Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sunday Stealing

A to Z Meme

A) What does the last text you sent say? And to whom? I'm on the platform and no trains in sight. Color me chilled and very late. To one of my coworkers on Thursday morning.

B) What does the last text you received say? And from whom? Then go get a hot chocolate. Nothing much going on here. From that same coworker on Thursday morning.

C) What time do you wake up most mornings? 6:00 AM

D) Are you afraid of walking alone at night? Depends on where I am and whether or not I'm alone. I don't like to let fear dominate me, but I don't want to be foolish, either.

E) What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day? Go off in search of alone time. I find that being quiet and cuddling a cat does wonders.

F) Where did your last kiss take place and with whom? I got kissed a lot at Christmastime. Not since then. Lots of hugs, no kisses.

G) Do/did you get into trouble a lot at school? No. I was a good kid.

H) Do you enjoy your job? If unemployed, are you content being so? I'm a writer and I enjoy writing. Sometimes I hate my job, but I usually enjoy the task at hand.

I) Do you often pick up on double entendres and innuendos? Yes.

J) Have you ever been offered drugs but declined? Yes.

K) Have you ever met someone who has completely altered your way of thinking? Yes.

L) Have you ever been offered drugs and accepted? Yes.
M) Tell us something weird that turns you on. Really old TV shows. Lately I've been hypnotized by episodes of What's My Line? from 1960 or so. I am fascinated to see America in this sleepy time, before the assassinations and Vietnam war and riots and protests.

N) When did someone last admit romantic or sexual feelings for you? Was the feeling mutual? God, it was 100 years ago. But yes, it was reciprocal.

O) What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately? That I don't understand how people can actually vote for a crass bully like Donald Trump. My uncle suffered from Parkinson's Disease so this cuts very close to the bone. That Serge Kovaleski can do his job while battling a congenital condition should be applauded, not mocked. Ugly, ugly, ugly. I can't believe people applauded this. I can't believe people voted for him.

P) When did you last swallow your beliefs to avoid an argument or confrontation? Not that often. I try to stay true to myself.

Q) Do you usually initiate hugs? No.

R) Are you a very affectionate person? Perhaps not.

S) Can you roll your own cigarettes? No. I try to literally never touch tobacco because it, literally, stinks.

T) What are you looking forward to? Cubs and Braves tomorrow.

U) Do you have any tattoos. Do you want any/more? No, and no.

V) Are you mentally strong? Less so with time.

W) Are you physically strong? WAAAAY less so with time.

X) Do you think you’re a good person? I know I am, and I try to be better all the time.

Y) Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now. My chins. I'd like to see fewer.

Z) What do you usually eat for breakfast? Milk and an apple.

Something else to worry about!

First I lost my dear old cat, Joey.  Then I got the disappointing -- though not imminently fatal -- news about sweet little Connie. Today was Reynaldo's turn at the vet.

He was very agitated before we even left the house. I attributed this to his having to fast -- no food after midnight because he was having bloodwork done. He was angry in the car, which surprised me because travel has never bothered him before. While waiting our turn in the vet's waiting room, he started to chill and so I took him out of the carrier.

He was tense, of course. His entire body felt like one lean, taut muscle in my arms. But that was because of all the new views and smells. When a woman came in with a poodle mix -- a rather old dog with a bloody paw -- I decided to put Rey back in the carrier. He was fine with the dog, but the dog, who was already in some degree of discomfort, seemed way too interested in him and I was afraid something sudden and claw-driven might go down. So I put Rey back in the carrier. At which time he hissed at me.

He hissed at me! This has never happened in our 12 years together!

Do not be fooled.
And that, folks, was only the beginning. In the waiting room, the veterinary assistant got a loud purr when he put Rey on the scale. (The skinny beige demon weighs just over 7 lbs.; same as last year and the year before.) Rey merrily flipped back and forth on the table like a fish on the bottom of a boat, giving the assistant two sides to pet. I thought the whole exam would go well.


Reynaldo, who lets me do whatever I wish to him whenever I wish to do it, suddenly took umbrage. How dare the vet open his mouth and check his teeth! This procedure was met by wrigglings and low gutteral mutterings.

Then came the vaccinations. Rey has been getting shots, without hardly noticing, for more than a decade now. This morning he acted as though an evil knight was running a sabre through him. They took him back to draw blood and after a few minutes, the vet assistant came back empty handed.

"He really doesn't like this," the assistant said, taking Rey's carrier back with him, thinking it would be a good way to both restrain and comfort him.

When the vet himself brought Reynaldo back, he was covered in beige fur. "Fire. Cracker." Those were his words as he placed the carrier in my hands.

We chatted for a few minutes, more about Connie than about Reynaldo. He's a very nice man, new to the practice, and very sensitive to my concerns. He reiterated that Connie is fine right now, and with careful care she can remain fine for a long time to come. He says that Reynaldo's vitals are all strong, his eyes and teeth and gums look good, and we have no reason to believe that his bad behavior was do to any more than Rey being, "hangry."

