Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: Bud's Last Stand of 2016
1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Watched the Cubs in THE WORLD SERIES!

2. Best thing that happened to you was... Watching the Cubs in THE WORLD SERIES!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Two coworkers gave birth, but they were nowhere close to me when they did it.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, I had a tough September. Mindy's mom, Katie's brother and Henry's friend.

5. What countries did you visit? Red State Florida and Tennessee. No kidding. Being from true blue Chicago, it felt like I was in a different world.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? Health. I've been weary and sick for so long, beginning in late December 2015. So far we know everything I don't have -- we've eliminated diabetes, thyroid disease, malfunctions of liver/kidneys/hormones and autoimmune disease. But what is bedeviling me? In 2017, we'll test me for sleep apnea. Wish me luck. Sleep apnea is really not that hard to treat, and it will be such a relief to finally have an answer!

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 2. Game 8 of THE WORLD SERIES.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting through it. Really, except for the Cubs, this year really sucked.

9. What was your biggest failure? My home and finances are still a mess.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I began the year with c. diff. It's a tenacious gastrointestinal malady. You don't want to hear any more about it, trust me.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My new mid-century modern sofa.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? The Chicago Cubs, who won THE WORLD SERIES!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Donald Trump. And, if you think it's OK to mock the disabled, Hillary was right: you are deplorable. My uncle suffered mightily with Parkinson's, so this is very personal to me.

14. Where did most of your money go? Well, I spent more on that sofa than I should have. And I had to fork over special assessments to pay the exterminator because my condo building had bed bugs. (Really, 2016 was awful for me.)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The Cubs in THE WORLD SERIES!

16. What song will always remind you of 2016? "I'm just like my country, I'm young, scrappy and hungry and I'm not throwing away my shot."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? I suppose I'm happier than I was New Year's Eve last year, but fatter and maybe not poorer but certainly not richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercise.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Spend.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve? Cocooning. I do not wish to leave the house tonight.

21. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "There is no more status quo. But the sun comes up and the world still spins." Hamilton again. "What'd I Miss?"

22. What was your favorite new TV program? This Is Us

23. What was the rudest thing someone did to you in 2016? Oh, some woman on the el. It's always someone on the el.

24. What was the best book you read? The Chairman, James Kaplan's bio of Frank Sinatra.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Lin-Manuel Miranda.

26. What did you want and get? Hamilton tickets.

27. What did you want and not get? The winning lottery numbers.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Jackie was riveting. Since it deals with rage and grief, it's not a feel-good film. But I thought it was important. For me, the takeaway was that we can handle what we must. She sure as shit did.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I took myself to Graceland this year for my 59th birthday. I had a wonderful time, but it was sobering. After all, I've now outlived The King by a good long while, and that made me sad. He deserved a longer, happier ride.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The Cubs won THE WORLD SERIES!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? I've embraced wearing Cubs gear everywhere and anywhere.

32. What kept you sane? The Cubs.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Henry Talbot. He was Lady Mary's yummy second husband on Downton Abbey. The actor's name is Matthew Goode. He was also yummy in The Good Wife.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Which major Presidential candidate will choose Supreme Court justices over the next four years? I believe in women's and LGBT rights, so I am worried about the outcome of the last election.

35. Who did you miss? My dad, my grandparents, my uncle. Cub fans all. They should have been here to see and celebrate the Cubs win THE WORLD SERIES!

36. Who was the best new person you met? I suppose Dru. He a design guru at the office and we clashed a lot at first. But then we began circling one another warily and now we admire one another's strengths. In 2017, he promises to help me learn a new software program. That will be nice. I like learning new things.

Farewell, 2016!

I love Lombard. I hope she's the talisman to bring me a good 2017.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Tammy (1957)
In celebration of Debbie Reynolds

 Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1. In this song,Tammy sings of being able to hear "the breeze from the bayou." What sounds can you hear as you answer these questions? The humidifier. It's a consistent hum that turns into white noise pretty quick.

