Monday, May 30, 2011

Hello, old friend

Isn't there something especially wonderful about icy, icy cold vodka?

Here we go again

I love my friends very much, but often I don't get them. First my oldest friend becomes almost paralyzed by depression, unable to even find a lawyer -- much less contact her -- to protect her own interests. Now my friend from Key West is behaving in much the same way. Unexpectedly losing his job as a professor in the local community college has left him barely able to function.

I researched lawyers for both of them and even contacted one, drafting a letter, on behalf of my oldest friend. They are the ones who initially believed they could sue and win, not me. But I do all the leg work and then ... nothing. My friend in the Keys is struggling even to make his way through the severance packet from the college and apply for unemployment benefits.

If you read this humble blog regularly, you know I'm no stranger to depression myself. I believe that my messy home and finances are the physical manifestation of it. I'm easily distracted by escape into books and magazines and movies and the Internet, or I get hyper-involved in the problems of the world, and let the highly personal things go.

But, where my friends and I differ, is that when I can figure out how to improve something quickly and cleanly, I get on it. Like my consultation earlier this month with my shrink and my gyne re: my weight. Wean myself slowly off the Lexapro? I'm on it. Reduce my intake of carbs? Yes, indeed. Move more? A little more problematic because of my job, but I have worked out yesterday and today.

The same when I was unemployed back in 2003-2004. I called headhunters and checked job search engines and contacted my former employers Barb and Ed every week like clockwork. I considered it my job to get a new job, or at least freelance assignments. I didn't do it 8 hours a day, of course. Again, I'm too undisciplined and too easily distracted by TV and other toys around the house. Plus I got very involved with John Kerry's Presidential campaign, and that took up a lot of time. So I was never, ever frozen in place the way these two are.

It's frustrating. I love them and I want to help! Especially my friend in the Keys, because this is a condition I've never seen him in. (But, like my best friend recently wrote me: "As much as you want to you fix everything, you can't ... and that's OK.") In addition to that, I selfishly feel confused and isolated. I wish these people I consider myself close to were more like me.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

This made me so happy

It's soooo humid today, it's easy to get grumpy and droopy. But not the little girl who was standing beside me at the light, holding her mom's hand.

"Look!" She announced triumphantly. "The sign says OPEN." I'm happy to report that the store she was thrilled was open on Memorial Day was a local, independently owned book store. An enthusiastic little reader! How cool is that?


This Memorial Day, I'm stopping to reflect on the generations (and generations, and generations) who have died to protect our freedoms. I'm also thinking of my dad, who was born this month and served bravely in Korea, and my uncle, whose entire life was colored by his experiences in Viet Nam (and I'm still really pissed because of the role Agent Orange likely played in his recent death at 68).

If you have a moment today, please visit Operation Shoebox. They send shoeboxes filled with everyday essentials and little luxuries to those serving us overseas. That dog-eared John Grisham paperback you'll never read again because your know how it ends, or the plastic spoons you're collecting for no particular reason in a kitchen drawer could find their way to Iraq or Afghanistan, and be appreciated.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I admit it. I'm hooked.

I can't get enough of the Casey Anthony trial. Even though I had big plans for all I'd accomplish on this long Memorial Day weekend, I've done little of it. Instead I have been glued to the TV, watching the gavel-to-gavel coverage. And damn Judge Perry! He kept me from doing housework because he's decided to hold court on Saturdays in order to save the taxpayers money and get the sequestered jurors home to their families/lives sooner.

I am loving Judge Perry. And I wonder how long I'll be haunted by Caylee's eyes. Casey's, too. For while I certainly don't excuse, nor can I even comprehend, how anyone could treat a child the way Caylee was, I also am not sure Casey Anthony is pure evil and nothing but. I'm not buying the sexual abuse the defense is proffering, but I'm not sure that something very weird didn't go on in the Anthony household.

But, of course, being terrified of her mother and bat shit jealous of her daughter is not a legal defense for Casey Anthony. But it is an explanation. And I am longing for an explanation.

At least I'm not "under water"

I'm reading the latest official county assessment for my condo. It's a good news/bad news situation.

On the one hand, this home of mine -- the biggest investment I'll ever make -- is worth 19% less than it was last year. Naturally this is not a feel good.

