothes from washer to dryer and then folding ... and folding ... so that my friend would be able to concentrate on preparing for the sale when she comes home from her day job every day this week. (She still has lots to do.)

The three loads of wash barely dented the trail of dirty clothes that ran down the stairs and into the laundry room. I did jeans and socks and sweats and t-shirts and towels ... enough to keep my friend and her kids dressed this week. But I never got deep enough into the piles to find the bed sheets or underwear. If my niece hadn't needed to get home to do homework and prepare for school tomorrow, I could have and would have stayed on and continued doing wash for hours more.

So aside from reaffirming what a hard worker my niece is, I learned I'm not the only lazy housekeeper around here. Yes, my home could use a thorough dusting and vacuuming. Yes, I need to go through my own books and get the den in order. I admit that all that has to be done before I can begin changing the window coverings and repainting and decorating (and my bathroom and kitchen both need work -- like new caulking and grout -- desperately).

But my friend's laundry room was a real mess, and it went beyond the daunting amount of clothes that needed washing. A thin layer of laundry detergent covered her washer and dryer, and attracted dust and lint. These surfaces were so "gunked up" I didn't want the clean, damp clothes to contact them. I cleaned away what I could, using disinfectant wipes I found upstairs in her bathroom. An old kitchen curtain was actually stuck to the dryer lid. I didn't want to draw too much attention to what I was doing -- ostensibly I was sorting books with my niece and I didn't want to embarrass her about the mess I'd found.

My shrink has often told me that while it's not good that clutter has taken over my life, I need not beat myself up over it. I should just slowly but surely work toward the remedy.

I have known my friend since we were in kindergarten together, and yet I had no idea how messy her basement was, with all the dirty clothes and the pervasive smell of litter box. I still love and respect her; in fact, I feel a little closer to her now that I have seen for myself what we have discussed, that our homes have gotten away from us.

I got home and took a shower. After all, even though I was indoors her house got warm because the doors were open and I was baking in these damn support hose. So I didn't get to my own laundry tonight. But this weekend, I will do something to improve my standard of living.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Voice Post Meme

1) What's your middle name? Gal

2) How old are you? 52

3) Where are you from? Are you living there right now? I have lived my entire life in the Chicagoland area. Where I live now is about 40 miles from the hospital where I was born.

4) Is it cold where you are? It is currently 66º.

5) What's the time? Almost 10:30 PM on Saturday

6) What are you wearing? An oversized t-shirt emblazoned with a photo of Robert the Doll, my favorite demonic talisman, and support hose to prevent clotting (see post below). Yes, it's a good thing you aren't here because I'm sure I'm damn near irresistible right now.

7) What was the last thing you listened to? Something from my Dusty Springfield playlist. I'm seriously into Dusty these days.

8) What was the last thing you ate? A tossed green salad topped with slivered almonds, raisins and French dressing. I made it myself!

9) What was the last thing you watched on TV? George Clooney's exceptional Good Night and Good Luck is on right now.

10) What's your favorite tv show? Why? NCIS. Because Gibbs is my TV Boyfriend. If you see Mark Harmon, please tell him I love him.

11) Quick! Find a book, or something with text on it! Flip to a random page and post the second paragraph's first sentence. "Throughout the romantic whirlwind, Carly continued to write songs -- not just 'Anticipation' about Cat Stevens but 'Three Days' about Kris." From Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller.

12) What was the last movie you saw? How was it? I believe it was Shutter Island. Leo was very good, but I'm disappointed that I was able to figure out the surprise ending long before we got there. That took a lot of the fun out of it.

13) Do YOU think you have an accent ? Where do people in your country do people speak with strong accents? No, I don't have an accent. But Southerners do.

This is not the bad part

This is a photo of the sclerotherapy treatment I had on my veins today. About 15 injections on each leg over 30 minutes. Each site is covered with gauze and tape, which makes it appear as though I have suddenly spouted goiters. While unpleasant, this is not the worst part of the treatment.

