Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Year, I'll Cheer ...

Tomorrow, August arrives.

And with August, in Chicago, comes the 3-Day. And I am not walking this year.

I did not walk last year either, but that was by circumstance not by choice. I was registered, but I spent Day 1 in the hospital waiting room, waiting for my mom. (She's fine, thanks.) When I called to cancel my participation, the 3-Day coach suggested that I shift my registration to another city. But financially, that didn't make sense. It is not inexpensive to participate in a local 3-Day, but it gets downright pricey to walk in another city. Besides, these days, I really hate to travel. Logistically, not adventuresomely.

But this year is another story. This year, my non-participation was decided by Nancy Brinker. Right around the time I should have been registering for 2012, she decided to ruin Komen's reputation by not only defunding Planned Parenthood but by then lying about Komen's motivations in an attempt to quell the anger. The story unfolded over a few days, I wrote a few blog posts, and then I was done. With seven events behind me and many thousands of dollars raised, I was done.

Honestly, a small part of me is relieved. Finding a cure for breast cancer remains a noble cause, but having walked 7 events (x 60 miles per = 420 miles), most of the routes identical to the ones that came before, I had grown a bit weary of the walk. And then there's the Augustness of it all. Walking. 60 miles. In three days. In Chicago. In August.

Such an effort is nothing - nothing - compared to what a patient undergoing treatment goes through, but it's taxing in its own way. Which is why, I suppose, most people are not repeat walkers. Most participate to understand what the event is about or to experience what friends and family have experienced and most get to finish line and decide they're done. Repeat walkers are rare. But that also makes them all the more fun to see at events year after year. They become more than a bit like family.

So while I have no intention of ever supporting Komen again, I still support those who choose to walk. I made a contribution to a walker not toward her fundraising specifically (though she may well have filled out a donation form and sent in the check) but to apply toward any of her 3-Day needs: a second pair of shoes, socks, camp gear, whatever.

And this year, I want to cheer. Every year that I walked, I would encounter folks who would just pop up along the route, usually dressed in something obnoxiously pink, handing out ice or candy or trinkets, blaring dance music from their cars and trucks, giving walkers a boost between scheduled stops.

There are also official cheering stations designated by the event that provide intense infusions of resolve (and, if walkers are very lucky, frozen treats) that make for some of the most memorable moments of the event. It's a lovely bit of community, many people coming together for a day in a park or at another designated spot who set up chairs and coolers and settle in for a day of clapping and cheering as 2,000 walkers – give or take – pass by.

So that I'd like to do, to return the favor for all those who have shown such kindnesses to me.

I'll be the one nearly hoarse from cheering but not wearing something obnoxiously pink.

Monday, July 30, 2012

In Defense Of Algebraic Ignorance ...

So there was this piece in the New York Times, "Is Algebra Necessary?", which has led to a bit of debate among friends, because I run with a very hip crowd that takes time to debate the necessity of algebra. Make sure to look for us at parties. We're a hoot.

My answer, you will not be surprised to learn, is a resounding "NO."

No, it's not necessary. Not for me, anyway. For some people, say, future algebra teachers, yup, it's a fine, fine idea, but for me and my brain?

N.O. No.

To my way of thinking, there are word people and there are number people. I am very, very, very much a word person. Numbers are fine in recipes and as addresses and as buttons to press on my phone, but beyond everyday uses, numbers can suck it.

I don't want to solve equations and plot points on a graph and connect them into a parabola. I don't want to calculate the area under a curve. I have cookies to bake, people.

One friend, on that front, tried to point out that I use algebra all the time, like when doubling a recipe.

Nope, multiplying a fraction was something I learned how to do in grade school. Algebra didn't rear its ugly damn head until I was in junior high.

Now, granted, a large part of being able to learn math depends on the math teacher. And while my junior-high algebra teacher was a nice woman (I babysat for her son a few times), she could not make me understand math. Nor could my older brother, who would try, bless his heart. He's always been good at math, so it must have been frustrating for me to display no understanding of something he found so straightforward.