On the other hand, at least it's worth more than I owe. 44% more than I owe, to be exact. This makes me happy.

Also, while it never makes me happy to see my biggest investment is worth less than ever before, it's not all bad. After all, since my condo has been devalued, the upcoming property tax increase won't take such a big bite.

So I'm still financially afloat.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The "You Can't Be Missed" Meme, The Last Part

Cheers to all of us thieves!

46. Would you ever try to quit one of your addictions, or better said: Bad Habits? No.

47. Could you ever kill yourself to save someone else? Huh? You have to tell me a little more about this dire situation.

48. Does it matter if break up with someone or have them dump you? Yes. Not that it hurts any less in the wee small hours of the morning, but it helps to be able to tell others, "I left him, you know."

49. Would you rather have a turtle or a frog for a pet? Turtle. I had a little turtle named Bobby Joe and he was really neat. He lived in a little bowl on my desk and kept me company when I did my homework. He liked it when I turned on my desk lamp. Though I'm sure it was the additional warmth, and not a love of learning.

50. Would you rather spend a day with Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus? ALL day? Gaga. But I think either one would wear thin pretty quick.

51. Would you rather learn to play piano or guitar? Either one. Though I'm terribly non-musical.

52. We're going back to the day. Where did you get your kicks? Same place as now -- on a bar stool in my favorite dive bar.

53. What Asian country would you like to visit the most? Why? Hong Kong. I've heard it is unique and diverse.

54. Have you ever thought that a passer-by was the one (think James Blunt, here)? Nope

55. Ever told someone that your fake jewelry was really real? Nope

56. Where are the worst public restrooms? Taste of Chicago. You have to wait forever and then they're so .... icky. Fortunately my office building is not too far away and I can get us all in with my ID and we can use nice, clean, well-lit restrooms.

57. What song was the latest one that got overplayed really fast? "Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green

58. What Friends (American TV show from the 90s) character are you most like? Monica, I suppose. Though if I could gender-bend, I'd go with Chandler.

59. When's the last time you had a Popsicle? Don't recall

60. What TV show from way back would you love to see reappear? thirtysomething. Though now it would be fiftysomething. On that show, I was very much like Ellyn, no question.

Pregnant Chic, ca 1960

These photos were all taken in Fall 1960, when Jackie Kennedy was between 7 and 8 months pregnant with John Jr. and helping her husband campaign for the Presidency.

The three-photo study is her watching the Kennedy-debates on a monitor.

I just love finding photos of her I've never seen before. I keep hoping that one of them will unlock her secrets.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Looking for a Love

1. When you were single, or if you are single, what's the best way to look for love? In all the wrong places. No kidding. The best relationships I have had happened with the least likely people. Fix ups with that guy you know who would be just perfect for me somehow never work out.

2. Have you ever cruised online personals, even if you're married for fun? What was the reason, or if you haven't, why not? Last time I did it was to see the profile for a stone bitch, aka Freakazoid Bitch, I used to work with. Loved her photo. Her prominent adam's apple still makes her look like a pre-op tranny. Tee hee.

3. Have you ever put up an online personal? If so, how was your experience? Yes. It was a million years ago, in the Chicago Reader, before the classifieds were primarily ... um ... "adult." It was fun. I got a zillion responses, only a couple were inmates, and I had several nice dates. It's how I came to meet a nouveau Chicagoan named Ted. He was completely adorable, gentle, with a black beard and friendly blue eyes. He regaled me with the tale of his youth in Oregon. His first car was tan VW and he actually got stopped and questioned by police who were looking for a homicidal maniac named Ted who drove a car like his: Ted Bundy. Gulp.

4. Have you ever answered an online personal? If so, how did it turn out? Never answered one. Sorry.

5. Have you ever had a good experience with online dating? If not, have you had a friend/family member have a good experience? Tell us about it! My older sister met her second husband through a dating service. They seem happy.

6. Have you ever had a horrible experience with online dating? If not, someone else? Horrible? No. I did have some unpleasant dates, but then, that just goes with being single, doesn't it?

