Sunday, October 31, 2010

What a story!

Some movies are masterpieces of action and effects. Hereafter is not one of them. It's a quiet story about faith and science and luck and love and the afterlife. Matt Damon, the woman who plays Marie (Cecile de France, an actress I've never seen before) and the McLaren brothers who play twins are all terrific.

And I like Clint Eastwood so much more as a director than I ever did as an actor.

Trick or treaters were buzzing around here

By far the most popular costume in my neighborhood this year was the bumble bee. I also saw a good many black cats and devils.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Meme About Me, Myself and I

1. What inspires you to blog? I'm trying create an honest snapshot of who I am now. The anonymity helps me be more candid.

2. What’s the best thing about blogging, for you? More than once I have received sincere support I have received in times of sadness and stress from my regulars in the blogosphere. You know how you are, and I hope you realize how much your messages have meant to me. There's something so very touching about knowing that people who have seen my inner self -- good, bad and sometimes petulant and ugly -- still took the time to send prayers and positivity.

3. What is your favorite book of all time? JFK: Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamilton

4. It’s 9pm and for some reason you’ve been hungry all day, despite the three square meals. What do you rustle up? Either a sandwich or a bowl of cereal

5. Who are three of your style icons? Three? I don't have three. I still turn to Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear.

6. What’s your current favorite song/piece of music?

7. What is the last book you read? Fragile by Lisa Unger. It was very, very good -- a girl from a small town is missing, the clock is ticking, the authorities are trying to find her and the teens know stuff they're not telling. It's about more than this one case, though. It's about families and life in small towns and how history unfortunately keeps repeating itself.

8. What is your current favorite recipe? I open the bag of Dole Classic Iceberg Salad, put the greens in a bowl, throw in some slivered almonds, grated cheese and raisins, mix it all up and cover it with French dressing. (Hey! I never said I was a chef!)

9. Who or what first inspired you to set up your own blog? I had a lot in my head and heart and, since I'm a writer, writing is how I process stuff.

10. What object could you not live without? This here laptop.

11. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Hopefully still writing -- perhaps freelancing -- with this very roof over my head. By then I'd love to have this place paid off.

12. Who or what made you into the person you are today? Possibly a million cans of Coke.

13. What have your learned from blogging? See #2.

14. Knowing what you know now, what knowledge would you pass on to your past self? I wish I'd appreciated my size 6 self more. I only saw the flaws. In retrospect, I was gorgeous! And I didn't enjoy it.

15. Sunday roasts - lunchtime or evening meal? Whatever time the cook chooses to serve it to me. Since I'm not much on preparation, I don't feel I have any right to be picky.

16. What has been your best blogging-related experience so far? See #2.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

And I love him

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Elected

1. Many of my friends have commented they cannot discuss politics with co-workers, family, friends and others without conflict rearing its ugly head. Do you feel you can talk with your family and friends about this particularly divisive election? Yes. We all endured the Blagojevich scandal, so by now I can pretty much predict where everyone stands on our Senate and gubernatorial campaigns. Which leads me to warn all you non-Illinoisans out there: don't believe the pundits who say this is a referendum on Barack Obama. This is about Chicago v downstate, the vacuum left by Mayor Daley's upcoming retirement and the lack of his political muscle, and most of all, Blago. The Prez is only a peripheral factor.

2. Do you know who you're voting for in next week's election? How did you decide? Governor is easy. Bill Brady, while an honest and wholly decent man, is entirely too socially conservative for my taste. Senator is more difficult in that I'm not sure either candidate is honest and wholly decent, and they aren't that far apart on the issues the matter most to me. I'll probably end up voting for Alexi because, well, I'm a Democrat. But if Kirk wins, my response will most likely be a shrug.

3. What do you think is the most important issue in next Tuesday's election? Here in Illinois, it's corruption. After all, our former governor (Blago) tried to sell the seat of our former senator (Obama). And because of Blago's interesting approach to governing, the state is broke. I am not proud of this, but I voted for Rod Blagojevich ... twice. Confessing this as the election approaches is cleansing.

4. Can you go a day without laughing? No. And I don't have to as long as I have the above clip to refer back to.

5. Do you think that you can chose who you want to love? No. You can choose where to stay and when to go, but not who to love.

6. Have you ever been on stage? For what? In New York, I took the tour of Radio City Music Hall. And even though we were asked not to, I snuck out onto the stage. I had to. It's hard to see the audience from the stage, but when I looked up, I saw all these neat stage decorations above my head. I distinctly remember a HUGE, way larger than life, bunch of bananas.

7. Would you ever live in a different country? If yes, where? I move to England to become Lady McCartney. I hear the job is open these days.

8. Any plans for Halloween? Not beyond the bag of Tootsie Roll Midgies I bought to distribute to the handful of kids who live in this condo building.

9. The last costume that you wore, what was it and why did you choose it? Don't recall the last one, but my most memorable one was Harpo Marx. At first my friends thought it was a riot that I had to be mute. But after hearing me express myself with the bicycle horn for a while, they began to beg me to start talking again.

Audible earwig

I listen to the oldies station every morning as I take my shower. Maybe that's when this hit from the late 1970s burrowed it's way into my skull. At any rate, I find myself singing (tunelessly, no doubt) "keep your heart open ..." as I do boring chores like scooping out the litter box or changing the sheets.

Lyrics | Pablo Cruise lyrics - Love Will Find A Way lyrics

Friday, October 29, 2010

And then I crashed

I thought I was fine, despite the fact that I only slept about 2 hours last night. I did a little work, went to the health club, ate an enormous slice of pizza, and then ... at about 3:00 ... CRASH! I've been fuzzy and exhausted ever since. Fortunately I have a rather dull weekend ahead of me. Just what the doctor ordered. For this old gal needs to unwind and get some sleep!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Now where did this come from?

