Monday, February 28, 2011

Through the eyes of a child

As part of his class' observation of President's Day, my 11-year-old nephew had to give an oral report on a President. He chose Bill Clinton. I was fascinated to hear about #42 through his eyes.

• He was born Bill Blythe

• His father died in a car accident before Bill was born

• He and his mother lived with his grandparents in Hope, AR

• They moved to Hot Springs when she got a better job in a bigger hospital

• His mother married a man named Roger Clinton who adopted Bill

• He played saxophone in the high school band

• He admired President Kennedy and memorized Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Had a Dream" speech

• He went to Yale and Oxford, and these are very good colleges

• He met his wife Hillary at college

• He was Attorney General and Governor in AR

• When he was President, there was a low crime rate and peace between England and Ireland

• His daughter Chelsea brought a cat, Socks, to the White House

• She found Socks when he was a kitten, living under a bush near her piano teacher's house

• Socks wrote books and is the first cat to have his own video game

• At first Socks didn't like Buddy, the President's dog

• He was impeached and acquitted

• He is one of the most popular former Presidents

• He had heart trouble and is now a vegan

• Socks died of cancer recently

My nephew got an A-. He lost points not for content but because he didn't look at the audience as he spoke about Bill Clinton.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Memorable Oscar Moments... Share on your blog memorable moments that stood out for you, linking back here for others to see.

As a Katharine Hepburn fan and Oscar junkie, I'd like to include a photo from that night in 1982 when she accepted her fourth Best A
ctress Award, a feat most likely never to be duplicated. But I can't because The Great Kate didn't do awards ceremonies, saying they gave her "dyspepsia." So instead I'll post a photo of her On Golden Pond costar's victory that night. Henry Fonda was unable to attend because of fragile health, so daughter Jane accepted on his behalf. Instead of going to after-awards parties, Jane (still in couture) delivered the Oscar to its wheel-chair bound owner. Because of the movie's subject matter, because she produced it for her dad, and because of their publicly tempestuous father-daughter relationship, I found this enormously touching.

C'mon, aren't these two just the cutest damn Oscar winners you've ever seen? Oscar night, 1998, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck accept the award for best original screenplay for Good Will Hunting. I fell a little in love with both of them that night (I mean, as dates, they brought their moms!), and over the years they have given me no reason to reassess my crush.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Seven Deadly Sins Meme

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1 - Pride. Seven great things about yourself.
I am the proud possessor of:
a cute nose
green eyes
lightening fast fingers upon the keyboard
a flexible writing style
almost unlimited patience with kids and critters
enduring optimism
a healthy sense of humor

2 - Envy. Seven things you lack and covet.
A waist
Long, straight hair
The ability to carry a tune
Natural grace
Self discipline
A poker face
Long, slender fingers

3 - Wrath. Seven things that piss you off.
Litter bugs
People who think Glen Beck makes sense, and insist on sharing his "wisdom"
"Space hogs" who take up the locker room bench with their iPods, gym bags & water bottles
Parents who don't keep a vigilant eye on their kids
Adults who don't keep track of civic/political matters (It's part of being a grown up, folks!)
Anyone refers to a woman as, "Dude"

4 - Sloth. Seven things you neglect to do.
Launder the curtains in my bedroom (they were originally white, honest!)
Keep up with the paperwork here at home
Get to work on time
Make a list before I go grocery shopping
Work out as often as I should
Put my shoes away (I can see 6 pairs from here)

5 - Greed. Seven worldly material desires.

Exposed brick walls
Shiny, hardwood floors
A real Marc Jacobs bag (not a knock off)
A big yard so I could have more pets

6 - Gluttony. Seven guilty pleasures.

Following the Casey Anthony case
People's Court with Judge Marilyn Milian
Valley of the Dolls
70's pop

7 - Lust. Seven love secrets.

Oh, please. I have the sex life of a nun. And not by choice!

I'm Lovin' It!

Since tomorrow is the Oscars, the cable channels are presenting some of the great award grabbers. Right now I'm luxuriating in All About Eve. Nominated for 13 Oscars, winner of 6, and a movie that not only gave us a very young Marilyn Monroe but Bette Davis spouting this great line of dialog, "Fasten your seatbelts! It's going to be a bumpy night."

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Monday, Monday

1. How does your day usually go on Monday? Once I get up and get my mind around the fact that it is indeed Monday morning, it's OK.

2. Who was the last band you saw live? The E Street Band. BROOOOOOCE!

3. When was the last time you purchased something over $50? Last Sunday I took my friend Kathy out to celebrate her birthday.

4. Does talking about sex make you uncomfortable? Nope.

5. Do you wish you were someplace else right now? Nope.

6. Tell us about the last wedding that you attended. My former boss/theater buddy Barb's wedding. She was so happy, and the wedding was such a perfect reflection of her and her groom, that I forgot how much I hate weddings. I was like the Grinch, and my small heart grew three sizes that day.

7. What's annoying you right now? How messy my condo is.

8. What is your best skill/ability? Why? I can wiggle my ear. Because it cracks children up.

9. If someone asked a friend of yours, "Hey, what is one thing your friend is exceptional at?", what would they say about you? Why? My friend Kathleen once called me "an exceptional friend." I am very proud of that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Austerity update

Earlier this month I whined and complained about financial straights that I have gotten myself into. I was undoubtedly more honest about it here than I have been with the people I come to face-to-face with in my real life. That, combined with the supportive responses from Kwiz, Snarkela, Vivian and Silver Neurotic helped me get a grip on my self made mess and start improving my situation.