But my brain's just not wired that way.

I had one good math experience. One. It would never be repeated. But Sue Berg, bless her heart, was able to convey trigonometry to me in a way that just clicked. I earned an A from her.

An A. In math. On my report card.

It was a total fluke.

Because when I took trig again in college – because there was a math requirement for graduation, never mind that I was an English major – I returned to my previous math-sucking self.

Another friend argued that we shouldn't be allowed to give up on a subject just because they're hard, and that he had to learn literary symbolism, which he found just as useless.

Au contraire, I said. Learning how to see meaning beneath the surface of things is a worthwhile pursuit. That is a skill you use later in life.

But not once have I needed to spontaneously solve a quadratic equation, though I can still rattle it off: the opposite of B plus or minus the square root of B squared minus four A C over two A.

Like I said, look for me at a party. Loads of fun awaits you, people. Loads.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

One View From The Liberal Side ...

As much as I'd like to think so, I know that I'm not always right.

But I know that my heart is in the right place. I may not phrase something ideally or I may lose my temper, but at the end of the day, I care. I care about my family and I care about my friends and I care about my neighbors and I care about my country.

Which is why I find myself baffled, entirely, by what is happening on the other side of the political spectrum.

How can any person with a conscience believe that the rich people in this country need even more tax breaks and that we should pay for them with cuts to services that help those most in need?

How can any person with a conscience believe that it was OK to put two wars and tax cuts on the nation's credit card but not believe that we should rebuild our infrastructure here at home?

How can any person with a conscience believe that the banks that nearly destroyed the country's economy should not be "burdened" with regulations but that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should be fought tooth and nail?

How can any person with a conscience believe that the right for any individual to buy enough weapons and ammunition to kill thousands of people is absolute but that access to health care will be our nation's undoing?

I could go on. And on. And on.

This morning, I got into a Twitter exchange with a friend from way back who is very much a Republican and very much a member of the 99%. He, thankfully, has weathered the recession (some call it a depression) well, from what I've been able to gather. He still has his job. His wife still has her job. Their kids seem to be growing up and doing kids' things. They have a roof over their heads. For most folks, that's pretty much the American dream. I'm happy that misfortune has not knocked on his door.

But it has knocked on the doors of millions of Americans and, in many cases, it's thrown them out of their homes. It's taken away their jobs. It's ruined them financially because of an unexpected illness. Or a combination of all three.

And through it all, the Republican party in this country obstructs. From the day of President Obama's inauguration, it has obstructed.

Even as our bridges literally crumble as people drive across them and some of those people, in turn, die, it won't fund improvements to infrastructure.

Even as our citizens put off visits to doctors until they are too ill to recover and, therefore, die, it fights to repeal health care.

Even as our military continues to fight the longest war in our nation's history and soldiers, every day, die, it rattles its sabers and encourages a war with Iran.

What the hell is going on?

The friend on Twitter said that I view Obama as a saint who can do no wrong.

That is false.

I do not think he is a saint.

But I do know that he has the best interests of this country at heart.

And despite unprecedented opposition, he has accomplished a lot that is good.

Sadly, many of the people who have been helped by his policies have no idea of the help they've received.

So many members of the Tea Party screaming about their taxes. "Taxed Enough Already" read their handwritten signs. Even when told that they are paying the lowest taxes they've paid in decades, they refuse to believe it.

But it's true, they're told. Proof can be provided.

They have no interest in proof. They have no interest in facts. They have no interest in reality.

They listen to Rush Limbaugh.

They watch FOX News.

They have wholly bought into the gospel of lies.

"Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"

It's not willful. It's just ignorance.

And also: The President is black.

Yes, that's part of what's at play here. Yes, it is.

I have seen the most despicable images of our President, created by citizens of this country. One recently literally made me gasp.