I'm not so sure. This aggressive and angry behavior is not like my little man. Active, yes. Hell, manic is his customary mode. But not angry. I hope it doesn't mean that something is wrong. I wish it didn't take 48 hours to get bloodwork back!

Let's revisit this post from two weeks ago: As I was settling our bill at the front desk, one of the vet techs -- the one who actually drew Connie's blood -- came over to tell me what a sweet and special little girl she is. Finding a usable vein was a little harder and took a little longer than was customary, but during the process Connie maintained eye contact with the tech and kept on purring. "I thought, 'this is one I want to take home!'" the tech enthused about my gentle and trusting girl.

The tech remained invisible and in the back room as I was settling Reynaldo's bill.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Best Day of My Life

1) This song begins by mentioning clouds. Do you see clouds in the sky this fine Saturday? It's gray and rainy. The Cub game was called. BOO!

2) Lead singer Zac Barnett sings that, "Everything is looking up." What are you looking forward to today? Well, I was looking forward to the Cub game. But since it's raining, I'm kind of at loose ends. Oh well, I like days that just unfold naturally.

3) 2016 is not yet half over, but what's been your best day so far this year? That's hard, because this has been a crappy year so far. I think the day when I met the new specialist who gave me a solid treatment plan was a good, hopeful day.
4) The members of the group, American Authors, met in college. When is the last time you heard from a school chum? Do you know them from grammar school, high school or college? I'm in almost constant touch with my oldest friend, whom I've known since Kindergarten.

5) One of the all-time best-selling American authors is romance writer Danielle Steele. She's been writing for more than 40 years and has sold more than 800 million books. Have you read any of her work? Nope. But I think about a decade ago I watched a marathon of her books made into TV movies. The aforementioned friend from Kindergarten was going through a tough time, and we laid in a supply of pizza and ice cream and had a sleepover while watching soapy chick-flicks on the Hallmark channel.

6) Have you ever dreamed of being an author? Yes. But I lack the discipline for the rewrites.

7) Do you have an e-reader? Yes, a Kindle Fire. But I seldom use it.

8) American Authors rang in 2016 in Chicago, giving an outdoor concert on New Year's Eve on a stage not far from Lake Michigan. There are 5 Great Lakes in all,including Lake Michigan. Without looking it up, name the other 4. I learned this in school as HOMES. But since Michigan is a gimme, it's just HOES. (There's a set-up line for Bud if ever there was one.) H=Huron, O=Ontario, E-Erie, S=Superior.

9) Random question: You see photos on Facebook of a dinner party hosted by a friend. You recognize most of the attendees, yet you weren't invited. How do you feel? Left out and angry? Do you wonder what you may have done to offend your friend? Or do you just forget about it and move on? I wouldn't care. Maybe they live out in the burbs and it would be too hard for me to get there. Or maybe it was all couples and they didn't think a singleton like me would have fun. If the host/hostess were truly a friend of mine, I'm sure I'd understand the situation and not be disturbed at all.

Stolen from Kwizgiver

A "Friday 5" about movies.

What’s your favorite dancing scene in a movie? 
Every Friday night in April,  TCM was devoted to Judy Garland and I was reminded what a very good dancer she was. Her solo dance turns are exceptional. It's always an extension of her character. She's singing and acting on her feet. One of my favorites was just on last night -- "Someone at Last" from A Star is Born. She's so charming and happy and almost manically upbeat in this sequence (trying to cheer up her depressed and alcoholic husband) that I'm always jarred whenever I see this rather famous still, shot between takes of this complicated scene. Judy worked very, very hard! If you have a few minutes, here's a link to this enchanting dance sequence.

 What’s your favorite chase scene in a movie? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The one that culminates on the cliff with Sundance confessing, "I can't swim!"

What’s your favorite courtroom scene in a movie? Marlene Dietrich on the stand in Witness for the Prosecution. 

What’s your favorite kissing scene in a movie? No contest. I love seeing a girl reunited with her two true loves -- boy and cat. In the rain. With "Moon River" playing in the background. Movie bliss!

What’s your favorite scene in a non-musical movie where the characters spontaneously break into song? The boys on the boat in Jaws. "Show me the way to go home ..."


Friday, April 29, 2016

No retreat, baby, no surrender

It's been a week since Prince died. As always happens these days when a celebrity dies unexpectedly, he's everywhere. Social and mainstream media are ablaze with purple. This has me thinking about the last time Prince was everywhere, 1982-1986.

I have great affection for much of the music of that period because those were my "I don't give a shit" party girl days. I worked very hard at having fun. Because that's when fun mattered. Perhaps because not much else did.

After all, these were the Reagan years. In this country, the powers that be were all about "self determination" and "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" and "trickle down economics." Which translated to wealth remaining in the hands of the few at the expense of the many, to making it sound at best unfashionable and at worst unpatriotic to make things like nutrition and education and equal rights standard issue.