So I have begun bringing my lunch to work and questioning every expense. Instead of just donating a couple of new books I have sold them on eBay, which won't buy me a house in the country but it does help me stay on budget. I have even (gasp!) cooked at home! And tomorrow, instead of renting the Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone so I can see it before the awards Sunday, I will attend the free showing at the local public library. If I find extra in my wallet, I do not look at it as "found money" to have fun with but instead do something useful with it -- like adding it to my CTA pass.

The result is that I have stayed on budget for each week and been able to add a little to my household "slush" fund (the money I turn to if a smaller unexpected expense turns up -- like a super-sized bill for snow removal at my mom's or a gift for a baby shower at the office). While using the money responsibly doesn't necessarily give me the quick high of a new purse, it does pay off in serenity over the long term.

Thank you, ladies, for the perspective and the inspiration!


This week I'm going over my Monday-Friday calorie allotment. Looking over my food intake, I realize the problem isn't the Girl Scout cookies (150 calories for 4) nor the Starbuck's hot chocolate (tall, skim, no whip -- 290 calories). It was giving in to laziness and going to Taco Bell and McDonald's rather than going with something more nutritious. 900 to 930 calories for a junk food lunch is just too much!

Oh well, I'm learning and adapting and will change my behavior. That's the important thing.

"Thanks, dear. Love you!"

Talked to my oldest friend in real-time, as opposed to swapping emails, on Thursday. The news about her health is mixed (OK, it's bad; she's not healing as expected and could be looking at another month off). But she sounded good, which she laughingly attributed to Percocet but I suspect is because her prodigal son is visiting to help out as she recovers.

She also very graciously expressed her gratitude for the help I've given her since her move -- including recommending a laundry service and a website that will arrange for Fat Burgers to be delivered directly to her door. (Yes, I know the finer things in life.) She expressed an interest in spending a week here in Chitown this summer and my return visit to see her in Los Angeles this December. And she ended the call, "Thanks, dear. Love you!"

So yes, her life is saturated with drama and yes, much of it has been unnecessary. And yes, she often allows herself to get caught up in it. But she is also tender and loyal. Even if these good qualities sometimes get overwhelmed by the stuff in her life, I must remind myself that they are always still in there somewhere ... to be appreciated and treasured.

That's what friendship is, after all, isn't it?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


A friend and her hubs just bought a pair of new cars. A nice, sedate gray VW sedan for her and a chartreuse Ford Fiesta for him.

Huh? What?

He went from a Clinton-era earth-toned car that he drove into the ground to a brand-new, sleek and brightly-colored Fiesta? How did this happen?

Well, it just so happens that their 15-year-old daughter was his date to the auto show last weekend. He denies it, of course, but it seems obvious that the lass who's on the verge of getting her driver's license did some intense, and successful, lobbying when she had his ear.

Or, as my friend said, "She has her father wrapped around her little finger."

On another bright note -- though not as bright as their new car -- they were able to afford these two new cars in part because she got a big bonus at work. This is wonderful news because she works very hard in a tough industry and deserves it. And because she's the second person I have heard of to receive a bonus in the last 90 days (the other being my best friend, who received an iPad as his Christmas bonus). Here I was beginning to think that those lucky enough to receive bonuses were creatures of fable, like unicorns. So maybe this means the economy finally is turning around!

I can't help finding this satisfying

A friend of my oldest friend's is one of those imminently resistible women who manages to be both highly opinionated and ignorant at the same time. I keep close cyber-tabs on this dumb bitch because she was once deeply embedded in my oldest friend's life -- staying with her, traveling with her, emailing and talking to her on the phone for hours on end, and costing my fragile friend a great deal (and I mean that literally, like thousands of dollars).

This woman is a conservative Republican of the nutjob variety. Meaning that her Facebook page has included depictions of Obama as Hitler, references to "The Kenyan," and the fabulously witty "OBAMA stands for One Big Ass Mistake America." Trust me, if I didn't love and worry about my oldest friend so much, I wouldn't read this mind-numbing crap.

Now here's where it gets fun. She's a schoolteacher! At the junior high level. In the Cleveland area. (Hence my nickname for her: The Madwoman of Ohio.) And now, with Governor Kasich following in Wisconsin's Walker's footsteps and appearing determined to take on -- and break down -- the teacher's union, the dumb bitch is suddenly quite vocal. Her Facebook page looks more than a bit like one of those dangerous Obama socialists who are ruining this country.

She resents that her salary is on the conservative Buckeye Institute's website (I searched the database and found she makes $68,000/year). She is furious that anyone feels that this is a "sweetheart deal" negotiated by her union because she is the sole support of four people -- her husband has been laid off often during the past few years -- and she needs the benefits. And don't get her started on that mythic "three month vacation" that she doesn't get (even though I know she refers to it as such when planning Lucy/Ethel misadventures with my oldest friend).

Oh, and this is rich: "What saddens me most is that teachers and all the other public servants are being disrespected." Gee, Teach, has anyone put a little Hitler mustache on you yet?