The hatred for Obama runs deep for many in a way that it never ran for George W. Bush. But then, hatred for Bush couldn't be racial because he is part of our "esteemed" history of white, male presidents.

And so many are prepared to vote for Romney come November. Never mind that they don't like him. At least he's not Obama.

Oh, how I wish those people would just stay home.

Do they not understand the meaning of a Romney presidency?

It is hard to understand, I grant them, because Romney has no spine. His positions on everything shift with the wind. He was staunchly pro-choice when he ran for governor of Massachusetts but now he is emphatically pro-life because that is what the Right demands. He was for everything before he was against it, or against everything before he was for it. Just tell him what you want him to say he believes.

But at his core, he is a rich man with a sense of entitlement, who made much of his fortune from the misfortune he has inflicted on others.

And who now wants to be president because of his financial credentials but he refuses to let voters understand who that man truly is.

We're just supposed to trust that he'd do the right things for the country.

Like he did the right things for all those companies he forced into bankruptcy?

Please.

It's all baffling for someone sitting in the liberal seats.

A very, very rich person might want Mitt to be president to help ensure a future that favors the very, very rich. Even though there's only so much money one human being will ever be able to spend.

But how can anyone who is not part of that very, very tiny sliver of our society vote against their interests? How can they honestly believe that the GOP is staunchly on their side?

It baffles me.

I'm baffled.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Come On, Sky Money: Travel Edition ...

Today, for no reason in particular, I decided that I want to do a lot of traveling. Like, a lot of traveling, which is impractical for those of us who are not independently wealthy. And so, in an effort to conjure a bag of money from the sky, I thought it best to lay out my intentions so the sky money will know that I'm thinking about travel specifically. Not abstractly. Nosiree, Bob.

So, then, a brief photo tour of a few places I'd like to go. Someday soon, please. (See? I said "Please." Good manners must count for something, right?)

New York City

I've been to New York City many, many times, but there is no such thing as going to New York City too often. (Unless you count "moving to New York City," which, for the purposes of this post, I am not.)


Greece

Oh, Greece. Such allure. I mean, look at it. Breathtaking. And the food. My God, the food. I'd visit Athens, I mean, the Acropolis is right there. Gotta see the Acropolis, but mostly, I want to stay far away from "touristy" Greece and visit "everyday" Greece, the less known the island, the better, I'm guessing.


Sydney

A big city, I know, but a big city on the other side of the world that's always held a lot of allure for me.


Budapest

Why not? I like old cities. So much more interesting than new cities.


Bruges

I never pondered going to Bruges until I saw the film "In Bruges" (which you should see if you haven't because it's awesome), but once I did, I was hooked. Sign me up, please.


Brussels

As long as I'm in Belgium, why wouldn't I visit Brussels and continue with my "Cities That Begin With B" tour? I mean, they dip their fries in mayonnaise! And hello! Waffles! (Incidentally, I happen to love Brussels sprouts, too.)


Istanbul

I may as well visit Istanbul as long as I'm going to Greece, right?


Paris

Yes, I've never been. And I'm told I should go for the pastries, for starters. (I do want to try my hand at macarons, here at home.) I'm sure I could be very happy, whiling away a few days sitting in cafés and bistros eating too much cheese and bread and drinking too much wine and then attempting to walk it all – well, most of it – off.


Prague

I have such a romantic notion of Prague, not romantic in terms of romance but romantic in terms of the charm of the city. In my mind, Prague is perpetually grey and cool and slightly forlorn, but in a gorgeous way.


Vienna

My idea of Vienna is a hybrid of many European cities, a close kin of Paris but with a bit more of a lovelorn soul.


Venice

Because it's Venice. I've always been strangely drawn to images of Venice. I have several hanging in my home. Perhaps I lived there in a past life. Perhaps I was a gondolier.

Friday, July 27, 2012

National Scotch Day ...