I'm still blue about Crazy Old Neighbor. These are such complicated feelings -- being confronted with such genuine insanity is scary, and I'm angry because our laundry room is still messed up and much of his graffiti still remains, and I'm sad because it was such a waste of a life, and I feel guilty that I was an audience to his self-destruction instead of a help to his healing. It's been nearly two months and I'm having a hard time shaking it.

I've discussed it with both my shrink and my oldest friend. My shrink says that while just "letting it go" has always been very hard for me, it's something I have to do because holding on to this serves no purpose. My oldest friend says that, when she finds herself fixating on something upsetting, she conjures up some Barry Manilow tune.

At first I mocked her technique, but my distraction tactic is just as cheesey. As I pass Crazy Old Neighbor's scratches, gouges and paint splatters, I think of the theme from Who's the Boss? I have no idea why this is what popped into my mind, but it did and I'm sticking with it. It's lighthearted, if you don't dwell on the tragic irony of the lyrics.

"The choice is up to you, my friend." As I write this post, my cat Reynaldo is at my side for his evening snuggle. Old sitcoms, affectionate kitties, the new PEOPLE with William and Kate on the cover ... There are dozens of things every day that can make you happy if you let them. Every day gives us the opportunity for "a brand new life." Being unable to see that is what made Crazy Old Neighbor such a pathetic bastard.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He's happy

It's been nearly a month, but it's clear that my philodendron has taken to his new pot. Lots of new growth, many shiny new leaves. I'm so relieved, because if he's not happy, I'm not happy!

I Want Wednesday

I want to sit in some restaurant bar with my best friend, people watching and talking and talking and learning something new about him and having him make me laugh.

The thermometer or the calendar?

It was 50º+ this morning when I left for work, with the mercury predicted to pass 60º by noon. So I wore my denim jacket over my lightweight cardigan/t-shirt duo and was quite comfortable.

Yet on my way to the train, I saw people wearing heavy jackets and gloves. Gloves, for pity's sake!

Goodness knows it gets cold here in Chicagoland. And once the temperature drops, it tends to stay low for months. So why are people so eager to get into their winter gear? Are they dressing for the calendar rather than the temperature?

Or are they just happy to wear their fall/winter clothes again. I know that when we see the 40ºs later this week, I will enthusiastically pull l out one of my new cashmere sweaters.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Queen's Meme -- What's in a Name?

To play along yourself, click here.

Your Superhero Name (2nd fave color + fave drink):
Yellow Coke

2. Your Peace Name (Zen + your last peace globe #) OH! Don't have one yet? Go here. Zen 57

3. Your American Idol Name (fav car and seafood) Mustang Crabcake

4. If you could pick another name for yourself, what would it be? Shannon or Shauna or Cheryl. Something "Sh" sounding.

5. Your Twitter Name (Chirpie + your favorite bird) Chirpie Wren

6. Name 1 thing you wish you'd said today that would have made your day go better? "I won't be coming into the office today."

7. Go HERE to find your Royal Name and reveal it to us. Queen Elizabeth the Astonishing

10 on Tuesday

All about my niece. I had dinner with her on Sunday to celebrate her upcoming 18th birthday. I had a great time and am taking this opportunity to reflect.

1) She has begun tweezing/shaping her eyebrows, which makes her feel very mature.

2) She has three colleges picked out. Her top two preferences are out of state.

3) She is very funny. She not only makes me laugh, she laughs easily herself.

4) She has a crush on John Krasinski of The Office. This embarrasses her. I mean, she actually blushes when it comes up. This confuses me, as I've always flown my "fan girl" banner high.

5) She is a movie buff. Her favorite film maker is Tim Burton.

6) She seems to have two speeds -- "insanely busy" and "slug."

7) She is very close to, and loving with, my mother.

8) She's loyal, having the same bestie, Alison, since second grade.

9) They could not be more different, as illustrated by an assignment they had in 8th grade. To enhance their public speaking skills, each student had to pick a news story and deliver a 5 minute talk, summarizing the story and explaining its impact. My niece chose Rolling Stone's allegations of massive voter fraud in Ohio during the 2004 Presidential election. Alison chose Britney Spears driving with her baby facing the wrong way in his car seat.

10) Her favorite Beatle is George -- because of, not in spite of, all that Indian music he did. Go figure.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Monday -- The King of Horror

If the world was to be banned of all Stephen King productions but one, which would you save for posterity - to represent the only visual adaptation of his work for the future generations to see? Share your selection, linking back here at The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Carrie. My first King, and still my favorite. How good is this movie? Sissy Spacek got her first Oscar nomination as best actress for it. The Academy doesn't often pay attention to horror, but this one is so good it couldn't be ignored. Not only is the lead performance terrific, the story is unbeatable. It depicts teenage angst at its most extreme and gives us a sympathetic serial killer we can root for!

Special note: Carrie is closest to my heart, but it never appears in my nightmares. That book IT has that honor. Unfortunately, it was a made-for-TV movie and not just of the quality of Carrie.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Presuppose You're Living in New England Meme

1. Have you turned the heat on in your house yet this fall? No.

2. Do you allow your pets on the furniture? Yes. Well, wait, on the other hand, no. I mean, one doesn't "allow" cats to do anything. My feline roommates do as they please, and afford me the same freedom.

3. What were your final words for September? "It's payday!" Those are my final words for every month.

4. What are your first words for October? "Birthday!" My young nephew's birthday is during the first week and celebrating requires preparation.

