Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Thursday Thirteen #311

Thirteen benefits of yoga. In December I began attending yoga classes. I still don't enjoy doing it* but I'm always glad I did it. It's made a difference! And, after a little research, I realize I'm not imagining it. Yoga is beneficial to us because it ...

  1. Reduces stress. I can feel the stress almost drip from my fingertips as soon as I unroll my mat on the floor of that darkened room.
  2. Promotes relaxation. Even though my mind wanders and I privately dismiss some of the relaxation techniques as bullshit, I do always, always feel better once I'm done.
  3. Enhances mindfulness. OK, I used to file "mindfulness" under "bullshit." But I find that even when mind wanders during yoga, it wanders to positive and productive places. For example, at least once per class the instructor tells us to imagine we're on the mat for a loved one who can't be. That gets me thinking of my oldest friend or my dear friend Henry, and always with affection.
  4. Reduces inflammation, because it combines relaxation techniques with muscle movement.
  5. Improves flexibility. I'm nowhere near as stiff in the morning.
  6. Reduces chronic pain. It didn't occur to me until I began researching this post, but I don't think I'e had more than two headaches in 2023. (Hope this doesn't jinx it.)
  7. Enhances balance, which is important to me because of my bad back. Spinal stenosis has left me very "right dominant," and in the past I've been vulnerable to slips and falls. Between yoga and visits to the chiropractor, this just doesn't happen anymore.
  8. Improves the immune system. To be honest, I don't know that I've suffered fewer colds/flu since I began yoga, but maybe I'm not paying attention.
  9. Increases strength, because some poses require you to "hold your weight," and let's face it, my weight is considerable.
  10. Boosts heart health. Even though yoga doesn't have the same cardiovascular benefits as aerobic exercise, it's still does your heart some good.
  11. Enhances digestion because holding yoga poses can help straighten the midsection, and this can help with bloating and constipation. I love this.
  12. Facilitates effective breathing, because holding those poses increases oxygen flow.
  13. Improves your outlook. No, really! I feel better after class and miss it when I have to skip a week.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

*The room is hot, I'm not very good at it, and my mind wanders.


Tuesday, May 30, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I can no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I've read a lot about Truman this past year and have found him to be an appalling little shit. Angry, petulant, self-indulgent and disloyal. So I decided to revisit this book and remind myself why he's still relevant. 

He wrote like an angel. There isn't a single passage in this book that you can't visualize. His literary choices (what to include, what to leave out, what to contrast) are impeccable. It's a heartbreaking privilege to read this book.

2. What did you recently finish reading? Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship by Charles Casillo. Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift made three films together and were close friends for 16 years. Richard Burton once said to Clift, "Elizabeth likes me but she loves you." 

I had hoped this book would be an exploration of their platonic friendship and what it meant to each of them. It isn't, really. It's more a recitation of what happened to them between 1951 and 1967.

During those years, Elizabeth married five different men, was widowed once, gave birth to three children and adopted a fourth, and was nominated for five Oscars (winning two). Monty's life was chaotic, too. Three Oscar nods, countless lovers, a house fire, a lawsuit, and an automobile accident that disfigured his beautiful face and left him in constant agony.

So events overtook the story of their friendship, leaving me both engaged by the book and disappointed.
3. What will read next? Something light.


Monday, May 29, 2023

More than baseball and barbecue


Arlington Cemetery, 1963

Remembering our heroes today.

No joy in mudville

From the NY Post
It was a scary sixth inning. The Padres Fernando Tatis was scrambling back to first base. Anthony Rizzo bent down to get the ball out of the dirt and tag him. Tatis slammed into Rizz' head with his hip. My favorite ball player stumbled a bit, dropped his glove and fell to his knees. He left the game and, as per MLB protocol, checked for a concussion. 

It must be said, though, that his tag was successful and Tatis was out. So there's that.

Yankees twitter responded fast and made me smile.

