Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Gifts from the blogoverse

Ok, I admit it: I've been battling the blues lately.

It's too hot ... I don't feel very well ... I worry about money all the time ... I hate my condo ... I feel trapped in fat ... I'm undervalued at work ... I'm restless because I alternately miss my closest friends but want to be alone.

If you saw me day in/day out, you probably would have no idea I'm struggling. I make superficial conversation, I fuss over those around me. I get my work done on time. I maintain my appointments.

But if you read this blog, nothing in the second paragraph is news to you. It's here that I come with my hurts. In a way, you know me more authentically without meeting me than the people I know do.

Which is why I'm grateful. For the hits my page gets. I know there are people who visit here regularly and stay for more than a minute or two. You ladies* hear me. Even if I don't know who you are, even if you don't comment, I know from my stats that you've been here and I appreciate it so much.

And for two very special blog buddies who responded to two specific posts from Sunday, 5/20.

•  About the stray cat I saw and was helpless to rescue. Our eyes locked, and I felt she was my responsibility and I let her down. Kwizgiver responded, and made a donation to her local animal shelter on behalf of my Reynaldo and Connie! How generous and thoughtful! It lifted me, assuaged me.

Thank you, Kwizgiver.

•  About the book I lost. I got a perfectly perfect hardcover book for Christmas and I saved it for now. About Bobby Kennedy, I wanted to be reading it when we observe the anniversary of his death. That was important to me. Because I mourn Bobby Kennedy. Because I miss the friend who gave me the book. And then I lost it. Carelessly lost it in a cab or on the train. I was bereft. And then Snarkypants sent me a copy of the book! Anonymously, but I figured it out. So you're getting credit, Snarkela, even if you didn't expect it.

Thanks, Snarkypants.
Writing is cathartic. Writing is what I do. I'm so fortunate to have people reading and hearing and responding. It means all the world to me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

*I always assume you're women.

A close second

In my last post, I said truthfully that there's nowhere I'd rather be than Wrigley Field. But our national past time is not the only intrinsically American thing that's captured my heart. I also love the movies.

I ended my long Memorial Day weekend watching a classic with my movie Meetup. A Letter to Three Wives (1949) is what's known as "a woman's picture." No car chases, no gunfire, no heist. The action all centers on the female protagonists, how they relate to one another, how they feel about their men.

It's about Debra, who married a small town scion and wants desperately to fit into his country club world. And Rita, who has a pair of twin sons and an English teacher husband whom she loves and so juggles home life and career. And Laura Mae, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who married her way into money, if not respectability.

The girls are all friends, bound by neighborhood and social/charitable commitments. And by Addie Ross. They're all crazy jealous of Addie.

Before he went away to war, and met Debra, her husband had been engaged to Addie. Beginning in high school, and continuing throughout their lives, Addie shared a love of music and theater with Rita's husband -- a passion Rita just didn't have time to share. And before he even met Laura Mae, her husband was in awe of Addie, whose "class" he so coveted.

One day, as the girls were about to board a boat for an outing with schoolchildren, they received a letter from Addie. She wrote that she wouldn't be able to help with the boatride or picnic because she was leaving town forever ... with one of their husbands.

In the days before cell phones, these three are trapped first on a ferry and then on an island, wondering ... wondering .. wondering. Whose husband gave in to temptation and left with Addie?

Is A Letter to Three Wives high art? No, of course not. Is it enjoyable? I devoured every minute. And I loved getting my geek on among other classic movie lovers.

Monday, May 28, 2018

No place on earth I'd rather be

Game Time
When we arrived at the park, it was 6:30, a sunny 90º, and rapidly filling with 40,000+ blue-clad bodies. We were among the last to leave nearly four hours later, when it was cooler, dark and empty. I'd still be there now, if it wasn't for security rousing us from our seats.

It was a fun game. My guys got off to a rocky start. Yu Darvish is on the DL, so Tyler Chatwood took the mound in his stead and promptly gave up 3 (gulp!) runs. But we tied the score just as quickly and never looked back. The final score was 8-3.

I was nervous about the game. My kidney stone has been bedeviling me so I've been taking serious pain meds. And I hate heat. Even under the best circumstances, it leaves me miserable -- and being filled to the gills with opiods and alpha blockers are not the best circumstances!

But I had a great time. Especially seeing Javy Baez smack one into the stands. Noting that he was 0-2 so far for the night, I said to my friend, John, "You know, he's due for a big at-bat." And then POW! My lips to God's ears. The ball went into the bleachers.

