Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baghdad Pups

Operation Baghdad Pups

U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan befriend local animals as a way to help cope with the emotional hardships they endure every day while deployed in a war zone. The Operation Baghdad Pups program provides veterinary care and coordinates complicated logistics and transportation requirements in order to reunite these beloved pets with their service men and women back in the U.S. These important animals not only help our heroes in the war zone, but they also help them readjust to life back home after combat.

I don't imagine that there's anyone whose heart can't be touched by a soldier or a companion animal. And the combination of troops and pets is just too much! Please help our heroes come home without worrying about the animals they left behind. As our days in Iraq come to a close, even $5 is especially important to the heroes who served us and the dogs and cats who comfort them.

My 2010 Peace Globe Revisited


"Some men see things as they are and say why -
I dream things that never were and say why not."

Help us make more news in 2011!
My 2011 Globe is done and ready to go. Is yours? If not, why not?

Dream with us. Celebrate with us.
Join Us!
Blogblast for Peace -- 11/4/2011

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The W.T.F. Meme

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. One of my favorite TV shows recently changed the actors who played two characters. Have you ever been bothered by a TV show or movie series changing actors who play a character you love? No. But I have been upset by the departure of favorite characters. Most recently -- WHY CAN'T I HAVE ELLIOTT ON SVU?

2. A coworker recently shared a link to a blog listing the "five things you should know before dating a journalist." As a journalist, I can honestly say the writer was spot-on. What are some things people should know before spending time with you?
* I like my alone time. That's not at all about you, it's me. * I don't take much seriously, but the things I am serious about, I'm veeerrry serious about. * No hate language around this Gal. I simply will not have it. I won't bat an eye if you dismiss someone as a "motherfucker," but call them a racial epithet or a slur about their religion or sexual orientation, and you must be gone. * Coke. I must have Coke. * Everyone's birthday is important and deserves celebrating. ESPECIALLY mine.

3. What is something you often do without realizing that you're doing it? I don't know. You tell me.

4. Who has the capacity to make you angrier than anyone else in your life, and what in particular does he or she do to make you so angry? One of my coworkers, The Chocolate Covered Spider. She insists on having her way, just as I (ah-hem) have been known to do. But she covers her willfulness in a superficial patina of niceness that makes it impossible for us to have any real resolution to our differences. I wish we could just work through our shit but we can't because she is so manipulative and conflict averse.

5. If a fairy waved a magic wand and gave you the house of your dreams, where would it be and what features would it have? It would be in a doorman building, about 40 floors up, with a view of Lake Michigan. I'd like exposed brick around the fireplace, please. And built in bookshelves in the den. Thank you.

6. What’s a belief that you hold with which many people disagree? I was upset by the tape of Ghadafi's capture. I hate that kind of brutality.

7. I used to talk in my sleep. In fact, I could carry on a conversation with someone when I was fully asleep, and my mom used this fact when I was a teenager to find out if I did anything wrong and was hiding it from my parents. If you were talking your sleep tonight, what do you think you would say? "Hello, David Addison." I don't know why, exactly, but many of the dreams I remember the next morning feature 1980s vintage Bruce Willis.

8. The fourth installment of the "Twilight" movie series ("Breaking Dawn Part I") will be released in theaters soon. Movie theaters started selling advance tickets for midnight showings months ago. Have you ever attended a midnight premiere showing of a movie? No.

9. On Tuesday, tigers, lions and bears were let loose in Zanesville, Ohio, by their owner before he committed suicide, leading to a hunt in which 49 of the animals, including 18 endangered Bengal tigers, were killed. How would you react if you saw "Caution exotic animals. Stay in your vehicle" being displayed on a road sign? I would stay in my vehicle!

10. If a company opened a theme park aimed at adults, what would you name one of the rides? Dan. Named in honor a former lover, who took me on better thrill rides than Disney ever dreamed of.

11. Imagine you just moved onto Sesame Street. Which puppet would you want as your new roommate? Snuffy. And he's not a puppet!

12. Have you ever had a weird crush on a famous person that didn't make sense to you? White House spokesman Jay Carney makes me hot. It makes complete sense to me, but I realize he's a passion not all women share.

13. If you get ten minutes to interview any celebrity of your choice, who would you like it to be? "Jennifer Aniston, are you really still pining over Brad? Or are you more over your brief marriage than the press seems to be?"

14. You've just won the complete DVD collection of all the movies starring one actor or actress. Which actor/actress would you pick? Redford

15. Actor George Clooney recently told People Magazine that he doesn't use Twitter "because I will drink in the evening and I don't want anything that I could possibly write at midnight to actually end my career." What is something you've said through social media and then regretted it? Nothing, really. Sorry.

16. VH1 has re-introduced its hit show "Pop-Up Video," which gives behind-the-scenes facts for popular music videos. What musician would you be most interested in learning behind-the-scenes facts about? Sir Paul McCartney. If you didn't see that answer coming, you don't visit here often.

17. If you stumbled across someone's personal written journal that was accidentally left in a public place, would you read any of the content? Yes.

18. What is the title of a self-help book that you'd never want to see on a store bookshelf? How to Be Less Progressive

19. Many media outlets have been asking this question a lot this week... Which Halloween costume do you think will be overdone this year? I'm sorry, but I haven't seen any costumes at all yet this year.

