Saturday, September 30, 2017

Feeling pretty good about himself

Had lunch with my nephew today to celebrate his (gulp!) 18th birthday. He seemed happy and positive, showing me the business card of the banker who helped him close his "child's" savings account and open his "adult" checking account -- funded with his first paycheck from McDonald's.

He's making $150/week working part-time on the crew. He enjoys it. He's met a lot of new people -- for some reason, the location that called him back is the farthest from his home, so none of his classmates work there. Two of his three crew chiefs and most of his other coworkers are a little older and full-time. Those in the back, who prepare the food, speak no English. He likes being around a mix of people, and I like that about him.

He's okay balancing work and school, and not worried about being able maintain that. He's cool with the amount of time he's able to spend with his friends, too. He seemed less certain about his future. He's going to start looking at colleges in earnest "in November and December," and talks about that like it's a million years away.

He seemed happy with the gifts I had for him. I got him a vintage Venus and Mars promotional t-shirt  from one of his favorite Wings CDs. And a new Anthony Rizzo 44 shirt to wear as we enter the 2017 playoff season. And $20 cash.

We talked a lot about the upcoming series with the Nationals. I was pleased by how knowledgeable he was.

Oh hell, I'm just pleased with him. He's a good kid. He's turning into a good man. I hope he's really as happy as he appears. Depression can be tricky, I know. But these hours we spend bonding ... I hope they give him confidence that if something is wrong, he can turn to me.

I can't whistle

Remember that song from The King and I? "Whenever I feel afraid I hold my head erect, and whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect I'm afraid." So what's a gal to do if she can't whistle?

I woke up this morning and my first thought was impending doom. Really, I can't live like this. It's not healthy. It's not productive. I'll simply come unglued.

So I'm trying to wipe my mental slate and replace it with something positive. At Friday's Cub game -- I was there! -- relief pitcher Hector Rondon got his first career hit. After five season in the majors. It was a close call, and at first he was called out. But before he could leave the field, he received the signal that the play was being reviewed. His joy, and his teammates' joy, in his achievement was just so infectious.

It was a joy to watch. So when I start to panic, I'll imagine myself waving back at Hector, unexpectedly and proudly standing on first.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Little Woman (1969)
True confession: The first concert I ever attended was Bobby Sherman, and I had this very picture of him on my bedroom door. He was the hottest thing around, before David Cassidy and Donny Osmond came along. (Preteen girls are so fickle.)

1) This song contains many weather references (clouds, rainbows, sunshine, rain). How's the sky where you are today? Clear and pretty cloudless.

2) Bobby Sherman sings that when he's alone, he imagines his "Little Woman" is right there beside him. Do you often daydream? All the time. FOCUS, GAL, FOCUS!

3) Bobby had a very bright smile. Do you ever use whiteners on your teeth? Every six months I use white strips.

4) He was beloved for his shiny hair. If we were to peek in your bathroom, how many haircare products would we find? Two different shampoos, one conditioner, hairspray. Does the blow dryer count? There's a hairbrush on the sink.

5) After high school, Bobby attended Pierce, a community college in the west San Fernando Valley. For culinary students, Pierce offers courses in canning -- specifically apples and peaches. If we were to peek into your pantry, would we find canned fruits? I have two cans of cling peaches. Purchased at the store. I didn't "put them up" my self.

6) As an actor, one of Bobby's earliest performances was on the TV show Honey West. That series revolved around a female "private eye" adept at martial arts. Do you have any self-defense moves (that don't involve a weapon)? No.

7) In 1966, Bobby did this rather energetic commercial for milk. Do you often enjoy a glass of milk? I seldom drink milk by itself anymore. Usually it's for my cereal. 

8) When his show business career waned, he became a paramedic. Have you ever called 911? Once. I interrupted a rape in progress. It's scary in retrospect, but at the time, I kept my cool because I was so angry. My arrival may have stopped him from actually violating her sexually, but he had subdued her by hitting her in the face so hard he dislocated her jaw. No human has the right to handle another human that way. She was so frightened and in so much pain. I can still remember the feel of her nails in my skin, she was holding my arm so tight while we waited for the police to arrive. I didn't have to testify in court because she refused to cooperate with his prosecution. The police suspected that the assault was in retribution for a drug deal gone wrong, and she was very afraid of her "employers."

