Wednesday, November 29, 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? The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This is the autobiography of Enzo, a dog at the end of his life looking back on his "dogness." It's a captivating book -- charming, imaginative and filled with provocative insights -- but it's not an easy read. Not if you're an animal lover. As I move through it, I get a little misty imagining the story my cat Reynaldo would tell ... or Joey ... or Tommy ... or Wilma ... or any of the furry souls who have shared my life. I have loved them all, of course, but some have felt more connected to me than others. And at the heart of this book is the connection between Enzo and his human soulmate, Denny.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  A Murder Is Announced, by Agatha Christie. A Miss Marple by the Grand Dame of Mystery.

This book is popular with fans of the genre, but I admit it left me cold. The mystery itself was engaging and the suspense escalated thrillingly. But there were simply too many suspects and I didn't find them to be sharply drawn. I don't recommend it.
I learned that this story has been performed many times both on stage and in made for TV movies -- once in the late 1950s with future Bond Roger Moore as the male ingenue. Maybe it's more successful when the audience can actually see this or that suspect entering from the right and exiting stage left.
3.  What will you read next? Maybe another mystery? Or a biography

Giving Tuesday: I've Got Your Back, Santa

I live next door to a children's home, where kids live awaiting placement in foster care. It also offers childcare for a sliding scale to working parents who can't afford any other option. To help these kids enjoy a little tangible Christmas cheer, the home decorates the tree at Whole Foods. Each ornament has the name/age of a child and what they'd like to receive at their Christmas party. For many of these kids, it will be the only holiday toy they receive. This year, it looks like the trend is toward remote-controlled toys and Baby Alive dolls.

So Carl's Christmas wish really stood out. This 8-year-old boy asked for an Uno card game. The same one we all played in the 1980s. How retro is that? How could I resist making that modest dream come true? In addition to the Uno game, I got him a Jacob's ladder (or click-clack) toy. I figure that any kid who likes to play old-school would enjoy it, plus it will give him something to do around the tree until he can find someone to join him in a game of Uno.

Carl's teacher noted that it would be nice if he got a long-sleeve shirt, too. And so one of those went into the gift bag, too. The one I chose is a pullover with a light bulb graphic and the words, "Awesome & Intelligent." Merry Christmas, Carl.

Then there's the Toys for Tots. I love this organization! When I saw the collection box, I had to pitch in. Literally. I added a cuddly doll, a plush Minion and a lip gloss/body lotion duo (because that would appeal to an older girl.) For a Toys for Tots donation location near you, click here.

Our agency supports an after-school program for inner city kids. There are parts of Chicago which are, frankly, not safe for our children and they need somewhere to go to play. I'm happy to support them, but not with toys. Everyone is eager to buy toys for these kids. And there's a political benefit to helping out with something big and showy. So I went the other way. The organization mentioned that the older girls appreciate pullovers, so I went to Old Navy and got a trio of long-sleeved graphic tees: Be Your Own Hero, Love Is All Around, and a bulldog in a winter cap and scarf. (I chose the last one because as I was shopping, two junior high school aged girls ooh-ing over it.)

It's such a delight to do all this. It made me so happy. I've had the post-birthday blues -- more on that later -- and playing Santa was a terrific antidote. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Happy birthday to me, parts 4 and 5

I wasn't sure my friend Mindy remembered my birthday. She did. An intriguing book that I'd never even heard of!

It's a massive tome about RS and its founder. I admit I haven't done more than flip through an issue in years, but there's no disputing how much that magazine had meant to Baby Boomers. And Jann Wenner has been friends with everyone from Bono to JBKO.

Then I got another bookish birthday present from Henry and Reg: a $100 gift certificate from a Key West bookstore. It's run by a friend of theirs who helped them through a rough time, and now they want to support her as her store struggles. Ironically, I'm giving Reg a $15 gift certificate for the very same store for his birthday next month.

Attention must be paid

David Cassidy died when I was in Las Vegas. There is no overestimating what he meant to my girlfriends and me when I was in junior high. We all watched The Partridge Family. We read about him exhaustively in the pages of 16 and Tiger Beat. We all got upset when grownups said Shirley Jones, his mom on the show, was his mom in real life. PUH-LEEZE! David's parents' divorce when he was very young was one of those secret heartaches that we believed infused his music.