20. Should a marriage license have a renewal date or expiration date, like a driver’s license? As a barren spinster, I don't feel it's my place to respond

Better now

I had a good Friday and Saturday!

At the office, I really felt like I was back. My workload felt just right and I was pleased with what I wrote. My favorite coworker and de facto protegee, Tom,was in and out of my office all day, occasionally closing the door to share gossip or ask advice. It felt as though I had never been gone, and that's nice. Comforting.

I managed to get the last appointment of the night at my health club spa and got a really deep tissue massage. It wasn't relaxing and luxurious, it felt medicinal. Eric, the therapist, was very good but very chatty and serious about his work. Being assigned to him was a happy accident -- I took whoever he was available for 7:00 on Friday. But he has recently had abdominal surgery himself for intestinal issues and understood completely how I was feeling. How after weeks and weeks off, sitting at a desk and working on a keyboard can really rock the back and shoulders! And how to avoid any pressure on the small of my back that would bother my incision. I am still a little sore but it's a nice sore. Post-massage, I'm no longer feeling that sudden, irritating tingle between my shoulder blades.

Saturday I paid bills, got a haircut, and went to visit my mom. It was good to spend a little time with her. I realize how lucky I am that I was able to have my mother with me post-op. Just as I appreciate my friends more than ever.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Mr. Roboto

1. Do you enjoy holidays like Halloween or is your approach more robotic? To reference another holiday icon, I'm certainly not a Grinch, but I'm not seriously into Halloween, either.

2. Have you ever been to a haunted house? Not a real one. Just the ones in amusement parks.

3. What are you doing for Halloween this year? I sent cards to my niece and nephew. I have Atomic Fireballs to give any trick-or-treaters who happen to come by. I recall that multiple, individually-wrapped candies made for good trading when my sister and I compared our hauls.

4. What was your lamest Halloween costume ever? Any of the store bought ones from when I was little.

5. Is handing out candy fun for you, or more of a nightmare? It's irrelevant because my village has cut off Trick or Treating at 7:00 and I'm usually not home by then.

6. Do you buy trick-or-treat candy and end up eating it yourself? I chose Atomic Fireballs in large part because I will happily consume the leftovers myself.

7. Did you carve any pumpkins this year? Nope.

8. What was your favorite costume as a child? I don't recall that many of them. They were store bought and usually ended up being covered by coats anyway. When I was a kid, Halloween was about the candy collection, not the dress up.

9. What is your biggest pet peeve about trick-or-treaters? Don't have any.

Spending the night in ... THE SIMMONS' HOUSE

I loved being frightened by The Ghost and Mr. Chicken when I saw it in theaters with my oldest friend, back when we were in third grade. It had everything -- a hero any child can relate to (Luther, aka "Mr. Chicken"), a bully for a villain, an unsolved murder, and best of all, A HAUNTED HOUSE. I still recall the first time I saw the blood-dripping portrait.

There's not much violence, very little real peril, but the right level of suspense for fun. I found it in it's entirety on YouTube. This could be the way I celebrate Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2011


While I may appear placid, like a lioness I can be mercurial. I'm in a mood. I can't sleep. Nothing captures my attention. I have a new zit on my chin. Don't cross me or I could swipe ya with my big paw!

I'm so exhausted when I get home from work that I nap. Then I wake up NOW, pre-dawn, for a while. I wish I could sleep, undisturbed, if I need it or stay awake to get something accomplished around the house if I don't.

And I'm sick of not being well. I know, I know ... I should be more patient. But I don't feel like being patient. I feel like being ME!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #143


I read that two of the most-hyped shows of the 2011-12 season won't see 2012. Charlie's Angels and The Playboy Club have already been canceled. And I never saw either one!

Instead of thinking about TV failures, let's toss the spotlight on the successes. Here are 13 of the longest running shows of all time. I've seen at least one episodes of each of them (and so, most likely, have you!)

1) The Today Show 1952-present 17,800+ episodes

2) Guiding Light 1952-2009 15,762 episodes

3) The Tonight Show 1954-present 10,400+ episodes

4) The Price Is Right 1956-65; 1972-present 7,400+ episodes

5) Meet the Press 1947-present 5,000+ episodes

6) Gunsmoke 1955-1975 635 episodes

7) Law & Order 1990-2110 456 episodes

8) The Real World 1992-present 450+ episodes

9) ABC Monday Night Football 1971-1997 413 episodes

10) Cheers 1982-1993 271 episodes

11) Murder, She Wrote 1984-1996 264 episodes

12) MASH 1972-1983 251 episodes

13) 24 2001-10 192 episodes

For more information, or to play along yourself,

Blogging Magic!

Just as I blogged about my concern for oldest friend on Sunday and heard from her on Monday, I did a whiny "I Want Wednesday" post about missing my best friend (below) and found out hours later that I may actually get to see him next week! How cool is that?

Subliminal blog magic: Cubs win! Cubs win!

I Want Wednesday

I want my best friend. I know he's busy. The worst kind of busy in advertising -- backfilling to avoid write-offs. It's a critical time of year for account executives and I know he feels vulnerable. I also understand that he's juggling a ton of afterschool activities. His oldest daughter is a jock, the younger girl is an artist, and they often have competing events. I respect how hard he works to support them both and not show favorites.

