Saturday, April 17, 2021

Sunday Stealing


1. The best story your parents or grandparents tell about the good ole days. When my mom was a little girl during WWII, she spent a few late summer weeks each year with her grandparents. They didn't live on a farm, but it was during rationing so they kept chickens and traded the eggs with their neighbors. Anyway, this was her favorite end-of-summer tradition: she would choose the buttons, rickrack and bows that her grandmother would use to make her a new back-to-school dress ... out of a chicken feed bag! It sounds sad, but the way my mom told it, you could tell the memory delighted her. The decorations were sold by a door-to-door "notions" salesman, and when my mom saw him come up the walk with his case, she thought life couldn't get any better.
2. The best things in life are... Books, baseball, the Beatles, and cats.
3, Things that drive me batty. People who excuse thoughtless, hurtful or rude behavior by using words/phrases like "truth bomb" and "keeping it real." They aren't honest and authentic, they're just selfish boors. (And usually wrong.)
4. A place I'd like to live and why. The Palmolive Building, right here in Chicago. It's a historic old building (that rotating light at the top was added to help Lucky Lindy find his way!) and it provides awesome views of The Lake and Michigan Avenue. And it used to be Playboy's national headquarters. I think Hugh Hefner was a dreadful, dangerous man, so the idea of an old-school, unreconstructed feminist like me putting her feet up there is appealing.

The shortish bldg w/the bright beam, left center, behind the Drake, is my dream home

5. The best thing I've ever found. I don't know if this counts as "found," but the ATM at the local convenience store gave me two 20s instead of one, and no receipt. I asked the kid who worked there what to do -- expecting him to give me a phone number to call or something -- and he pretty much told me to go away. No one had ever asked him anything like this before and it genuinely annoyed him to be confronted by a new problem. The bank never deducted any money from my account, so I got $40 free. I was perpetually broke in those days, so I mightily appreciated the good fortune.
6. The best thing that happened recently is. Anthony Rizzo got a triple. I've been very worried about him this season. His bat's been cold and I hate it when he's not doing well.

7. I admire people who... remember to give. Here's another picture of Anthony Rizzo, this time with the service dog he provided to The Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, FL.

8. What makes me special.  Aw, hell. I'm just an all-around great gal.
9. I am looking forward to... the end of the pandemic.
10. Things that scare me. Clowns, squirrels, and the Cubs not extending Anthony Rizzo's contract.

11. Complaints I have. Selfish assholes STILL complaining about the mask mandate. More than 565,000 Americans have died of the virus and they insist on making this about themselves. BTW, Douches and Douchettes, you do realize that when this is over, you'll still be mandated to wear shoes in public. Does this interfere with your toes' right to "live free?" (Oh, you don't like being referred to as a douchebag? Pardon my truth bomb. I'm just keepin' it real.)

12. I could never live without... caffeine.
13. Things that make me laugh. Here are two of my favorite jokes:
a) Larry the Lobster played the harp in Tommy Dorsal's band. One night they were performing a swimphony at the undersea disco run by his friend, Sam Clam. After the show, a fishy shook her tailfin at him. He put his harp down so they could swim circles around the dance floor. Then he swam home. "Oh, no!" he exclaimed, "I left my harp in Sam Clam's disco!" (You know, like "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Yuk yuk.)
b) A grandmother is watching her grandson play on the beach. He's wearing a sunhat, shoveling sand into a bucket. A huge wave comes and takes him out to sea. She pleads, "Please, God, save my only grandson. I will live a blameless life if only you return him to me. I beg of you, bring him back." And a big wave washes the boy back and his bucket back onto the beach, good as new. She looks up to Heaven and says, "He had a hat."
14. What is a new skill that you would like to learn? I want to learn Spanish.
15. What brightened your day today? The Cubs got 13 runs! 


Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Don't Rain on My Parade (1968)

1) Is rain expected where you are today? Nope. (I just heard it's going snow Tuesday. SNOW! Is this why they say April is the cruelest month?)

2) In this song, Barbra Streisand warns everyone to not spoil her optimistic mood. What is something you're feeling really good about today? My local movie theater has reopened! I'm so happy to see films on the big screen again. (And just in time for the Oscars!)
3) She sings that life is candy and the sun is a ball of butter. Which have you consumed more recently, candy or butter? Butter. I had mashed potatoes as a late-night snack.

4) This song is from the musical Funny Girl. It's based on the true story of Fanny Brice, who starred on Broadway, in movies and on the radio between 1910 and 1951. At the beginning of her career, no one thought she would succeed because of her unconventional looks, but she forged ahead, saying, "I make things happen for me." Are you focused, like Fanny? I am when I'm working. In my personal life, I'm nowhere near as directed or productive.