5. Do you think you’ve ever seen a ghost? Nope.

6. What is the one color that represents this time of year? Orange.

7. Which of your senses do you think is most sensitive this time of year? Smell. I love spicy/cinnamon scented things.

8. What is your favorite thing to do at the county fair? I've never been to a county fair.

9. What do you like when you have a cold? Solitude and orange juice

10. Are you willing to spend over $100 for a piece of winter clothing, like boots or a coat? Yes. Especially good, warm waterproof boots.

12. What do you have too much of in your kitchen? Cereal.

13. What gripes do you have about this time of year? Switching from sandals to real shoes. My painted piggies yearn to breathe free!

14. Other than yourself, are you responsible for getting anyone ready in the morning? No.

15. When was the last time you cleaned your gutters? Never.

16. So, it’s after Labor Day. Will you still be wearing white? If I so wish. Stacy and Clinton say I can.

17. What shows are you most looking forward to this Fall? New episodes of NCIS. Gibbs is my TV boyfriend.

18. What three things have you just not gotten around to from the summer, but probably should do before snow flies? Clean the carpet, empty out the den, get the sofa cushions cleaned.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: I'm So Proud

1. What are you proud of? I have a way with critters.

2. What is the best thing you’ve ever won as a prize? How did you win it? When I was in third grade, I won $10 from the local newspaper in the "My Favorite Teacher" essay contest.

3. Tell us about something you've done that in retrospect was a waste of time. Whenever I start looking at the Linked-In networking site, I find that someone I know is connected to this or that person I know and pretty soon, 45 minutes has passed.

4. How old were you when life changed the most for you? How did it change? 21. I began my career as an advertising writer and all my horizons (professional, personal, fiscal) were expanded.

5. Tell us about a place you that you've been that you considered to be very tranquil. Atop the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. Go up to the observation deck and you're more than 1000 feet above Hot Spring, AR, overlooking some very beautiful country. It's never very crowded up there, giving you the perfect opportunity to reflect.

6. Who is your favorite news anchor/reporter? Why? John Oliver of The Daily Show. Because just looking at him makes me laugh. Oh! You mean a real anchor? Mika Brzezinski from Morning Joe. MJ is my favorite news show because representatives from both sides of the political divide are given a chance to talk at length, not just in sound bites. And because it's funny.

7. If you were to have the opportunity to name a new town or city, what would you call it? Why? Galtopia.

8. What is something about which you've always wondered but have not yet found a good answer? Who believes Snuggies are a necessity?

9. When you can't go to sleep, what is your personal remedy to help yourself drift into Lullabyland? I don't have one. I'll check other answers and maybe adopt one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hello, I love you

Bacon-wrapped, pitted dates. Oh, yum! Devoured a pair of them while out with Kathleen and a friend of hers last night.

These darlings were served at a reception after a very current affairsy event during which everything was discussed from the Cubs' choice of a new manager to the negative tone of recent campaign commercials to whether women are the natural audience for Jackass 3. It made my geeky heart sing.

Got a little pissed at Kathleen, though. And I suppose, she at me. For as the three of us headed up the empty city street to her car, a rather aggressive panhandler approached us. He crossed the street and walked alongside us for more than a block. It was getting out of hand, even as Kathleen was rifling through her purse to give him change, and a pair of Chicago cops appeared on Segways (which are really very neat, by the way) and told us he was fine, and him to keep going.

This bothered me because I have seen police turn a benign blind eye to homeless on many occasions. I'm going to assume that this particular gentlemen was well known to the police for his stick-to-it-iveness.

I told Kathleen she shouldn't have responded to his conversation and certainly should never have opened her purse on a city street like that. She told me that he was a case of "there but for the grace of God" and that she certainly would speak to him and treat him like a human.

Fellow bloggers, you know I respect the humanity of the homeless. But I worry about my friend's open spirit. Especially after Kathleen came through her recent cancer scare with the best possible outcome! How awful if she survived that, only to get mugged! I told her that I wished that since she locked her car when she wasn't in it, she would give as much consideration to the safety of her physical self as she does her stuff.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm jealous

My oldest friend is moving to California. Right now, as we speak. And I'm jealous.

Not of her move to Beverly Hills. I'm happy for her because it's a wonderful opportun
ity, but I'm not interested in leaving the most livable city ever -- Chicago.

Instead I'm jealous of the move itself, and the road trip she's on. Last night she stayed at the Days Inn in Lincoln, NB. Tonight is a Holiday Inn in Henderson, CO. What an adventure she's having!

I've often thought it would be neat to just go to Union Station and get on the next train out, stopping in a place I've never been and spending a day or two there. Her trip reminds me that I still haven't done that.

Someday ...

Naughty Gal

I gave in to my dark side yesterday. On the way out of the office, I took a candy bar out of one my coworkers' mail slots and scarfed it down lustily, greedily.

It was milk chocolate. And she's a pompous pain in the ass.

I only feel guilty that I don't feel guilty.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maybe 2011 will be the year

The Cubs named this gentleman, Mike Quade, to be our coach for the next 2-3 seasons. He took over after my beloved Lou Piniella resigned in August and finished the team finished the season strong.

He's not as colorful as Lou. He'll never be the fan favorite that other managerial contender, Ryne Sandberg, is. But he has the support of the players. Plus, he seems very well adjusted and cheerful for a man with no hair. Really. He lost all of his hair when he was in grade school and it's never grown back, not even his eyebrows.

It would be such a Cubbie thing -- if the man who brought us to our first World Series in 100 years had no eyebrows.