I am a Kennedy girl. I believe in inclusion and activism. I want to participate in the system. I consider it both a responsibility and privilege to try to affect change. And instead I was dancing and snorting coke and getting drunk and getting laid because what the hell. My way of life seemed so over. What difference did any of it make? It hurt to be a Kennedy girl in Reagan Country. So I anesthetized myself while Prince and Michael and Whitney and Madonna sang.

Why not? Why not put myself first and indulge in a little hedonism? Since nothing mattered, there were no guardrails. After all, the 1960s were very, very over. JFK and Bobby had been murdered, and Chappaquiddick had rendered Teddy toothless. (Though it must be said he recovered and became a wonderful Senator.) Dr. King had been murdered. Not only had The Beatles had broken up, John Lennon had been murdered. I can't overestimate the nightmare impact those shootings had on me.

I'd quit going to church long before. It stopped being relevant. The problem wasn't my faith, it was my religion. The congregation I'd been raised in wasn't about social responsibility and had become about self promotion and self preservation. There was an emphasis on bringing in new members and raising money to improve the building and beautify the grounds but to what end? Weren't we supposed to be helping the needy or something? 

The standbys were still there, of course. Paul McCartney was making good music, with "Take It Away," "My Brave Face" and "Here Today" being just three of my favorites from this era. (But his hits, such as "The Girl Is Mine" and "Ebony and Ivory" were crap.) The Cubs were putting very, very good teams on the field (Rick Sutcliffe! Ryne Sandberg!).

While there was fun, but there was no joy. Unless I was listening to Bruce. The Boss was my
conscience. He reminded me that I was part of something bigger than myself, and the next party. Old school, unreconstituted liberals like us still had a role to play as The Loyal Opposition. He insisted that there was responsibility attached to being "Born in the U.S.A."

As he sang -- and still sings, since he's touring now:

Now on the street tonight the lights grow dim
The walls of my room are closing in
There's a war outside still raging
You say it ain't ours anymore to win
I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover's bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head

Those are lyrics to my favorite Springsteen song, "No Surrender."

I met him, you know. I kissed him, too. It was a great moment in my Fangirl-dom. He was sweet and sexy and smart and he talked to me about John Lennon. (John's death was sticking a shocking, fresh wound.) It was transformative.

Slowly, through The River, Born in the USA and Tunnel of Love, Bruce brought me back to myself. I began volunteering again. First, and longest, in the cat adoption room at The Anti-Cruelty Society and for a time at ICHV (Illinois Citizens Against Handgun Violence). I found a congregation of neighbors who lived their faith, joined them and eventually converted. Having places I needed to be on Saturday and Sunday mornings reminded me that there's a value to waking up sober.

I don't regret any of those hours partying with Prince and Michael and Whitney and Madonna. It was an important period for me. I felt sexy, cool and hip for the first time in my life. It was fun, but it wasn't really me. It took Bruce to bring me back to myself -- my uncool, socially responsible, geeky self -- and I'll always be grateful.

And now of those 1980s icons, Prince and Michael and Whitney are gone. Madonna and Bruce are still out there. Still touring. Here's Bruce at 66 from this past March, singing "Badlands" and "No Surrender." Still the hardest working man in show business. As we mourn the fallen, let's never forget to celebrate the survivors.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I feel like I'm cheating

On one of my trips to drop off a donation to Goodwill, I did a spin through the store. I wanted to check out prices because I never want to lie to the IRS when I claim the deduction at tax time.

Anyway, I found a sweater in my size, a brown v-neck by Sonoma (Kohl's brand). No tags attached, but it looked new. I paid less than $4.50 for it, and found it a similar one online and on sale for $24.99. Every time I wear it, like I am right now, I feel like I've gotten away with something.

Of course, if I drop stuff off at Goodwill and leave with other, different stuff, I'm not really solving my stuff problem, so I don't do this often. Also, if I shopped there regularly, I don't think finding such a bargain would feel so delicious.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Carole Lombard enjoying two of my favorite things
WWW.WEDNESDAY is back! To participate, and to see how others responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Mother by Linda Ann Rentschler. A novel described by Goodreads like this: "Mary Sullivan, wife and mother of two teen boys has been mourning the death of her mother for five years. When she meets Cathy, a young salesclerk at a luncheonette in town who suffers the tragic loss of her own mother, Mary befriends her and the two women help each other heal and move forward."
Just cracked this one open, so I have little to say about it. EXCEPT I can't for the life of me remember how I came to own it. My copy is a pristine hardcover, published back in 2007. Was it a gift? Did I buy it? Did I borrow it and forget to return it? (I don't think so, it looks brand new.)

