Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How can it take two weeks?

Nothing is harder than waiting for a phone call. Especially a phone call about biopsy results. And yet that's just what my oldest friend has to do.

Yesterday she had a biopsy, a response to something "suspicious" lesion found as she was treated for a tenacious UTI. I got a text from her today, saying that the procedure went well, but that her doctor rather dismissively said, "See me in two weeks."

This is not acceptable to me. The lesion was discovered back in September, but because she's on public aid, it's literally taken two months for her to get the approvals required for the biopsy. Compare this to how I was treated when my doctor suspected a DVT. In the space of one afternoon, I went from my GP's office to the hospital for tests and then home, and my tests cost me as much OOP as my LYFT rides. Of course, I have CIGNA, while my oldest friend is on Medicaid.

This is how we value human life here in the old US of A. All those people who protest choice and pontificate about the sanctity of life, where are they in situations like my friend's? Why is it a fetus in the first three months of life deserves greater protection than a friend and mother entering her 63rd year?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday Stealing

1. How many states have you been in? 21

2. If a sexist Man is called a pig, what is a sexist Woman called? I think "pig" still works.

3. You see the one person who you absolutely despise. If you were guarentee'd that he/she couldn't say or do anything back to you.... What would you do?? Keep going. Life's too short to engage.

4. How many states are to the right of you? And don’t give us a map to look at. I don't really understand the question. But IL is bordered on the east by IN and KY.

5. You can go anywhere in the world for free. Where are you? London


7. Are you a boxing fan? No

8. What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten? I hated gazpacho.
9. Is it cloudy right now? Yes.

10. Someone gives you a $500 gift card to WalMart or Target. What are you going to buy? Groceries. It would feel like such a luxury to not have to budget for food.

11. When you were little, what did you want to be "when you grow up"? And, how much different is your occupation now from where you thought it would be when you were younger? When I was little, I wanted to be a singer/actress or a veterinarian. I am none of those things.

12. what was your favorite toy as a child? Lassie and I were inseparable.

13. What is the last place you had a good cry and why? It wasn't a good cry, but I welled up last week. Talking about the 2016 World Series, Game 7. I was telling my friend Kathleen what a privilege it was that I got to see the Cubs win it all. After all, my grandparents, my uncle and my dad all missed it. But I felt they were all with me at this moment:


14. Which Sesame Street Character do you relate with the most and why? Beaker. Because he's Beaker.


15. Did you ever make what you believed at the time to be a horrible mistake - that in hindsight turned out to lead you on the best path in your life? Not a horrible mistake, really. But there have break ups that broke my heart that I now know were for the best.

16. What’s your favorite show to watch on television nowadays? Lately I've started watching I Love Lucy reruns again. ADORE them. Not The Lucy Show, or Here's Lucy. Just Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel.

17. Do you believe there is life after death?  Yes


Friday, November 23, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Black Magic Woman (1970)

1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 23, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains? Nope. Didn't even try. By 4:00, when I ventured out, the sidewalks were pretty empty ... except for the line in front of the movie theater. It looks like Creed and Fantastic Beasts are very popular.

2) On busy shopping days,  carts often litter parking lots. After loading your items into your car, are you careful to return your shopping cart to the store or the designated cart receptacle? Since I don't drive, I never take a cart out of the store. HOWEVER, as I cross the Trader Joe's parking lot, I do take errant carts into the store with me.

3) Who on your gift list is hardest to buy for? My Cousin Rose. This year, though, I think I've nailed it. She's planning a return trip to Poland to explore her ancestry, and I'm getting her a pink (rose-colored, get it?) passport holder. Fingers crossed that she likes it.

4) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include enjoying leftovers or watching a game? Well, I got my Thanksgiving dessert (pumpkin pie) to go and ate it when I got home. Does that count?

5) Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is an annual event. It began in 1924 as a local event in New York. Today it's nationally televised. Did you watch it? I watched the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, which passed in front of Macy's State Street. So that counts, right?

6) What did you give thanks for on Thanksgiving 2018? That Henry is still alive. That accident rocked my world. I'm happy to report he sounds a little better every time we speak, and I'm confident that someday he will be his old self again.