I Want Wednesday

I want the pimple under my chin to go away.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10 on Tuesday

The last 10 things I ate and drank (excluding water)

1) Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
2) Tuna salad
3) Coke
4) Snickers bar
5) Applesauce
6) Three-cheese rigatoni (Betty Crocker Bowl-Apetit)
7) Milk chocolate Slim Fast
9) Coke
10) Raspberry Yoplait

Actually, this would scare me

Going to a bar where everyone knew my name. And yet I can't get the theme out of my mind.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Too bad, so sad

I came upon this old (1995) biography of Lee Radziwill and find it compulsively readable, maybe even more so than I did the first time around.

Caroline Lee Bouvier is the kid sister of old what's-her-name, and lived her entire life in intense camaraderie and rivalry with her sibling. Lee was the prettier one, with the better (at least for the 1960s and 1970s) figure, the natural fashion sense, and Mummy's favorite. Less burdened by a sense of proprietary, she had more famous men (she slept with Onassis before Jackie ever met him). Jackie was more athletic, more intellectual, and Daddy's favorite. And while Lee may have had many exciting lovers, Jackie, of course, married the man who assured her a place in history and the billionaire Lee just couldn't get to the altar.

Instead of appreciating her blonde good looks, natural sex appeal and visual sensibility, Lee kept trying to keep up with Jackie and better her. She failed as an actress in high-profile TV and stage productions, she was paid for "an intimate memoir" that was never published, she struggled as an interior designer, she shot a pilot for a TV talk show that was never picked up. She has published two pictorials -- That Special Summer (about her youthful trip abroad with Sis) and Happy Times (which didn't sell as well as expected because it didn't include enough Kennedys).

I believe Lee lacked JBKO's formidable inner strength and sanity. To cope, she (like many Bouviers before her), turned to liquor. When Lee's drinking got out of hand, her teenage daughter Tina ran away -- up the street (of course, that street was Fifth Avenue) to Aunt Jackie. Whatever else has been written about JBKO, it's generally agreed she somehow always managed to put her children first.

Jackie died in 1994 and Lee survives. But in the intervening years she has buried her third husband (movie director Herbert Ross), her nephew John and her own son, John's best friend, Tony. Many of her public appearances today revolve around the memory of the sister whose shadow she still can't escape.

I appreciated the gesture

Went to the laundromat -- again, and hopefully for the last time -- and noticed something new. Plastic jack-o-lanterns were positioned atop each of the four rows of washers. It's still a crappy place to spend two hours and I still hate it, but I thought it was nice of folks who work there to add that holiday touch for us launderers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Movie Monday -- Costumes

Share on movies whose costumes set just the right stage, linking back here at The Bumbles. And don't forget to visit your fellow participants!

Bonnie & Clyde (1967). Meet the best-dressed bad guys of the Depression era.

Bobby (2006). This sincere, earnest movie about the sad day in 1968 when Bobby Kennedy was murdered really isn't very good. But the costumes are entertaining! Check out Mr. and Mrs. Ashton Kutcher in period garb.

A Walk in the Clouds (1995).It should be mandated that Keanu Reeves wear a hat in every movie.

When Die Hard met Pulp Fiction

RED is a thrilling, funny, wholly original shoot-em-up (and blow-em-up) good time. R.E.D. stands for "Retired: Extremely Dangerous," and Bruce Willis plays a retired secret agent who spends his days nurturing an avocado plant instead of assassinating people. He's not adjusting well. Soon he has to defend himself from some very capable, very shady, VERY VIOLENT bad guys and he tracks down his former partners -- John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren -- all also retired, all struggling with their "new normal," and all happy to get back into the action.

It's like Pulp Fiction in that my favorite line of dialog was: "I never thought I'd ever say this again, but I'm getting the pig."

And it's like Die Hard in that, once again, Bruce Willis doesn't have a peaceful Christmas.

Let's set the Wayback Machine

Way ... way ... back. When "My Sweet Lord," "Maggie Mae" and "Knock Three Times" were blasting through the radio speakers and I was a freshman in high school. My oldest friend produced a binder of notes all of her closest buds, including me, wrote to her in those long ago days. I was shocked by how similar today's Gal is to that Gal.

• "I am so bored!" I wrote during class.

• "Those student council bananas tried to collect money from me for a smiley face button!" Clearly profanity wasn't a staple of my vocabulary yet, but I do exhibit a disdain for organized pep and fun that remains to this day.

• "I have to score a radio for tonight. Ann says it's not appropriate but don't care. I have $4 on the game!" Remember, this was before iPods or even Walkmans. I don't know where Ann and I were going, but wherever it was, I was prepared to bring a transistor and put it on the seat beside me. white cord running to a single earpiece. After all, $4 was four hours of babysitting.

• "Giusep is doing his part and Santo is hot. Even Beck. But Kessinger is 0-12!" The starting lineup for the 1971 Cubs: Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Ron Santo and Joe Pepitone, who I had a crush on and called Giuseppe. I guess it's obvious which team's game I had to hear that night.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: Another 50 Questions Meme, Part Two Indeed!

26. Do you like someone? I like lots of people …

27. The last song you listened to? Sunday Morning by Maroon 5, coincidentally enough

28. What time of day were you born? I was born at the stroke of midnight between November 21 and 22. The stroke of midnight does not exist legally, so the hospital told my mom she had to choose -- 11:59 or 12:01. She was still quite doped up (I was a big baby) and confused about what she was asked, but she chose 12:01, which made it 11/22. Astrologers love this story because I was born on the cusp of a cusp.

29. What’s your favorite number? 7

30. Where did you live in 1987? A three-room apartment on the other side of the tracks from where I live now. It had the most terrific clawfoot bath tub.