9) Random Question: Which book do you think you could learn more from -- The Joy of Sex or The Joy of Cooking? I could certainly improve my expertise in both areas!

Little Gal, Happy at Last

I admit I've been very distracted this week. Finding that deck that (possibly) revealed my future sent me into a tailspin. But, as luck would have it, Friday found me at my ultimate happy place, Wrigley Field, with my old friend, John. It was just what I needed:

Booze, baseball and a buddy.

It was a fun game that had absolutely no impact on the standings. The Cubs have clinched the division, the Reds are cellar dwellers. So Manager Joe Maddon got imaginative with the lineup. He showcased players who don't otherwise get to start. We had catchers playing first base and third base, and doing just fine. One of this season's brightest rookies, Ian Happ, got a three-run homer in the 8th and that put it away. It was nice to be there for the final homestand of the season, a lovely way to say thank you to a team that has come to mean so much to me. My guys. As John chides me, "You act as though they sprang from your loins."

A margarita at the ballpark, a cranberry juice/vodka afterward loosened me up. Both my tongue and my attitude. I told John all about what's going on at work. My panic about being too old to hire but too young to retire. He helped me keep it all in perspective. I can only do what I can do right now. I can prepare for my job hunt. I can pare back expenses. I can't undo the past (damn!) and I can't know the unknowable (double damn!). And I don't want to waste my todays worrying about tomorrow.

And I don't want to waste my todays worrying about tomorrow. It does bear repeating, doesn't it? Dear blog buddies and lurkers, I can't guarantee that I won't slide into obsession/depression, but I'm going to try to stay positive and productive.

And I got a shirt with this on it:

I've got my guys at least through October 9. Playoffs for the third year in a row. My "lovable losers" are now a force to be reckoned with!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Exploiting her to the end

I am deluged by the coverage of Hefner's death. I keep hearing about all he did for Chicago, where he got his start. How Playboy was one of the first magazines to publish Ray Bradbury and Alex Hailey. He championed balanced, long-format interviews.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

He did all that while objectifying women. 

He got his start publishing a nude of Marilyn Monroe. He built his empire on her body. He never paid her for that photo. I'm not implying that he did anything illegal. The starving young Marilyn signed a release for that red velvet nude. But still, she was objectified to a large audience, without her permission. Oh, and that release she signed? Her autograph says, "Mona Monroe." As she told a writer later, “I was nervous, embarrassed, even ashamed of what I had done, and I did not want my name to appear on that model release.”

Therefore I'm offended that he's going to be buried in the crypt beside hers.  So much for rest in peace.

A black and white situation

I spent my day off today preparing for my job hunt. First, I trolled the internet and found a trio of ways to put my portfolio online. They're all a little too complicated for me right now. I'll have to explore them more carefully again. Soon. I just felt a little overwhelmed this morning.

Then I went to Carson's (maybe it's Bon-Ton, Bergner's or Younker's in your neighborhood). I picked up my Clinique eye cream, a pair of cuffed black slacks and this jacket, all on sale.

I chose the jacket at right because it's not expressly seasonal. In spring, I can wear it zipped. In fall/winter, I can layer. I can do the same thing with the jacket at left, purchased last spring at the same store.

I wish I could have found something I liked in a navy print.  Or a royal blue solid. But alas, those were not on the racks.

Fortunately, I work in a very casual industry. I doubt that, after the first interview, I'll have to wear a jacket again. Then it will probably be back to jeans and sweaters.

Otherwise I'll just be known as the fat old lady in black and white.

I'm trying not to freak out about this. I'm not succeeding, of course, but I am trying. By taking actions, even little ones, I am granting myself the illusion of control. You know, fake it till you make it. After all, it is MY life. While I have no control over when/if the axe falls, it's not like I'm a spectator in what happens after that.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I'm glad it was Lackey

As John Lackey's designated fan, I'm pleased and proud that the crusty old fart is the one who got tonight's win.

In what was possibly the start of his career -- certainly his last regular season game -- he pitched six innings of one-run baseball and got the W that made the Cubs the 2017 Central Division Champions.

Think of it: what could be the final game of his career, he puts his team in the playoffs. Can you think of anything more perfect?

God, I love baseball!