Which is why I feel immature and bratty for being jealous that he doesn't have time for me right now. He has a way of making me feel like it's OK to put myself first. I know my oldest friend is suffering (see below) and I keep checking Expedia to see what it would cost to go out there for her birthday in December.* $1000 to $1200.

I just got my first raise in four years. I have been helping my mom (ongoing) and my friend in the Keys (short-term; he got another job already!). I was hoping to pay down some debt with the raise, not travel 2000 miles for a "vacation" that will be anything but. The thing of it is, though, my oldest friend made it clear on Monday that she doesn't have anyone else but me.

My best friend and I talked about this last month, before her life went so wildly off the tracks again, and his comment was, "For what it's worth, I don't see going to see her as a vacation. You need R&R, not some epic drama on crack."

I will be 54 in less than 30 days. I need to take saving for retirement seriously when I'm still earning. I don't have anyone who will take care of me in my dotage.

I had a scary summer and surgery. I'm still wearing elastic waistbands. I get tired so easily and am battling killer headaches. I DON'T WANT TO GO TO OUT THERE to sit around a darkened apartment with a trio of dysfunctional chainsmokers. (I'm not kidding -- when I was out there last year all we did was eat carry out, like Dominoes. I had to insist we at least go to In'n'Out Burger.)

But her problems are so huge and her pain is so great. Does that trump my best interests?

I don't think so. But I feel so guilty. That's why I need him. When my best friend tells me to put myself first, it's because I am as important to HIM as SHE is to ME, and therefore it doesn't seem as selfish.

*Yes, she's supposed to come to Chicago next month for MY birthday, just as she was supposed to come in for my surgery, but we know that's not gonna happen because she can't leave those two kids in her home alone overnight. She won't come to that realization until the last minute, though. So we just have to let this tortured process take it's course.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Vacancy in the Hostage Hotel

I heard from my oldest friend yesterday. Funny how I was just thinking of her on Sunday and I heard from her on Monday.

Trust me, that's the only part of this story that is remotely funny.

Her son will not leave

He is 21 years old and he is abusing his mother and 15 year old sister. He has not stricken either one yet. But he destroys their property and screams at them and threatens with tension and temper. It is no way for my friend of her daughter to live. Her daughter -- who can be a beast, no two ways around it -- is also plagued with ADHD and needs normalcy and stability. She's not getting it in that household. And she won't as long as her brother is there.

However, he won't leave.

He has no job, no marketable skills, and nowhere to go. He refuses to crash with friends. None of his relatives will take him. He just stays on the sofa and then erupts.

I told her that next time he destroys anything in her house and she calls the police (and we all know there will be a next time), she must press charges. Have him arrested. Force him into the legal system.

She cries and says she doesn't know what will happen to him then. She can't sacrifice him like that.

She doesn't seem to realize that every day she allows this to continue, she is sacrificing her daughter and herself.

I told her she needs to talk to her shrink. The one in Chicago, since she has not been able to establish any real rapport with any of the counselors in Beverly Hills.

I told her that she has to be honest with her only close living relative, her cousin, the one she moved out there to be near. We're only as sick as our secrets.

We'll see if she'll does what I recommend. Suggesting is all I can do.

Now I have to let this go.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giving the gift of time

Yesterday I ranted about how apathetic we as a people seem to be about our military in general and, specifically, our soldiers returning from Iraq. Today I'm offering a solution to those who feel they are too broke or too busy to get involved.

Call to thank a veteran. You can do it from your office, from your car if you're stuck in traffic, or from your home. You can do it wearing your pjs, if you wish. Depending on your cell phone plan, it won't even cost you anything.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, there's value in the time it takes to "call a veteran, just to say hello." They also suggest veterans would welcome volunteers to come by and share a meal, bring the family pet over to visit or read the newspaper out loud.

When you consider that these veterans put their lives on the line for us, these requests are indeed humbling.

Click here to find out more about helping.

Overhead over pancakes

Today at lunch in our building's new pancake house, I eavesdropped on the couple in the next booth. He believes he's going to be a reality star. The first episode of the show -- which seems to be chronicling the adventures of personal trainers in major cities -- is already done. Two full weeks of his worklife, that's 80 hours of film, was edited down to one 50 minute episode.

He is sure that if the show runs three seasons, he'll be a millionaire several times over. I couldn't ascertain how the deal is constructed, or how he'll be compensated for the first two seasons. He seems to regard this as a fantastic marketing opportunity for ... himself.

And he does love himself a lot. He's good looking, very buff, shaved head with tattoos adorning a pair of very nice arms. But I don't see how he could possibly be an expert on everything, and that's just how he was presenting himself to his rather average, fawning and most definitely-not-his-girlfriend dining companion. For example, all the doctors he knows are "shifty." He named a well known Chicago university hospital as being "the worst." If he broke his arm, he'd rather have a friend of his, another personal trainer, set it than go to that hospital. His secretary (are they called "secretaries" anymore?) understands human nature better than any of the psychiatrists he's met. This reality show is hard for him, because, well, he doesn't like taking orders from anyone. That explains why he dropped out of high school and, with just a GED, was offered a scholarship from UCLA. He turned it down, of course. (No, it doesn't explain that at all. But when you're snooping, you can't very well chime in with questions.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I haven't really heard from my oldest friend since the last time the police were at her apartment, to protect her and her belongings from her 21 year old son. At least I hope that's the last time she called the cops.