31. Are you jealous of anyone? Yes

32. Is anyone jealous of you? Probably

33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? In my living room, tying my shoes, getting ready to run out the door and catch the 8:10 train, when I heard Matt Lauer say the second plane hit and so clearly, the first plane wasn't an accident. I will never forget a moment of that awful morning.

34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Feel very frustrated

35. Do you consider yourself kind? I try to be

36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? Left shoulder. No reason, that's just the first location that popped into my mind.

37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? Spanish. I'm taking lessons in January.

38. Would you move for the person you loved? Yes

39. Are you touchy feely? With critters, certainly, and often with people I care about

40. What’s your life motto? "What man has done, man may do"

41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? Silver band on my left hand, lapis ring on my right hand, and earrings

42. What’s your favourite town/city? Chicago, home of the Cubs, Millennium Park and me

43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? Train fare ($1.50)

44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? My cousin Rosemary, about two weeks ago. I just got a snail mail letter from her yesterday, so she'll also be the next person I write a letter to.

45. Can you change the oil on a car? No. But then, I don't have a car.

46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her? He's a born-again tea-partier in Kentucky. Considering his rather dissipated moments I witnessed back in the 1980s, I find this amazing.

47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? Mid-1800s on my paternal grandmother's side.

48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? I have a low threshold for "fancy," so you may not be impressed. But it was dark slacks, dark blouse and jacket. The occasion was a night at the theater.

49. Does anything hurt on your body right now? I have a painful bruise on my left arm, and no, I have no recollection of how I got it. I'm a natural klutz.

50. Have you been burned by love? Yes. But hasn't everyone?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dads and daughters

Three pair are on my mind today.

My friend Ed is still in New York, still tending to his very ill and hospitalized daughter. The situation is so awful that I don't ask him detailed questions, don't want him to put words to the unspeakable. I just say open-ended things like, "What's up?" and let him take it where he wishes to. Today I learned that his daughter is OK right now, after a scare that revolved around a spike in her temperature.

My best friend was in the hospital today, too. The ER with his younger daughter. She fell HARD on her knee during PE class. Fortunately it's nothing serious. "Now it's ice and ibuprofen for the next few days." This is a relief because she's so devoted to her ballet classes, and it would break her heart if she had to miss many Nutcracker rehearsals.

My oldest friend is moving to California, which will necessarily separate her daughter and ex-husband. This makes me sad because, while I have long believed her ex is a cluck, I also believe that he loves his daughter in his way and that it's only natural for the girl to want to love him. I hope my friend can separate her feelings about her ex-husband and encourage their daughter to see her dad over Christmas and summer vacations.

How sweet the sound

Sometimes everything comes together to create a moment that's perfect. Today, I had one of those moments walking back from lunch. I saw my McDonald's Man, asking for change on Wacker Drive. I haven't seen him in a while, so I was happy to find him good spirits. So happy that I added a hot apple pie to my order. I gave him the pie and some change and, per usual, he told me that "my kindness will not soon be forgotten."

It was then I heard a street musician on clarinet begin to play "Amazing Grace."

Yes, I am saved. And the only meaningful way to show my gratitude for His Grace is to pay it forward when I can. My simple act gave me such a complete, contented feeling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Want Wednesday

I want to hear the rest of the story.

On the train this morning, I sat near a lawyer who was speaking very loudly on her cell, advising a client named Nancy about her divorce settlement. Mr. Nancy has quit showing up for court, thereby making a final settlement take longer than Nancy had anticipated. So Team Nancy is forging on without him, producing documentation for the judge that will show how much he has made in the past from his rental properties. The lawyer predicts the judge will decide that 28% of his profits should go to Nancy for child support.

Is Mr. Nancy a deadbeat dad, trying to deny his children the maintenance they deserve? Is he represented by counsel who advises him to stay away from court? Or is he a poor schmuck, just trying to keep body-and-soul together, even as the vindictive Nancy attempts to crush him?

And does Nancy realize how entertaining her legal doings were for this otherwise bored commuter this morning?


En route to the train this morning, it began to rain rather hard and it seemed I was alone on the village street. So I gave in to nature and let loose with the loud, Coca-Cola/CoQ-10-induced, carbonated and fishy belch.

Promptly thereafter a young man passed me on the sidewalk.

Oh, well. It felt good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 on Tuesday -- Devoted to Spenser

I just finished Painted Ladies, one of the Spenser mysteries published after author Robert Parker's death, and I really enjoyed it because I have always been a little in love with Spenser. However the quality of this series varies wildly, and if you're not a fan, I fear you may pick up one of the ooky ones and not give the good ones a shot. So here, as a public service, are the 10 best books in the series, in order and by my personal proclamation. (After all, it is my blog.)

1) The Godwulf Manuscript (1973). The first book in the series. From Shelfari: "For Spenser, that most unorthodox of private detectives, no case is ever straightforward and the theft of a 14th-century illuminated manuscript proves no exception. His investigation soon leads him into organized crime, dope-pushing, theft, radical politics, adultery and murder." This book is important not only because it introduces us to our hero, but because it gives us a glimpse of him pre-Susan Silverman. Susan is his great love, a Harvard-educated shrink, and I'd say that loyal Spenser fans are split on her except for the fact that we all seem to kinda hate her. Think of her as Boston's answer to Yoko Ono.

