Saturday, May 29, 2010

The 2010 3-Day: Goal In Sight ...

Hi, friends:

Every year, I participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, a 60-mile trek over three 3 days to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research, education, and early detection.

The Chicago event takes place in August. I'm well on my way to meeting my fundraising minimum for the event, but I still have many dollars to raise.

I'm asking everyone to consider a contribution to this cause. Click here to go to my 3-Day fundraising page.

Thank you for your consideration. We walkers truly could not do this without you.

Love and thanks,

Beth

Friday, May 28, 2010

Having My Say ...

The other day, on Facebook, I posted a link to a story about Sarah Palin bombing as the keynote speaker at a real-estate convention. One of my friends, a Republican, and someone I've known since, well, just about forever, posted this as a comment in response to that link:

I'll give you another $20 for the 3 day if you can go one full weekday without a facebook post or tweet about "look at the silly/dumb/stupid Republicans." I get to pick the day next week and it will not be Monday, game?

To which I replied:

"[Name], my friend, I'll stop posting about the silly/dumb/stupid Republicans when Republicans stop doing silly/dumb/stupid things.

Feel free to post about all the silly/dumb/stupid things the Dems are doing. Quid pro quo is fine by me.

Or hide me in your feed.

Or unfriend me if you feel the need.

But I'm not going to stay silent on this front.

Ever.

P.S. I really appreciate your support for the 3-Day, though, and your willingness to contribute again. But I'll keep posting and toss in the $20 myself.


An exchange ensued, a civil exchange. I do appreciate that he is one of my Republican friends who will engage in conversations with me, not simply shut me out, as other Republican friends have done in the face of my posting political links and commentary.

Much of what I wrote that evening are thoughts I've been mulling over, with the intention of creating a post. But why reinvent the wheel?

I'm only including my half of our Facebook conversation here, because these entries say much of what I feel about the situation, and because I don't assume I have the right to publish all of what he had to say.

I wrote:

I've scrolled back to May 14th and I haven't found a "They are idiots." I called the CEO of BP an idiot for something he said. And I stand by that.

I'm not saying I haven't called people idiots. I very well may have. It sounds like something I'd write lately. But if you could point me to it, I'd appreciate it.

And if you're speaking generally, that the tone of most of my political stuff implies that I think they're idiots, well, yeah. I'll stand by that.

A lot of what I see these days is idiotic.

It's not Republican-specific. Blumenthal? Pretty much an idiot.

But I'm not manufacturing this stuff. (I'll refrain from making a Fox News dig here.) I'm just holding up the mirror.

Believe me, I would be THRILLED if the GOP would stop supplying the opportunities, if they'd get over the fact that they're not in power and help run the country, as they were elected to do.

In Britain recently, one guy was named the winner. But the other two aren't doing everything in their power to derail him. They're working together for the good of the country.


And then I said:

I agree, politics and government isn't about holding hands and agreeing.

As for the GOP being against everything, yet financial reform and health care reform passing, we got a watered-down version of financial reform just as we got a severely watered down version of health care reform. We gave up single-payer and the public option early on, in the hopes of appeasing Republicans. Yet we got zero votes. So we should have just forged ahead with what we really wanted to do. They were going to vote "No" either way.

Yes, Obama has gotten a lot done since he's been in office. And thank you for noting that. Given the state of the nation when he took office, he's done a remarkable job, really.

I question if the Tea Party is seeing "success." It's making a hell of a lot of noise and getting a lot of coverage. But it lacks credibility. It's screaming at Scott Brown for voting for financial reform, but one of its tenets if fiscal responsibility. It's pissed off at Obama for his "reckless" spending (which has saved the country from financial ruin, and was begun by Bush), yet where was the Tea Party when Bush was running up the largest deficit in the history of the nation? Where was the outrage then?

As for Fox News, since you brought it up, as a journalist, I am appalled and terrified by that organization. It has a blatant agenda. Some of it is just childish, like cutting the audio of applause out of Obama's recent address, but a lot of it is dangerous. It incites people. People who are willing to believe whatever they're told. It sponsored Tea Party gatherings. NO credible news organization PROMOTES the news. News organizations are there to cover events, not sponsor them. And the existence of Glenn Beck scares the living hell out of me. I thank the stars that his ratings are beginning to fall, at last, that he's finally gone off the deep end enough that people are beginning to tune him out.

I think a lot of people *are* confused. And having people like Palin and others perpetuate the absurdity of "death panels" and such, as in the health care debate, was simply irresponsible. Let's actually talk about the issues. Let's not scare people.

People are very easily manipulated when they're afraid. And that's what I see being perpetuated on the Right.


Today, Glenn Beck mocked Malia Obama's intelligence. Really? Given that just days ago, he was all in a snit about the author who moved next door to Sarah Palin and was emphatic that in politics, the kids be off limits?

Stay classy, Glenn. Oh, and by the way, hypocritical much?

Much to my sincere surprise, he kind of issued an apology on his web site. I truly didn't think he had it in him. But it is backhanded, so let's call it half an apology.

And how about the Sestak "controversy," which the Right tried so hard to brand "Obama's Watergate"? Cue the ominous music: Dun, dun, dun!

Of course, today, all that ado has proven to be much about nothing.

But like I said, I call idiocy where I see it. I happen to see a lot of it on the Right, but Doreen chimed into the exchange to offer some Dem examples, saying:

We got some dumb & crazeee on our side too - sprinkle a little tickle fight with Eric Massa and an idiot affair producing a child by John Edwards and maybe a little possible tax evasion from Congressman Rangel. We have our share.

And the very next day I posted an item about Tim Crawford, from Indiana, who was a member of the GOP, then became a Dem, then withdrew from the Congressional contest in which he was a candidate, then unwithdrew from the race, and who says being gay is "a mutation."

Given that he's former-GOP-turned-Dem, he's sort of a hybrid idiot, but an idiot just the same.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: All I want is for our elected officials to behave like the statesmen and -women they were elected to be.

Which is asking too much, apparently.

What Can Brown Do For Me? ...

One day, not long ago, I looked around my living room and realized just how enamored I am with the color brown.

Not just "brown," of course. Not just the Crayola interpretation of "brown," but variations of brown: beige, khaki, cinnamon, espresso, cognac, chestnut, saddle, walnut, manila, oak.

(Aside: I always thought it would be fun to have the job of naming paint colors, but having just written that list, I think I might like naming the colors for a J. Crew catalog or some such.)

And so, this morning, I thought of my fabulous new chair which arrived yesterday in a very large box, and I laughed, because, of course, it's brown. That chair, that is. Though, of course, the box was brown, too.