7. Back in 2004, a friend threw her husband out because she found out that he was having cyber affairs/sex with 2 women in states FAR away from them. Do you think that cybersex is actually cheating? Nah. And it wouldn't bother me unless he was online all the time, playing with himself and others. I mean, I wouldn't want to find myself competing with a keyboard for his attention.

8. Do you have any suggestions for someone as to how to stay safe using a dating service? Nothing unique to dating services. Just the usual: take your own car, meet in a public place, keep your phone on and tell all your friends where you're going and with whom. I mean, what if you found you were out with the next Ted Bundy?

9. I've heard someone say, “There's and then there's everyone else." Is this true in your experience or someone you know? Sorry, but I don't know a lot about this. Guess I'm afraid of finding myself sitting on a bar stool across from Ted Bundy. (Not really, just wanted to use the link again. Though the Bundy story is the ultimate romantic buzz kill, isn't it?)

Melancholy about Moving Up

At the private school (K-12) that my best friend's daughters attend, there's only one graduation -- when a student leaves forever for college. Every other ceremony is called "moving up." And yesterday, both of his girls "moved up."

Pumpkin -- as he affectionately calls his freakishly beautiful (picture an adolescent Michelle Pfeiffer), painfully shy, highly athletic older daughter -- is moving up from junior high to high school. Princess -- his nickname for his outgoing, bubbly ballerina -- is moving up from grammar school to junior high.

Because Princess is so much more mature than her big sister was at that age, they seem more like one year apart than three. And they are both now as tall as his wife. Which means, he noted ruefully, "I don't have any little girls any more."

From the bad comes some good

I had dinner Wednesday night with my mother, my older sister, and her second husband. This is unusual.

For not only does my older sister live in Los Angeles, we don't really like one another. A year apart in age, my older sister has always felt insanely competitive with me. According to my sister's shrink and family legend, she was a sickly and emotionally fragile little girl who craved my mother's undivided attention. Because of my unplanned arrival at a crucial time in her development, she was deprived that undiluted maternal attention and never would get it. This has colored all of her relationships -- which she sees in context of me and my relationships.

If she were a character in a book, I would feel sorry for her. After all, she has been forever competing and measuring and evaluating life instead of living it. And, since she was the better student and has always been very pretty, it means that she seems to miss appreciating her own gifts.

However, since I am the younger sister of this real-life saga, and my real sin was simply being born, my attitude has always kinda been, "Get over it."

ANYWAY ... my sister and my mother have this complicated dance that has been going on for decades. Because my sister loves and needs my mother's approval and attention so very much -- and since she can't get it because not only do I exist but another daughter came along 8 years later -- she frequently punishes my mom. Most recently it's been withholding financial support (or even birthday, Mother's Day or Christmas cards). Yet they talk regularly on the phone, conversations that often leave my mother feeling sad because they are all about my older sister's wonderful life with her new husband, never acknowledging any concern for the problems my mother is facing in her own life.

It's a tiring situation that I try to stay as far away from as possible. Her trip to visit our mother left me wanting to pull the sheets over my head. So when I was invited out to dinner Wednesday, I was happy to go for my mother's sake, but nervous for my own.

I needn't have been. First of all, I got a terrific rib eye steak and sweet potato combo ... all courtesy of her new husband. Yea! Secondly, I was happy to see that my older sister is struggling with menopausal weight gain, too! Her symptoms are very different from mine (dammit!) but still it was a relief to peer into this window of shared genetics.

And most importantly, my sister seemed proud and felt important for all the help she's given our mother this week. That during her vacation time here in Chicago, she and her husband have taken our mom to a lawyer's office to get the bankruptcy back on track, to the DMV for a state-issued ID, to another lawyer's office to update her will,* and to Costco to stock my mother's pantry with a generous supply of non-perishables (like toilet paper and laundry detergent).

So it was all good! My mom seemed tired, having my sister staying with her. But unfortunately the two of them will never have a comfortable relationship and I can't help that. I'm just so relieved and happy that Wednesday went well, and that my older sister now gets it -- our mother needs her help.

* And I'm glad to let my older sister handle everything in regards to my mother's estate. My mom doesn't have anything and even if she did, I don't want it. I'd prefer my mother live comfortably herself.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm so proud!