I have to wear fucking support hose for a week. I hate support hose.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Upside Down

1. When was the last time that you felt your world got turned upside down? In a good way, my world was completely rocked on 11/4/08, when I found myself part of an enormous, peaceful, joyful celebration in Chicago's Grant Park when Barack Obama gave his victory speech. For all that it amuses some to mock the President's "hopey-changey thing," the spirit in the park was empowering, transformational and real. YES, WE DID!

2. Should the United States do more to help its own citizens before helping people in other countries? Let me rephrase that to "as we help people in other countries." I've posted about this before. I am stricken and saddened by the dichotomy here -- we generously opened our hearts and wallets to Haitians but there was no similar outpouring to those who suffered through the Nashville floods. Often I hear the homeless on our own streets described as "lazy," when in fact I think a majority are ill. So I wish we would extend the same compassion to our own that we show those overseas.

3. What was something you memorized for school and still can recall? "By thine rivers gently flowing, Illinois! Illinois! Over prairies verdant growing, Illinois! Illinois! There's an echo on the breeze, rustling through the leafy trees, and its mellow tones are these: Illinois! Illinois!" (Bows deeply.) Thank you, thank you.

4. With what types of people do you tend to associate? I am fortunate in that I don't think there's a single, simple answer to that question. My friends are a very diverse group, and my life is much richer for it.

5. Besides blogging what is the last creative thing that you've done? Since I'm a writer by trade, the people who pay me like to think I do something creative every workday.

6. In nature, what outdoor activities do you enjoy the most? Walking, preferably alone. I notice more when I'm by myself.

7. When was the last time that you had a great belly laugh? This past week a coworker showed me a photo of a State Farm agent who gave her customers piggy banks. It really had nothing to do with the woman in the photo -- it was the piggy banks and it's part of a long in joke and you really had to be there. But the important thing to note is that it made me laugh so hard I had to catch my breath.

8. What kind of fashion-sense attracts you? Clean lines. When I was a very little girl, the icons were JBKO and Grace Kelly and I think that's why I'm drawn to that "style of simplicity."

9. What traits in others turn you off? Space hogs. It's so selfish! Taking up space on the locker room bench with your iPod and water bottle so others can't sit; puffing away right in front of the building entrance, ignoring what the signs say, so I have to fill my lungs with fresh air and run through your smoke, just to get to my office; giving your backpack its own seat on the train; scolding your kid via your cell phone and in my ear ... You know, acting as though it's your world and we just live in it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More than just a pretty face

Kudos to Senator Scott Brown, R-MA, for breaking ranks with Republicans and voting for sweeping financial reform. It's heartening to see him willing to risk his status as party darling to do what's best for the people who sent him to Washington.

I did my share of hysterical hand-wringing when it looked like a dreaded Republican would take the Kennedy seat, but am happy to report that, this morning at least, it looks like I was wrong.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

That's what makes horse racing

My theater buddy, Barb, and I went to see The 39 Steps at the Bank of America Theater. I enjoyed it -- in an absurd, Monty Python kinda way. She looked so bored I wondered if it hurt. Still, she was a good sport about it and stayed through the final curtain.

She was also a good sport about American Idol. While I was happy to see her and catch up, and was genuinely amused by the live performance and was glad to be back in my favorite theater,* I was sorry that the Idol results were being announced just as intermission was ending. Barb was proud of her dexterity on her iPhone and was able to confirm that yes, the final two are Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze.

* I love
Jersey Boys as much as the next pop music fan, but I was glad to see that production finally close and cede the stage to another show.

He still likes me. He still really likes me!

An invitation came in today's mail. My presence is requested at the graduation party of the youngest son of an old boyfriend.

His dad and I dated, and broke up, back in 1981. I was never really IN that relationship, never really gave it a chance. Were I to have been honest with myself -- and in those days, that wasn't one of my strengths -- I would have admitted that I was just biding my time until the guy I really wanted became available. (And, to my everlasting regret, he did and we began a tumultuous relationship that haunts me to this day.)