There's always this

I'm not going to get this exactly right, but here's the gist: Presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin recalls Lyndon B. Johnson at the end of his life. He was out of office, and because of Vietnam, hardly revered. His daughters were grown, married and mothers. His wife had necessarily developed her own set of interests; after nearly 40 years of marriage to a politician, she learned to sustain herself in a relationship where she wasn't the focus. He'd let his hair grow long. He resumed his cigarette habit. He was hanging around his ranch, where little seemed to engage his interest. The twentysomething Doris, who was there to interview him, found herself surprised to feel sorry for him, and grateful for the Red Sox. She realized everyone needs something all their own -- independent of their families or their careers -- something personal that brings them great joy.

I'm so lucky to have the Cubs.

I'm tired from battling this cold. The roof of my mouth is mushy and I have no appetite. My finances and career are a mess. But you know what? I'm happy because tomorrow I get to buy a t-shirt with this printed on it:

 Bring on the Nationals!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dead Writer Walking

I developed an idea, a way for my client to respond to the Experian data breach. I refashioned copy to make the way the gears of a HELOC grind sound a little more appealing. I went to lunch and bought flowers for my desk. I prepared for tomorrow morning's meeting.

I live my work life as though I don't know they have plans to replace me.

This is surreal.

Oh well. I've been in advertising for decades and have never been let go. Truly, I don't know anyone else that can be said of. It's simply my turn. I just wish it had come a little earlier, when I was more marketable and better prepared to bounce back.

Maybe it won't happen. I've feared many a pogrom before and survived.

And if it does happen, maybe I'll find something that's a better fit. For while I am very loyal to my client, I don't especially like where I work.

But I can't do anything else tonight. I am sick -- I'm congested and headachey and the roof of my mouth is mushy. It's hot outside. The Cubs can't put the Cardinals away.

As Katie Scarlett O'Hara would say, "Tomorrow is another day." I'm just going to be kind to myself, eat a tangerine, drink some water, and get some sleep.

More than $60, less than $90

Last Friday, Napoleon the Cat and his humans were trying to get out of town. His dad, Caleb, is apprenticing a few days a week as a window washer in Indiana. Once he compiles the requisite hours, he will be able to work full-time and make a decent wage.

But they missed their ride and had to take the bus. They were working the corners, husband on one side of the street, wife and Napoleon on the other side, trying to raise the $90 they needed to get all three of them to Indiana, and a new life.

On Monday, I saw Napoleon and his mom and my heart sank. They didn't make it! I've been really rooting for this homeless couple. They live in a tent by the river, and share whatever resources they have with this kitten they rescued. Napoleon is growing like a week -- lanky and strong, like my Reynaldo. He's a completely average looking little tomcat, nothing special, but he is much loved by these two. And it shows in his friendly, trusting demeanor. This kitten has never known anything from humans than tenderness.

She explained that while they didn't raise the full $90 it would take for three seats on the bus -- Napoleon needs a ticket and a separate seat for his carrier -- they did come up with just over $60. That was enough for Caleb to get to Indiana and back when he's done with work.

She is sure that by next week, they'll have the $90. Then, once her husband in a regular job, they can move to a shelter that gives the the opportunity to bathe regularly. Once she's presentable, she'll take steps to become licensed to do hair in Indiana.

I will miss them, of course. But it will be good to know they're sleeping indoors when the midwestern winter comes.

And I am grateful to them. Knowing them has opened me up and enabled me to better see those I pass on the street every day.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Now what?

Self portrait
It's 2AM and I cannot sleep. Part of it is that I cannot breathe. I woke up because of this woeful summer cold.

But the reason why I can't sleep is money. Regret over my life choices. Fear of the future.

If I lose this job, I'll get three months' severance. I have between 5 and 6 months' worth of expenses in the bank, so that puts me to 8 months. Figure in unemployment benefits and that puts me to 9 months.

So by this time next year I had better be ensconced in another decent-paying job. Or by this time next year I'll file for bankruptcy. By then I will be nearly 61 years old. I am terrified.

Sunday I reached out to two former coworkers and asked them to write recommendations for my LinkedIn page. One did already, and offered to help me with my online portfolio.

But I don't feel good and I'm scared and lonely. I really don't have much family anymore. Just my niece and nephew, and this isn't the kind of thing I can discuss with them -- at least not my nephew. He's only a senior in high school and battles depression himself.