2. What did you recently finish reading? Three Witnesses by Rex Stout. I really loved this anthology. Because it's a Nero Wolfe book, the stories are all murder mysteries. But more then guessing whodunnit, I enjoyed the storytelling and the setting. Manhattan of the mid-1950s. Before cellphones and voicemail, when people used phone booths and answering services. Girls came to New York to be actresses and settled for being showgirls in supper clubs (until they could get a man to marry them and take them away from all this). Stout wrote this book in 1956, so it wasn't nostalgia when he wrote it but it does have a certain timecapsule feel to it -- capturing a moment when hairspray, nylons and white gloves were standard issue. 

The main characters are familiar to regular readers of the series: Wolfe is the enormous genius who raised orchids, loved beer, and had a powerful misanthropic streak. Archie Goodwin is his assistant and our narrator. Archie is an enterprising and wisecracking bachelor with an appreciative eye for the ladies. They live in a brownstone with their own housekeeper/chef and on-site gardener. Why is a gardener required in a Manhattan brownstone? To tend to the orchids, of course. The top floor is devoted to the Wolfe's award-winning orchids, which he spends time with every day. 

Rex Stout created this quirky, funny collection of characters back in the 1930s and I've been enchanted by just about every story in the series. This is later Wolfe, but Stout maintained the quality throughout.
3.  What will you read next? I don't know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I can do this job!

My boss is in Los Angeles this week, shooting a TV commercial. He was needed here in Chicago at a rather sensitive mini-summit with another agency. I was shocked when he selected me to go in his place.


I was nervous. This other agency is our competition. We handle a little over 60% of our client's advertising budget, this agency handles just about 25%. (The other 15% is done by a shop that specializes in marketing to African-Americans.) They want a bigger part of the pie, we want to shut them out. And yet, for events like this, we have to "make nice," for our client has made it clear that they want coordination and cooperation between their major agencies.

So this meeting mattered.

And I did well! So well, in fact, that on the way out, the account director from the other agency asked if he could give me a hug!


A lot of this is because our new account director, AD, likes me, and so the halo on my head is illuminating everything.

And part of it is that I'm really very good at thinking on my feet. I have a passion for my client's business and an understanding of how advertising works at a granular level.

Or, as one of my coworkers likes say, "The Gal isn't in the weeds, she's burrowed beneath the weeds. She's in the mud!"

Oh, grow up!

Our American political season goes on too long. I know this because I'm a news junkie, and even I am already exhausted.

Two things are bugging me especially.

Donald Trump, of course. "The system is rigged! It's not democratic!" Of course it isn't democratic, you orange-skinned combed-over asswipe. This is a republic. I don't know what New York school Trump went to back in the day, but in my provincial grade school in the Midwest we were taught that in our system of government, "power resides in elected individuals representing the citizen body." So we vote for the delegates and at the convention, the delegates vote for us. Is the primary system ridiculously over complicated? Yes. But has it been this way for decades? Yes.

Question: How many primaries did Hubert Humphrey win in 1968? Answer: None. And yet he was the Democratic Presidential nominee. Donald Trump was old enough to vote in 1968. What's his excuse for not knowing this? HE HAS NONE!

Bernie Sanders supporters. "I'll never vote for Hillary. Ew! Ick!" Your guy lost. Get over it. Your guy didn't lose because Hillary is satanic. He lost because she got more votes -- in mostly ethnic urban enclaves, where his message simply didn't resonate. (And saying shit like, "Poor people don't vote," doesn't help.) And yes, you will vote for her. Because like all right-thinking Americans, you are afraid of the aforementioned orange-skinned combed-over asswipe, and what his ascendancy says about us as a people.

Please note: I am not aiming my ire at Sanders campaign volunteers. You guys have my deepest admiration. I worked for Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton, John Kerry (and I'm prouder of the hundreds of hours I devoted to the Kerry campaign than I am of anything else in my life) and Barack Obama and so I know. I know you dialed ... and emailed ... and hosted house parties ... and attended viewing parties ... and rang doorbells ... and made signs ... and held those signs over your head in the rain ... I know and I admire you and I'm grateful to you. Without volunteers, campaigns don't run, and without campaigns, America doesn't work.

I'm talking about the angry social media mavens who stuff their faces with Doritos while pounding away at their keyboards. "Ew! I hate her and her fossil fuel consuming friends!" You're simply not serious people. Angry ones, yes, but not serious.

Watch. When it's really all over for Sen. Sanders (possibly in June, after California), the true believers will cry and ache and then go over to Clinton headquarters. Oh, yes, they will. Because they believe a woman's right to choose and LGBT rights and a culture of inclusion are too important to trust to the GOP. And because when you're going 100 mph, it's hard to stop, and when you've been working hard for something, it's hard to just walk away. I know this -- in 2004, I watched the "Deanie Babies" (Howard Dean's volunteers) join the Kerry campaign, and in 2008 I saw Hillary Clinton workers join Barack Obama's campaign.

There. I feel better now. I think it's time for me to turn off MSNBC and turn back to the Cubs vs. Milwaukee.

