Friday, March 31, 2017

We've been here before, and it's not funny

This morning on the el, I was sandwiched tight between two disparate people. On my left was a working mom, in boots that looked butter soft and a scarf that probably cost as much as my coat. First she used her phone to issue after-school orders for her kids' daycare provider, then she turned her attention to the Politico website. I could see a picture of Gen. Michael Flynn looking very angry.

The man on my right was decidedly blue collar. His dark jacket was spotted by what looked like oil stains. His boots looked as big and heavy as Herman Munster's. He was wearing a Blackhawks cap. He was reading a story on his phone, too. And it was accompanied by a photo of Gen. Michael Flynn.

Bad news, Mr. President. People understand this story, and it's resonating.  Espionage and Russia have cut through the noise of our individual lives and captured our collective attention more than Hillary's email server ever did. This is not going away.

My mind went back to the summer of 73. I was riding my bike to my friend Judy's house. As I pedaled up the street, I heard the Watergate hearings live, drifting out through the open screen doors. The neighborhood grownups -- my parents' friends and my friends' parents -- were in a way united by Watergate and more interested in the hearings than they'd been in anything else I could recall.

Yes, the assassinations of the 1960s left a lasting impact on Americans of all ages. But those were sudden tsunamis. Watergate was different, it was a storm that grew slowly, steadily stronger until the winds blew the Nixon White House away.

I feel those winds starting to blow again.

I was never a supporter of Donald Trump's. In fact, I still cannot really believe that he is President. But I get no pleasure from this. I don't enjoy the sense of deja tragedy that is sweeping us all up.

It's familiar, but it's not comfortable. And I wish I wasn't so sure of how this long, painful saga is going to end.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Darling, After All

I wasted too many years with a man who was not good to or for me. He was manipulative and controlling and he could be cruel. I am glad and grateful that I finally found the strength and self-reliance to leave him.

This was decades ago. Ancient history. Over. Done. Page turned. Chapter closed.

Which is why I was shocked by how I reacted when this oldie unexpectedly sailed through my headphones.

"Darling, after all, I will be the one to hold you in my arms ..."

My mind flashed back to a moment -- his head resting against my bare breast, me stroking his hair as he slept. Then another moment -- us slow dancing to this song in the living room, my cheek pressed against his yellow shirt.

I loved him.

I don't like to remember that part. It complicates it. It's like paper clips. When I think of him, I want one emotion -- relief. When I pick up a paper clip, I want one paper clip.

Occasionally the paper clips are magnetized and I reach for one but get two. Occasionally when I think of him I get two emotions -- relief mixed with regret.

But hearing Al Jarreau, it's like I reached for one paper clip and got a whole chain. Regret, relief, joy and love.

It's too many paper clips. It's too much. I don't want this.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


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

1. What are you currently reading? A Hole in Juan, by Gillian Roberts. Since this is one in the Amanda Pepper mystery series, much of the action takes place in a Philadelphia college prep school. This time our heroine, English teacher Amanda, is trying to wrangle students excited about the Halloween season and, specifically, a "Mischief Night" dance. She senses something in the air, beyond just high school hijinks, and she's right. The science teacher, Juan Reyes, has become the target of sophisticated threats.

A cozy series like this only succeeds if you like the star sleuth, and Amanda is an easy to like Everywoman. She's funny but not snarky. She's smart but not brilliant. She cares about her students, but she's not sanctimonious. She loves her new husband (finally they're married!) and she's in tune with her cat, Macavity. I'm not that far into the book, but I'm comfortable and happy with the company already.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Chaos by Patricia Cornwell. I have to admit I didn't so much finish this book as abandon it. What a frustrating affair this was!
It's the latest in Cornwell's successful Scarpetta series. Dr. Kay Scarpetta is a character I like and admire. She's brilliant and discerning but also flawed. I love Kay Scarpetta's regard for her patients, the victims of crime, and her passion for justice. Cornwell is a wonderful writer. She not only created an admirable heroine, she can set the scene and make you feel the escalating tension/darkness/danger like few other authors can.

But this plot is a freaking mess. Too many characters, too many coincidences, too much unreasonable behavior, too many unbelievable plot twists. I won't say anymore for fear of being a spoiler, but I did actually get angry at Cornwell for squandering her gifts and the good will Kay has earned over the years.
3.  What will you read next? I don't know. Maybe a biography?

