Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: So Into You (1977)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The singer says that he noticed the lady in question as soon as she walked into the room. Tell us about someone who made a powerful first impression on you. When I first met my friend Joanna at movie group, I was in awe and intimidated. Her hair is always so smooth and shiny, her voice is so measured, her outfits are so coordinated and accessorized. She's so well versed about art and architecture. I'm no dummy, but I have gaps in my education, so I felt out of my depth. To be completely honest, I was surprised that she wanted to be friends with me. But she does! 

As we have gotten to know one another better, I realize that we have a lot in common, and that there are things about herself that Joanna is, indeed, insecure about. Just like the rest of us mortal women!

2) He sings that he's so into her, he can't think about other, more mundane things. Do you find you get easily distracted from your daily tasks? Or do you enjoy seeing your everyday chores through completion? I am fantastically easily distracted when doing chores. I wish I was more focused.


3) The band took their name from Georgia's biggest city. Have you ever been to Atlanta? Yes. Hartsfield is a huge airport but it's very easy to navigate. If you have to be laid over somewhere, Hartsfield is the place. I've also enjoyed my spa sabbaticals at Chateau Elan. I'd love to go back someday.


4) The Atlanta Rhythm Section once played the White House. President Carter's son, Chip, was a big fan and invited them to play at his 28th birthday party. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I turned 60 in Las Vegas. We laughed at Madame Tussaud's, saw a show and had a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Tom's Urban Kitchen. I had macaroni and cheese made with lobster and shrimp. That was a first, and it was fabulous. (And yes, that's my favorite -- cranberry juice and vodka. It was my birthday, and it was Vegas, after all.)


5) Studio One, where the band made all their recordings, was torn down and replaced by a parking lot. Can you think of a structure that you missed, after it met with a wrecking ball? There was a office building across from my el stop, so I saw it every day. The upstairs was an apartment with a deck and the most beautiful rooftop garden. It made me happy every time I saw it. Since they displayed their Gay Pride flag, I thought of it as "The Gay House." It was torn down in early 2008 to make room for a bigger office building. With the Bush Recession, the new owners lost their financing and all that was there was a vacant lot. In summer 2016, someone else bought the land but no construction has begun. Whatever it ends up being -- restaurant, office building, condo -- it won't brighten my day like The Gay House garden did.


6) This song hit #7 on the US pop charts. 7 is the number most often chosen as "a lucky number." How about you? Do you have a lucky number? Seven. I'm such a cliche.


7) Today the Atlanta Rhythm Section reunites with to play at classic rock concerts. What oldies band would you love to see again? Guess Who. No, really. I'm not asking you to guess, that's the band's name. Their lead singer, Burton Cummings, had the best voice.


8) In 1977, the star of NBC's Chico and the Man, Freddie Prinze, took his own life. Is there a celebrity death you found shocking? Princess Diana. If that death didn't shock you, you weren't alive in 1997. 


9) Random question: What word do you always misspell?
Occasion. If it hadn't been for spell check, I would have just misspelled it again.

Friday, September 28, 2018

So I mailed a card

I got an email from my oldest friend. Or rather, 5 emails. She answered two weeks worth of my messages in one afternoon. Apparently she doesn't go online very often.

I found out that she's seeing a new shrink, a woman named Shelley. So far, so good. She's waiting for an OK to finally get that dental work done. It's been more than seven years since she last had her teeth checked! Since she's a heart patient, her new dentist requires paperwork from her cardiologist. Her son is working for Progressive Insurance headquarters in Colorado Springs. So far, so good.

Oh yeah, and she might have cancer.

There's a lesion on her bladder that requires "visual confirmation," otherwise known as a biopsy. Because she is on Medicaid, it takes a lot of approvals before her uro-gynecologist can perform the procedure. She hopes she won't have to wait too long for the biopsy and results. She says it distracts her from fantasizing about the Beatles.

I am sick with worry. She is in a bad place. She doesn't pick up the phone when I call. She goes weeks without checking her emails.

I am frustrated by her being incommunicado, but I don't blame her. She's on meds for depression. Meds for her heart. Pain killers for her leg. Antibiotics for a urinary tract infection. I know she is either in pain -- psychic or otherwise -- or dopey. I appreciate that, as weak and frustrating as it's been, she's doing the best she can in terms of communicating.

So I sent her a card. It had a little puppy on the front with the words, "Do you need a pug?" And I included a letter, telling her that, since she is so very important to me, I'm glad that she's in her cousin's loving care as she goes through this. I implored her to keep me informed. "Make no mistake: I care."

