Wednesday, May 31, 2017


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. Despite its positive reviews, I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this memoir, because I've never been much of a Rob Lowe fan ... and because it starts out more than a little maudlin with his recollection of knowing JFK, Jr. ever-so slightly just before that fatal plane crash. 

But here's the surprise: I am enjoying it. A lot. I appreciate how candid he is about his own career: He grew up around Sean Penn, and he knows he's not Sean Penn. He knows he'll likely never get a part as good as Leonardo di Caprio's in The Departed, or Timothy Hutton's in Ordinary People (which he couldn't even get an audition for). He's an actor who wants to work, and takes the best of what he's offered. It's an interesting glimpse into the life of someone who isn't in the highest echelon, and knows and accepts it.

He's a charming raconteur, too. I'm just about done with this book, and soon I think I'll miss hanging around with Rob and hearing his stories.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I've seen Gone Girl, the hit movie based on her most famous work, but this is the first time I've read Ms. Flynn. This book is both deeply disturbing and highly addictive. There is not a character you wish you knew in real life. It's the tale of a Chicago reporter on assignment in the small Missouri town where she grew up. Young girls have been disappearing, and she's using her hometown connections to get the story. In addition to a serial killer, there's self mutilation and torture and joyless sex and damning gossip. When you guess whodunnit rather early on, you're probably right. And yet the writing is as evocative as it is provocative, and Flynn's imagination is wild and dark and hypnotic. 

  3.  What will you read next? Oh, my TBR is so deep!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I have a pimple in my eyebrow. An angry red bump that is as painful as it is unsightly.

The Cubs are in the process of losing their FIFTH in a row, and falling below .500!

I think my air conditioner isn't working efficiently. Oh, good! Another day off work! Another expense!

I realize these are not earth shattering problems. I know I sound like a silly woman. I likely am a silly woman.

A glum, silly woman.

Monday, May 29, 2017

To Sir, With Love

I originally wrote this a couple years ago. It seems fitting today, John F. Kennedy's centennial.

President Kennedy died on my sixth birthday. That's a tender age, and having my Big Day marred by a national tragedy left its mark. In trying to restore order to my little universe and understand the pervasive agony all around me, I began reading obsessively the man. And have never stopped.

John F. Kennedy taught me much about life. The biggest lesson is that the way a life looks on the outside isn't necessarily how it feels from the inside. Though he was insulated by wealth, young Jack was plagued by severe, painful medical problems that kept him in the hospital or home convalescing. He missed years of school and had to drop out of Yale because of his fragile health. (And this was as the second son in a family that valued achievement above all else.) His parents had a troubled marriage, and that resulted in a complicated, unsatisfactory relationship with his mother that may have colored his attitude toward women throughout his life. (I've read just as much about his wife, so I'm not unaware of his own failings as a husband.)

So whenever I'm tempted to compare my life to someone else's, whenever I feel envy nipping at my heart, I remember how the world looked at JFK and thought he had it all, while in his heart he always felt rather lonely and isolated.

But look what he accomplished! Cum laude graduate of Harvard, decorated war hero, Pulitzer Prize winner, and the youngest man ever elected to the Presidency. The first Irish Catholic, at a time when people still remembered signs in store windows that said, "Irish need not apply."

Yes, he lucked out being born to one of the country's wealthiest family. But the wit, the intellect, the elegant turn of phrase, the fascinating combination of empathy and detachment he brought to every situation ... those money didn't buy. 

He taught me that if you have imagination, you can visualize your own destiny and if you don't cut yourself too much slack, you can achieve your goals. 

He remains the single biggest influence on my politics. He wrote this before I was born, and it still sums up my view of what my country can be if we listen to our better selves.

If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.”

That's how I'm honoring him, with gratitude, on his birthday.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: The Procrastination Tool Questions

1. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant? It changes. Currently it's The Pittsfield Cafe. It's just so unique. It's in the lobby of the Pittsfield Building, one of Chicago's first skyscrapers (1927). You have to walk through the lobby to get to the restaurant, and it's great to look at the gorgeous old ceiling and floors and chandeliers. The restaurant is one of those coffee shops that serves breakfast all day and has laminated menus. I'm partial to the grilled cheese sandwiches, and to the fact that none of my coworkers ever comes here, so it's the perfect place to escape with a book.

2. What food could you eat for 2 weeks straight and not get sick of it? Burgers. I could add cheese or onions or swap out ketchup for barbecue sauce to mix it up a bit.
3. Have you ever had anything removed from your body? Yes. Little moles and major internal organs. I'd like to maintain the collection of parts I have now.