7) At the first Thanksgiving, there were no forks. Pilgrims ate with spoons and knives, and forks didn't become popular until the 18th century. Think about your Thanksgiving place setting. Did you have both a salad and a dinner fork? I had a "Thanksgivingwich" -- a turkey sandwich on buttery bread with cranberry relish instead of mayo. There was a scoop of dressing with gravy on the side, but I used my spoon for that. So no salad fork was required and I didn't even notice the place setting.

8) Pies are a popular Thanksgiving dessert. What kind of pie did you enjoy? Or did you have ice cream? Or did you skip dessert? Pumpkin pie.
9) This week's featured band, Santana, was named for its founder, Carlos Santana. He was born in Mexico. When at a Mexican restaurant, what do you usually order? The blandest thing possible. Spicy food irritates my gut.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

May all your holiday wishes come true.

Happy Birthday to Me -- Part 3

Opened yesterday's mail this morning. My aunt sent me a box of teas (she worries about me being cold over the winter months) and two pair of earrings. A certain Snarkypants sent me sweet-smelling Perfectly Posh goodies. I also got a card from a friend of my mom's, a woman whose kids I babysat back in the 1970s. I love getting love over the miles.

Happy Birthday to Me -- Part 2

Beatles and Asparagus Spears. My friend Kathleen and her husband Martin celebrated me at a new local restaurant. The menu is Mediterranean fusion. I had the salmon stuffed ravioli, which was just OK (too many stewed tomatoes all over the place for my taste), but the asparagus spears! Oh! My! I don't know what they were cooked in, but they were divine! I only wish the portion sizes had been reversed. I would have preferred an asparagus entree with a side of ravioli.

My gifts were so thoughtful -- and Kathleen made a point of telling me she had purchased them over the spring and summer, when she came upon them. The first was The Fifth Beatle, a graphic novel about manager Brian Epstein. The second was a collage made of tiny pieces of paper, each a tiny Beatles photo. It's intricate and quite lovely.

I ended the evening feeling quite special.

First Born

I've finally seen the original A Star Is Born (1937)! It was screened at my movie Meetup. Judged on its own, it was OK. But in the context of film history, and seeing the movie that launched the three remakes, was fascinating.

The original is not a musical. With the benefit of hindsight, that was a mistake. The following Stars to be Born (Judy, Babs and Lady Gaga) are all so immensely talented behind the mic that you know what the established star (James Mason, Kris Kristofferson or Bradley Cooper) sees in her. Judy wasn't a glamour girl, and Babs and Gaga are both unconventional in appearance, but dear God, they can sing!

Janet Gaynor is a charmer who can do cute imitations of established like Katharine Hepburn and Mae West at parties. But based on that, Fredric March decides she has what it takes? In this movie, he seems more motivated by wanting to help a pretty girl than believing in, and connecting with, her talent. Nevertheless, you do believe they enjoyed one another's company and could fall in love.

So I liked it better than the Streisand version. Not for a moment did I believe that Babs/Esther even liked her leading man, much less loved him. Her performance is all (as Mad magazine referred to her) "Bubby Strident." She's too self contained, too self focused. And corny! It's got real cringe-worthy moments. She sings lead with two black chicks in a trio called The Oreos. Really.

So I stand by my fearless October ranking. Gaynor = good. Gaga = great. Garland = GOLD! Next time you have an opportunity to see the 1954 verison, grab it. James Mason is very touching, too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Salad bag, meet Hefty bag.

I hate throwing food away. But according to the CDC, that bag of Italian salad I bought to eat healthier may actually do just the opposite.

I can't recall the last time I had something that was recalled. I feel quite a kinship with my fellow Americans right now.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing
1.What is your favorite animal?  My favorite zoo animal is the okapi. They are gentle, shy and look absolutely magical.

2.Your dream vacation? I'd love to visit Washington DC with my nephew.

3.Last person's house you were in? My downstairs neighbor Brian.

4.Worst injury you've ever had? Last month, I fell in a ditch, leaving my legs bruised and bloody. I don't know that it was the worst injury I ever had, but it was the most embarrassing.

5.Last play you saw? Escape to Margaritaville with my friend Barb.

6.Ever go to camp? Yes, often throughout grade school and junior high.

7.Were you an honor roll student in school? Never. You're talking to a solid C student.

8.What do you want to know about the future? Will I be moving in 2019?

9.Are you wearing any perfume or cologne? Not right now.

10.Are you due sometime this year for a doctor's visit? I am going to get my eyes checked next week. I need new glasses.