Bobby Sherman of Here Come the Brides was my personal fave rave, and he was always sunny. I appreciated that Donny Osmond was a better all-around performer -- able to sing and dance with his brothers. But David was the romantically tragic one. The Heathcliff of Bubblegum.

In retrospect, I think he probably would have been a good serious actor. I think that earnestness and intensity is what we little girls were responding to, and he probably could have parlayed that into an acting career if he'd had better guidance. (Think I'm kidding? Don't forget Johnny Depp began on 21 Jump Street and Leonardo di Caprio was on Growing Pains.)

I know Cassidy had a difficult transition from teen dream to adult performer. I know he suffered financial setbacks and more than his fair share of health problems. I'd read that he was awaiting a liver transplant when he died.

I hope he is at peace now. He brought a lot of us a lot of happiness once and he remains a bit player in the soundtrack of some of our lives. That should count for something. And so I post this in honor of the beautiful and achingly sincere boy I was once a little in love with.

Sunday Stealing

Monday Morning Meme

1. How has your life most benefitted from the Internet? Whether it’s meeting people, cutting business overhead, finding rare collectibles, or simply sharing funny cat pictures, share how the web has made life easier. Convenience! I never have to flip through the phone book anymore, searching for a number. I never have to dig out my thesaurus when I need a synonym. I never have to dial the phone and actually talk to someone when an email will do.

2. How do you deal with negative comments on your blog? Badly. I don't know why people leave negative comments at all. It's MY blog, after all. It's like my cyber living room. Behave like a guest and we'll get along just fine.

3. There’s never enough time, is there? What would you do with an extra three hours today? Depends on the day. But I think a blanket answer would be read. I'm so jealous of the way Kwizgiver plows through volume after volume.

4. The getaway car is waiting outside – where is it taking you? North to the border.

5. Who was your "arch enemy" in high school? Do you have any enemies today? Janice. She was a mean girl. I was less her enemy and more her "prey." Now I suppose my enemy is a woman named Michele. I am always afraid I'll be on the other side of the desk, asking her for a job.

 6. You’re giving the keynote address to the graduating seniors of a high school today. What’s your advice to them? I'd quote Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high." Our world is so polarized. So "us" vs. "them." Don't get in the mud. Don't be hateful. Don't become yourself what you despise in others.

7. Thinking of words of wisdom: What's the worst advice you've ever received? A coworker once warned me of management, "Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do."

8. Tell us about the best summer vacation you EVER had. My best vacations haven't been in summertime. I've dearly loved my solo spring getaways, to places like Colonial Williamsburg and Hot Springs and Chateau Elan in Atlanta.

9. What do you have to have with you when you travel? Why? I try to eat a nice breakfast every day. I love eggs, pancakes, bacon and other typical breakfast foods, but I hate all the dishes. So nice to spoil myself by letting someone else do it.

10. Would you accept $1,000,000 tax free, if it meant you had to leave the country and never come back? Hmmmm .... Do I get to choose where I go? If I could go to Canada or England, I might give it a shot. It would be nice to not worry about money anymore.

11. Do you believe the world will be a better, or worse, place 100 years from now? I hope it will be better.

12. Do you expect to buy a new winter coat this year? No.

13. If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward would remember nothing of the experience, would you do so? Yes.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Man in Black (1971)

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

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 24, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains? No. I was on a plane most of yesterday, coming home from my holiday/birthday in Las Vegas.

2) Among the biggest the Black Friday advertisers are Target, Kohl's, Macy's and Best Buy. If you could have a $100 gift card to any one of those stores, which would you choose?  What would you buy? Target. One just opened a few blocks from my house and they have a big grocery/drugstore department. I could buy the stuff of everyday life there.

3) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game? Pigging out: yes. I ate way, way too much Thursday.

4) Thanksgiving weekend is a major time for travel. How far did you venture from home for the holiday? About 3,500 miles -- ORD to LAS and LAS to ORD.

5) This week's song, "Man in Black," is about a singer who refuses to wear bright colors. What color are you wearing as you answer these questions? A bright yellow nightshirt.

6) Johnny Cash first performed this song at Nashville's Vanderbilt University. When were you last on a college campus? What brought you there? During the summer of 2016, I attended my niece's college graduation.