4. What is the last heavy item you lifted? These weary old bones.

5. Have you ever been knocked unconscious? No.

6. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die? No.

7. If you could change your name, what would you change it to? I've always felt I'd make a good "Julie."

8. What’s your goal for the year? To improve my finances. They are a mess and a major concern.

9. Last person you hugged? A coworker. I thanked her for her support and she responded with a hug.

10. First place you went this morning? It's no longer morning, and I haven't left the house yet.

11. Do you always answer your phone? No

12. It’s four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it? My friend, Henry. Once he starts sipping wine, he loses track of time and becomes sentimental.

13. If you could change your eye color what would it be? No, thank you. My green eyes are very pretty and I don't want to change them.

14. What’s on your wish list for your birthday? Laughter. My oldest friend and I will be in Vegas for my birthday, and I'm counting on a silly, memorable time.

15. Does the future make you more nervous or excited? Nervous

16. Do you have any saved texts? Well,yes. But only because I forget to delete things.

17. Ever been in a car wreck? No.

18. Do you have an accent? I don't think so, but I'm told I have flat, nasal vowels. I once had an admin who could imitate me saying, "No prah-blum."

19. What was the last song to make you cry? Nothing springs to mind.

20. What did you do last night? Watched John Lackey do not-so-well against the Dodgers.

21. Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom? Oh, yes.

22. Current hate right now? "Hate" is strong. But I'm not crazy about how things are going at the office right now.

23. Met someone who changed your life? Oh, yes.

24. How did you bring in the New Year? Reliving the glory days with my friends, The Crawleys.

25. What song represents you? Bruce Springsteen: No Surrender. "I'm ready to grow young again."

Not funny

I feel a little guilty about what I'm about to post. It's about "Archie Bunker," the retired sportscaster my oldest friend met on a dating site and was briefly infatuated with.

Archie hated Obama and blamed Obama for everything. Back in the olden days when I monitored his Twitter feed, I saw how much he delighted in retweeting rumors that "Michelle hates Barry" and wants a divorce. With all the hubbub about Melania Trump's apparent lack of enthusiasm for her man, I thought I'd revisit Archie to see how he weighs on the current First Couple.


I am unhappy to report that all of his tweets are personal, unanswered and very sad.

Should I stick a fork in it           (May 19)
May be time to just disappear   (May 20)
I need a drink                            (May 20)
Another Saturday Night            (May 20)
Confused and disappointed       (May 21)
Damn crashing                          (May 22)

 I know that he has an adult son and daughter and grandchildren on the other coast. Apparently he and his daughter clash frequently. I know that my oldest friend was very willing to be in his life but he treated her abysmally. And then there's his toxic world view. ALWAYS complaining! Before May 19, his targets were cyclists who ride too fast on the sidewalk, and Charlie Beck, the chief of the LAPD, and the "clueless" dealership where he bought his Ford Navigator. Even without Obama, there's plenty in day-to-day life to upset ol' Archie.

While I am loyal to my oldest friend and am glad she gave up on Archie, I am still sorry about what I read. He's alienated, sad and in some physical discomfort. Depression is real and his practically reaches off the screen.

We could talk about how you get back what you put out. If he was kinder and more pleasant to those he spoke to on a day-to-day basis, I'm sure he would have more people reaching out to help him.

But that doesn't really matter now, does it?

I'd mention my discovery to my oldest friend, but she's still struggling with depression herself. She's so fragile and I'd never forgive myself if he (once again) decided she wasn't young/thin enough for him.

Instead, I'll just include him in my prayers and hope he finds the help he needs to turn this around.

Day 3

I woke up this morning and truly couldn't remember what day it was. That's how unplugged I've become during this four day weekend.

Friday I bought a bed and dropped off a bag of clothes at Goodwill. Yesterday I restocked my larder, shopping for decidedly not-fun things like eye drops, air freshener and Advil. And that's it. (If you don't count watching movies and baseball and playing with the cats.)

I really have to vacuum and put my winter clothes away. A few loads of laundry await. I suppose it's time for me get off my prodigious ass and accomplish something.

But I admit, I liked waking up and saying to myself, "What day is this again?" This ol' gal is such a slug!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Stars and Stripes Forever 

1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. War memorials, as well as the graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers on this day to show our appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood? Just a few blocks from here, there's a big granite and bronze memorial to those we lost in WWI. It's in a park that's very popular with families. It's nice to see those solemn bronze troops surrounded by laughter and life on a sunny day.

