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March 26, 2017 / thackersam

Interpretation: Triumph

I bitch about it a lot, even though I don’t often write about work, but I actually kind of like what I do. And I’m good at it. I just don’t get the recognition I deserve, which fit in nicely with last week’s post. Since then our stats are now 15 percentage points higher than last year, without asterisks, and could, by some remote chance reach 90%, considering that we are in the dwindling aftermath. My team and my skills were very instrumental in these nifty results. I am boasting, and I am pumped. It’s a good feeling.

A few weeks before the results came in the Friday before last, I had registered for an AMA symposium that I thought may be interesting and educational. It was free to AMA members and being that I am a member through the medical school for which I work, as they are a good source of information, I thought what the heck. Yeah, I am an AMA member. So, this Thursday evening, with a certain amount of spunk from our most-excellent stats, I went uptown to the meeting and took a seat in the back of the room. There was a lovely spread, no coffee though, and I partook of the pre-symposium reception, eating mostly, but I did chat a bit with a couple of women from supporting organizations. I’m not a schmoozer, and really not good at small talk, but you’d be proud. It was a small group considering it’s the AMA, I’d say about 75 attendees, and specific to the field I am in. However, I was the only one there of my ilk, yet I did not feel out of place. In fact, I, who would rather not speak publicly, thank you very much, even stood up and asked a question, thus alerting others to my presence, though that was not my intent.

The meeting ended half an hour late, and we didn’t even get to the last topic. After the keynote speaker, who addressed working within the new administration given immigration restrictions and the healthcare bill, it was the third topic that most, including me, were there for, as it turned out, and which took a great deal longer than planned. But it finally ended and I got only as far as circling 5 for excellent for the first question on the evaluation form when I heard a woman seated next to me ask if she could ask me a question. Turns out she’s one of my students. I’m not a teacher, nor a physician, I’m primarily a writer, but she, and the five others I found standing over me in the aisle waiting to talk to me, had reached the stage in their educations during which my name is bandied about. I became Ms. Popularity that night, and was even approached by the chair of the AMA coalition that organized the meeting after I eventually shooed the students away.

I left feeling jazzed and woke up the next morning feeling the same way. In fact, the mirror reminded me that confidence and acknowledgement are very attractive qualities, and, even through my fuzzy eyesight, I thought I looked pretty.

BTW – Both I and the AMA are pleased by the outcome, or non-come, of Friday’s events and hope that all involved suffered humiliations galore from their failure. I just had myself a very nice week.

March 19, 2017 / thackersam

Passionate Kisses

The women’s bathroom where I work has five poorly designed and poorly maintained sinks. The one closest to the door provides an ample supply of water with which to wash our hands, but of the other four, one offers a spray lasting no more than one Mississippi and there is the one that is missing its sippi altogether. The problem exasperates when one has to coordinate water and soap. “Is it too much to ask for soap AND water,” said the colleague with whom I was bitching about the situation. This of course prompted me to burst out in song, after a query into her knowledge of the song “Passionate Kisses,” of which she had none. We’ve actually shared barbs after too much wine at an event, so if she thinks I’m nuts, it’s all good.

I know I write about a particular song ad nauseam at times, like I did with “Smooth” months back, but I swear that songwriter Lucinda Williams and I must be kindred spirits. We share the need to be granted the simple things in life, comforts more than necessities, like pens that won’t run out of ink, that are perfectly reasonable requests, topped off by those passionate kisses. She wrote the song in the late 80s, which was a Grammy winning single for her and Mary Chapin Carpenter in 1993, and is included on Carpenter’s album Come On Come On. And now that I have the album on CD, as my tape deck destroyed my cassette version my Sunday workout is now a one hour and 22 minute compilation of voice, aerobics, yoga stuff, weights and stretching. Weeknight workouts are still 40-55 minutes, but “Passionate Kisses” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” are included every time, and I no longer care if the neighbors hear me belting them out at the top of my lungs.