Usually, I'm up on my Days, but somehow, National Scotch Day almost slipped by me. Thankfully, my very astute friend Lynne alerted those in her Facebook feed to this auspicious holiday. And I paired a glass with sablés because, well, I was making them today anyway. (And Angelo would like them. For dipping. In his Scotch. If he had some on hand. If only I had a teleporter ... .)

Lovely Flowers From A Lovely Friend ...

I love the combination of chartreuse and hot pink, despite the fact that I do not consider myself the chartreuse-and-hot-pink type. Flowers are lovely temporary explorations of color for me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pondering Style ...

Well, hey, Apartment Therapy, way to make me ponder once again.

Last week, I wrote this post in response to AT's question "Why Do We Stop Liking What's Popular?"

Today, I'm writing this post in response to AT's question "Would You Date Someone If You Really Disliked Their Style?"

Would you?

I thought about G, who had not crossed my mind in a long time. Specifically, I thought about a day when we were shopping and happened upon a home-furnishings store.

We stopped in another storefront on the way back the car, beautiful furniture and art and accessories and such, and while we couldn't stay long (he called his mechanic to see about picking up the car and found out that they were already closed but waiting for him), I really loved it. On the way to the car, he asked if I liked that store.

"Yep," I said.

"I didn't," he said.

"I know," I said. "It looks nothing like your house. But it looks everything like my house."

So, if it ever comes to that, perhaps we'll have a bit of a challenge buying housey things together... .


Of course, it never came to that. Which is fine, on every level. But yep, our tastes couldn't have been more opposed. Of course, I didn't not date him because of his taste in furniture but if we had lasted, it would have been interesting to discover how we'd have navigated decorating together.

And then there was the guy who gave me a tour of his apartment on our first date. I admit to having a bit of a reaction when he flipped on the light in his bedroom and I saw his shiny gold comforter. A little too Vegas for this Midwestern gal. And my instincts were right. We didn't last.

My style continues to evolve but I like a mix of old and new. "Modern vintage," Angelo labeled my style. I love the juxtaposition, the oxymoronishness. Actually, he gave me four options to choose from. "Modern vintage" felt the best.

(G's taste, by contrast, was modern, period. Low-slung, clean-lined, and blue. He had a thing for blue. Rather primary blue.)

But getting back to AT's question, I started thinking about what it might mean if a man had truly crappy style – at which point, does it even count as style? – or if he had no interest in his environment at all.

Not that I expect every man to have much of a notion about design beyond "there" and "comfortable," but what of the person (who shall remain nameless) who saw no problem with inherited shag carpeting that was somehow affixed to a cinderblock wall? In his view, it provided insulation.

Oh, where to begin?

First of all, there is a right way to insulate an exterior wall and shag carpeting ain't it.

Second of all, if someone is willing to accept a shag-carpeted wall, does he possess any discernment?

Third of all, is he just being cheap?

(I'm pleased to report that the female in that situation was able to override the shag carpeting and the wall was insulated properly.)

Which reminds me of "When Harry Met Sally ... ," in which Jess relented for the sake of his relationship and ditched the wagon-wheel coffee table. That was sweet. And Harry had a really cool apartment. I would much rather live in his space than Sally's. Though he should have had a full-size basketball hoop.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Catching Up Is Hard To Do ...

I am a Redbox virgin no longer.

I cut ties with Netflix last year, on principle. Screw you and your 60% rate increase, bub. I'm a screener, not a streamer. I want DVDs by mail, not modem. Thanks for all the good times but buh-bye.

And with that, my DVD viewing came to a screeching halt.

I don't subscribe to any premium channels – my DirecTV bill is high enough as it is – so I fell far, far, far behind in my movie viewing.

I would pop into Blockbuster from time to time and nab $5 flicks. (There are some movies worth the $5 gamble based on opinions of people I respect.) But then Blockbuster went away.