2) Andrew Johnson, our 17th President, was in office the first time Memorial Day (then called Decoration Day) was celebrated. Have you ever met one of our 45 Presidents? I've never MET a President. However, as a campaign worker I have attended rallies with them. I saw candidate Bill Clinton in 1992 and President Clinton in 1996 during Chicago campaign stops. And I had the distinct pleasure of being there in Soldier Field 2008 and McCormick Place in 2012 when Barack Obama declared victory. These are cherished memories. It's a joy to feel like a part of process.
Soldier Field, 11/2008. Can you see me?
3) According to the AAA, 36 million Americans will hit the road this weekend and drive more than 50 miles. Will you be traveling far from home this weekend? Only to the mall. I promised myself I'm taking at least one bag of clothes to Goodwill!
4) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food? Potato salad
5) Have you packed away your winter clothes? Or is the weather still so changeable that you still may need something warm? I'm finally packing away my winter clothes this weekend. I haven't done it because a) the weather has been changeable and b) I am a lazy slug.

6) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on? There's a fan whirring away.

7) This week, we are featuring the Muppets. Jim Henson made the first Muppet out of an old coat, and he used ping pong balls for the eyes. Do you have a talent for do-it-yourself/arts and crafts projects? No.

8) Random question: Think of the last thing you bought. Did you get a good deal? This afternoon I bought a new mattress at Sears. The mattress was 60% off ... and the box spring was free ... and delivery is free ... and since I used my Sears card, I got 16 months/no interest. I'm feeling pretty freaking proud of myself. 

Of course, since it's Memorial Day, and just about all retailers have mattress sales, that may have been a pretty standard deal. So how about this? On the way home from Sears, I stopped at the grocery store and got a 7-oz bottle of yellow mustard for just 56¢.

9) Crazy Sam needs your help: What song or a performer would you like to see featured in a Saturday 9 this summer? "Son of a Preacher Man" by the Dusty Springfield.

A new member to my household

I went out this afternoon and bought myself a bed. A Serta iComfort Blue 100 Gentle mattress and box spring, to be exact. It promises me "cooling, pressure-relieving comfort" as I sleep.  

Look! A layer of Evercool Gel Memory Foam!

I felt like such a grown up, walking into the mattress department, making my choice, scheduling the delivery and haul-away of my existing bed. This feeling is silly, of course, as I know both of the men who waited on me were young enough to be my sons.

I spent a bit more on the mattress than I intended to, but since I got the box spring and delivery for free, I ended up just about where I figured I would. And, since I used my Sears card, I'll get 18 interest-free months.

I've scheduled delivery for June 19. I hope it goes smoothly. I'm glad I made this big purchase at Sears because Sears is the company that gave me my start as a copywriter. They're suffering mightily and rumor has it Christmas 2017 might be their last.

On June 19, I want to be able to shout from the rooftops that Sears did this well, from start to finish. I want to post on Facebook and Yelp and everywhere else that Sears deserves your business for big, consequential items -- as well as claw hammers and garden hoses.

Also, I want to cuddle up and sleep soundly on my new Serta bed!

But Sears did fuck me over -- via a third-party contractor -- back in 2013. So I'm wishing and hoping but I'm trying to temper my optimism with caution.

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.

From Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Unknown child actor Rob Lowe gets to peek behind-the-scenes as post-production special effects are added to a sci-fi film.

We stop to see a small robot that's shaped like a trashcan. Apparently the robot is a major character in the movie and I think his name is cool, R2D2.


Tragedy ahead

"Seeking immunity"
"Taking the 5th"
"Rolling disclosures"
"Subpoena issued by a special Senate subcommittee"
"What is the White House covering up?"
"Obstruction of justice"
"How high does it go?"

If I took a shot every time I heard a newscaster utter a phrase that reminded me of Nixon and Watergate, I'd go through life perpetually sloshed. And, since I'm rather sure where this is headed, I think I might be happier anesthetized.

I did not vote for Donald Trump. I have a hard time actually comprehending that anyone saw his name on the ballot and said, "Yes, that's a good idea!" But he won. So clearly something is happening in my country that I don't understand but must try to.