When I bought the CD at the Upper West Side Housing Works, the cashier told me she had recently seen Mary Chapin Carpenter and the perfectly voiced Joan Baez in concert. Neat. And speaking, or writing, of Housing Works, I discovered that my trip to Brooklyn Heights yesterday could only be three quarters completed because the shop across from my favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurant had closed just days before due to a “mutual agreement” with the landlord. Darn it. Still, I got what I needed at Trader Joe’s and PetSmart, and had a lovely lunch.

And now, circling back to the workplace, on Friday we got results that my department is responsible for, so I am repeatedly told, that were 13 percentage points higher than last year, and is a real good number even without the tweaking of the wording to give it a boost. And it is an important figure. So, shouldn’t I have a substantial raise and bonus? Shouldn’t I have this?

As I write, Alberto is keeping my coffee cup filled, has brought me my usual, with all my particulars that have evolved over that past couple of years: salad instead of potatoes with a bottle of vinegar on the side; dry whole wheat toast, which is not as bad as it sounds; and a bowl of mixed berries rather than the regular fruit cup, because long ago I mistakenly called it berries while ordering and he’s made it special for me ever since. Shouldn’t I have this? Alberto makes sure I do, and while I do not require passionate kisses from him, his dahlings and sweethearts will suffice until someone with whom I’d like to share passionate kisses shows up. I’m not dead yet, you know. But the concept of “food to fill me up,” as asked for in the song, is my right, it’s the right of our elderly and incapacitated citizens, at least, and of poor school children who need sustenance to learn and survive. It’s not too much to ask for. So why do those who do want and already have too much, way way too much, want to deny them. That’s not very nice. 

BTW – Thanks to Chuck Berry, for all he did for the music world. And, while I’m bidding farewell, I’d like to give a shout out to Judge Wapner, who provided me with a pathway of interest into our legal system. 

March 12, 2017 / thackersam

Sally Ride & Molly Kool

I must have been in my early-twenties the first time I saw Sally Ride. Her strides were long as she walked alongside her fellow astronauts, all cameras focused on her. She was a striking figure in her flight suit, looking confident and cool, with an acknowledging smile that showed a combination of humility, amusement and “yes, I am very qualified for this job.” She was chosen out of a handful of female astronauts to go up into space. Every news program showed the same thing with the footage of her walking outside at NASA amongst the aircraft. They all slowed it down to the pace of “Mustang Sally,” not the whole song of course, just the chorus that goes “Ride, Sally Ride.” Sally Ride oozed cool. And she was going to be the first American woman in space. The two female Russian cosmonauts that beat her made her third in the world, but she went first in 1983 and then again a year later, and helped develop a robot arm (“cause that’s all you need”).

After NASA, Dr. Ride, physicist, went on to be a college professor and started a program to promote enthusiasm for the sciences to students, particularly girls. She was a proponent of NASA to the end. I was saddened and surprised when I heard of her death at the age of 61 in 2012, as I could swear I had just seen her speaking on behalf of the space program not long before and I didn’t know she was sick. She appeared as she always had, professional, committed and unflappable. Sally Ride deserves all the accolades that were bestowed upon her. She is truly an inspiration for women and should not be forgotten.

Now, Molly Kool, well I didn’t hear of her until about a week after her death at the age of 93 in 2009 when the New York Times printed her obituary.  I couldn’t help but notice the name, speaking of cool. Molly Kool was the first female North American licensed ship captain, earning her license in 1939. The daughter of a sailor, it was in her blood, and when she inherited her father’s cargo scow, she was determined to be its captain, and licensed. She was the scow’s captain through the mid-1940s, and although Canadian, she settled down in Maine, where, six decades later, she passed away two days after her birthday.

Both Sally Ride and Molly Kool are icons that faced obstacles in their chosen fields based on their sex, and both have really cool names.

BTW – I love Cher. Always have, always will. Just sayin’. No reason.

March 9, 2017 / thackersam

Lunch, Facial, Rally, March! International Women’s Day!