Bound by the accordion

My younger nephew has always idolized his cousin, my older nephew. As their observant aunt, this amuses me, as they could not be more different.

My older nephew is in the Navy, where he is enjoying success after being something of a fuck up. Bright but scattered, with more than a touch of ADD, he didn't do well in high school and failed at one attempt at college. He was living in his mom's house, subsisting at a minimum wage job as a clerk at a tuxedo shop, when he enlisted. Now he has a career, and since success can beget success, he has a solid relationship with a woman who appears to be very stable and nice, and a network of supportive friends (mostly military).

He's also noisy, suffers from poor impulse control, and loves making offensive jokes because he believes it's his duty in life to "stir the pot." He thinks Donald Trump is great.*

My younger nephew is a smart but achingly sensitive high school junior. He marches to his own drummer -- listening to the Beatles almost exclusively and devouring political non-fiction. Three books I've given him are Making of a President 1968,  Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, and Bernie Sanders' Our Revolution. I know the first two well enough to quiz him, so yes, he's read them. (While his friends read illustrated novels about The Avengers and The Justice League.)

Last summer, we happened upon a Black Lives Matter march in Grant Park and he truly wanted to join them.

The advent of Trump and the prevalence of social media has put a strain on their relationship. Not so the older one has noticed, though. He's not big on nuance. But the younger one has stopped following his cousin because he's been so turned off by the in-your-face racist/sexist/homophobic and anti-Bernie memes. "I want to still love him," the younger said. It broke my heart.

Last weekend, the two cousins saw one another for a couple hours. I saw the older one the next day (post below). He said he couldn't believe how "tall and quiet that kid is!"

That struck me as slightly ominous. My younger nephew is never quiet with me. Was he overwhelmed by his older cousin's boisterousness? Was he feeling awkward ... or disappointed? I'm not going to see the younger one for a month or so. But I assumed there might be a breach and I did what I could to heal it.

Both cousins enjoy Springfield, Illinois, and walking where Abe walked. So I told the older about my trip down there with the younger.

After paying our respects to Mr. Lincoln, we saw this ostentatious grave, which is within clear view of Lincoln's Tomb.

Next to Mr. Lincoln himself, Roy Bertelli (aka "Mr. Accordion") has the biggest resting place in the cemetery. And it's big, and it's stupid. One man saved the Union, one man loved the accordion. I mean, it's funny.

We all agree on that.

But my younger nephew didn't leave it at that. He researched Roy Bertelli. Then, when he was assigned a paper about "a courageous Illinoisan," he wrote about Bertelli's legal battle to obtain and maintain this monument to himself and his accordion. The paper ended, of course, when Roy died ... and had himself buried somewhere else. Yes, the goofy mess you see above is an empty crypt.

"Really," I told the older cousin, "he's like THE expert on Mr. Accordion. You should ask him about it."

"I will!" the older said between guffaws. "That's a great story. And he did a paper on it? That's awesome shit."

My work here is done.

*Or he did before the election. I imagine many Trump supporters now have buyer's remorse.

Monday, March 27, 2017

That wasn't so bad

Last week, my older nephew -- the one in the Navy -- asked me if I'd have dinner with him on Sunday. He's driving cross-country from his base in Washington State to his new assignment in Connecticut.

I was dreading it. He annoys me with his insensitivity and to-the-right-of-Attila-the-Hum politics. But I was touched that he wanted to see me, especially since his mother, my older sister, has told him a lifetime worth of pretty horrible things about me.

So we met at The Italian Village. It's the charming, old-school Chicago landmark restaurant where my parents/his grandparents had their first real date, nearly 65 years ago.

I was able to kill quite a bit of time with the story of how his grandparents met and got together. I stretched the story out to the point of Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-com. Then I asked him about his life in the Navy and his girlfriend Shelby. By then, 2 and a half hours had gone by and I could slip away, without the word, "Trump" ever having been spoken.

I did let him get away with two unfortunate uses of the word, "retarded."  I feel bad that I didn't correct him, but it was more important for me to get through the dinner smoothly.

And we did.

I'm relieved and, to be honest, a little happy. I've been wrestling mightily with the sad state of affairs within my family. I don't like my sisters, they don't like me, and they don't really like each other that much. I have no desire to change this situation. They are the way they are -- if the three of us met as strangers we wouldn't like each other. So "regret" is the wrong word for the way I feel. I just wish things were different.

