I appropriated this from Ms. Kwiz. It seems like a worthy way to impose a little discipline to my thoughts. If you want to join us, please do!
I'm afraid I can't post the graphic as legibly as she's managed to, so ...
|Visit Kwizgiver for the prompts|
I appropriated this from Ms. Kwiz. It seems like a worthy way to impose a little discipline to my thoughts. If you want to join us, please do!
I'm afraid I can't post the graphic as legibly as she's managed to, so ...
|Visit Kwizgiver for the prompts|
Yes, it snowed last night. I know that some people are grumbling and grousing because 6" (Ok, 6.8") is a bitch to shovel and bullockses up traffic. But I can hear the kids outside my window -- I live next to a children's home with 26 kids in residence -- and they're filled with excitement and joy. And here's a photo from last night. As Stevie Wonder sang, "Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful?" There is nothing about this picture that doesn't make me happy, including the salute to health care workers.
I came upon this last week. Lurie Children's Hospital is a not-for-profit on the city's west side, renown for its pediatric cancer unit. Fat Cat is a Chicago restaurant that -- like most independent eateries -- has suffered financially through the pandemic.
My favorite-most Cub, Anthony Rizzo, and former Cub Ryan Dempster brought the two together -- paying for and delivering more than 100 meals to essential Lurie staff. Win/win. Yea!
I am told there are people who are not Cub fans. I feel bad for these people.
1. What is your favorite animal and why? As a species, cats. Though there have been dogs who held a place in my heart, too.
2. Are people animals? What separates humans from animals? We're just mammals with big brains and opposing thumbs. I remember that from school.
3. Which animal is the most dangerous? We are.
|No other animal would do this, or respond to it with "We love you. You're special."|
4. What should you do if a bear approaches you? Speak in a calm voice and wave your arms slowly up and down. Apparently this will reassure the bear that you're a human and not another bear. I don't know what I'm supposed to do next. I have always been very sure I'll never be approached by a bear.
5. Do you like dogs? Why do people call the dog, man’s best friend? Of course I like dogs. Everyone likes dogs! I think they are a favorite companion because they are so sweet and obedient. (If you require subservience in a furry roommate, do not share your home with a cat.)
6. Do you enjoy going to the zoo? Some people consider zoos to be cruel environments for animals. What do you think? I love visiting the zoo. A responsible zoological society educates us about animals and gives endangered species a safe place to breed. Rodeos and circuses are inhumane. Zoos are great.
7. Where is the best place to see animals in your country? In the world? What animal are you looking for?
8. Are you a vegetarian? What makes some people give up eating meat? I'm not a vegetarian. Why have "people" given up meat? I imagine there are many reasons, some tied to animal rights and their humane treatment, some tied to health.
9. Which animal is most helpful to humans? Probably dogs. Though for centuries, I think horses could have claimed that title.
10 If you could be any animal (besides human), which animal would you like to be? I'd like to be a cat in a household like mine. First of all, I give them the best life I can. Secondly, I admire a cat's nature. They are secure. Cats do what they want to do, secure that it is the wise choice because they are cats. In many ways, I wish I was more like my cats.
11. Who would win in a fight between a tiger and a lion? They don't live together in the wild. If a lion and a tiger got into a fight, somehow a human would be involved, and that would affect the outcome.
12. What do you think about hunting animals? Would you like to try it? I don't think I could ever enjoy hunting or fishing.
13. Books like “Watership Down” and “Animal Farm” give animals human characteristics like human thoughts or language. Is this how you think animals really are? Or are those really just stories about people? Those are really just stories about people.
14. Some animals are endangered due to illegal poaching. How do you feel about this issue? I think illegal poachers are selfish assholes.
15. If we can bring an extinct animal from the past back with genetic engineering, should we do it? Which animals should we bring back? To paraphrase Dr. Malcolm, before we find out if we can, we should stop to think if we should.
Since November, I've been doing blog posts for my agency's new(er) client. A national chain of auto shops, they hired us to, among other things, spiff up their website. Or, as we pretentiously like to say, "create more robust content." It's not a day-in/day-out thing, but it looks like it will land on my plate monthly.
I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I have no affinity for anything auto. It takes me twice as long to write this stuff as it does for my regularly-assigned financial services client. This causes me tremendous stress.