The chair, though, is not in my living room. It's in my TV room, which sports its share of brown, but is dominated by green.

I'm not sure what it is about me and brown. When I was younger, before I moved out on my own, I had a very schizophrenic sense of style. On the one hand, I envisioned my first apartment in Chicago sporting black leather furniture and lots of chrome. On the other hand, I was charmed by the proliferation of ticking-stripe furniture that began appearing everywhere. I liked its homey vibe, as opposed to the bachelor vibe of the leather and chrome.

But then I rented my studio on Waveland, and I suppose that's where the affinity for brown began. Wide walnut molding intersected the walls about three-fourths of the way up, with khaki paint below and white above. The floors were lighter, more of an oaky shade, but the doors – and there were many, for such a small space – were walnut, varnished to quite a high sheen.

So there you go: brown. I didn't move into a white and grey high-rise box. I moved into a cozy studio on a tree-lined street in Wrigleyville, a building with a lovely stone facade, and more stairs than I cared to climb.

And today, the brown continues. I like its earthiness and warmth. I live with it all year. I don't have "winter" and "summer" decorating schemes.

In my home, it is always fall.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Madalyn, The Hot Dog Lady ...

Madalyn is a part of what is right in the world.

For as long as I can remember, she has sold hot dogs from the southeast corner of the square in Crown Point. But she is far more than a vendor. She is an institution. She was once the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade. She is a fixture of many childhood memories.

Seeing her blue and yellow umbrella for the first time each season is a joy. The buzz begins. "Madalyn is out!" People flock.

She is part of our vocabulary. Many are the days when my mom calls me to ask, "Do you want a Madalyn?" We don't get hot dogs. Hot dogs can come from anywhere. We get Madalyns. Only Madalyns.

There is almost always a line at her cart. At the height of the lunch rush, the line stretches around the corner. There are two other hot dog vendors in town now. They never have lines. They often don't have customers. But people will wait for Madalyn's hot dogs. They will wait a long time. Because they're worth it.

We always get the Chicago-style dog. The hot dog, really, is incidental. But the brown mustard, the onion, the cucumber, like tissue paper it's sliced so thin, the perfect tomato, the pickle spear, the sprinkling of what I presume is celery salt, are a little salad symphony. But the star of the show is her relish. Her homemade relish. It is exceptional.

Everyone tries to figure out what's in it. Some think it's cucumber. Others think it's zucchini. But it is the entire reason to get a Madalyn if you're any kind of foodie. Anyone can spoon some ketchup onto a dog in a bun, and she will, for kids, if that's what they want. Adults, too, I suppose. But Madalyn's dogs are works of art, the Chicago especially. It's a shame to not appreciate her masterpiece.

(Word has it that she makes her own ketchup, too; I've never gotten anything with ketchup on it from her, so I wouldn't know. But I don't doubt it.)

On September 11th, my mom and my niece and I went to see Madalyn. The three of us sat on the steps of the courthouse and ate our hot dogs, a few moments of normalcy in an unfathomable day. Never has a hot dog been more important.

This year, though, the corner remains vacant. Everyone has been wondering when Madalyn will appear. And then, a few days ago, this group popped up on Facebook:

SAVE CROWN POINT'S 1st AND ONLY HOT DOG LADY!!

Details are sketchy and unverified, but the page suggests that Madalyn has run into some strife. Perhaps she's having trouble renewing her permit? I don't know.

What I do know is that in the few days since it launched, the page has gathered nearly 3,500 members. And that warms my heart. Not a few hundred people have taken the time to join and show their support, no, a few thousand people have taken the time to join and write a note.

Because Madalyn isn't just a hot dog vendor. Madalyn is a part of our lives. She knows many of us by face if not by name, but makes everyone feel welcome. Her husband helps her, and sometimes her son, and we hope that all of them return.

Crown Point just isn't Crown Point without her.



[I borrowed this image from the Facebook page. It's a couple of years old - her prices have gone up. : o ) My thanks to whoever posted it.]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Calculated Snark ...

It's not that I'm not snarky.

I am. I can be. Snark happens.

But I like to think that it's a reflex. I like to think that I don't engage in premeditated snark, that I don't sit around thinking up ways to be a jerk.

There's a page on Facebook that is worthy of a post of its own, which I will write tomorrow, perhaps, but what you need to know for the purposes of this entry is that there are more than 3,000 members of this particular group, and almost every message I've read on the wall has been effusively kind.

Except one.

One person took the time to join the group just to post a really mean comment.

What's that about?

How pathetic do you have to be to join an environment of kindness just so you can soil it with invective?

Pretty pathetic, apparently.

Like there's not enough strife in the world. Like there aren't newscasts full of bad news.

But there's also a lot of good in the world, very often in very small packages, in one moment or one person. So shines a good deed in a weary world.

How sad that there are those who feel the need to try to douse those points of light.

All the more reason, then, to up the kindness quotient whenever possible.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nesting ...

Gemma and I used to live next door to each other in a building on Waveland. We met the night she locked herself out of her apartment on the way down to the basement to get her laundry.

They were adorable little studio apartments, full of character, rehabbed but charming, lots of freshly varnished dark wood moldings and doors, and pedestal tubs on the one hand, builder's special stock white cabinetry and what must have been close-out wall sconces on the other. (I first rented that space in 1994, but the wall sconces had to have been manufactured in the '80s.)

We lived right down the street from Wrigley, close enough that on game days, I could watch the game on TV, and hear the roar of the crowd through my open windows when someone hit a homer. For all my proximity, I didn't go to many games in the park. For the same reason, I suppose, that folks who live in a given city only do the interesting things when relatives come to town. If you live in it or near it, you don't do it. Because it's there. Which makes no sense.

But Gems and I became good friends, and sometimes we'd shop for things for our wee spaces, and it was she who used the phrase one day, "My nest is best," a reference to the children's book. She wasn't saying her place was better than mine. It was just a way of conveying contentment with one's home.

I moved out of my studio in 1997, into a larger apartment, still with the same management company, still with the same renovated kitchens, but this time with more space. I had decided that the time had come to graduate from a studio with twin-size bed to a one-bedroom with a queen. Oh, the luxury.

Today, I live in a two-bedroom house. Apparently, I add a bedroom with each move. And it's surely more space than I need, this house, but I do love it. And this week has been particularly nesty.