2) Mortal Stakes. Book 3. One of my favorite Spensers. One of my favorite mysteries. One of my favorite baseball books. One of my favorite books -- PERIOD. "Everybody loves a winner, and the Rabbs are major league. Marty is the Red Sox star pitcher, Linda the loving wife. She loves everyone except the blackmailer out to wreck her life. Is Marty throwing fast balls or throwing games? It doesn't take long for Spenser to link Marty's performance with Linda's past...or to find himself trapped between a crazed racketeer and an enforcer toting an M-16. America's favorite pastime has suddenly become a very dangerous sport, and one wrong move means strike three, with Spenser out for good!" There's a lot of action and thrills in this book, which I admit I enjoy, but it's about much more. We're introduced in this book to Spenser's code of conduct, what makes him different (and better) than many of good guys he encounters. It's about who we love and we choose our partners and why we stay loyal or stray. Plus Spenser takes us to Fenway in this book, and his love of baseball is palpable. It's the hot dogs, peanuts and beer and more. It's sitting in a legendary old ball park watching a game that has changed little over the decades and can easily become a metaphor for what's good and bad about us.

3) Looking for Rachel Wallace. Book 6. "When Spenser accepts a job as a bodyguard for a beautiful lesbian activist, he gets in way over his head." This book is very popular with fans of the series. While I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much Mortal Stakes, it's still one of my favorites. First of all, Parker writes so evocatively about Boston -- even the snowstorms. Secondly, it further illustrates how Spenser's personal sense of responsibility sets him apart from other lawmen (both police and private). He's a complicated, sensitive tough guy, as capable of making mistakes and being humble as he is of derring do and smart-ass remarks (a Spenser specialty).

4) Early Autumn. Book 7. "A bitter divorce is only the beginning. First the father hires thugs to kidnap his son. Then the mother hires Spenser to get the boy back. But as soon as Spenser senses the lay of the land, he decides to do some kidnapping of his own. With a contract out on his life, he heads for the Maine woods, determined to give a puny 15 year old a crash course in survival and to beat his dangerous opponents at their own brutal game." In this book we meet Paul Giaccomin, the son Spenser never had. It's their relationship, more than the action, that makes this book memorable. There are no easy answers -- not in Paul's life, not in real life, either, and it's refreshing to read a book that understands that.

5) Ceremony. Book 9. "Spenser's out to make war, not love, as he goes after Boston's entire X-rated industry. Pretty teenager April Kyle has disappeared into the city's darkest underworld, and to rescue her, Spencer pits muscle and wit against bullets and bullies." First of all, I like this book because Susan is actually useful instead of annoying. Secondly, it looks at the damage done to children in "good homes," and shows how far we'll go and where we'll turn to find acceptance if we're not getting it from our bio family.

6) Crimson Joy. Book 15. "They call him the "Red Rose Killer" because he leaves one on the body of each woman he kills. But then the madman's eyes turn to Susan Silverman, and Spenser is on the case. For when Susan's life is in danger, Spenser becomes a hard-fisted, unstoppable locomotive--determined to bring the criminal to justice no matter what the odds!" This is an exciting book because the villain of the piece is just plain nuts, and his insanity brings an unpredictability that frustrates the logical Spenser. Adding to the suspense is that the loony's target is Spenser's own lovely Susan. There's less typical wise-cracking and banter in this book, but I thought that rang true. Spenser and Hawk are more emotionally involved with this case than with almost any other in the series.

7) Small Vices. Book 24. "Ellis Alves is no angel. But his lawyer says he was framed for the murder of college student Melissa Henderson...and asks Spenser for help. From Boston's back streets to Manhattan's elite, Spenser and Hawk search for suspects, including Melissa's rich-kid, tennis-star boyfriend. But when a man with a .22 puts Spenser in a coma, the hope for justice may die with him." Of course, Spenser won't die. This is only Book #24. But being seriously wounded, and vulnerable, changes our hero in profound ways. It's the impact his shooting has on his relationships with Susan and Hawk, how he learns to accept their love and support during his convalescence, that makes this book very special.

8) Sudden Mischief. Book 25. "Susan's ex is quaking in his boots... Susan Silverman's ex doesn't call himself "Silverman" anymore--he's changed his name to "Sterling." And that's not the only thing that's phony about him. A do-gooding charity fundraiser, he's been accused of sexual harassment by no less than four different women. And not long after Spenser starts investigating, Sterling is wanted for a bigger charge: murder." So we learn more about Dr. Silverman's past in this book, and it her inner life isn't always as beautiful as her appearance. At times we want to scream, "Physician, heal thyself!" Still, it's interesting to watch Spenser deal with her when she's under stress. At times, she's a total and complete bitch and he not only acknowledges it, he accepts it. Not because he has the patience of Job -- though he must, risking all to help her ex as he does -- but because he loves her and is committed to their relationship. He and Susan are it in for the long haul and, even without the formal vows, that means "for better or worse."

9) Back Story. Book 30. "An unsolved thirty-year-old-murder draws the victim's daughter out of the shadows for overdue justice--and lures Spenser into his own past, old crimes, and dangerous lives." Just as Mortal Stakes is enhanced by Robert Parker's love of baseball, Back Story is made immeasurably more believable and moving by Parker's love of dogs. The death of Spenser and Susan's baby, Pearl the Wonder Dog, is handled beautifully. Humanizing our hero even more is the return of Paul Giaccommin.

10) Cold Service. Book 32. "When his buddy Hawk is beaten within an inch of his life, Spenser infiltrates a ruthless mob in the name of friendship--and revenge." I'm ambivalent about this one. It's an important book in the series because it explores the profound bond between Hawk and Spenser. However, by this book, a lot of the wisecracking seemed stale, and I was really annoyed by how old the characters had to be by now. Remember, Godwulf Manuscript was published in the mid-1970s. Still, this series was primarily about the relationships, and viewed through that prism, this one pays off. Think of it as the sister to the superior Small Vices.

It's been more than a MONTH

And we're still down to one dryer for 24 apartments in the building laundry room. So unless something unforeseen happens, it's back to the washeteria again for me this week. I'm watching this over and over again, hopefully trying to get my mind right.