I have posted cute little Jib-Jab animations on her Facebook to cheer her up, and reiterated how much her attention and affection meant to me as I healed from surgery. I want her to know how much she means to me. But I haven't asked about her kids, or her work situation. She never does what I recommend anyway, and it just wears away on me.

In theory we're going away together for my birthday next month. I believe that she wants to celebrate with me. I also don't believe it will happen.

I wish her life was different. I wish I could fix it for her. I am learning I cannot, and it leaves me sad and tired, with a soul that feels little frosty around the edges.

Image: graur codrin /

Stand back! I'm on a roll!

I continue to be distressed, depressed, and downright PISSED by the apathy I encounter about our troops returning from Iraq! Since when are returning heroes, coming home to their loved ones, not an occasion for joy?

On the one hand, I'm told this war isn't like Viet Nam or WWII. This time around, not everyone knows someone serving over there. It's not "that kind of war." No draft. Meaning that the kids who enlisted are, by and large, from a lower economic stratum, young people who don't have 4-year college degrees or defined career paths. That's a bullshit excuse. They are still Americans who volunteered to go overseas and fight and die for us.* At the very least, we owe them our attention.

On the other hand, I'm told we just don't have the wherewithal to give a shit because times here are tough. Oh, I don't need to be told that times here are tough. Anyone who reads this blog KNOWS how many layoffs I have endured, how many times I have felt the blade touch my own neck, how I have friends and members of my own family who struggle financially. As if that weren't enough, I work in a major metropolitan area, so I am asked every few blocks for spare change by those who have come upon hard times. I drop off donations to our local food pantry personally, rather than doing it through my church, because I don't ever want to forget that my neighbors continue to suffer.

But then, if that's your justification for yawning when you hear that the troops will be home by Christmas, you're still full of shit. Because so many of these young people enlisted because, like you, they were responding to hard times and could not find other work.

So I am making it my personal freaking CRUSADE to drum up enthusiasm for our troops and veterans!

At work I am continuing my collection for Operation Shoebox. I promise you that if you check out their List of Suggested Items that the troops need/want, you'll find things around your home that you don't even have to purchase. These good folks will then take your donations -- like used paperbacks or that unopened travel-sized shampoo that you took with you last time you stayed in a motel -- put them in shoeboxes and then send them off to our soldiers in Afghanistan.

For veterans coming home from Iraq, there are plenty of things you can do, as well. Here's a link from our Department of Veteran Affairs.

Look out! Between now and the end of the year I am going to post about this topic ALOT. Maybe it's because at heart I'm just a corny little patriot. Maybe it's because I realize how lucky I am that my all my test results came back benign. Maybe I'm still worried that those beautiful young people I flew alongside from O'Hare to Richmond (and Langley AFB) won't be coming home. Maybe it's because my oldest nephew has enlisted in the Navy and will be deployed somewhere by year's end ... Whatever the reason, my attention has been captured.

And if you don't feel like having your ear bent on this topic, feel free to just move along.

* I never believed in WMDs or going into Iraq, but that's hardly the point. They enlisted and they went where their Commander in Chief sent them. God bless them for that.

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Questions Galore Meme, Part 3

Cheers to all of us thieves!

41. What is a quote that you love? Let's "build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just." JFK

42. Do you think of pure hate as something humanity created? No. Just yesterday I was at the vet and heard about an old dog who was ferociously set upon by two younger, unleashed canines. (The much-loved old dog is going to be OK after surgery.)

43. When was the last time you wanted to scream? I get so mad at myself for being too tired to accomplish anything! But I'm also too tired to scream.

44. Do you ever at times see the world in black and white? Yes.

45. Have you ever thought that cell phones are too obtrusive? YES!

46. In your life, where do you think the rainbow will end? Right now, the end of my personal rainbow is to enjoy good health and have my stamina back.

47. What is something that you never want to do again? Waste too much time on the wrong man.

48.When was the first time you realized the world was small? I'm not sure I realize it yet. When I think of all the places I've been where I want to return, and all the ones I still want to visit, the United States alone seems vast, much less the world.

49. How you spend your time contemplating life’s mysteries? Usually they wash over me in the shower.

50. Ever discuss your political beliefs with people? Oh, try and stop me!

51. Do you care about the environment? Yes.

52. What’s your motto for life? East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb will -- Groucho Marx

53. Is progress destroying the beauty of the world? No.

54. Do you believe there is life somewhere else in the universe? Intellectually, yes. Emotionally, no.

55. Would you like to rule a country? No.

56. Do you believe everything has a purpose? Yes.

57. Is war ever for the best? Sadly, yes.

58. Could you kill anyone in defense of self or loved ones? I don't know.

59. How do you react to people (Such as Governor Rick Perry) who don't believe global warming is really our fault? I find global warming to be more relevant than those who don't believe in it.

60. Does love conquer all? If not all, then at the very least MOST.

61. Is euthanasia morally acceptable? Yes.

62. Is world peace impossible? I don't know, but it's certainly worth working toward.

63. Is pride a good or a bad thing? Yes.

64.What do you think is the purpose of your life? To be, as Wilbur eulogized Charlotte, "a true friend and a good writer."

65. Do you believe in karma? Yes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Good for you, Mom!

Took the bus to the mall today. They were running behind schedule and the one I boarded was pretty full to begin with and got more crowded as we continued our journey. A woman with two sons got on after me and took the "priority seats" at the front. She and her boys -- one about 10, the other a teenager easily a head taller than his mom -- were all fit. The priority seats were just the only ones still available.