I drank water all night and headed off to the bathroom three times. Now at Wrigley Field, three tips to the ladies' room could mean that you miss a lot of game. But where we were sitting (Section 240) is tucked away where the first baseline meets the right field wall. So as luck would have it, once you navigate the steep cement stairs, there's one of the ladies rooms. I never had to wait, so it wasn't so bad. (Of course, taking those steps when I'm a little high was an adventure.)

9 innings later
Then we watched the park empty out. After the game, it was cooler and very, very dark. But still pretty in it's own way.

Apres game we stopped at Mordecai Brown's Bar at the new Hotel Zachary, right across from the park. It's very la-de-dah, very high-end. The bartenders wear white shirts and garters on their sleeves. The decor is all clean lines and class. And yet because it's literally across the street from the park, it was filled with sweaty fans in blue tees and jerseys. I imagine that, on non-game nights, it draws a very different crowd.

John was a little grumpy about the bar, even though he chose it. (Since I was unable to drink anything alcoholic, I didn't much care where we went as long as it had air conditioning.) He thought it was too high-end for families who want to come to Wrigley Field. I pointed out that there was a Taco Bell up the street and a McDonald's next door. I suppose I get his point, though -- Wrigleyville is changing and it's tonier than the dives and hook-up bars we knew in our 20s and 30s.* I know John blames Millennials, but I think it's merely free enterprise. Mordecai Brown's will attract tourists and date night crowds all year around, not just during baseball season. I think that's just smart.

At any rate, it was good to get my mind off my gut. It was good to be within The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. It was good to be with John and to watch the W fly high and proud.

*Come to think of it, it's never been family friendly. More beer friendly and casual sex friendly. I wish I'd said that last night, but I was medicated.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1 - Do you ever wish you were someone else? It's a game I play in my head on the train during a boring commute. I pick someone and wonder what it would be like to find ourselves magically in one another's lives. What would I do in her life? What would she change about mine?

2 - How old are you?

3 - Age you get mistaken for: 
50 or 55.

4 - Your zodiac/horoscope and if you think it fits your personality: According to the zodiac, I'm a Sagittarius: generous, idealistic, undiplomatic and prone to overpromise. I suppose all that is true.

5 - What did you do on your last birthday?
I turned 60 in Las Vegas. My oldest friend and I shared laughter and girl bonding. I miss her.

6 - What is one thing you would like to accomplish before your next birthday?
To be in better shape financially.

7 - What is your hair color?
Light brown with blonde streaks.

8 - Have you ever dyed your hair?
Ever since I was 21. I was a redhead for decades. Now I've toned it back and settled on highlights.

9 - What is your eye color?

10 - If you could change your eye color, would you?
No. I like my eye color.

11 - Do you wear contacts/glasses?
Always one or the other.

12 - Your opinion about your body and how comfortable you are with it:
Post-menopause, I've gotten really fat and no, I'm not comfortable with it.

13 - Have you ever considered plastic surgery? What would you alter about your body?
Lipo. I'd love to have lose these chins!

14 - Do you have any tattoos?

15 - Do you have any piercings?
One on each lobe.

16 - Left or right handed?
Right handed.

17 - Do you drink?
I have to drink more water. The ramifications of not doing so these days are pretty painful.

18 - Do you smoke?

19 - Do you have any pets?
My cats and I consider ourselves roommates. Reynaldo, Connie and I eschew the pet/owner relationship.

  20 - Do you have any “rules” about food? I love those divider plates in the cafeteria so my food doesn't touch. Alas, I don't have them here at home.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Pain is exhausting

I didn't have anything on tap for today. Which is good, because before dawn this morning my kidney stone alerted me in the most unambiguous terms. Ow. OW. OW!

I know what caused it. I didn't drink constantly, as I know I must. First I dropped boxes off at Goodwill before my hair cut, and then didn't ask for any water while I was in the chair (3 hours). I gulped during a quick lunch (less than 12 oz.). But then I went about three hours at my nephew's graduation without a drink of anything. So that was six waking hours without adequate hydration. 

I took my prescription pain medication again. I hadn't since bedtime on Tuesday because I didn't feel the need. (I mean, it is an opiod and I must be careful.) It took a little longer to kick in this morning but after about five hours (two doses) I was fine. Exhausted, but fine.

Here it is, nearly 6:00 PM, and I'm now finally showered and ready for my day. What a waste!

Oh, well. At least I've learned. Water, water, water. All day, all the time. Even if it means I keep visiting the bathroom.

Tomorrow, John and I are going to the Cub game. YEA! But it will be 90º. I hate heat under the best circumstances, and these are not the best circumstances. So I will bring water for the bus ride to the park. I will drink (but not beer) throughout the game. I won't let anything ruin my Memorial Day celebration within The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field!