My cousin Rose loves me. She's an interminable pain in the ass, but she does love me. My aunt will be in next week -- she's been a trick bag herself lately, consumed by anger over family dramas,* but maybe I can talk to her about my panic.

I know Reg and Henry care, but they are rebuilding their lives after Irma and don't really have the capacity to listen to my woes. Besides, they are more than 700 miles away. My oldest friend in California is in even worse shape than I am! Although she does have her cousin, who is being quite supportive, both financially and emotionally. I'm glad she family to lean on, and jealous because I don't have that resource.

Barb just lost her husband. She doesn't need to hear this shit. Besides, she's planning on moving away, too! 

I haven't heard from Kathleen in months. Mindy and I are going to get together. Really we are ... but it doesn't happen.

I've got the newbies, Joanna and Nancy. They both have been through their own "stuff" in life and may have valuable insights to share.

And John and Kathy. We've been friends more than 30 years, with all that entails. John and I are going to the Cub game this Friday. YEA!

AND OH, YEAH! THE CUBS! They won today! The magic number for the playoffs is two. I wish that were enough to calm me back to slumber.

*Which I am trying mightily to avoid.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I am sick and tired

Literally. Sore throat, runny nose, headache, exhaustion. It took me till 1:00 to get dressed to go out and then I thought about what "going out" actually entailed -- meaning 90º+ heat and relentless sun. I just couldn't. Not even to go clothes shopping. So I put my pajamas back on and got back into bed.

I did do laundry! I want to sleep on my brand new sheets tonight. That should make me feel better.

Him Pretty

That is a very young William Holden from his first movie, Golden Boy (1939). I'm familiar with his work -- The Country Girl, Sabrina, Sunset Boulevard, Network ... and, of course, I Love Lucy. I always think of him as craggy and boozy and cynical. Seeing him 21 and idealistic and so very handsome was a revelation.

Fangirl Lucy pisses him off at The Brown Derby
As always, when I see films with my movie group, I enjoy the community as much as the film. I was fascinated by one young woman (25?) who sat on the floor and knitted by "cinelight." I missed Joanna -- she had a stomach bug made worse by the heat -- but said a quick "hi" to Betty and met a friend she brought along. Then I chatted on the street corner a while with our moderator, Will. I was waiting for an Uber, he was walking home.

While we were talking, a man stopped and insisted on talking to him. The man was unkempt and a little scattered. Will was embarrassed and didn't encourage the conversation. Turns out the guy was a regular at the food pantry, where Will volunteers. He has "problems," Will volunteered by way of explaining why we didn't want to stand and chat with him.

Then he told me the story of another man -- a musician -- who is also homeless. Charming, literate, and completely down on his luck. Will said he and friends were going into a theater and the musician interrupted his dumpster diving to say, "Hi." His friends were astonished. "How do you know him?"

I liked Will so much for that. I thought of telling him about Caleb and Napoleon, and how often I've thought of them this weekend, but I didn't ... I don't know why ... I'm much more forthcoming on this blog than I am in real life.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Da Doo Ron Ron (1977)

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

1) This song begins by stating that he met her on a Monday and his heart stood still. How did your past week start? It may be a lot to expect you to report that you met someone who made your heart stand still, but did anything noteworthy occur? Well, I did discover something that made my heart stand still, but it wasn't a good thing. I found out that my company is thinking of reorganizing ... again ... and I worry about what this means for my future. (Gulp!) I'm terrified of being unemployed at this late stage of my career.

2) While making hit records, Shaun Cassidy also starred as Joe Hardy on the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books have been popular with generations of American kids. Were you a fan? I was a rabid Nancy Drew consumer. Which is why I was so tickled to see this manual typewriter when I visited the Soboroff Typewriter Collection in 2015. (Yes, I'm geeky enough to actually go look at old typewriters, and then to be thrilled.) There, along with Truman Capote's and Tennessee Williams' and Ernest Hemingway's, was the typewriter used by Carolyn Keene to write about Nancy, Bess, George and Ned. This typewriter is too modern for the first book, which was written in 1929 and published in 1930. But it's still pretty damn cool.