I signed it, stamped it, and dropped it in the box.

I hope the card, and the love it carries, reaches her in time for her biopsy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

He doesn't want to be my President

I'm sure by now you have heard that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The incident in question took place more than 30 years ago, when they were in high school.

It is a serious accusation. Being on the Supreme Court is, literally, the privilege of a lifetime. This needs to be handled soberly, with sensitivity and truth seeking. Of course, sobriety, sensitivity and truth are anathema to Donald J. Trump.

I was molested when I was in high school. The same age as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It was "bad." I have blogged about it often here, but at the time I didn't report it. I am sure that our President would take the word of my molester over mine. After all, I was fondled and harassed by a white man, a pillar of the church, a man with money. Whereas I, a frightened teenager, kept it to myself.

This is the first President of my lifetime that I felt has nothing but contempt for me.

I believe the damage Donald J. Trump is doing is more personal than putting a conservative on the court. I don't like the idea of Kavanaugh in a robe, but I accept it. After all, elections have consequences. Conservatives won. This is how it works.

But what about the adolescent girls (or boys) who are being molested and harassed and afraid to speak truth to power? How chilling will it be to hear the President of the United States dismiss Dr. Christine Blasey Ford? She is a psychologist and professor, after all. What credibility will a simple, frightened young person have?

Does Donald J. Trump get it? Does he understand that the office of the Presidency makes him our ultimate authority figure -- in essence, our dad? Does he understand the impact, the influence, he has? Does he care?

Or is he just hell bent on getting a "win" on the scoreboard for his side?

I fear it's the latter.

I know he wouldn't care what I think.

All this leaves me desolate.

So relieved! It was a good trip!

I was a little apprehensive as I rode the rails to Macomb, IL. My nephew is a freshman there, and I was worried about how eager he was for me to visit. After all, he's just been there a month, and he was already up one weekend to surprise his parents. Is he adjusting well? Is he lonely? Freshmen have trouble under the best circumstances, and frankly, his are not really the best circumstances. First of all, he battles depression. He holds himself to (impossibly) high standards and when he falls short, he is extremely hard on himself. He gets debilitating migraines. He takes medication for both the depression and the headaches, but I still worry.

And then there is his roommate. This young man is autistic. I appreciate how hard it must have been for this kid and his dad (there doesn't appear to be a mom in the picture) to get him to this point. But it's not ideal for my nephew to have a roommate who doesn't make eye contact, speaks seldom and watches wrestling videos at all hours.

I'm happy to report all is well. He loves Macomb. It feels "comfortable" and "familiar" to him. I was surprised by how empty it was -- there were very few people on the sidewalks and those we saw were wearing WIU purple. But my nephew is not the City Mouse his aunt is. He prefers the slow pace and rural feel.

He loves his classes. American history, sociology, philosophy and stress management (meditation). His professors are "cool" and "legit." His first class isn't until 11:00 and he's done before 4:00. He realizes that next semester, he won't have such an easy time (two of his classes are in the same hall, and the Student Union is right there).

I loved his fridge. When I checked out the WIU website, I found this model of the "microfridge" that would be in his room.

Here is the real thing.

That's milk, with more milk in the doors. Cool Whip and raw cookie dough (both of which will be consumed with a spoon and nothing else) box after box of pizza bites in the freezer. I was amused, but not surprised. My nephew is a young man who loves his dairy.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Listen, People (1966)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) Basically Herman is telling us that we each both break hearts and have our hearts broken during our lifetime. Do you agree? Yes. 
2) He implores us to take his advice. Have you more recently given or received advice? I gave advice. We have a freelancer at the office, Bob, who is curious about how to "read" my boss. I advised him not to worry so much and reassured him everything was cool.
3) Herman's real name is Peter Noone. He was popular with girls because of his bright, toothy smile. How's your oral health? When are you due to go to the dentist? So far, so good. I'm due for a checkup in December.
4) Peter/Herman got married on his 21st birthday. That's one way to make sure you don't forget your anniversary. Do you have a good memory for anniversaries and birthdays? Birthdays are too important to trust to my memory! I keep a calendar.
5) Between 1965 and 1971, the Hermits worked very hard. They appeared on all the major TV shows of the day, recorded albums, made a movie and then criss-crossed the United States and the United Kingdom, performing live. After those six years, Peter decided he'd had enough and left the group. Have you ever felt burned out and ready for a change? Oh, yes. I feel that's where I'm headed now. I fantasize about retirement more than I ever thought I would.

