Thursday, June 30, 2016

Someone threw a bomb into the clown car

Came around the corner today, toward our cramped little four-people-in-an-office-designed-for-two space and saw telltale green and white packing boxes.

"Fuck," said I, ever eloquent,"Are we moving again?"

Two of my coworkers/officemates just stared at me blankly.

"Are we moving again?" I repeated.

"I was let go," the taller, skinnier coworker said, proceeding to put his personal belongings into his box.

"Me, too, and Charlie," said my rounder, friendlier coworker, referencing one of the few creatives who doesn't work in our cramped cubicle.

I started to sweat. "How did you find out?" I asked.

"Phone call," Tall said. I looked at my phone but didn't see the message light. I dropped my purse and computer bag and went looking for my boss. He was talking to AD.

"Do you want to talk to me about anything?" I asked.

"Nope," he said. "I mean, of course I want to discuss this with you. But it's done and it's over and this is as far as it goes."

So yesterday there were six of us on the team. Today there are three.

I'm comforted that I made the cut, and my boss said later it wasn't even "a close decision" as to which writers and art director he would keep. On the other hand, it's sad to see people over 50 lose their jobs. Round friendly coworker has a speech impediment, and is desperately uncomfortable with the thought of interviewing.

And it's nice to know that I'm not nuts. I mean, I knew something was up. I'm intuitive enough to sense the change in the political barometer, but not to understand what what it all meant.

But it's sad. It's disruptive. It's sobering to remember that, in advertising, it's more unusual to be kept than it is to be let go.

June Challenge -- Day 30

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30. What do consider the best thing about starting a blog?

It's a real-time snapshot of my life. It reflects my real self, in all my wisdom and folly. I think it helps me be a better person.

Something that should give Bernie Sanders pause

As I watch Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the stump with Hillary Clinton -- and know Joe Biden and Barack Obama are just weeks away from joining Clinton on the campaign trail -- I wonder how relevant Bernie Sanders remains.

I know he still has his passionate supporters, but their numbers are dwindling. As well they have to.

I mean, can anyone truly say with a straight face that Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren aren't liberal "enough?" Or (to use Trump's word) "crooked" and just in the arena for their own self interest, to just continue benefiting from the status quo? Does anyone still think that if an indictment of Hillary was still in the offing, Syracuse law grad Joe Biden, U of C law professor Barack Obama and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren would support her?

I don't dislike Bernie Sanders. I don't not support Bernie Sanders. After Philadelphia, I will work for the Democratic nominee. Because for me, it's never been about Bernie and Hillary. It's about:

•  Gun control*
•  The Supreme Court
•  A woman's right to choose
•  LGBT rights
•  Infrastructure**
•  Healthcare
•  Education
•  Poverty
•  Climate change
•  Stopping the "ludicrous tangerine ball bag"

So all this has got me thinking about Ralph Nader. When I was growing up, he was revered as the man we could count on to speak truth to power. Unsafe at Any Speed took on the auto industry. He helped establish the Public Interest Research Group. In Illinois, PIRG is a loud voice for smart transportation reform and food safety. Nader has been tireless in fighting to protect pensions and Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

He should be lauded as a liberal hero.

Except for his stubborn 2000 Presidential Campaign. Because of his quixotic quest, nearly 100,000 Floridians cast a protest vote for him. And George W. Bush won Florida -- and the Presidency -- by less than 600 votes. We can parse the theories as to whether the math holds up, and I know there are those who maintain Nader took as many votes from Bush as Gore. They may well be right. But here's the deal: Nader is no longer remembered first as a crusader. Now he's known as the ultimate spoiler.

Often -- perhaps even usually -- protesting feels soooo good. Being heard is a good, empowering thing. But sometimes by protesting, we find ourselves living the old "cut off your nose to spite your face" adage.

Vocal Sanders supporter (and former Clintonista) Robert Reich understands this and has said that both Bernie and Hillary are excellent choices: Bernie for the system we need, and Hillary for the system we have. The bad choice is Donald Trump.

I hope, for the sake of our country and his legacy, Bernie Sanders understands it.

*OK, maybe that means it has been about Bernie and Hillary.
**OK, so this is why in my heart of hearts I wish Biden had run.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June Challenge -- Day 29

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29. What bit of advice would you give to your 8 year old self? 

