Saturday, December 27, 2014

For Those Who Choose to Go

I saw the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon.  If given a choice of how to face life's blows, I'd much rather do it as Tracy Flick or Legally Blonde.  Cheryl Strayed, whose memoir inspired Witherspoon to make the film, chose another path:  hiking The Pacific Crest Trail.

A woman alone in the woods is a rape waiting to happen.  And, Cheryl's drug-infused sexual past doesn't protect her (or us) from being afraid.

Some of my friends called the film Eat, Pray, Hike, an obvious dig at the chick lit franchise.  Not me.  I thought it was an edgy depiction of all of us on our journey through life: lack of preparation, disappointment, surprise, wonder, and profound satisfaction with accomplishment. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

As Time Goes By

These end of the year death lists leave me with a warped sense of time.  Sid Caesar.  Didn't he die years ago?  Pete Seeger.  He immediately becomes immortal.  James Foley.  Please let this not be true. Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Will Hollywood ever be able to make a thoughtful film without him?
My ex-husband Jay.  I loved seeing the pictures of him when he was young and so handsome.

The beautiful Clark Terry didn't make the list.  He's still keepin' on at 94.  Dick Cheney missed it.  The machine in his chest that allows him to spread his poison is working quite well.  Just another reminder that we're not in charge.

Again in 2014, the grim reaper has been busy mowing down the invisible boys as well as the protested-over. As always, the famous take their identical place next to the heaps of humanity caught in the path of war, disease, and yes, old age.

For those of us still here to love some more of life:  HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Before he moved to California, a very handsome young man lived in the corner apartment on my floor.  He, and the friends who visited him, were obviously gay.
At Christmas, he would cover his outer door with beautiful holiday paper.  Very creative.

He was around during the day and we would chat while waiting for the elevator. One day, I asked him what did for work.  He said: "I'm a policeman."

Just another moment when life surprises you and gives you an opportunity to take in a little more of it.  To have a little wider point of view.

All lives matter.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just Thinking Out Loud

Here's a pipe dream worth piping up about:  A Major League Baseball team in Havana!  The Island is mad about baseball.  Generations of talented players have been winning Olympic Medals and World Titles.  Some, (nineteen today) have made it past the travel restrictions and are playing in our big leagues.  We've got MLB the Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu right here on the South Side.

Now come the second thoughts.  Would a Major League franchise, with its relentless assault of commercialism, overwhelm the Cuban people?  Concerns of a thoughtful Cuban were expressed in today's Sun Times.  "I wouldn't want to lose that uniquely Cuban solidarity or for this to become a mere consumerist or individualist society."

It will be interesting to see if solidarity survives the invasion of corporate interests.  Yes, Major League Baseball is corporate . . . but, at least, it promises us a lot of fun.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


The email from Elsa wasn't a news item.  It was personal.  "I haven't stopped crying since I heard the news.  Most Cubans in Miami are super happy, specially ones that have relatives on the island.  I think that I won't be able to sleep tonight!"

Obama does what he can for immigration reform.

Obama pardons non-violent drug offenders.

Obama strikes pollution deal with China.

Obama unleashed?  I hope so.

Maybe he's humming: "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Starting in the Middle

It wasn't until middle age that I sought and landed a job involving writing and the creative process.  It was in the marketing department of a very weary organization.  Management looked and acted like the failed Republican candidates.  You know, the ones who were too dumb to keep their attitudes about women to themselves.

I think the only reason they kept me as long as they did was because my work was good and they were too lazy to figure out how to get rid of me.

I really liked my colleagues.  We distracted ourselves with endless rounds of gossip and inspired moments of push back.  When told one holiday season that we would be allowed to decorate our cubicles, we found a life-size Elvis and played an endless loop of "Blue Christmas."

I recently reunited with the heroine of my era in the workplace.  She was young, had everything to lose, yet found the courage to confront our impossible boss with "take this job and shove it," to pack up, and to walk out.