When an elderly woman boarded at the next stop, and the older boy didn't relinquish his seat, Mom shot him a look fraught with meaning. He rose instantly.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Last DJ

1. Who was favorite DJ and what radio station did you listen to as a kid? My charming and delightful OLD UNCLE LAR (Larry Lujack) at the Big 89, WLS. He's shown here with his sidekick, Little Snotnose Tommy ("Hello, Tommy.") It's scary how many catchphrases I remember, even after all these years.

2. What has been the weirdest thing you have worn in public? Everything I wore between 1971 and 1990 appears weird to me now.

3. What was the best part of last weekend? Playing Scrabble with my nephew. Sorry that answer is so dull. I'm still recovering from surgery and prefer naps to most other activities.

4. What was the most effective punishment for you as a kid? None of them were that effective. As a matter of fact, I believe I may still be grounded, stemming from an incident in the mid-1970s.

5. Would you lie to your significant other to not hurt their feelings? Of course. Just as I would not expect an honest answer to "Do these pants make my ass look big?"

6. We're taking you order for breakfast. What would you like? Steak and eggs and oj.

7. Do you celebrate Halloween? If yes, do tell. If no, why not? I don't celebrate it. Sorry.

8. Do you hand out candy to the neighborhood kids? I usually am not home in time. But if I'm around, of course.

9. What's the favorite age you've been, so far? 35. I felt strong and smart and sexy.

Hey! Hey! A wonderful surprise!

I have a cousin who lives in a nearby suburb. Because he's about 10 years my junior, and due to family fractures too complex to go into here -- they give me a headache -- but have little or nothing to do with him and me, we never saw each other very often. What we have in common, frankly, is our acknowledged "favorite" status. I always knew I was our grandpa's favorite, and he was our grandma's shining star. Now that our grandparents are gone, there's something very dear about connecting and remembering.

We have exchanged updates often on Facebook but haven't seen one another since April. I know he was aware of my recent health problems and was aware I had his support, but I was tickled to receive a package from him yesterday.

A baseball signed by Jack Brickhouse! The Cubs announcer of my youth. Nouveau fans think of Harry Caray as "the voice of the Cubbies," but real fans KNOW it's the man who called Ernie Banks' 500th homer. Mr. Brickhouse died in 1998.

My cousin, noting the "rough patch" I've suffered lately, bought this ball for me from a neighbor, who had purchased it years ago in a Wrigley Field giftshop. It was a lovely gesture.

When you think of my family, you think Cubs. It's the one thing we have shared, generation to generation. And my cousin reports he recently recovered my grandmother's prized possession, a baseball signed by her beloved Ryne Sandberg. He thought the ball had been lost forever but found it in the attic, nestled among the insulation!

I received MY Jack Brickhouse ball, and he found GRANDMA's Ryne Sandberg ball, on the very day that Theo Epstein signed with Cubs! Coincidence? I think not!

And my heart is still so thankful for all the support I have received through my illness.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I don't get it

This week Moammar Ghadafi was virtually killed on live TV. The Iraq war ended after almost a decade. And I suspect that none of my coworkers really cared. Not about the graphic news coverage in Libya. Nor about about the troops coming home. Nothing. Life as usual. I find this disturbing.

Home for the Holidays

The news from the White House is exceptional. Amazing! The Iraq war will be over by year-end!

I admit that I have become disillusioned with Barack Obama at times. I don't think he's working hard enough to get us off foreign oil, or to use his power as a speaker to involve us in the process -- the way JFK or FDR did. I don't think he has the empathy or balls of Bill Clinton. I get frustrated!

But not about foreign affairs, and not this week. I hate these wars, and he's getting out of one, just as promised.

Gadhafi has been removed (and how!) from Libya, and while the US supported NATO, for once we didn't do the heavy lifting. Maximum result for minimum investment.

Watching the horror that Gadhafi suffered at the end (and may well have deserved), I am glad that Americans weren't involved. And proud that there are no post mortem photos of Bin Laden similar to those I've seen of Gadhafi. Barack Obama wisely decided to show the world that America is better than that.

I'm still not completely sold that I'm getting the "hope and change" I voted for, but I'm grateful that we live in a more peaceful world, and am grateful to Barack Obama for his wise role in it all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #145



When I was off on disability leave, I watched a lot of TV. And, consequently, saw a lot of Allan Melvin (1923-2008). He was:

1) Sam, Alice's butcher-beau on The Brady Bunch.

2) Sol (or Sam), Rob's Army buddy on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

A real menace to Mayberry, terrorizing characters on The Andy Griffith Show as ...

3) Payroll robber Clarence "Doc" Malloy

4) Conman Jake, part of a scam used-car ring

5) The escaped convict who ruins Andy's fishing trip

6) Gomer's Pyle's service buddy Charlie on spin-off Gomer Pyle, USMC

7) Mr. Wheeler of Hooterville on Green Acres

8) A nosy neighbor on My Favorite Martian

9) Archie Bunker's friend Barney on All in the Family

10) The voice of Magilla Gorilla

11) The voice of Drooper on The Banana Splits

12) The voice of Yogi Bear

13) The voice of of both stone-agers and jetsetters on The Flintstones and The Jetsons

For more information on the Thursday Thirteen,
or to play along yourself, click here

I'm so tired. My mind is on the blink ...