Even if I had been willing to dive in with both feet, I know he would never have this happy life with me. I could never be content as a mother of 4, working from home in a suburb somewhere in Wisconsin. So these things do work out just the way they're supposed to.

But still, it means the world to me that Dad still thinks to include me in moments like this. He was, and remains, a genuinely good guy and his esteem means a lot to me. I'm sending his son a $25 Border's gift card, and my regrets to his wife. But even though I won't be at the party, I feel like a part of the day.

I Want Wednesday

If I had the time and discipline, I would want to learn Spanish. While I don't approve of the situation, this country is becoming bi-lingual. Plus, my friend in the Keys teaches Spanish, and I think it would please him to keep my newly-learned skills sharp by conversing with me in his native tongue.

What about you? What language do you want to learn?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

10 on Tuesday -- More Movie Quotes

Last week I shared the Top 10 Movie Quotes, as per the American Film Institute. This week, by popular demand,* I am listing the first 10 that come to this Gal's mind.

1) My sister, my daughter ... She's my sister AND my daughter! Chinatown, a movie I've never seen its entirety, btw

2) I mean happy, like "Julie Andrews twirling around on a mountain top like a mental patient" kind of happy. The Sixth Sense

3) That's my problem! I'm an onion roll on a plate of bagels! Funny Girl

4) You're advertising's just dandy. Folk's'd never guess you don't have a thing to sell. Bonnie & Clyde

5) East is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb ever will. Now tell me what you know. Animal Crackers

6) Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. The Godfather

7) Not a bit like Cagney. Help!

8) You still think you're the cutest little trick in shoe leather. Gone with the Wind

9) Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Some Like It Hot

10) Wouldn't it be lovely if we were old? We'd have survived all of this, and everything would be easy and uncomplicated ... like when we were young. The Way We Were

*Well, Kwiz asked me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brand New Me: Day 2

Got home from work and began to watch the Cubs game. Then I decided to do something. So I cleaned the bathroom. I went the whole 9 yards -- the mirror, the toilet, the floor and the tub -- and looked babelicious as I did it, too! I prefer listening to an exciting game to watching it, and fortunately the Cubbies came in loud and clear on my shower radio.

So yesterday was going through the paperwork in the livingroom. This evening was the bathroom. What will tomorrow bring? With this fever to be industrious hang on?

"He threw me a fastball, and I was ready for it."

So said Aramis Ramirez after his TWO RUN HOMER in the bottom of the 11th! A great game, a real nailbiter. Glad the rain held off until after he hit it into the bleachers.

"Go, Cubs, Go! Hey, Chicago, what do you say? Cubs are gonna win today!"

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Dancing...Share your favorite dance scenes from the movies, linking back here at The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Summer Stock. "Forget your troubles, c'mon get happy!" My favorite Garland musical number of all time. Perhaps even my favorite dance number of all time.

The Sound of Music. I don't remember the name of the folk dance that Maria is teaching the children, but Captain Von Trapp offers to be her partner and it's evident to all of us, even the Baroness (boo! hiss!), that a certain novice was never going to
become a nun.

The Way We Were. It's the Big College Dance. Gorgeous, letterman Hubbell crosses the dance floor, and the social divide, to cut in on frumpy, unpopular Katie and her gawky date.* It's impossibly romantic. Perhaps because Streisand finally found a partner we believe she could and would let lead.

*James Woods in his movie debut.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

She surprised me

My niece is completing her junior year in high school and she has a hard earned reputation as a hard worker. But I had no idea what a tough cookie she could be!

When I hired her to help me organize my livingroom, we agreed at a fee of $10/hour for 3 hours. In addition to helping me sort and file the paperwork that has taken over the house, I tasked her with keeping me focused. No matter what I told her, or how much I whined, I told her it was her job to remind me, "I need the money and you need organization."

