Sunday, January 31, 2021

I'm gonna try

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

"God, I love baseball!"

So said Roy Hobbs/Robert Redford in The Natural. So say I almost every day.

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!

My hero!

I am told there are people who are not Cub fans. I feel bad for these people.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sunday Stealing


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.


As the fellow once said, "Ain't that a kick in the head?"

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.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (1973)

Unfamiliar with this song? Hear it here.

1) Bette Midler sings that the bugle boy wakes up Company B every morning by playing reveille. What awakened you this morning (phone, alarm clock, sunrise, etc.)? Or did you wake up on your own? My cat Reynaldo was hungry and/or bored.

2) This single was produced by Bette's arranger/piano player, who went on to have a successful singing career of his own. Do you have a favorite Barry Manilow song? I basically loathe him. Except for the song "Even Now." I thought I was completely over someone and then his name came up in conversation and I realized I wasn't over him at all and knew I was acting like Barry Manilow in this song. That's the downside to romance: it can make you behave like a Barry Manilow song. (Great. Now I'm remembering him again. "I swear I think of you and God, I wish you knew ..." Damn you, Barry Manilow!)
3) Bette was named after Bette Davis. Her sisters, Susan and Judy, were named for Susan Hayward and Judy Garland. So now we know who Mother Midler's favorite actresses were. Who are yours? Katharine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Aniston.

4) Bette has been married since 1984 to artist Martin von Haselberg. She was 39 years old, already a star, and had never married before. Yet within six weeks of meeting him, she was so sure Martin was "the one" that they tied the knot. Have you found that love takes time, or, like Bette, have you fallen in love quickly? It creeps up on me. Yes, I'm thinking of the guy from #2 again. Sigh.

5) When their daughter Sophie was growing up, it was Martin who taught her to cook. What was the last thing you prepared in your kitchen? Did you use the microwave, stovetop, convection oven, blender, coffee maker ...? I nuked a cup of tea in the microwave.
6) Bette says that listening and compromise have been the key to their happy marriage but adds, "Compromise is hardest of all." On what have you compromised recently? Ha! I was working with a new creative director on a project and he asked me to revise my work. I thought he was making it worse, but these things are subjective and I wanted to be a good sport and a team player, so I complied. Guess what. Our client immediately asked me to take out everything he added. I'll be intentionally obtuse and pretend I don't know the moral of the story.
7) Bette and Martin have a farmhouse in upstate New York. She enjoys feeding the chickens (whom she has jokingly named The Kardashians) and puttering in her garden. Do you have a green thumb? Yes. I had to bring my office plants home and they have, literally, taken over my den. They'd do even better if I could bring myself to cut them back more often. 

I'd love to drape them around the room like Hepburn did in Desk Set

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.

I hope I'm wrong

I don't claim to have any supernatural intuition. (That's Snarkypants' purview!) But I have a very strong feeling about Warren, and I can't shake it. 

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; 22ยบ, 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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021



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? The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams. Miracle Springs, NC, is a small town that sprang up around natural hot springs. Tourists came in search of relaxation and healing. Occasionally someone has a problem that the waters can't cure. At times these folks turn to Nora, the "bibliotherapist" who ran Miracle Books. She recommends books so they can read their way back to health.

It's in this quirky setting a murder is committed. Before a visiting businessman can make it to Miracle Books, his seemingly unsolvable problem is solved permanently when he is pushed under the 3:00 PM train. Some of the women of Miracle Springs are determined to solve the crime, and they form the Secret, Book & Scone Society, meeting in Nora's bookstore. 

In Miracle Springs, tourists don't go to McDonald's, they visit The Pink Lady Grill or The Gingerbread House Bakery. It's a special place. I used to vacation in Hot Springs, AR. I was enchanted by how green everything was there -- fortified and enriched by the natural spring water. So in my mind's eye, Hot Springs is the small town where this is set. So far, it's charming, intriguing and better written than many "cozy mysteries."
2. What did you recently finish reading? Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes. 26-year-old Lucy and three of her friends visited a fortune teller and, when her friends' prophecies came true, it appeared Lucy just might get married as predicted. What lucky bloke will get to be Mr. Lucy Sullivan? 
Yes, this is chick-lit. If you can't figure out, 30 pages in, who Lucy Sullivan will end up with, you've never read a romance novel or watched a Hallmark channel movie. But this book is about more than falling in love. Lucy Sullivan endures depression and low self esteem. I can't well say she "suffers" because for the first 2/3 of the book, she seems unaware of how she gets in her own way. She undervalues herself so much that she takes little in her life seriously. She doesn't understand that she deserves more than shallow (borderline abusive) friends, a dead-end job and men who take advantage of her sexually and financially.