So when, last week, the client requested a meeting with me, for me and about me, I was filled with dread. I was terrified that it was some sort of corrective summit and I'd be told how I was coming up short, what I needed to do to improve. I've been doing this for 40 years now. I've never had a client ask me off their business. While I am confident such an occurrence wouldn't cost me my job in the short-term -- contractually, much of my salary is subsidized by my financial services client* -- I want to hang on to this job as long as possible and client trouble wouldn't help me any. Also, it would be professionally embarrassing.
The stress has not been good for my still covid-fragile gut.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out we were assembled not to bury me but to praise me. Someone actually referred to my efforts as "amazing." They said that since this is going to be an ongoing relationship, they wanted to give me greater context surrounding their digital efforts. They explained how they see these blog posts contributing to their online presence and their brand credibility in 2021.
They also gave me more time than originally scheduled to do this month's posts. They didn't do this to be nice to me -- the current timeline didn't allow for their legal team's availability. But still, I'm delighted to have more time. As I mentioned, this writing does not come easily to me. More time = less stress.
So nothing I was dreading came to pass and everything is better than fine.
As the sailor said, quote, "Ain't that a hole in the boat?"
*It's at times like this I'm glad I'm one of those creatives who pays attention in the geeky, business side of the business meetings.
Saturday 9: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (1973)
Unfamiliar with this song? Hear it here.
8) In 1973, the year this song was popular, actor Neil Patrick-Harris was born. He's best known as Barney on How I Met Your Mother, which ran from 2005-2014. Were you a fan? I like it when I stumble on it, but I don't go out of my way to watch it. Mostly because I dislike one of the characters whom we're obviously supposed to adore. (Robin.) This is why I enjoy Friends so much. I like all six of those characters.
9) Random question -- How often do you put crackers in your soup: Always, often, seldom or never? Always.
Warren is the big, colorful guy who -- until last February -- worked in our mail room. Everyone loved Warren. He shared, and overshared, with everyone who would listen. As he dropped off my Amazon packages, I learned that he:
• Hated living in Gary, and was saving to move to Chicago
• Loved Susan Lucci/Erica Kane and would forever mourn the cancellation of All My Children (noontime would never be the same for him)
• Is terrified of bugs
• His real name is Warren Edward, Jr., known in his family as WeeJay
... on and on and on. Sometimes I was charmed by him, sometimes I wanted him to shut up, but I always noticed him. I felt like I knew him.
In February he made big changes in his life. He went from our mailroom to "facilities coordinator" for a competitive agency. Instead of handling parcels, he was in charge of catering, making sure office supplies are on hand, etc. He also moved from Gary to Wrigleyville on the North Side of Chicago. Since he's in his mid-50s, these changes felt very scary to him. But he did it! Yea, Warren!
Then the pandemic hit. His new agency didn't really need him. When no one is working onsite, no one is having meetings that require catering. When no one is in the office, no one is ordering office supplies. Yet they have kept him on the payroll. 75% of salary, I believe he said. So he gets to stay in his new apartment. Yea!
So why am I worried? Because as I follow Warren on Facebook, I see him devolving. Spinning faster and further away from what he should be doing.
He's been going to the Wrigleyville bars all the time. All. The. Time. Even during the day. Even when the bars weren't technically open. If asked, he and his barmates would tell the police they were hanging out waiting for their food to go. No masks in any of the photos.
When the bars officially reopened this week, he bought a round because he always wanted to do that. "Like in the movies." Yeah, but Warren? You're not on full salary.
He's written about his new and pervasive battle with anxiety. He can't sleep. He can't relax. He posted about how disappointed he was with the offhand way his doctor handled his concerns. I responded I could recommend a good GP. "Not now," he IM'd me. "I'm in the bar." He never got back to me.
I've watched similar behavior with my friends Henry and John. Without jobs to anchor them, they drift and make less-than-stellar choices. Maybe it's a guy thing.
Anyway, as I watched Warren's latest video -- he's singing REM's "End of the World As We Know It" with his new best friend at a bus stop; 22º, no mask -- it hit me very hard that Warren is headed for something bad. Something sad. A crash of some sort. I hope I am wrong.
Warren is luckier than many during this pandemic. He is literally being paid to do nothing. He has friends who care about him. But he can't feel his blessings. I know his anxiety is very real to him. I just wish that he could see he has resources to address his pain and improve his life.
This is such a sad waste.
He spoke without notes. He didn't resort to name-calling.He said things like, "Correct me if I'm wrong ..." He only spoke about the upcoming impeachment trial when asked about it.
He didn't talk about himself or proclaim his greatness. He talked about us and things that effect us.