Your result for The Psychopath Test ...

Criminal (non-felon)

12 Psychopath, 6 narcissist, 6 deviant

You scored between six (6) and twenty-one (21). This indicates that you probably have a criminal background, but one that does not include felonies. If you "deviant" score is eleven (11) or more but your "narcissist" score is nine (9) or less, you were probably a high suicide-risk inmate.

Your Analysis (Vertical line = Average)

  • Psychopath Distribution

    You scored 12% on Psychopath, higher than 49% of your peers.

  • narcissist Distribution

    You scored 6% on narcissist, higher than 48% of your peers.

  • deviant Distribution

    You scored 6% on deviant, higher than 46% of your peers.

Take the test yourself and let me know how you did. And try to tell the truth.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #125


1939 – Lilybet's father, King George (he of The King’s Speech)

visits the United States for the first time as monarch

1950 – Coca Cola begins its world dominance

1955 – American women discover wash’n’wear clothes

made of exotic polyester fabrics like Dacron and Orlon

1963 – Astronauts like Gordon Cooper are our heroes

1967 – Johnny Carson is the undisputed King of Late Night

1972 – Like JFK and LBJ before him, Richard Nixon

finds himself wrestling with Viet Nam

1977 – Baryshnikov takes off

1981 – Billy Martin and his fractious Oakland A’s dominate baseball

1987 – A politician finds himself enmeshed with a woman not his wife.

Imagine that!

1994 – We pause to pay tribute to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

To find out more about Thursday Thirteen,
and maybe participate yourself, click here.

I Want Wednesday

I want my holiday weekend to get started already. Why is it the short work weeks feel the longest?

Confessions of the Formerly Fit

I used to be a size 6. For almost 15 years I lived at the gym.I was limber and strong and my legs were great. How I wish I had enjoyed body more back in those days! Back then all I saw were the flaws.

That was 75 lbs. and 13 years ago. Now I'm at the gym twice a week (though I mean to hit it three times or more). I'm easier on myself ... and others.

Lately I've seen two women in my row in the locker room who are enormous. Like Gabourey Sidibe big. Back in the day I would have seen them changing either for or from their work outs and been appalled. How did they get that way? Don't they disgust themselves?

Today I see them as courageous. How daunting it must be to know how hard it will be to work out, how quickly they will become tired and winded, how long it will be until they see any results. And yet there they are. Good for them! In their way, they are heroines.

I also like myself better now. Even if my thighs are dimpled, I'm a nicer woman.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Well, that was weird

I dreamed that Stephen Colbert and I were newlyweds. I cared for him, but I wasn't head-over-heels in love with him and we were having problems. We spent the weekend with our friends, Jeff and Susan Bridges, who talked sense to us. OK, so we may not be the great love of one another's lives, but that passion dissipates anyway. We had laughs and respect and genuine fondness and could be happy if we allowed ourselves to be.

Just the thought of analyzing this dream gives me a headache, so I'm leaving it that.

Except to say that in my dream, Jeff and Susan live in a beautiful, rustic house with lots of bathrooms, and they have terrific taste in bath linens.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Movie Monday

This week's movie topic is all about Writers...
Share movies that feature writers, authors, poets and scribes,
linking back here to the Bumbles.

All the President's Men. It's a story of two journalists on the case of their lives. In the scenes that show them at work, Woodward is the reporter, concerned about being comprehensive, while Bernstein's passion is as a writer, telling a complex story as clearly as possible. That difference in writing style adds to the dramatic tension.

Capote. In Cold Blood and To Kill a Mockingbird are two of my favorite books, two stories that could only be set in the US. Though the tales they tell couldn't be more different, the narrators' voices are similar and as familiar as a soft, Southern breeze. Of course. Because Harper Lee and Truman Capote grew up together, loved one another dearly, and -- as this movie reveals -- were more involved in one another's work than I knew.

Secret Window. As Capt. Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp has shown us that he can do wacky. But in this dark movie, based on a Stephen King short story, as an author accused of plagiarism, he does a mean bat shit crazy. Yet somehow he still makes bedhead and a ridiculous bathrobe sexy. One of the most eccentric performances in an eccentric career.