5) When the stage version of Funny Girl was in pre-production, the part of Fanny was offered to actress Anne Bancroft, but she felt the songs were too difficult for her. Singer Eydie Gorme dropped out when told her husband, Steve Lawrence, could not play the male lead. Carol Burnett said she'd love to do it, but also admitted she thought she was wrong for the role. Running out of time and options, producer Ray Stark decided to give lesser-known Barbra Streisand a try ... and the rest, as they say, is history. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were glad things didn't work out as you'd originally planned?
If I may toot my own horn, I have a way with critters. So when I went to the animal shelter, I asked for their most unadoptable cat. I wanted to rescue one with special needs, or the one who had been there the longest because I knew I was up to the challenge. Checking my references, the shelter manager learned from my vet that my cat Billy had just died after a long illness and she decided I needed "a break." She steered me to a healthy, lively 7-month-old kitten. I named him Reynaldo. We've been together 17 years now. I can't imagine my life without him.

6) Funny Girl was the top grossing movie of 1968. #2 was 2001: A Space Odyssey. Given the choice, would you rather watch a musical or a sci-fi flick? A musical. Definitely!

7) Streisand's favorite color is burgundy because it reminds her of when, as a little girl, she received a hand-knitted sweater as a gift and wearing it made her feel special. What color is your favorite sweater? Light blue. It's ribbed and has a tie at the throat. I love that sweater. I got it at an after-Christmas sale at Old Navy at least 7 years ago. It must be one of my most cost-effective purchases ever.
8) In 1960, she began performing in New York clubs but she had a hard time getting work because she was only 18 and most nightclubs wouldn't hire a girl not yet old enough to drink. Do you remember your first legal alcoholic beverage? What did you have? A Singapore Sling. My fellow secretaries (we were not yet administrative assistants) took me to a Chinese restaurant for a celebratory lunch on my 21st birthday. I remember that lunch clearly (right down to the breaded shrimp entree) but can't recall anything about the party I must have had that evening.

9) Random question: How many people know the real you? Sometimes I wonder if I know the "real me." I think of myself as generous, defensive and available. As part of an exercise, I asked people who have known me well and long to describe me in three words. This is what I got back. The larger the word, the more often it appeared. While I liked the results, I do wonder why "generous, defensive and available" do not appear. Maybe I am not as I seem. (BTW, EVERYONE said "funny." Maybe it's me, Fanny and Babs, just three Funny Girls.)

Oh, Henry! Part 2

When I last shared Henry's sad saga, he was on Administrative Leave from his much-loved job at the library. Patrons had complained about his attitude. He said he was regularly disrespected as a gay Hispanic and it's his right to respond in kind. He blames Donald Trump for normalizing homophobia and racism. While I agree Trump did ugly things to us as a nation, and I believe Henry believes everything he says, I doubt these incidents happened as he describes. Key West is known as gay-friendly, and 1 of every 4 Conchs is Hispanic. Also, bigotry is born of ignorance. Would ignorant people flock to the local public library?

No, this is all the result of his traumatic brain injury. It makes him paranoid. (Check out the "Behavioral Impairments" section of this fine article to see a portrait of my friend.) It also makes him impulsive, and that impulsivity has cost him his job.

Apparently, when a library employee is placed on leave, a meeting is automatically scheduled with the County. Both Henry and the library were given two weeks to cool down and prepare. A representative of the County would listen to both sides and mediate.

I spoke to both Henry and his husband, Reg. I said "get appointments on the books." Henry has not been getting the care he needs. I explained that if they could show that Henry is working to get professional help from a psychologist and a neurologist, they would be giving the County a reason to keep him as an employee.

But Henry didn't want to wait two weeks for the County meeting. He can't wait. He made an appointment to meet with the head of human resources for the library. Mistake.

I told Reg to call and cancel it. "Say anything. Say Henry has diarrhea or a migraine. Whatever you do, don't let him go."

Reg started to cry. "I can't, Gal. I won't. He doesn't realize I have his best interests at heart. He wants to do this. He insists."

I pointed out to Reg that, since they are married, this is his healthcare we're talking about, too. Reg said that their home had become a nightmare, that Henry insists he knows best.

I spoke to Henry myself. I told him to wait for the County meeting. I said, "Bring a spoon and prepare to eat shit. Just keep this job." I am afraid that he won't be able to get another one if he loses this one.

"I cannot do that. I cannot sit and listen to them cut me to shreds. I will retire first."

And so he did. He went to the meeting with library human resources and retired.

The thing of it is, he didn't understand what "retire" means. Now he is complaining bitterly that they aren't giving him the 10 weeks severance he expected. There are strings attached to accessing his pension he didn't expect. He doesn't understand that Medicare is a federal program that isn't the County's to give him. He is shocked by how expensive Obamacare is. He is angry.

I am tired. Henry has yelled at me, demanding to know how he can get the reality of his mistreatment through my "thick skull." I have yelled back, telling him he will not talk to me this way and if he continues to, I will hang up. 

He apologized. That is progress. He is doing the best he can with his condition as it stands. And even though he is not yet 60, he can access his pension. That is a bright spot.

I worry that now, under less Obamacare coverage, he will never get the care he needs. I wish he'd been fired instead of retiring, because perhaps he could have been declared disabled to receive state benefits.

I am trying to be positive, though. I have done what I can do. I will continue to do what I can to support these people I love. But I will try to face forward, try to keep perspective, and continue to remind Henry of the Old Testament Bible verse that has become my prayer for them:

The Lord said, "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."