Don't get me wrong: I'm pro-union, and I don't even belong to one. I voted for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, knowing he was going to raise our taxes (I feel that it's only right I pay more, since I voted twice for Blagojevich and need to do penance). And besides, I don't see how destroying collective bargaining will help balance the budgets in Ohio or Wisconsin.

BUT for a woman who decries welfare and benefits and hand-outs and "socialism" for everyone else, my friend's friend is sure whiny all of a sudden. I suspect FOX may be on the verge of losing a viewer.


Gotta give him credit

As part of his book tour, Donald Rumsfeld appeared on The Daily Show. He clearly knew that Jon Stewart wasn't going to be an easy interview, and that this appearance wasn't going to sell a lot of (any?) books. And yet there he was -- not ducking any questions, always retaining his grace and even a modicum of humor.

Yes, he's a condescending elitist. Yes, he made dangerous and really sucky decisions about Iraq. But he was Secretary of Defense, not President. He was serving George W. Bush and he did so consistently and with stoicism.

So yes, I still think he's a dick, but he's a dick for whom I have grudging admiration.

I truly believe he thinks he did the right thing and views himself as a patriot. Here he is on 9/11, bravely entering the Pentagon after the plane hit (you can see the smoke from the fire). With his title, and at his age, he didn't have to go toward the danger. But he did it because he it was the right thing to do.

Which is why I always find it in me to bestow a good, old-fashioned Illinois "atta boy" to Donald Rumsfeld.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Want Wednesday

I want to always be this busy at work. The days just fly by!

Mayor Emmanuel

It still doesn't sound right. I mean, "Mayor" and "Daley" is how the Lord intended it. Still, if Richard M. Daley insists on abandoning us ... I mean, RETIRING, this is the best possible outcome. After all, Rahm is familiar. He's been on my radar since those long ago 1990s when we were both Clintonistas.

The most encouraging thing about the final results is that Carol Mosely Braun is finally done. City Clerk Miguel del Valle did better than she did, which is heartening because he had no money and minimal name recognition but he did offer dignity, values and genuine ideas -- three things Carol's campaign was completely devoid of.

Results: Mayor of Chicago

Source: Associated Press | 99% of precincts reporting

Updated 12:47 a.m. Feb. 23, 2011

Emanuel 55.2%

Chico 24.0%

del Valle 9.3%
Mosely Braun 9.0%
Van Pelt Watkins 1.6%
Walls 1%

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Behold Disney Princess Snow White Ballerina Barbie. (Phew! Barbie dolls have so many names these days!) She retails for $9.99, but I got her for a mere $4.20 at Kohl's yesterday. It makes me happy that I can both economize and have a bag of goodies for Toys for Tots and other drives this Christmas. I just have to pay attention and keep it top of mind all year around.

10 on Tuesday

The 10 Best Oscar Races Ever

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Often when I watch the Oscars, I slap my head and disparage the Academy's choice. But there have been some years, and some categories, where all the nominees were deserving and the race would have been too hard to call, even for Oscar geeks like me. For example:

2003 -- Best Picture
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby (Winner)

1991 -- Best Picture
Beauty and the Beast
The Prince of Tides
The Silence of the Lambs

1977 -- Best Actress
Anne Bancroft -- The Turning Point
Jane Fonda -- Julia
Diane Keaton -- Annie Hall
Shirley MacLaine -- The Turning Point
Marsha Mason -- The Goodbye Girl

1982 -- Best Picture
The Verdict

1972 -- Best Supporting Actor
Eddie Albert -- The Heartbreak Kid
James Caan -- The Godfather
Robert Duvall -- The Godfather
Joel Grey -- Cabaret
Al Pacino -- The Godfather

1968 -- Best Picture
Funny Girl
Lion in Winter
Rachel, Rachel
Romeo & Juliet

1967 -- Best Actor
Warren Beatty -- Bonnie & Clyde
Dustin Hoffman -- The Graduate
Paul Newman -- Cool Hand Luke
Rod Steiger -- In The Heat of the Night
Spencer Tracy -- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

1950 -- Best Actress
Anne Baxter -- All About Eve
Bette Davis -- All About Eve
Judy Holliday -- Born Yesterday
Eleanor Parker -- Caged
Gloria Swanson -- Sunset Blvd.

1940 -- Best Actor
Charlie Chaplin -- The Great Dictator
Henry Fonda -- The Grapes of Wrath
Raymond Massey -- Abe Lincoln in Illinois
Laurence Olivier -- Rebecca
James Stewart -- The Philadelphia Story

1939 -- Best Director
Frank Capra -- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Victor Fleming -- Gone with the Wind
John Ford -- Stagecoach
Sam Wood -- Goodbye, Mr. Chips
William Wyler -- Wuthering Heights

With the Oscars this Sunday,
this is this year's last 10 on Tuesday devoted to the Academy Awards

Monday, February 21, 2011

Well, this was a first

I had my initial, baseline EKG today. It was part of my annual physical. I told my doctor that after short, sudden spurts of activity, it takes me a while to breathe normally again. She said that while it wasn't anything she was too concerned about -- after all, I wasn't experiencing any pain or tightness in my chest -- she thought that now it was time to take my first EKG. It came back normal.