I'd tell Little Gal three things:
1) Don't worry, as an adult you will never really need math.
2) Your best friend right now will be your best friend for life, so take care of her.
3)  Yes, Paul McCartney will indeed turn out to be the great love of your life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The stuff of legend

Last night, Kris Bryant did something no major league ball player has ever done before. He went 5-for-5. With 2 doubles and 3 home runs. And each of those three home runs went to a different section of the upper deck.

That's some serious shit. He got a full house -- with his bat.

And with torn pants. As he slid into third base in the first inning, he literally let them rip. He intends to keep wearing the pants until they fall apart.

Can you see the tear?

June Challenge -- Day 28

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28. What did you want to be when you were a kid, teenager, now? First I wanted to be a teacher. I think that's because it was one of the only jobs commonly held by women in those days. Then, during my That Girl period, I wanted to be an actress/singer, like Anne Marie. During Watergate, I wanted to be a crusading investigative journalist. When things at home became untenable, I decided to be a secretary so I could make enough money to move out.

I always wrote long letters, kept journals, noodled with novellas. So, when I was a secretary at Sears, and someone offered me the copywriter's test, it felt very natural and a career was born.

I wanted to prove I could be a creative director, so in that way I was like Peggy on Mad Men. I'm so sorry the show ended when it did. I mean, Peggy and I went through the secretarial pool together, stupidly fell into bed with men from work, had creative director/mentors and then became creative directors ourselves, and ... damn! No more episodes! Without Peggy, how can I predict what my next chapter will hold?

Monday, June 27, 2016

June Challenge -- Day 27

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27. If you could turn into any animal for a day, which one would you pick? My cat Reynaldo. I got him when he was still a kitten, just 6 months old, so I know he's had a very comfortable life. I'd love to know what goes on in that mad little beige cranium of his. Sometimes he is so loving and sweet, and other times he seems so frustrated with me. Like something is compelling him to be naughty. If I could be him for a day, and see the world through his eyes, maybe I could make his life better.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The King of the Beasts Meme

1. Would you post a picture of you for us? Short answer: No. Longer answer: I don't pull a lot of punches on this blog because, to my knowledge, no one in my real, day-to-day life reads it or has traced it back to me. I'd like to keep it that way.

2. Would you date an 18-year-old at the age you are now? Oh, please! Of course not!

3. Do you prefer to work with women or men? Why? I don't think gender matters that much, as long as the men are Gen Xers or Millennials. I hate to say it, but Baby Boomer men can still be very Don Draper. And I don't mean that in a good way.

4. Do you have any opposite sex friends? Yes. Many.

5. Can you commit to one person? No. I don't mean sexually. (In answer to the following question) I've never been tempted to cheat. But long-term, genuine intimacy has been too difficult for me.

6. If you’re married or in a relationship have you ever been tempted to cheat? See above

7. Do you think your life will change dramatically before 2018? Yes. And that scares me.

Meet Jodi, my role model
8. If the person you are interested in says they like someone else, what would try to sway them? I would lie, stalk and threaten him. Desperation is always sexy. Oh! And dye my hair blonde! That'll work.

9. Are you good at hiding your feelings? No. Not at all. It's something I wrestle with, usually unsuccessfully.

11. When was the last time you cried? When I was loading my cats into their carriers and taking them off to the vet. It wasn't just that I had to send them away before the exterminators came. It was the expense, the time away from the office, the hassle, and the genuine ICK factor that has come with my building's ongoing bed bug issue. So far, the little beasts haven't made it to my unit and I'd dearly love to keep it that way. That's why I'm cooperating. But geez! I'm tired of all this already, and there's no end in sight!

12. Have you ever fallen for someone you didn’t expect to? Every time I've fallen in love, it's been a surprise to me.

13. What is something you have to do tomorrow? Go to work.

14. Name something you dislike about the day you’re having. It's still early on Sunday. Nothing has happened to displease me yet. Though I am a little sorry that I won't be able to get it together to go to church. I could use a spiritual tune up.

15. Have you ever wanted more from one of your best friends of the opposite sex? I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I get this question. More what?

16. Have you ever wanted someone you couldn’t have? Of course. I believe that's just part of life.

17. Who was the last person you talked to before you went
I admit it. I'm her role model.
to bed last night? It wasn't at all near bedtime, but the last person I spoke to yesterday was my next door neighbor. A handsome young man named Darren. We had a scintillating conversation about the bed bug infestation and whether it's safe to use the laundry room. My life is indistinguishable from that of Samantha on Sex and the City.

18. Do you have someone of the opposite sex you can tell everything to? Yes.

19. When was the last time that you were jealous in a romance situation? It's been a long, long time.

20. If you had to delete one year of your life completely, which would it be? So far, this one. 2016 has been a year of blow after blow after blow for me and my friends.