I had no idea how seriously she would take it! Picking up an empty envelope, she asked me why I still had it. I pointed out to her that I needed it for the return address. "Get your address book and write it in there. I'll wait." She wasn't kidding. She handled me the same way when it came to an offer from Comcast I was "gonna" respond to. "Do it now, sign up now," she said, reasoning that then I could get rid of the flyer. Ouch! Over and over again, she challenged me and kicked my butt. We went from the paperwork to the books I've read to the mess that obscured my kitchen counters.

She reminded me of that ferocious little terrier, taking on the bigger dog.

I ended up with a big bag of paper in the recycle bin, two bags and a box for Goodwill, and so much more carpet than I remembered! I'm inspired to keep with the decluttering.

Interesting, not threatening

Christopher Hitchens is on CSpan, being interviewed by Salmon Rushdie, and he is talking about "the equal time demand" in schools receiving tax dollars, describing it as alternating "teaching science" with "teaching rubbish." He wonders why it can't be spun differently -- if churches want to retain their tax-free status, shouldn't they be required to teach Darwinism as well as creationism?

While I, unlike Hitchens, believe in God and Jesus completely, I find his conversation with Rushdie fascinating. I enjoy that in this country, we are free to believe as we wish, even if our beliefs don't fall within Judeo-Christian guidelines, we are free to express them. Listening to this is liberating and opening my mind to new ideas.

This introduction to new ideas, this explanation of how atheists and agnostics think -- and why they think this way -- cannot threaten my faith in God and Jesus. My faith is as much a part of me as my bone marrow.

I wonder about people who are so easily offended that Rushdie and Hitchens bother them, or that they believe Rushdie and Hitchens should be demonized. Do they not trust their Lord, or is it their forefathers who gave us freedom of speech or religion that they are second guessing?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Speed Dating Meme, Part 2

26. Have you ever been stung by a bee? Yes, and discovered I'm allergic. Hence the Epipen that's in my purse every day from April to October.

27. What's the sickest you've ever been? Probably the aforementioned bee sting, but since I was only a kid I didn't realize how potentially dangerous it was.

28. What's your favorite form of exercise? Toss up between stationery bike and swimming.

29. What's your favorite Cyndi Lauper song? Time After Time

30. What did you do for your 13th birthday? I don't recall.

31. Are you afraid of heights? Nope.

32. Have you ever taken dance lessons? I took ballet as a little girl. I was staggeringly bad at it.

33. What's your favorite newspaper? Chicago Tribune. It's the only paper left in town that covers the news in any depth.

34. What's your favorite Broadway / West End musical? My Fair Lady

35. What's the most memorable class you've ever taken? Psych 101, my introduction to the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic morality.

36. What's your favorite knock-knock joke? "Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Repeat." "Repeat who?" "Who! Who!"

37. What's your least favorite commercial? The Panda Bears for Snapple Tea. There's something uncomfortable and creepy about them.

38. If you could go to Disney World with any celebrity alive today, who would it be? Bill Clinton. I think he'd be a riot to hang out with for a few hours. Plus, since he has Secret Service protection, we wouldn't have to wait in line -- not ever, not even at Space Mountain.

39. Do you prefer baths or showers? Most mornings I shower, but that's due to time. I really enjoy baths.

40. What's your favourite newspaper comic strip? I don't really have one.

41. What's your favorite breakfast food? Eggs. Scrambled, once over, poached ...

42. Who's your favarite game show host? Bob Barker. Please spay or neuter your pets.

43. If you could have a super power, what would it be? Flight.

44. Do you like guacamole? Nope.

45. Have you ever been in a food fight? Yes. One of the few things about high school I actually enjoyed.

46. Name five songs to which you know all the lyrics. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, She Bop, Time After Time, True Colors, and American Pie (I'm very proud of knowing all the lyrics to that one)

47. What's your favorite infomercial? Meaningful Beauty -- Cindy Crawford and that French doctor who can keep us young using melon juice.