Which is why the compulsively watchable legal drama in Washington DC makes me so sad. A solid 30% of my fellow Americans believes in this man, and they are for an ugly summer ... and fall .... and winter ... and spring. They will certainly come away from this spectacle feeling even more disillusioned than they were when they voted Trump. Either they will see that they put their faith in a narcissistic con man, or they will be convinced that "so-called judges" and "fake news" conspired to bring down their guy.

I've seen this before. My dad went to his grave believing "they" got Nixon. The Good Lord could have written "GUILTY!" across Nixon's forehead, and my father would have clucked, "Oh, so they got to Him, too."

While all this drama ensues, no one will be taking care of health care, or tax reform, or infrastructure. And with this President's shaky impulse control, I am worried about how he'll behave internationally while distracted.

And, I fear, a generation will watch this and be disillusioned ... Disillusioned by members of the Trump Administration who were willing to throw away their honor for rubles, by Democratic Senators and Representatives who will throw away their scruples for airtime, by Republican legislatures who refuse to honor their personal beliefs because those solid Trump supporters live in their districts.

I'm lucky to be a Kennedy girl. JFK's legacy made its imprint on me when I was very young, and as we approach the centennial of his birth, I realize that it's immunized me from cynicism when it comes to government. I believe government can and does attract men of honor and ideals because I've been drawn to them my entire life.

But I saw what Watergate did to many of my generation. It left many of us with a "they're all dirty" and "throw the bastards out" and "what difference does it make?" attitude that can be poisonous.

So when any of my progressive friends watch this unfolding drama with glee, I shake my head and wish I could take another shot of Bushmill's.

Sometimes it feels like work

Checking my Facebook feed is a long slog these days.

Some things make me smile. My old friend Tom got whisked away by his wife for a birthday weekend in Vegas, with their toddler daughter. The photos are adorable.* Who knew that, if done correctly, Vegas can be an affordable family getaway? Plus, it's wonderful to see Tom so happy. He's a really good man and it's delightful to watch him embrace fatherhood. Lana's really stuck with her 2017 fitness resolutions, and her "sticktoitiveness" not only makes me happy for her, it's beginning to inspire me.

But then Facebook makes my teeth hurt. "I'm going to tell you everything that annoys me, and then I'm going to do it myself." It makes want to scream when someone says, "I'm just not me without my coffee and a Stan's donut in the morning," followed by, "What makes anyone think I care about their dumbass post about where they had lunch?"

I don't mind the parental bragging and I'm enjoying the prom/graduation photos. I like the reposted vacation memories. I'm happy to post a sad emoji to show solidarity with a friend remembering a parent or a pet or another loss that tugs the heart. Yes, I'm jealous of Doreen's frequent SATC weekends with friends in New York, but I'm happy for her nevertheless. I'm with you on all that, Facebook Friends!

But the, "I hate all Republicans" followed by, "I hate intolerance" posts ... the posters who rightly go out of their way to respect Muslims and Jews and atheists/agnostics but then turn around and disrespect my faith by saying, "Sweet Jeebus" ... Sometimes I dread checking in with my 73 Facebook friends.

That's right. I have just over 70 "friends." The median number of Facebook friends is 200. I couldn't deal with that much hypocrisy on a daily basis.

I know my Facebook feed is not a reflection of me. My sisters and aunt can/do read it, so I have to be careful. But I hope that my superficiality doesn't translate to being an asshole.

My feed is, however, a reflection of how into the Cubs and the Royal Family I am. For up-to-the-minute trade rumors and adorable* pictures of George and Charlotte, Facebook can't be beat. So I suppose I should just get off my fucking soap box and get over myself.

*That's "adorable," not "adorbs." Another thing about Facebook that makes me cringe is intentional language mangling. How much time is actually saved by lopping off the "able" but adding an "s?" Or is saying "adorbs" actually adorable, and I just don't get it? And don't even get me started on "Mmmkay" for "OK."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Oh, my, but this book is intense. A Chicago reporter is sent on assignment to the small Missouri town where she grew up. Young girls have been disappearing, and she's to use her hometown connections to get the story. The writing is wonderful. Ms. Flynn creates an  atmosphere so claustrophobic that after reading awhile I want to run outside and feel the sun on my face. This book is as dark and creepy as it is involving. As opposed to the tripe I just finished ... 

2. What did you recently finish reading? On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay. This is one of the "Library Lovers" series. I know when I pick up one of these "cozy mysteries" that I'm not going to get breakneck action or a challenging character study. But this book requires such a suspension of disbelief that to accept it you'd have to be brain damaged.