Monday, April 25, 2016

I really have to chill

Kindly ignore my ugly kitchen floor
My darling old Joe was a very big cat, as shown in this photo of him with little Connie. When he was with us, it seemed I was forever scooping and disposing of sodden litter. Since his passing, there's noticeably less waste and smell.

This should be a good thing. So why aren't I happy?

I'm worried that this means there's something wrong with Reynaldo. In the past, he's suffered from a kidney infection. What if it's returned? He's now an old man -- 12 years old this month! -- and may not be as resilient as he once was.

Of course, he displays no symptoms of trouble. He's lively, he eats whatever I put in front of him, and he loves to be cuddled. Still, I'm glad that this weekend we're going to the vet. In addition to Rey's annual check up and shots, the vet's going to do a blood panel. We want to make sure he's free of either of the viruses that plagued Joey and Connie.

Losing Joey in February, and discovering Connie's diagnosis just a few weeks ago, has left me overly cautious and hypersensitive. That serves no purpose. I know that. It's just that I take seriously my responsibility to the little furry souls in my care.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Barb called!

We talked for about a half hour and I heard her laugh, so I feel better.

The cancer surgery went well. The lump was very small and it was caught early. The reason for the double mastectomy is that she tested positive for the BRCA gene and she and her doctors agreed it would be better to act aggressively. And as of today, both she and her doctors are confident that they got it all.

It's the reconstructive surgery that has thrown a wrench in the works. She had expanders put in to prepare her chest for implants, and there's been some irritation and infection at the site. So she's been on pain killers longer than was originally expected and it's been hard for her to raise her arms to wash her own hair. But she's getting better every day. Still, she's looking at another month before she can go back to work.

She mentioned that her husband spends nights on the sofa because her sleep is still so fitful and she needs all the pillows to get comfortable. But she sounds like they're getting along well. She laughed when she told me how his schedule revolves around, "walking dogs and walking Barb."

I let her know that I think of her every day. I told her if she gets bored to call me any time. She promised she would, and thanked me for the cards and nightshirt.

I'm feeling so relieved since hearing from her.

Sunday Stealing

Ask Questions, Yo

1. Are you a very open or private person? Depends where I am and who I'm talking to. I'm very blabby and can talk about current affairs and celebrities, which gives appearance that I'm open and friendly. But at the end of the conversation, strangers know little about me.

2. Change one thing about the world what would it be?
That people would live their religious faith -- whatever faith that may be -- rather than proselytizing. Living one's faith brings us together, trying to recruit sets up an "us vs. them" that is not healthy.

3. Live in any country/city, where would you choose? I love Chicago and would never leave. But if I could live anywhere in this city, I'd choose the Palmolive Building. It's a beautiful art deco building from the 1930s. It's historic -- the light you see is The Lindbergh Beacon, added way back when to help aviators navigate over Lake Michigan, and it was also the headquarters of Playboy back in its heyday. And my view would either be Michigan Avenue or the Oak Street Beach! Now all I need is $14 million for a condo unit.

4. What perfume do you wear?
Exceptional. It's crisp and rather uncommon.

5. How are you feeling right now?
Happy. I've got the windows open and I can hear church bells.

6. If money was no object, where would you move to?
Shit, I answered this already. See #3.

7. Who was the last person to make you cry?
The Cubs Kyle Schwarber. This terrific kid suffered a season-ending injury in game three of the year, before the Cubs even got home to Wrigley Field. On Opening Day, he came out on crutches and nearly 40,000 fans got their feet to wish him a speedy recovery. I get verklempt just thinking about it.

8. What age do people usually mistake you for?
Late 40s. Which makes me happy because I'm a fat old broad in my late-50s.

9. Is there a song which can bring you to tears instantly?
I'm not much of a crier, but "Save the Best for Last" will do it. I so loved the man that song reminds me of. Still do. Wherever he is, I hope he's happy.

10. Do you play video games?

11. What do you think about before you go to bed?
Whatever I'm reading

12. Have you ever online dated?

13. Do you get cranky when you’re hungry?

14. What drink did you last consume?

15. Have you ever tripped while walking up the stairs?
Ever? Of course. I've been going up stairs for a half century.

16. Is there something you’re happy about at the moment?
Yes. Right now both my cats are healthy and happy and within my sightline, so my life is good.

17. Are you a shy person?
Not shy, but I am introverted.

18. Were you happy when you woke up today?

19. Do you like rain?

20. Can you go a day without music?
Not willingly

It's a gift to be gotten

By "gotten" I mean understood.

I've got a lot of emotional "stuff"going on. Mainly I'm wrestling with news about Connie and the radio silence from Barb.

•  With Connie, I'm trying to be a responsible, vigilant guardian while still living in and enjoying the moment.

•  With Barb, I'm trying to balance her need for privacy right now with letting her know she has my support.