48. What's the longest you've ever waited in line? Hours and hours at Disney World! Which is why next time I want to go with Bill Clinton.

49. What's on the cover of your address book or day planner? Plain brown leather.

50. Have you ever taken a picture in one of those little booths? Yes, at the mall. When we were kids, my mom would send me in with my sister.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Lies

1. When was the last time you lied and why? I'm sorry but I can't recall anything. Which means it couldn't have been a very big deal.

2. If you could move anywhere and take someone with you, where would you go and who would you take? Los Angeles. I don't really want to move there, but my oldest friend is desperate to. So I'd move there, get her settled, and move back here, where I belong.

3. What was the last thought before falling asleep last night? That I'm not sure moving Sex and the City 2 out of eponymous city -- New York -- is a good idea. (I'd just been reading the Entertainment Weekly about the movie.)

4. What’s your favorite style of underwear for the opposite sex? Briefs. Dark-colored briefs. Yum.

5. If you didn't have to work, would you? If you work from home, are there days you’d rather be in the workplace? I probably would go back to work eventually. I heard an interview with a representative of the Illinois State Lottery, and she said most sudden millionaires do that, because all their friends and relatives have to work and they don't have anyone to play with.

6. What is a secret that you wouldn't mind everyone knowing? I can't think of anything that I wouldn't mind everyone knowing.

7. What’s a favorite movie that you wouldn't want anyone to find out about? Young at Heart, with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. Or just about any Doris Day musical. I can be such a trashy wench that loving Doris Day musicals doesn't fit my image, but there you go. Hey! Can this be my answer to #6, too?

8. What’s you favorite all time medical and why? Sorry, but I don't understand the question.

9. What’s the worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back? Stubbornly refusing to see that I was completely wasting my time with a real repulsivo. I understand that I had important lessons to learn from that relationship. I just regret that it took me a decade -- and then some -- to learn them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A productive day off

First I took myself out for a cheese omelet, orange juice and a few chapters of my book at the Cozy Corner Restaurant. Then I wandered around town, enjoying the sunny blue sky, and stocking up on pet food -- finally using those Petco coupons I've been hanging onto.

Then I alternated between watching the Cubs play the Pirates and doing 5 -- count 'em, FIVE! -- loads of laundry. A hideous drag, that's for sure. I resent every moment spent in the laundry room. But at least doing it on a weekday meant I didn't have to share the machines with anyone.

I took a break and got a pedi. I love my shimmery coral spring/summer look. Mine is Avon, not Sally Hansen, but this is close.

Then I put all my clothes away -- and I do mean all. Not just the freshly laundered ones, but also the clean clothes I left haphazardly around when trying to figure out what to wear in the mornings. I vacuumed a little, too.

Then I paid bills (today is payday, after all). Now I'm watching the USA Network NCIS Marathon ... oh, Gibbs! ... and chilling. In all, a satisfying day off.

Last night on the couch ...

We covered a lot of ground last night:

Much of the depression I experienced lately could be tied to Vicodin. The pain killer enhanced my comfort physically -- after all, the dentist sliced deep into my gums, cut bone, and stitched me up. Without the medication it would have been excruciating. But it also left me feeling fuzzy, and that fuzziness left me feeling vulnerable and clouded my judgement. That left me feeling profoundly uncomfortable.

Likewise the work on my veins, while completely voluntary, is putting my body through changes, and my body is reacting and perhaps rebelling. I can't ignore the impact the physical can have on the emotional.

Much -- but not all -- of my blues can be tied to that. Mother's Day was difficult for me because I realize my mother is aging. She's 75, and her time is short. Death and loss are a natural part of life, but that doesn't make them any easier to accept. In addition to knowing how much I will miss my mom, it's occurring to me that when she dies, so will much of my sense of family. I don't like my sisters.