This has been me for the last few hours. I'm sitting here, I appear present here at my desk, but I'm really fuzzy.

I got here fine. I went through about a gazillion emails and responded to a few. Attended a staff meeting. Got hugged and listened to gossip. Ate lunch at my desk and then ... cuh-rash! I hydraulically shut down.

We got a new assignment today that I said I could handle just fine on my own. That was at 3:00. It's 5:15 and I haven't begun working on it yet. I simply can't.

Tomorrow there won't be any meetings. I can make serious headway on the project tomorrow. For now, I'm going home to take a nap. Hopefully a nice little doze will bring everything back into focus!

Exactly how it feels

I'm sitting here, pre-dawn, eating a cup of Yoplait, unable to sleep. Partly because I've ravenous these days, partly because my incision gets a little uncomfortable and makes my sleep fitful, and partly because I'm nervous about returning to work tomorrow.

Nervous about a job I have had for 7 years!

It's a bit concerning to me because while I can be a mess in other areas of my life, this job is where the earth beneath my feet has always felt solid.

I have no reason to believe that my return won't be successful. But that doesn't stop me from being nervous.

These early morning butterflies have a familiar feeling ... deja back-to-school!

Thanks to everyone for leaving advice and good wishes on this here old blog. They make me happy and leave me feeling (a bit) more confident. Much appreciated!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't judge me!

OK, so I have a crush on high-profile criminal lawyer Joe Tacopina. What of it?

I first discovered him years ago when he represented a woman named Melanie MacGuire, the New Jersey nurse who was convicted of drugging, shooting, and dismembering her husband and putting him in set of Samsonites and dumping him into the Chesapeake. (You gotta admire a woman who is that thorough.)

Joe wears clothes beautifully for a tall man, and he appears very tender with the women he defends, even though they are accused of heinous things and tend to be ... well ... found guilty.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Meme

Courtesy of Kwizgiver

Which urban legend ghost scared the bejeesuz out of you when you were a kid?
Imagine that it's a late, moonlit night. You are in nearby Justice, IL, driving down Archer Avenue and are just about to pass Resurrection Cemetery. Suddenly a teenage girl appears by the side of the road. She's easy to see, even in the dark, because she has white blonde hair and is wearing a white party dress. It can't possibly be safe for her to be out alone, walking around near a cemetery on a night like this, so you roll down the window and offer her a ride. She wordlessly shakes her head and you start to pull away. Just as you're picking up speed, she somehow appears directly in front of your car! You cannot stop and are sickened by the thud and crunch of breaking bones as you run her over. You get out to see if there's anything you can do to help this poor girl. But there's no trace of her. For it wasn't a real-live girl you encountered … It was Resurrection Mary! (I can't promise this story is true, but I do know it's been repeated generation after generation here in Chicagoland.)

Which horror movie has the best premise? Don't laugh at me. OK, go ahead and laugh at me, but I loved The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. A reporter has to spend the night in a haunted house to prove whether the terrifying tales are really true.

What is the most disappointing “treat” to receive in your bag on Halloween night? Anything that wasn't wrapped properly and therefore thrown away by my mom

What’s the best non-candy item to receive? Quarters. The nuns always made popcorn balls to give out, and because they were so labor intensive, they never had enough to meet demand. I learned rather young to make the convent one of my last stops because the nuns felt bad about being out of popcorn balls and were very generous with the quarters.

Did a monster live in your closet when you were a child? No. Because he was in between the folds of my bedroom curtains.

Which supernatural creature sent chills up your spine when you were ten and still does? In Chicagoland, there were two genuinely awful crimes that got a lot of media attention. I still remember details. While these murderers weren't supernatural, they had an otherworldly grip on my imagination and haunted my nightmares: 1) Richard Speck, the bogeyman of my girlhood, who killed 8 student nurses in their home. Pockmarked and chainsmoking, even with his cuffs on, he looked like the perfect villain. As an adult, I view him with horrified contempt. He was a failure at everything he did, except mass murder. 2) Whoever murdered Valerie Percy. She was the 21-year-old daughter of handsome millionaire businessman Charles Percy, who was running for Senate. She was stabbed and bludgeoned in the bedroom of their suburban mansion. Violence isn't supposed to happen to girls like Valerie, evil isn't supposed to make its way across manicured lawns like theirs. It was a sobering, scary crime. Senator Percy died recently without ever knowing who entered his home and took what was so dear to him. He was a good Senator and, by all accounts, a very nice man and I hope that where he is now, he is at peace and with his daughter. (That's Valerie's photo. I'm including no photo or link for Speck, because he was an asshole who doesn't really deserve any more attention.) The impact that these crimes had on me at the time, and the hold they continue to have on me, makes me question how much exposure to the news children should have.

Which supernatural creature makes you yawn? Frankenstein. He's more sad than scary.

What’s your favorite Halloween decoration? I don't know why, but I like gravestones.

If you could be anywhere on Halloween night, where would you be? Watching scary movies!

What’s the scariest book you’ve read so far this year? Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell

Haunted houses or haunted hayrides? I'm up for either one.

Which Stephen King novel/movie would you least like to find yourself trapped in? It. Penneywise is my own personal nightmare.