 3) Shaun went to Beverly Hills High School. Over the decades, BHHS has had many good footballs teams. Do you remember what sports your school excelled at? We had one very good basketball team when I was a junior. We actually made it to the Sweet 16! But that was a rare bright spot. Our teams were otherwise pretty dismal.

4) Shaun followed his older half-brother, David Cassidy, into TV/records/teen stardom. Do you have siblings? If yes, what career paths did they follow? One sister is an accountant, the other is a grade school lunch lady.

5) His middle name is Paul, after his maternal grandfather. Tell us something about one of your grandparents. One of my grandmothers was such a do-er. She sat on church committees and was an election judge and stayed involved in Girl Scouts long after my aunt was grown. I wish I had a portion of her energy.

6) Shaun's mother, actress Shirley Jones, reports that he was more than 3 weeks late and born by Cesarean. Have you heard family legends about your arrival into the world? I was born at the stroke of midnight. Legally, midnight doesn't exist, so my mother got to choose my birthday. Did she prefer 11:59 PM on November 21? What about 12:01 AM on November 22? She chose the latter. Once, when I had my chart done, the astrologer was entranced by this. I was born on the exact cusp of the cusp between two signs!

7) "Da Doo Ron Ron" was originally recorded by The Crystals. Can you think of another song that has been a hit by more than one artist? "You Can't Hurry Love" by Diana Ross and the Supremes in the 1960s, and then by Phil Collins in the 1980s, and then by The Dixie Chicks in the 1990s.
8) In 1977, when this version of "Da Doo Ron Ron" was popular, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak incorporated Apple. Are you Mac or Android? Laptop is a Mac, phone is Android.
9) Random Question: You're exhausted. You collapse into bed and are about to drift into slumber when you hear the drip-drip-drip of the bathroom faucet. Would you kick off the covers and go turn it off? Or would you stay in bed, letting it drip until morning? I like to think I'd get up and take care of it. But I'm not sure I would.


Friday, September 22, 2017

$6.40 and an old paperback

I spent a little time with Caleb, aka "Napoleon's dad," at lunchtime today. He was low energy, a little down. I thought at first it was the heat. It's been horribly, unseasonably warm this week -- 90º and oh, the sun! But then I remembered, today is Friday. This is the day he's usually traveling to Indiana, where he's apprenticing the window washing trade so he can begin making a decent wage and move indoors with his wife and Napoleon, instead of sleeping in a tent.

So why was he here? He missed his ride because he had no clean clothes. Their belongings were damaged in a recent rainstorm and he had nothing suitable to wear. They washed their clothes -- I'm not sure where -- but now they're taking a bus. They're $30 short because Napoleon requires his own ticket and his own seat for his cat carrier. Otherwise the kitten would have to ride in a crate in cargo department, under the bus.

"No way," Caleb insisted. "He's like my baby. He'd be miserable in a box, away from people!"

He spoke to his prospective employer, who has been very understanding about the special challenges homelessness presents, and explained the situation. His boss wants Caleb there by Sunday night so he can start working Monday morning.

I hadn't expected to see Caleb today, because I thought he'd be en route to Indiana. I knew it was possible I'd see his wife, so I tucked an old paperback in my purse. He likes to read true crime and he's about done with Ann Rule book I gave him, so I brought him Patty Hearst's autobiography. I figured it's a compelling story -- kidnapping, brainwashing, bank robbery, a fatal fire, a Presidential pardon -- told by the victim herself. I love books and it makes me happy to put them into the hands of someone who will appreciate the stories.

But I didn't have my wallet with me. In terms of currency, all I had was four nickels in my pocket.

I left $21 and change at the office. I know I can't responsibly just give it to Caleb, even though I wanted to. I'm on a budget these days myself. I must resist the temptation to just go to the ATM and get them all the money they need.

On the other hand, Napoleon and his humans have touched something deep in me. Yes, I need to buy new clothes this weekend, because there's a big sale at Carson's and I may be interviewing soon. Yes, I should pick up something for tomorrow night in celebration of Joanna's birthday. Yes, the $60 I just spent on skincare was important because I have to look younger than my years if I'm on the job market again.

But I have to do more for this little family. I think about the heart these two people showed when they found that kitten last spring, in the bushes, huddled up against its dead mother. They have meager resources, and they chose to share them with a little furball in need. Plus, I know cats, and little Napoleon is healthy and has never known anything but love. That deserves something.