While my bloodwork won't be back for days, she feels that just about everything about me looks normal to her. Interestingly, I was the one who brought up my weight. In her words, it's "something to keep an eye on," but she wasn't that disturbed about. Considering how disturbed I am about it, that was good news.

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Non-Existent Sequels... Share the movies lacking that next installment that you'd be first in line to see. Be sure to link back here to the Bumbles.

Please note: I'm not suggesting that any of these movies be made. I'm just listing movies that had characters and plots that I wanted more, more, more of, even after the lights came back up.

Good Will Hunting. This is the one who inspired this meme. How does Will adjust to his new life away from the old neighborhood? Did he ever reconnect with Skylar? Does he ever see Chuckie again? Do we ever get to see Matt and Ben onscreen together again?

Titanic. OK, I know, I know. The boat sunk. But we know how Rose's adult life began and how it ended, but what happened in between? There she is in a new country with a new last name, but nothing else. Literally, nothing else! I'd love to have known what happened next. And, speaking of epics ...

Gone with the Wind. What happens when Scarlett returns to Tara? Does she get it together and pursue Rhett, or does she fall back into old patterns and give it a shot with Ashley? What of her career? She still has the lumber mill at the end of the movie. We'll never know, of course. I don't care how many faux sequels have been written. The only one who knew what happens next was Margaret Mitchell -- after all, she knew Scarlett back when she was called "Pansy" in the original manuscript -- and she took the knowledge to her grave.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Very Late Meme

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Make a list of 5 things that you can see without getting up: TV, work bag, purse, snow globe, my cat Joey

2. How do you style your hair? Right now it's short, too short

3. What are you wearing now? Jeans, t-shirt

4. What's your occupation? According to my just-completed tax return, I'm an Associate Creative Director

5. What do you hear right now? A Totino's pizza roll commercial

6. Who was the last person you hugged? Ann. Technically speaking, she hugged me, but I was involved so it counts, right?

7. What is/was for dinner? Don't know yet. I'm celebrating my friend Kathy's birthday at a new restaurant, and I'm not yet familiar with the menu.

8. What did you do today? Downloaded a couple audiobooks, a few loads of laundry ... boring stuff

9. Dog person or cat person? I have cats because I live in an apartment and I'm gone a lot. But I have an affinity for dogs, too. And hamsters. And horses. And bunnies. I like critters.

10. If you had to change your name, what would you change it to? The Gal Herself

11. What was the last thing that you bought? Lavender-scented scrub. I love it.

12. If you could afford to go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Boston, Atlanta, New York ... Those are all cities I have really enjoyed but haven't visited in a while. The "afford" part comes not the price of airfare as the time off work. In today's economic climate, I'd prefer my boss not know how well he could do without me for another month.

13. Where do you see yourself in five years? Right here. On this sofa. Though I hope by then I'll have had it reupholstered. It's really a mess.

14. Where's your birthmark? Middle of my right thigh.

15. What are you doing this weekend? Tsk, tsk. You're not paying attention! I already told you I'm taking my old friend Kathy out for her birthday dinner.

16. Which book are you reading at the moment? "Good in Bed" by Jennifer Weiner. It's better than I thought it would be.

17. The last movie you've seen? "Blue Valentine." Great performances but, oh! So depressing!

18. What are you doing tomorrow? For sure -- fasting and getting my annual physical/blood test. Maybe -- dropping off a box at Goodwill and shopping the President's Day sale at Kohl's in search of bath towels.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Abe Rocks

I'm watching an awesome National Geographic special on Illinois' own. I'm not really learning anything new here -- I've been reading about Honest Abe my whole life -- but it's a very sophisticated dramatization that makes wonderful use of Lincoln's actual quotes. The man's eloquence and character humble me.

It's being offered via Comcast's ON DEMAND, and National Geographic is re-airing it on Sunday, March 13.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Gimme Three Steps

1. Has anyone ever got angry with you for flirting with their partner or date?
Yes. At at a friend's birthday party, his wife was soooo mean to me! And he and I weren't even flirting! We have just known each other for a long time and shared a private joke or two. It was so silly. He'd never cheat on her. She's very beautiful ... and more than a little scary.

2. What is your favorite movie line or speech? (Set the scene so we appreciate it in context.) "I'm a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls!" That's Funny Girl Fanny explaining why, even though she looks different from the other show girls, she's just as appealing.

3. What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle? I narrowly missed being completely creamed by a speeding cab.

4. What do you try to stay away from? Cigarette smoke

5. What is it too late for? It's too late for me to die young.

6. If you could write three newspaper headlines, which would come true, what would they be?

7. When was the last time you apologized to someone? I feel like I'm always apologizing. Friday I left a typo in a manuscript.

8. If you find out now that you would very well known after you die, what do you think it might be for? (Feel free to pick an accomplishment that you have yet to do.) I'd like to be remembered as a "true friend and a good writer," which is how Wilbur remembered Charlotte in Charlotte's Web.

9. Are you easily angered or able to handle every situation calmly? Both. In that I am easily angered but I work hard to keep it under control.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Who knew?

I gave blood again today. In addition to an excused early absence from work and a load of good karma, I have been earning Lifesource points that I can redeem for gift cards at Target, McDonald's, iTunes, etc. It's the Brighten Life Program. How cool!