Meanwhile, on the North Side, my Cubs had a rough afternoon. They lost 8-5 to the Reds. While this doesn't delight me, it was not unexpected. My nephew and his buds were in attendance. In true Cub fan fashion, they had a great time anyway. It's impossible for anyone in my family to have a bad time at Wrigley Field.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Sunday Stealing

Stolen from Kwizgiver

1. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive through? I don't have a car, so I go in. (I used the drive-through at the bank when the walk-up ATM was out of order. Fortunately I didn't have to battle any cars.)

2. Have you ever lost anything down a toilet? I'm sure I have. I just don't recall anything.

3. Do you have a dog? Nope. As an adult I've never lived in a building that allowed them.

4.  Ever go camping? Not since Girl Scouts.

5. Have you met anyone famous? In the spring of 1981, on the last night of the American leg of the Hungry Heart tour, Bruce Springsteen kissed me. A group of girlfriends and I rented a car and drove to Indianapolis for the concert. When we went to the "will call" window to get our tickets, Bruce's roadies tried to pick us up by telling us which hotel the E Street Band was staying at and said they could get us into the Columbia Records after-show party. We got a room in the hotel and, after the concert, crashed the party ourselves. I did manage to get a moment alone with him. With it being early 1981, John Lennon's murder was still an open wound and Bruce said, "If it wasn't for John, we'd be somewhere different tonight, wouldn't we?" (meaning that John influenced us both). At the end of the night, which was really morning, as we guests filed out, he was like a minister at the end of a church service, thanking each of us for coming. He was very big brotherly with us "girls from Chicago," asking if we'd gotten enough to eat. I said I was disappointed -- I'd partied with a world-famous rocker and had done nothing to regret. "I'll fix that," he said and -- OH MY GOD! -- took me in his arms, bent me back, and kissed me. He smelled and tasted like beer. It was divine.

Do you think that, 42 years later, The Boss is telling people how he once kissed The Gal Herself?

6. Any plans today? On Sunday I'll be toggling back and forth between Cubs-Reds and Padres-Yankees. (Go, Cubs! Go, Yankees!)

7. Are you happy? With all that baseball on my horizon, YES!

8. Where are you right now? At my dining room table.

9. Biggest annoyance in your life right now? That the site of my tooth extraction isn't healing as fast as I want it to.

10. Last song listened to? "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by the Supremes and the Temptations

11. Last movie you saw? You Hurt My Feelings with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I know I'm the only person in America who doesn't think she's a national treasure, but for once I really liked her. She's an author who overhears her husband say he just doesn't like her new book, even though he's praised it to her face. Is he dishonest, or kind? Can she trust anything he says, ever again? Is he protecting her feelings or just being conflict-averse? It's an interesting premise and the dialog is very funny.

12. Are you allergic to anything? In the order of how toxic they are to me: bee sting, morphine and erythromycin. 

13. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? My old, broken-in pale blue Birkenstocks.

14. What do you think of when you think of Australia? Hugh Jackman.

15. Do you use smiley faces on the computer a lot? Yes.

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Some Gave All (1992)

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

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle.

1) Here at Saturday 9, we regard everyone who served -- veterans and active military -- as heroes. Have you, or has anyone in your family, worn the uniform of our armed forces? We want to hear about them. My dad was a Navy corpsman during the Korean War. He knew how to apply/remove butterfly stitches, saving a trip or two to the ER for neighborhood kids. My favorite uncle was in the Army during Vietnam. He was exposed to Agent Orange, and it ruined his health. I am still very angry about this. Just another unjust and immoral thing about that unjust and immoral war.* My oldest nephew was a Navy damage controlman and served on The Nimitz, the second largest aircraft carrier in the world. His stint in the military was the best thing that every happened to him. He was aimless when he went in and came out with ambition, discipline and job training.

2) Memorial Day has its own flag etiquette. In the morning, the American flag should be flown at half staff in memory of those we have lost. Then, at noon, it should be raised briskly to full staff, in honor of all who have served. Where is the nearest flag flying from where you sit right now? The post office is around the corner.