 7) The average American man wears a 10.5 size shoe, the average woman wears a 7.5. Johnny Cash wore a size 13. Are your shoes bigger or smaller than the national average? Smaller.

8) He preferred his coffee very strong. To make sure what he was drank was to his liking, he carried a jar of instant coffee with him and would ladle it into his cup in restaurants. What about you? What's your standard coffee order? I cannot stand the smell of coffee, so I avoid ordering it altogether.

9) While in the air force, Cash wrote short stories under the pseudonym "Johnny Dollar." Make up a pen name for yourself. I think I'll just stick with The Gal Herself.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Oh, how could you?

I've always been a little in love with Charlie Rose. The intelligence, the sly humor, the ability to carry on comfortable, revealing conversations with everyone from Condi Rice to Ron Howard.

And yet today I found out that he has been accused -- by eight different women -- of sexual harassment.

I hate this so much. How could he not know it's bad to walk around your house naked when your assistant is there?

Yes, I know here in the US of A, we have the laudable standard of innocent until proven guilty. But that's for jail. I get to decide who inhabits my fantasies. And Charlie, you're outta here!

So now he is dead

I refuse to rejoice in the passing of another human being, so you won't find me among those cheering the death of Charles Manson. On the other hand, I do appreciate Charlie's timing.

Leslie Van Houten has been approved for parole and Governor Brown is weighing whether she should be released. Perhaps all this attention on what she did will help him decide.

She, at Charlie's behest, broke into the home of this woman, Rosemary LaBianca, and her husband Leno. Then Leslie (and these are Van Houten's own words) "took one of the knives and started stabbing and cutting up the lady." In all, Rosemary LaBianca was stabbed 14 times.
This is Rosemary LaBianca. She is in my thoughts this morning. She was a hardworking, ambitious and imaginative businesswoman back in the days when "entrepreneur" was not something most women aspired to. She was a loving wife, mother and stepmother. Her life should not have ended in horror.

I believe in Heaven and grace and yes, I believe that Christ has forgiven even Charles Manson. I believe He will forgive Leslie Van Houten, too, and, when her time comes, will welcome her to Heaven.

But that doesn't mean society has to forgive Van Houten or welcome her back among us. She belongs where she is -- in prison.

This makes me sad

A coworker likes to tease me that my tombstone will read, "Change Is Bad." She has a point. Some things I won't change unless absolutely forced to. I've been going to the same dry cleaner for decades. Likewise my dermatologist, gynecologist and GP. Just as I don't like to throw serviceable things away, I don't like to switch from something that's still working. Hell, I still have an AOL email address!

Which, I guess, is why I was sad to see a "For Rent" sign in the window of my former eyeglass provider. I've been going there for 20 years. I impulsively went in one afternoon and asked the woman at the counter (who I would learn is Cindy) to replace the screw on my sunglasses. My $10 drugstore sunglasses. She did it at no charge but with a smile, saying she had a favorite pair of cheap sunglasses, too. Next time I needed a new contact lens prescription, I moved my business over there.

Three pair of glasses and countless boxes of contacts later, I was still happy. I came to know Cindy and Sharon, who ran this location efficiently for a woman they really liked -- the owner who spent all her time at the original store in a northern suburb. I participated in their holiday toy drive and dropped a pair of my old glasses in their recycled eyewear box. The optometrist on site was trustworthy and careful. I was happy. They were kind and friendly, so I was loyal.

Then, early in 2016, everything changed. When I called, I had to identify myself and say what I wanted. Usually, Cindy or Sharon would recognize the Caller ID and say, "Hi, Gal! Do you need more green contacts?" But now I had to spell my first and last name out for a new and very young girl.

When I went to pick up my lenses, I was met by Ray, the owner. His wife had died and he was running things now. He had a big personality, very chatty, all about the selling. While I was waiting for my order, I heard him tell another customer he had given Cindy and Sharon "early retirement."

Then he laughed.

What the fuck? Those two women ran this place and I liked them. They deserved more respect than that!

But I began to have eye trouble and I trusted the optometrist to shepherd me through it. I like my new frames, chosen during the summer of 2016, even though Ray pressured me to buy designer frames. So I stayed.

Until around Halloween. Yet another new counter girl answered the phone, "Hello." Not terribly professional. When I went over for a Saturday morning appointment with the optometrist, the office was locked tight. No one even bothered to called me to cancel.