6) In 1966, when this song was popular, the miniskirt took the fashion world by storm. What's the most recent piece of clothing you added to your wardrobe? I bought a couple blouses from Thred Up.
7) In 1966, TVs were expensive pieces of furniture. A set with a 16" screen and a wood console sold for $250, which is $1,950 in today's dollars. Tell us about your TV. How big is it? Where did you buy it? It's a 19" TV that I bought 17 years ago (either from Sears or Best Buy; they're both at the same mall). This dear old set still has a picture tube! But it works well and I can see no reason to add it to the landfill. When the smaller TV in my bedroom craps out -- probably sooner than later -- I'll move this one in there and buy a new one. 
8) David Schwimmer, aka Ross on Friends, was born in 1966. Who was your favorite Friend? I'm fond of each of them. I do love that show. I was sorry to hear about Matthew Perry's hospital stay. He's brought a lot of people a lot of laughs and I hope he feels better himself, soon.

9) Random question -- Describe your dream car. It comes with a chauffeur. 

Size Eleven Shoes

That's what my friend John wears. Or, I guess, wore. I found this out over drinks Thursday night.

First we blabbed for a bit. He told me about time spent over the summer with his out-of-town brothers. I told him about my bathroom remodel. Then, apropos to nothing, he asked me if I'd noticed an uptick in "able-bodied young people" panhandling on street corners. "If I was one of them, I'd even take a job a McDonald's."

"Sometimes they have jobs. They're just homeless," I replied. And, for the first time, I told him about Caleb, Randi and Napoleon. He was surprised that I knew so much about them. At first, it made me feel like a freak. "How often do you talk to these people?" "How much time do you spend on street corners?" He seemed worried that I was being ripped off somehow, "taken." I reassured him that they know very little about me, personally. They don't even know my last name. And I mentioned that, in terms of moola, I never spend more than $10/week. Oh yeah, and little gifts, like their Christmas bag and ...

"Oh, Gal! You did that?" he exclaimed. I had a hard time reading him. Was he shocked that I'm nice? Did he think I was wasting my resources?

It turns out he was admiring. I don't know that I deserve admiration. I have learned a lot about the world from Caleb, Randi and Napoleon. Helping them has enriched my life in so many ways. But I am glad that my tale has touched a chord in John.

"I wear size 11 shoes. Ask him if he needs my shoes." John had foot surgery back in 2016 and his shoes fit differently now. He also has sweaters and shirts he's willing to share. He was very excited about it.

And on Friday, John followed up by email. While Caleb can't wear the shoes himself, he knows someone who can. And John is eager to get the shirts and sweaters to him.

So John wants to help. He just needed to be given a way to do it.

So that little gray kitten -- now long and lanky and fully grown -- has ended up being quite the catalyst. Viva, Napoloen!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Stealing


1. Do you ever doubt the existence of others than you? No.

2. On a scale of 1-5, how afraid of the dark are you?

3. The person you would never want to meet?
Donald J. Trump. My friend Henry lives in Key West and went to visit his mother and brothers in Puerto Rico in November 2017, months after the hurricanes. Henry knows a little something about storm preparedness and recovery. His tales about life in San Juan were harrowing. Yet the President not only refuses to accept responsibility, he denies the reality of the death toll. Donald J. Trump seems to think he can choose which Americans he will serve. I remember hearing someone on TV say, "You people (Democrats like me) just hate him." I'm afraid it feels like our President just hates us.

4. What is your favorite word?
Gubernatorial. I love it that we're having an election for governor here in IL, so I get to hear it more often.

5. If you were a type of tree, what would you be?
Maple. Like me, it flourishes in the midwest.

6. When you looked in the mirror this morning what was the first thing you thought?
That pimple is just about gone. (Hey! You asked!)

7. What shirt are you wearing?
My Wrigley Field centennial t-shirt. This is how a new, unwashed one looks. Mine is nowhere near as bright.

8. What do you label yourself as? An American woman.

9. Bright room or dark room?

10. What were you doing at midnight last night?
I crashed on the sofa. I hate when I do that.

11. Favorite age you’ve been so far?
My mid 30s. I was happy in love, my career was getting traction, I felt fit and sexy.

12. Who told you they loved you last?
My friend Henry. His friend, Juana, was laid to rest this week. With her loss, he reached out to tell me he how much I mean to him. It was touching.