 

Photo by Patrick Merino

 

 

 

What a difference a week (actually 6 days) makes. In contrast to last week’s “emergency rally” that looked like this:

 

 

Yesterday’s Women’s Strike, looked like this:

The first picture was just too cute to resist, so to speak. The second is interesting as the wording engraved at the top of the Washington Square Arch, over which the words Women Strike! is superimposed, reads: Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God. Washington.

And if you look up the street on the left within the arch, you can see the Empire State Building starting to light up, which appeared red at the time, but I later learned it was pink. (I like the red better)

When I saw the sign, I’m Here For My Sisters, with the dotted outline of two women, I started to cry. Not boo hoo crying, but there was a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I thought that I should be here with Vicki, and at the same time I felt I was also representing Davey, my brother who died of AIDS more than 30 years ago. For a good minute and a half, I was a mess.

So, while I am posting on an off-day, I’ll tell you about yesterday. I took the day off in support of the Women’s Strike, to represent, though I’m not big on the idea of strikes. They always just seem to hurt the innocent the most. But I am the body that could, so I scheduled the day off, moved my facial from 6:30 to 2:30 and got to the rally at about 4:30, after stopping at that great liquor warehouse on 8th and Broadway for a bottle of Pinot Grigio to have when Gilda gets here in this evening.

But first, lunch with Alberto, to which I walked, then since it was such a nice day, I wound up walking the rest of the way to midtown. And yes, I had a facial before the protest! And bought a bottle of wine, which I did pay for in more ways than one. After the rally, we marched, and marched. Early on when I realized that we had just circled the entire park and this may take a little longer than I thought, I decided that I would like to be up front, for the experience, not the exposure, plus we would arrive at the final destination earlier, which is three blocks from where I live. We marched throughout downtown Manhattan for 3 hours. Remember how I said that I needed sneakers and a small pocketbook? I haven’t done that yet. At least I could carry the wine in my big bag.

I have lots to say about it, like they should probably refrain from giving bullhorns to people with screechy voices, but mostly good things. It was invigorating.

 

March 5, 2017 / thackersam

I Am RallyWoman!

What if you threw a rally and nobody came.

No, I didn’t throw the rally, but when the organizers of New York City’s Not My President Day rally posted that they were calling an emergency rally after it was found that Jeff Sessions lied at his confirmation hearing, I was there, as evidenced by tonight’s picture.

First, let me tell you what a hoot the Not My President Day rally was on Presidents Day. It was a well-organized, all-purpose fight for democracy that, for those of us who climbed over the barricade to get from the street to the sidewalk, was much like a parade highlighting the different issues of the mutual cause. Thousands of people gathered on Central Park West to the north and south of trump’s international hotel. My friend got me to come face-to-face with my fear of humiliation, urging me to swing my old legs over one of the series of metal gates, and although it went relatively smoothly, the potential to look like an ass was there. We watched on the sidelines as ralliers passed with various signs and chants. I’ve mentioned before that I won’t chant stuff like “trump sucks,” even though I believe it to be an understatement, but did call out “This Is What Democracy Looks Like,” in response to the chant leader’s “Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like!”

Near the end, we climbed back over the barricade. Yes, I did it twice. The heel of my boot got caught for a moment on the top of the gate, but I marveled at the ease with which I leaned forward and freed my foot so we could join the last of the passing ralliers. It was swell.

Then on Thursday, the organizers announced that we needed an “emergency rally” at 6:30 that evening. Most responses were “wish I could come,” and “I’ll be there in spirit.” I knew I had to be there in body. That’s my purpose. I am RallyWoman and if necessary will serve as a surrogate, if you will, representing those who cannot attend. I don’t feel as strongly about certain issues as others might, and vice versa, but I object to the whole being. Always have. Throw a rally and dammit, I’ll be there. Well, I’ll try. I’m sure many people have me beat, but in the month since the inauguration, I have attended four protests. This would have been the fifth of the year so far, and I’m counting it. 