Occasionally, DirecTV would offer a premium-preview weekend and I would select a few films to record to my DVR. But mostly, I would scroll through the menus and think, "This is what they're airing to entice me to become a customer?" "Premium" is relative.

And yet, day in and day out, I would walk into the grocery store and there it would be, the big red kiosk, so cleverly named, and folks lined up before it, credit cards at the ready, selecting and swiping and going on their way. Movies from a box. For a buck. I was intrigued.

But not intrigued enough to sign up. Until last night.

I was itching for something to watch and somehow, the time just seemed right. I was going to the store to pick up a few things anyway, so I decided to visit the Redbox site, peruse my options, and figure out what I needed to do.

I opted for a double feature: "The Descendants" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." I'd been meaning to see both since they were in the theaters. Reservations made online, I headed to the store and swiped my credit card unsuccessfully.

Oh. I had it turned the wrong way.

I swiped again. Nothing.

Oh, I had to touch the "Rental" field on the screen first.

Eventually, with a bit of somewhat laborious whirring, the machine disgorged my discs.

Huh. Nifty!

Home, I set up on the couch with a bowl of Bing cherries and two remotes.

And I learned a couple of things:

1) It is entirely possible to eat too many Bing cherries in one sitting.

and

2) "The Descendants" had the most misleading trailer ever.

I cried. A lot.

Today, I watched "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Well, "watched" is a bit of a misnomer. I "sat through" "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." I "pondered giving up on" "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

The cast is amazing and Ciaran, adorably, has a bit of a tummy on him in this role, but the ... pace ...... of ......... it ............ is ................... g......l......a......c......i......a......l.

"Oh. ... My. ... God," I said to my screen. "DO SOMETHING."

Honestly, if I had seen it in a theater, I probably would have walked out. It clocks in at 2:07 but it could have been shorter. It should have been shorter. I'm all for cerebral films. I care not a whit for most special effects. But oy freakin' vey.

I am pleased, however, to have returned to the world of renting. And I look forward to many more double features to come.

Now that I know how to use the machine.

I have quite a backlog to slog through.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Contest ...

This post caught my eye: Design Hipsterism? Why Do We Stop Liking What's Popular?

Everyone will have their thoughts on that question, of course. These are mine.

I call it "The Courtyard-by-Marriott-itization of America."

I used to travel for a job I used to have. The boss I used to have was a faithful Marriott stayer and so we all had to stay at Marriott properties. But somehow, that dictum always translated to stays at Courtyards by Marriott. Or should that be Courtyard by Marriotts?

In any event, the rooms were exactly the same.

Exactly. The. Same.

I presume some buyer in charge of "décor" for the chain found a black and white image of an old telephone and a black and white image of whatever the other one was that I can't even remember right now and said, "We'll take 20,000 of each."

As if work travel isn't boring enough, I was unable to distinguish what city I was in or what state I was in based on the interior of my hotel room. No regional flair. No shift in color palette. Nope. The only hint of my whereabouts could be ascertained by the area code on the bedside phone.

The notion of "The Courtyard-by-Marriott-itization of America" was borne out of watching shows about home staging on HGTV. Almost every room was painted greige, staged with espresso furniture, adorned with banal wall ornaments, and lit with a few stranded pillar candles.

Ack.

Likewise, every – and I mean every – house-hunting show features couples who simply must have granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Every time I hear that, I roll my eyes. Why, people? Why must you have granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances? Because your neighbors do? Because you've seen granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances on house-hunting shows exactly like the one you're taping now? Because somewhere along the line, marketing cast its evil spell and wormed its way into your brain and convinced you that granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances were some badge of status?

Ack.

(No, I do not have granite countertops. Yes, I do have a stainless-steel fridge and a stainless-steel stove – which I bought because this house lacked those appliances when I moved in – but I have a black dishwasher and a black microwave. That's right, I have mismatched appliances. And worse yet, I feel absolutely no shame about it.)