I went around the corner to another eyeglass shop. They were more expensive, but they take insurance. They have a wider variety of frames in my price range. (As Sharon used to say, "Gal is all about the lenses" as she steered me to more affordable frames.)

So I've moved on. But still, I was sad to see that sign in the window of my former shop. I hope Cindy and Sharon have moved on, too. They were so good at their jobs I'm sure someone snapped them up. I just hope they still get to work together. I suspect my former optometrist just retired. He was only there three days a week anyway.

And even though he was a slimy jerk, I feel bad for Ray. I don't know what his story is, but his wife ran these two eyewear stores and she's gone. Now this location is shuttered. That's sad.

Although I wonder about the legality about just closing the doors. After all, they have my medical records ...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Thanksgiving Thoughts

1.  What made you feel patriotic this year? Watching this young man stand tall by not apologizing for kneeling. The President of the United States took him on, and he didn't back down. When it comes to free speech, in this country we are all equal, and that makes me so proud.

2 . What do you value most about your life? My independence

3.  What do you appreciate about your friendships Acceptance and accessibility

4.  Name one person who can make you laugh, even months later. Why? My oldest friend. She and I share a sense of the absurd. I've laughed the longest, the loudest and the most often with her.

5.  What is the funniest thing you remember about a Thanksgiving past? I'm sorry, but nothing comes to mind.

6.  Do you have any unusual traditions, rituals or habits around Thanksgiving? As an adjunct to #5, Thanksgiving with my family was always stressful. Guilt was the main dish, served with ladles of resentment. While I am sorry that my family never enjoyed a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, I do not miss those gettogethers.

See these happy people? They are not my relatives.

7.  Name one ancestor that you think about on Thanksgiving and tell us why. My nice grandma made the best rolls from scratch. And she refrained from martyrdom about how hard she worked on the meal. I wish we had spent more holidays with her and fewer with my icky grandma.

8.  Is there a family heirloom at the Thanksgiving table? What its story? No heirlooms.

9.  What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving Day? Delicious food, and lots of it.

10. What random act of kindness did you perform or that was done to you this year that makes you feel grateful? On Valentine's Day I encountered a kind young man I never saw again. He worked in the coffee shop at the auditorium where my movie group meets. I ordered a hot chocolate and he made a milky heart with the foam. Then, as I went in to watch the movie, I had trouble with the lid and splashed the cocoa all over the place, including on his book. He was studying The Book of Psalms.

I apologized. He was kind enough to show me the inside of the book. "Look, the pages are all fine! It's for reading, not for show, so don't worry about it!" As I tried to help him mop up, he looked me square in the eye and said with great seriousness, "I've already forgiven you. Now you have to forgive yourself." What a dear, sensitive young man.

11. What do you appreciate about the change of seasons? The difference in the trees. I love watching the trees go from leafy green, to colorful, to bare branched, and then back again. I feel so fortunate to live in Chicagoland, where we have four distinct seasons.

12. Name five things that make you happy about today. 

•  My cat Reynaldo let me sleep in
•  Reynaldo has also been a very good, very affectionate boy this morning
•  My girlcat, Connie, is happy and healthy, too
•  I'm getting a fresh pedi this afternoon
•  I just ordered tickets to see a play with my friend Barb on 11/27.

13. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were little? Now I celebrate with my friends instead of my relatives.

14. If you could share Thanksgiving dinner today with one person in history who would it be? Why? (Note: it can be a relative) My mom. I'd love to spend time with her again, just the two of us.

15. What is one wish you have for the next generation as they begin to establish their own Thanksgiving traditions.


Happy birthday to me, part 3

Behold the official burger of Gallapalooza 2017. John took me to celebrate at Monk's Pub, the bar where we regularly hung out in the long-ago 1980s and 1990s. Back in those days, we could always get a table. Then it became famous, named for having one of the best, most affordable bowls of chili in the city. It immediately went from a blue-collar dive to a white-collar afterhours destination. John and I refuse to wait for a booth at a place we supported during the lean days, and so we quit going.

Because this is a landmark birthday (60! Gulp!) we decided to go back to the future and returned to Monk's. I had the same burger I ordered at my first birthday celebration earlier in the week, but it was cheaper and more delicious at Monk's. Cheddar cheese, bacon, and egg ... with tater tots on the side. Heaven!