Which is creepiest: evil dolls, evil pets, evil children? evil dolls

Food Coma Day

Now of course I didn't exactly consume all the food that's pictured. After all, I don't do coffee. But as my extended leave comes to an end, I wanted to do quiet things that I enjoy. And one thing that I love is a leisurely coffee shop breakfast. So I had steak* and eggs and potatoes and wheat toast and oj while concentrating on my book -- The Careful Use of Compliments, a lovely, leisurely (at least so far) contemporary tale set in Scotland, a land I'm unfamiliar with.

Then I went home, vegged out and slept. I woke up, paid some bills, did some laundry. And instead of the burger and fries shown, I had franks* and beans.

With laundry and finances behind me, I think I can devote my entire last day off to quiet happy time.

* My doctor says I gotta have more protein, esp. beef, and fewer carbs, esp. my beloved pasta.

"We are pleased to inform you ..."

When I saw the envelope from the doctor's office, I didn't rip it open immediately because I assumed it was another bill related to my surgery. WRONG-O! It was my mammogram results, and it was good news.

I am reminded again of my blessings, and I am grateful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Am I ready for real life?

This is a pretty accurate illustration of my life over the past month. I'm not kidding. Any activity more strenuous results in a nap.

For example, on Saturday I met a coworker downtown for lunch. Just to see how I felt riding to and fro on the el. A non-rush-hour practice run. We ate and gabbed for two hours and it felt fine. Then suddenly, I felt all my energy begin to escape. I got home and took a three hour nap. To recover from a two hour lunch!

Today I played a rather enthusiastic game of Scrabble with my 12-year-old nephew. Then we split a pizza (his new favorite: ground beef and cheese). I got home and took a three hour nap.

I return to work on Wednesday. My low energy level concerns me. My doctor tells me that the first few days at work will be tiring, no matter when I go back. My coworker told me that the joke around the office is that I will make the big the presentation down at client on Thursday, the day after I'm back. I'd be certain it was all a joke if we didn't have precedence for this sort of thing -- three years ago, when I was out of the office because my mom was in the hospital, my boss decided I was the right one, the only one, to present creative I had not even seen.

In 2008, it was merely an unwise decision, but I was able to pull it off. In 2011, it would be an untenable position because I don't know that leaving the house at dawn to ride 2 and a half hours to make a presentation to a roomful of people is even physically possible for me at this point.

So I've decided that my ensemble on Wednesday will be dressed way down. I'm going to play "the scar card" and make sure that everyone realizes that wearing anything with a fly still,
literally, hurts me.

The scary thing is that I worry if my disability leave hasn't left me equipped to be the woman at the top of the page, but not this one.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

He would blog for peace

After finishing Jacqueline Kennedy's Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, I am reminded of how much faith he had in humanity and how dedicated he was to avoiding unnecessary conflict. Perhaps because he'd served in war himself.

And so, this restless, not-yet-sunny Saturday pre-dawn, I am doing my part for Mimi's upcoming Blogblast for Peace by sharing some of his quotes on the subject of conflict and our future as a nation.

If you need words for your own Peace Globe, feel free to steal some of his. He wouldn't mind.

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.

The world knows that America will never start a war. This generation of Americans has had enough of war and hate ... we want to build a world of peace where the weak are secure and the strong are just.

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

I look forward to a great future for America - a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.

Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us.

The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Mrs. Potter's Lullaby

1. Adam Duritz (writer and lead sing of Counting Crows) mentions previous girlfriends in songs. In Mrs. Potter's Lullaby he sings “There a little piece of Maria in every song I sing”. Is there a piece of an ex that will always be a part of you? Yes. A day doesn't go by that I don't think of him wish him well. He was (and still is, I'm sure) a very nice man.

2. Who was your very first significant friend? The one I creatively refer to as My Oldest Friend. There is photographic evidence that we met in late 1962. I remember Beatle-bonding with her in February 1964, when we were in first grade, and I plighted my troth to (not yet Sir) Paul and she to George.

3. What are four (4) things you hope to do this weekend? (1) Get to and from downtown the Loop for lunch with a coworker -- a trial run for my daily commutes when I return to work on Wednesday; (2) do some exercise of some type; (3) catch some of the NCIS marathon on USA network -- have I mentioned lately how much I love Gibbs? (4) Give extra affection to my cat, Charlotte, as I'm worried about her medical malady

4. What do you consider to be the main purpose of your blog? To create an honest snapshot of my life at this moment

5. Tell us something that you've never before written about in your blog because it's too personal. There really hasn't been anything. I'm just careful that "the names have been changed to protect the innocent." Usually me.

6. If you could choose your doctor, do you prefer someone of the same or opposite sex? Why can't I choose my own doctor?

7. If you could dream about anything tonight, what would the subject matter be? Him. But most emphatically not Bill Clinton. I had a very detailed sex dream about The Big Dog and it upset me terribly. I mean, fantasizing about a President? That's creepy. Whose next? Abe? Thomas Jefferson?

8. How do you react to practical jokes when they're played on you? My best friend used to play them on me constantly. At the time I hated it. But now that we see one another so seldom, I miss it.

9. What's on your agenda after this weekend for the upcoming week? I'm returning to work for the first time in more than a month! I expect my agenda to include apologizing for having to wear sweats and other oversized elastic-waistband pants to the office.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Back at it!