3) Since 1988, motorcycle riders have participated in Rolling Thunder. In events all over the country, including Washington DC, bikers "Roll Together" to draw attention to service members still missing and raise awareness of mental health issues our veterans cope with each day. When have you most recently ridden a motorcycle? A scooter? A bicycle? It was more than a decade ago. I was in Key West for the holidays and Henry thought we should pedal on over to the botanical garden. I was wobbly at first, but the old saying is true: you truly can't forget how to ride a bike. It was a lovely day. A cherished memory.

4) This week's song is the title track of Billy Ray Cyrus' best-selling album. Named for this patriotic song, the album also included Billy Ray's signature song, "Achy Breaky Heart." "Achy Breaky Heart" is a popular choice on karaoke nights. Do you know it well enough to sing along? Yes. But don't worry, I won't.

5) Sandy Kane, the hero of "Some Gave All," is based on a real Vietnam vet Billy Ray Cyrus met and spoke to about his sacrifice for his country. Can you think of another song based on a real person? Tara Browne was a very young millionaire, an heir to the Guiness liquor fortune and friend to the Beatles. His sudden death shocked them and John sang about it in "A Day in the Life." ("He blew his mind out in a car/he didn't notice that the lights had changed ...").

6) Memorial Day is the traditional kick off of the summer season. Have you packed away your winter clothes yet? I'm going to do it this weekend. Honest.

7) As you answer these questions, is there a fan or an air conditioner cooling your room? There's a fan in the window.

8) Memorial Day is also a holiday for retailers. Ads promise great prices on everything from grills to lawn decorations to high tech gear and gadgets. Will you be shopping any sales this weekend? Nope.

9) Random question: When is the last time you felt like a kid? All summer long when I watch baseball.

*I mean it: Don't get me started. We drafted boys, exposed them to toxic exfoliants and then abandoned them decades later when their health deteriorated. Btw, it was George W. Bush's VA that epically failed my uncle when he needed them, so don't even try to tell me how the GOP loves and cares for veterans. I loved my uncle very much and I'm still so, so angry about this.

A romantic pilot and a grumpy old man

This made me smile. A pilot lives on the third floor. I only ever see him in uniform, coming home trailing his roller bag behind him. We have a superficial "Hi! How are you?" "Fine! Welcome home!" kinda relationship. Which is why today surprised and delighted me.

As I passed the laundry room on my way to the dumpster, I saw a massive, empty clothes hamper and noticed all the machines were in use. Someone was doing a shit ton of laundry. Then I went out the back door and saw who it was. 

The pilot, in casual clothes that revealed a bit of tummy that his uniform conceals, was dancing -- ballroom style -- to music only he could hear. In his arms was a woman in shorts and sandals who looked a little embarrassed when I caught her eye. As I watched them spin and sway amid the dumpsters and parked cars while they waited for their clothes, I thought it was one of the most romantic things I've seen in real life in a long time. May the lovebirds have a lovely Memorial Day weekend!

This made me sad. I met John and Gregory for lunch. It was the first time the three of us have been together in months. I was really looking forward to it because last week I was still swollen and filled to the gills with ibuprofen after having my tooth pulled. I was bored and eager to get out and have fun.

It's not that I didn't have fun. I did! But my old friend John was so ... old. Grumpy and old. Retired from advertising since 2019, he got a freelance writing job and he hates it. He doesn't like this newfangled way of working, with Zoom calls and editing Powerpoint documents from home. He wants to walk into a person's office and hash everything out.

Post-covid, those days are gone. Besides, he's a freelancer and he doesn't get to make the rules. And there's this: with ChatGPT infiltrating the workplace, freelance writing jobs are going to dry up soon. He should take the money when he can. 

When I pointed this out, he grumbled at me. He grumbled at me a lot. (I talk too fast and then, when he asks me to repeat myself, I talk too loud and it really annoys him.) A friend at the bar he frequents is annoying him, too. The guy texted him during our lunch, wanting to take John to Chinatown for lunch over Memorial Day weekend. Does he really feel like doing that? Oh, hell, maybe he doesn't. His friend can be really annoying.