But maybe it skips a generation. My niece and nephews seem to think I'm pretty neat, regardless of what they may hear at home. And that soothes me.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Kathy Aay Questions

1. What is the meaning of your blog’s name? It was available.

2. Why did you start your blogging? It's a snapshot of my life at any particular moment. It surprises me to look back and see what mattered to me then, especially when it no longer matters to me now.

3. What’s your usual bedtime? I'm a big girl now. I go to bed whenever I feel like it.

4. Are you lazy? Very.

5. Do you miss anyone right now? Yes.

6. How would you describe your fashion sense? Casual.

7. What are your nicknames? "The Gal Herself" is all you're going to get out of me.

8. Are you a patient person? No.

9. Are you tight-fisted or frivolous? Yes. Meaning I waste money on crap, but I'll also walk three blocks to avoid an ATM fee. I always have a plastic bag in my purse to save the 7¢ bag fee the city constituted. I suppose I'm financially schizoid.

10. What magazines do you read? Entertainment Weekly, People, Glamour and Allure. With the advent of the Trump Presidency, I believe being too informed can be hazardous to one's health.

11. Are you stubborn? Very

12. When is your birthday? November

13. What book are you currently reading? Chaos, by Patricia Cornwell. So far I'm enjoying it. But since it's gotten wretched reviews, I wouldn't be surprised if it took a nasty turn.

14. What phone do you have? My landline is a 2-headset cordless I got at
One is in my livingroom, one on my nightstand
Staples. My cell is an LG Leon with a cracked screen.

15. Do you have any pets? I share my home with two cats: Reynaldo Curtis is a skinny beige tom and Constance McKenzie is a compact black-and white girlcat.

16. Do you have siblings? Two sisters

17. Any children or grandchildren? Nope

18. What do you order at Starbucks? I hate coffee, so I go to Starbucks very seldom. When I find myself there, I have a tall hot chocolate, no whipped cream. And I sprinkle cinnamon in it. I don't really taste it, but I love the smell.

19. What did you do for your last birthday? I took myself to Graceland to visit The King. I had a wonderful time and highly recommend it. 

20. What’s your occupation? I'm an advertising writer.

21. Do you live in the country or the city? I'm a City Mouse.

Giving the old girl her due

I know, I know. The far left wing of the Democratic Party sees her as the Leader of the Cabal, the Queen of the Oligarchy.


You know what I see when I look at Nancy Pelosi? A 77-year-old woman with the balls and brains, the energy and dedication to lead her delegation. I bet 47-year-old Paul Ryan is secretly envious of her this week.

Nancy Pelosi is also a tireless supporter of reproductive rights. A good Catholic girl, she manages to make her argument without using the polarizing word, "abortion." Instead she approaches the subject with commonsense. "Family planning services reduce costs. Contraception reduces costs to the states and the federal government."

She's a civil libertarian, taking heat for her vote against the Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning.

She's an advocate for the LGBT community, and she does it in ways that transcend marching in parades. She does it with her gavel. Historic decisions on behalf of gay rights all had her vote and estimable support.

Oh yeah, and when she was Speaker of the House, Obamacare passed.

I know it's fashionable these days for both the far left and the alt right to rail against the rules. Against "Washington" and "business as usual." Shut the fuck up, I say.

I agree with our former President, "No Drama Obama," who said he supports, “A sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, the rule of law, and respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout the transition, and certainly I hope that’s the way [the Trump] Presidency begins."

Nancy Pelosi lives that. Year after year, her actions on the Hill support that.

Thank you, Congresswoman Pelosi.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Heat of the Moment (1982)

1) What's something you did or said "in the heat of the moment?" A friend of mine posted something addressed to me on Facebook. A friend of hers, some jerk I'd never met, added a snarky comment. (Why do people completely forget their manners on Facebook?) I replied in kind. Then I reconsidered and deleted it before it was seen. Why get in the mud with the pigs?

2) Asia's founder and bass player, John Wetton, passed away in January. One of his bandmates remembered him as a reliable performer who made everyone around him look better. Do you enjoy being the center of attention? Or would you, like Mr. Wetton, prefer to play a supporting role? I can do either. Depends on the situation.