I have financial issues, too. And work is more roller-coastery than is comfortable. And ... and ... and ... I'm trying to stay positive and face forward. (After all, I've got the Cubs!)

And right now, it's good to know how heavily I can lean on my oldest friend. She knows me so well, knows my history, knows I need to laugh and be distracted and knows just how to do it.

She has shit going on in her own life. She always does. She's one of those people who lives in perpetual chaos.

But she's able to put it aside for me right now, and I treasure her for it. I just wish she was here. I won't see her until late summer. I can't wait!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Connie File

I've kept a close eye on Connie since getting the bad news about her bloodwork. And here's the thing: she doesn't know her immune system is compromised. She's a happy girl who feels just fine, thank you.

She's alert, watching the branches move in the breeze from our 4th floor window. She's active, eager to track a bug across the wall and willing to engage Reynaldo in hijinks. She's affectionate, demanding to be picked up at times but also content to just be near me. And she's eating, though she's far pickier than I'd like her to be.

I must remember these important dates -- and I keep getting this wrong so I'll list them all again here -- because the vet says it would "not be unusual" for her to live to be 10 or 12.

•  Connie was (likely) born in September 2011. That makes her 4 1/2 years old right now. (I thought she was just three, but that's wishful thinking.)

•  She joined our household in June 2014, when she was 3. She had a gum infection and runny, sensitive eyes, both likely side effects from FVR. Think of it as a forever cold that lives in her system and will flare up if she's stressed or otherwise compromised. She's been outwardly healthy now for well over a year.

•  She has the virus in her system that causes FIP. I just have to keep an eye on her to make sure it doesn't flare up, because this one can kill her. The symptoms are those runny eyes, like she had at the shelter, and diarrhea.

Since, God willing, this little girl and I have 6 or 7 more years together, I have to chill out about this. I have to concentrate on keeping her healthy and treasuring her, not waiting for her to die.

Saturday 9

Little Red Corvette

1) The subject of this song is frankly sexual. Do you blush easily? I don't think so. But it's hard to tell from the inside if you're blushing, isn't it?

2) Prince was his real first name (Prince Rogers, to be exact). Growing up, his relatives called him "Skipper." Do you have any nicknames within your family? My dad had nicknames for me when I was very young. "Mouse" and "Andy Panda."

3) Prince said he was "obsessed" with Mozart and read whatever he can find about the composer. What's the last book you read? The Chairman. It's the final volume of James Kaplan's biography of Frank Sinatra. What a life that son of a bitch had! I was tired just reading about it.

4) Between Prince and The Beach Boys, the Corvette is a much sung-about car. Tell us about your vehicle. No car

5) In the 1980s, when Prince was popular, MTV could turn a song into a hit. In 2016, where do you hear new music? They play music videos at the health club. Where I must go to more often.

6) In 1982, when "Little Red Corvette" ruled the airwaves, Braniff Airways shocked the travel industry and threw passengers into chaos by declaring bankruptcy. When did you last fly? Did your trip go smoothly? I spent Christmas in the Keys. The last flight, the one from Key West, went well enough. But the one going down there ... OY! Security was arduous. I was really afraid I'd miss my flight.

7) 1982 is also the year Disney opened Epcot. Have you ever been to a Disney park? Yes. Both of 'em.

8) 1982 is the year Cheers premiered. The sitcom was set in a bar where "everybody knows your name." Tell us about your favorite local bar or restaurant. La Cantina. It's a little restaurant tucked away in a basement. I think being a cellar gives it an acoustic advantage: It gets busy but it never gets noisy. And the manicotti! It literally melts on your tongue.

9) The 1980s were considered a highpoint in professional tennis, with Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe dominating the sport. Do you play tennis? Badly. Very badly. I don't even try anymore.

I MIss Barb

Saw Bullets Over Broadway this week. Instead of my usual theater buddy, Barb, a coworker was in the seat beside me. And nothing was as good.

The play wasn't as good as the movie. I was disappointed because Susan Stroman directed and choreographed this and she can be marvelous. But the music was ... weird. None of it was original. Why "Hold that Tiger!" and "Yes, We Have No Bananas?" Didn't make sense. And a musical whose musical score doesn't move the action along is, well, weird.

The company wasn't as good. My coworker was excited to be there and clearly enjoyed hanging out with me, which was flattering. But I miss Barb, and I'm worried about her. I've known her for more than 20 years and have been going to the theater with her nearly that long. She's supposed to be in the seat beside me. I can't wait for her to get well.

"Move over baby, gimme the keys ..."

Prince died this past Thursday. I heard about it on the way back from lunch with my neighbor, Nancy, a freelancer who coincidentally is working in the same 83-floor office building as I do. She prefers her coffee from Caffe Rom, not Starbucks. While her order was being prepared, the counter girl started telling me about Prince. She said it with such urgency. it was like she was handing off plutonium. I was surprised that someone so young (late teens?) cared so much. She was more upset about it than I was, and I'd lived Prince's 80s heyday.