2. This week's song was the theme of a popular movie about a girl who grew up on a houseboat in Mississippi. Looking back on 2016, did you spend much time on or around water? Not until this month. I went to the Keys for Christmas and this year I discovered a more rural, working side to the islands. Here again is the tugboat I saw. I love how little and tough it looks, especially when compared to the all the pleasure boats I routinely see down there. Reminds me of a freight train's caboose.

3. In addition to being an Oscar-nominated actress, this week's artist, Debbie Reynolds, was a big movie fan. She amassed an amazing cache of movie memorabilia. Do you collect anything? I suppose I collect books. I'm drowning in them right now. I must go through and organize and perhaps even part with some ... though doing so breaks my heart.

4. Though she never won a competitive Oscar for acting, Debbie Reynolds was awarded the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award earlier this year for 60 years of charity work. While she supported many causes throughout her life, one she was closest to was The Girl Scouts. She was not only a Scout herself, she was a leader when daughter Carrie was young and a fundraiser throughout her life. Were you ever in Boy or Girl Scouts? I was a Brownie, Junior and Cadet. At the time, I had no choice because my grandmother was the president of the local council and it would have been a small-town scandal if I wasn't in a troop. I'm glad now that I did participate. I learned a lot and have some very nice memories.

6. The New Year's Eve fireworks celebrations in both Disney World in Florida and Sydney, Australia coordinate pyrotechnics and music. Are you expecting either fireworks or live music on your New Year's Eve celebration? Only on TV. I choose to cocoon tonight.

7. According to the National Insurance Bureau, more cars are stolen on New Year's Eve than any other single day. Are you confident your vehicle(s) will be  safe and sound this Saturday night? No car.

8. Do you have any New Year's Resolutions for 2017? I don't think of it as a New Year's Resolution, but I have promised myself I'll save money this year.

9. Looking back on 2016, what surprised you? My guys surprised and delighted me.

This doesn't get old

Isn't it nice when things turn out better than you thought?

Nothing ever goes smoothly with my friend Mindy. Thursday and Friday were the perfect example.

Weeks ago -- on December 5, to be exact -- Mindy and John and I agreed we would get together for the holidays on Friday, December 30. 1:00 at a restaurant/bar John and I favor called Rudy's. Yea!

Suddenly, Thursday, Mindy couldn't make it at 1:00. Could we make it 4:00?

John never checks his phone when he's with people -- and I love that about him -- so he didn't get her message until late Thursday and there was much, much drama. Where is he? Then, when he said he couldn't roll it back because he has a standing date to go to Zoo Lights with his cousins every December 30, another flurry of emails and texts: Can we get together in January? What about February?

FEBRUARY? Why book a date that far out when we know Mindy will change it anyway? The stress of meeting up with this woman is wearying. As I was moving important dates from my 2016 calendar to my 2017, I noticed three times I'd penciled "Mindy" in -- of course I used pencil -- and three times she cancelled.

After much agita and stress, she and I met Friday at 3:45. On the way into the restaurant, I passed to twentysomething women shivering in the cold, waiting for their friends. One was talking animatedly about her new, Printer's Row apartment. Excited about their prospects for the new year in the big city, just like Mindy and I once were. It was a sweet moment for me.

Of course we had the "end of the world as we know it" conversation everyone wants to have with me about Trump, but once we dispensed with that we had a lovely time.

I ate too much, drank too much, and laughed a lot. Which made her gift all the sweeter. She gave me a vertical pendant with the word LAUGH. She says that looking back over the years, the times she's laughed the longest and hardest, she's been with me.

I gave her a brooch from the Metropolitan Opera gift shop. It was the charity chosen to honor her mother in lieu of flowers when the lady passed, and I thought this gave Mindy a way to wear her mother over her heart. This made her happy, which made me happy.

I consider last night my New Year's celebration, and it ended up being a nice one.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Friday 56

Liberated from Sweet Memes.

*Grab a book, any book.

*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)

*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.

My current read: An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette.

"Suddenly the murder felt exquisitely real, and my so-called involvement, very scary."

My next read: The Last Lion, edited by Peter S. Canellos

"The school was run by nuns from the Order of the Sacred Heart, and the girls had to abide by strict curfews and rules."