"I'm a Katie girl, and where are our drinks?

This clip is so perfect, on so many levels, that I both love it and cannot stand it.

I'm always accessible

I have left emails and voicemail for my oldest friend, who is suffering through a week at home with a broken elbow. She has yet to check in with me at home, or at work, or online, on my cell.

That is her right. But it makes it hard for me to keep trying.

I know she suffers with depression, which leaves her feeling overwhelmed by inertia. I know her move to California has been unexpectedly complicated and fraught with difficulty.

But she keeps complaining about how she has no support. I have been there to lend her money and listen about/make suggestions about her troubled daughter and her work situation. When she doesn't acknowledge that she's not alone, that she does have me -- and has ever since we were in grammar school -- she makes it frustrating for me to be patient.

When she insists she has "no support," doesn't "have anyone," I wonder if she doesn't mean a man.

I can't help her with that, now can I?

This is who she is and I must try to accept it and get over it. I know that. I am just cyber venting .... again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

And people wonder why I keep vodka in my desk

My merry band of coworkers specializes in financial marketing. It is not unreasonable to expect us to keep our fingers on the pulse of the competition.

I wondered aloud how a smallish local bank could afford Sinatra for their commercials. My art director responded by asking HOW they did it. "I mean, did they dig him up?"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Years ago, Mary and I worked for the same company and occasionally rode the el to and from work together. She was high-energy, even a little tense -- not unusual for those drawn to the agency world -- with two little kids and a husband who seemed not terribly helpful. She said he worked in an administrative capacity at a university and was home every day well before 5:00. Yet often Mary would say, "I have to stop and pick something for dinner." She would say cryptic things about how her husband was "preparing for another poker party."

Shortly after the agency we worked for folded, we ran into one another at the post office. Perky little Mary told me she and her kids were about to travel to DC to visit friends ... and to be away when her husband moved out. She told me about how he'd always been a lazy drinker, that his money was his money and her money was their money, that she had not been happy for years. It was a strange setting to hear all this -- I was buying stamps at the dispenser under the fluorescent post office lights and she was telling me about years of misery. But it seemed important to her to get it all out.

Fast forward to nearly two weeks ago. It was really cold, so I was wearing my my big, black down coat -- the one that makes me look like Ralphie's kid brother Randy from A Christmas Story. As I moved to the revolving door, I heard a tentative, "Gal?" Yes, it was Mary. After a decade, there we were, working together in the same 83-floor steel behemoth.

We only chatted for a moment, long enough for me to learn that she is a freelance contractor with a client in my building, and for her to take off her glove and flash a diamond at me. "Look!" she said, with a smile as bright as her ring. "I'm remarried and I got it right this time!" I gave her my business card and she promised to call me for lunch.

When I didn't hear from her right away, I assumed she wasn't serious about reconnecting. But today we had lunch.

She is so happy! Her new husband is named Paul and they met on e-Harmony. He gets along well with her kids (now 14 and 11). She was more serene than I ever recall her being. And I am ashamed by how happy I am to report she's gained a ton, too! I know, I know, that's terrible of me. But this morning, when I was getting dressed for work, I was actually worried about how fat she would think I looked. I admit it -- deep inside I'm shallow.

I was also happy that at one point, when I was blathering on the way I do, she touched my arm and said, "See? This is what I missed about you!" Like I'm some funny, audacious thing. I was surprised (after all, we were never that close) but it pleased me a great deal.

She invited me to "friend" her on Facebook and hopefully we'll see one another again.

I love it

Had my teeth bleached/lasered yesterday and I just love the results. Takes some of the sting out my new short-short haircut.

The Continuing Saga

My oldest friend has so much drama in her life. Some of it she creates, some of it she attracts. If it wasn't for the former, the latter wouldn't be so devastating. And I wouldn't be so continually worried about her.

Monday I got an email from her containing links to a municipal blog for her new neighborhood and more Ghost Adventures blather. I didn't respond because, to my knowledge, she still hadn't found a free moment to click on the Jib-Jab holiday card I made especially for her two months ago. She knew this bothered me -- I have told her so -- and I thought that sending me links to other sites she examines in her spare time was more than a little insensitive. When she didn't hear from me, she finally (FINALLY!) reviewed my card and thanked me for it. On the one hand, she worries about being alone in the world, and on the other hand, she callously disregards my gestures. I shrug, try to accept, and try to get past it. But sometimes, it's hard.

Anyway, later in the day Monday I got another email from her. She took a terrible tumble again, second time this year, this time breaking her elbow. She will be out of work for a week. She's on Vicodin again, second time this year, which worries me. And she's been driving, even though she can't easily get in or out of her car because with her broken elbow, it's almost impossible to buckle/unbuckle the seat belt. This worries me, too. Her email closed by saying she'd call me on Tuesday. Because of the pain meds, I didn't call her, even though she was never far from my thoughts.

She did call Tuesday, when I was at lunch, and left a message. I didn't return her call for two reasons: 1) I didn't want to disturb her when she may be trying to sleep and 2) she often doesn't pick up when I call anyway. Many times when she's complained of the blues, I have tried to call and cheer her up but she seldom answers and she never returns my calls. She gets so wrapped up in her own drama that she doesn't think of the impact her behavior has on me.