This saddens me, and yet also leaves me feeling liberated in a way. For when my mother does die -- and she's feeling better these days, thank God, so nothing is imminent -- I have close friends I can turn to. My oldest friend has made it clear I always have a place for the holidays with her. And just as I spent New Year's in Key West, so I can spend Christmas. Saying all this aloud gave it a feeling of, "there, that's settled."

So last night's time on the couch was a most productive 50 minutes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's only a show ... it's only a show ... it's only a show ...

Just watched the penultimate episode of NCIS and am both eager and apprehensive about next week's finale.

The writers have been slowly, surely building the tension and I can anticipate just enough to make me crazy. A couple weeks ago, as part of a case involving a judge, the NCIS team interrogated a polygrapher. She did a demonstration on Gibbs, which he aborted because it was dopey and annoying ... and because he didn't want to answer her question about whether or not he had committed a felony. After all, we know that decades ago Gibbs used his exceptional skill as a sniper to shoot the Mexican drug runner who killed Kelly and Shannon, his wife and daughter.

This week Abby was sent to a symposium on forensics and cold cases in Mexico and was given a particular cold case to use as an example. It was the 20-year-old murder of a drug runner. Shot from a great distance with a high-caliber weapon. Naturally Abby figures it out -- she's very good at her job. But it breaks her heart. She and Gibbs are like family, "closer than family," as she likes to say. She is his favorite, his surrogate Kelly. She basks in his affection and has imbued him with super-human powers. As she often says, "He can do anything! He's GIBBS!"

He knows she has figured it out. She knows he knows. She asked him if he will still love her if she does what she has to do with the information. That's where the episode ended.

Clearly Gibbs was set up. It was no accident that Abby was sent to this symposium or that, out of all the unsolved murders in Mexico, the one she's handed is the one Gibbs committed.

According to the rumor mill, someone dies in next week's shocking finale. I think the one to go will be Allison Hart -- the icky lawyer who fell in love with Gibbs. But I fear it will be Abby.

Pauly Perrette, the actress who plays Abby, is one of the main cast members whose contract hasn't been renewed. The others -- Tony and McGee -- aren't as involved in this plot line as Abby. (Representatives for CBS have reassured us that they have "taken care of Mark Harmon," so we know that Gibbs isn't going anywhere.)

It would be sad for our poor Jethro to lose Allison because he's been so unlucky in love. Losing Abby would be devastating for him. And for me, too. For as one who longed for a positive daddy/daughter relationship, I find Abby and Gibbs very comforting. Reassuring. Something I'm still looking for.

I Want Wednesday ...

Here's what I want for myself today ...

1) Discipline to work out at lunchtime today. I'm finally over the Vicodin and I have the OK from the surgeon who is working on my legs. So now all I need is the will. Accomplished!

2) Energy to do some housework this evening. My niece is coming over Sunday to help me organize my living room, and because I know this is the plan, I have been neglecting to do anything, saying to myself, "I'll take care of that when she gets here." We're getting to the point where she is going to have to wear HazMat coveralls. Accomplished! Finished sorting laundry (I see 5 loads -- blues, blacks, reds, whites-to-be-bleached and everything else -- in my future) and changed the linens in my bedroom and bathroom.

3) A Cub victory. I know it's still early in the season, but I'm beginning to get a little nervous about the fielding and the bullpen. Accomplished! Thanks, Guys!

4) Lee DeWyze to make the final 3 on Idol. He's a hometown boy, he's got a neat, bluesy voice, and he's cute. Now that he's made the Final 3, the Tribune reports that the AI cameras will follow him to Wrigley Field and film him tossing out the first pitch.

5) Serenity. I'm feeling a little unsettled these days. It may be all the meds flowing through my system, it may be the lack of endorphins because I haven't been working out, it may be because I'm obsessed/saddened by my resemblance to Elena Kagan … the skies of my soul are a bit gray these days.

What about you? What do you want for yourself this Wednesday?