OneWord: FOCUS on Money

If my calculations are correct,* I spend between $1,880 and $2,000 a year on workweek lunches.

I feel I deserve this extravagance. And that may well be. However, I cannot afford it.

By brown bagging it just one day every week, I can:
•  save about $30 each month, or more than $350/year
•  take care of the possible $27.75 monthly increase in my condo assessment without any undue hardship.

And so I shall begin January by focusing on packing my lunch one day/week. I won't allow myself to forget/ignore this.

*A big "if"

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Focusing on 2017

Thanks to Kwizgiver, I have chosen a theme word for the upcoming year:

to concentrate: to focus one's thoughts

I want to end 2017 by being able to point to concrete achievements. To do that, I must focus. With me luck!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

See it!

LaLa Land, LaLa Land! If an entertainment columnist isn't raving about Hamilton, he's rhapsodizing about LaLa Land!

The reviewers were right about Hamilton, they're right about LaLa Land. Where Broadway's hit is all-new and transformative, LaLa Land is an homage to the Hollywood that's gone.

Mia keeps trying and trying to get a break as an actress while paying the bills as a barista. Sebastian keeps playing weddings and garden parties as he dreams of opening his own jazz club, even though everyone tells him there's no money in jazz or intimate clubs anymore.

They meet, they fall in love. They break into song and they dance. 

Emma Stone is adorable, ready to pick up the mantle of America's Sweetheart that Julia, Jennifer and Sandra have all outgrown. Ryan Gosling is so intense and so handsome. You really want them to live happily ever after.

It's not a perfect movie. It doesn't have a memorable score. There isn't a song that stayed with me or that I'm still humming. None of the supporting cast is remotely interesting.

But it's joyous and consequential. It's what we go to the movies for. See it!


Where did these bug bites come from?

My friends don't literally live in Key West. Their house is on Stock Island, a small and less-developed island about 15 minutes away from the center of touristy Key West.

I've never before spent much time out there. All the fun stuff is "in town." But on Christmas Day, Henry took me on a walking tour of Stock Island and it really is lovely. (At least for now, before the proposed marina and hotels are constructed.) But today, three days later, I'm scratching and scratching because I did my wandering and picture taking while wearing shorts and sandals.

The rich folks and their boats, docked year around
A tugboat, a different kind of boat on the working side of the island

The as-yet undeveloped area


To participate, and to see how others responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? An Appetite for Murder.Haley is an aspiring but down on her luck journalist who tells everyone she would do anything for a job at Key Zest, Key West's new lifestyle magazine. Then unfortunately (or perhaps fortuitously), the potential boss who was unimpressed by Haley's CV is found murdered and the Key West PD is knocking at Haley's door. So far I'm enjoying it because author Lucy Burdette has nicely captured the Key West foodie scene.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Hercule Poirot's Christmas. An eccentric, wealthy old Brit unexpectedly decides to invite his family (some estranged) and friends for Christmas. Somebody gets dead. On the one hand, the mystery was really unsolvable by anyone but Poirot.  I suppose the clues point to the perp, but the mystery and the circumstances surrounding it really are rather fantastic. On the other hand, I appreciated the way Christie set it all up. It's the framework she herself devised, so it's no wonder that she's expert. She's coloring within the lines, but she's doing it masterfully and I thoroughly enjoyed being in the hands of an old pro.

3.  What will you read next? A biography from my tall TBR pile.

I wonder what JFK would think of this

At the Tropic Cinema in Key West, the Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn stands before the poster of Jackie. Icon vs. icon. Carnality vs. elegance. Mistress vs. wife. What an odd coincidence!

Henry and I saw Jackie, a most intense movie. And close to the facts as established by reputable historians and oral histories. We have a tendency to forget what a violent crime that assassination was, and this movie is unflinching in portraying the brutality. The brains on her face. The blood in her hair. According to this account, her strength and resolve were unleashed by the savagery of the crime. Henry was so moved by what went on in the backseat of that Lincoln Continental that he actually began to cry.