Some people don't care to put a lot of thought into their environments. Some people are content to walk into a furniture store, see a completed room, and say, "That." And that's fine.

And some people are fond of wandering around Target and finding homegoods there. And that's fine, too.

But some people want to live in spaces that feel more collected and less mass-produced. I am one of those people. And once I start seeing something everywhere, yes, I will no longer want it. Classics, however, are another story. And so chevron fabric is woefully overplayed. But I still covet herringbone floors. Chevron fabric is trendy. Herringbone floors are classic. Iridescent glass backsplashes are trendy. Subway-tile backsplashes are classic.

I like the fact that I can stand in my living room and tell a story about every piece and not repeat myself. Not much, anyway. The chair I am sitting in came from Marshall Field's as did the lamp next to this chair, but what passes for a table (it's some kind of metal cabinet or pie safe or some such) came from an antique store near Indianapolis and the clock on it came from my mom (who bought it at Pier 1 and then got sick of it, as is often the case with pieces purchased at Pier 1) and the metal votive holder came from a shop that sold goods from artists in different parts of the world who support themselves with their crafts and the small brass covered box which is lidded and round came from a relative who was visiting from Yugoslavia and the vase came from some florist who made a delivery and the stones inside it came from the dollar store and the picture frame probably came from Kohl's.

Not everything has a fascinating story behind it but nor did I walk into one store, scoop everything up in my arms, plop it down on the counter, pay for it, and call it a day. My living room doesn't look like anyone else's living room. And I like that.

Mind you, there is still a lot I could do with the space. A bag of sky money would go a long way toward my giving the room a spruce. Not that I need a spruce. I am always very mindful of how much I have. But it's nice to reinvent from time to time.

Ubiquity breeds boredom, I suppose. The first time I saw the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster, I thought it was clever. But endless variations of it later, it's just "meh."

Also, I grew up in a home that didn't look like anyone else's. My mom has always had a knack for pulling together disparate pieces. She didn't buy furniture sets. Hell, I grew up in a home with a leather rhinoceros ottoman. Did you grow up in a home with a leather rhinoceros ottoman? I'm guessing not. I've never met another person who did.

Mom imbued me with a love of poking around antique stores and resale shops and appreciating things individually. And Angelo deserves a chunk of credit for nudging me to expand my style beyond its previous bounds. My home is more interesting because of him. And also because I own a few of his pieces and he designs really cool stuff.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Times, July Edition ...

The July cookie installment for the angelo:HOME blog features Caramel-Filled Pecorino-Romano Pecan Sandies. Yup, another cookie baked with cheese. This time, inspired by Baxter, Angelo's very awesome dog. "How's that," you ask? You'll just have to read to find out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Life On The Outside ...

I had occasion recently to hunt for a recent receipt. I looked in my filing cabinet. I looked in my folder of household papers. And I looked in my important-papers box.

Do you have an important-papers box? Or a safe?

I should probably get a safety-deposit box but then, none of my papers are really that important.

Note to self: You're a chronological grown-up. It's time to have more papers of the important variety. Make that so.

But in rummaging through the important-papers box (no luck finding the receipt, by the way), I noted that some of the contents were old. Like "surely these are no longer important, if indeed they ever were" old. And so I left the important-papers box on my desk, so that I would be reminded to go through it and sort it all out.

Which I did, today.

Check registers dating back to 1994? Probably safe to shred those, yup.

Cards from an ex dating back to even before 1994? Those made the cut. I was touched by the memory of the Valentine's Day card he made for me in our fiction-writing class right after we had started dating. I couldn't give that the heave ho.

And so I rummaged and sorted and shredded and ended up with a much more spacious box for those important papers I should rustle up one of these days. I found pictures of my nephews and niece from when they were quite wee. Very important, those. (They will join the ranks of my other photos, so that I may feel more organized.)