It all began with moving my treadmill. In a fit of commitment to getting into shape, I bought a treadmill a few years ago – yes, in January; I'm such a cliché – but the only place for it was in my TV room. The basement would be logical, yes, except that I don't have high ceilings in the basement, so the equation looked like this:

Height of me + deck of the treadmill = Beth's head practically touching the ceiling, so forget about using the incline function

Of course, I hadn't thought of this before I bought it. I thought of it while I was waiting for it to be delivered.

So into the TV room it went.

Except that a treadmill isn't much of a design statement. Not that I'm any kind of designer. Still, in my cozy TV room, with its built-in bookshelves and fireplace and hardwood floors, a treadmill became an interloper. But what was a girl to do?

I had the delivery men place it in the room along a short wall, facing the TV – naturally – but that left it very conspicuous, what with being in front of the window. And so, the other day, I turned it around, so now it faces the wall, And the deck of the treadmill runs underneath the window, and it's still not the ideal location for a piece of exercise equipment, but visually, it's much more harmonious in the space, much less conspicuous. And anyway, when I used to walk on it and watch TV, I wouldn't stay on it for long. But now, with it facing the wall, I'll just use my iPod and music keeps me motivated for much longer.

And believe me, I need to be on it more, not less. I need to live on it, really.

But as I was saying ...

Moving the treadmill meant that I had to move the floor lamp next to the couch. So I put the lamp by one of the built-ins. But moving the lamp meant I had to move the clock. So I moved the clock. And that night, lying on the couch, looking at the corner which now contained the lamp but not the clock, I thought to myself that it would be lovely to have a chair there, with the floor lamp, next to the built-ins, a little library corner, as it were.

And I had a very good idea for what chair to put there, a plan that has been put into place with the help of a very generous friend, and soon it will arrive.

Also this week, though, I was staring at the space above my couch, a wall that has been blank for as long as I've lived here, and I decided that I needed a very horizontal piece of art, and another friend happens to shoot panoramic images that he outputs in a large format, so we chatted about what images might work, and that plan is in place, too.

Of course, now I want new curtains for that space. And I need a new rod. And a blind for the window to hang underneath the curtains. And a new rug. I desperately need a new rug. Well, not desperately. But the one that's there is too small and too solid and too casual and after 10 years, really, it's time for it to go. Somewhere else. Like a garage sale. Or Goodwill.

And the very nice oven-fixer man came by yesterday to fix my oven, so that a) food will now cook at the proper temperature in the right amount of time, and 2) I will not fill my house with natural gas while trying to bake a frozen pizza.

And I cleaned my bathroom to within an inch of its life, not just the usual sink-and-tub once over, but taking everything out of the medicine cabinet and cleaning in there and tossing stuff out, and cleaning the floor, and all the molding of all the wainscoting in there. It's very pretty, all that molding, but there are a lot of surfaces on which dust settles. Speaking of which, I don't think I had ever dusted the top of that door until the other day. That was interesting.

And – this is monumental – I did almost all of my laundry. Including afghans and quilts and curtains and every stitch of clothing that had been piled up, waiting. I still have a set of flannel sheets to go. But the jumble of towels and socks and other assorted somethings are no longer lying at the base of my basement stairs, reminding me with every glance that I suck for letting them sit there. The curtains are rehung in my bedroom and it's nice to have them all one color again, instead of the ombre effect of off-white (the clean part) to faintly grey (the part that hangs in front of the open part of the window).

So, on this lazy Saturday, I have the very happy sensation of not really having to do anything. I can bake again (without Sylvia Plath-ing it), I can read, I can nap. I can go outside at some point and pull weeds (oh, the glamour of owning a home) or I can run a few errands, but for the moment, it's nice to sit in my house and appreciate it.

I've crossed off almost every item on the to-do list I made at the beginning of the week. The remainders require me to leave the house, to pick up things like a 100-watt, 3-way light bulb and a white taper candle. Huge expenses, those.

Although, I think the time may have come to paint the wood that surrounds my fireplace. Which would require taping. And priming. And painting. I haven't been to the paint store in a while, though. I used to be a fairly regular customer. Or maybe I'd like to paint my bathroom. Or install molding in my office. Or retile the kitchen.

One thing leads to another.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

'The West Wing' ...

The show ended just over four years ago.

I finished watching it today.

I didn't watch it when it aired. I'd catch a few minutes here and there, but for some reason, I never caught the fever, despite friends raving about it, despite it garnering honors and awards.

But someone with whom I used to talk politics recommended it to me sometime last year, so I added all seven seasons to my Netflix queue, and today, I watched the last episode.

I'm sad to say goodbye to it. Of course, I can watch it again. But my inaugural experience, as it were, is behind me. Now I know the whole story.

It's amazing, really, how closely the show tracks to the current political climate, how closely the campaign and election of Santos track to Barack. Watching Matt and Arnie debate was like watching Obama and McCain. Eerily so.

And even though I knew that Leo dies in the last season, John Spencer's death prompting, not imitating, art, I could help crying.

It was all so well written, well acted, well filmed. Immensely entertaining.

It also served to demonstrate to me that I really do have no inclination toward politics. L.A. Dave often encouraged me to run for local office.

No, thank you. I'll steer clear of the mire.

But the show, that I'll add to my DVD collection someday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Astrological ...

I know a lot of people think astrology is bunk, and I surely don't live my life by it, but I read horoscopes from time to time with a passing curiosity.

Of all the ones I've seen over the years, the book Sextrology intrigues me the most. It looks at astrology in terms of male and female, straight and gay.

There is a lot of information for each sign, broken down by various categories, but the introductions to each of the signs provide insightful overviews of personalities and temperaments. I'm always struck by the splash of each introduction, and this morning I thought, "Well, that could make an interesting blog post."

So here we are, from the beginning of the book, the intro of the intro for each sign, by gender:

Aries Man, The One – "If an illustration accompanied the definition of man in the dictionary, it would no doubt look more like Aries than any other guy in the zodiac. He is astrology's prototypical chap—the model-A male—and as such he embodies the strictest utter essence of his sex: Whether eternally boyish of painfully macho, Aries is an exploration in masculinity in its purest form physically, emotionally, and psychologically."

Aries Woman, The Original – "For Aries woman, the existential journey lies along the path of least resistance. She is a minimalist of the first order and never crowds her experience with unnecessary obstacles, obligations, drama, or entangling emotional involvements. Single-minded in her artistic or professional pursuits, she adopts a definite plan for their achievement, realizing success by keeping life simple, easily sacrificing extra luxuries."

Taurus Man, The Idol – "Dude the obscure: Taurus male is purposely vague. Achieving his life's ambitions, he operates best by keeping his intentions guarded and others guessing. He is not a man of action but reaction, a brilliant strategist who, in both professional and personal dealings, forces people's hands before playing his closely held cards accordingly."