But my favorite scene was a wordless one toward the end of the film. She tells the reporter -- obviously modeled on Theodore White -- that she wants to see his article before it's submitted. He looks at her with great skepticism, since journalists of his caliber don't show their work to their subjects. A few moments later, there she is, his pad in her lap and his pencil in her hand. "That's my girl!" I whispered to Henry. Was she right to personally edit the first draft of history? No. But it gave her the illusion of control at a time her world went mad, and I admire her for doing what she believed needed to be done for her family and for her sanity.

"Do you know who James Garfield was?" she asks the ambulance driver who drove her and her husband's casket away from Parkland Hospital back to Air Force One. "What about William McKinley?" When the driver can't answer, you can see the wheels turning. The horror had to mean something. Her husband would not be forgotten. She would not allow it.

Natalie Portman did a wonderful job in the title role. I'm glad that future generations will see that there was a brain beneath that pillbox hat.

A hiccup

We were going to have Christmas dinner at Duffy's Steak and Lobster House, a Key West restaurant that I'm unaccountably fond of. It's fine, standard fare, but I think the reason why it makes me so happy is its location. Duffy's is a light green/white structure on one of the main drags, and it was one of my first "landmarks" when I first began going to Key West, decades ago.

I had Cubs champion baseball caps for Henry and Reg. I, of course, would be wearing one of my many Cubs shirts and a holly, jolly time would be had by our little group of 3.

That was before Cynthia. Cynthia is a 60-something local who worked at a coffee house/internet cafe a few blocks from the joint where Reg tends bar. Her home was foreclosed on sometime in 2015 and her furniture is in storage. Lately she was the houseguest of a couple and the three of them got in a spat and they threw her out. She came in to the bar each day and down a few before retiring to her rented room. Reg told me that she was discontented but hopeful that she would find an apartment she could afford.

All of a sudden, Cynthia stopped coming in. None of the other bar patrons knew her well so no one could tell Reg what happened to her. Finally she shot him a text -- she was in the hospital, recovering from a stroke. He visited her in the hospital and found her very frightened. She let her boss know that she had lost partial use of her left side and was told that they couldn't afford to hold her job for her until she could perform her duties again. With no job, she had no way to pay for her rented room.

Reg and Henry took her in. She moved into their house on Wednesday and I arrived Thursday.

Things are bad for a woman when the only one she can turn to is her bartender.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, we had a summit at Duffy's. I was glad because I at least got to eat lunch there (seafood salad). I gave Reg and Henry their Cub caps then because, well, I didn't have one for Cynthia and I didn't want her to feel left out.

Her happiness and comfort was especially important to Reg. Cynthia was embarrassed about her stiff left arm and hand and her walker and wouldn't want to dine out with us on the 25th, and the thought of her left alone and behind on Christmas night was just unacceptable to him.

Reg's actual turkey and carrots
We had our assignments: Reg would make a turkey and his fabulous glazed carrots. Henry would prepare the potatoes and pick up a pecan pie for dessert. I would come up with a small gift for her. Something inexpensive so she wouldn't feel embarrassed, but holiday-themed to put her in the spirit of the season. (I decided on a gift bag with chocolate Santas and coconut wreathes and candy canes, etc).

So Christmas Eve, Henry and I went to church and said goodnight, knowing what we would do on Christmas Day.

The only flaw in our plan was Cynthia. A friend she knew longer than she did Reg invited her to a home-cooked brunch. Reg was thrilled because it would get her out of the house when he was cooking. However, Cynthia had too many bloody marys and returned sloshed. She lay down "for a minute" but was lost to the world and never joined us for dinner.

Still, this story tells you what good people my friends are. They are giving a woman a private room with her own bath for free simply because she needs it. I'm very proud of them and their Christmas spirit.

PS JUST CALL ME WRONGY MCWRONGERSON. I found out it wasn't an old friend who invited her over for bloody marys on Christmas morning. It was an elderly LGBT support group that the hospital introduced to Cynthia when she was in the hospital. They have helped her arrange rides to follow up doctor appointments, etc., as well as giving her a few cups of holiday cheer.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My home away from home

This year I stayed four nights at Key West's Orchid Key Inn. I was very happy there. Here was my routine ...