For example, our heroine, Lindsay, has just seen her brother kidnapped. Now she and her ex-boyfriend are in a small boat, chasing after a much larger one through dark and dangerous waters. There's an explosion. Lindsey and Sully are almost killed and her brother and his captors are lost in the night. So what do you think she does?

Call the police? No. Fall apart? No. Have passionate, life-affirming sex with Sully? No. 

She sits in the kitchen with her landlady, Nancy, as Sully makes them all some of his famous hot chocolate. I believe there was mention of nutmeg and cinnamon. 

The entire book is just this dumb. Last fall I read an earlier book in the series -- Book, Line and Sinker -- and, taken on it's own terms, I enjoyed it. But this one is borderline insulting, and I finished it only out of misguided optimism and stubborness.

  3.  What will you read next? Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe.

Nail polish and mimosas

Here it is Wednesday and I'm just now catching the blogosphere up on my weekend!*

Saturday afternoon brought me to the salon for my 2017 pedi. I went back to the future and revisited my Fall 2014 color: OPI La-Paz-itively Hot. The weather has been chilly and gray so my pretty pink toes have not yet been able to dazzle the populace, but I love looking them. When I gaze upon my new pedi, I hear Beatle George in my head: "Little darling, it's been a long, cold lonely winter."

The Saturday Cub game was rained out. The unscheduled day off turned out to be a good thing for my guys, for Sunday afternoon's game was a blowout. Cubs 13 - Brewers 6. And the score makes it sound closer than it was.

Sunday afternoon also found me enjoying a mimosa at brunch with Nancy. It's the first time I've spent any time with her in months! For all that I've expressed wanting a closer relationship with her, I have been soooo lazy in pursuing it. Friendships take work. I must remember that.

Anyway, she's very happy these days, so it was nice to be around her. She told me about her trip with her kids to Hollywood to be a contestant on Jeopardy! She's legally unable to tell me how she did before the show airs this summer, but she was able to tell me all kinds of cool stuff about the taping. For example, Jeopardy! contestants stay at the same hotel and tape in the same studio as Wheel of Fortune contestants. These Jeopardy! folks -- who have never met before and would soon be competing against one another -- were united in feeling superior to the Wheel of Fortune contestants. Wheel of Fortune is all luck, "no brains required."

She's also happy and confident in her new job. I wish I was happy and confident in mine.It was fun to see her enjoying her life so much.

*Oh, blogosphere! How have you managed to roll along without hearing how I've spent my free time?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

She's kicking ass and taking names

Connie had a vet appointment this morning. Whoever would have thought that such a compact little body could emit so very many loud noises? She made it abundantly clear that being dragged from her napping spot under the bed, then stuffed in a carrier and taken out in the rain was not her idea of a good Saturday morning.

Once she got onto the examination table, she was a champ. Even though she had to submit to inoculations, the vet tech even got a purr out of her! Her eyes are clear, her teeth are not (yet) cause for concern, she's gained a pound. All good.

I appreciate the care my cats get at the vet. And I hope I don't return for another six months for Reynaldo's next check up.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Him or Me -- What's It Gonna Be? (1967)

1) In this song, a man pleads with his girlfriend to make up her mind. Do you consider yourself decisive? With few exceptions, yes, I am decisive.

Since this song is all about either/or, we're using that as our theme this Saturday ...

2) Choose a condiment: Catsup or mustard? Catsup

3) Choose a sci-fi series: Star Wars or Star Trek? I don't really like sci-fi, but if forced to watch one, it would be Trek.

4) Choose your spy: James Bond or Jason Bourne? The Bourne saga has been a little too dark. I like young Pierce Brosnan in a tux, so I'll go with Bond. James Bond.

5) Choose your winter sport: Football or hockey? Hockey

6) Choose your breakfast: Pancakes or waffles? Waffles

7) Choose your side: French fries or potato chips? Now this one is hard. Usually fries, but sometimes I get such an urge for a nice, thin chip ...

8) Choose your chore: Washing dishes or doing laundry? I hate them both. But I'm actually very good at laundry, so I'll go with that one.

9) Choose your nextdoor neighbors: Munsters or Addams Family? Maybe Gomez would invite me over to play with his trains.

By the way, week's song reminds me of how much I like Mark Lindsay's voice. When I was a kid, he was insanely popular in 16 Magazine and I judged him on the body, bounce and shine of his ponytail. Turns out the Raiders were better than I remembered.  So I'm gonna listen to them again right now.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love

My friends, Henry and Reg, celebrated their 26th anniversary by going to the Key West Courthouse and taking out a marriage license. They wanted it dated May 11, because it was on May 11, 1991, that Henry and his cat Saatchi moved into a house with Reg and his cat Koko. They've been together ever since.