Taurus Woman, The Ideal – "Taurus woman is the zodiac's barefoot contessa, a sort of tribal princess who embodies the spirit of regal immunity and pastoral naiveté. In every aspect, she is a "living doll"—an infinitely fun-loving character who approaches life with an unspoilt, childlike vision and in so doing, she freely spreads joy."

Gemini Man, The Goodfellow – "Gemini man is an operator. He can't sit still, constantly striving to set the wheels of his myriad plans and project in motion. He is the zodiac's premier urbane figure, the proverbial man on the pavement with his ear perpetually to the ground and his finger on the pulse of cultural trends, especially those rooted in localized experience."

Gemini Woman, The Gift – "Gemini woman rides a fine line between innate vulnerability and an aggressive need to assert her own agenda, both professionally and in her personal life. She is acutely aware of her feminine wiles, using them to her best advantage, often playing coy or precocious in order to disarm people and gain necessary ground."

Cancer Man, The Player – "Cancer man is the zodiac's Prince Charming, a self-professed perfect gentleman—clean-cut, polite, coolly composed, and thus seemingly tailor-made to the specifications of a traditionally minded woman. He appears caring and sensitive, nice and funny, the very picture of respect, moral soundness, and earnest ambition."

Cancer Woman, The Pearl – "Unplugged: Cancer woman is the most emotive character in the zodiac. A wellspring of raw feelings, she wears her heart on her sleeve, needing to express her emotions even when others might consider it unwise to do so. More than any other female, she is consumed by her sentiments, brutally unabashed in both her affections and her aversions."

Leo Man, The Natural – "Leo man is the zodiac's quintessential golden boy, a gleaming figure with great charisma and an innate sense of ease and entitlement. He lives life like a king, the world being his playground, assertively satisfying his desires, which are, nonetheless, noble by nature."

Leo Woman, The Knockout – "Leo woman is the prime mover of the zodiac. No other individual possesses her power and determination for achieving her goals, sexual or otherwise. Burning with desire, she attacks life, letting nothing stand in the way of her hunt for fulfillment."

Virgo Man, The Vehicle – "Virgo man is a complicated, often confounding character. To him, the world is an imperfect place fraught with potential pitfalls and disappointments. He is especially predisposed to a defeatist view of relationships, which can't help but fall short of his signature pristine expectations."

Virgo Woman, The Vessel – "And God created woman. Virgo is the definitive earth mother, which, by this very nature, makes her a bundle of contradictions: She is at once an unassuming character and a powerfully feminine force to be reckoned with. Virgo woman is giving and nurturing, but equally reliant on others."

Libra Man, The Character – "Libra is the zodiac's Renaissance man. For him life is art, and he approaches existence as would a painter faced with a blank canvas, feeling empowered to create a world based solely on his idealized visions while striving to encapture sweeping abstract realities that he perceives as having remained heretofore out of humanity's reach."

Libra Woman, The Charm – "Libra woman is the zodiac's activist: The most principled person on the astrological wheel, she can't separate herself from her aerial convictions. To her, the world requires a redesign, as it lacks the very ideals that she most urgently seeks to project."

Scorpio Man, The Stranger – "Scorpio man is a severe individual, strict in his behavior and belief systems. He is narrowly focused, always putting his own needs ahead of any responsibility to others. A solitary figure, if not a subversive one, he stays far from what he considers the maddening crowd."

Scorpio Woman, The Specimen – "Nobody has a higher opinion of herself than the Scorpio woman. Hers is an indomitable spirit that cannot be penetrated by even the most vehement detractors. Too self-possessed to struggle, Scorpio achieves her ambitions by amassing supporters who pave the way, if not roll out the red carpet, for her." (I'm a Scorpio. That first sentence always makes me laugh.)

Sagittarius Man, The Maverick – "Sagittarius is the zodiac's libertarian. A freewheeling extremist, nobody lives larger than he does. Forever shaking up existing codes and mores, he colors outside the lines of life, succeeding in his endeavors by taking great risks."

Sagittarius Woman, The Maven – "In life's rich pageant, Sagittarius woman is the contestant most likely to walk away with the crown. A radiant, regal figure, she presides over experience, exuding an air of deservedness directed toward all she desires."

Capricorn Man, The Stickler – "Capricorn man is the zodiac's consummate sophisticate. An anachronism of the first order, he is a living, breathing anomaly, who, while existing in a thoroughly modern world, nonetheless eschews all things new or culturally mainstream."

Capricorn Woman, The Sleeper – "Capricorn woman is a class act. The most self-composed, least showy lady in the zodiac, she is an understatedly elegant character, largely unimpressed by 'externals' such as fame, high finances, or family pedigree."

Aquarius Man, The Visitor – "Aquarius man is the most estranged character in the zodiac. He exudes an air of detachedness, an ironic symptom of his sign's infamous association with human liberty."

Aquarius Woman, The Vision – "Aquarius woman is an inspiration. Her natural disposition is to see the joy in every situation, and she's able to make even the dreariest of events seem like fun."

Pisces Man, The Drifter – "Pisces is the very definition of a self-made man. More than any guy in the zodiac, he is blessed with an ability to exist according to his own design, devoid of doubt and distraction."

Pisces Woman, The Dream – "Though she is the last lady in the zodiac, Pisces is astrology's undisputed prima donna. The proverbial Everywoman, she is the culmination, and an often chilling compilation, of all the other women who come before her on the wheel."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Easy Like Saturday Morning ...

There are certainly things I could do.

I need to do the laundry. If I don't address it soon, it will completely take over my house and will likely suffocate me. If you see socks spilling out of my windows, call 911.

I need to cut the grass because with this week's monsoon, everything has grown about a foot and a half. Except the circumference of my hips. So there's that for which to be thankful.

I need to go to the grocery store. There are only so many things a girl can make with what I have on hand. Which probably explains why my hips have yet to be counted as an additional occupant by the fine folks from the census.

(Speaking of which, a perfectly lovely woman knocked on my door yesterday, trying to get some information about my next-door neighbors. It seems they haven't returned their census form, so they're on the list for a visit from a census worker. And she's tried before, to no avail. But yesterday, she saw the guy go in his house and then went and knocked on the door and he wouldn't answer. I have to think that if you don't send in your census form and you don't answer your door when the census worker knocks, you're probably setting yourself up for some sort of investigation.)

I need to empty the dishwasher and wash up the few dishes in the sink.