11.Where is your best friend? In a really bad place.

12.Do you have a tan? Nope.

13.What are you listening to right now? My cat Connie is trying to get my attention.

She thinks she's hungry.
14.Do you collect anything? Books

15.Who is the biggest gossiper you know? Me, I suppose.

16.Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over? 35 years ago. We'd just seen Superman III, I was more than a little drunk, and I felt the need to simulate flight through the sunroof of my date's car. As we drove up Lake Shore Drive. The police pulled us over and advised us that this is not advisable. However, since my boyfriend was the driver and he was quite sober, we weren't ticketed or anything. (Since I don't drive, this is my only "pulled over" story.)

17.What does your last text message say? WHAT ARE U DOING ON YR BDAY?

18.Do you like hot sauce? No

19.Do you need to do laundry? Nope. Did two loads on Saturday.

20.What is your heritage? 92% German, 8% Irish.

"See you in Hollywood!"

So read the confirmation that my four-day pass was on the way. I'm going to the TCM Classic Film Festival! Four days of old movies shown on big screens in Hollywood movie palaces, like the TCL Chinese* and the Egyptian. Four days of interviews and lectures about how these classics were made. Four days of getting my geek on with my fellow geeks -- including Will and Betty from my local classic movie Meetup. Yes, Chicago will be represented well represented in Hollywood this year!

Some of the big movies have already been announced -- Gone with the Wind, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and From Here to Eternity. I'm crazy about all three of them. But the one I'm super excited about is the restoration Holiday.

Holiday (1938) is my favorite Katharine Hepburn movie, which makes it one of my favorite movies of all time. And yet it doesn't get the love it deserves. Hopefully the spotlight it receives at the Festival will rectify that.

Kate plays Linda Seton. She's rich, sheltered, and confused. The alienated black sheep of a prominent New York family. She wants to do good in the world, but is confused about how. She just knows that she's not content with the way her family and their friends worship the almighty buck.

Her kid sister, Julia, brings home a most fascinating chap. Johnny Case (Cary Grant). Julia and Johnny met and fell madly, instantly in love on the slopes in Lake Placid. Now that they're home from vacation, Julia and Johnny have to deal with the reality of their lives. Julia is a Park Avenue heiress who (unlike Linda) loves her life of privilege. Johnny is a self-made success, who believes that money is the means to an end.

Now that he has some money socked away, Johnny wants to take time off and spend it. He wants to travel and meet people, learn the meaning of life.

Julia is appalled, but Linda thinks this is fantastic! Loving her sister as she does, Linda wants the wedding to take place. She believes Johnny is just what the Seton family needs. Susan wants Johnny, because he's clever and good looking, but she wants to change him into a Seton.

Oh, yeah. And Linda is falling in love with him. This causes her much pain, because he belongs to her dear Julia. I always adore Hepburn, but I especially adore her in this clip. Has unrequited love ever danced across anyone's face like it does hers?

The movie bombed at the box office because, in 1938, someone like Johnny turning down a bank job and money seemed foolish and insensitive. One in five Americans was unemployed, and a good job was considered the key to a bright future, not something to be scoffed at.

But this spring, Holiday gets another chance to enthrall audiences. I'm going to be there, sitting in the dark with my popcorn, watching Hepburn weave her spell.

See you in Hollywood this April, Kate!

*You know, the one with the footprints in front.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Sentimental Journey (1945)

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

1) Doris sings that she has her bag packed. Tell us about your luggage. Is your bag easy to spot on the luggage carousel? I love my suitcase. It's a Tumi hard side upright with spinner wheels. It's pretty. It's unique. It's indestructible. The wheels can easily follow me from pavement to floor. And it was FREE. I got it from Amazon in exchange for a review!

2) The release of this song coincided with VE Day, and so it meant a great deal to troops returning from Europe. What song has sentimental value to you. Why? "Gentle on My Mind" by Glenn Campbell makes me think of my favorite uncle. It was one of his favorites. When it first came out, he'd just come home from Vietnam, and I basked in his presence because I'd been so worried about him, in danger of being shot at in the jungle. Whenever I rode in the backseat of his car, and this song came on, he would turn up the volume as loud as it would go ... and laugh at my reaction because there were rear speakers. I was a little kid and sound in the backseat seemed like a wonderful innovation to me.