I want to remember this view forever
I woke up each morning and just lay there, sometimes drifting in and out of slumber. Then I'd shower, don a Cubs t-shirt* and go out and grab my continental breakfast -- usually a hardboiled egg or two, a mini cinnamon roll, yogurt and apple juice. I'd dine from a deck chair beside the pool, reading and looking up at the sky. There's something pretty spectacular about being a Chicago/snowy Yule gal and being able to look up and see this palm tree at Christmastime.

Then I'd put on my suit and swim laps. Back and forth. Breast stroke one way, back stroke the other. I liked the back stroke because it enabled me to hear the carols piped in from the poolside bar. Swimming while singing along with "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" is really cool.

When I was sufficiently pruny and tired, I'd move from the small motel pool to the tiny whirlpool. It was pretty, tucked over there beside the bar, and, like the pool, almost always empty. Which meant I could pretend it was mine and mine alone.

Then I'd go back to my room and shower (again) and wait for Henry to come pick me up for the day's adventures.

*As they did in Memphis, men all over Key West would stop me to talk about Game 7. This year, my guys meant something to the country.

The boy loved his fish

My friend Henry loved his birthday dinner at Sarabeth's. We had calamari and fried goat cheese and boneless yellow snapper. I enjoyed it as my first meal in Key West as we were seated outdoors, along the white picket fence, and watching the diverse denizens of the island wander by helped me decompress and feel at home again.

It annoyed me when Prince did it ...

... because it's unacceptable in anyone over 16.

I'm speaking, of course, of sliding into slang abbreviations. It's lazy* or pretentious.†

Right now I'm angry about this because of my oldest friend. Last Wednesday I sent her an email, letting her know "I'm beginning to unspool" and asking if I felt especially sentimental over Christmas I could call her.

Her response? Crickets. I heard nothing Thursday or Friday. I began to worry. After all, this is a woman who told me she would always be there for me. I let her know I was getting emotional over the upcoming holiday and she didn't respond at all.  Henry, my friend in Key West, knows about my oldest friend's battles with bipolar disorder and he thought I'd feel better if I called her and spoke to her. He knew I was beginning to imagine her literally frozen by depression, which has happened more than once over the last few years.

So I called her cell. It rang and rang before it went to voicemail, which was full. So I texted her and asked if everything was OK. She immediately answered me with:

We r good. Billy is here. How r u?

So let's see ... She saw I called and just didn't answer. Then she responded with fewer characters than a Donald Trump tweet. Apparently she believes that the mere mention of her son's arrival for Christmas explains/justifies everything.

It doesn't. I was really upset Wednesday night over something I'll post about later, after I've processed it a bit more. I reached out to her and asked for her help. I got 31 spaces/characters.

This morning I got an email from her -- apologizing for being "MIA." Not for not being there when I needed her, ignoring me when she saw my name on her phone and needlessly frightening me. At least her email included entire words.

*How much energy do you actually conserve by keying "U" instead of "you?"
†"50 is receding in my rear view mirror, but I'm still soooo cool!"

Rest in Peace

Carrie Fisher and I were very nearly the same age (just 13 months apart) and had similar senses of humor -- though my writing isn't as sharp as hers, and my life isn't as dramatic as hers, nor are my demons as fierce. So, when I heard this afternoon that she died, I was sad. She suffered a great deal and survived a great deal, all with her wit and perspective in tact.

I decided years ago that were I ever to write a memoir, I would call it, Just Over There. It's an homage to Carrie, who perceptively wrote of relationships, "Nothing is ever really over. Just over there."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Happy Holidays! (from the archives)

1. As you can see, Sam loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. Yet some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? Or did you by pass it altogether -- either because you wrote him a letter or because your family didn't celebrate Christmas? I never enjoyed going to see Santa, but when I still believed it felt terribly important. Like my job as a kid at Christmastime.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there? I'm Nice. I have my faults, but in the main, I'm a good egg.

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest? My oldest friend's gift went 2,032 miles. Chicago to Tarzana. She's getting a bedazzled refrigerator magnet of a cat that says, "You had me at meow" (she has three shelter cats) and a mug emblazoned with this saying of Captain Kirk's (she's a Trekkie).