Monday, October 11, 2010

BlogBlast for Peace Is Almost Upon Us

My post is ready and will be revealed to the Blogosphere on November 4. What about you? Are you read for the BlogBlast for Peace?

You can trust me, because I'm a BlogBlast for Peace Veteran. Imagining a more peaceful world is wonderful for your soul!

Movie Monday -- All About Fall

Share on a sampling of fall flicks, linking back here at The Bumbles.

Home for the Holidays. A great cast -- Robert Downey, Jr., Holly Hunter and Anne Bancroft -- as a fabulously dysfunctional family getting together for Thanksgiving. My favorite Fall scenes involve traveling in the autumn chill when you've got a cold, as Holly Hunter's character does. It's funny because it's so relateable. Whenever I travel this time of year, it seems either I'm sneezing or the passenger next to me is.

Ordinary People.
Going back to school stirs ambivalent feelings in every kid, but it was even harder for Conrad Jarrett than for the rest of us. Since the movie was filmed in the Chicagoland area, I know how it felt to walk to school in a too-short skirt with leaves swirling around my bare legs … having to go outside after swimming with wet hair, waiting for a ride ... running across an empty field to catch the bus ... This movie is spot-on in its sensuous depiction of high school life.

Breakfast at Tiffany's. There's a terrific scene, about 2/3 through, when Holly thinks she is saying goodbye to both Paul and Manhattan. They go for a walk up and down the city streets with the late afternoon sun bouncing off the skyscrapers and everyone in their tweeds and sweaters, and Holly talks about how hard it will be to say goodbye to all this, and how she wants her children to see it someday. Autumn in New York is just too beautiful.

Today's horoscope

"Don't waste time on nostalgia or restless fantasies. You have something to do right now while your emotions are intense. Keep breathing; calmer weather is on the way."

Yeah, right.

I'm fine. I truly am. I'm a little worried about my finances, but isn't everyone?

It's my oldest friend, my mom, Kathleen (who starts radiation today) and Ed that really concern me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Being honest with my blog

I'm not proud of this, but it's true. I realized today why I've been so angry at my mom lately: I'm mad at her for getting old, which she's been doing rapidly this year. I don't want her looking so wrinkled or becoming so ditzy. I don't want her to be mortal and I hate that she's going to die. It's not imminent, but it's sooner rather than later. And I hate it.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: Another 50 Questions Meme, Part One (perhaps)

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? Unlike pot roast, mascara is NOT better on the second day.

2. How much cash do you have on you? About $40.

3. What’s a word that rhymes with DOOR? Galore.

4. Favorite planet? Space Station 7. It's the home base for the aliens who invaded earth in Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? My friend Mindy

6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? The one it came with.

7. What shirt are you wearing? My Robert the Haunted Doll shirt. Do not screw with me.

8. Do you label yourself? I prefer to be referred to as, "barren spinster."

9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing? I'm barefoot.

10. Bright or Dark Room? Bright

11. Did you do anything to celebrate John Lennon's 70th yesterday? I spent the day sitting there watching the wheels go round and round.

12. What does your watch look like? Fossil, white face, black numerals, brown band.

13. What were you doing at midnight last night? Dozing on the sofa

14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? "OK." My niece is a succinct young woman.

15. Where is your nearest 7-11? Near the next el stop

16. What’s a word that you say a lot? "Frankly"

17. Who told you he/she loved you last? My mom

18. Last furry thing you touched? My cat, Joey

19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? A fistful! To control my cholesterol and allergies.

20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? I have a half-used disposable camera

21. Favorite age you have been so far? 35

22. Your worst enemy? You're talking to her

23. What is your current desktop picture (extra points if you post it)? JBKO. I love the story behind this shot.

24. What was the last thing you said to someone? "No problem."

25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly, what would it be? Flight

Small, intense and memorable

Never Let Me Go is a very special little film. Set in a parallel universe, where cancer and neuromuscular diseases were cured back in the 1950s, we follow three children from an English boarding school to young adulthood. We learn very early on that it's not their education that makes these children special. All the children at the school are clones, or perhaps test-tube babies, bred as spare parts for the rest of us. They are why life expectancy now reaches 100 years.

It's not a sci-fi movie. It feels more like Atonement. It's interested in how these three live, and feel about, their special existence. There's not a lot of action, it's a thoughtful character study. And it will stay with you.

It stars two popular magazine cover girls -- Kiera Knightly and Carey Mulligan -- so I'm surprised it hasn't received more buzz. If you get an opportunity to see this little arthouse film, do it.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Hush

1. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener? The more nervous I am, the blabbier I become.

2. Do you take compliments well? As Oliver would say, "Please, Sir, I'd like some more."

3. Are you judgmental? I can be.

4. Do you think more about the past, present or future? The future.

5. What do you hate? Bullies! Pick on somebody your own size, why don'tcha?

6. Use three words to describe yourself. Loyal, pudgy, verbal.

7. Do you celebrate Halloween? Explain: I don't celebrate beyond handing candy out to wee ones. I think that's pretty self-explanatory.

8. If you were mixing up a witches brew, what would be in it? Six drops of the essence of terror, five drops of sinister sauce, and a tincture of tenderness.

9. If you're in a room with two beds, which one do you sleep on? The one nearest the wall.

A Birthday Tribute from an Unexpected Source

Today, October 9, is the 70th anniversary of John Lennon's birth. Google, the preeminent search engine on the Internet he never got to see, posted this tribute.

I often wonder what John would be doing today ... how he would have responded artistically to 9/11 and the war, how he would have cut through all the maudlin bs surrounding Michael Jackson's death like he did when we lost Elvis. Now let me add the web and social media to the list. Wouldn't John's tweets be a blast?