The picture? Yep, that was the rally: me (the taller of the two), one of the organizers and the man who took the picture. I later learned that another person was looking for us, but probably after we had already dispersed, peacefully of course. Had the picture-taker not called out to me upon my seventh turn around the park looking and listening for the rally, I would have headed home and the photograph would have only be of the one of three organizers that could make it to their own rally, who arrived with her “Resign” sign moments after we two ralliers found each other. Although it was a cold evening, the sky was clear and there was a sharp crescent moon cutting into it. But I guess the Sessions issue was not as motivating as the need to take immediate action against an immediate action like the airport rallies that popped up spontaneously around the country at the end of January (Go Terminal 4!).

All in all, it was an enjoyable 15 minutes. I learned the term “Sunshine Patriots,” and have a new Facebook friend. I also consider my walk to and from the “rally” to be that evening’s exercise.

As I am RallyWoman, and see many protests in my future, I guess I will have think about being more prepared for anything. So far, so good as each rally, including this last one, have been peaceful, supportive and harmonious. Knock wood. But, while my boots that are very good walking boots, have been fine, I may consider investing in a new pair of sneakers. And a much smaller pocketbook just for these occasions. I carry a massive bag. I just do one at a time until that one drops. Not all have been this big, but none have been under mid-sized. What do you think that says about me? In any case, I should get something more conducive to my new protesting life. In fact, I could start a line of RallyWomen’s-wear, for the practical protester.

I am RallyWoman, and hope I am not the only one. My friends, near and far, are out there, and/or they’re writing postcards and making phone calls (Hey J!). Who are you in this fight for Democracy?

BTW – At brunch today I sneezed, and then heard Alberto call “Bless You, Dahling” from across the room. He knows the particulars of my order, keeps me in coffee, and blesses me when I sneeze. Oh, and he just carried a stroller with baby up four steps for a customer. Just sayin’.

February 26, 2017 / thackersam

The Pony Story

img_0749Tonight, I burrowed through some of the old stories that I’d kept hidden. Don’t know why I chose this one, but it may be because I’ve told it a time or two so it’s not exactly a buried piece of my history. For your enjoyment, The Pony Story

The Pony Story

It was one of those evenings when Maggie babysat. Maggie was our cleaning lady. We were all just crazy about her. She would often look after us on the nights when my mother was out on one of her dates. She liked to get to our house in time to watch my mother getting ready. I liked to watch too some of the times. Maggie’s even temper and jovial acceptance of my brother’s relentless teasing enabled her to tolerate us when no other babysitter could. It was his relentless teasing of me, and my intolerable whining that caused the younger breed of babysitter to stay away, so my mother told me.

That night we were all in the playroom, two steps down off the kitchen, Maggie, by brother and me, watching television. The phone rang and Maggie lumbered up into the kitchen to answer it. Moments later she came back into the doorway, looked at me and said, “Your grandparents are on the phone. They want to speak to you.”

Obediently, I went to the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi sweetheart!” They were both on the other end of the line, excited and jubilant. “Happy birthday!”

I think I said thank you, but I remember not saying much else.

“We love you sweetheart! What do you want for your birthday.”

“I dunno.”

“Do you want a pony,” one of them asked joyously.

“Would you like a pony, honey?” The other one was just as elated.

A pony, I thought. Oh boy, a pony. Gosh, I loved these people.

“Yeah,” I replied flatly, in a tone that surely did not match their excitement, nor my own.

“Okay honey. We love you. Happy birthday!”

“Happy birthday sweetheart!”

“We’ll speak to you soon. Now put your brother on.”

I looked up at my brother who had been standing next to me the whole time, but I hadn’t really noticed. My head was swimming with these two wonderful people who loved me, and my new pony. I passed the receiver to him without a word and remained by his side.

“Yes? No,” he was saying. “No.

Wait, that’s too many no’s.

“No…I think you have the wrong number,” he said and hung up the phone.