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year? I took myself to Graceland for my birthday last month. I had a lovely time, but now I'm sad because I broke the Graceland snowglobe I bought myself as a souvenir.

The main staircase at Graceland, festooned with poinsettias.

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie?  This year, while I wrap gifts, I'm going to watch A Diva's Christmas Carol. It's a made-for-TV movie starring Vanessa Williams as Whitney Houston as Ebeneezer Scrooge. I really like Vanessa Williams. She's a nifty little actress and she knows her way around a carol.

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day? Nope.

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party? I'm still a little embarrassed about that night a decade ago when instead of the ladies I accidentally opened the men's room door. I wasn't even drunk. I dearly wish I had been bleary-eyed. You can't unsee some things.

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather? This year I'm liking Rumchata. It's that hint of cinnamon.

9. Share a memory from last Christmas. Dinner at the Harbour View at the Pier House in Key West. I was already suffering from my stomach malady, so I don't remember much about the meal. But the walk to our table through this lush green garden was great. And then we dined at a table with a seaside view and watched big, big boats float by. For a Chicago girl who has seen her share of white Christmases, this was an amazing way to spend the holiday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

About The Birthday Boy

In trying not to freak out about this week's travels, I'm concentrating on the destination. I like saying I'm spending Christmas in the Keys because it's true and I like the alliteration. But I'm really arriving on the 22nd so I can celebrate Henry's birthday with him.

We'll be having dinner at Sarabeth's, one of his favorite spots. We had dinner that together last year on Christmas Eve, but I was already starting to get sick and remember little of the cuisine. At that point we didn't know how ill I really was, and Henry felt bad that I didn't love the restaurant he chose. This year I'm celebrating him by showing him it was my gut, not the menu, that had me so meh about this local gem he wanted to share with me.

Dinner's gonna be expensive, so his gift itself can't be. But that doesn't mean it wasn't carefully considered. I'm wrapping a set of Kikkerland Flasher Bike Lights for him. There's a steady pale light for his handlebars and a flashing red one to attach to his seat, facing behind him. These lights are tiny and will be easy to slip into his ubiquitous backpack. He rides all the time, and when his regular lights go out, he can slip these on and still pedal safely.

I don't want to go!

To Key West for Christmas.

Instead, I wish it was December 27. Then I'd be safe at home, rubbing my sunburn/mosquito bite and looking back on what a good time I had.

I dread flying. I really do. My flight is at dawn and what if I sleep through all three (3!) alarms that I shall set and the automated phone call?

What if, when I get to O'Hare, the endless TSA waitlines have suddenly reappeared and I miss my flight? Yes, today the line at Delta gates are only 11-20 minutes. But I'm not flying today, am I?

Then, since I cannot fly directly to Key West, I have to deal with TWO take offs and TWO landings. That's when there's the greatest chance of incident, you know. And I'll be flying over water. With sharks and gators. Oh, my!

When I get there, I know that my friend Henry will want to complain talk about Trump. I really cannot do much more of this without screaming. The man hasn't even taken the oath of office yet and has already been chosen the Worst of All Time. I simply cannot spend four years being depressed and bitching about the President. Talk to me about issues -- how you're supporting women's or LGBT rights. Tell me what you're doing in your community to mobilize and protect your town from possibly regressive environmental and civil rights policies. But don't quote hysterical online articles and MSNBC hosts. I have the internet and cable, Henry. I KNOW!

You know what else I can't do? Worry unendingly between now and Thursday 3:00 AM -- when this adventure starts. It's only Tuesday! I know I'm on a fast-track to stress-induced diarrhea at this rate.

So today I'm going to treat myself to a nice big lunch at George's, a neighborhood mainstay. I'm going to read my Agatha Christie mystery -- set in the 1930s, so no mention of flights over water. I may do some housework. I'll definitely squeeze a little more into that last Goodwill bag of 2016.

And I'll concentrate on this. My view of EYW, with those dear, dorky Seward Johnson sculptures glistening in the afternoon sun. And Henry on the other side of those glass doors, waiting to welcome me and begin celebrating his birthday and Christmas.