PS Impalace, thank you for the recommendation about calcium! I'll ask my doctor if my bloodwork showed anything. I know she's been hoping I can ... er ... um ... "retrieve a sample" in a strainer for analysis, but so far, we have had no luck.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: G.I. Blues (1960) 
Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here

1) Are you a veteran? Are there veterans in your family? Do you know anyone who is active military? (We are grateful and want to hear about it.) My dad was in a Navy corpsman in Korea. My favorite uncle was a foot soldier in Vietnam. My oldest nephew is currently a Navy Fireman (which in today's technologically advanced world, is an engineer).

2) In this song, Elvis sings about marching, and complains that the Army doesn't give Purple Hearts for fallen arches. Do you have any aches or pains to report this morning? My ankles and knees are stiff in the morning.

3) This song is from the 1960 film of the same name. In the movie, Elvis is in The 32nd Armor Regiment of the United States Army. That's the same regiment he served with in real life. He had the 32nd written into the script as a shout-out to the soldiers he came to know, but realized he'd likely never see again. Is there an old friend you're missing this weekend? I miss my oldest friend. She was worried about me on Monday and we chatted on the phone in real time Tuesday for the first time in forever. It was nice, comfortable and comforting.

4) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food? Baked beans.

5) Let's celebrate the Memorial Day holiday with ice cream. What's your favorite flavor? Cone or cup? I'd like a cup of mint chocolate chip, please.

5) This marks the weekend when Americans step up their outdoor activity and do things they may not have been able to do during the winter months. For example, when is the last time you applied mosquito repellent? I don't remember. Which reminds me, I should pick some up at the drugstore. Any suggestions for a bug spray that doesn't have an overwhelming scent?

7) Or swam? Christmas Day. I celebrated the holiday in Key West with Reg and Henry.

8) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on?  Yup. The AC. It's gonna be hot holiday weekend here in Chicagoland.

9) Random question: How do you define success? I wrestle with this a lot. I think, ultimately, I consider my life successful when I'm happy and at peace with myself.

That's a wrap!

My nephew graduated from high school this evening. He was happy to be out of there. Happy to be facing forward, looking to college this fall in Macomb, Illinois.  

It was weird to be back in that high school auditorium. For this was the high school my niece (his sister) graduated from. And my sisters. And my mother and my uncle. So while I spent four pretty miserable years there, it was still bittersweet to say goodbye to the building forever. So many family ghosts wander the halls.

At least I know I'm needed

Monday was a very tough day for me. It began with debilitating pain and ended with me filled to the gills with medication. And so I took my doctor's advice and stayed home on Tuesday ... taking it easy, letting my body become acclimated to the alpha blocker/opiod mix.

I let my boss know I'd be out. And then I checked my email. That was the moment it all went bad. In preparation for The Big Move, the company reconfigured our email on Monday morning. I logged on, just to make sure I could.

Oh, boy. I saw a meeting I needed to attend scheduled for 10:30. I shot the team an email, saying I wouldn't be there (obviously), but I gave them my input on the project.

I started getting responses, and phone calls, as though I was sitting there in the office. This letter needs to be rewritten ... We need another version of this promotional mailer ... Is this sell sheet OK?

I responded with, "You know I'm not there today, right?" and "This isn't a work-from-home day, this is a sick day for me," and finally, "I"m logging off now. If you need anything else, you have to talk to my boss." In all, I worked about 5 hours from my dining room table.

Naturally, I resented it. The complete lack of regard for my personal welfare was not cool.

On the other hand, it was gratifying to know that there wasn't anyone else at the agency who could do what I do. If you're a regular reader of this blog,* you know that's been a worry. So my insecurity/ego mitigated my indignation.

*And yes, you silent lurkers, I see you out there! I hope you know how much I appreciate your return visits and readership.

Well, that was an experience

It started before dawn on Monday morning. About 4:00 AM. I woke up in pain. A severe but familiar pain. There was no blood in my urine this time, but I'd had this pain before. Just not this bad. It was my kidney stone.

I soaked in the tub. The warm water gave me some measure of relief. I gulped Naproxen (Aleve). I peed through a strainer (I retrieved nothing). The pain ebbed a bit. I thought if I slept for a while, I'd feel better.

I didn't. I felt worse. The pain spread to my back. I was nauseous, but I was only throwing up water because that's all that was in my stomach.

I called the office and told them to forget it, I wouldn't be there Monday. I called my doctor and explained my symptoms. She told me to pick up a pair of prescriptions at Walgreens and to take one of each, right away. Then, if I didn't feel better within the hour, I should go to the ER.