John says he doesn't want to be "that guy." The old man who doesn't go anywhere. Maybe he goes out, but nothing seems to make him happy

Since he cut the cord and no longer gets cable, he doesn't watch the Cubs regularly. Because he needs his cane now more days than he doesn't he really can't go to Wrigley Field. He never goes to the movies anymore because it costs too much. We talked about my trip to the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood, but he's no longer going to visit his brother in Florida. First of all, because it's Florida, which seems bent on becoming the anti-gay book-banning capital of the country. I get that. But I don't believe that's why he's not going. I suspect it's his mobility and cash flow issues.

John has become "that guy." His life is a few quarts low of joy and too full of beer. 

John and I have been besties for 40 years and I love him. I'm not going anywhere. I just have to get my mind around this: one of my oldest friends is getting old. 

Friday, May 26, 2023

A new chapter is about to begin

I just read the "goodbye" email from our interim minister. She's been with us since our lead minister was canned. As a congregation we were sad and exhausted when she joined us. I haven't agreed with some of what she tried to do -- I think at times she overstepped her role as "interim" -- but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate how patient and imaginative she's been, especially at the holidays and on special occasions as we not only adjusted to life without our long-term minster, we were coming out of covid.

But we got through covid and now it's time for a new minister, and we have one! I'm very excited for his arrival in August. (Our associate minister is intentionally flying solo this summer to ease the transition from interim minister to permanent one.)

Religious leadership -- the head office 900 miles away -- feels that part of why our previous minister went awry is that he was with us too long without adequate review or supervision. So it was decided, and our elected church board enthusiastically agrees, that our new minister will be with us for "a limited duration of 4 to 7 years." His will be a developmental ministry, and he'll help us focus on achieving pre-determined our fiscal goals -- apparently we're in quite a financial pickle -- and dialing down the anxiety. The relationship between minister and staff had really broken down and our new minister has a strong track record of financial leadership and collaborative governance.

More important to me personally: He also promises to encourage our passion to become a more truly anti-oppression/anti-racist congregation. This new guy has his work cut out for him, but everyone wants him to succeed and now that we've established where we're going, it'll be easier for us to all pull this cart in the same direction. 

And when we move away from the money issues and the interoffice politics, ultimately what we want is glory to God through service to man.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

What she said

 Though I haven't been able to independently confirm that Wanda Sykes said this, I agree with the sentiment 100%.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Thursday Thirteen #310

 Thirteen quotes from President Kennedy. Much attention is paid to him every year in the fall because that's the anniversary of his assassination. His murder was a seismic event in American history, so I get that. On the other hand, it defines his life by his death, and that is unfair to him and his legacy.

And so, in honor of his May 29th birthday, I celebrate him here.

1. Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

2. Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own belief. Rather it condemns the oppression and persecution of others.

3. Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.

4. There is a tremendous disadvantage in not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily. Even though we (politicians) never like it, even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt we could not do the job well in a free society without a free press.

5. Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

6. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

7.  The great enemy of truth is often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.

8. The time fix the roof is when the sun is shining.

9. We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.

10. Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men.

11. Change is the law of life.

12. A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.

13. Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

PS I cannot resist this: Q-Anon believers keep trying to make some connection between Trump and JFK. Can you imagine any of these quotes being considered anything but "wimpy" by Donald J. Trump? I guess a legit war hero and a genuine lion with the ladies didn't feel the need to proclaim himself "strong" and "masculine" with every utterance.

Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I can no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship by Charles Casillo. Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were impossibly beautiful and in 1951, they were cast as lovers in A Place in the Sun. It was the beginning of an intense, lifelong friendship. 
I'm enjoying this study of platonic love. Friendships can be the most powerful, sustaining relationships of our lives. Yet they don't get the attention paid to romances and siblings. That Elizabeth and Monty each had a major penchant for drama makes this even more interesting.