Got a couple little gifties: a 2018 desk calendar and a cat pen holder. But better than that was spending time together. John and I have known each so long, there's just tremendous comfort in observing big events with him.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday 9

It came on Halloween and I still haven't touched it
Saturday 9: Son of a Preacher Man (1968)

1) This song was originally offered to Aretha Franklin, who turned it down. What's the most recent thing that you said "no" to? Renewing my subscription to People magazine. I just don't keep up with it and have back issues waiting for me on my bed. If there's a story I really want to read, in 2018 I'll pick up the issue at the newsstand.
2) Two years later, Aretha recorded "Son of a Preacher Man." What's something you changed your mind about? Salad. I used to hate feeling like a rabbit, nibbling on lettuce. Now I enjoy making salad and like adding stuff to the greens, like slivered almonds, or raisins, or croutons, or cheese ...

3) This song tells the tale of Billy Ray, a young man who could be very persuasive. If we wanted to change your mind about something, would you be more easily swayed by an emotional argument, or with verifiable facts? Emotional
4) If you ordered a "Son of a Preacher Man" in a bar, you'd get a cocktail made with
peppermint schnapps, gin and lemonade. When did you last have lemonade? Was it just lemonade, or was it spiked with alcohol? It was last summer. On the way home from church, I happened upon two little girls and their lemonade stand. Obviously it was "just lemonade."

5) Dusty had a thing for maps. She admired them artistically and enjoyed using them to take long car trips. Do you use printed maps? Or do you rely on technology, like GPS or Google Maps? I do not own a printed map.

6) As a girl, she attended convent school. There, one of the nuns discouraged Dusty from performing, telling her that if she would do better to be a mother or a librarian. When you were growing up, did the adults in your world encourage your dreams? My cousin Rose was always very encouraging. Also, she was a powerful role model. When I was growing up she was a junior high school geography teacher so she had summers off and traveled. I lived in a family of women who married young, didn't go to college, and didn't go anywhere farther than Wisconsin. Here was Rose, getting a degree, getting a job, spending her summers going everywhere from Los Angeles to Guatemala.
7) That nun inspired Dusty's first major act of rebellion. In an attempt to make herself look less like a future librarian or housewife, she bleached her hair platinum blonde. In school, were you much of a rebel? Or did you conform to the expectations adults had of you? Among my high school classmates, I was considered geeky and aloof. Schizoid, I guess. Within my family, I was considered a non-conformist because I didn't join clubs or go to dances or do any of the things my older sister did, the things that my mother maintained would make me look back at high school as the best years of my life.
8) Early in her career, Dusty provided the entertainment at a family summer camp. She appeared on the bill with a clown, a fire-eater and a hypnotist. Have you ever been hypnotized? No.

9) Random question: Have you ever played matchmaker to your friends? If yes, did your efforts lead to romance? No. I'll be interested to read everyone's answers and see if anyone had any luck in this area.

Happy Birthday to Me, Parts 1 and 2

It's Galapalooza Time! The kickoff was earlier this week, and it was lunch with my coworker. We tried a new -- and, I thought, too pricey -- restaurant that she chose. At first I was a little disappointed because I had expected her to ask me where I wanted to go and I had privately chosen a restaurant. Oh well, her birthday is a few weeks away. When it's my turn to buy, I'll choose.

Anyway, the meal turned out to be very good. The burger was completely awesome. Huge and gooey, complete with a fried egg. Dessert was a pair of fabulous, huge, freshly-made donuts.

This luncheon gives me a moment to reflect on our relationship. She and I have been working together, off an on and at two different agencies, for more than 15 years. She can be exasperating and selfish, but she's also grown a great deal and become more sophisticated as a designer and better at handling responsibility (which I appreciate). I wonder how she views my professional and personal evolution over that same time.

Today, when I got home from work, I was greeted by two (2) packages! One was from my cousin Rose. A pretty nightshirt festooned with books. The other was from Snarkypants herself -- a body butter and bar of holiday-scented soap. Such nice gifts, so nice to be remembered, and so much merrier than the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and credit card bills that usually greet me.