I freaked. I don't want to go to the hospital! I don't want to be cut!

"No, no." She assured me. She doesn't believe my kidney stone warrants surgery. It was my pain that worried her. She believed that my nausea was a reaction the extreme pain, and knew that an ER had medications and means that were beyond her.


And you know what? Within an hour of taking the hydrocodone/aspirin, I was asleep. When I woke a few hours later, the pain had abated.

Better living through chemistry!

The second pill is an alpha blocker. It helps relax the muscles, making it easier for the stone to pass. Hopefully, it will work as predicted.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

When the old reliables make me sad ...

Two of the things that I can depend on to cheer me up are failing me, and consequently my mood is dark.

1) Books. I began reading Robert Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, the biography by Chris Matthews. I was appreciating, if not enjoying, it. Bobby was just 42 when he was murdered, and so there's a pervasive sadness to this book. When he marries and begins his family, you realize his life is already half over, and that his brood will grow up fatherless. That's just what made me sad on a personal level. What the country lost when we lost him 50 years ago -- a leader who had the capacity to evolve and reach out to those in pain, regardless of their socioeconomic status -- makes me sad for all of us.

Then I lost the book. It's gone. Just gone. I think I left it on the train, or maybe in the cab, when I was ferrying a ton of personal stuff home from the office and the cord on my cart broke. I'm so angry at myself for this.

So I picked up a book I'd long been meaning to read: The Things They Carried. About the boys who fought the war in Vietnam. I found it moving to the point of painful. My favorite uncle a private in Vietnam. I hate thinking of him experiencing what I'm reading. He was just 20 when he was over there.

What's even more resonant: I found out after he died that he kept the letters I wrote to him. My chatty, scrawled letters about what mattered in my 9-year-old life -- Batman, school and the new swingset in the back yard -- so amused him, and maybe comforted him, that he carried them with him in Vietnam and even retained him with his personal papers. My mom found these letters (from me, not my grandmother or my sister or any of his girlfriends, just me) and returned them to me after he died. My careless and carefree self helped him cope when he was in hell. Just writing this makes me tear up.

So I think I'll put The Things They Carried away for a while. I can't deal with it right now.

2) Cats. See post below.

I've got to shake these blues!

I can't save them all

My relentless knee ache is now just a twinge. I'm so grateful, I've been babying it a bit. Instead of taking the backstairs up from the laundry room, I used the elevator. To get there, I had to go and cut through the parking area. It was there that I saw the cat.

The actual cat was a grey long hair
She raced under a car when she heard my footsteps. I called to her, trying to see if she had tags. She wasn't having it.

I talked to her for a moment. I asked her if she was lost, if she was someone's little girl, but she just stared out at me.

I tried to think of what I could do to help her. Reynaldo is now a senior citizen (14 years old) and Connie's health is already compromised, so I have to be careful adding another cat to their sphere. They are, after all, my first responsibility.

I thought of catching her and keeping her secluded in the den, but I have plants in there now. I could keep her in a carrier. She'd be safe and dry. But it was Saturday night. The vet wouldn't be open until Monday. I couldn't do that to her for more than 24 hours. She's an adult cat, not a kitten. She needs to be able to move comfortably over that period.

Also, I'd have to contact my vet. Will they check for a microchip and then hold her until her owner arrives? Or would I have to take her to the animal shelter? Since it was Saturday evening, not Friday evening, I know I would have to wait until Monday to get answers. Can I afford to take Monday off?

By the time I dropped one load of laundry off and returned with another, she was gone.

I hurt for her. Hiding under cars is no way for the descendant of Egyptian gods to live! She shouldn't be scared and chilly and possibly hungry and thirsty.

I wish I could have helped. But here's the sobering reminder: according to the ASPCA, 1.4 million cats are euthanized each year. That doesn't count runaways and strays who die outside and alone as a result of cars, abuse, starvation or illness. The cat under the car was just one of millions who need our help.

It's supposed to rain off and on today, tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Poor Kitty.

I just have to take solace in the fact that I keep Reynaldo (once a stray kitten) and Connie (rescued from a hoarder) safe and happy and dry. They know they are loved. I send money every month to Tree House Animal Society and Harmony House for Cats. I should do more, I know, but it's not like I don't do anything.

That didn't go as I expected

The last few mornings, I've actually awakened without crushing worry. My knee suddenly no longer aches, and I had decided to do a cash-out refinance on my mortgage. Yes, my mortgage payment would go up a couple hundred dollars each month, but I could use the money to pay off a credit card, saving me $200 every month, and then use the rest to finally (FINALLY!) finish my tragic bathroom.