Julia. Fonda is Lillian Hellman (The Childrens Hour, The Little Foxes) and Jason Robards is her lover, Dashiell Hammett (The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon). The fact that these two fabulous writers were lovers at all amazes me, and to see them portrayed by two such world-class actors is a treat.

Money, money, money, money ... MONEY!

Spent a good deal of time talking to my friend from Key West. He lost his job this month, after more than a decade at the community college. His contract is up in (I believe) August and they bought him out.

But he has tenure, so he was completely blind-sided by this event. And the college, which he believed was his professional family, handled the situation hurtfully. He found out about his impending axing from one of his students, who was told she couldn't take his summer class because, well, the professor wouldn't be there anymore.

Enrollments are down. Funding is down. 7 educators were let go. He believes he was one of them because of his whistle-blower tendencies. That, combined with tenure, is why he wants to sue.

I warned him that he's not getting this job back. Even if he gets money from the State of Florida, or whoever he's looking to sue, he won't be reinstated. He acknowledges that intellectually but I don't think he gets it emotionally. He loved teaching at that school. He was involved with his students and his coworkers. It's like an amputation, and he still feels his "missing limb."

They can't afford their home on just his lover's income (even though his lover is currently working two jobs; days as an accountant, a couple evenings a week tending bar.). My friend had comprehensive health coverage through the school, but he didn't feel he could afford COBRA so he passed.* Since he and his lover are gay and cannot marry, it complicates things. They are checking whether his lover can add him to the group plan he gets from his accounting job. Never mind that they have been monogamous for nearly 20 years. Apparently we are comfortable dismissing that in this country "in defense of marriage." (Right, Governator? Don't you agree, Newt?)

Key West is an island. It's not like there's another institute of higher learning he can turn to now. This chapter of my friend's career is over.

The thing of it is, my friend is much beloved all over town. Friends and former students work in hotels, restaurants, stores and publications across the island. I reassured him that, at times like this, karma counts -- and all the good he has done will come back to him. He just has to allow himself to accept it graciously. (To get the ball rolling, I sent him a CVS gift card for $50. You can buy anything at CVS, right? And maybe it'll be a subliminal reminder to get that health insurance situation sewn up.)

I wish we could have spent more time talking about the emotional damage, rather than the fiscal. But alas, these are the days we live in. Money is important to all of us these days. If only it wasn't so.

* Though I feel he can't afford
not to take it.

Woof! Part 2

So I encountered my noisy canine neighbor this afternoon. The acoustics in this building confused me: He wasn't next door, as I thought. He was downstairs.

Chewy and I met a few blocks away on a busy street corner. As I approached the streetlight, there was a tiny blond terrier, making serious eye contact with me. I was mouthing, "Hi, Puppy!" when I heard, "You don't recognize me, do you?"

I didn't even notice my neighbor. The little ball of yellowish fluff was working that hard to woo me. (He was successful.)

We walked together to Petco. Chewy needed a bottle of puppy shampoo and I needed yet another sack of kitty kibble. As we walked together, I found out from my neighbor that Chewy will be staying with her for a while. He belongs to her daughter (but I know from a previous conversation that her adult daughter is very, very ill) and is adjusting well to a more urban setting. At first walking down busy sidewalks with traffic racing by unsettled him -- after all, he's not very big -- but now he traverses the neighborhood like a pro.

I didn't mention the recent barking incident. She seems to be making the best of a sad situation -- after all, if her daughter was still healthy and self-sufficient, she wouldn't have Chewy at all. I bet that, as Chewy adjusts to life in his new home, the barking will abate. If anyone on the condo board complains about Chewy, I will give them a piece of my mind. Soon Chewy will be all this woman has left of her daughter, and Chewy will be without his mistress. Considering what they're going through, we can ignore the barking.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The "You Can't Be Missed" Meme, Part 3

Cheers to all of us thieves!

31. What is your absolute favorite dessert? Mint chocolate chip ice cream

32. What can someone do to make you smile, no matter what? Get me talking about my niece or nephew

33. What do the hip people think of you? They don't.

34. What was the last gift you bought someone? A giftcard. One of my friends was blind sided by a lay off and I wanted to make the gesture to reassure him he's not alone and the wolf won't immediately be at his door.