Which is not to say this is a sad book. Lucy is quick, clever and creative. 640 pages is a lot of time to spend with a character, and Lucy is good company. I cheered for her and understood her. (She reminds me of me, half a lifetime ago.) I was uncomfortable with the character of Meredia. Lucy's coworker is a mere punchline, an excuse for fat jokes. This book was originally published 22 years ago. I'd like to think Marian Keyes would not write Meredia the same way today.
3. What will read next?  I don't know, but it won't be The Sun Also Rises. I tried to give this Hemingway a chance and you know what? After about 50 pages I realized I didn't like it. Now that I'm not in lit class, I don't have to finish books I don't like.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Did I just hear this?

I just heard my President take questions from the press -- including a reporter from Fox News, who is not exactly predisposed to agree with him.

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.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Why Did I Choose You? (1965)

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

1) In this song, Barbra Streisand reassures her lover that, if she had it all to do again, she would still choose him. Tell us about a decision you've made that you never, ever regretted. Adopting my furry roommates. You can shop at pet stores, breeders, Craigslist, etc. Or you can adopt from a shelter and save a life. I'm proud I rescued my cats and gave them a good home, and have never for one moment wished I'd taken another route.
2) The music was composed by Michael Leonard, who studied classical music at Julliard and the Handel Conservatory of Music in Munich. Do you often listen to classical music? Nope.

3) The lyrics were written by Herbert Martin. He taught music in the NYC public school system and during the summer worked in summer stock. That's how he met and began collaborating with Michael Leonard. Tell us how you met someone important in your life. Frank had enough of shoveling snow from his driveway so his wife, Rose, searched for an apartment not far from his office. It wasn't an easy task, as there weren't many apartment buildings in our town. They settled in Apt. #6, across the alley from my family's ranch house. Frank and Rose brought their little girl into my neighborhood, my Kindergarten class, my backyard and my life. She's been my best friend ever since. That was 58 years ago.
4) Ms. Streisand was a very good student, graduating fourth in her class at Erasmus Hall High School when she was only 16. One of Barbra's classmates was Neil Diamond. Do you have a favorite Neil Diamond song? I suppose "Sweet Caroline." (Though his version doesn't include the, "So good! So good! So good!" chant.)

5) While she didn't go on to college, she continued her education by attending two different acting schools simultaneously. Did you enjoy being a student? No. I have always had an issue with arriving on time and then being told what to do. I think I might be one of those students who enjoys remote learning.
6) Barbra and her first husband, Elliott Gould, shared a New York apartment over a 5th Avenue restaurant called Oscar's Salt of the Sea. Elliott originated the role of Trapper John in the movie M*A*S*H. On TV, the role of Trapper was played by Wayne Rogers. Can you think of another role that's been played by more than one actor? Over the years, Bewitched had two Darrins. I preferred the original.
I think Two Darrins would be a good name for a band.

 7) Oscar's Salt of the Sea has ties to Sesame Street. Jim Henson loved their food and was amused by how inhospitable the owner, Oscar, could be. That's how Oscar the Grouch got his name. Which is your favorite Muppet? Beaker. Enjoy him performing "Ode to Joy."
8) Back to Barbra ... She is a successful recording artist (nominated for 45 Grammy awards, winning 8) and an Oscar-winning actress, but she's suffered career disappointments, too. In 2010, she read the book Hidden Figures and tried to buy the rights so she could direct the film version. She lost out to fellow Brooklynite, director Theodore Melfi. In 2016, his movie of Hidden Figures was released. Did you see the movie or read the book? Yes. I saw it in the theater. God! How I miss going to the movies!

9) Random question: Your best friend takes up painting and proudly presents her first framed work to you. You think it's atrocious. Would you hang it in your home anyway? Sure. At least when she comes over.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Running on a continuous loop

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.

Tears. Finally.


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.

*Why aren't they offended by "No shirt, no shoes, no service" signs? Because Q wears a shirt? What fools!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Broken Brains

I have two friends who simply are not who they were on this day in 2018. It isn't their fault. Kathy is suffering from some form of undiagnosed dementia, and Henry is still feeling the after effects of the collision between his bike and a Chevy Van.

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.

Sunday, January 17, 2021



A - Annoyance: That my work laptop is piece of shit

B - Bestest Friend[s]: My oldest friend

C - Car: None

D - Day or night: Depends

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:

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

S - Shoe: I admit it. Since the pandemic, now that I'm home all the time, I've been wearing my Crocs. Don't judge me.

T - Time you woke up:

U - Unpredictable: Chicago weather

V - Vegetable you hate:

W- Worst Habits:

X - X-Rays:
In 2020, I had dental x-rays and a mammogram.