But I'm not. I'm sitting on my loveseat, my official sitting spot when I write these days, and sipping what's left of my triple grande hazelnut non-fat latte, my reward for schlepping to Starbucks - on foot! – early on a Saturday morning.

The birds are singing. And the sun is shining. And the slightest breeze is blowing, barely stirring my curtains. And I have no inclination to do anything other than to simply be.

So I'm being.

I'm a big fan of being. I've gotten quite good at it.

English Teacher Dave addressed last year's Christmas card to Be Ku, shorthand for my name, but also good advice.

Be Ku, indeed.

I shall try to be no one else. I wouldn't succeed anyway.

Though at the moment, I think I should like to Be Unconscious.

Perhaps a nap is in order. Despite the three shots of espresso I've ingested. They don't seem to be doing any good.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I Walk ...

Note: I am not writing this post in my capacity as an ambassador of the 3-Day. This one is personal.

Earlier today, I received a comment from Anonymous.

Unsigned. Which irks me. If you have something to say, you're welcome to say it. But sign your name to it. You don't have to have a Google account or any other to end your comment with your name.

This is what it says:

Has anyone ever calculated the cost/benefit of "charitable" events like this one? I.e. the cost of the support services for everything from the camps, to the "sweep" vehicles, to the food and water, to the paperwork? Not to mention the cottage industry in all the pink tchotchkes. Plus all the public services that also get called upon: police and emergency medical support. Now, total all those dollars up, and set them against the dollars donated, and you have to wonder what the REAL benefit is to breast cancer reasearch.

Yes, some of the costs are borne by corporate sponsors, but realize that these companies then get sizable tax write-offs that have to be offset eventually by all of us working folk.

I realize that events like this heighten the visibility of the cause, and that people desperately want to believe there's something they can do in memory of a loved one - and precious few of us are oncology researchers (the people who really CAN make a difference). But all things considered, wouldn't it make more sense just to write a bigger check (or make a bigger online donation), and reduce the impact on the environment AND the drain on public services AND the tax write-offs of corporations?


And this is what I said in return:

Here you go, Anon:

http://www.the3day.org/site/DocServer/BC3D_Report_Card_for_08_series_Final.pdf?docID=341

I don't think the impact on the environment is very big. We're
walking. Yes, there's camp to consider and vehicles to transport and such, but consider what a typical worldwide concert tour requires every summer.

As for police and such, many of those services are donated. Cops work on their days off to help us, etc.

There are those things that are measurable and tangible about the 3-Day, but there are also intangibles.

Like, the sense of community. The camaraderie. The empowerment.

Let's assume that some people sign up to do the 3-Day, walk, and then think, "Wow, if I could do this, what else can I do?" And then they go on to do those things.

You can't measure that.

As for people just writing bigger checks, I expect that most of the people who contribute to the 3-Day don't otherwise think to give money to breast cancer research, let alone "bigger" checks.

At the end of the day, it's an event that raises money, raises awareness, builds community, empowers people. It falls into the "good" column.

For those who think it's superfluous or otherwise not valuable, you don't need to support it.

For those of us who believe it in and who give our time and effort to it year after year, we can do without the cynicism.


I believe in The 3-Day. I believe in it with all my heart. I wouldn't do it every year if I didn't. I wouldn't walk 60 miles in Chicago's heat and humidity every August if I didn't. I wouldn't suffer the stiffness and the soreness and the sunburn if I didn't.

Because those things are nothing – nothing – compared to what those directly affected by breast cancer endure.

Many survive. But many don't.

And if my walking will save one more family from having to say goodbye to a loved one too soon, that is worth every step.

Nancy Brinker made a promise to her sister that she would dedicate the rest of her life to finding a cure for breast cancer.

And in my very, very, very small way, I am helping her to do just that. Every walker is helping her to do just that.

And we are helping to provide mammograms to those who otherwise would not receive them. And we are helping to provide education to those who do not know.

From the report card for which I provide the URL above:

"Of every dollar spent, 84 cents goes toward mission (research, education, screening, treatment); the remaining 16 cents goes toward administrative and fundraising costs."

Eighty-four cents. Out of 100 cents. That's 84% going toward Komen's mission. That's a high number.

One of my friends used to support me in this but then stopped, suggesting, for lack of a better word, that it's a scam, that the people behind this event have no intention of ever finding a cure because their business would go away.

As if there aren't a host of other diseases and causes that need our help? AIDS, hunger, disaster relief, epilepsy, lung cancer, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, victims of genocide, you get the idea, take your pick.

So why do I do it?

Several years ago, I had the honor of meeting Brooke Ellison, a lovely woman who cannot walk. She has been confined to a wheelchair, a quadriplegic, since she was 11 years old. Christopher Reeve made a film about her. It premiered shortly after he died.

I was at that premiere. That's where I met Brooke. And after, as I was waiting for my friend, the event's publicist, in the green room, I was pacing. Pacing, pacing, back and forth.

And then I stopped. Because I suddenly realized that I was pacing, that I am able to pace, unlike the woman I'd just met, that amazing woman who despite her physical limitations, had accomplished so much more than so many able-bodied people.

I am able to walk.

And so I do.

Like I said in my response to Anonymous, those who don't believe in what we do don't need to support us.

I don't have the data to back up this theory, but I believe that much more money is raised through these events than would be raised in the absence of these events simply because these events supply a means for people to contribute.

People want to help. But they also want it to be easy to do. Consider the sudden proliferation of texting to donate $10 to various disaster-relief organizations. Look at how many millions are raised that way.

Let's assume someone wanted to contribute to breast-cancer research. How would they go about it? Should they send a check to a research hospital? Perhaps. Would they actually do that? Perhaps. I'd like to think they would take the time to find out where they could contribute and then follow through and write a check and send it.

But through the 3-Day and other such endeavors, people have a clear avenue to help. And they don't need to feel as though they have to make a large contribution.

Let me tell you, nothing is more heartwarming than someone who contributes $5 when you know that that $5 means a lot to them. A former co-worker, a single mother of three who earned a very modest hourly wage, once contributed $5.

I burst into tears.

People want to help. Some people want to walk. Some people want to volunteer. Some people want to give money. The 3-Day enables all of those things.

And in so doing, for three days, in each city, humanity gets a little boost. For three days, thousands of people come together to support each other and cheer each other on.

As my friend Devereaux once said, "I want to live in the 3-Day universe."

So do I.

So for three days, every year, I do.

Because it's a beautiful place. Because it fuels my spirit. Because it gives me hope.

Not because it displays a lucrative bottom line.

Where Did He Go?! ...