Turns out that refi is only a little more accessible than winning the lottery.

I could have done this six months ago. I could have gotten cash out of my home and even enjoyed a bigger tax refund. But I fucked up. This isn't six months ago. This is May 2018. Laws have changed. Interest rates are higher. It's more complicated now and nowhere near as lucrative.

I missed it. I missed relief to my financial woes and I'm trying not to hate myself.

I applied for a home equity line of credit. Nowhere near as attractive or as effective. I will use it sparingly, monitor interest rates and hope that they don't climb. (I'm not optimistic, though.)

I am my own worst enemy.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life! (1982)

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

1) This song is about a girl who is heartbroken about a boy who won't take her calls. Do you screen your calls, deciding to let some go to voicemail? Or do you pick up whenever you possibly can? (We're referring to calls from people you know.) If you called on one of my landlines (work or home) and I recognize your number, I'll pick up. I never answer my cell, and I never check my cellphone voicemail. I do check my texts all the time, though.

2) When she was feeling her lowest, she heard a song on the radio that lifted her spirits. What's the last thing you heard on the radio? "Groovin'" by the Rascals.

3) This song includes the sound of squeaky wheels, indicating a sudden stop and perhaps a near-miss. Tell us about your most recent traffic mishap. I don't drive, and when I'm in a car, I tend to be in the backseat with my nose in a book or my eyes on my phone. So if I've been in a near-miss recently, I missed it.

4) "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life!" is featured in the 2002 video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Do you spend much time on video games? I spend too much time on Farmville.

5) This week's featured artist, Indeep, was a trio. We've had many groups, some duos and tons of solo artists on Saturday 9, but not many trios. Can you name another popular trio? Diana Ross and the Supremes

Stop! In the Name of Love

6) The last time Indeep performed together was in 1997, at a New Year's Eve show in Paris for French TV. Have you celebrated a holiday in another land? Nope

7) Britain's Royal Family is in the news this weekend, with attention centered on the nuptials. The Royals made news in 1982, as well. When this song was popular, Michael Fagan gained momentary fame by breaking into Buckingham Palace. He found The Royal Bedroom, where he came face-to-face with the Queen. He reports that Queen Elizabeth sleeps in a nightie that "reached down to her knees." What did you wear to bed last night? My Elvis nightshirt. England may have The Queen, but we claim The King.

8)  In 1982, you could buy a loaf of white bread for 50¢. Today, the national average price for that loaf of bread is more than $2.50. When you go grocery shopping, do you comparison shop and make purchases at more than one store? Or do you prefer one-stop shopping? I shop at different stores, but not for price, for the products. I enjoy shopping at Trader Joe's, but they don't carry some of the brands I like. I don't enjoy Whole Foods at all, but they carry some cleaning products I like. If I can't get it at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, I'll probably pick it up at Target.

9) Random question: What's the first famous quote that comes to your mind? "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Mr. Lincoln

Diana's Boys arrive at the Church

I believe she's sees, and she's proud.

Meghan's mother looks so proud, too. And as I watched Charles chat with Meghan as he walked her up the aisle, he looked different to me. He was happy.



Friday, May 18, 2018

Where's Poppa?

Naturally, I've been devouring news about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I have watched Diana's Boys grow up, and think Princes William and Harry have matured into outstanding young men. I am sure that their mother is looking down, very proud.

But there's drama involved in the run up to The Big Event. Courtesy of Meghan's dad and stepsiblings. The bride had planned on walking down the aisle on the arm of her father, but it's not going to happen. He's not coming. He's had heart problems, paparazzi problems, kid problems. It's easy to imagine how disappointing it is for Meghan, and how difficult to deal with it in the public spotlight.

She reminds me of another bride, and a wedding that took place before I was born. In September, 1953, 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier was marrying America's most eligible bachelor, the junior Senator from Massachusetts. It was the social event of the year -- attended by 900 guests from Hollywood, Washington, New York and Newport society, recorded by newspapers, major newsmagazines and even newsreels.

Jackie was supposed to walk down the aisle escorted by her beloved father. Handsome, rakish "Black Jack" Bouvier had been preparing for his moment in the spotlight. He lost weight, bought a sunlamp, and most importantly, gave up hard liquor. He wanted to make his daughter proud.

But it was obvious to him that he was, as he confided to a friend, "in enemy territory." The formidable Kennedy clan was insulated. It wasn't that they made Black Jack feel unwelcome, it's just that he was irrelevant to them. Their prince wasn't joining the Bouvier family, Jackie was becoming a Kennedy.