On Monday, they went back to the courthouse and were married.

Their attitudes toward the ceremony were very different. For Henry, it was his wedding day. He insisted they get hair cuts and wear ties for the occasion. He was inspired to write a poem and couldn't stop thinking about/talking about the upcoming event.

For Reg, it was an annoyance. He wanted to get married, but not like this. His parents live in Maine and, since hip surgery, his father has trouble traveling. Reg wanted to wait until his parents could come down to Key West. But, in the age of Trump, Pence and Gorsuch, he was no longer confident that marrying would forever be his civil right and so he acquiesced to city hall. But he resented the trappings.

Because I'm closer to Henry, I made as big a fuss as I could. I called a local Key West florist and asked her to deliver a vase of peach and orange roses. I sat by the phone so I could "ooh" and "ahhh" after -- in Henry's words -- "the deed was done."

But in a way, I'm more like Reg. For these two didn't need a license or a ceremony to be married. They have been through so much together -- most notably Reg's hospitalization/health problems and Henry's major career setback and breakdown. They are so supportive of one another, so respectful of one another. They simply have to be an example of what God wants each of us to find.

Art complements life

Last night my movie group saw a mostly forgotten film from 1948 called Apartment for Peggy. It's a comedy-drama about postwar newlyweds, living on campus when he goes to college on the GI Bill. And I was totally into it.

Yes, William Holden was positively dreamy in 1948. But his was not the character who captured my imagination.

It was Edmund Gwenn as a retired philosophy professor who burrowed into my heart. His wife is dead. His son died in WWI. The college strongly suggested that it was time to retire. So he's rattling around in his big house, filled with ennui as he writes his "opus." (We're never told exactly what it is.) When the book is done, he calmly decides he's going to commit suicide.

He loved his wife and son, but they're gone. He traveled every year when he was a husband and father and saw much of the beauty the world has to offer. He loved teaching, but the college no longer wants him. When his book is done, he'll be done, too. It will have been a good life, ending on a high note. Why wait until he is sick and scared to go? Why not check out in his own way, on his own terms, as winter turns to spring?

His plans are upended when he meets the Peggy of the title. She's an exuberant 19-year-old bride, pregnant with her first baby, and she and her Navy vet husband have nowhere to live.  Literally nowhere. They are so desperate that they accept the tiny attic in the professor's home. He doesn't want them there, of course. But as long as he's still living on campus, the college can prevail upon him to take them in.

He gets involved with Peggy and her handsome hubby, and their dog and cat, and their preparations for their new baby and he experiences a renewed will to live and enjoy life.

Sound predictable? I suppose it was. But I was totally into it emotionally.

Because just as the lights went down, I learned that Pervy Walt died. Last summer, my 90-year-old neighbor was diagnosed with cancer. This year, over the last 5 months, he went to the hospital three times -- twice in an ambulance -- before this fourth and final hospitalization.

I'm glad he died in the hospital, hopefully with a lot of pain meds and a minister or nun nearby. I'd be lying if I said I'll miss him -- his behavior had gotten too creepy and inappropriate for that. But I wonder if he was like the professor at the beginning of the movie. I wonder if he was ready to go.

And I'm grateful to God and fate and my movie group and Hollywood for giving me Apartment for Peggy to help me work through my feelings.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tears and Nosebleeds

Donald Trump is getting ready to take his first international trip as President. As I understand it, he's hitting Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Italy. I am sincerely worried about him ... and us. He has exhibited bad judgement recently, while sitting in his own home(s). What will happen to him when he's out of his comfort zone?

He's a 70-year-old man, after all. I remember the passages in Historic Conversations where First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy discussed her Spring 1962 trip to Pakistan and India. She clearly treasured the experience and was proud of how she represented her husband and her country on this solo trip abroad, but she went out of her way to include how exhausting the experience was.

At 32, she was less than half Trump's age. While the events on her schedule certainly had diplomatic import, there was nothing of consequence about policy. And yet she reported tears of exhaustion followed by nosebleeds before retiring every night.

Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican ... what toll will these high profile stops with high powered leaders take on Donald Trump? Can he handle it?