I can't claim to be much of a fan. I have just six Prince songs on my iPod. "When Doves Cry," "Purple Rain," "1999," "Kiss," "Let's Go Crazy" and my favorite, "Little Red Corvette." It's that last one that is etched indelibly in my consciousness.

When it was popular, I was in the first flush of a very passionate and ultimately very destructive affair and that song summed the powerful lust that had overtaken me. It was reckless and distracting. We couldn't keep our hands off each other. I remember that spring was unusually warm and we did it everywhere. And that song seemed to be playing everywhere -- in bars, from passing cars (radio still mattered back then), through open windows, in the bars, in my head.

A 12" single! Remember them?
Then there was "So Emotional." That relationship devolved into something very unhealthy very quickly. We were still lovers but no longer friends. The affection dissipated but the lust remained. By the time Whitney's song had taken over the airwaves and the jukeboxes (jukeboxes still mattered then), this was who we were. "I remember the way we touched, I wish I didn't like it so much ..."

So when I see that meme that's going around of Bowie and Prince, meeting up in heaven for a super jam, I shake my head. You guys have it wrong. In my celestial 80s oldies concert, Prince opens for Whitney.

Friday, April 22, 2016

So good it was stupid

Thursday night's Cub game featured a no-hitter AND a grand slam home run. The no-hitter was pitched by Jake Arrieta's, last season's Cy Young Award winner, who just pitched a no-hitter in Los Angeles in September. The grand slam was hit by last season's Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant.

16-0. That score means the Cubs are so good it's stupid.

I'm afraid to accept the evidence before my eyes, which is that the "next year" I've been waiting for is finally here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Carole Lombard enjoying two of my favorite things
WWW.WEDNESDAY is back! To participate, and to see how others responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Three Witnesses by Rex Stout. This is a trio Nero Wolfe novellas, written in 1956, and so far it's completely charming. I haven't read a book from the Wolfe series in nearly two years, and it's a joy to be spending time with the orchid-loving genius gourmand and his right-hand man, Archie Goodwin. (I admit I've always been a little in love with adorable Archie.) If you're a fan of mystery series, I highly recommend Rex Stout and Nero Wolfe. There's minimal violence, maximum atmosphere, and a supporting cast of colorful characters.

I'm reading a second-hand paperback, published in the 1980s and purchased for $1 from the local library book sale. I enjoy second hand and library books. Wondering who held them before adds to the romance of the story. As I read this, I worry about losing that as the world moves inexorably to e-readers.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan. It took me nearly two months to plow through this prodigious tome. But oh! Was it ever worth it!

Sinatra was complex and fascinating and never, ever dull. He was a monstrous, affectionate, generous, violent, tender, brave bully. His life was so big, his mood swings so drastic, that I felt exhausted every time I put the book down. And while there's plenty of drama -- what with his Mafia ties and many, many, many women -- there's also wonderful background on how Sinatra created his music. He knew how good he was, and he always tried to do right by his music and his audience. Now that I know how much work went into making those recordings, I can no longer just have them on as background music or white noise, I find myself listening as though I'm hearing them for the first time. So while I often didn't like him during this biography, I always admired his integrity ... when it came to his work, that is.

3.  What will you read next? I don't know.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oh, sweetheart!

My Connie really is such a sweet cat. Spirited and affectionate. And that's what makes this news so sad and unfair.

Her first year, 2013, was a difficult one. She began her life with a hoarder who kept at least 9 cats in a little apartment. When she ended up at the shelter, she was emaciated and pregnant with a stillborn litter. She had terrible breath because of bloody gums and was suffering from an upper respiratory infection that manifested itself in chronically runny eyes. I knew her history when I adopted her. I realized she was "special needs," that because of her eye trouble she'd need to be dosed regularly with Lysine.

What I didn't know then was that she'd already been exposed to FIP, an incurable virus that will someday take her life. I just found that out Monday afternoon.

My dear old tomcat Joey had -- among many other health problems -- a rather rare virus that sapped his strength and contributed to his passing. It weakened him as his old body tried to battle late-stage kidney disease. Because he shared a water bowl and litter box with Connie and Reynaldo, I was worried that he may have passed this virus onto them. My vet said it was unlikely but I wanted to be sure. So last weekend, when I took Connie to the vet for her annual vaccines, I asked for a full blood panel.

The vet was right. She didn't catch anything from old Joe. But she does have FIP, which is different, and worse.

She's fine now. Her heart and lungs sounded good to the vet. Her eyes are clear. She's lively and sociable and her appetite is good. The vet advises me that, with the proper care, she could lead a normal life. What will predictably happen is that the opportunistic FIP virus will one day in the future turn a simple cold into something fatal.

Connie deserves a good life. The way it began -- in crowding, in squalor -- is not her fault. I'm going to see to it she gets the best possible diet and regular vet care and lots of affection. I don't know how many years she has (the vet says 10 is not out of the question), but I'm going to give her the best I can. I love her and take my responsibility to her very seriously.