So imagine my surprise when I got home Tuesday night to find emails and calls, wondering if I was OK. I wasn't being manipulative with her, I was just kind of worn out and saddened by the way she often treats me. It was gratifying to see she really does value me as an individual and not just as a comfort/support resource.

I hope that while she concentrates on healing, she will use this time off to look calmly and objectively at her life in California (at least as objectively as anyone can look at their own lives). She has to recommit to her job because, as hard a time as she's having, she needs it to support her lifestyle. She has to work things through with her troubled daughter and, in her own words, "cut the apron strings" that tie her to her older son. She has to think about her own health -- her weight, her ankles, her teeth, her heart, her smoking, her depression ....

I worry about her. One could argue that she created much of what she is facing now by willfully making this move before without real preparation but you know what? That really doesn't matter now and I must stop looking at it through that prism. Now that I'm confident our friendship is reciprocal, I feel more free to devote more energy into helping her work all this through.

I Want Wednesday

I want New England clam chowder for lunch. You know, the creamy white one. Keep your fingers crossed that it's one of the soups du jour in the cafeteria.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's time to start dreaming again

With the pitchers & catchers already in Mesa, the rest of the Cubs and their loyal fans can't be far behind. The first game at Hohokam Park is 2/27 vs the A's.


He done good

My best friend updated me on his Valentine's Day. He reports that he made dinner for his wife and daughters last night, and then gave them each an individual, surprise Valentine: dinner and a concert for his wife, a night at the ballet with his ballerina daughter, and a Nuggets game with his Title 9 daughter. Of course, the best part of the gift is that each of "his girls" will get alone time with him.

It was very thoughtful and very him.

And it's great that he feels so grounded at home and so connected to "his girls." It wasn't always thus. Since he is committed to staying in this life he chose, it's important to me that he be happy in it.

10 on Tuesday

Ten Times Oscar Got It Right

When big movie stars die, their obituaries tend to begin with, "Oscar-winner [INSERT NAME HERE] died today ..." Sometimes, as with Clark Gable, these performers didn't win for signature roles. But often they do, and they go into the record books for career-defining parts. Like these 10 ladies ...

Claudette Colbert. It Happened One Night. Ellie Andrews. (1934) The most famous hitch-hiker in film history.

Vivien Leigh. Gone with the Wind. What's Her Name. (1939) As God is my witness, I'll never forget her in this movie.

Joan Crawford. Mildred Pierce. (1945) The shoulder pads. They arched eye brows. The no-nonsense attitude. Of course, with what we know about her private life, seeing her as America's most selfless mother is more than a little ironic.

Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins. (1964) Practically perfect in every way.

Elizabeth Taylor. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Martha. (1966) She was only in her early 30s when she played heavy, gray, loud and drunk. Little did we know this blowzy portrait was her Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Barbra Streisand. Funny Girl. Fanny Brice. (1968) Some think her most famous scene is alone in the alley, singing about those people who need people. For me, it's her at the finale, belting it out about her man, with one perfect tear running down her cheek.

Liza Minnelli. Cabaret. Sally Bowles. (1972) Usually Liza strikes me as over the top and skin-crawly. But you can't deny how good she was in these musical numbers. As Sally, over the top is just right.

Diane Keaton. Annie Hall. (1977) Yeah, well. La-de-dah, la-de-dah.

Sally Field. Norma Rae. (1979) Close you eyes. You can just see her on the table with that UNION sign, can't you?

Kathy Bates. Misery. Annie Wilkes. (1990) Don't argue with me about this one, Mr. Man.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Monday Movie Meme -- Show Me the Money

Share movies that focus on making money, finding money, losing money, stealing money or spending money. Then link back here at The Bumbles.

Glengary Glen Ross.
"A. B. C. Always Be Closing." These are the words the salesmen at the Chicago real estate office live by. Times are tough, the competition is cut throat, and the David Mamet dialog is brilliant. Ed Harris, Alan Arkin and Jack Lemmon are especially desperate in their pursuit of the almighty buck. Alec Baldwin and Al Pacino are filled with macho swagger. And Kevin Spacey plays the office toady that everyone hates.

Quiz Show. Charles Van Doren comes from a family of erudite overachievers. He may not be as smart as the rest of his brilliant clan, but he is bright enough and good looking. That combination makes him a natural for a new phenomenon, the TV quiz show. Once he starts making money -- a lot of it for very little work -- he discovers he enjoys it. And he is seduced into doing what he knows is wrong just to keep it rolling in.

Wall Street. "The point is that greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Part of what makes Gordon Gekko such a destructive and powerful villain is that he doesn't think he's wrong, or even bad. He's simply indulging in the pursuit of power and money that he believes makes us humans superior to the rest of the food chain.

She's going to die

My friend Ed's daughter. She is just 24 years old.

Her leukemia is in remission right now, but the doctors are guarded about her ability to make it to 30. So she got married in hurry -- forgoing the big Chicago wedding they were planning and settling for a judge's chambers in New York, where she now lives and is undergoing treatment.

Before this last round of chemo, she had her eggs harvested. The doctors warned her that the chemicals might destroy her eggs and she desperately wants to have a baby with her new husband.