2. What did you recently finish reading? New Tricks by David Rosenfelt. A multimillionaire biochemist is murdered, leaving his adult son and young second wife at odds. Not over his money. Over his puppy, the offspring of an insanely expensive Bermese show dog. When a dog is in trouble, lawyer Andy Carpenter is always ready to help.
The custody case gets suddenly more complicated when people in the biochemist's inner circle also get dead. Andy needs to get to the bottom of this. He's committed to seeing justice done, of course, but he also wants to be sure the puppy won't be in the custody of the next assassination target, or perhaps even the assassin.

I always enjoy an Andy Carpenter mystery. Andy is my dream man -- sports fan, smart ass, d0g lover and coward when it comes to derring-do. (In my fantasies, I'm never a widow.) This is one of the stronger entries in the series. The mystery takes us into the worlds of dog shows, high finance, and scientific research. Interesting stuff.
3. What will read next? I don't know.



Sunday, May 21, 2023

Sunday Stealing


1. When you tell a story, do you often exaggerate?  I have been known to make a story more entertaining for my audience.

2. If a friend were almost always late, would you resent it or simply allow for it? My friend Barb was always late for our theater evenings, and I did resent it. She made way more than I did, so an $80 to $120 ticket didn't mean as much to her as it did to me. Similarly, the expensive meal that I had to snarf down, rather than enjoy, before the curtain didn't seem like a big deal to her. It was to me. I'm glad I finally told her how I felt. Since we worked in the same industry, she just assumed I'd "allow for it," forgetting that I was a few rungs behind her on the ladder. Rather than be late she began cancelling. While I missed her, it enabled me to ask another friend to take her place (and she always generously refused reimbursement from my friends for her ticket).

3. Can you be counted on to be on time? Pretty much. I take public transportation so I adhere to their schedule. Now if they're late, I can't help that!

4. When did you last yell at someone? Why? Yell? I don't yell often. I can snap and scold and be sarcastic, but I don't really yell too much anymore. 

5. If you could have free, unlimited service for five years from an extremely good cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, masseuse, or personal secretary, which would you choose?  If I could only choose one, it would be housekeeper, because I am an unorganized slob. But what I'd really like is a Bessie Cleary. She was the maid in the movie Laura. She cooked, grocery shopped, cleaned and even filed away personal correspondence for her mistress. She was so crazy loyal to Laura that she kept showing up for work, even after she was told her boss was dead! 

That's my girl Bessie, squeezing in to save Laura from the police

6. Would you be willing to go to a slaughterhouse and kill a cow? Do you eat meat? 
Yes I eat meat. No I wouldn't slaughter a cow myself. I prefer to pretend beef just shows up on styrofoam, wrapped in cellophane.

7. Do you feel ill at ease going alone to either diner or a movie? What about going on a vacation by yourself? Of course I'm comfortable going alone! I enjoy my own company and alone time rejuvenates me. That's why my trip to Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival was so perfect for me. I stayed in the same hotel as members of my Chicago movie group, but I had my own room. I chose which movies I wanted to see and especially enjoyed sitting with the gang from home if it worked out that way, but was very fine if it didn't. 

8. Would you like to be famous? In what way? I would never want to be famous. The scrutiny and misperceptions would make me crazy. True story: Once Carolyn Bessette moved in with JFK, Jr., she was greeted every morning by paparazzi, every time she opened her front door to leave for work. They would shout things at her to get a better reaction shot. She worked in fashion and understood the press was interested in what she wore, so she devised a plan: She would put that day's outfit in a garment bag and send it to her office in a separate cab. Then she would leave the house wearing exactly the same, boring old thing (white blouse and black slacks). She reasoned that the value of the photos would go down if she looked the same in every shot and eventually they would abandon her doorstep. Guess what: the tabloids ran snarky stories about how dull this "fashion icon" was, wearing the same outfit every day, accompanied by photos. She gave up the ruse. Why would anyone want to live like that?