13. Your worst enemy?

14. What is your current desktop picture? 

15. Do you like someone? I like most people.

16. The last song you listened to?
"True" by Spandau Ballet.

17. You can press a button that will make any one person explode. Who would you blow up?
I wouldn't.

18. Who would you really like to just punch in the face?
The Secret Service would arrest me.

19. If anyone could be your slave for a day, who would it be and what would they have to do?
I don't ever want a slave.

20. What is your best physical attribute? (showing said attribute is optional)
My green eyes.

21. If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
I'd have a beard, and I'd go to the ballgame and pee. I am always amazed at how short the lines are at Wrigley Field mens' rooms.

22. Do you have a secret talent? If yes, what is it?
Shh! It's secret.

23. What is one unique thing you’re afraid of?
Squirrels. When I was a little girl, I used to get up really early and feed a squirrel through the mail slot in our screen door. I fed him my dad's favorite caramel corn. When my father found out where his caramel corn was going, he told me this harrowing tale of a little boy -- just my age! -- who fed a squirrel. The squirrel had rabies and sunk his teeth into the boy. The police had to come and shoot the squirrel. Even in death, those teeth didn't release the kid. The dead squirrel was on his arm in the ambulance to the hospital! Then the little boy had to get sixteen (16!) shots so he wouldn't get rabies, too. In retrospect, I know of course my dad made the whole thing up. But the story still stays with me.

24. You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your disposal.
Turkey (dark meat only).

25. You just found $100! How are you going to spend it?
I'd have Cute Handyman come over and finally install the new ceiling fan in my bedroom.
26. You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, but you have to leave immediately. Where are you going to go?
Colonial Williamsburg. I long to go back.

27. An angel appears out of Heaven and offers you a lifetime supply of the alcoholic beverage of your choice. “Be brand-specific” it says.
Miller Lite. (Yeah, I'm a cheap angel's dream.)

28. You discover a beautiful island upon which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What is the first rule you put into place?
Sliced tomatoes will only be served upon request. It would be such a delight to know that I'll never have to peel a tomato off my sandwich ever again.

29. What is your favorite expletive?
I don't know that it's my favorite, but I do say the f-word a lot.

30. Your house is on fire. You have just enough time to run in there and grab ONE inanimate object. Don’t worry, your loved ones and pets have already made it out safely. So what’s the one thing you’re going to save from that blazing inferno?
My purse. It's big and encompasses a multitude.

Go see this movie!

I spent a lovely afternoon drenched in sex, deception, martinis and, ultimately, murder. I went to the movies and saw A Simple Favor. It was terrific.

Deviously plotted -- there was only one plot point that tripped me up -- and funny and silly. With beautiful people in beautiful clothes in beautiful homes. It even has a crazy cat lady in a burned-out mansion! It's a less violent Gone Girl, a less weighty Girl on the Train. If Hitchcock had made chick-flicks, he would have made A Simple Favor.

I love Anna Kendrick in this because she reminded me of me. I feel about as glamorous as a glass of water, especially next to my friend, Joanna -- she who can accessorize anything, has two ex-husbands and assorted lovers in her past, and orders drinks I've never heard of. I look at Joanna and think, "How does she do it?" and "I wish I was her," just like Stephanie.

Blake Lively as Emily was a revelation. I see her all the time. She's on the celeb websites as the real-life wife of Deadpool superstar Ryan Reynolds and she's a popular fashion magazine cover girl. But I've never before seen her act. She has a lot to do in this movie: alternately dangerous and unlikable and still charismatic. Emily's wheels are always turning.

Go see this movie before someone ruins the plot for you. Since the climax is incongruously, shockingly funny,* I'm tempted to ruin it for you now. So stop reading and go to the movies!

*The director, Paul Feig, also did Bridesmaids.

The Coffee Mate is mocking me

I can be such a judgemental bitch. From our new offices, I can see one of the corners that Napoleon and his humans often inhabit. I was looking out the window Friday morning and saw Randi and Caleb setting up to panhandle, and Randi stopped and bummed a cigarette from a passer by.

Randi was smoking. I was furious.

She's been treated for both ovarian and pancreatic cancer. And she was smoking!

At lunchtime, I came and went through the side door so I wouldn't see them and they wouldn't see me. I was too angry.

Then, in the afternoon, I went into our office coffee room to replenish my ice water and I saw a fresh supply of Coffee Mate cups had been delivered. Java lovers can choose from original, vanilla and hazelnut. I recalled a story Randi just told me about her most recent hospital stay. She said she missed Napoleon like crazy, and every evening took the little cup of Coffee Mate creamer off her dinner tray and hid it in her drawer. Then, when husband Caleb came to see her, she'd give it to him as a treat for Napoleon. She said it was her way of feeling close to her fur baby when she couldn't see him or hold him.

