Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing: A Book Meme

1. Do you prefer hardcover, paperback, or Kindle...and why? Lately I like oversized (not pocket) paperbacks. They feel substantial, but they still fit neatly in my purse.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it ...  The Shop Around the Corner. It would be an homage to Nora Ephron, who used the name in her screenplay for You've Got Mail, which in itself was an homage to an old movie called The Shop Around the Corner.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is ... In Gone with the Wind, Grandma Fontaine tells Scarlett, "I like the way you meet things. You don't make a fuss about things that can't be helped. You take your fences cleanly, like a good hunter." I know there are many things about Scarlett O'Hara which are not admirable. But in this way, Scarlett is completely my role model. Scarlett dealt with life as it came to her, and she got shit done.

4. The author (alive or dead) I would love to have lunch with would be ... Doris Kearns Goodwin. I have so many questions for her! Considering she's an expert on both the Kennedys and Abraham Lincoln, maybe we ought to make it lunch and dinner.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be ... Something massive and expansive. Maybe Gone with the Wind. Maybe the Sinatra saga by James Kaplan.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that ... I think there are too many bookish gadgets already. Please let me keep reading old-school!

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of .... I'm going to change this a bit to make it about used or library books. I love wondering who has held them before me, where the books has traveled.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be.... Jo from Little Women.

9. The most over-rated book of all time is.... The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

10. I hate it when a book.... just doesn't grab me. It makes me sad when I pick up a book and I find myself not caring. Wasted reading time makes me nuts.

"It's never too late to change"

So said the esthetician who performed my Thanksgiving Day facial at the spa at the New York, New York hotel. She was referring to a client she'd had the day before, a 70+ woman who suffered still suffered breakouts of cystic acne and insisted on continuing to use ProActiv. Because the woman's skin is older, that treatment is too harsh. The esthetician recommended spot treating with something different, something milder. The woman refused.

Being told, "It's never too late to change," during my 60th birthday celebration feels significant. I'm taking her advice and putting toner back in my skincare regimen. But I'm also trying to look at it in a larger context. I must be ready to put all aspects of my life into a new and fresh context as I go forward.

Happy Birthday to Me -- In Retrospect -- Part Two

I am in touch with my oldest friend at least once a week, sometimes more. I wish we talked on the phone more, but she often doesn't pick up. I guess that should have been my first clue.

I just wasn't prepared. Until I saw her in the lobby of the New York, New York casino, I had no idea how badly she was doing. Yes, I knew she was out of work, an unexpected career setback which is hard to handle and difficult to surmount at age 61. But I really didn't think it was so bad. She moved 2000 miles from Chicagoland to Southern California to be with her cousin. Her cousin has always had an in-laws suite at her home (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom) and now it's vacant. What's better than actually living with her cousin? I thought on some level this would make her happy. A 24/7 slumber party with her favorite relative! Yea! But her life is so much more complicated than that.

She has serious health problems. There's arthritis in her knee, that makes it impossible for her to walk distances. Just navigating LAX to catch her plane put too much stress on the knee. At one point, on The Strip, she sat on a bench and watched as I crossed the street to check out the attractions on the other side. Granted, it was a four-lane street. But still. She honestly didn't feel she could cross it in the time allotted. She needs injections in the knee but without a job, she doesn't have adequate health insurance, so she gets by on Vicodin. Let's not even consider the long-term ramifications of that.

Which leads me to her teeth. They are discolored, and the spacing is uneven. I didn't want to ask her about them ("Hey! What's up with your teeth?" didn't seem like a supportive thing to say) but she must be aware of them. I wonder if the Vicodin she's taking for her knee isn't masking the pain from her teeth. For some reason, she's always been a bit of a dentalphobe. Plus, she hasn't had dental insurance in quite some time. But aside from the hygiene and health issues, I worry about the impact this can have on her job hunt. She's a pretty woman -- very Marie Osmond -- with a light and lilting voice. But she's overweight and now this with her teeth. I wonder what impression she leaves in job interviews.

And her depression is still evident. I know I'm not the easiest person to be around -- I can be too chirpy and high energy, I can be too opinionated -- and I treasure her for putting up with me. But I found it frustrating to travel with her because she just quit answering her phone. Between her plane landing and her arrival at the hotel, I had no idea where she was, or why it was taking her more than an hour to arrive. (Turns out she took the shuttle and it made a lot of stops.) When her adult kids called or texted, she stopped what she was doing and answered right away. So I know it was just me.