Today, I'm going to imagine how fabulous a world with John still in it would be!

Friday, October 08, 2010

"The hardest thing I've ever gone through"

I exchanged IM's with Ed today, and that's how he described sitting in his daughter's hospital room, wearing a mask, listening to her on the phone. She and her fiance are changing their plans, moving their wedding date up to as soon as she leaves the hospital. I didn't have the heart to ask why.

He mentioned how impressive his wife has been. "One tough cookie," he wrote admiringly. The ultimate movie fan, Ed described her as "more Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment than Sally Field in Steel Magnolias."

It's not lost on me that both those movie heroines lost their daughters by the last reel.

Firefox, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Us?

Company-wide, my favorite-most browser is down. I feel like a pioneer woman who has to cook over an open flame, wash her clothes by beating them on the rocks by the river, and use Safari to post to her blog.

What a nice boy!

My Friday sight seen: Two portly, matronly-looking ladies -- a mother and daughter, I guess. They were chatting rather animatedly in Spanish while looking at the lilac lacy underthings in the Cacique window. Standing close by -- but not too close -- was a lad in his late 20s. You could tell by every line of his being that he was mortified to be stuck there, on Wacker Drive on a busy sunny lunch hour, in front of the plus-sized lingerie. But there he stood, patiently and respectfully, waiting for (I assume) Mom and Grandma to finish their unutterably embarrassing conversation.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

But I just saw him last Tuesday!

My former boss, Ed, and I had lunch last week. He was in such good spirits. We talked about how he and his wife spent their 30th anniversary in Hawaii, about his daughter's upcoming nuptials, about how he's been out of work for nearly 3 years now but is still looking -- it surprises him that people think he's retired.

Right before lunchtime, I received this email from him:

"I have been trying to figure out a way of telling people that last week our daughter was disgnosed with leukemia last week. We are in New York and plan on being here for a while. She has had 7 chemo treatments and will have followup when her strain is totally diagnosed. We are stilll in shock. Whole thing came on very quickly."

This is such monumentally sobering news that I haven't processed it completely yet. Life changes on a dime, doesn't it? We can't take anything for granted.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I Want Wednesday

I want to win tonight's Illinois State Lottery. It's up to $5.2 million. After taxes, that's $2,500/week for 20 years. I'd be very happy with that.

No, change "happy" to "content and secure." For as my best friend has said, money problems are seldom about money. And when I worry about money, it's not the cash that scares me. It's the feelings of vulnerability that worrying about money inspires. I'm confident I'll always eat. But it's feeling like no one has my back, that I'm fighting this battle all alone that I hate.

Which winning the lottery would settle once and for all. So keep your fingers crossed for me!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Queen's Meme -- Falling

1. What is your favorite part about the Fall season? How suddenly comfortable the weather is. I'm happy to be outdoors, instead of avoiding it, like I do during the summer heat and humdity.

2. When was the last time you fell in love?
We were riding along the River in a cab, very late. And I saw his profile by streetlight and spotted a heretofore unnoticed, tiny scar by his eye and asked him how he got it. He literally fell off the back of the truck at his grandpa's farm when he was a little boy. I thought about how big that scar would have been on his tinier face, and how close he may have come to losing that blue-gray eye, and I was overwhelmed with a desire to kiss the boo-boo. Ooky girly emotions like that only mean one thing: LOOOOVE.

3. Have you ever injured yourself falling down? Last March, on my way home to visit my mother and give her a framed photo of my niece, I took a tumble and landed in the street. The frame shattered but I wasn't cut. I was so relieved that I initially didn't notice how scraped and bloody my legs were. The next day I looked like a first grader, with bandages up and down my legs and shins.

4. Imagine that your head is on the guillotine block and the blade i
s about to fall on your head. What is your last thought? "They say I won't feel a thing."

5. Do pumpkins scare you?

6. You are free-falling from the sky to Earth. It has taken you 3 days to fall from the galaxy and you are hungry. Where do you land? Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

7. I found this painting by John Everett Millais: Autumn Leaves (1856). It struck me totally funny. Look at their faces. What are they saying? What is going on??! It's the March girls -- from left, Meg, Jo, Beth and little Amy. They're doing chores for their Aunt March. This was before rakes, so they had to collect the leaves in a basket.

To play along yourself, thereby avoiding the dungeon, click here

Monday, October 04, 2010

Movie Monday -- The Supernatural

Share your favorite movies with those witchy, surreal, psychic or alien happenings, linking back here at The Bumbles.

Sliding up the banisters ... carousel horse races ... jumping in and out of chalk drawings ... tea parties on the ceiling ... From the moment she descended upon the Banks' home, somehow clutching the advertisement that the children wrote and their father disposed of in the fireplace, special things began to happen. She, of course, is Mary Poppins, my first favorite movie heroine. I still think she's practically perfect in every way.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Passage to adventure

Today my nephew and I celebrated his 11th birthday. In addition to a Harry Potter t-shirt and backpack, I got him a pair of passes to Safari Land, an indoor amusement not too far from his home. I included a gas card and a Visa giftcard so it won't cost his dad (or his mom or sister, whomever he convinces to take him) anything to spend the day with him. I can't wait to hear how their safari goes.

Our celebration itself was a little anti-climactic. Poor little guy was completely beat. He had such a big Saturday -- beginning with a soccer game, then a birthday lunch with his parents and my mom, and a sleepover with friends which found them singing and playing Beatle songs on WII Rock Band until after 3:00 -- that he actually snoozed for a while this afternoon after the sugar buzz from his cake wore off.