I took one for Napoleon and was going to give it to them, along with $1, on the way home. But by the time the evening rush arrived, they were gone.

OK Smoking is stupid for everyone. Smoking is reckless and ridiculous for a cancer patient. I'm not wrong about that.

But I'm sure this has occurred to her. And her husband.

I'm also sure I'm in no position to judge her. I haven't spent month after lonely month in the hospital. I don't know what it's like to sleep in a tent because I can't afford both meds and a bed. I don't know what it's like to have to buy a bottle of water so I can use the Starbucks ladies to wash my face and armpits and apply my makeup.

Maybe smoking is one of her few pleasurable activities. Maybe it's something she just doesn't have the strength to quit right now. I don't know.

But my withholding my conversation and the princely sum of $1 over lunch did not change her circumstances. And it made me an ass.

I was worried that the single-serve Coffee Mate would break open in my purse so I took it out and put it on my kitchen counter. Where it is mocking me.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Teenage Dream (2010) Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Much of the video for this week's song takes place in a convertible and on the beach. How's the weather where you are? Would you be comfortable riding around with the top down today? Yes. The mercury will likely top 80ยบ sunny degrees today.

2) This video was filmed all around Katy Perry's hometown of Santa Barbara. Amtrak runs through Santa Barbara via The Pacific Surfliner. Tell us about a memorable train trip. Back in 2009, I took my then 9-year-old nephew to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites. I was touched by how excited and serious he was about our trip, which was not only his first time on Amtrak, it was his first vacation without his parents. He carefully read his pre-printed ticket and saw that ID might be required, and then reassured me not to worry, because he had his library card. I'm riding the rails again soon, this time to see his new college dorm room. Gulp!

3) Katy sings that her boyfriend thinks she's funny, even when she gets the punchline wrong. Do you think you're a better joke-teller or audience? I can usually be counted on to get a laugh.

4) Her "teenage dream" lover is shown working out with a heavy bag. When is the last time you visited a gym? I went twice last week. It felt good.

According to People mag, this week she's back to green
5) Katy changes her hair a lot. She's gone from long black hair to cropped blonde hair with stops at red, green and purple. Today, are you having a good hair day? Not at this moment. I haven't showered yet.

6) Katy thinks dimples are "irresistible" and can't help poking a finger when a dimpled friend smiles. Do you have dimples? Yes. And I would hate having Katy poke around in them!
7) Two of Katy's fragrances (Meow and Purr) are sold in cat-shaped bottles. Are you wearing a scent as you answer these questions? Not at this moment. I haven't showered yet.
8)  Katy's favorite dessert is ice cream (specifically Cold Stone Creamery's Birthday Cake Remix). What's the last dessert you ate? I had ice cream and graham crackers last night, after dinner.

9) Random question: How often do you change your bedsheets? I launder them every week. Sometimes, if I'm especially lazy, I put the clean ones back on my bed instead of getting a new set out of the cabinet.

A message from my mom

September 14 was payday. It's from this first paycheck of the month that I make charitable contributions. One check always goes to a local animal shelter that's perpetually struggling. Then I send 3 more to charities that rotate. I keep a big envelope filled with solicitations I receive and then make my selections.

For some reason, I just had to write the checks Friday morning. Even though I was running late for work. One was to Goodwill, because I support their mission.

One was to the humane society where my mother adopted her favorite cat, Ethel. The other was the World Wildlife Fund. My mom was on a fixed income, but whenever she found herself even a little ahead, she sent a check to WWF. It worried her that her as-yet unborn greatgrandchildren would never see an elephant, live, the way she enjoyed seeing them with us and her grandchildren at the zoo.

I logged on to Facebook and as I scrolled down through the "Your Memories" feature, I saw that September 14 is the sixth anniversary of my mother's death. For some reason, I recalled it as later in the month. But no, it's September 14.

I handled it, Mommy.

Friday, September 14, 2018

I admit it: I'm hooked

This morning, at about 7:45, my Infinity services all went out. Cable TV, internet and phone. I was desolate.

I still had my shower radio and my cellphone to keep me company as I dressed for work. And we we're only talking for an hour or so before I left to catch the train. But boy, I missed my routine. And my routine is so Comcast-centric! Joe and Mika on TV, checking my Microsoft Outlook and Farmville Farm before I go to the office (where I will check my email and game again).

I got a text alert from Comcast at about 11:45, letting me know that my service had been restored. Even though I was 20 miles and hours away from home, I felt better.

I gotta be connected!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018