Jackie's mother, Black Jack's ex-wife, was a different story. Janet was still bitter and furious about his philandering and the humiliation and scandal of their 1940 divorce. Some felt her best revenge was remarrying Hugh Auchincloss, the millionaire heir to Standard Oil. But that didn't assuage her anger. She really didn't want Bouvier in the spotlight. It infuriated her that her romantic and headstrong daughter was so insistent that he be front and center.

Janet couldn't control Jackie, but she could control the proceedings. Jackie was distracted by drama about the wedding and bridesmaid dresses -- 10 days before the wedding, the dressmaker's studio flooded, the dresses were ruined and had to be recreated -- and left everything regarding the rehearsal dinner and other pre-wedding activities to her mother. And Janet uninvited Jack Bouvier, excluding him from everything.

So there he was, in Newport, alone in his hotel room. Bored and embarrassed. Vulnerable. Someone saw to it that an endless stream of champagne was sent to his room. History points to Janet. But to be fair, no one made Jack Bouvier drink it.

Drink it he did. He never showed up at the church. Jackie's brother-in-law, Michael Canfield, was dispatched to the hotel to fetch him, but came back alone, reporting that Black Jack was unable to even get out of bed or get dressed.

Jackie was desolate. Pictures of her, entering the church on her stepfather's arm, give us a girl who looks more tearful than joyous.

As one who has spent a lifetime studying Jackie, I find her 1953 wedding day performance fascinating. It's such a preview of her life to come. Once she became a Kennedy, she delivered. I love this shot of the couple leaving the church. Now a public figure, facing the cameras while police hold back a crowd behind her, she puts on a happy face.

I'm sure that Saturday, Meghan Markle will perform, too. She's older than Jackie was, and an actress by trade. But I suspect that, like Jackie, she will have wished things were different and her father could walk her down the aisle. And most of all, that all this private, painful family drama didn't play out in the public eye.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Close, but no cigar

I found myself really, really wishing I was a guy today. But Freud was wrong. It was not because I want to pee standing up.

I really struggled with a cart carrying a box of personal belongings home from the office. While I was pulling it, I was fine. But getting it onto the train was a challenge, and I was panicked worrying about how to get it off the train.

A 30-something man was enjoying a beer with a buddy in the train car's vestibule and he mentioned that he only had a 10 minute ride. "Are you getting off at my stop?" I asked. He said yes, and then he said he'd be happy to help me with the cart.

When the train doors opened, he just hoisted the cart I'd been battling. Just casually lifted it to chest level, and then walked effortlessly down the three steps, as I followed with his beer can.

Such upper body strength, so obviously taken for granted it's been his for decades. It was both awesome and humbling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lisa Lott is running for Superior Court Judge!

I know because I sent postcards out on her behalf yesterday. I'm doing this as part of the Postcards to Voters program. More than 20,000 of us, all across the US, have volunteered to hand write cards to voters, encouraging our fellow citizens to get out there and vote Democratic.

I love this idea because it's got that personal touch. In our email/text world, no one gets anything that's written in cursive anymore. I'm sure that the fact that someone sat down and put pen to paper will have an impact on voters. Also, this feels very comfortable for me. Back in 2004, I hand wrote dozens of letters to Iowa Caucus voters on behalf of John Kerry's presidential campaign.*

And most of all, I mean ... TRUMP! In order to minimize his impact and eventually defeat him, we need Democrats to prevail up and down the ballot. I refuse to be one of those people who just shakes her fist at the TV. It's time for me to do something. And this is what I know how to do.

Thanks to BookMama for the gift of mobilization. Doing this makes me happy.

PS If you live in Athens and want to learn more about Lisa Lott, click here.

*I still remember much of what I wrote. Each letter began: "You Iowa voters enjoy an opportunity we don't have here in Illinois. You live in an early caucus state, so your voices get heard months before our will ..."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

In honor of my mother

This post, from 2009, recounts the last happy Mother's Day I spent with my mom. Following this spring Sunday, she seemed to get more vague, more stubborn, and sicker. Our relationship became harder and harder for me, as I worked hard not to let my frustrations with her and my sisters darken our last years together. That was exhausting for me. I'd rather revisit this than all that. Because this is the mommy I miss.

A Special Lunch for Mommy & Me

Today we celebrated Mother's Day. Because of my mom's recent illness, the day felt especially poignant and meaningful.

She loves, LOVES Barack Obama, often beginning her comments about him with, "Not since JFK … " So I got her the Time Magazine coffee table book about his campaign and inauguration, and her very own Barack Obama action figure. I also gave her a Subway gift card so she can treat my niece and nephew to lunch next time they come over. (Subway is several blocks up the street, so it will be good exercise for my mom and healthy for the kids.)