3) Asia is a British band who played their first US concert at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. The nearest major city -- Ottawa, Canada -- is a 90-minute drive from Pottsdam. When you were last in the car for an hour or more? Where were you going? I was in the car for about 2.5 hours, driving down to present to our client. When I was closer to my coworkers, I enjoyed the bonding time. Now I prefer to take the Amtrak train. The very thought of making small talk for 2.5 hours with the crew I work with now is painful.

4) The song refers to disco hot spots, which apparently, by 1982, no one wanted to go to anymore. Let's make that negative into a positive. Describe your perfect night out with friends. Where would you go? This hole in the wall bar. Because if I'm at Joe's in the evening, it means I was at Wrigley Field during the day, watching my beloved WORLD CHAMPION Cubs.

5) In 1982, the year this song was popular, someone laced bottles of Tylenol with cyanide. That's why we now have tamper-proof caps on many products. Have you used anything in a tamper-proof bottle yet today? My prescription allergy pills.

6) In 1982, Time Magazine's Person of the Year wasn't a person at all, it was "the computer." What do you use your computer for most often? Farting around and playing Farmville.

7) 1982 also saw the premiere of The Weather Channel. Where do you learn the day's weather forecast? (Watching the local news on TV, checking your phone, looking out the window ...) I have my favorite: Andy Avalos of NBC 5. He may not be any more or less accurate than any other local weatherman, but he's an enthusiastic advocate for Chicago's homeless pet population.
8) In 1982, Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie, Conan the Barbarian, was a hit in theaters. When you settle down to watch a movie, is it usually a fantasy, like Conan? Or do you prefer another genre (action, comedy, adventure, romance, drama, classic ...) I like all kinds of movies EXCEPT sci fi and fantasy. I'd rather get my teeth cleaned than watch Star Wars or Lord of the Rings.
9) Random question: What is something you try to avoid? Sci fi and fantasy movies.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Friday 56

The Friday 56

*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.

Every week I mean to play this, and every week I forget. TODAY I GOT IT!

From Chaos, page 56.   

Kay Scarpetta speaking: "Let's hope that's not who placed the 911 call, because it would suggest he was in close proximity to me today," I reply. "And I've been hoping whoever the cyber-bully is, he's not in Cambridge. Preferably he's on the other side of the planet."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The first time in six years

I voted for Grandpa Rossey tonight on Dancing with the Stars. He was surprisingly good. And he's one of my guys, so I simply had to dial and click on his behalf.

My friend John and I watched obsessively and voted for Nancy Grace when she performed on DWTS back in 2011, but we did that because we loved to hate her. Her dances were pure camp and she even suffered a nip slip on national TV. We had to vote for her because we didn't want the spectacle to end.

But watching David Ross twirl and quickstep to "Go, Cubs, Go" was just pure joy. No snark. And very necessary.

For today the news was filled with hearings. Donald Trump's tweets about Barack Obama and surveillance were debunked by the FBI director. There was official, on-the-record testimony about an investigation into the Trump campaign's/administration's possible ties to Russia. Then afterward, my President's spokesman told me black is white and up is down. Suddenly Paul Manafort -- the choreographer credited with last summer's Republican convention, the man praised by Donald Trump Jr. as having "the family's" full support -- only played "a limited role in the campaign."

It was beyond depressing.

The Oscars are over. Robert Osborne is dead. Opening Day isn't for weeks. I need David Ross on Dancing with the Stars.


Monday, March 20, 2017

"Because I want to still love him."

I have two nephews. The younger one is sweet and thoughtful and quiet. The older one is an alpha -- big and blond and charming. The younger one is by far the brighter bulb, yet he idolizes the older.

The younger one was touched deeply by the Bernie Sanders campaign. He was inspired to become a election judge, the first step in what promises to be a lifetime of involvement. The older one posted memes like this.

Now there could be a lot of reasons why the older one does this. 1) His Beevis/Butthead side laughs at chlamydia. 2) He's in the Navy and military culture doesn't encourage free thought or sensitivity. 3) He's incredibly immediate, and since he doesn't think beyond hitting "post," it doesn't occur to him that he could be offending his biggest fan.

But it did and it does. I asked my younger nephew what's going on with the older one -- specifically I wanted to know if he may be getting married soon, because I'd want to send a gift.* I was surprised to hear my younger nephew say, "I don't know. I don't follow him on social media anymore."

"Why not?"