9. Would you rather play a game with someone more or less talented than you? More talented = more fun.

10. Is there something you've dreamed of doing for a long time? 
Why haven't you done it? I'd love to return to the vacation spots I've previously visited and loved. When I was working I didn't the time. Now that I'm retired and my nest egg has to last the rest of my life, I don't think I have the money.

11. If you were at a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner and found a dead cockroach in your salad, what would you do? I think it's interesting that the question specifies "dead cockroach." I must admit I'd be just as upset by a live, unspecified bug crawling across my salad.

12. Would you accept $10,000 to shave your head and continue your normal activities sans hat or wig without explaining the reason for your haircut?  Maybe. When Joe Maddon was our Cubs manager, he hosted "Respect Bald." During spring training, he and the players would have their heads shaved to raise money and show solidarity with pediatric cancer patients who lost their hair due to chemo. It was a lovely thing to do. (I miss Joe.) 

Joe Maddon being shorn for a good cause

13. If you were able to wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else, would you do so?  Whom would you pick?  I like me. I'll stick with me.

14. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? My mother was incredibly conflict averse, so many issues within our family went unaddressed. I understand and forgive, but would change it if I could.

15. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about? You shouldn't make fun of anything the person can't help. It's cruel.

In case you've forgotten this disgrace, read about here

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Mirrors (2013)

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

1) Is there a mirror in the room you're in now? Yes. I'm in my bedroom. There's a mirror above my dresser and a full-length one behind the bedroom door.
2) In this song, Justin Timberlake tells his lover he just can't wait till they're together. What are you eagerly looking forward to today? I'm getting my film nerd on, watching Summer Storm, a 1944 melodrama and this week's classic movie group movie. It's an early black-and-white film by one of my favorite directors, Douglas Sirk, who went on to make entertaining, glossy technicolor soap operas in the 1950s. I'm eager to see work from the beginning of his career.
This is based on Chekhov? Oh well, a little culture won't hurt me.

3) Justin Timberlake is known as a sharp dresser who is always on trend. What item have you recently added to your wardrobe? Not in months and months. I bought two pairs of Birkenstock sandals when they were on sale around Labor Day last year and hardly wore them before the weather got cold, so they're practically new.

4) Justin was an accomplished child performer who appeared on the entertainment competition show Star Search when he was just 11. When Crazy Sam was 11, her only job was loading and unloading the dishwasher, for which she received an allowance from her dad. Did you have chores when you were a kid? Oh, my parents tried. But I have always been incredibly lazy and nothing "stuck." It's funny, but I always wanted to be the one to take the trash out but my mom wouldn't let me. She insisted on doing it herself. There was an apartment building across the alley and she was obsessed with the tenants tossing their McDonald's bags into our garbage cans when they got out of their cars (rather than walking past their backdoor to their own trash cans). All these years later, I still don't know why she cared.
5) He says he tries never to miss breakfast, even on the road, and his favorite is peanut butter banana pancakes. Given the choice, do you prefer pancakes, french toast, or waffles? I'm more of an egg girl myself, but of those choices, I'll go with the french toast.

6) When they were still in their teens, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears were sweethearts. Obviously it's been easy for him to keep up with her successes and problems over the years. Do you wonder what one of your exes is up to? No, not a one of them. All of them. I think it would be enormously sad to have once loved someone and then not care at all. I'll hear a song or see a movie and it'll remind me of a special someone and I'll wonder where he is now. I hope they similarly think of me with fondness.
7) In 2013, when this song was popular, Pope Benedict resigned. Thinking of your working life, have you felt greater stress on your first day at a job, or your last? They've both been stressful, but in different ways. When I'm starting, I worry I won't be able to cut it. When I'm leaving, I worry that I didn't leave everything in order for my successor.

8) Also in 2013, the NHL owners reached an agreement with the players union and avoided a strike. Have you ever belonged to a union? Nope.

9) Random question: When was one of the first times when you felt like an adult? The Christmas when I first realized my mom was looking forward to my gift to her with greater enthusiasm that I was her gift to me. Suddenly it seemed she needed help getting the things she wanted, just as I had when I was a teen. It was just a hint of the role reversal to come. If realizing that your parents need and depend on you doesn't make you feel like an adult, nothing will.