Just in case some of his clients don't know, J-D, aka my hair architect, has returned to Joseph Michael's, but Joseph Michael's has moved.

The address is new – 1313 N. Ritchie Court – but the phone number remains the same – (312) 482-9800.

Driving directions are here.

A map and alternative transportation information are here.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 10, 2010

The 3-Day: A Few Words On Walking ...

I just read this post about training by the smart 'n' sassy Beckie and it inspired me to whip up a post of my own.

Beckie's post is about whether it's necessary to train. The short answer is: "Yes." But you should read her post. It's really good.

I'll add these thoughts:

A key thing to keep in mind, all you first-timers out there, is that while the event is indeed 60 miles over three days, it is not 20 miles per day. Day 1's distance is the longest, Day 2 is nearly as long, and Day 3 is not as long because you don't have until 7 p.m. to finish the day's route.

Most walkers get through Day 1 because they've trained to some degree and they have adrenaline to help them along. But you may wake up on Day 2 and hear your body say, "Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me. You want to do that AGAIN?!"

Day 2, not surprisingly, is the day that most walkers elect to sweep on the route or catch a coach to lunch or back to camp.

(Does everyone know what we 3-Dayers mean by "sweep"? If not: All day, each day, vans circle the route, available to walkers who need a lift to the next pit stop. If you need a ride, step off the route to allow other walkers to pass, and either cross your arms over your head to form an X or give the thumbs-down sign and the nearest van will pull over and pick you up. Sweep vans will take you to the next stop on the route, be it a pit stop, lunch, or camp. From the morning pit stops, you can board a coach to lunch. From lunch or the afternoon pit stops, you can board a coach to camp. OK, then, back to the post ...)

As I was saying, Day 2 is the day most walkers elect to sweep and I applaud that decision. Of course you should sweep if you feel the need to sweep, whatever day of the three, but personally, I'd recommend sweeping on Day 1 and/or Day 2 with the intention of walking all of Day 3. It's truly awesome to arrive at the end of the event having walked the day.

If you've never felt like a rock star before, you'll feel like a rock star at the end of the route. You can't begin to fathom the cheering!

Of course, some folks may be injured and if they can't walk Day 3, they shouldn't try (if you're really hurt, the 3-Day will "red card" you and prohibit you from walking), but for anyone who is simply finding the event more taxing than they expected, I recommend that they save their energy for Day 3.

For those who don't know about route cards, each day, when you enter the route, you'll be given a route card that you can tuck into your credential holder (your credential will feature a barcode that will be scanned when you enter the route and when you return to camp). The route card lists the total mileage for the day, broken down by the locations of the pit stops, the grab 'n' gos, the cheering stations, and lunch. So, all along the route, you can refer to the route card and know that the next stop is 2.7 miles away, or whatever's listed.

Now then, I cannot stress these three walking points enough, especially for all you Type As out there:

1. Leave the pedometer at home. Do not try to track the distance yourself. Your pedometer probably isn't spot on, anyway – I've yet to find the one that's truly accurate – and all you'll do if you're wearing one is work yourself into a bit of a snit about walking farther than your route card reads.

2. Don't ask anyone how far it is to the next stop. They probably don't really know. Or they'll tell you what they think you want to hear. Either way, you're not going to be happy when someone tells you "It's a mile!" and then you feel like you're walking for two.

The only answer to "How far is it to the next stop?" is "It's as far as it is." Just keep walking. You'll get there.

If you really need to sweep, it doesn't matter if the next stop is a mile away or three miles away. If you need to sweep, sweep.

3. Mileage is relative. Walkers joke about the myth of "Komen miles" versus actual miles, because it will surely feel like you're walking further than the mileage listed on the route card. Just when you're sure the next pit stop must be steps away, you'll spot the sign that reads, "Next Pit Stop 1 Mile!" Just go with the flow. I mean, grumble about it if you want to – most walkers do – but keep walking.

Also, camp is huge. You'll probably log a mile just walking around camp for three days.

And lastly, all those reminders to stretch? Take them seriously. You might think that there's no need, that your muscles couldn't possibly be any warmer than they'll be on a 90-degree day walking for miles on end, but believe me, you want to stretch. Stretch at pit stops. Stretch at stoplights while waiting for green lights. Stretch in camp. Stretch, stretch, stretch.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Spell: Broken ...

It's not that I've spent a lot of time thinking about him for the past however many years. I haven't. But there was always a sense of supplication, even after. Which was ridiculous. Is ridiculous. No, was. Until tonight.

Because a memory just flashed through my mind of a particularly unforgivable act he pulled years ago, a memory I'd long since forgotten, or, more accurately, had simply not remembered, but tonight, it made itself known again, and even though I'd mostly gotten over my awe of him – poof! – tonight, it's gone.

There was a lot that was good about him, that may still be good about him, I wouldn't know. But in those moments all those years ago, I made excuse after excuse. Behavior I would not have tolerated from anyone else I tolerated from him, because I so wanted to be a part of his circle.

And in some ways, I was, I was very inside, I was practically the bulls eye – or so he led me to believe – but at what cost? My sense of self?

How absurd, to be willing to pay that price. And for so little in return. For crumbs.

Interestingly, just the other day, I burned a note from him, something I'd kept all these years because I thought it said so much about me, when instead, the fact that I'd kept it all these years really said so much about who I do not want to be. And so, I sent it up in flames, burned through the bindings I'd assigned to it, unwittingly.

And now, tonight, officially, the spell is broken, though it had been weakening into a whisper over time.

Another lesson learned.

Onward.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Notes, Not Necessarily Musical ...

♫ Why the double eighth note icon today? I just like the way it looks. Normally, I use the single eighth note – ♪ – but I'm single enough. At least the musical notes I use in my blog can be paired up.

♫ I had coffee yesterday with Brian (I need to start assigning modifiers for all the Brians in my life now, as I've done for all the Daves) and was amused to note that every laptop in use in our vicinity at the Starbucks was a Mac, as though Mac is the official laptop of Starbucks. But then, as we were leaving, I noticed a guy by the door with a Dell. D'oh! Dude, go hang out at Caribou.

♫ I do not understand why this song wasn't bigger. I once described it to Composer Dave as a U2/Coldplay hybrid. With that kind of pedigree, you'd think it would have hit big. Trivia: Vib Gyor, the band's name, is the acronym for the colors in the spectrum of light: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red.