"Because I want to still love him."

This made me so sad.

So it's come to this. Our political discourse has become this coarse and this cruel. This casually cruel.

We're so in love with labels. My "progressive" cousin believes his own mother is "a racist homophobe" because she voted Trump. My "conservative" aunt calls her oldest son's political activism "puerile." They didn't talk on Christmas. They didn't talk yesterday, on his birthday.

Now my two nephews aren't communicating directly.

I read the other day that progressives believe it's "important" for Rachel Maddow to call Paul Ryan and Donald Trump racist. I remember when the Right believed it was "important" for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to label "radical Islamic terrorism"

I do not like this President. I cannot actually comprehend that he is, indeed, President. I struggle getting my mind around the fact that he was elected.

But he was. And I want to understand why. I don't want to understand Trump, I want to understand the Trump voter.

I refuse to believe that half the country is racist and hatefilled. Certainly it's possible that Donald Trump is, but labeling him as such just makes his supporters feel disrespected and they will dig in.

I refuse to believe that Bernie Sanders ever wanted to be a wrecking ball and destroy the fabric of the government he's participated in for more than 25 years.

I refuse to believe that Hillary Clinton is a disease-ridden felon.

I refuse to believe that Barack Obama is just about anything I've heard him called by the alt-right.

But it seems I'm alone in the minority. It feels like my fellow Americans are obsessed with labeling one another, stereotyping one another, dividing us into "us" and "them."

I don't like what it's doing to my family or my country.

*No matter how old he is, he'll always be a big, dumb kid and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for him. Regardless of his politics.

Just in case

I bought this jacket yesterday at Carson's (that may be Bergner's or Bon-Ton or Younker's in your part of the world). It's lined, and the sleeves hit me correctly. I got 35% off, which made me happy.

Unzipped, it looks less casual. I'm going to wear it with a white blouse and black slacks, accessorizing it with a silver chain/pendant.

I'll wear it for a client presentation, but I bought it in case I need to go on interviews. As I near 60, I'm less and less confident that there's another full-time job in advertising waiting for me, so I want to hang on where I am as long as I can.

But I have no idea what the future holds, and it's good to be ready. I should also develop an online portfolio. I haven't yet. I think that would make my perilous situation feel more real.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The TV Shows Questions

1. Name a TV show series in which you have seen every episode at least twice: Friends and MASH come to mind

2. Name a show you can't miss: This Is Us

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to watch a show: Alan Alda. Loved him as Hawkeye and enjoyed him on The West Wing. There's a rumor that he might go on tour with Love Letters, and if he does and he comes to Chicago, I'll be there.

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to watch a show: Larry David. I know everyone else in America thinks he's funny, but I cannot stand him.

5. Name a show you can, and do, quote from: Friends. "We were on a break." "Could you BE more ..." "He's her lobster."

6. Name a show you like that no one else enjoys: NCIS

7. Name a TV show which you've been known to sing the theme song: "When you find your own true love, you will know it by his smile and the look in his eye ...." Appointment TV for every girl in my junior high school. (What? You don't remember Bobby Sherman?)

8. Name a show you would recommend everyone to watch: This Is Us

9. Name a TV series you own: An entire series? None. I have the first three seasons of Moonlighting, but I didn't invest in the last two seasons because I didn't like them the first time.

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium, but has surprised you with his/her acting chops in television: Let's spin this the other way. Who knew Gidget and The Flying Nun was such a wonderful actress?


11. What is your favorite episode of your favorite series? The episode of Friends where Joey puts on all Chandler's clothes and Monica fixates on whether the message she left on her ex's answering machine was "breezy enough."

12. Name a show you keep meaning to watch, but you just haven't gotten around to yet: The Crown

13. Ever quit watching a show because it was so bad? Seinfeld. I know, I know. Everyone but me loves it. But I thought it was hostile and depressing.

14. Name a show that's made you cry multiple times: Downton Abbey. Just remembering when Mr. Carson consoled Lady Mary after the death of Matthew, I well up. "You cry, m'lady. You have a good cry." Couldn't we all use a Mr. Carson in our lives? 

And that's just one episode. Remember when Lady Sybil died? Remember when Isis the Dog died? Remember WWI?

15. What do you eat when you watch TV? It changes. Lately I've been reaching for Ritz Crackers.

16. How often do you watch TV? Constantly.

17. What's the last TV show you watched? Right now, I'm watching a special on about TCM's Robert Osborne. I adored that man.