She can't make up her mind about anything. When I checked into the hotel on Tuesday, I asked about late check out. My friend's flight would be leaving until 8:00 PM on Friday, we had to relinquish the room at 11:00 AM, and what was she going to do all day? The concierge gave me a tiered deal -- $20 till 1:00 PM and $30 till 3:00. I mentioned to my friend that she should take. After all, she would probably spend $30 on coffee while waiting for her late flight. (I was leaving at 8:00 AM.) I told her what I was told: to get this deal, we had to let them know right away. I asked her about it twice on Tuesday, twice on Wednesday, finally after I asked her again on Thursday she made up her mind, but they hotel could no longer accommodate us.

She can't get up in the morning. To be ready to leave the room by 11:00 was a trial for her. I know it's meds she's taking, but it struck me as so sad. And, between Tuesday night and Friday morning, when I left, she took one shower. I don't think that's normal or healthy. (Though she might have showered on Friday after I left.) And again, how is this going to translate to a new job?

I'm afraid for her. I can't wait for her to move in with her cousin, so she'll be under the watchful eye of someone who loves her. She's a wonderful person -- funny and generous and smart. I understand that with her health issues, life is hard for her. But she is so important to me. I need her. She is my touchstone. I wish I knew how to make life easier for her.

And I don't like the mirror she holds up to me. Look at me. Job problems of my own. Financial problems of my own. Weight problems of my own. Now I'm 60, too.

Must remember to make an appointment with the dentist and break out those Crest White Strips!


While I was in Las Vegas I saw someone wearing this shirt.

I admit it was something of a shock. First of all, I'd literally never seen one before. Here in the Land of Lincoln, we're all still wearing the 2016 shirts in Cubbie blue with the big red C logo. Secondly, it made me sad. My Cubs are not the World Champions anymore.

I knew that, intellectually. Of course. I'm not stupid.

But emotionally? I'm not ready for it to be over.

Happy Birthday to Me -- In Retrospect -- Part One

I'm a week late posting this because I simply haven't felt like it. My trip to Vegas has left me with such conflicting feelings that I didn't want to confront.

This post will be all about the surface stuff. The good stuff. And there was a lot of good stuff. I don't want to lose sight of that.

First: kudos to American Airlines. Their inflight entertainment is superduper awesome. Going to LAS, I watched Casablanca. TWICE. Coming home I caught a documentary about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Never mind that the documentary wasn't so hot. I'm a white-knuckle flyer, and having familiar and beloved images -- like Rick, Ilsa and The Lads -- dancing before my eyes works just as well as Xanax, but without the after effects. Being able to watch on the seat back monitor is so much easier than using my own device. Bravo, American!

Applause to New York, New York. The staff at our hotel couldn't have been nicer, kinder or more helpful. From making spa reservations for us to helping me out when I got a scary phishing email (pretending to be from my credit card company), they were uniformly great.

Bravo to Tom's Urban Kitchen. This was great!
Oh! The food! There are other hotels on The Strip that have a reputation for cuisine, but I loved eating at New York, New York. My birthday dinner at Tom's Urban Kitchen was mac and cheese with lobster and shrimp and it was fucking awesome. Our traditional Thanksgiving feast at Nine Fine Irishmen was so plentiful that I literally ate myself sick. The food in Vegas is more expensive than it was in the old days, because Xers and Millennials don't gamble as much as Boomers did and food is now a profit center, not a loss leader. But the prices are not out of line with big city restaurants and the quality was great.

Beautiful weather. It was in the 80s during the day and the 60s at night. Just perfect.

Girl bonding. It was good to be there with my oldest friend. We went to see the Beatles Love show by Cirque du Soleil (I thought it was too much Cirque and not enough Beatles, but that's me). We drank a toast in memory of David Cassidy. We posed with the wax figures at Madame Tussaud's. We had a facial and a massage. We laughed ourselves stupid watching Valley of the Dolls ... again. We celebrated my crossing the Rubicon from middle age to senior citizen. It was important to do that with someone I share a lifetime of memories with.

Vegas Strong. The October nightmare of 58 dead and 546 injured is still with those who live and work in Las Vegas. It should be wake up call for all of us. I bought and proudly wear a Vegas Strong bracelet. I was afraid that the mass shooting would cast a pall over The Strip but instead it seems to have brought everyone together.