35. What was your favorite class in high school? American History

36. How many spouses would be about right? About what?

37. What would you say was the most embarrassing moment of your life? Touring TV's Southworth Ranch outside of Dallas, I slipped into the pool. It was awful. Funny now, but not then.

38. Have you ever donated money to charity? Of course.

39. Has porn ever had a positive place in a current or recent relationship? I prefer the term "erotica." Or "training films."

40. Would you ever dump the one you're with for someone who makes an obvious play and is MUCH hotter? No.

41. Have you ever disowned one of your relatives? I try but he keeps returning.

42. Would you think it's OK to cheat on someone if they've already cheated on you? No.

43. Did you ever consider becoming a teacher? I used to play Schoolhouse when I was a little girl. Does that count?

44. Would you ever give a hitch-hiker a ride somewhere? No. I don't have a car.

45. Would you ever try fasting for a whole week? No.

Ooooh! I love this movie!

Curling up to watch my Good Girl Jen be very bad. And pay for it. Big time.

1918 Yesterday

The Cubs are in the middle of the three-game series with the Red Sox in Boston. First time they have played in Fenway since the 1918 World Series. To commemorate the occasion, the players are wearing authentic throwback jerseys. Here's Kerry Wood's. Isn't that old-fashioned logo too adorable? Caps are pinstriped with no "Cubs" at all.


Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Rain

1. It's Spring, grilling begins! If you plan a picnic, do you bow out if it rains? Easy: I don't host any such events.

2. Do you prefer food grilled on a charcoal or gas grill? Gas. But it's not a passionate, "keep that filthy Kingsford away from my food" kinda preference.

3. We're at the first grilling picnic. What's your meat order? Ribeye. And thank you for asking. Where can I get another beer?

4. What side dishes do you want? Corn on the cob. Lots of butter. Where can I get another beer?

5. Now, where do prefer to eat: at the picnic table or inside? How hot is it outside? I don't do heat. And how bad are the bugs? I'm allergic to bee sting, and would rather avoid the drama of the trip to the ER.

6. You were asked to bring a dish. What do you bring? Beer, which is SO a dish if you put the cans on a tray.

7. Does it bother you to have citronella candles burning if you are eating or cooking outside? Nope.

8. What fellow bloggers do you want to meet at the picnic? Oh hell, you're all invited!

9. Does there need to be a pool at the picnic, your choice? I'd prefer a pool. Built-in as opposed to above-ground. Am I being too demanding? Well then I'll just sit here on the porch and have another beer.

Friday, May 20, 2011


The family living in the one bedroom apartment next door (which is too small for three people) has a dog. And he is barking. I am concerned.

First, because dogs are forbidden in this building and if Puppy doesn't shut up, someone who isn't the dog lover I am will complain.

Second, because in a apartment that size, why is he barking unattended? Clearly no one is home. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to stand it. As it is, I'm worried that something is terrifying Puppy -- I can hear him run from one side of the living room to the other -- and it's not fair to leave him alone like that.

Third, it's too small an apartment for a dog to live in with a family. Not to mention that it's on the fourth floor of a building with no yard. I hope they're only dog-sitting this poor pup and that he doesn't have an unhappy, circumscribed life ahead of him.

It must be noted that I am the only one in this household concerned about Puppy. For not a one of my three cats can be bothered to pick up his/her head and even look in the direction of the noise. Apparently they haven't learned that dogs and cats are sworn enemies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #124

Here are 13 memorable May
magazine covers from Life Magazine.

1922: The Roaring 20's

1937: Jean Harlow gets pulses racing.

1941: Army nurses are our new heroines

1945: Winston Churchill inspired Great Britain and the free world

1957: Italian actress Sophia Loren comes to Hollywood

1959: Hoffa is a controversial Teamster boss

1960: England celebrated Princess Margaret's wedding.

1961: The Kennedys charm Canada

1964: Barbra Streisand is our new star

1965: Skateboarding takes off

1966: Jackie Kennedy rides in Seville

1967: Best-seller In Cold Blood becomes a movie

1968: Movie stars as political activists

To find out more about Thursday Thirteen,
and maybe participate yourself, click here.