Friday, May 19, 2023

Bigger home: Check!

One thing my niece has always, always wanted is to be a mother. Her heart tells her that her destiny is to adopt, to give a home to a child who needs her. It's one of the things she and her husband bonded over when they first met. They agreed that you don't have to have a baby to become a parent, and that adoption is the path they want to pursue. 

She and her hubs have been very considered and methodical about this. They are dedicated to doing this right. They developed a list of "things to do" to prepare them for opening their hearts and homes to their baby.

First, they trained to be foster parents and volunteered to be respite caregivers (giving full-time foster parents a break by caring for a child for the day or the weekend). 

Then she went into therapy. She knows she has issues and she wanted to examine them before bringing a child into their lives.

They need more room. Their 2BR/1BA apartment is too small for two adults, three cats and a baby. Especially now that hubs works from home most days and needs dedicated office space.

Today their offer was accepted on a 3BR/2BA house! They were getting discouraged about the home front. They'd been outbid on four other homes already this year. But their realtor had a client who was very eager to sell and let my niece and her husband see his house before it even hit the market. Rather than go through the time and effort of listing and showing the house, he accepted their offer. It has a fireplace, a deck and a full basement. There's even a pond! 

They should be out of their apartment and into their new home by August 1. I know that adoption is a process and will likely not move as quickly as we'd like it to. 

But today my niece and her husband are one step closer to having a baby, and I couldn't be happier for them.

It's time to seriously ask why

The 33-year-old man who shot at shoppers in Allen, TX, earlier this month and killed 8 people -- including a 3-year-old boy -- was a far-right extremist. He wielded his weapon while wearing a tactical vest with a RWDS (Right Wing Death Squad) patch embroidered on it. His body was tattooed with SS lightning bolts and a swastika. His online posts were anti-woman, anti-Semitic and anti-minority. Local, state and federal law enforcement agree on this. Yet conspiracy theorists think the evidence is "too neat." They suspect "psyops," or propaganda fabricated by the military to make the far-right look bad.*

Of course they suspect that.

If you look online it's not hard to find those who insist that the Sandy Hook shooting was a false flag ... and Dr. Anthony Fauci covered up or created the COVID crisis to line his own pockets ... and Lisa Marie Presley died of complications after a COVID booster ... and Donald Trump was re-elected in 2020 ... and Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fake ... and Princess Diana was murdered ... as was Marilyn Monroe ... and the CIA (or Mafia or Cubans) killed JFK ... and the moon landing was faked ... as was the Holocaust ... let's not even start down the WWG1WGA rabbit hole.

Why are people so fantastically gullible? Why do they insist, for example, that the 2020 election was stolen even after Fox News agreed to pay Dominion voting systems $787,500,000 in damages for their "Stop the Steal" reporting?

It's tempting to dismiss these people as stupid. And OK, I admit I often do because well, I mean, really! But that's pretty facile, isn't it?

So I've been reading and contemplating and researching† and it seems that I should be more compassionate. Two traits that conspiracy theorists often share are confusion and anxiety. They don't understand what's happening in the world, it stresses them out and leaves them uncomfortable, and they are trying to impose order -- order that fits their particular belief system -- to what they perceive as chaos.

Example: Princess Diana was beautiful and good. She was dedicated to helping AIDS patients and eradicating landmines. How could she be taken from us by something as ordinary and tawdry as a drunk driver with fatally bad judgement? It's so heartbreaking it simply doesn't compute. In their minds, a conspiracy of shadowy figures including the Royal Family and MI5 is more acceptable.

Imagine how painful and uncomfortable their anxiety must be regarding Donald Trump. Here they were, feeling disenfranchised by an increasingly progressive, secular, non-white and affirmative action-engineered America, and down the escalator comes a man who will "Make America Great Again" -- exactly as they define "great." He turns out to be a grifter. He admits (on the Access Hollywood tape and again in his sworn deposition in the E Jean Carroll case) that famous men can "unfortunately or fortunately" "grab women by the pussy." He encourages his supporters to march on the Capitol on January 6 and it turns into a riot. He could have pardoned these rioters before he left office but he didn't. Let's assume for a moment that these people are, at heart, patriotic. How disillusioning to have believed in this man!