3) As a young girl, Doris was passionate about dance. Concentrating in the studio and performing on stage helped distract her from heartache and embarrassment over her parents' divorce. When you want to escape from what's troubling you, what do you do? I cuddle a cat.

4) Her dancing days came to an end when, at age 15, she was in a car accident and damaged her leg. During her recovery, she discovered how much she enjoyed singing with the radio, and was delighted to find others enjoyed hearing her. Tell us about a time you unexpectedly found happiness or success. This condo. I bought it in 2000 as my residence, not as an investment. Suddenly, this old neighborhood of mine is in demand and my apartment has appreciated considerably in value. I find this comforting, as my finances are challenging. It's good to know that if the situation presents itself, I can sell it for a profit.
5) She moved from singer to actress in the late 1940s and was a major movie star for 25 years. She was paired with the most popular leading men of her time -- everyone from Clark Gable to Frank Sinatra to Rock Hudson. If you could share a kiss with any actor or actress, who would you choose? I think it would be fun to kiss Pierce Brosnan. BTW, I was sorry to hear that his home was affected by the California fires.

6) 1968 was a terrible year for Doris. First, she suddenly became a widow. Then she discovered that her late husband and his business partner had squandered her money and she had to file for bankruptcy. Oh, wait! There's more! She also found that, in his role as her manager, her late husband had, without her knowledge, committed her to a weekly TV series. Do you have a 1968? What year you can point to and say, "Wow, I'm glad that's over"? 2016 was pretty bad. I battled c diff. Our building had a gross and expensive bed bug infestation. Donald Trump insulted and bullied his way into the Presidency. That's just what I remember off the top of my head. However, this happened, so it wasn't all bad. 

7) After retiring from show business, she became an advocate for animal welfare. She has said we should be more sensitive to the loneliness, sadness and guilt people feel when they lose a pet. Think of a time you were grieving. What words or gestures helped you through? Conversely, what's something no one should ever say to someone who is hurting? I actually had someone say to me, "I'm not good at hearing stuff like this." Yeah, my pain is about you. I think, "I'm sorry this is happening to you," is a good thing to say ... and a comforting thing to hear.

8) Doris' only child was her son, record producer Terry Melcher. Terry had a successful, years-long collaboration with The Beach Boys. Do you have a favorite Beach Boys song? This one. I'm not a big Beach Boys fan, but I like the opening line, "Off the Florida Keys" It reminds me of good times in Key West.

9) Random question: What's one thing you've never done, but have always wanted to try? Skydiving or maybe piloting. I suspect that those activities might help me overcome my fear of flying.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tell it to someone who can help!

I talked to Henry for more than an hour last night. It wasn't pleasant. Being home, surrounded by his own belongings and his dogs, hasn't improved his outlook on life.

He began by telling me he's considered killing himself by jumping out the bedroom window. (It's only the third floor; he could hurt himself, but he wouldn't die.) Or maybe run away and live with the homeless under the bridge. (Hard to do in a wheelchair.) I let him rail, and then I asked him what brought him to this point.

He feels that everyone is trying to control him, and no one is explaining the why behind their actions.

He is worried that he will go to jail for being drunk at the moment of the accident, even though he insists he hadn't been drinking at all that night. I told him he won't go to jail without a trial -- he knows that -- and if he's innocent, his medical records will back that up. I reminded him that if he really, really wants to divorce Reg, he needs a lawyer, anyway.

I pointed out to him that he's not as his best right now. He just went through a cataclysmic experience.  Maybe he should concentrate on healing and getting past it, then worry about divorce and public intoxication.

He responded by saying this is not the biggest thing he's dealt with, and made repeated references to a sexual assault when he was 5. He acts as though we have talked about his before. We haven't. I think it's important that this brain injury has made this recollection so vivid for him again, after all these years.

I told him he needs help, and way more than I give. I told him he needs a psychologist right there in Key West -- not three hours away in Miami -- someone he can see regularly and confide in. Someone who can take the time to explain the whys to him in a way he can grasp.

I know he is in pain. I know I am not equipped to help.

Yet I am who he calls.

I am shocked by his lack of empathy for Reg, for his mother, even for his dogs. I am smart enough to know this is significant, but not smart enough to know what it means.

