Saturday, May 07, 2016

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Mama (2015)

1) Gamal Lewis got the nickname "LunchMoney" in 10th grade because of his round cheeks and because lunch was his favorite part of the school day. What do you recall about lunchtime in the school cafeteria? Food fights. When I was a sophomore, the junior boys instigated some good-natured and delightful sorties. The school wasn't as amused as I was (the expense, the mess, the wasted food) but I thought they were great.

2) His father and uncle were members of the band Inner Circle. Their song, "Bad Boys" was the theme to the reality show Cops. What reality show have you seen recently? I'm ashamed to admit that it was The Kardashians. It came on after E! News and I was brushing my teeth and couldn't get to the remote in time. I do find myself fascinated by Kourtney's consistently dull, monotone voice. She sounds the same when she's "confessing" directly to the camera as she does when scolding her mother or sisters.

3) In this song, Mr. Lewis sings that his mama taught him
how to put on pajamas. What did you wear to bed last night? My Titanic boarding pass shirt. It was a souvenir from my trip to the Titanic exhibit at the Luxor in Las Vegas. It was fascinating, educational, moving and respectful.

4) He claims he can't ever lie to his mama because she'll hear it in his voice. Are you a convincing liar? Frighteningly so.

5) LunchMoney sings that his mama made him chicken soup when he was sick. Do you eat soup all year around, only during winter months, or just when you're battling a cold? I used to really enjoy soup. But I had to eat chicken soup almost daily when I was on my restricted diet and after three months of it, I'm ready for a nice long break.

6) The lyrics tell us that when her son was hungry, Mama reliably whipped something up. What's the last food you prepared? I had two grilled hot dogs (no buns) and a side of corn for dinner last night.

7) He also sings that his mama always made sure he had a few dollars in his pocket. Let's talk about you and money. Did you more recently lend or borrow it? I gave it. There's a fundraising page for a coworker whose brother is battling cancer. And today I'm making a donation in my mom's memory to her favorite charity.

8) Mother's Day is for grandmothers, too. Sam grew up calling her grandmother "Grandgran." Did you have a nickname for your grandmother? Within my family she was known as "Mimi." Behind her back I called her "Icky Grandma," among other things. The old girl drank and had a bit of a temper. Now my OTHER grandmother, "Grandma," she was the Norman Rockwell sweetheart of a grandmother. She's the one I think of on Mother's Day. But she didn't have a nickname.

9) To celebrate Mother's Day, Sam is giving away her own mother's favorite candy: Hershey Bars. Would you prefer milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate with almonds? Oooh! Milk chocolate with almonds.

Flipping the script

I don't like the way my life is going. I haven't like the way my life has been going all year.

A lot of it is health related. Battling a lingering illness took a lot out of me, and I wasn't prepared for the impact it would have on my mood and outlook. But waking up every day for three months and finding I was still sick really weighed on me and depressed me. I can see this now that I'm (blessedly!) on the mend.

Much of it is because of those I love. Losing my dear Joe and learning bad news about both Connie and Rey has been very painful for me. Confirming that I am capable of loving beings that don't have fur, I've been worried about John ... and Mindy ... and Barb, of course ... Heart disease, hospice, cancer and the specter of death are part of my daily conversation in a way they never were before.

Some of it is work. My boss is being a moody dick these days. I understand why and could explain it, but I don't feel like it just now. Knowing the reason doesn't make absorbing it any easier.

Tons of it is financial. I'll be receiving a HUGE special assessment before year end. $4,100 to $4,500. I don't want to charge it or take on a loan, so there goes my long, long awaited bathroom remodel. Plus I've got my niece's graduation coming up ... and John's trip to the Lincoln sites in Springfield ... and my oldest friend's big 60th birthday celebration that includes me flying her back to Chicagoland ... Yes, I'll enjoy all of it and I'm happy to be able to deliver so many smiles to those who are close to me. But it will be expensive and time consuming and means no solo spa getaway for this gal, not this year.

So now what? All of these things are real. All of these things must be felt and dealt with. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away. Instead it causes them to fester and they can become very toxic to my heart and soul.

But I don't have to let the sad dominate me. I refuse to allow that. So I've been concentrating on my Cubs, of course. My Cubs never let me down. I enjoy them in losing seasons, so you can just imagine how much I'm loving this season.

Two other things I love are my birthday, and alone time. And so I am combining them and giving myself the perfect gift ...

I'm going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, I'm going to Graceland. Like Paul Simon, I am simply drawn to it. I have reason to believe that for my birthday I will be received at Graceland.

The flight will be free. I'm using my American Airlines miles. Since my birthday falls during Thanksgiving week, I was surprised by how easy it was to get an ORD-MEM free flight.

I am splurging on my room. I love hotels, and I'm tickled that I'll be one of the early visitors at The Guest House at Graceland. This new hotel, run by the Presley family, will be opening in October. So it will still be new, but hopefully all the kinks will be worked out, by my late November birthday.

It bills itself as a luxury hotel just walking distance from the mansion. There's a free airport shuttle for guests, and plenty of dining options on the grounds, so if I want (and I may) I can spend my entire 3 day/2 night trip surrounded by the faithful. If that starts to feel like a little too much Elvis even for me, there's a shuttle to Beale Street. Memphis has a rock'n'roll museum I may take a look at, too.

Is this a silly solo adventure? Yes. Of course it is. And I need a little silly right now. Also, I truly do love Elvis. You can't be a fan of The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen and not hear his echo throughout. Plus I love his movies. I find his early ones touching, because you can see Elvis working hard and displaying genuine acting chops. And I love the middle technicolor ones because they are so good-hearted and empty-headed. And I love the late concert films because they show The King on stage, being The King.

Elvis did all he did -- from the sublime to the silly -- before he died at 42. That realization makes my head spin. Maybe it's the thoughts about my own health and the mortality of many of those around me that draws me to this. I don't know.

I'm just glad I'm going to Graceland.