So I hurried back outside with $6.20. It seemed to make Caleb happy, even before he counted what I dropped into his empty coffee can. The money appeared to mean as much as the book. I think he values really being seen and given the chance to be heard in the same way he appreciates cash.

$6.40 puts them 20% of the way to getting Napoleon on that bus and on to a new life. It's very possible that one of these days they'll be gone from my life forever. I shall miss them, of course, but it will make me happy to imagine them dry, safe and clean.

Haven't slept much since

Earlier this week, someone left a "confidential" deck on the printer for hours and hours. I started reading it in all innocence -- I was afraid my project, which also bore my client's logo -- might be tucked within the pages.

It wasn't. But the deck proved quite illuminating. Every time I returned to the xerox room, I read more of it. In retrospect, I wish I'd just copied the damn thing so I could read it carefully and not torment myself, wondering if I misunderstood what I furtively peeked at.
We have a sister agency in St. Louis. They have complete direct response capabilities. The deck suggests they may be a valuable addition to my client's roster for 2018.

Where does that leave me? Unemployed, come January?

I asked my boss, and he claimed to know nothing about it. He said it's possible they'll help our little skeleton staff.

Or replace us.

I'm so broke. My finances are such a mess. I don't have anywhere near enough for retirement, and I worry about finding a new job and starting over at this late stage.

And so I either can't fall asleep or I have nightmares.

I'm glad I got that new life insurance policy now, before my BIG birthday in November. I had thought it might be "gilding the lily" to have both this group policy at work and then a personal life policy of my own. But if the group policy is going away, then I actually made a rather prudent decision.

So unlike me!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Starting to breathe easier

Last weekend, I was freaked out. My friends in Key West were being Irma'd. My aunt and cousins were on the road, fleeing the storm. My Cubs were not exactly awash in glory in their series against division rival Milwaukee.

This weekend, it's all different. Henry and Reg are OK. My aunt and cousins are OK. And the Cubs have won six in a row.

My outlook is completely, 100% rosier. I suppose I shouldn't let myself be so influenced by the outcome of a ballgame, but ... fuck it. WE SWEPT THE CARDINALS! WE'RE IN FIRST PLACE! WHOOMP, THERE IT IS!

Yin and Yang

As a barren spinster, I find married people fascinating. And over the past few weeks, I've had a chance to ruminate about two happy couples. I conclude that there's something to that whole "opposites attract" thing.

Take, for example, Reg and Henry. They have been together close to 25 years, legally married less than one. After weathering many storms -- literal and metaphorical -- they remain very much in love. While Reg appears to be the alpha, since he's the moodier and more blunt of the pair, I know that Henry always gets his way.

They share some very important values, like friendship and their love of animals. But in other ways, they are different, and their reaction to life in Key West after Hurricane Irma illustrates that.

"We're fine!" Henry keeps insisting. Minimal damage to the house -- just a cracked window, and it was double pane anyway, and a fallen tree in the backyard. The generator is humming along. They have food and booze and the car is fine. Some of the bars are even open! Can't wait to see you! C'mon down!

Reg, on the other hand, is hot and dirty. They are flushing their toilet with a bucket and they can't wash their clothes. He's taking military showers, and is brushing his teeth once a day with water he's boiled. To preserve gas, they're cooking whatever they can on the grill, including Spam. And the smells! The fallen tree limbs and vegetation are starting to rot and stink. Tons of seaweed washed far ashore by Irma and there it sits, getting more fragrant by the minute. He can't avoid these odors because all the windows are open -- the AC isn't working. He wants to go back to work, just to escape the smells, and the boredom! No TV, spotty phone reception, no internet. He trusts life will get back to normal some day, but when?

They live in the same house, wake up in the same bed on the same island, and yet their lives sound so different! Yin to yang. Somehow it makes their happy relationship work.

At the memorial service for Barb's husband, much was made of their differences. He fantasized about being a rocker, her favorite musician is Yo-Yo Ma. She went on a safari in Kenya and climbed the Himalayas, he was content to relax every summer by carrying his own canoe along the Chain of Lakes. He ran every morning and avoided fats, she loves rich French food and the only exercise she gets is walking to her car. His drink of choice was whiskey, hers was a good red wine. Yet every night they toasted one another, "TEL." Those three letters were on the inside of their wedding bands. It stood for, "To Everlasting Love."