I am overwhelmed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


WWW.WEDNESAY asks us 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?  
Y Is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton. Santa Theresa PI Kinsey Milhone is dealing with a thorny one. Parents hire her when their son is "timed out" of the juvenile penal system ... after murdering a classmate. But Kinsey recognizes that he was tried, convicted and served his time. This is the way the system works. She allows herself to be sucked into the family's drama. 

I'm not very deep into the story yet, but there is one thing I appreciate so far. Kinsey doesn't like the family she's working for. But they aren't asking her to do anything illegal -- at least not yet -- and their money is good. I'm not a private investigator but I work for an agency that assigns me to clients. I don't have to like them. This is life for us workaday stiffs.
PS I got this as a gift last Christmas, but I just couldn't read it then. I knew it was last Grafton, my last encounter with Kinsey, and that finality made me too sad.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  
And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson. This is really two books in one, and I enjoyed the first one thoroughly. It takes place on Palmyra, a tiny island south of Hawaii. It's officially "unoccupied," meaning no one lives there -- though US Navy personnel and conservationists stay for short periods. It's on this virtually deserted island that two couples meet. The first couple, Buck and Jennifer, show up on Palmyra in an old boat they rehabbed themselves. They're trying to live off the land, in hiding because Buck is evading law enforcement. The second couple, the Grahams, swoop in on their luxury sail boat, looking for adventure.
Somehow, Buck and Jennifer show up back in Hawaii onboard the Grahams' boat, and the Grahams are never seen alive again. What happened?

The second story is Jennifer's trial, with Vincent Bugliosi defending her. This is when it drags. Bugliosi and Henderson give us some great moments -- Vince describing voir dire was genuinely enlightening, and the passages describing one of the witnesses (the woman who discovered Mrs. Graham's remains), made me smile because he was so twitterpated by her. But murder trials are long, and this level of detail was mind numbing.
Plus there are very few good photos in the book. Jennifer is depicted as warm, attractive and able to charm anyone. Yet there's only one grainy picture of her. It's frustrating.
3.  What will you read next?  
Fiction? A biography?

I choose to think of it as free food

Seven working days ago, we got a new assignment. A big assignment. I asked my boss what I should do about it.

"Just don't worry," said my distracted boss. It's a high profile project, so he wanted to maintain control. He was finishing off another project, though, and there were more hiccoughs on that one than he expected.

And he took last Friday off as a vacation day. Oh! He's taking all next week off, too.

So, when he dumped it all on me Monday, after a week, I was naturally resentful. I could have been working on it all along, but he waited to hand if off to me until it was late.

I was short-tempered and tense all day today. The account team I'm working with is less than competent but more than dramatic. Having to work through lunch while sitting out in the open with no privacy, no alone time, didn't help. Tomorrow will be more of the same, since we have a noon meeting scheduled.

Then it occurred to me: I've been eating free.

Monday, on my way out the door, I wrapped a giant deli sandwich and slipped it into my briefcase. It had been left over from conference earlier in the day. It made the main course of a decent dinner.

Today, one of my coworkers who felt bad about the situation alerted me that catering left a tray in the kitchen. I cadged a pair of meatballs and some green bean casserole.

Tomorrow's lunch meeting will actually be catered.

Is my boss taking advantage of me? Undoubtedly. Am I angry? At times.

But I choose to look at is free food.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A powerful dose of sisterhood, courtesy of Michelle Obama

Saturday night, my movie group watched Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. It's one of my favorites. It's a favorite of our moderator, Will, too. His enthusiasm for these classics makes the movies even better.

After the movie, Joanna and I went up the street to catch up at our favorite Spanish restaurant. It's been a long time since we just sat and blabbed. Summertime, I think. (I remember checking my phone for the Cubs score that night.)

She has a new man in her life! Well, sort of. He's the brother of a friend. They met while he was visiting from Panama. Since he left, they have talked and texted every night. But he doesn't want her to come visit. Not if she's not willing to stay. Of course she isn't. She's not leaving the country forever for a man she knew for a week. And yet, she's excited and "girly" when she talks about him. Maybe he's just the thing for her now.

Her life has been shadowed by death. Her cat and dog died after long illnesses, and within months of one another. While her brother was in the hospital recovering from a car accident, he was diagnosed with cancer. A flirtation with a charming man who lives on a sailboat in a faraway land could be just what she needs.