I found a Christmas card from Bob and Dolores Hope. Well, Bob and Dolores Hope's people, of course. Every year, Christmas gifts went out to the media, and somehow, in my tenure at the Tribune, I became the lucky recipient. Bob and Do – I feel like I can call her Do – had their people send out some nifty swag. In the three years that I had that particular Trib gig, I received a letter opener engraved with their "signature," a compact umbrella, and a CD of Christmas music. Interestingly, no one seemed to point out that all of those items held more value than that of a keychain. That was the Trib's standard for what you were allowed to keep: anything worth more than a keychain was supposed to be surrendered. Then again, a keychain from Tiffany could be worth a few ducats. But the Trib intended to cite cheap keychains, I'm sure. And anyway, someone stole the letter opener out of my desk.

In any event, I was amused to see the card again, and am pleased to be able to share it with you.

Ain't it a hoot? They surely loved their dogs. And their dogs were good kids, to put up with the bows around their necks.

I also found an envelope of photos that had gotten separated from my photo stash, shots from a trip I had taken to San Francisco not long before I decided that my Tribune days would come to an end. I was amused, on my travels, to see a sign that read "Michigan Avenue."

I was standing in Alcatraz.

Oh, irony, you saucy wench!

(For those who don't know, the Tribune Tower is on Michigan Avenue.)

Also in the important-papers box were the cards I received when I left the Trib.

I share with you now some of the comments contained therein, names omitted to protect the innocent, though, who the hell are we kidding? They were probably fired long ago.

"It's exhilarating to see someone 'go over the wall.' "

"You're an inspiration! There's life after Tribune!"

"Lucky you!"

Lucky me, indeed. It was an interesting chapter of my life. I met some amazing people, to be sure. But their comments confirmed that I had made the right decision, to leave.

These cards, though, are headed for the shredder, too.

Just like the cards from the ex. After putting them back in the important-papers box, I decided they didn't merit keeping after all.

So into the shredder they went, cut into tiny bits along with old check registers and faded receipts.

And afterward, I felt great.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Oh, I Get It, Believe Me ...

I'm reading stories about Mitt Romney's Weekend of Obscene Wealth in the Hamptons and shaking my head.

Firstly, because many of the people who deigned to speak to the press refused to give their names. One man said identifying himself would be bad for his business. Anonymous condescension! Oh, goody!

And then there's this, from a woman who chose to remain nameless as well:

"I don't think the common person is getting it," she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. "[T]hey don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact."

How much of your meager salary would you care to bet that this woman's name is Bitsy?

For the sake of argument, let's presume that it is.

Hey, Bits, you classy broad, listen up:

I don't play the "I'm a Mensan" card, well, almost ever. But I'm gonna play it tonight. Because a lack of income does not equate to a lack of intelligence. Because while I don't drive a Range Rover and while I don't have a home in East Hampton, I get it. Oh, believe me, I get it.

I get that your candidate wants to decimate Medicare and food stamps.

And I get that your candidate wants to give fine folks like you an average – average – additional – additional – tax cut of $264,000 over and above what they're already getting from the Bush tax cuts we can't afford.

And I get that your candidate has made his fortune in part by putting many, many, many people out of work.

And I get that your candidate has been very explicit in stating that he's going to get rid of Planned Parenthood, the only source of medical care for an embarrassingly large number of women in this country.

And I get that your candidate would actually attempt to kill Obamneycare, even though it was his idea in the first place and even though it's working just fine.

And I get that your candidate, by extension, would have no problem with children once again being denied insurance coverage if they suffer from pre-existing conditions.

And I get that your candidate, by another extension, would have no problem with stripping away all the other benefits that countless Americans are already enjoying, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

And I get that your candidate has money stashed all over the globe, including a corporation in Bermuda that he transferred into his wife's name the day before he became governor of Massachusetts.

And I get that your candidate refuses to release a relevant sample of his tax returns even though it was his own father who released 12 years, explaining, "one year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show."