BTW, here's a link to the Kennedy Library's film of Jackie's trip. I'm impressed by what a game performer she was when she stepped onto the public stage. You'd never know you were watching an inherently shy, admittedly exhausted woman who missed her small children desperately. I think her poise was fueled by her understanding of American history and respect for her place in it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Stealing

 Sunday Stealing: The Getting to Know You Questions

1. What is your occupation right now? How long have you been there? I am an advertising writer. I've done it a very long time. My first ad was for Granny's Rheumatiz Remedy back in December 1861.
2. Favorite rock band. Ever.

Look how cute!
3. What are you listening to right now? George Stephanapolous is about to interview Ken Starr. Considering that George worked in the Clinton White House, this could be very weird.

4. Last person you spoke to on the phone. What was it about? My friends in Key West. They just took out their marriage license! YEA!

5. How old are you today? Or make up a question. This one bites. Do you believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?

6. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? Go, Cubs, go!

7. What is your favorite drink? Coke

8. Have you ever dyed your hair? I did it myself for decades. Right now I have highlights, and they're professionally done.

9. Favorite food? Last night I had shrimp and it was very good. So I'll say grilled shrimp with lemon butter.

10. What is the last movie you watched? Union Pacific (1939). It was fun -- a little too long -- but it was entertaining. Robert Preston and Joel McCrea reminded me of Newman and Redford.


11. Favorite day of the year? My birthday.

12. How do you vent anger? I drink and swear.
13. What was your favorite toy as a child? My Lassie dog. We were inseparable.

14. Living arrangements? (Of course your pets count. Geez!) Me, Reynaldo and Connie share this 2BR condo.

15. What was the last thing that you cried about? I thought Reynaldo was sick. He wasn't.

16. Who is the friend you have had the longest? I've known my oldest friend for 55 years.

17. What did you do last night? I saw Union Pacific and then went out for dinner with members of my movie group.

18. What are you most afraid of? Airline travel.

19. In how many areas of your country have you lived? What's your favorite? Just this one. Obviously it suits me.

20. What is your favorite flower? (Ugh. Quite the note to go out on. But hell, we steal the questions. I guess you get what you pay for.) I like carnations. They're pretty and they last.


Why I'm mad at myself

So far this year, I've spent $300 on Cubs tickets.  $100 for a seat for the game I'm going to with John in June. $200 for two seats for the game I'm taking my nephew to in July.

And that's for the tickets alone. I'll spend more on hotdogs, beer, Cracker Jack, etc.

I am stunned by how expensive it is to go to The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. I get it, of course. My team is crazy popular* and it plays in one of the smaller parks. Intellectually understanding it doesn't mean I accept it emotionally, especially as I'm trying to economize.

And this is part of why I'm mad at myself over Friday. I stopped at the ATM for weekend cash. A woman approached me -- invading my space and making me uncomfortable -- and started to tell me about how little her job at Walgreens pays her.

"Ma'am," I said, cutting her off, "I've had a long week and I've got a train to catch. Here." I gave her the dollar I had in my pocket. I'd intended to add it to my transit card, but I figured it would help her more ... and make her get away from me.

She just stared at George Washington but didn't thank me. "If you don't want it, give it back," I snapped.

"I want it," she said, "but it's not enough."

"Then give it back," I repeated.

"Oh, I want it."

"Look, I didn't have to stop for you," I said, walking past her.

"Thank you, ma'am," she called after me.

"Finally!" I said, over my shoulder.

Look, I didn't have to stop for you. Oh, listen to me. I'm such a fucking saint because I broke my stride and acknowledged a fellow human being.

Did I have to cut her off and put the dollar in her hand? Maybe she wanted to be heard.

And haven't I just spent $300 on Cubs tickets? If I can afford that, why shouldn't I help the less fortunate?

I worry about my finances and my future. I hope if I'm ever in her position -- and I may well be -- I hope I meet someone who has a kinder heart than I did Friday.

I know that it's done. I know that I can't undo it. I know that many people wouldn't give her anything at all. And I know her aggressive approach and attitude added to the situation. All of this is true, and I can't change any of it.

But I can change my heart.

Someone once asked my what I "got" from being a believer, from being a Christian. Yes, I believe in Eternal Life and His unconditional love. But there's also this: I want to make choices that would make Christ happy. I didn't do that Friday. That's why the incident has been a constant discomfort, like a pebble in my shoe, ever since.