I brought her up to date with Henry's issues. She kept telling me how lucky we are. I appreciated hearing it. His case is so difficult right now that I forget that he might have been left permanently disabled or without memory and/or speech.

As I finished my pumpkin spice martini (a first for me), we somehow arrived at menopause. Honest, I don't recall how we got there. But we agreed women don't speak of it often enough, or candidly enough, with one another.

I segued to Michelle Obama's book, and the way she addresses her difficulty in carrying a baby. I said I thought it was more than courageous of the former FLOTUS, it was important because so many of us have gynecological issues and we just don't talk about them. For a woman as accomplished and together as Michelle to admit she had it, faced it and overcame it has to be a help to others.

Joanna's response surprised me. She began to cry as she told me about the baby she lost during her first marriage. She didn't mention the date of the miscarriage, but instead when her baby was due: August, 1981. He would be 37 now. (She consistently referred to the baby she lost as "he.") She didn't go into detail about what happened (miscarriage? stillbirth? and why no other pregnancies?). I didn't press. I could tell that she was sharing something very dear to her and she had to do it in her own way.

She mentioned her passion for tennis star Roger Federer, who happened to be born when her baby was due. People think she has "a crush" on him, but it's not that. There's no sexual element to it. She feels a connection to him and his soul because of the son she lost.

I told her I get it. Anthony Rizzo is the same for me. I look at him and don't see a lover, I see the son I would have been proud to have. I'm not jealous of his fiancee, Emily. I envy his mother. Of course, I was not pregnant when Rizz was born. I've never been pregnant. But his values, the way he behaves, the way he treats people and courageously uses his fame for good ... he lives what I would have liked to pass on to a son.

We found ourselves holding hands for a moment. We felt closer than we had before and we had shared something important.

Thank you, Michelle Obama.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"No hate. No fear. Everyone is welcome here."

So went the chant of the youth-led peace march through my hometown. Recently, swastikas and ugly white supremacist graffiti appeared at the local high school. Black, Muslim and Jewish students are frightened.

The village came together for a march from the high school to the shopping district. Students led the way. Faculty members had bullhorns. There were grandparents holding the hands of their toddler grandkids. There were singles marching with their dogs. There were entire families marching.

The show of support was inspiring. But it left me indescribably sad. No kid ever hated high school more than I did. But I never once felt afraid to go.

"A youth" has been identified as "a person of interest" in the police investigation. I suspect the perpetrator is a student who wanted to stir things up without actually understanding the ramifications of his actions. But then I think of Dylan and Eric and all the other disaffected teens who have killed their classmates.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: The Middle (2018)

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

1) This song is about compromise. When did you recently give in a little and meet someone halfway? I do it at work all the time. We started this project a month ago. I have a very good sense of our client and did a first draft based on what I've learned they want. Our account exec -- new to the team -- was exasperated with me, insisting I didn't "go far enough." After literally a half dozen meetings and many side discussions, I did as she asked. We got the client input. Guess what. I feel like Maxine Nightingale.

2) She sings that the floors are wet. Are there any floors in your home that could use a good scrub today? If you answered "yes," will those floors get cleaned this weekend? My kitchen and bathroom floors could benefit from a little elbow grease. Whether they'll get it remains to be seen.

3) She also sings that the cabinets are bare. What's currently on your shopping list? I need to pick up salad dressing.

4) You may be familiar with this song from Target's TV commercials. Do you often shop at Target? Yes! The Target store near my home just opened this past year and it's been life changing. The grocery section is not very big, but the prices are very competitive and that store is open until 10:00 every night. It's become my go-to convenience store.

5) The lead vocal is handled by Maren Morris, a Grammy winner for "My Church," which is all about singing with the car radio. What's the last song you sang along with? "Workin' on a Groovy Thing" when it came on the shower radio yesterday. Funny, it's a song I haven't thought about in decades, and yet I effortlessly recalled all the lyrics.

6) This past April, Maren married singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd and they have performed onstage together. Who is the last person you sang along with? The person in pew next to me at church when we sang a hymn.

7) This song was composed by brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha. With their bleached hair and sunglasses, they look like a pair of surfer dudes -- which they are, having grown up in Huntington Beach, CA. Is there a body of water near your hometown? My favorite is the Chicago River. Over the last two summers, the Riverwalk has really taken off. A lot of people have many gripes with Mayor Rahm, but he showed the River a lot of love, and I appreciate him for that.