For them, opposites attracted, fused, and created something very special. Yin to yang.

Sunday Stealing

To play along, click here.
1. Have you ever had chicken pox? Yes.

2. Have you ever shopped in Home Depot? On occasion. And, since they were once a client, I know that they prefer being referred to as The Home Depot.®

3. Have you ever spied on your neighbors? I have peered through the peephole every now and again, but only when there's hubbub in the hall.

4. Have you ever ridden in a limo? Yes.

5. Have you ever had a pet fish? When I was in high school, my uncle got me a big fish bowl and guppies. One was a perpetually horny male named Giuseppe. He was so randy and so potent I had to separate him from his womenfolk and he lived out his days in his own spacious abode -- a peanut butter jar that I decorated with plants and gravel. I felt bad when he died.

6. Have you ever lied about your age? Yes.

7. Have you ever fired a gun? Once, when I was a very little girl. I hated how it practically leaped from my hand. This is one of the few times I remember my mother ever yelling at my father. "You let her WHAT?"

8. Have you ever been ice skating? Yes. I sucked at it.

9. Have you ever played golf? Only miniature golf.

10. Have you ever hidden on Halloween because you had no candy for trick or treaters? Once. Now it seems I'm never home when the kids come by.

11. Have you ever made a prank call? Decades ago! How do kids do it today with Caller ID?

12. Have you ever gotten a tattoo? No

13. Have you ever had a massage? Yes! Sigh ...

14. Have you ever locked your keys in the car? No.

15. Have you ever ridden a horse? Yes.

16. Have you ever been to the circus? Yes. What I remember most clearly is the bad candy.

17. Have you ever been to Europe? Yes.

Have you ever built a fire? Yes, but I used  newspaper for kindling and lit it with a match.

19. Have you ever been skydiving? No.

20. Have you ever bought something at a garage sale? Yes. Which is why I don't go to garage sales anymore.

21. Have you ever walked in on someone having sex? According to my mother I unknowingly did.

22. Have you ever faked an injury to get out of something? Injury? No. Illness? Yes.

23. Have you ever been to a nude beach? I've been a clothing optional pool, if that counts. I kept my top on. I burn too easily for such nonsense.

24. Have you ever received a speeding ticket? No.

25. Have you ever run a marathon?  I consider just living this life running a marathon.


Saturday afternoon, we celebrated the life of my friend Barb's husband after his blistering battle with lung and brain cancer.

It was a lovely little affair at their favorite bistro. There was a lot of food, though I really didn't have much. All the wine and whiskey you could drink, because those were his favorite drinks, though I stuck with water. A lot of laughter, as his best friend, cousins, nephew and sister recalled his life. Barb spoke a bit, too. Hers wasn't the best eulogy, but it was the most difficult to deliver. Today was excruciating for her, because now it's really "goodbye." The love of her life is gone.

Afterward she gave me a call and we rehashed the day. I made her laugh when I pointed out that only for her would I forsake jeans on a Saturday afternoon. I was even wearing spanx! But now, with the service behind her, comes the return to everyday life. A pile of bills that need to be paid. Veterinary appointments for her beloved old dog, Lucy, whose health is declining. Housework, which was neglected when her life consisted of waking up and going to the hospital.

Her husband's older sister turns 70 this fall and they were going to whisk her away to celebrate. Barb is going to honor the plan and is taking her sister-in-law to New York for a long weekend. She's not excited about it, but she's doing it because he would want her to. Plus, Barb loves shopping in New York. I like seeing her face forward in a way that lets her still hold him dear.

She was so proud of her nephew, now 21, who read this prayer and toasted his uncle with a beer.

In all, not bad at all!

I spoke to Henry today! After several rounds of phone tag and texts, we finally connected in real time. I'm so very relieved.

They're fine. The car is fine. The house is fine -- they lost one pane of a double-pane window, and Henry's favorite tree went down, but that's the only damage sustained.

Key West still doesn't have any power, but they have a generator so they aren't suffering. No TV, spotty phone service, no internet. They have running water, but it isn't drinkable. They are happy to home.