21. Did you have a good day yesterday? What did you do? I quite literally had a crappy day yesterday. If you want to read about it -- and I warn you, I don't think you do -- click here.

22. If a person you had wished you could have a relationship with for a long time and you suddenly found yourself together alone, what would you be doing right now? To borrow from Kevin Costner, we'd be enjoying long, slow, deep soft kisses that last three days.

23. Do you replay things that have happened in your head? Of course.

24. Don’t tell me lies, is the last person you texted attractive? It was my friend Kathleen. Her husband finds her attractive, no lie.

25. Is your life anything like it was two years ago? Is it a good or bad thing? I checked. Two years ago this weekend I was answering meme questions and putting together a bag of canned goods for the local food pantry. Today I'm answering meme questions and have a bag set aside for the food pantry. I don't mind the similarities.

June Challenge -- Day 26

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26. What’s your favorite store to browse in? Macy's on State Street. It's huge, has restaurants and a food court, so it's like a mall all in one convenient location. Housewares, baby clothes, make up, jewelry, sun glasses, career wear, casual wear, books, greeting cards, Frango mints ... If I'm looking for it, odds are very good I'll find it right here. (Except for jeans. I buy my jeans at Carson's.)
The service, at least at this location, is a cut above. The prices are reasonable. The structure itself is an architectural gem. What's not to love?

Wasted Day!

One: I can't believe I did this.
Two: Stop reading if TMI leaves you squeamish.

Friday night, I was settling in to watch Some Like It Hot on TCM. I was happy. It just occurred to me I hadn't eaten much all day and wasn't at all hungry. Eating isn't the only thing I hadn't done as much as I normally do. I thought there might be a connection between no appetite and no "evacuation."

I have these pills in the kitchen. I don't remember purchasing them, but clearly I did because there they are. I read the packaging and it says the pills typically work in 6-8 hours. It says an adult should take between 1 and 3 tablets.

I took two and settled in to watch the movie, figuring that in the morning I'd experience the desired result.

Oh. My. God.

Sugar and Daphne barely began their party in the train booth and the pills began to work. And work. And work.

I slept on the bathroom floor. I didn't shower until noon. For safety's sake, I didn't leave the house until 5:00.

My Saturday was completely wasted. Because I spotted this box in the kitchen.

I'm such an idiot.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: As Long As You Love Me (1997)

  1) This video shows the boys in the band nervously await an audition. When were you last
nervous? Thursday. Weird shit is happening at work. I'm worried about my job security. It's wreaking havoc with my always-sensitive gut. I tried to calm myself down by doing the math. My mortgage is paid two months in advance and I could make my expenses for almost 10 months, if I lost my job. Then there's severance and unemployment. Then there's ... Oh, God, there goes my gut again! Do you mind if we change the subject?

2) BSB Brian Littrell was born with a congenital heart problem and had open heart surgery the year this song was released. Who is the last person you visited in the hospital? My mother. I don't like visiting people in the hospital because when I was in the hospital five years ago, I didn't want visitors. Phone calls and flowers? Bring 'em on! Cards waiting for me when I got home? YES! But in the hospital, I didn't want to play hostess, I wanted to heal. And when you're in the hospital I'm going to assume you feel the same way.

3) Littrell had different health trouble in 2009. While working in Japan, he contracted swine flu, which caused the band to cancel several events. Have you battled a cold or flu this summer? Not yet. Knock Formica.

4) When you feel a cold coming on, what's your favorite remedy? I've got these zinc lozenges I turn to whenever I feel that familiar scratchy throat.

5) Brian and his cousin, fellow BSB member Kevin Richardson, are both from Kentucky and have been inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. According to their website, if you tour the Hall of Fame you'll see exhibits that celebrate Kentucky's contribution to American music. Do you enjoy museums? Or do you think they're a snooze? I love museums! And museum gift shops!

Katharine Hepburn
6) BSB Nick Carter was named one of People magazine's "Most Beautiful People in the World." Who is someone you think is especially gorgeous? I love classic movies, so I'm turning to classic movie stars. Here are the two I wished I looked like. Cheekbones! My kingdom for cheekbones!
The thing about Lombard is that her face is so captivating when she's excited, laughing or crying. She doesn't look as wonderful in still photos as Hepburn reliably does. Still, I would dearly love to have her face.
Carole Lombard

7) This spring Nick became a father for the first time. Is anyone in your life expecting a baby this year? Two coworkers. One in November, the other in December.