  8) January 2018, when this song debuted, we had a total lunar eclipse. When things like that happen in the sky, do you go out of your way to watch? Nope. I always mean to, but I never do.

9) Random question -- They say we're all young at heart. In what way can you be childlike? I don't hide my exuberance. A friend tells me, "No one is as happy when they're happy as you are."


This week, Henry and I have spoken on the phone three times in all. I've spoken to Reg twice.

I think back to a week ago and laugh at myself. I was feeling isolated and sad because I wasn't hearing from them. Ha!

Henry is very unhappy and very unreasonable. He still insists he's never had a brain injury. He began the week by fighting his doctors every step of the way, but now it seems to be dawning on him that if he doesn't do what they say, he'll never be released.

He insists Reg went more than a week without seeing him. That simply isn't true. I keep telling him that. I said, "But he called me from the road when he was going to the hospital. He called me from the motel next door to the hospital. He was there." Henry's response was both ridiculous and condescending, "I used to think you were one of the smartest people I know," he said sadly.

So now I'm dumb as a box of rocks. I guess it's obvious (to Henry) that Reg was calling me from their home in Key West, not in Miami at all.

He boomerangs between worrying about the mortgage (it's gone up $50/month, and they had a hard time affording it before) and complaining that all Reg cares about is money ... that Reg is simply not there for him ... that he is leaving Reg as soon as they get back to Key West ....

Yeah, and go where? I thought. You're in a wheelchair and you have no money.

Instead I said, "Why make a relationship decision now? Neither of you is at your best right now. He's stressed by the 3 1/2 hour drive, and then having to work while he's sick with worry about you. You're on meds ..."

"I'm not. I'm fine."

"YOU WERE HIT BY A TRUCK!" I shouted. "You were literally hit by a truck! You mean to tell me you're absolutely fine?"

I was mad at myself for yelling at him, but maybe it got through. For the remainder of the call, he backed off a bit from the divorce talk. Last night, when we spoke, he was more conciliatory, toward both Reg and the therapists.

As frustrating as he is, it's comforting to talk to him. His memory of us is in tact. He tells me all the time that he loves me, that I'm his only sister. He hasn't yelled (back) at me. He hasn't tried to "dismiss" me. He's the one who calls me, not the other way around. He always asks about Reynaldo.

Whether he accepts it or not, he had a traumatic brain injury. He had surgery to rebuild his ankle. The road to recovery is going to be a long journey. I have to buckle up and prepare myself. And feel blessed that Reg and Henry have invited me along on the ride.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Hi, Vivian!

I've read and appreciated your comments. Thank you.

"Just me, checking on you."

I was delighted to get that voice mail message. For it was the same message Henry has been leaving me for decades. I called him back and we chatted for about 15 minutes, the first time I've heard his voice since his near-fatal accident almost a month ago.

He sounded tired and weak, but he was lucid. He's lost a few weeks and is confused about the date, but that's not unusual after being in a medically-induced coma. In terms of our relationship, he remembers us and our history I was so relieved! I was afraid that his head injury might have erased me.

He was in a feisty mood, telling me that he while he doesn't remember the accident -- again, not unusual -- he doesn't believe it could have happened the way "they" say it did. He insists he wasn't drinking that night, and doubts he had a brain injury at all, much less a life -threatening one.

"How come my face is unmarked? Why don't I have even a scratch on my head?"

I refused to argue with him, so I just changed the subject. I asked about the view from his hospital room and updated him on my bathroom remodel (which he remembered advising me on every step of the way before his accident).

He's in a great deal of pain because of his shattered ankle. It's encased in a big boot and it itches. Because of his brain injury, they have to be very careful about the pain medication he receives, so he's in a constant state of discomfort. Naturally he's surly.

Plus, he doesn't recall the accident that landed him in Miami and left him unable to walk. That has to be disconcerting.

But he's being very unreasonable with the hospital staff. Thank God he and Reg are legally married. That gives Reg authority when it comes to his treatment. Important because if it was up to Henry, he'd leave the hospital way before he should and he could do real, lasting damage to himself.

And I'm just going to relax a bit. Henry is going to be OK. It's going to take a long, long time. And it's going to be unpleasant -- just because he liked me on Monday doesn't mean he'll be as fond of me next time we talk. But he still knows me and he still loves me. We're still us.

I'm so grateful.