The people that I saw receiving emergency aid at Publix were mostly from the trailer parks. Those poor folks, it seems, lost a great deal. But most of the island is, in Henry's new favorite word, "fine."

Some of the bars have reopened. Now that's Key West!

PS But please, Hurricane Maria, give us a break and stay away.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Don't Talk to Strangers

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

1) When did you recently have a conversation with a complete stranger? What did you two discuss? It was Friday, a phone conversation with the Ball State University alumni office. It was requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in memory of my friend's husband to BSU. But it turns out that the university foundation has many different funds and I didn't know how to make out the check. The woman could not have been more sensitive and helpful.

2) In the video for this song, a woman is having a "hot" conversation on a corded, rotary dial phone in her bedroom. Do you have a landline? If so, do you have an extension in your bedroom? Yes, I have a landline. And yes, I have an extension in my bedroom. My friend Henry, who lives in Key West, has always, always recommended I maintain the landline because in the event of a disaster, it's unlikely that both cell phones and landlines will both go out. Well, guess who didn't take his own advice! Since Irma touched down on Key West last weekend, I lost a lot of sleep waiting to hear that they're OK. (And they are. YEA!)

3) This week's artist, Rick Springfield, says he wrote this song when he was worried that his girlfriend (now his wife) would cheat on him when he was touring. Would you describe yourself as suspicious or trusting? Trusting.

4) He became a daytime heartthrob as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. Do you think it would be cool to have a really attractive doctor? Or would it make you uncomfortable? Actually, my gynecologist is a handsome man. Fortunately, I don't find him attractive. I've managed to put doctors and men of the cloth in some other, completely non-sexual category where it doesn't matter how they look, I'm simply not attracted.

5) He's discussed how sad he was when, as a boy, he had to leave his dog Elvis behind when the family left Australia. While you were growing up, did your family often move? Nope. I grew up in the same suburb where my parents grew up and met.

6) In 1982, when this song was popular, Italy won the World Cup. Do you ever watch soccer? Nope.
7) "Smiley," the first emoticon, was introduced in 1982. Do you use emoticons in your communication? Or do you avoid them? Sure, I use them. I once avoided them, but now they're part of the vernacular.
8) The Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC, in 1982. Do you know any veterans of that conflict? If so, tell us about him or her. My favorite uncle was a Vietnam vet. He was very proud of his service, even though he later told me the war was unwinnable. It was the service itself. The people he met. The places he saw. The events -- both positive and scorching -- that changed him.
9) Random Question:  Your friends are throwing a birthday "roast" in your honor. Which one quality of yours are you sure will be singled out for laughs? I have three passions that amuse my friends: my cats, the Cubs and The Lads from Liverpool. One or all of those would be zeroed in on.

It was a wild affair

Cubs manager Joe Maddon is an original thinker. He is famous for his words of wisdom to the team ("Try Not to Suck," which has become an anthem across the city) and his team building exercises (like replacing batting practice with a petting zoo on Wrigley Field). So I was confused but not exactly surprised when he made a wacky decision for Thursday night's game.

Now, in the final weeks of a tight pennant race, he gave a rookie pitcher his first start in a key game and matched him with his minor league catcher. Yes, the starting lineup for the game against the Mets included two young men who had never played major league baseball before.

Together they hit a batter and made an error and gave up stolen bases, walks and runs. After three ininnings, Joe decided the experiment hadn't quite worked out as he hoped and he pulled them for an experienced battery.

But here's the thing, it woke the rest of the team up. They played like the World Champions they still are. And the game ended in a romp.

I'm so happy I was there!

Word finally came in!

Thursday night, while I was in the stands at Wrigley Field, I got a text. FROM HENRY! It says (typos corrected):

Phones still not working right but we are okay. Minimum damage to the house. Tree's gone.

That's really I know about their situation in Key West. But it's enough. It's plenty, in fact. So much better than I was dreading. We missed each other again today, probably because the phones are so hit-or-miss. But it's "okay."

I also got a long IM from my aunt, who has returned to their home outside of Tampa, gave me a brief overview of the what Hurricane Irma did to their property, and then a long and angry update about an upcoming family wedding. So that's good. Not that she's pissed about the wedding, but I look at it this way: if she can be that angry about the way her son is treating her, than she can't be that upset about the damage to their sea wall.