8) The band has been involved in ongoing litigation with their first manager, saying he had been dishonest with them about how much they had earned. Tell us about someone you trusted, but shouldn't have. That would be Judy. Here's a link to that long, sad saga. I learned recently that she is facing financial difficulties due to health problems. She set up a Go Fund Me page, which has brought her $2,500 over the past four months, and she estimates that she need $20,000 for food and meds. 
I am a good friend. If she had treated me like a good friend, I'd be over there all the time with meals. Every gift I give anyone from now on would be from her Etsy shop. But some things I simply cannot overlook. Do I forgive her? I suppose. Will I pray for her? I just did. Will I get involved. No.

9) The band's recordbreaking 1999 tour was sponsored by the Sears department store chain. Sam remembers the twice-a-year shopping trips to Sears -- spring and fall -- with her mother to update Sam's school wardrobe. What's the last article of clothing you bought? I just laundered it yesterday: A short sleeved pullover covered with polka dots -- navy and black and green and blue. I am fond of it because the happy print makes it look far dressier than it feels.


A postcard from "Flyover Country"

A theory I've heard more than once states that Donald Trump's rather astonishing support comes from where "the media elite" aren't -- that vast part of the country that isn't Los Angeles, Manhattan or Washington, DC. Aka "Flyover Country," or the land that newscasters, reporters and pundits flyover on their way to one of the media centers.

That's not what this lifelong Midwestern blogger has been experiencing.

Here are two conversations overhead on the el just this past workweek. The first was Wednesday morning, the second was Thursday evening. For the record, I've never heard anyone on the train say anything at all about Trump -- pro or con -- until this week.

Wednesday: Four young (between 13 and 15) black girls head to Michigan Avenue for a day of fun. As the train rounded Wabash and Trump Tower came into view, one of the girls announced, "Come November they're gonna change that to HILLARY TOWER!" Her friends laughed and applauded in agreement. There was a "girl power" pride to their swagger that made me as happy as my 16-year-old nephew's passion for Bernie Sanders. I love it when politics is relevant to the young.

Thursday: A white family (Mom, Dad, Uncle and two very little girls) are riding home to the suburbs from a day in the city. The girls are very tired -- the younger one is dozing off on her mom's shoulder, the older sister is staring blankly out the window as dad rubs her shoulders. A rather noisy man boards the train and speaks loudly into his phone. When he's done with his conversation, he apologizes to his fellow commuters and when he reaches his stop, he announces, "Don't vote for Trump!"

The little sister sits bolt upright and says to her mother, "You won't vote for Trump, will you?" Mom shakes her head "no," and Dad tells both daughters, "Don't worry. Trump is not going to be President."

The older sister is not about to let this drop. "What if it's close? What if it's a tie?"

Uncle speaks for the first time, explaining about the 2000 Florida recount. This lasts until I reach my stop. At that point, Dad began to explain the role of The House of Representatives in the event of a tie. The little sister has checked out of the conversations by now, but the older girl seems to enjoy being spoken to like a grown up.

But here's the thing: both girls acted as though the spectre of Trump as President was tantamount to Freddy Krueger moving into their basement.

I find this comforting. I've worried about how children process the success of a man who dismisses people as "losers" and "chokers" and mocks the disabled. How do they square the circle of being taught bullying is wrong, yet seeing adult support of this man?

I'm not unsophisticated about the electoral map. I know that Ohio is in play, and that Missouri and Kentucky and likely to go to Trump.

But I also know that Illinois -- which has more voters than Missouri and Kentucky combined -- is going to stay blue. I'm willing to bet a week's pay that Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan will, too.

Yours from Flyover Country,

June Challenge -- Day 25

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25. What are the 10 most significant events in your life?

The question isn't "good" or "bad." It's "significant." So here we go. Chronologically ...

1) Birth

2) Seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. That Sunday evening gave me the soundtrack of my life, and helped cement my relationship with my favorite uncle.

3) Being abused. I discussed it a bit on Day 5 of the Challenge. I don't feel like rehashing it this morning.

4) Choosing to be an administrative assistant at Sears, rather than at Loyola Hospital. Working in Sears Tower not only fulfilled my youthful ambition to be downtown every day, it gave me a gateway into advertising.

5) Volunteering at Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society. It gave the problems of animal overpopulation and abuse sweet little furry faces. It haunts but it galvanizes, too.