I went to the health club for the first time in, like, 100 years. I was careful not to overdo (20 mins. cardio, 10 mins. machines) and was very careful of my tummy and my incision. I'm also completely indulging my voracious ravenousitis. But I feel good and am so glad I did it!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Making the most of it

My best friend believes that I'm fixating on how I'm not meeting my recovery expectations. He tells me I'd do better to think about how these are my last few, free days off for a while and I should "make the most of it."

So today I did something that felt both normal (meaning an echo of my pre-op, pre-cyst life) and celebratory. After doing some errands (I needed to buy dental floss and visit the bank) I took myself out to a late lunch/early dinner and toasted myself with a pomegranate mojito. It was about 3:30, so the restaurant was pretty empty. They were playing an eclectic mix of oldies ("It's Judy's Turn to Cry" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash") and I was really getting into my book (The Careful Use of Compliments).

At quiet times like that, I like my life. I really do.

When I dream, I dream of you

Heard this country classic today for the first time in ages, and was reminded how much I love it.

Crystal Gayle - When I Dream Lyrics @

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thursday Thirteen #144


Yes, I'm fixating on the one that stares back at me in the mirror. And when a thing is on my mind (or in this case, on my chin), it ends up on the Thursday Thirteen.

1) Whether it's a blackhead, a whitehead or a pimple, it started the same way -- as dead skin cells settling into a pore, made worse by oil.

2) Blackheads are small and usually flat. They are dark not because of dirt but because that's what happens to oil when exposed to the air.

3) Whiteheads tend to be raised bumps, white because of the sebum and dead skin cells collected there.

4) Pimples -- like the one ruining my life -- are blackheads gone bad. When a blackhead bursts and releases bacteria into the surrounding tissue, you get what I'm seeing in the mirror.

5) Scrubbing doesn't help prevent acne, since it begins below the skin's surface. Washing too often with a too-strong cleanser will only irritate your skin.

6) There's no credible, conclusive evidence that chocolate or caffeine cause acne. Of course, if cutting down on these foods helps reduce your breakouts, no reason not to do it!

7) There's even less evidence tying stress to acne. However it is believed the reverse is true -- that acne can cause stress.

8) Touching your face can be a factor. Not because your hands are dirty, but because touching can stimulate oil production.

9) Sunscreens do not necessarily cause zits. If you find that your skin is worse when you're slathering on the protection, try a different brand. Pimples come and go, but the impact of sun damage -- including carcinoma! -- is forever.

10) Oh yeah, and hormones'll do it to us, too. Hormones are powerful buggers, aren't they?

11) That could help explain why more women than men between 30 and 60 suffer from adult acne.

12) You can find over-the-counter treatments for your acne, which is not a surprise, since the skin care business is worth more than $40 billion dollars and continues to grow every year.

13) Benzoyl peroxide is most often recommended for teen acne, salicylic acid for adult acne. But a doctor can prescribe more sophisticated treatments to specifically target your problem.

Thanks to
WebMD for most of this information.

For more information about The Thursday Thirteen,
or to play along yourself, click here.

Sometimes good can come from lurking

My niece, a freshman living away from home, is simply too busy to check in with me. And that's fine. I understand. But I miss her! And I'm a worrier. So I'm happy to lurk about on her Facebook page.

She studies while doing laundry. She's attended a concert. She's discovered (never mind that I tried to turn her on to it months ago; I'm a hopeless old fart). Her townhouse completes against the others on campus game night ("Yay! Free stuff!") Best of all, her roommate likes to photograph every moment of every day, so there are lots of new pics of my niece. Mostly a little red in the face, stifling a giggle, looking very happy.

I Want Wednesday

I want my best friend to launch a thriving bumper sticker business. For his advice to me regarding my sloooow post-op recovery deserves to be mass produced. "Recovery is a process, not an event." "It's OK to recover at your own pace because this isn't a competition." These platitudes annoy me. Probably because he's right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Never a good sign

If you live in one of the world's best known zip codes, it's not a good sign to have the police over at your house all the time.

My oldest friend told me that she has programmed the local police department's non-emergency number into her phone. She knows it's only a matter of time before she calls them again ... to protect her from her son.

Today he destroyed furniture. The police recommended a counseling center for her and her family. She sent me the link. I clicked on it, but my response was a yawn. Her daughter's guidance counselors have recommended the girl move to a special school for at-risk youth. Nothing came of it. Before that, my friend's own shrink suggested she send her son to live in assisted living for young adults with mental problems. Nothing came of it. Why should I think that anything will come of this latest counseling center?

My response to my oldest friend? I told her to call her shrink. Now. Tonight. And she should change their living arrangements. She has a bedroom, her daughter has a bedroom, and her son sleeps on the sofa. When he came to live with her 10 months ago, it was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. He's a highschool dropout with no marketable skills. He is going to college fulltime, but with a GED and his woeful scholastic record, aid is not coming his way. Money is tight. He's an asthmatic, pot-smoking, anorexic, violent nutball who responds to tension by punching furniture and threatening his mother and sister. He is an abuser and he needs to get out of there.

But my oldest friend won't force it. Her son will continue terrorizing her. Everything about her move to California was wrong. There isn't anything more I can say to have an impact on this situation. I still love her and worry about her, but I cannot fix her. She didn't listen to me about this move, she hasn't listened to her daughter's counselors, and she hasn't listened to her own doctor about where her son should live.

So as much as I hate this situation, I have blogged about it, and now I have to let it go.