I almost get this, in that I voted for Governor Rod Blagojevich twice. But when he was exposed as dishonest, I didn't deny the reality. I didn't blame "them" for driving him from office and into prison. Instead, I took the Christmas card The Guv sent to loyal supporters like me and thumb tacked it to my bulletin board. I wanted to remind myself daily not to be such an ass next time. To research candidates more closely. To get involved earlier -- during the primary process -- so that better candidates appear on the ballot.

But if someone isn't able to accept their own culpability, or feels so alienated that they are downright threatened by the way their country looks now that they imbued their guy with the power to rescue them, they may not be able respond logically. They are fragile, lack self-awareness, and feel excluded by "the mainstream." They take comfort in the fringes, in the echo chamber that confirms their biases, and in conspiracy theories.

So from now on I'll try to view these people with more sensitivity. Not acceptance. I hate it that these people drive cars, buy guns and vote in elections and will do whatever I can to see that their twisted worldview doesn't prevail. But I'll check myself when I'm tempted to mock them. They must be so paranoid, so frightened, so vulnerable to grasp at every bit of flotsam and jetsam they find. And I'll retire this picture. It's cruel, and my cruelty isn't going to help these sad souls heal.

*As if the far-right needs help looking bad.

†My sources include Scientific American, Psychology Today and Live Science. Not Elon Musk or 8chan.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Me and Marilyn.

I had a molar pulled Tuesday morning. The oral surgeon was quite deft. I don't think I was in the chair 40 minutes, and most of that was spent waiting for the anesthesia to kick in.

Which isn't to say I'm not in pain right now. It's expected. Teeth are like bones; they are the hardest substances in the body, and molars are connected solidly to the jawbone via deep roots. So naturally ripping one out is going to leave an owie. That's why the surgeon prescribed me a week's worth of 800 mg ibuprofen. If that doesn't manage the pain, I also got acetaminophen and codeine. (I consider that my "Break Glass in Case of Emergency" pill bottle.)

I take one of those ibuprofen every 4-6 hours, trying to time it so it doesn't wear off when I'm asleep. Waking up in pain is the worst. I have a high pain threshold, but I'm also no masochist. The more comfortable I am, the faster I will heal and the sooner all this will be behind me.

Tuesday morning I took the ibuprofen first thing. Then I fed the cats -- they're each on their own diet -- before downing my own meds and vitamins for the day (which I keep in one of those pill containers with the days of the week marked). Then I took the ibuprofen.

Huh? What? I just took 1600 mg of ibuprofen, or 8 hours worth, in a matter of minutes. Because I wasn't paying attention. I read all the literature that came with the prescription and everything I could find online. While what I did was certainly unwise and not something I should make a habit of, I was not in any real danger. Some doctors prescribe 1600 mg dose every 4 hours after surgery similar to mine. But I must be careful not to do this ever again. 

Which leads me to Marilyn.
 I have been reading about her almost since I learned how to read. While I believe she died by her own hand, I don't think she killed herself. I think she 
woke up groggy and, desperate for sleep, grabbed some pills. Then having forgot what she'd taken, she grabbed some more. I saw for myself how easy that is to do. I don't think she was miserable. 20th Century Fox had capitulated and was willing to have her finish Something's Got to Give. Joe DiMaggio certainly believed they had reconciled. Whether Marilyn would have actually walked down the aisle with him we'll never know. But there's ample evidence she'd given him every indication she was open to rekindling their romance.

So here she was, a woman about to embark on a new chapter. She had stared down a major studio and they blinked. One of America's heroes was insisting he loved her. She was also an addict. She had a ridiculously high tolerance for prescription medication and liquor. She made a mistake. She died.

Shit happens.