Friday, November 17, 2017


I had so hoped Napoleon, Caleb and Randi* were happy, safe and warm, living indoors in Cleveland. Caleb and I had said our goodbyes week of 11/6, and at that time he told me the kind of embarrassing, personal things that are easier to share with someone you're never going to see again. Now I know how he became homeless. It's a story I'll post someday. Or not. It's very depressing.

Anyway, he was hopeful and enthusiastic about a fresh start with a steady job in Cleveland. Randi was going to take her boards and resume working as a hair stylist. Napoleon would live indoors for the first time in his life. It was all going to be good.

Today, unfortunately, I saw Caleb and Napoleon on their usual corner again. Napoleon was delighted to see me, climbing up my leg and wanting to play. Caleb had the blues ... bad.

It seems that the company that had trained him and made him an offer to be a window washer rescinded it. It was taking him "too long" to make his way out to Cleveland. They had wanted him to start sometime in October and now here it was, November, and there were still obstacles and so basically they said, "don't bother."

This little family had been counting on this! Caleb blames the bad news for Randi's chest cold, thinking it's a psychosomatic manifestation of her depression. I don't know ... it's also flu season. But still, I can imagine how devastating this news was for them. He said she resting in their tent this afternoon while he tried to raise the funds ($46) for them to sleep indoors tonight. I put $6 in his cup but had to run to the bank and then back to the office.

Meanwhile, we had a Friendsgiving gettogether at the office. Everyone brought something -- I brought Frango mints -- and there was a ton of food leftover. I ran back outside with a plate of turkey for Caleb, a little extra gravy for Napoleon and donuts and the zinc lozenges from my last cold for Randi.

He mentioned that he was going to apply for jobs as a forklift driver and as a seasonal helper at the USPS, but that it's hard to be considered when you don't have a permanent address. I mentioned to him that soon Christmas tree vendors would need part time help and that's when he said he'd forgotten how soon Thanksgiving would be here. Now that the job has fallen though, he tends to forget the day and date. That made me sad.

I told him I had a warm coat I'd try to bring for Randi and he thanked me, saying he also hopes I'll bring him some books so we can discuss them. He likes talking books. Then I went back to the office.

What will happen to these two now? Funny, but I no longer worry so much about Napoleon. He's so happy, knowing he's loved, and he has so much food donated by passersby, and a clean box. He doesn't understand how close he was to life as an indoor cat, so he's not sad about the lost opportunity. But Caleb is heartbroken about the setback and now Randi is sick.

I am nagged by realization that there are approximately 2000 "unsheltered" homeless people in The Loop. Caleb and Randi (and Napoleon) just make it more real to me.

*Why can I never remember her name? It's Randi!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The ground felt solid under my feet

Last week, the brother of my friend Kathleen contacted me with the offer of a freelance project. He has started his own IT company and wants to promote it through a series of emails. The thing is: how many emails? What should they say?

I went over my work with him today at lunchtime. He seemed pleased by the positionings I'd devised for his product, and took notes as I told him how I arrived at them. He listened intently when I explained the way the content was structured, so that it would appeal to the reader whether he was looking at a phone or a laptop.

He's a smart guy, and he thought I was impressive. What a boon that was for my bruised ego!

Oh yeah, and so far I have earned $260 toward my Christmas trip to Key West. The final tally should be between $400 and $600. That makes me happy, too.

I hate this

Al Franken, too.

Meanwhile, back at the office ...

The drama continues. It turns out that the merger with the St. Louis agency may not happen after all. No one talks about it, so I can't say for sure what happened. Apparently it "fell through." Or maybe it didn't. I don't know. It simply no longer seems to be on anyone's radar.

But Thursday at 11:00, we begin talking about our merger with the New York office. Now that's official and definitely happening. It's complicated, but here's the topline ...

1) No one in the New York office will work on my client's business anymore

2) Their salaries, and their billings, will be moved to the Chicago office

3) This means there are now more than 35 open slots in our office, that HR will begin looking to fill come Monday

4) But there weren't 35 New York employees working on my client's business. So what gives?

5) Supposedly the more expensive, senior New York employees will be replaced by more junior and more affordable bodies. In short -- more people at the same price point.

6)  And we will all be "reorganized."

I don't know for sure what any of this means for me, except that I think I'm OK through February 15.