And now she wants a bone marrow transplant. She's been warned that it could very well shorten her life even more, but it would enhance her ability to carry her own fertilized egg, and that's what she wants. She wants to have a healthy baby as normally as possible with her new groom. As she told her dad, my friend Ed, she's less interested in "quantity of years than quality."

Ed is one of the world's biggest movie fans. He keeps likening his daughter to Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. I wish that movie had a happier ending. I really do.

This is terrible for Ed. This daughter of his was an accident. He and his wife never wanted children. When his wife found she was pregnant, they discussed abortion seriously but finally decided against it. And so my friend was shocked and delighted by how much he loved this little person who he never anticipated having in his life.

He adores her. Over the years I've heard it all: how beautifully she performed as Maria in The Sound of Music, how she agonized about her ears and insisted on always wearing her hair long to cover them, how lost she first felt when she first went away to college in New York, how she met and fell in love with Brian ... and now this horror.

I don't know his wife as well as I know him, but she is in my thoughts and prayers, too. For this is not her first time, hanging around in waiting rooms, waiting for news about a loved one. Ed himself battled prostate cancer and almost lost his life in 2008. He lost his job not long after that, and she has been supporting her little family by herself since then.

I hate my new haircut. My condo is a mess. And then I think of them and my priorities quickly reshuffle.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Sunset Meme

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. What is your favorite Mexican dish? Quesadilla, preferably cut into little points.

2. When you were a kid, did you get started on your homework right away after school, or did you procrastinate? Procrastinated. To this day I hate the stopwatch graphic at the beginning of 60 Minutes because to me, it meant I had 60 minutes until I had to revisit the homework I'd been putting off all weekend.

3. What is your favorite store for home furnishings? Crate and Barrel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

4. When you were young, did you like school lunches? Inarguably the best part of the day back then.

5. Is religion a crutch? No.

6. In your region, what is the “big” high school sport? Basketball.

7. Do you consider yourself rich? Hell, no.

8. Which of these would you have the best chance administering:

B) Heimlich Maneuver
C) Changing a flat tire

D) Dialing 911.

9. Which dance would you prefer to learn & why:

A) Salsa
B) Hip Hop
C) Waltz
D) Swing. Because it looks so neat.

10. What’s the worst news you’ve ever delivered to someone? "We have to let you go."

11. Name something you learned in college that had nothing to do with classes or academics. Um ... can't think of anything. My foray into higher learning was very short -- less than a year at community college.

12. New variation on an old question: If there’s a song in your head that just won’t get out, what is your favorite (or most repeated) line in that song? "Though there's pain in my chest, I still wish you the best, with a forget you ..." Placed in my head by this link at Kwizgiver's.

Requesting permission to vent

Last March, after I cleaned out my closets for the Carson's Goodwill Sale, I was sure to set aside one of the terrific coupons for my oldest friend's birthday and or Christmas gift. I was worried about losing my job then, and I didn't want her to suffer if I got the axe. I bought her favorite, Vera Wang body lotion, for about $40, even with the coupon. I tucked into my closet, keeping it dry and dark to preserve the scent, and then brought it with me in December when I went to visit her to celebrate her birthday. It was the designated Christmas gift. She wouldn't open it, saying my Christmas present hadn't arrived yet. She wanted us to unwrap them together, over the phone, when mine was finally ready.

I was pissed. Christmas is on everyone's calendar. Plus she had blown off my birthday. She emailed me from her new home in Beverly Hills, like 2 days before, saying, "What do you want to do about your birthday? Shall we celebrate it out here when you come?" No. I want to insist that you FedEx overnight my present. Clearly she had forgotten my birthday, and now, weeks later, she had put Christmas off until the last moment.

And of course, with my oldest friend, none of this is her fault. My parents had the bad taste to have me during the same month of her cross-country move 53 years in the future. It's their fault. And it's the fault of the company she ordered my Christmas gift from. Not hers. It's never her fault.

OK. Whatever. I left the Christmas gift on her piano and headed back to Chicago.

Her move to California was turning out to be a disaster, and I tried to be as supportive as I could be. I posted photos of my trip - - including one of her Beverly Hills street sign -- on Facebook and let her know how to access them. Then, because I knew Christmas with her oldest, troubled son would likely be a stressful disappointment, I made a Jib-Jab Christmas Card for her -- starring her and I. It's not an opus, I'm not giving Martin Scorcese a run for his money, but I put work into it.

Here we are in mid-February. I hear from her all the time and know all about the problems with her health, her clinically-depressed 20-something son, her hyper-active and troubled freshman daughter, and now her job -- the one she moved out to Los Angeles for. She finds relief in her free time by farting around on Facebook, bonding with unmet "friends" who enjoy her passion for Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel.

Yet she hasn't found the time or the interest to click on the Jib-Jab card I made or to even glance at the Facebook photos I posted. Nor to send me my Christmas gift. As far as I know, she's lost the body lotion I gave her -- that Christmas gift I put so much care into choosing, wrapping, and delivering.

I am hurt and I am angry. And I am running out of patience. For while I'm the hurt and angry one, I know my oldest friend sees herself as the victim in this. Sometimes we have to take responsibility for our own actions, and the pain they cause others. Hearts as loyal as mine should be too precious for friends to injure.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: I Saw It on TV

1. What new TV show rocks your world this year? Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It's not a new show, but it's new to me and I'm hypnotized and stunned. It leaves me happy to be a pudgy, middle aged, Chicago spinster.