And I get that your candidate has been out on the stump, day after day, spouting lies that have been proven false long ago, but he feels no need to stop repeating them.

And I get, well, Bits, you get the idea, don't you?

Yes, we plebeians – that's fancy-word speak for "commoner," in case you didn't know – get it.

One woman, irked that she had to wait in a line of cars waiting to enter an event, stuck her head out a window and asked of a Romney event staffer, "Is there a V.I.P. entrance? We are V.I.P."

Of course you are, darling. And you've arrived at the delusion that your money makes you better than other people. But here's a hint: At an event that demands $50,000 a person (or $75,000 per couple; what a bargain!), everyone is a "V.I.P." Which – horror of horrors! – means that for the evening, you were – gasp! – just like everybody else in that line.

Because the real V.I.P.s of the evening were the ones who owned the homes more impressive than yours. Which is why you went to them, instead of them coming to you.

But since you're so educated, may I remind you of the fate brought about by the dismissiveness of Marie Antoinette?

Your money may buy you fancy clothes and fancy cars and sparkling jewels and the finest Champagne.

But there will always be more of us than there are of you.

And we get it.

And we vote.

Domesticity ...

I had people coming over. So I had to clean my house.

Not that I don't clean my house. Sometimes. But I am not that person who dedicates one day a week to flitting around with a vacuum and dust cloth and caddy of cleaning supplies.

Mind you, my house is almost always neat. Occasionally, there are dishes in the sink. Occasionally, my bed is unmade. Like now. On both counts. But there are only a few dishes and I haven't been awake for very long. (Coughtwohourscough) But the dishes will get done and the bed will get made. And I'll hit the floor with a quick Swiffering, which I do most days.

The point is, though, that with people due over for the 4th of July, I cleaned my house. The kind of cleaning that involves moving furniture and getting down on my hands and knees and scrubbing the bathroom floor.

All of which brought to mind two thoughts:

1) "Wow, I really like it when my house is this clean."

and

2) "I should look into hiring a cleaning service."

It's not that I am incapable of cleaning, of course. I am quite capable of it. I am just not very fond of it. And my lack of fondness translates into procrastination which protracts the whole process. I once dated a guy who had cleaning women come in once a month to give his place a good scrub.

I thought that was rather evolved. By virtue of his guy-ness, he was already less likely to clean than we womenfolk. Cleaning, after all, is "women's work," still. But I admired the fact that he cared enough about not living in squalor that he'd dole out some bucks once a month to have someone clean up after him. I was there one day before the cleaning women arrived. Two of them appeared at his door, two very nice women with some kind of European accent. They took off their shoes, put on flip-flops, and proceeded to clean before we could even get out the door to leave them to their chores. Three hours later, we came back, and the place was spic-and-span.

Then again, I also know a woman who uses a cleaning woman. And a couple who uses a cleaning service. So it's not just a guy thing. It's a "I'd prefer to spend money instead of spending time" kind of thing.

Mind you, I will not be hiring a cleaning service. Partly because I have no business spending money on such a thing and partly because the idea of a stranger coming into my home to scour my bathtub feels a little skeevy and the idea of someone I know coming into my home to scour my bathtub feels skeevier still. Hiring someone to do something I am not capable of doing – like plumbing – makes perfect sense. But hiring someone to do something that I am fully capable of doing – like cleaning my house – feels weird.

Not that I'm judging those who do. It's just my own hang up.

And if I kept up with cleaning, it wouldn't be such a big job from week to week. I recently dusted my TV room while I watched President Obama give a speech. Instead of sitting on the couch, I moved things on my mantel and elsewhere around the room and gave everything a once-over and the result was nice.

Of course, I'd much rather "I Dream of Jeannie" it and just blink and have it be done.

But until I develop that power, I guess I'll have to stick to the old way like everybody else.

If you come by, though, leave your white gloves in the car. Just in case I haven't dusted.