18. What's your favorite/preferred genre of TV? Sitcoms, I suppose

19. What was the first TV show you were obsessed with? Batman. When my favorite uncle was in Vietnam, this little gal used to keep him up to date with every episode. He was so amused by this he kept those letters, which we found after his death. It made me so happy to know that my oh-so-serious ramblings about Gotham City brought him some comfort when he was in that faraway jungle.

20. What TV show do you wish you never watched? It's a tossup -- Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld. I hate to keep ragging on those shows, but you keep asking!

21. What's the weirdest show you enjoyed? Autopsy: The Last Hours of ... on REELZ. (Don't judge me.)

22. What TV show scared you the most? Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

23. What is the funniest TV show you have ever watched? Friends 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Along Again, Naturally (1971)

1. Friday was St. Patrick's Day, March 17th! Did you celebrate with green beer or a green milkshake? No. Though they did garnish the dessert tray in the cafeteria with green frosting kisses, and I took one.

2. Did you remember to wear green? Yes. My green Izod sweater.

3.  What color do you look best in? Green.

4. This week's featured artist, Gilbert O'Sullivan, was born in Waterford, Ireland. Waterford is famous for Waterford Crystal. Do you have glassware that you save for special occasions? Yes. Gray smoke tumblers and juice glasses. I don't know what I'm saving them for, since I never entertain.

5. This week's featured song includes the line, "To think that only yesterday I was cheerful, bright and gay." How were you feeling yesterday? I was feeling a little overwhelmed. Shoutout to ZIPPI for her wise words and sensitive support. (Thank you.)

6. It begins with reference to a wedding that didn't quite come off because the bride left the groom at the altar. When were you most recently at church? Was it for a holiday service, a regularly scheduled service, a special event (a wedding or baptism)? It was a regularly scheduled service. With my minister and congregation, but not at my church. Our building is still being renovated! Originally they told us it would be done for Christmas Eve, 2016, but when that didn't happen, they stopped giving us a date certain. While the Lutherans who lend us their church every week are very gracious, I don't like going there. I know it's not supposed to matter where I worship, but it does. I want our building back. My church feels like home.

7. In 1971, when this song was popular, Malibu Barbie was a big seller for Mattel. This doll had a perpetual tan. For a human to achieve this, a tanning bed or self tanner is usually required. Have you used either method to give yourself a tan? I fake-baked for a while years and years ago. I liked the look, but boy, being trapped in that tanning bed felt creepy. I'm happy and relieved to report that on Wednesday, during my annual visit with the dermatologist, he said he found "only minimal" sun damage.

8. In March, 1971, James Taylor appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. What's your favorite James Taylor song? This song has been covered dozens of times, but no one does it better than James. Perhaps Joni Mitchell originally wrote it about him?

9. Random Question: What word or phrase do you hear yourself saying too often? "The thing of it is, is ..."

Soon, Gal, Soon

I'm always happier when I have baseball. And it all begins again Sunday, April 2. (Though they won't play in front of this beautiful old scoreboard until April 10.)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Look how pretty!

Got this for half price at Kohls. You can't tell from this photo, but there are buttons at the shoulder. This will dress up my jeans and will work from spring all the way into fall. Color me happy.

"It's not an excuse! It's the truth!"

So a fresh-faced young man shouted into his phone. I don't know what he was trying to justify, nor can I be sure what he said was accurate. But it did strike a chord with me, because it reminds me of conversations I used to have all the time with my family in the bad old days.

I've been thinking about those awful days an awful lot. I don't know why, but I don't think it's healthy or productive. I'm thinking of resuming therapy to work through this.

But here's the thing: my shrink retired and moved to Boston. Do I really feel like starting over with someone new?

Also, I'm working hard at digging out of debt. Do I really want to add another monthly bill?

Or am I trying to put a price on health?

Hmmmm ....

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Oh, shut up

Many of my Facebook friends follow Jim Wright, a "forward thinking progressive." Sometimes he's funny. His writing is always clever. Usually he's hostile. He is, frankly, too partisan for this old-school liberal. I'm a Kennedy Girl. I think public service is honorable, and I believe compromise yields results. The ideological purity of zealots like Jim Wright (or Steve Bannon) gets into the way of getting things done for the people of this country.