I can foresee a scenario where I meet and interview my own more junior and affordable replacement. I can also foresee a scenario where my position stays exactly as it is right now.

I don't know. Maybe I'll learn more tomorrow. Maybe I won't.

I don't want to let this ruin my birthday/Thanksgiving/Christmas celebrations, so I'm trying to stay zen about it all.*

Thanks to everyone who has been thinking about me. I appreciate your support, and I'm just trying to take it one day at a time.

*And if you think I'm successful, you haven't been reading this worryfest of a blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What do these two trophies have in common?

The Oscar and the World Series Trophy are connected.  In 1944, Casablanca won three Oscars -- Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. It was written by Julius and Philip Epstein. In 2004 and 2007, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series Trophy and in 2016, my beloved Chicago Cubs won their first World Series Trophy in 108 years. The 2004/2007 Sox and the 2016 Cubs were led by baseball executive Theo Epstein.

Julius and Philip Epstein were brothers. They began their career as well-paid "script doctors," brought in by Warner Bros. to punch up the dialog on dozens of scripts, usually without credit.When they got an opportunity to actually work on their own stuff, they did it with relish. When Howard Koch approached them to adapt a short story called, "Everyone Comes to Rick's," they came up with some of the most-quoted dialog in film history:

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

We'll always have Paris.

Round up the usual suspects.

Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

Here's looking at you, kid.

Philip Epstein had a grandson (meaning Julius had a grand nephew). His name is Theo. First, as Red Sox general manager and then (fabulously) here with the Cubs, Theo ended baseball's two longest droughts by bringing the World Series to two victory-starved cities.

Unfortunately, Philip and Julius had passed away by the time Theo brought new millennium glory to the family name. But isn't theirs just the most fantastic gene pool?

All of this is top of mind because my movie group took a field trip to see a special TCM-sponsored screening of the restored Casablanca. In a special video intro, Ben Mankiewicz reminded us of the Epstein connection. (He know what he's talking about, as the Mankiewicz clan is pretty impressive, too.)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

We get it, Chuck. We've always gotten it.

I just saw Chuck Todd interview Sen. Amy Kobuchar on Meet the Press. He asked her if Democrats assume some responsibility for decades of sexual harassment because of the pass he thinks Bill Clinton received in the 1990s.

First of all, Bill Clinton didn't receive a pass. He was impeached. Yes, I know he was charged with perjury and (are you listening, Donald Trump?) obstruction of justice. But if you ask anyone on the street why Bill was impeached, you'll hear, "Monica Lewinsky." The 42nd President of the United States' legacy is forever tainted.

Second, women have always understood how ugly Bill's behavior was during the Lewinsky scandal. Here is what I wrote about it in 2010.

The prompt was to write a letter to "a hero that has let you down." I haven't changed a syllable. I don't have to.

Dear Mr. President:

Every time I think of you, that old Laura Nyro song starts playing in my head. You know the one, "BILL! I love you so, I always will ..."

And I did and I do. But you broke my heart.

It wasn't the infidelity that bothered me. Hell, I'm a Kennedy girl. I grew up believing we can and should separate personal behavior from public performance.

It was the way you allowed your good ol' boy horndog behavior to seep from the personal to the public that makes me nuts. You did a young and emotionally vulnerable girl in the Oval Office! How did you think you were going to get away with that? And I don't for a moment think you cared for that poor kid. You saw more interesting, more attractive women every day on the rope line in front of the White House (remember, this was before 9/11 when we could tour 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). You chose her simply because she was there, and you did her simply because you could. And then you not only lied about it, you demeaned her ("I never had sexual relations with that woman ..."). The imbalance of power between you two and your fates appalls me. YOU were the most powerful man in the free world, YOU were the one with a wife and daughter (a daughter not that much older than your mistress). Yet today you remain one of the most popular men on the planet, and she's a punchline, a synonym for oral sex. How is that fair?

You're a good man and you have done a lot of good. But you had the capacity to do more and be a great man. I believed in you, and you let me down. You let the nation down. And you let yourself down. Every account of your presidency will include the phrase, "impeached by the House of Representatives."

And yet ... and yet ... When you talk about the Clinton Global Initiative, I'm transfixed. When I watched you walk Chelsea down the aisle, I got misty. Every time you have a health problem, I say a little prayer.

So even though you broke my heart, I love you so, and I always will.