*Though my heroes aren't doing so well in the standings just now.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday 9

Mama Can't Buy You Love (1979)

1) This week's artist, Elton John, was made an Office of Arts and Letters -- one of France's highest honors for people who have contributed significantly to the arts. What's the most recent compliment you received? The two other members of my condo board told me last night they didn't believe I was "anywhere near" as old as I say I am. I'd like to say it's because of my youthful, dewy appearance, but I suspect it's because of my casual use of profanity. Oh well, a compliment is a compliment and I accept it ... as graciously as shit, if I do say so myself.
2) In 2013, Elton had to cancel an international concert tour because he had an appendectomy. Do you still have your appendix? Yes.

3) In 1979, Elton John was the first Western rock star to tour the Soviet Union. Would you like to visit Russia? There are places I'm more eager to visit.

4) Elton and his mother hadn't spoken in years but he reached out to her and healed their beach in honor of her 90th birthday in 2015. Who is the oldest person you know? The neighbor at the end of the hallway is 90.

5) Flowers and plants are popular on Mother's Day. How is your yard or garden? Is it green and/or blooming? I don't have a much of a garden here, but I recently walked past my old apartment building and was heartened to see how green everything was. And then I got sad. One of the younger trees (maybe 20 years old?) is probably coming down soon. There's a shopping center going up in the lot next door and the poor tree is pretty close to where ground will broken. It left me melancholy to see it waving blithely in the breeze, unaware of its upcoming fate.
6) Mother's Day is a big holiday for card shops. So are birthdays, weddings, and St. Patrick's Day. Hallmark sells greetings for everything from "Congratulations on Your New Job" to "Happy Retirement." Who received the most recent card you bought? Our admin, for Administrative Professionals Day last month.

7) Sam's mother is very careful when she unwraps presents because she likes to save
money by to reusing wrapping paper and gift bags. Tell us one way that you economize. Chicago now has a 7¢ bag tax. To avoid it, I've got a plastic bag in the bottom of my purse in all times.

8) Mother Winters used to scold Crazy Sam for leaving her dirty dishes in the sink. Sam admits it: as a grown up, she still leaves dirty dishes in the sink. How about you? Is your sink or dishwasher empty? I've got a plate, some silver and some tupperware in the sink right now.

9) RANDOM QUESTION: What size mattress do you sleep on -- twin, full, queen or king? Full. And I need to buy a new one. The one I have is ten years old and much the worse for wear.

ONEWORD: Struggling with My Focus

Yup, this photo just about sums it up.

Chuck, an art director I once worked with, explains this away by saying we're creatives, and a creative's brain is like his or her desktop: we always have too many windows open at once.

OK, that's an explanation, but not an excuse. I have to concentrate on the task at hand and blot out the rest.

Which is why I've just moved that dermatologist bill (dated 4/11 -- GULP!) to my purse, which brings me one step closer to calling their office on Monday. They only billed me for one visit with one doctor, when I had two separate visits with two different doctors in the same practice. I want to know if the second bill is forthcoming and I'll pay them both together. But I imagine my lack of focus makes me appear to them like someone who doesn't intend to pay at all.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

I know, I know. My Facebook feed includes progressives. I'm aware that John McCain is a popular punching bag. He's grumpy. He has exhibited a bad temper. But let's be real: his biggest sin is that he is (gasp!) a Republican. That somehow makes it acceptable to compare him to a psychopathic killer from The Sopranos, hence his unfortunate "Johnny Walnuts" nickname. Or to characterize his cantankerous nature by referring to him as "Gran Torino," based on Clint Eastwood's 2008 role as a perpetually angry "get off my lawn" neighbor.

I give these progressive their own special nickname. I call them "assholes." For, while I disagree with McCain on foreign policy and a woman's right to choose (and I'll be forever pissed at him for plaguing us with Sarah Palin),  I know he is a courageous man who has proven how much he loves this country. I'm not limiting this to his estimable service in Vietnam or his time as a POW. I include way he conducted himself throughout the 2008 campaign, with this exchange being the hallmark. The difference between John McCain and GOP's current standard bearer couldn't be more stark.

If the Congressional investigation into Trump's Russian ties is to continue, post-Comey, the effort has to have the vocal support of prominent Republicans. I wouldn't be surprised if Marco Rubio stepped up to the plate, but he's nowhere near enough.

Lindsey Graham has already spoken up, but he'll need help because he's considered a "Never Trumper."

The one we need to guide us through this waking nightmare is psycho "Johnny Walnuts." Loony ol' "Gran Torino."

I don't doubt he'll do it. I do doubt that progressives will fall over one another to thank him. Assholes.