6) Falling in love, and choosing to stay in a toxic relationship. I wasted my 20s.

7) Leaving that relationship. At least I'm educable!

8) Joining my church. It's fulfilling, and it makes me a better person, to have a spiritual home where I genuinely belong.

9) Buying this condo. I was over 40, but it made me feel like I'd finally grown up.

10) John Kerry's 2004 Presidential Campaign. I dialed. I photocopied. I handwrote letters. I filed. I answered phones. I rallied. I did whatever was asked of me. I poured my time and money and heart and soul into it in support of a man I still completely admire. I learned a lot. I cried a lot. I did it for my country and I'm proud of it.* I also worked on Walter Mondale's, Bill Clinton's and Barack Obama's campaigns, but I really clocked the hours and made the commitment for Kerry.

*And it's why I have so little patience for rabid Sanders supporters whose dedication extends no further than preaching to the choir on social media. "Don't just do something, sit there." They'll never support Hillary? Big deal. What did they actually do for Bernie?

Friday, June 24, 2016

June Challenge -- Day 24

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24. Pick one food item and beverage to live on forever.

I can change the bun and the garnishes when I get bored. (With the steak sandwich. I never get tired of Coke.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I can't shake it

There's a feeling of dread enveloping me today. I'm sure that I'm a sitting duck, and the other shoe is about to land on my cranium.

2016 has been a very bad year. After all, it began with three months of chronic diarrhea. And when I think of all else that's followed -- everything from my own money trouble to hospitalized friends to the death of my dear Joey to issues with my family to bed bugs -- I fear that chronic diarrhea might the high point.

And now, for some reason, today I am afraid. Things are changing around me at work and I'm having a hard time reading the tea leaves.  I'm nearly 60, and advertising is not kind to the elderly. Plus my friend Barb has retired. She's always been my fall back, the one I figured I could count on for eating money if I needed freelance work. I hate myself that I am seeing her life change not in terms of her cancer surgery but through the prism of my self interest, but there you go. I try not to pull punches on this blog, and that is the way I feel.

June Challenge -- Day 23

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23. Put your iPod on shuffle and talk about the first 10 songs that pop up. 

1) Can't Help Falling in Love -- Elvis
2) Her Majesty -- The Beatles
3) It's Over -- Dusty Springfield
4) Honey Pie -- The Beatles
5) King Creole -- Elvis
6) I Wanna Marry You -- Bruce Springsteen
7) Touch Me in the Morning -- Diana Ross
8) Another Night -- Aretha Franklin
9) Don't Pass Me By -- The Beatles
10) Comin' In and Out of Your Life -- Barbra Streisand

This list amuses me because it just so happens to include my all-time favorite artists. I've got many one-hit wonder artists on my iPod, but they aren't here.

Obviously these aren't the best Beatle efforts, but I do have affection for them. And I included a link to the Streisand song. Babs often gets slammed for being a technical vocalist, who can be devoid of emotion. Well, with this song, she'll break your heart.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June Challenge -- Day 22

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22. Talk about your obsessions. Hey, hey! Holy mackerel! No doubt about it! It's a great year to be a Cub fan!

Jake Arrieta! Rizzo and Bryant! Joe Maddon! Could I love my guys any more? No, I could not.

I believe this could actually be THE YEAR!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Worst. Mom. Ever.

The exterminator will be in my condo tomorrow at 8:00 AM, treating the baseboards as a precaution against bed bug infestation. I'm not happy about this, but I'm on board with it. While my unit is bug free, the critters have been detected across the hall -- kitty corner from me -- and directly downstairs.

In preparation for this, I have to move all my books (I have a lot of books) into the center of the room so I can move the bookshelves, giving the exterminator access to the baseboards. This makes me sad, because it's a great deal of work and I don't feel like it. On the other hand, I am grateful for the weekends I devoted to making this place appear liveable.

The worst part of this, though, is the cats. I have to bundle them off this evening and take them to the vet for a sleepover. I know it's safer for them than breathing the chemicals, and no one knows how to care for them better than the vet.

But they don't know this.

All these two know is that they will be in a sterile atmosphere that's never really quiet. They will be surrounded by other animals and foreign smells. They will be confined in a small area, piteously exposed with nowhere to hide. They will be sure they have been abandoned.

I know it's only for a night, less than 24 hours. But I feel like scum.

June Challenge -- Day 21

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21. Who do you consider your best friend right now in life? I guess it's my friend who lives in the Keys. He always sees the best in me. During this trying year, that unconditional love has been such a ballast.