Y - Year you were born:

Z - Zoom:
Where I can be found most weekdays

Friday, January 15, 2021

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Thank U, Next (2018)

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

1) In this song, Ariana Grande thanks her former boyfriends for what they taught her about love, life, patience and pain. Do you believe you have learned more from your successes, or your mistakes? My successes. I'm afraid I don't learn from my mistakes because I seem to make the same ones repeatedly.
2) One of the young men mentioned in the song is Pete Davidson, a cast member of Saturday Night Live. SNL has been on for more than 45 years now. Who is your all-time favorite cast member? Chicago's very own Bill Murray. For obvious reasons.
3) Thinking of funny people ... As you can see from the video, Ariana performed "Thank U, Next" on Ellen Degeneres' talk show. Ellen makes people laugh every afternoon. Who in your life can you always count on to make you laugh or smile? My oldest friend.
4) It looks like Ariana Grande's personal romantic saga will have a happy ending because at Christmastime, she announced her engagement. Do you know anyone who is getting married in 2021? My oldest friend's son is getting married in the spring.

5) Ariana loves Harry Potter and named her dogs Snape, Lily and Sirius Black after characters in the J.K. Rowling books. Are you a Harry Potter fan? Nope.

6) She loves board games, especially Monopoly. Sam isn't crazy about Monopoly because it takes so long. How about you? Are you a Monopoly fan? Nope.
7) In 2018, the year this song was released, Toys R Us closed all its stores and went out of business. Who received the last toy you purchased? What was it? My older niece had a baby boy in 2020. When I sent the baby gift, I included a doll for her older daughter, so Big Sister wouldn't feel overlooked. The doll has its own bathing suit, towel and inflatable bath toy. It was quite a hit, though she sleeps with it instead of taking it into the tub with her.

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.


I'm a Mazurki Maniac

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

MIKE MAZURKI? Never once in 2020 did I curl up, grab the remote and think, "I need me some Mike Mazurki." And yet I watched more Mike Mazurki movies than I did Elvis, or Judy Garland, or Katharine Hepburn. 

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!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

How can he be sick?


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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


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? Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes. Lucy and three of her friends visited a fortune teller and, when her friends' prophecies come true, it appeared Lucy just might get married as predicted. What lucky bloke will get to be Mr. Lucy Sullivan? Lucy was skeptical about the whole thing. Not only hadn't she located Mr. Right, she didn't even have anyone to date. Yet after the psychic reading, her friends view every man Lucy meets, no matter how inappropriate, as Lucy's possible life mate.
The story is told from Lucy's point-of-view and she's good company. She describes herself as an ordinary girl with brown curls, a mass of freckles and a good sense of humor. At 26, she doesn't take herself, or her career, or much else very seriously. She considers weekdays merely as the time spent between weekends partying with her friends. I like her. (I was her.)

Yes, this is chick-lit. But after the heavy book I recently finished, this could be just what the doctor ordered. I've read Marian Keyes before and know I can depend on her for warm, relatable characters who face life with openness, generosity and humor.
2. What did you recently finish reading? Marina and Lee by Priscilla Johnson McMillan. The title couple is the Oswalds, who blazed into American history via the trigger of a rifle. Ms. McMillan is uniquely qualified to tell this story. She worked for Senator John F. Kennedy and was friendly enough with the boss to visit him in the hospital after his 1955 back surgery. He was  buoyant despite the pain, sharing his hospital bed with a giant Howdy Doody Doll. His room was always filled with people, even though the nurses were under strict orders to limit his visitors to immediate family. Fortunately, he had eight siblings, so he could plausibly assure the staff that every woman who entered his room was a sister.  
Then, in 1959, McMillan became a journalist assigned to the Moscow bureau. She spent five hours interviewing a young American defector named Lee Harvey Oswald. This makes her one of the few people -- perhaps the only one -- to have conversed at length with both the President and his assassin.
Ms. McMillan prepared for the book with months of interviews with Marina. The portrait that emerges is tragic, unpleasant, ridiculous. Two damaged souls came together, a chance meeting at a dance in Minsk, and the results were combustible and, improbably, changed the world. 
It's a tough read. Marina is shallow, willful and immature. You can understand why: as an illegitimate child in Soviet Russia, she was unwanted and emotionally abused. Lee is secretive, self-important and entitled. You can understand why: his father died before he was born, leaving him alone with a mother who can best be described as a horror show. Marguerite Oswald is the villain of this piece. The way she controlled and suffocated her son reminded me of Norman Bates' mother in Psycho

So as well-researched and well-written as it is, this is not a book I recommend. Marina and Lee are both intensely unlikable. It's hard to plow through more than 600 pages when there are no sympathetic characters. As their marriage deteriorated into an ugly cycle of workplace failure, financial strife, sexual dysfunction and beatings, Lee became more determined to be noticed by the world. To make history. God help us all, that was the one goal he achieved.

3. What will read next?  I don't know.

Monday, January 11, 2021

81 Days!

According to Commissioner Rob Manfred, the Cubs 2021 season will start on time on April 1 and will include a full 162 games. Rizz and I are thrilled!



"Let's GO!"

As soon as I took the carrier out of the closet, Reynaldo jumped in. If we're going somewhere, let's GO!

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.

He said this. All of this.

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.