♫ Earlier this week, I was having one of those days as a creative in which I was smarting because someone didn't like the work I'd produced for them. What I wrote was funny. They thought it was "forced." We were both right. What I wrote was funny, but it didn't gel with what they were trying to achieve. Happily, though, new Twitterpal Marcia, unaware of the day's woes, told me I should write a book, which was nice. Many people tell me that. I replied to her that I'd love to write a book, if only I could think of a topic. Which is when she really earned her keep as a Twitterpal with this message: "Write about you! Life etc. Sedaris style. I'm a big fan of his and only wish I could be so witty. YOU ARE. Not BSing. Do what you do best." HELLO. Now, I'm funny when I want to be, but never in a million years have I thought of myself as "David Sedaris" funny. But maybe I should. His Holiday on Ice is one of the best things ever to be printed on paper. In any event: Marcia, I'm throwing a big smooch at you for the psychic rescue! Mmmmmmwah!

♫ Wow, New York is not having a good week.

♫ Brian, he of yesterday's coffee meet-up, has the most adorable son on the planet. As I wrote to Brian the other day upon seeing the latest crop of pictures: "I am transfixed by his scrumptiousness." I need to identify more things in life that qualify as "scrumptious."

♫ I've been working on an exercise for the past week or so to help me figure out what I want to be when I grow up. It's been much more difficult than I expected. It's not that I don't know myself. It's that I would like to spend my days catering to my whims. As I wrote on Facebook and Twitter, "Apparently, I want to be Dorothy Parker. Minus the suicide." I think I could do very well, hanging out at The Algonquin, having interesting discussions and noshing and drinking, not necessarily in that order. So, if anyone runs across any lucrative opportunities for "whim caterer," do let me know. Thank you.

♫ Much to my financial chagrin, I have to admit that salon hair-care products really do perform much better than the stuff I can buy at Target. My birthday gift every year from J-D, my hair architect, is a shampoo-conditioner combo from the salon. I save it for "special" occasions. Yesterday, coffee with Brian qualified as a "special" occasion because why not, right? And yup, my hair feels fabulous. Dammit. Even when I am staggeringly wealthy from the sales of my Sedaris-style books, though, I don't know if my brain will be able to wrap itself around spending $30 on a rather wee-sized bottle of shampoo and another $30 or so on a similarly wee-sized bottle of conditioner.

♫ Speaking of my brain not being able to wrap itself around something, yesterday I was watching a DVRd episode of "Selling New York" on HGTV. I really love it, not for the "drama" that the producers try to inject, but for the opportunity to glimpse the interiors of some of the most spectacular spaces I've ever seen. But yesterday, my head nearly exploded when agents viewed a furnished apartment for a foreign investor and discussed that if he were to purchase it, he could rent it for $30,000 a month. THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH. WHAT?! Who the hell spends $30,000 a month on rent?!

♫ The coffee in my mug is now unpleasantly room temperature. Which is a good cue to log off and get up from the couch.

♫ But first, this exquisitely simple bit of life advice, with thanks to Twitterpal Terry for the link.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Rendered Wordless ...

I'm sitting here, clean. Clean and tired. Not able to think of much other than how great it is to be wearing clothes that don't smell like gas fumes, how great it is to have showered and shampooed and to have put on clean clothes. Comfy clothes. As if I wear any other kind. Soon, I will need to start planning my life based on where yoga pants and T-shirts are considered appropriate attire. Someplace, of course, other than a yoga studio, because God forbid. I am the opposite of flexible. Sitting on the floor, Indian-style, as we used to call it as kids, is about as bendy as I get. And even then, only on good days.

So I'm sitting here, clean. And tired. With the notion buzzing around in my sinuses, not in my brain, that I should be writing something of substance. The sinus thing is a might bit distressing. I think I've spent too much time in nature over the past two days. There are two likely scenarios at hand:

1) I need some Benadryl.

2) I inhaled some fungus spores yesterday when I was disposing, once and for all, of the giant mushroom that bubbled out of my lawn last year, that swelled to the size of a volleyball before it started to shrink, which I left in place all winter figuring that the weather would do away with it, only to find it still on my lawn when the snow retreated, only now it had become sad and withered and brown. And it made its way from its location in the lawn to one of the beds in the front of my house, and then made its way to the other (helped along, I'm guessing, by neighborhood cats), until yesterday, when I was finally doing away with my dandelion-stem garden, and there it was, as if stubbornly saying that it was never going to entirely go away, so I impaled it on my weeder and carried it to the trash.

(I have to pause here to confess that the immaturity of a 13-year-old boy that I have inside of me is sniggering at the phrase "impaled it on my weeder." And now that sniggering has given way to full-on laughter.)

But as I was saying, I probably inhaled some sort of spores which are now wreaking all sorts of havoc in my lungs, and which will no doubt inspire an animation next season on "House," mostly likely starring the little green Mucinex dude, whom, I just learned, through the power of the Internet, is named Mr. Mucus.

Well, at least he reads. I wonder if he's single.

I am also sore from these two days of yard work, which further compels me to hire a hunky lawnboy to do the mowing and the weeding and the twig-picking-upping. Or I need to buy stock in Advil.

For the moment, though, I do believe that the most prudent and immediate course of action is to take a nap. Just a wee one. Twenty minutes or so.

Or to brew some afternoon coffee. But that would require getting off the couch.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The 3-Day: Little Things ...

It is a partly sunny, mostly lazy Saturday.

I should be writing a story I've been working on, but writing is a fickle mistress, and at the moment, she is also being coy.

But while I've been at my computer, trying to bring her around, I've been trading tweets with Cat, who is registered for the Phoenix 3-Day, and who tweets under the name @fatgirlwalkin.

You gotta love Cat.

Anyhoo, she was wondering whether to be concerned that her hands had swelled on her brief training walk, and I assured her that it happens to all of us. Our exchange, however, suggested to me that I should whip up a post of little 3-Day nuggets.

So here we are.

1. Your hands will swell
It's the nature of gravity. You keep your hands at your sides for long enough, fluids will settle. And on the 3-Day, you'll be chock full of fluids. At least, you better be. By now you know the importance of hydration. And so, on the route, you will see plenty of walkers with their arms above their heads, wiggling their fingers. This is not enthusiasm. This is a measure to combat swelling. Which brings me to two sub-nuggets:

– Don't wear rings. Leave them at home. Or carry them with you in your waist pack. Or on a chain around your neck. But to be safest, leave them at home.