Recently, a very good looking woman with a great resume popped up on TV as the new President of this organization.  My first thought was: "she must have embezzled at her last place, or she's fleeing a bad divorce."  Or, could it be that times have changed?

Every month when my tiny pension arrives, I salute my survival -- then and now.

P.S. The title of this entry is a salute to my friend Judy Wax.  She also came late to her creative career.  She wrote her book "Starting in the Middle", was on her way to a book sellers convention in Los Angeles, then was killed in the plane crash at O'Hare.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Louis Saved America

There's a stunning moment in my friend's book when the horrific Ty Cobb encounters Louis Armstrong in front of the Palmer House Hotel.  Cobb sneers at Armstrong and threatens him in the way certain white men knew they could do in 1927.

The scene got me to thinking about the beloved Armstrong: how he made the rest of the world like us during the cold war.  If he was thinking:  "I can't breathe" when he blew his horn, we didn't find out about it.   No,  he smoothed a path for us to "think to ourselves what a wonderful world."

I wish we had a little of Louis today.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Three Words

A friend sent me his novel to read before publication.  I'm a sucker for any story involving baseball, so it's a treat.  I'm also enjoying the book because this writer loves playing with words and the results are unique and delightful.

So, with words on my mind, I thought of the power of Eric Garner's final plea:  "I Can't Breathe." Words that bring up whatever woeful story your life has to tell.  Or whatever empathy you feel for the next man's tale.

Three words worthy of a meditation on all of life itself.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Looter Land

Those who want protesters to go away, especially to stop disrupting traffic or prevent shopping, can always focus on the looters.  "See," they say, "they are a bunch of "scumbags" (Charles Barkley's word), or "thugs."  

Yes, protesters are in our face.  All we want to do is get back and forth to work or to the store.  Some of us appreciate their effort and give them the thumbs up.  For others, looters are the perfect excuse for lumping protesters all together and hating their uppity presence.

Now, in a galaxy far away, live another band of looters.  Here the bankers live and thrive. The "too-bigsters" who looted our treasury.  Next door live the investment people, who loot companies, ship the jobs elsewhere, or close them down and pocket the profits. This neighborhood is so popular, the politicians and regulators can't wait to leave their jobs and move in.

I'm not saying anything new.   Still, the image of a guy walking through a smashed window carrying a TV set sticks in our mind.  It's hard to capture an image of looter land.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Beast is Born

I've decided that our next President needs to be a white man.  I say this with a lot of regret, but this time my rational side deserves to win.

Having a black President drives people crazy.  Ever since Obama entered the White House, our country has entered into a period of national psychosis. We can't afford to go on this way.

As for Obama himself, I wonder if he really wants to keep us in endless wars and bowing to Wall Street, or if he is trying to prove he "fits in."

Hillary?  Imagine a different sort of venom unleashed.  This time a period of anti-woman furor.  And, what disastrous paths may she take us on to prove that she is "man enough for the job."

Black?  Female?  Take your pick.  Yeats' "rough beast" has slouched toward us and has certainly been born.

I'm trying to make myself feel better by thinking we might get a left-leaning white man.  

So far, my rational side says: "You're kidding, right?"

Monday, December 1, 2014

Doing it Over

When Marguerite and Shelby were over for Thanksgiving dinner, we asked each other what ideal career would we have liked to have.  I said civil rights attorney.  Today, I changed my mind:  sportswriter and television sports commentator.  I am inspired by Jemele Hill.  

Jemele is from Detroit (sound familiar?) and worked her way up from smaller newspapers, to the Detroit Free Press to her show on ESPN.  Even though her high profile is unique,   (or maybe because it is),  she hasn't played it safe.  If you're interested, look up her comments about the Celtics, Barry Bonds vs. Lance Armstrong, ice dancing, or WNBA players "coming out."  

Jemele Hill's interview with Janay Palmer Rice splashed over on to the mainstream network shows this week.  If the NFL is going to take a huge hit because of domestic violence, it seems right that Hill should get great access to the story.

I'm glad we can still have "do overs", if only with our imagination.