But that's a small quibble, really. He's a good writer and we have free speech in this country. I would prefer people not be seduced into his "us vs. them" worldview because I agree with Barack Obama that what unites us is greater than what divides us. But whatever. I'd also prefer people not obsess on the Kardashians and the Duggars.

But Jim Wright moves from his usual edgy and descends into offensive when he starts in on John McCain. "Johnny Walnuts," as he likes to call him. He makes fun of how, when presented with Trump's ridiculous accusation about President Obama and wiretaps, McCain snarled in his "gravelly war-hero voice" and "shook his gnarled fist in the air."

John McCain cannot shake his gnarled fist in the air because, in 1967:

•  He broke both arms as he ejected from his fiery warplane.

•  He was then captured, and as a POW had his shoulder shattered by one of his captors.

Consequently, John McCain cannot lift his arms. He even needs help to comb his hair.

John McCain in a propaganda photo from Hanoi

Jim Wright's military background doesn't make his Facebook post "informed." It makes it even worse.

Hillary Clinton's "deplorable" label should not be reserved for the alt-right. I was disgusted by Trump mocking Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times, and I'm disgusted by Jim Wright.

Let's try not to become what we hate.


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1. What are you currently reading? Chaos by Patricia Cornwell. It feels like forever since I spent any time with Kay Scarpetta. (In fact, it was Bone Bed in 2012.) I see she's back in Massachusetts. She's called upon to solve the mystery of how an otherwise healthy young woman could be killed by lightening on a clear and cloudless moonlit night. I'm looking forward to the usual cast of characters -- Benton, Marino, Lucy - plus Kay's kid sister Dorothy who is visiting from Florida. We don't see much of the irresponsible but more creative sibling. I imagine that having the stylish and madly intelligent Kay as big sister wasn't easy. Looking forward to seeing how their relationship colors the mystery.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Prince Charles, by Sally Bedell Smith. Someone once said that actor Peter Lawford wouldn't even be the star of his own biopic, so overwhelmed was he by the star power of his relationships with Marilyn, JFK and Sinatra. That observation reminded me of Prince Charles, because as I read this book it seemed he was forever being upstaged by his more charismatic relatives. First his beloved mother, The Queen; of course, Diana; his charming sons, William and Harry; now William's photogenic family. It's odd to read a biography of someone who feels rather like a supporting player in his own life story. 

As for the book itself, it was easy to read and interesting. I just wish that, when writing about his first marriage, Ms. Smith didn't stack the deck so neatly in Charles' favor. I appreciate that Diana was mercurial and that the marriage wasn't easy, but I don't see her as a villain. It looks to me as though there were no victors in the War of Waleses, only victims.
3.  What will you read next? I don't know. Maybe another biography?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I want

My all-time idol, JBKO, rather cannily observed that, "People like to believe in fairytales." I admit I'm one of those people. And that's why I find these photos so enormously touching.

Here you see Prince Charles and his sons at Diana's funeral. By now Diana and Charles had been long separated and officially divorced. He had returned to the woman Diana believed he never left. She had been involved with James Hewitt, Hasnat Khan, and Dodi Fayed. The rancor between Prince and Princess had abated. It's almost as though space had afforded them the luxury of civility. They spoke often about parenting -- they both loved their boys -- and schedules and royal engagements.

It would be easy to assume that when these photos were taken, Charles' overriding emotion was concern. He was, of course, worried about his sons. He knew he had an official role to perform and he wanted to deserve the respect of his subjects. And I'd believe concern was all that's going on here if not for one thing:

He's wearing a blue suit.

This most hidebound of men certainly knew that Royals wear black and only black for mourning. He owned a black Savile Row suit custom-made for such occasions. But his sons knew he wore the blue suit in tribute to their mother. Diana always told Charles she liked him best in blue.

I want to believe that this Prince understood and respected that he was 19-year-old Diana Spencer's First Love. I just finished a new biography of Prince Charles and it details, excruciatingly, the warfare between husband and wife. The author, clearly pro-Prince, wants us to take sides in the War of the Waleses. I refuse.

The blue suit tells me that he knew she loved him and that, once upon a time, he loved her, too. That they were happy once. Yes, their marriage was doomed from the start. But isn't it possible for even epically incompatible people to be in love, at least for a time?

This old Gal really wants to believe that.