Sunday, June 13, 2021



1. Describe your phone lock screen. Just ten white sanserif numbers against a black background. I didn't know I could change it. Not that I would. I like that the numbers are so big and bright that I could read them from highway in the rain. Now my cellphone wallpaper is a sea of Cubs logos. I chose that and love it.
2. How often do you journal? This is my journal. I'm here almost every day.
3. What’s your favorite thing to teach others? "Best practices." I specialize in 1:1 (formerly called "direct response") marketing and there are little things I've learned work. Like using "you" in the headline of an email or letter. I don't even realize how many of these I know. I'm just excited when a situation comes up when I can share one.
4. How do you like to spend Sundays? I like to just let Sundays unfold. No plans.
5. What would you describe as your kryptonite? Any distraction. By nature, I'm a very lazy gal and when something interesting enters my line of sight, I drop what I should be doing and follow it.
6. A TV show or movie you thought was really bad TV: Seinfeld. Hostile, passive-aggressive people doing unpleasant things. Movie: Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri. An angry woman allows hate to eat her alive and joins forces with a dim-witted, racist cop to become a vigilante duo. It's an ugly movie. I don't care how many Oscars it won.
7. Do you know your mail carrier? No. Every time I see the mail delivered, it seems to be a different person. Some get here around 1:00, others just before 5:00.

8. Which regional foods are your favorite? Brownies were invented in Chicago, right here at the Palmer House. You're welcome.

9. What was your life like 20 years ago? In 2001, my life was in flux. As a creative director in charge of three teams, I was making enough money to buy this condo. But I hated being a boss. I am naturally distrustful of authority, so being in authority was uncomfortable. One of our agency's clients was an airline, so 9/11 hit us hard. I had to lay people off. I found that the only thing I hated more than nagging employees about timesheets and arriving on time was deciding who stays and who goes. After two rounds of layoffs, I talked my bosses into allowing me to let myself go. I freelanced for 16 months. It was a wonderful opportunity to reset. I learned that I preferred writing to bossing writers and art directors around. My friend/mentor Barb used to chastise me for working my way down the corporate ladder. So be it. I'm my own gal and I'm good with the path I chose, even though my retirement would be more comfortable if I'd stayed on the ascendant. (That does worry me.)

10. Crafting hobbies that you’d like to learn or improve I'm not a crafty gal.

11. What is your favorite type of YouTube videos? Old news clips. I read a lot of non-fiction and biographies, and I find myself checking out YouTube to see how the events I'm reading about were covered in real time. (Yes, I'm a nerd.)

12. Describe your surroundings I'm laying on my bed and just changed my sheets. White with little blue flowers.

13. You're making a Time Capsule to be opened in 50 years. What 3 things would you put in it? A mask, hand sanitizer, and thermometer.

14. Something you learned recently that resonated with you When writing: RAVEN, which stands for, "Remember affect verb effect noun." When changing light bulbs: Righty tighty left loosey.

15. Songs that get stuck in your head often… 

¿Quién es más macho?

Remember, this whole sad tale begins with an umbrella. Kevin, my neighbor on the third floor left his wet umbrella open to dry outside his front door. Unit owners are not supposed to do that. After a spot check, the fire department once fined our condo board because an owner left his bicycle in front of his door. Safety regulations state that the hallway has to be clear so that nothing interferes with firefighters in case of emergency.
Brian, the condo board president with definite prick tendencies, lives two doors down from Kevin. When he saw the umbrella, he locked it away in the storage closet. Brian had every right to do this. However, it was an unnecessarily provocative move. I would have just closed the umbrella, leaned it against the door, and left a note for Kevin explaining about the fire department regulation. But whatever. It happened. It's done.

Kevin spun out. Really went bananas. He called the management company and demanded to see the security films to find out who stole his umbrella.

He was told it wasn't stolen, it was just locked away and would be returned to him. He was furious. He began emailing the management company over and over and over again. More than 20x in an hour. He sent a photo of his umbrella hanging from his door knocker (therefore not obstructing the hallway) with a sign that read, "HAPPY ST. UMBRELLA DAY!"

Then Kevin came looking for me. He knows I'm on the board and that I live on the top floor, and he wanted to discuss all this with me. Only he doesn't know my last name so he couldn't tell from the mailboxes which unit is mine. I heard some banging down the hall but dismissed it as someone hanging a picture or putting up bookshelves. He never actually got to my door. Got bored knocking on doors and finding no one home, I guess. It wasn't until the next day I learned the banging was him looking for me.
Then he insisted we allow him to speak at the next board meeting (scheduled for this coming week). He has 5-10 minutes worth of issues he'd like to raise and wants to encourage other unit owners to chime in. His complaints included the umbrella -- aka the theft of his property -- and a neighbor who leaves garbage in her parking space. (No, she doesn't. He may believe she does, but she doesn't. I walk past there often.) He also wants to know why a unit owner was allowed to turn her unit into "a bed and breakfast." I think he meant Airbnb. He's imagining this. Our building has no units listed on any vacation rental sites.

When the management company told him protocol doesn't allow for this (he's lived in the building three years but only ever attended one meeting), he said he was contacting his lawyer. We're violating his civil rights. BTW, his lawyer is Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. He brought the removal of his umbrella to the attention of Springfield.

Our management company tried to keep up with the deluge of emails. Patty began every response with, "Hi, Kevin." He accused her of being disrespectful. He was to be referred to as "Mr. Gleason." If she couldn't afford him that dignity, he would be forced to insist she use his military title, bestowed upon him by confidential executive order in 2010. He didn't like using it, because women find it intimidating, but if she continued disrespecting him, he would have no choice.
Then he began posting photos of his war injuries on the management company's YELP! page, along with conspiracy accusations. The scars up and down his leg broke my heart. They are gruesome. They also do not belong on a YELP! page. Anyway, he accused the management company of demeaning veterans. He threatened to show up at their offices and "break some arms" in defense of his dignity and property.

Then there was a confrontation in the parking lot. He chest bumped Brian and promised to "fuck him up" if not allowed to talk to at next week's board meeting. The police were called.

Finally we contacted our law firm. On Friday, Kevin was sent a cease-and-desist order. He is not to speak to, phone or email me, Brian or the management firm. Any communication has to be in writing, delivered by the United States Postal Service, and the law firm must be copied.
The police were here, accompanied by the VA, and they took Kevin to a hospital. They cannot make him stay. He may be back by the time you read this.
I have told Brian and the management company that I am afraid of Kevin and will not attend this week's board meeting. I suggested it be rescheduled.
All this started with an umbrella.
I know from my friend Henry, who has a TBI, that this really is not about the umbrella. I'm no shrink, but it seems obvious that Kevin is suffering from PTSD and off his meds, so if he hadn't been set off by the umbrella, something else would have lit this fuse. 

But it was the umbrella. Brian had to be the alpha. 

As it is, I'm afraid to be in my own home. I'm nervous about encountering Kevin when I'm taking out the trash, or doing laundry, or waiting out front for an Uber. I'm scared when I hear footsteps in the hall.