Then we went to a special Mother's Day brunch. It was fancier than her usual lunch haunts, with free mimosas for both of us (I drank hers while she had decaf) and a pair of complementary roses for her. She went up to the buffet twice -- taking pork and dumplings the first trip and salmon and salad the second time. For dessert, we both had strawberry shortcake. It was great to see her eat and eat AND EAT!!! (My sister's family took her out to dinner yesterday, too!)

We talked a lot. When she was really sick and kind of out of it, she referred to everyone's pet (hers, mine, my sister's, my uncle's) by the name of her girlhood cat. She didn't remember doing that, but it didn't surprise her. She explained how much that cat meant to her, and why. I also heard tales about the other pets she and my uncle had while growing up.

Then we talked frankly about her illness. She has COPD and emphysema. She gets it now. She will always have to take special care of herself now, from here on out. Every day. It doesn't have to stop her from doing things she wants to do, but she will have to change her day-to-day life. She explained that she was in denial at first. She thought that if she resisted what the doctors told her, she wouldn't be letting her condition get to her. She realizes now it was crazy, but she was being honest and I appreciate that. It explains so much about her frustrating behavior after she came home from the hospital.

Most of all, she promised that we would do this again next year. That was her wonderful gift to me, even though Mother's Day is her day.

Sunday Stealing

Mary's Questions

If you could, where would you max out a credit card? With the handyman! I'd get new windows, finish the bathroom and replace the carpet.

Why do you like the music you listen to?
The Beatles. It's always been the Beatles.

My soul sister, February 1964

What are your favorite colors?
Blue. The Cubs wear blue, you know.

Do you collect anything? Books that I've read, or want to read, or want to read again.

What's your dream job?
Something with less stress. I don't know why, but I can see myself at the pet supplies store in the next town. I could wear a green smock. I could direct you to the chew toys or the fish and coral food. I could ring up your jug of kitty litter.

Favorite cosmetics brands: It hasn't been by design, but I notice that I've just so happened to buy a lot of Almay lately.

 Favorite scents:
I like spicy, like cinnamon.

 Favorite flavors:
Lately I've become obsessed with graham crackers. What flavor is that?

 Favorite magazines:
Allure and Glamour

 Favorite piece of jewelry:
My infinity ring.

 Favorite Holiday:

 Favorite season:

 Coffee or tea? Tea

Where would you go on vacation if you could go anywhere? I'd like to go to the TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles.

 What kind of geek are you?
A movie geek. See post below.

Oh, I love her!

I am speaking of the luminous Carole Lombard. She was completely unique. No one delivered a line like Lombard. She spoke fast and had a special way of making each line seem like it just occurred to her. And, oh, she was funny. She made both silly and smart seem so sexy and glamorous.

My movie group saw Hands Across the Table last night. A hit in 1935, during The Depression, Lombard plays Regi. She's a working girl, a manicurist in a luxury hotel. She comes from poverty, and working for the wealthy guests just reminds her of the gap between the haves and the have nots. She determines that she's going to marry rich. She admits that makes her "a heel," but so be it. At least she's honest about it.

One afternoon, a handsome young man with a numeral after his name comes in for a manicure. As she holds his hands, their eyes lock, and chemistry erupts all over the place. So much so that he leaves the salon with six bandaged fingertips ... and a date for that night. Regi's gal pal warns her that men like Theodore Drew III expect their dinner companions to behave in a certain way. Her response?


So it turns out the handsome millionaire is really all Social Register and no bank account. Therefore it doesn't matter how attracted they are. They can't fall in love because if they do, they will derail their grand plans to marry money.

My favorite scenes in the movie are between Regi and Allen (Ralph Bellamy). He's a millionaire who
lives in the hotel and gets a manicure a week (then two or three) right there in his luxury suite. He admires and appreciates Regi, but she doesn't look at him as matrimonial material because he's in a wheelchair. This frees her to be herself with him. I know the filmmakers think this movie has a happy ending, but it left me a little sad. I liked Regi. I liked Allen. How wonderful if they could have lived out there lives together in affection and respect, no artifice. Of course, as this movie makes clear in subtle 1935 ways, no intercourse and no babies. There are ways they could have enjoyed one another sensually, and they could have adopted. (I mean, it was 1935! Imagine all the children who needed homes!) But here I am, looking at the Depression with a Baby Boomer's sensibility.

Still I loved it. And it was good to be with my movie group again. Talking classic movies in a room full of film lovers is sublime!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday 9

Mother and Child Reunion

1) The title of this song, "Mother and Child Reunion," came from a dish Paul Simon had at a Chinese restaurant. "Mother and Child Reunion" was chicken and egg drop soup. When did you last eat chicken? Thursday night I had barbecue chicken breast, courtesy of Trader Joe's. Not that you asked, but I had a side of corn and a single scoop of chocolate ice cream for dessert.