PS Later this month, when Rey goes in for his vaccines, we'll learn whether he's picked up a virus from either Joey or Connie. The vet says it's unlikely, but we've got to find out.

The soundtrack of my life

Stolen from Kwizgiver.

What if your life was a movie? What music would accompany the action?

Opening Credits: A Hard Day's Night -- The Beatles
Average Day:  Just Another Day -- Paul McCartney
School Experience: At 17 -- Janis Ian
First Crush: Opus 17 -- The Four Seasons
Falling in Love: Can't Help Falling in Love -- Elvis Presley
Secret Crush: If Only You Knew -- Patti LaBelle
Life's OK: Dancing in the Dark -- Bruce Springsteen
Feeling Proud: Man! I Feel Like a Woman -- Shania Twain
Family Relationships: Pachabel's Canon D

Fight or Flight: Don't Rain on My Parade -- Barbra Streisand
Learning a Lesson: Friends in Low Places -- Garth Brooks
Friends: Part of Me, Part of You -- Glenn Frey
Deep Thought: That's Life -- Frank Sinatra
Flashback: Moonlighting -- Al Jarreau
When I Was Young: Come on Down to My Boat Baby -- Every Mother's Son
When I Get Older: When I'm 64 -- The Beatles Can't find a good version on YouTube
Happy Dance:  September -- Earth Wind and Fire
When I'm Feeling Down: Stoney End -- Barbra Streisand
On Top of the World: Brand New Me -- Dusty Springfield
Closing Scene:  Tears Dry on Their Own -- Amy Winehouse

I realize this list reflects my advanced years. But I enjoyed this exercise enormously. Thanks for sharing it, Kwizgiver!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Oh, yeah!

That other local team, the White Sox, is doing well, too. (I'm so full of joy and love I can be generous.)

Feeling positively Angelic

That's Revlon #141 Angelic. Got my spring pedi today from Joanna. The neutral pale pink has me feeling fresh and ready for sandal weather. Even turned the air conditioners on! (Mostly to see if they worked, but also because it was pretty stuffy in here.)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sunday Stealing

25 Large Meme
  1. Travel anywhere, where would it be? I'd like to sneak away for a weekend in a place I haven't been in years, like Hot Springs or Memphis or Boston.
  2.  Meet anyone, who would it be? Michelle Obama. I'd like to ask her how she handles the scrutiny and relentlessly unfair criticism with such grace. And why doesn't she want to move back here to Chicago when their time in the White House is done?
  3. Bring anyone dead back to life, who would it be? I wouldn't. I don't believe it would be wise to change the course of history that way.
  4.  Be anyone for a day, who would it be? I'd like to be a petsitter. Doesn't sound all that glam, does it? Well, it's something I've thought about doing when I retire from advertising and I wonder how I'd like it, how good I'd be at it.
  5.  Get anything for free for the rest of your life what would it be? Electricity and light bulbs. I don't know why, but I really resent paying for those things.
  6.  Change one thing about your life what would it be? My laziness.
  7. Have any superpower what would it be? Time travel. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at many moments in history.
  8. Be any animal for a day which would you be? One of my cats. I'd love to speak to them, learn what they like and what they don't, about their lives with me.
  9. Date anyone who would it be? Bruce Springsteen. Of course, since he's married he shouldn't be dating.
  10.  Change one thing about the world what would it be? The divisive us-against-them that permeates everything. Naturally I would start with Donald Trump.
  11.  Live in any fictional universe which would you choose? I don't like sci fi, so I don't know how to answer this.
  12.  Eliminate one of your human needs which would you get rid of? Sleep
  13.  Change one thing about your physical appearance what would it be? I hate how fat my face is
  14.  Change one of your personality traits which would you choose? The aforementioned laziness
  15.  Be talented at anything instantly what would you choose? Singing!
  16.  If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be? How is this different from question #2?
  17.  Erase an event from history (make it so it never happened) which would you choose? I wouldn't. I don't believe it would be wise to change the course of history that way.
  18.  Have any hair/eye/skin color, which would you choose? I like my coloring (pale skin, light brown hair, green eyes)
  19.  Be any weight/body type, which would you choose? Tall and lean
  20.  Live in any country/city, where would you choose? I like it right where I am
  21.  Change one law in your country, which would you change? I'd like to protect the separation of church and state. Legislating one's faith feels very unpatriotic and un-Christian to me.
  22. Be any height, which would you choose? I'd like to be 5'7 and wear a size 8.
  23. Have any job in the world, which would you choose? Queen of the circus
  24. Have anything appear in your pocket right now, what would it be? The key to Leroy Jethro Gibbs' heart
  25.  Have anyone beside you right now, who would it be? My cat, Joey. I miss him that dear old tomcat more than I thought I would.