Ladies and gentlemen, there's a statesman in charge!
I know, I know. There are those who insist Joe Biden is "slow." Those people, I am quite sure, won't watch his press conferences. To borrow from Paul Simon, "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."*
But still, I'm sure he'll keep doing "the pressers." I don't expect all of us to agree, nor should we, but it's a relief to hear the decency, the civility, and the attention he gives to the people's business.
*I read his predecessor's tweets. I watched his rallies. I listened to his briefings. Donald Trump worked hard to earn my contempt.
Saturday 9: Why Did I Choose You? (1965)
I can't help it. The classic movie lover in me kept thinking of this as I watched the Bidens march up Pennsylvania Avenue. I even caught myself singing it into my refrigerator as I contemplated what I'd have for lunch.
Those lights on the reflecting pool memorialize the 400,000 dead of the coronavirus. 400,000 of our fellow Americans. According to the VA, 405,000 American servicemen died in WWII. That was between 1941 and 1945. We're still dying of covid at this startling rate without yet hitting the one-year anniversary.
This country is not, as former President Trump kept insisting, "rounding the corner." We are in the thick of it. We are suffering. We are dying. To paraphrase Illinois' governor, we're losing both our lives and our livelihoods.
Until this week, I've been scared and angry. "Rounding the corner," my ass! My guts were water, I was unable to work, I had a bloody rash on my ankle ... this went on for more than a month! Beginning in December. When my community was facing record case numbers and my President was diminishing me in his zeal to convince us all that he deserved to stay in office even after he lost the election.
My oldest friend in SoCal was suffering from it at the same time. Her case was not as severe as mine, but that's in no way a complaint! She is a diabetic and a heart patient. People with her underlying conditions die from this. Like me, she was part of the post-Thanksgiving surge. I wonder how many people had conventional family get-togethers because they assumed their President was telling them the truth about "rounding the corner."
I just found out that my Cousin Rose, who lives near Tampa, received her corona virus diagnosis on Christmas Eve. Her letter reports that she is on the mend, but she is 70+ years old and lives alone. She admits she was terrified. For the first time in her life, she had to depend on others for help ... and while her much loved grandnephew pitched in with grocery and drugstore runs, she was unable to let him in. The sense of vulnerability remains with her as she recovers. And, I cannot emphasize this enough, my Cousin Rose has always been one of the most independent women I've ever known. She was a geography teacher until she was in her mid-30s and spent every summer vacation on the road, traveling first the country and Puerto Rico and then the world (specifically Mexico and Guatemala) and then convincing her bosses to allow her to change her lesson plan so she could use her slides. The corona virus has robbed her, at least for now, of her feisty sense of self.
A friend lost her great aunt to the corona virus. Another friend lost her father. Yes, Auntie was in her 90s and Dad was in his 80s. But they were unable to have the traditional funeral services that would have salved their souls.
So I've been mad. Furious. With nowhere to put my anger. Oh, I've prayed. I have let the Lord know I am grateful that I can still work from home, that I have a good doctor, that I am lucky enough to live in Chicagoland, where I received prompt attention from the healthcare system and support from local government.
But I hadn't cried. When I saw this memorial, I welled up. I was overwhelmed by how much I felt beyond the fear and anger. I miss going downtown. I miss seeing my friends. I miss going to the movies. I miss my life. I am sick of selfish dumb asses who are antivax and antimask and are willing to risk the nation's health and strength over a misconceived political spat.*
I am tired of this pandemic. Right through to my bone marrow. And I see it isn't over and we all have be stronger longer, even as we are tired.
My weariness is garden variety. I know my feelings are shared by millions upon millions of my fellow Americans, many of whom have suffered far more than I have. Knowing that the exhaustion is pervasive doesn't help.
But crying did. Mourning did. Acknowledging pain and hurt but then continuing on doesn't make us weak. In fact, it's made this gal stronger in a way that pretending we're "rounding the corner" never could. I am facing the next few months with a more peaceful outlook, because I was able to turn my rage into pain and then really acknowledge it. Honor it.
I struggle with how to deal with them. For while the situations they find themselves in are not their fault, I am frustrated by how they are coping (or not coping) with their mental health issues. I want to hang on, want to remain close to both of them, but I'm vexed.
Kathy. She sent me a text, saying that if I'm "bored" I should call. I wasn't bored, but I figured she might be feeling isolated so I called her. She didn't pick up. My honest reaction? That I'd dodged a bullet.
