Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Stealing

Doodley Doo

Do you keep notes, drawings or letters that people give you? Not anymore. I used to save greeting cards, but then I realized I never took them out and looked at them. Now I send my old and unused cards to the St. Jude's Ranch Recycled Card Program. Children at the ranch use the cards they receive to make and sell new ones.

How many true best friends are present in your life?
Two or three.

Do you currently have a significant other?

Would you be able to stand being in the same room as someone you hate?
I do it all the time.

Do you depend on people at all, in any way?
Oh, for heaven's sake, of course I do. I depend on my neighbor's to pay their taxes so our sidewalks don't fall apart. I depend on Com Ed for my electricity. Questions like this annoy me. Remember that silly manufactured controversy over Obama's statement about how people don't build their business alone? Yawn.

Have you ever lost a close friend?
Yes. I had to cut a close friend out of my life after decades.

Has anybody ever held a grudge against you for a dumb reason?
Probably. Though the grudge didn't/doesn't seem dumb to me.

Have you ever stayed up late talking to someone you like on the phone or online?

Have you ever felt backstabbed by a close friend?
Yes. The aforementioned "close friend."

Have you ever regretted ignoring anybody?

Has a friend of yours ever confessed their love to you?
My close friends and I tell one another "I love you" all the time.

Have you written or drawn anything for somebody else?
Yes! For my friend John's 60th birthday, I worked with an art director to create a card listing all the famous people he'd outlived. It made him very happy.

Do you tend to hide your emotions from certain people? How do you hide them?
I'm very bad at this. I should work harder/more successfully at not wearing every emotion I feel on my face.

Do your friends know how to make you smile in tough times?
Yes. I'm lucky that way.

Could you picture yourself on a reality TV show?
Sometimes I already feel like I'm on a reality show.

 Are you better at drawing or coloring?
I'm not especially good at either.

Do you prefer meat or seafood?
Depends on the seafood, but generally I'd choose meat.

Have you ever read the Bill of Rights / Declaration of Independence?
You mean like Article 6 of the Constitution? I must ruefully point out that the same members of the Religious Right who demand to know (and somehow manage to judge) exactly how Christian a candidate is are the same ones who maintain they are Constitutional absolutists whenever Obama does something they don't like. They conveniently ignore that every time they demand to know about a candidate's personal relationship with Christ, they are violating the spirit of Article 6, which states, "No religious test shall ever be required for President."

Would you rather become a police officer or a firefighter?
I'm too chickenshit to be good at either one.

More bad, more sad

2016 continues to insist on being the worst year ever.

My friend John and I were really looking forward to our trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites. It was amazing to both of us that he had reached the ripe old age of 60 -- 40 years of it spent here in Chicagoland -- and he's never walked where Abe (and Obama) walked. Because I've been there so many times, I was prepared to play tour guide. Since we always have such fun together, he was looking forward to the road trip aspect of it. "The times in my life I've laughed the hardest, I've been with you, Gal," he said.

We were going the second weekend in June. We considered it his 2016 birthday celebration. Now it looks like we aren't going at all. Because John had a cold last month.

You see, John suffers from heart failure. While his April cold came and went, the fatigue and shortness of breath continued and worsened. To the the point that he took the last week off work to do nothing but sleep.

I didn't hear from him at all last week, and that's not like us. I emailed him at work and got no response. I called his house, but he didn't pick up. Finally today he called me back, and the hoarseness and shortness of breath was startling and disturbing.

He hasn't called his cardiologist -- as he said he would two weeks ago! -- because he says he knows what will happen. He is sure that with his symptoms, which also include swelling of the ankles, she's going to tell him to check himself into the ER and then she will admit him. They talked about a defibrillator years ago, and he's sure she's going to insist on one now.

He is afraid. Afraid of going into the hospital and not coming out. Afraid of losing his job. "I can afford to die," he said, "but I can't afford to be sick." His brother, a nurse, has been pressuring him to quit his job, give up his apartment, leave Chicago, and move in with them. That makes him feel like an invalid. He responded to all this tumult by doing nothing.

I tried to be the voice of reason. I told him that he cannot legally be fired for going into the hospital. While his medical insurance doesn't sound great, he does have it, and I'm sure he has short-term disability, too. He says he doesn't know, but that's just the fear and panic talking. He's still a responsible adult. He knows. He's just forgotten.

And that's just it. I'm not treating him like an invalid. His kid brother is doing that and it's debilitating him. When John told me not to worry, that he would reimburse me the non-refundable $187 for the hotel for our trip (as he was always going to do), I lightly said, "I've never been worried." I admit my first impulse was to tell him to forget it. But he has been mentioning to me that he has the money set aside for months. He knows I have my own money worries. And I don't want to infantilize him. He is a responsible adult who can handle his own affairs and make his own decisions. He's just forgotten because he's under pressure.

John and I have been close friends for more than 35 years. Together we've had our career ups and downs, bad breakups, and we've buried our parents. We are superficially different in every obvious way: he's black, I'm white; he's gay, I'm straight; he's tall, I'm short; I'm Christian, he's agnostic. Yet the bond between us is strong and he's dearer to me than family.

I love him, and I'm scared for him.

I'm scared for me, too, because I don't want to imagine life without him.

We love them, yeah, yeah, yeah

Saturday I had lunch with my nephew. We talked about how excited he is about school ending (he hates math). We talked about American history (his favorite period is post-Revolution). We talked about the Presidential campaign (we're both still shaking our heads over Trump). We talked about Captain America: Civil War (we're both big Iron Man fans).

But most of all, we talked about The Beatles. Our favorite albums (he votes for Abbey Road, I'm White Album all the way). What we'd ask Sir Paul, if we could (he wants to know if the break up was really inevitable; I'd ask which of John's songs is his favorite). The Lads dominated the two hours we spent together.

My nephew was born in this millennium. The Beatles broke up in 1970. Two members of the group are dead. The passion he and his classmates feel for the Fab Four is really astonishing.

I work in a very busy part of downtown Chicago. Lately one of the ubiquitous sidewalk musicians has been playing the xylophone. Every time I pass, he's playing a Beatles tune. (It was "Penny Lane" on Friday afternoon.) He's doing this to get tips from business people and tourists alike. Clearly he chooses these tunes because they are fun to play and familiar to people from all walks of life, from all over the country and all over the world.

Sir Paul is on tour again. He was just nominated for a Grammy last February. He's still working, still creating new music, still performing to sell-out stadiums a staggering 52 years since The British Invasion.

If I could ask him a second question, it would be, "Do you feel the love?" Does he understand how much he means to everyone from millennials to boomers?

I think it must be really lovely to be Paul, and know far his reach is, how much joy he's brought.