2) Paul Simon's mother, Belle, was an English teacher Monday through Friday and then gave piano lessons on the weekends. Have you ever worked more than one job?
Right after high school, I augmented my secretarial salary by working on weekends as a receptionist in a real estate office. I was saving for a trip to Europe and to get my own apartment.

3) Mother Winters taught Sam to always dispose of the dry cleaning bag, as storing clothes in the bag may discolor the fabric. Do you have any useful household hints to pass along? If you want your towels and wash clothes to be more absorbent, skip the fabric softener. Sure, Downey or Bounce will leave them soft and fluffy, but fabric softener leaves behind a coating that inhibits absorption.

4) Have you put away your winter clothes yet? Maybe next weekend.
5) Flowers and plants are popular on Mother's Day. How is your yard or garden? Is it green and/or blooming? No flowers or bushes in the front yard. Just grass and a tree. The tree looks better than the lawn just now.

6) In the 1600's, the British began celebrating "Mothering Sunday." Children presented flowers to their mothers after Sunday service. When did you last place flowers in a vase? Where they store-bought, or picked from someone's garden? I bought a nice little bouquet of carnations and mums from Walgreen's for $7.99. They're in a vase on my desk, brightening my office.

7) The German word for "mother" is "mutter." What other German words do you know? Schadenfreude
8) When Sam was a teen, her mother used to scold her for monopolizing the family landline. With the advent of cell phones, do you think parents and children still clash over telephone etiquette? Sure. Maybe going over your data limit or using your phone at the table.

9) To celebrate Mother's Day, Sam is giving away her mother's favorite, Hershey Bars! Would you prefer classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate with almonds?

Friday, May 11, 2018

History was made, and I missed it!

My friend Kathy fell into excellent seats for Wednesday's Cub and offered to take me as her "date." Alas, I was unable to go because we're suddenly slammed at work. And somehow, as always when Kathy is at the center of things, there was attendant drama. How would we get to the park? Where would she park? If there was a rain delay, would she be able to get to her evening appointment in time? More than 41,000 people get to and from The Friendly Confines for every game. It isn't as big a production for any of them as it always is for Kathy!

Isn't he lovely? Isn't he wonderful?
Still, I really appreciated that as soon as she got the tickets, she thought of me. And I really wish I could have gone because it was a Cub game that will be remembered always.

Kris Bryant hit his 100th home run! Unlikely and charmingly enough, three years to the date after his first home run. He's also the youngest Cub to ever enter this exclusive club ... younger even than the loved and legendary Ernie Banks!

Aware of his role model status, KB referred to achieving this milestone as "special" and said he was, "really dang happy."

Wednesday, May 09, 2018


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?  
Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit by Chris Matthews. I'm rather early in -- WWII just started -- but I can say this is a unique biography. There's little that's new.* But it's emotionally resonant. Chris Matthews uses emotion and sentiment to emphasize the difference between brothers Jack and Bobby. For example, Bobby was tender and solicitous to his mother, Rose, but was intimidated by his father, Joe, whose approval he craved. Jack was dismissive of the mother he found cold and judgemental, while he loved and amused his powerful father. These two had the same parents, but their experiences within the family were radically different. It explains their divergent personalities and styles, but also their bond.

This is my third Chris Matthews book and I am surprised again by what a graceful writer he is. I enjoy his MSNBC show, Hardball, but I'd never describe his TV persona as "graceful."

2. What did you recently finish reading?   
Kickback: A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins. Spenser leaves Boston for the fictional town of Blackburn, MA. It's a once thriving but now economically depressed mill town, one that's shrunk to the point where everyone knows everyone else's business. The atmosphere is paranoid and claustrophobic as Spenser investigates why so many of the town's young people end up in a draconian juvenile detention facility. Why didn't the kids get representation in court? Why doesn't the juvenile hall allow the kids contact with their families? Who runs the place ... and who profits? Who doesn't want our hero snooping, and how far will they go to stop Spenser?

It's a good mystery. The suspense builds nicely and it's good to be in the company of the usual cast of characters (Henry, Hawk, Rita, Belson/Quirk, Pearl and Susan are all present and accounted for).

3.  What will you read next?  
Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both.

*I didn't know that Dave Hackett, Bobby's prep school roommate and lifelong friend, once attended Exeter for a semester. Hackett so impressed classmate John Knowles that Dave became the basis for Phineas in A Separate Peace.