She called me back and asked me what TV shows I've been watching lately. I told her I'd just finished a sexy, suspenseful old thriller called Night Must Fall (1937). I'd never seen it, never heard of it before, but really enjoyed it.
"Why did you watch it?" she asked.
"It was introduced by my favorite TCM host, Eddie Muller, so ..."
"What is a TCM host?" she interrupted.
Kathy knows I went to the TCM Film Festival in 2019. I sent her a postcard. We talked about it when I got home. But she forgot. That's OK.
"TCM is Turner Classic Movies. It's my favorite cable channel. Hosts introduce the movies and ..."
"You know I don't have cable! I can't watch this TCM!" She sounded annoyed with me. I was only telling her about this because she asked. Moments ago. Had she forgotten that, too?
We segued to Covid. She has been very thoughtful during my battle with the virus and I'm grateful. She asked if I was going to get the vaccine and I said of course. I trust my own physician and I trust Dr. Fauci. I mentioned his work with AIDS and she said, "What's that?" I thought she meant she didn't know Fauci had been an early AIDS researcher. No. She forgot what acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is. This is scary.
Then she tells me -- as she always does -- that she once, recently had a brain problem but it fixed itself. She insists she won't discuss it with a doctor because she's fine now. She knows she's not fine. She must be terrified.
She has Medicare. She could be checked at little or no cost. She might have a thyroid problem or a vitamin deficiency. But she chooses to live like this.
An hour talking to Kathy feels like two. It's frustrating and depressing.
Henry. He and his husband Reg are fighting again. Henry maintains Reg doesn't understand him, doesn't fight for him when the world is against him as "a brown gay man in Trump's America." I don't dispute that President Trump made people more comfortable with their biogtry. But I don't think people who are predisposed to discriminate against gays or Hispanics would move to Key West. Plus, Henry had an unfortunate penchant for blaming dark conspiracies when things go wrong in his life, even before the accident. His TBI has only exacerbated this.
Reg gets short-tempered. He is exhausted and feels underappreciated. I understand. Henry is completely unreasonable at times. But they say cruel things to one another, things that would make your blood run cold.
But they are both at fault. Henry now has a neurologist that he likes, trusts and won't see. He also has a therapist that he likes, trusts and won't see. The problem, you see, is not him. It's the bigoted coworkers and customers he encounters every day in Trump's America.
There are online support groups Reg could consult. He could enjoy the comfort of sharing with other caregivers who truly understand the challenges he faces. He won't do it. "I feel like Henry is my responsibility," he says.
They cling so tightly to their problems that Henry and Reg now identify themselves, and one another, by them. Henry sees himself as a victim because no one understands him. Reg sees himself as a victim because he has a husband who, because of a traumatic brain injury, both hates him and depends on him. They seem almost frightened to break this cycle and get help.
Me. I am happy every time the phone rings and it isn't Kathy or Henry. I know everyone is doing the best they can, and I love them, but they exhaust me. Add my oldest friend -- who is battling clinical depression -- and I just want to hide.
I have to be more patient, less judgemental. I also have to allow myself the space to not pick up. I'm beginning to feel depleted. I can't be there for my friends if I don't have anything to give them.
E- Easiest person to talk to: My oldest friend
F - Favorite Month: October, if the Cubs are in it
G - Gummy Bears or Worms: Neither. I'm an old lady with crowns on her teeth.
H - Hair Color: Light brown
I - Ice Cream: Mint chocolate chip
J - Jewelry: I don't wear my rings or watch since the pandemic to protect them from sanitizer
K - Kindergarten: I remember my teacher was quite beautiful and able to play piano
L - Longest Car Ride: Chicago to Fort Lauderdale with Cousin Rose and her friend Natalie (close to three days)
M - Most missed person: My uncle
N - Number of Siblings: Two
O - One regret: No brother, only sisters
P- Part of your appearance you like least: My chins. All of them.
Q- Quote: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. (Updated for today: Quit bitching about restrictions because of the pandemic. Staying home and wearing a mask are, literally, the least you can do for your country, you benighted, selfish fuck.)
R - Reality TV Show: I don't really have one. Back in the olden days, I was hooked on The Real World on MTV. That was back in the 1990s.
|The San Francisco cast was my favorite|
T - Time you woke up: 8:00
U - Unpredictable: Chicago weather
V - Vegetable you hate: Peppers
W- Worst Habits: Sloth
X - X-Rays: In 2020, I had dental x-rays and a mammogram.