– If someone offers ice, take it. Often, people along the route – bless their hearts – will offer Ziploc bags of ice or a cooler full of ice for those who want it for their water bottles, or some variation thereof. Last year, while nearing a cheering station, I could hear one very enthusiastic Scout yelling, "Ice! It's cold! It's free!" I stopped in front of him. He looked at me as if to say, "Yeah?" I said, "Dude, I want ice!" And he handed me the chunk in his hands, an intricate blob of fused cubes, and he and his fellow Scouts went wild. I guess they hadn't had many takers. But oh, it felt fabulous to hold in my hands while I walked. And, given that the Chicago 3-Day is in August, it melted quickly.

2. It's not glamorous
The 3-Day is noble and awesome and life-changing and cool, but glamorous? Nope. First-timers are easy to spot at Opening Ceremonies: They're the ones wearing makeup. I'll admit to smudging on a bit of eyeliner on past events, but only to keep myself from looking like I should be lying on a slab. But "normal" on the walk includes hair pulled into a ponytail, no (or very minimal) makeup, quite possibly a sunburned nose, puffy hands, and plenty of sweat. Just go with the flow. Every other walker looks exactly the same way. Nobody cares. The 3-Day is not the time for lip gloss. Lip balm, absolutely. Put some in your fanny pack now. Along with sunscreen, which you will apply in lieu of foundation for three days. But skip makeup. You're just going to sweat it off. Which brings me to more sub-nuggets:

– In the mornings at the sinks, don't tie up the mirrors. Brush your teeth and move along. Also, when brushing your teeth, don't let the water run. You shouldn't do it at home, either, but be mindful of it on the event.

– Speaking of water, a shower on the 3-Day will feel better than any shower you've ever taken in your life, but keep it brief. And this is hardly a little thing, but it bears repeating over and over again, in bold and caps, even: WHEN YOU RETURN TO CAMP, DO NOT SHOWER BEFORE YOU EAT. I REPEAT, DO NOT SHOWER BEFORE YOU EAT. Why not? Because the odds are in your favor that you will faint in the shower if you do not eat first. And we love you, we really do, but we do not love you enough to want to haul your naked body out of a shower stall. We'll do it if we have to, but eat first and spare us the ordeal, OK?

3. Mark your tent and luggage
The 3-Day folks mention this in the handbook, and they're not kidding. Even with a tent "address," and especially at night, it's difficult to find your pink domed home. Bring a windsock or scarf or something to clip to your tent to help you spot it in the hot-pink sea. I make a massive spray of curling ribbon that I clip to the top of my tent and tie a smaller version to the handle of my wheely duffel to make it easy to spot when it's time to grab my gear.

4. MacGyver-ize
Most women carry a little bit of everything in their purses. Not nearly as much fits into a fanny pack, but you'll probably have room for a snack-size Ziploc of whatever you find handy. The one I carry holds a stash of Band-Aids, blister covers, a couple of hair elastics, a safety pin, my lip balm, and my little Swiss Army knife because it contains a tiny pair of scissors. Last year, a fellow walker wanted to put her hair up but no one had an extra elastic. While we walked, I stuck some Band-Aids to each other to form a long strip and used that to tie around her ponytail. We laughed at how ridiculous it looked, but she was happy to have her hair off her neck.

5. Bring a wider-mouth water bottle
The awesome, awesome crew will try to have ice on hand for you for your water bottle. The wider the mouth of your bottle, the easier it will be for them to set you up with ice.

6. Track down or make a neck wrap
This is what I'm talking about. These things are awesome. They're just long cotton tubes filled up with some sort of magical poly-crystals that swell in water and oh, when you soak one of these puppies in some ice water (conveniently set out for you at pit stops) and slap it around your neck again? Whew! Nothing feels better on a hot day.

My brain has stopped working for the moment. I'm sure there are other things to share with you that will come to me over time. So I'll blog again. But in the meantime, if you have any questions, as ever, feel free to post 'em in the comments and I'll reply and then address them in my next post.

Meet My Twitter Self ...

If my blog were a houseplant, it'd be dead by now.

I don't tend this space like I used to, don't write with any regularity anymore.

I want to, really I do. I want to be charming and engaging and toss off bon mots.

I do, I think. I just don't do it here. I do it on Twitter.

Mind you, not everything I tweet is comedic gold. Banalities creep in. But I feel like I'm being clever, anyway.

And Twitter allows me to play off of others in real time, which helps me foster my intermittent zinginess.

Twitterpal Angelo provides lots of opportunities for Tweeting fun, though Burns and Allen we're not. (What is with me and the bizarre comedy references lately? The other day, I cited Rowan and Martin. What am I, 90?)

And I love that Twitter affords me the chance to interact with others with whom I would never have the chance to speak. Not that most of the folks I follow follow me, but I like at least having a conduit to them.

I like that when Keith Olbermann poses a question, I can answer it. Of course, so can the other 53,597 people who follow him, and I am very likely lost in the mix, but it's still fun to have the Twitter gateway.

And thanks to Twitter, I can send fan tweets, as it were, to Rachel Maddow in real time, during her show, when she's doing a spectacular job of taking down a smug executive or other guest who must not watch her show, because otherwise they would know that it's really quite futile to go toe to toe with the woman, who is always armed to the teeth with facts and wields them with surgical precision. Oh, and folks, her last name rhymes with "shadow." As someone who has her last name butchered on a regular basis, I empathize with her. She's always very nice and doesn't correct people, but please, stop saying it as though it rhymes with "mad cow."

While I'm on the subject of Twitterers I love, John Larroquette is particularly lyrical in 140 characters. Some famous folks use Twitter solely to promote their work, but some, like John, sometimes write beautiful little thoughts.

My feed consists of friends I've never met, and news sources, and food writers, and designers. Publications, and musicians, and good-deed doers. Comedians and late-night talk show hosts (though you might expect those two to be the same thing, and sometimes they are, but everyone who is a comedian does not have a late-night talk show, and I don't follow late-night talk show hosts who aren't funny; you know who I mean).

And I can't not mention Roger Ebert, who is an elder statesman of the form, who tweets about films, sure, but who displays his keen social commentary in these Twitter-sized bites.

Actually, I'm always a bit surprised to search for someone on Twitter and not find them. Perhaps they don't find it useful or interesting. Perhaps they think they don't have time. I can understand that. When I first heard of Twitter, I thought, "Why the hell would I sign up for that?" But that was back in its earliest days, when it arrived on the scene as another online distraction, before we all realized that it was really quite useful. Stories break on Twitter. Headlines, at least. Marketers use it to read real-time feedback about, well, everything.

I watch big events with my laptop on my lap, tweeting live along with my friends, as part of what becomes an instant-message conversation in which the whole world has a say.

Let me know if you sign up (or if you already have an account). I'm looking for my 100th person to follow, an auspicious occasion.

There might be cake.