2. What is your least favorite ethnic food, and what makes it your least favorite? Anything with hot sauce. Because I don't like hot sauce.

3. When does liking someone a lot become loving that person? When he's the last one I think of at night and the first one I think of in the morning.

4. Is there a job you would do for free, and is it your current job? Yes, I'd care for cats in a shelter. And no, it's not my current job.

5. What is one person/thing that inspired you to take action of some sort? Senator John Kerry's 2004 Presidential run inspired me to devote a year to letter writing and phone calling. He stood for an appropriate and responsible handling of the war on terror, an end to the war in Iraq, international cooperation, protecting a woman's right to choose ... I still believe we got it right and 50.7% of America got it wrong.

6. Though you might not believe in it, would you like fate to exist? I do believe in it. I reject random.

7. Tell us about a news story that truly shocked you. The case of Yummy Sandifer. He was an 11-year-old Chicago boy who loved riding his bike, knew all about big cars like Lincolns and Cadillacs, and had a soft spot for animals. Oh yeah, and he shot and killed a little girl he barely knew to please his gang. They turned on him and he was found dead in a graffiti-filled underpass.

8. What's something you're looking forward to? Getting my hair cut.

9. What characteristics do you despise? Bullies. Pick on somebody your own size, why don't you?

Pride Comes Before the Fall

So much for my last post.

Saw another play last night with Barb. Because of the late hour, I took the Metra train home instead of the trusty old el. They only run hourly at that time of night, so when I entered the station with only two minutes till departure, I knew I had to run for it.

Up the escalator, across the station and down the platform.

I made it, barely. And it took its toll. In the words of The Killer, "You leave me ... breathless-uh."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sore, but it's a happy kind of sore

I have worked out four times this week, and have stuck to my diet! I have also noticed a solid connection between sticking to my diet and spending less money on food. So in all, while I admit my old bones are feeling this, I'm pleased with myself.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Many 7s

Swiped from Kwizgiver


1. Empty boxes
2. Bubble wrap
3. Vase of purple mums
4. Wrigley Field snowglobe
5. Laptop
6. Tissue box
7. Can of Coke

1. "Thank you ..." (usually as I'm disappearing out of someone's office)
2. "That's OK" (though I often don't mean it)
3. "Hi-hi"
4. "What the fuuuuu ...?"
5. "It must be said ..."
6. "Like they say in the Hippocratic oath, 'first do no harm.'"
7. "Of COURSE it's cold! It's WINTER!"

1. Coke
2. kitties
3. chocolate
4. clean undies
5. books/magazines
6. music
7. internet/electricity/laptop

1. Finances
2. The fingernails I bit off last night during Les Miz
3. If I can respectably get one more day of wear out of these jeans
4. PORTION CONTROL -- which means I can have six chocolate mint meltaways today and six tomorrow, not all twelve in one sitting
5. How much I like Jason Mraz and John Mayer
6. Mayor Harry Baals
7. Sen. Jim Webb (I am that geeky)

1. My favorite national news show is originating from Chicago tomorrow
2. How my best friend is doing with his Big Projects
3. I owe my cousin and aunt letters
4. Even though they both live in Florida, my cousin (mom's side) and aunt (dad's side) have never met
5. My glutes hurt, but in a good way, after my workout
6. I haven't heard from my friend Ed (except for little Likes on Facebook) in a while ...
7. I need to buy quarters for the washer/dryer

Do You:
1. believe in God? Yes
2. Had a dream come true? Not literally
3. Read the newspaper? Monday through Friday
4. Pray? Not conventionally -- I more talk to God
5. Have a job? Yes
6. Go to church? When I feel the need
7. Wish on shooting stars? No, because I've never seen one

Have you ever:
1. Gone skinny dipping? No
2. Kissed someone of the same sex? No
3. Swam in the dark? No
4. Been to a bonfire? Yes (Yea! I got one!)
5. Ran away from home? When I was really little
6. Played strip poker? No
7. Pulled an all nighter? Not in about four years

Have you...
1. Cried?
2. Had fun? Yes
3. Been kissed? No
4. Felt stupid? Not yet
5. Talked to an ex? No
6. Missed someone? Yes, I miss my best friend
7. Hugged someone? No

My attitude

It makes economizing hard.

I have finally seen it!

In my entire varied theater-going career, I have somehow always missed Les Miserables. It hasn't been by design, it's just worked out that way. But last night, that wrong was finally righted.

I'm told the new touring company benefits from more modern staging and a fresh new cast (many of whom weren't even born when the play debuted 25 years ago). The vitality is infectious and the student uprising really resonates, especially with everything we see going on in today's Egypt.

I was particularly drawn to Éponine, the biological daughter of the ethically challenged couple Fantine leaves Cosette with. Spoiled and selfish as a little girl, she grows up to be selfless and brave. The grown up Cosette, on the other hand, kinda annoys me. At a time when so many were suffering, I didn't see her circumstances or personality as particularly compelling. But I guess that's the strength of Les Miz: it's so timeless that you can feel like you have to be Team Éponine or Team Cosette, just as you had to choose between Jen and Angelina. Oh! And poor little Gavroche!

Obviously, I had a good time.