Y - Year you were born: 1957
Z - Zoom: Where I can be found most weekdays
Saturday 9: Thank U, Next (2018)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
8) Also in 2018, Aretha Franklin died. What's your favorite Aretha song?
9) Random question: Are you more likely to shed a tear at a wedding or during a movie? A movie.
Do you know Letterboxd? It's like Goodreads, but for movies. You can log each movie you watched, rate it, note where/why you viewed it. Like Goodreads, it tabulates your personal year-end stats.
In 2020, I saw 126 films.
• My favorites were (no surprise) The Way We Were and Casablanca. I predict they will be my favorites in 2021, too.
• I didn't like The First Lady or Mame (sorry, Lucy).
• The one that I appreciated most that also got a high rating from the rest of the Letterboxd community was Joker.
• The one that I liked less than the rest of the Letterboxd community was Vertigo.
And here's my favorite stat. My most-watched stars of 2020 were:
• Cary Grant
• Robert Redford
• James Stewart
• Gene Kelly
• Mike Mazurki
So, Mike Mazurki, let me shine a spotlight on your career. Because of his 6'5 frame, square face and husky voice, he was almost always cast as a gangster or a bully. When his career as a professional wrestler tanked, he tried his hand at acting. In addition to movies from the 40s and 50s, he played his share of bad guys on TV shows in the 60s and 70s -- everything from Mr. Ed to Gunsmoke. Never a star, but always a presence, he worked regularly for more than 50 years. He never actually retired and was still appearing on TV and in music videos when he died of heart failure in 1990. Friends and coworkers recall that he was nothing like the characters he played, that he always had a book in his hand and was very witty in conversation.
As for me, thanks for being a bright spot in an otherwise shitty 2020, Mike Mazurki!
Reynaldo seems so content these days! He loves watching the goings on in our home from the safety and comfort of his new favorite box. His appearances in my Zoom meetings are so popular that so far this week, he's received shout outs from both a coworker and a member of my movie group.
Yet my little old man has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. All the symptoms are there -- vomiting, nervousness (no shit, he gets upset every time I leave the apartment, even if it's just to take out the garbage), increased thirst, weight loss -- and the blood work confirmed it.
After consulting with the vet and checking my options online, we're going to treat his condition, not cure it. Reynaldo is 17 years old. (The average life expectancy of an indoor cat is 12-16 years.) With regular medication, he could live three more years. Surgery or radiation could eradicate the disease, but they are more complicated for me and more taxing for him, and he likely wouldn't live beyond age 20 anyway. Of course, if the medication doesn't work, or if there are side effects, surgery and radiation are still on the table.
The most important thing is his comfort. He deserves to always feel safe and content.
And so we went to the vet. After a quick once-over, the vet declared that Rey is not in any imminent danger -- YEA! -- but agrees that something may be bedeviling him. So blood was drawn. It should reveal whether the problem is his kidneys, his thyroid, or something else.
If the vet were a betting man, he'd put his money on hypothyroidism. While serious, with potential impact on all Rey's organs, it's also easiest to treat.
Fingers crossed that we can find a way to keep my little man happy, engaged and comfortable for as long as we can.
Here's the transcript of what our President said to the rally just before his supporters marched up the street to the Capitol. It's filled with personal attacks, spite and animus. It's really jaw dropping. At the 31:50 mark, even Justice Kavanaugh gets special attention.
And, oh, the baseless conspiracy theories he keeps perpetuating! There is no evidence that any of these things happened. None. Or if there is, President Donald J. Trump has the worst legal team ever, because of the 62 individual lawsuits, filed in both state and federal courts, 61 failed.
So he lied, slandered and incited. He whipped up this crowd and encouraged them to walk up the street to the Capitol, because, in his own words, "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to be strong."
And this really bugs me. While the President exhorts the angry crowd to "demand Congress do the right thing," he promises, "We're going to walk down and I'll be there with you." The coward did not go with them. He knew it was going to be ugly and he didn't want to get hurt. Cadet Bonespurs to the end.
Here he is, the man some of your neighbors still admire. Many of those who still embrace and support this man love to quote Scripture. Well, let me take my turn:
The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Psalm 11
Deliver me, Lord, from evil men. Preserve me from violent men. Psalm 13
Yes, just because I'm patriotic enough to celebrate the separation of Church and State doesn't mean I don't pray. If you're still supporting this dishonest, cowardly, violent President, perhaps in addition to listening to his words, you should look at your own faith.