My brother looked at me, shook his head and walked back into the playroom. I stood there, still by the phone, confused. I knew these people weren’t my grandparents. I knew when Maggie called me to the phone that I only had one grandmother and no grandfathers. I never even knew the ones that were not then alive. I knew that my grandmother was a stuffy old city dweller, who would never think of getting any of her dozen grandchildren a pony or anything other than a check for their birthdays. She was kind of cold, too. I knew all this, but as I thought about those two happy, thoughtful and loving people on the phone, who had a very special and lucky granddaughter, a granddaughter that wasn’t me, I couldn’t help but think – Does that mean I’m not getting a pony?

It should be noted that I have never been on a horse in my life, except for the ones outside of the supermarket that gave you a ride for a dime.

February 19, 2017 / thackersam

Drunken Nostalgia

kva-2Tonight, I am writing courtesy of Jack. It was supposed to be the little Jack. Not the airline size, the one that has just about three shots. My usual liquor store by my job didn’t have it, nor any other whiskey in that size. Just brandy and rum. I walked east and found the little cheaper place, but they didn’t have it either. I did not want the half pint, I just wanted half that much. Someone suggested I go to the wine shop nearby. Silly me. I thought they just sold wine. A lovely woman at the door gave me a taste of a California white blend, but I was much more impressed with the glass than what was in it (it was as light as a feather). They had a half pint of Jack, so I bought it. And I’ve just finished my second shot. So here we go.

I will only edit for things that I might regret saying after I hit publish, like referring to someone’s mother as a whore. Let me just say that I have a lot of respect for mothers and women who do what they gotta do to take care of their kids, plus I have long thought that we should just legalize prostitution. (Here is a thought – referring back Putin stating that Russia has the best prostitutes, and to the issue of immigration, I do think we need a strong vetting system regarding immigrants, and have always felt we should not be letting in, and I’m being truthful here, many Russians. There’s a whole Russian mafia here in the United States, and they’re not very nice, but those prostitutes! They come here to this country and THEY steal jobs from our prostitutes. That’s where the problem is!)

Eyes scroll up, re-focus. Okay, no editing unless something regretful is said.

You know, I’m always writing crap during the week, in this tone because this is genuinely how I write. But still, come Sundays I am often at a loss. Too personal, too whiny, too – who gives a flying fuck. There is a theme to the blog though it has developed into something else (Note to self – Will you PLEASE update your About page! Sheesh!) I’ve got tons of underdeveloped stories and here, I’ll share another with you, as it should be noted that I am about to get up and pour shot number three, aware that I can still edit at I go, I think.

This is an Amy story. I can mention her by name, like Vicki, as they are both deceased, less than 5 months apart. I liked going to small theater with Amy. Sure in later years I would go more often with Vicki. Good thing I like off-off Broadway because Vicki cannot be trusted in a Broadway theater as evidenced by the time – oh you know this story – when we were at a Broadway revival of Showboat (yawn) and just before the show started I had been telling Vicki my theory that all men are assholes and all you can do is pick your asshole. Vicki then gave one of her sharply inhaled laughs and exhaled, loudly, “Pick your asshole.” Fortunately, the lights went down shortly after.

Let it be noted that I have just taken the first sip of my third shot and in my mind, I am doing incredibly well. I am now also eating bread and butter. *Not that Vicki wasn’t a very smart person, but Amy was a bit of an intellect and we shared an appreciation of small productions of plays. We would go see the classics like Hedda Gabler, which I remember nothing about other than Amy benignly scolding someone for honking, to which that person took umbrage; a college version of The Importance of Being Ernest, of which Amy rightfully pointed out that the English accents were toooo drawn out; Twelfth Night, where we both going to pop the guy behind us who was showing off for his date by reciting along (what do you think the odds are that there was another date), with that same off-off Broadway Shakespearean company, we saw a remarkable thing – A production of Venus and Adonis, one of Shakespeare’s long sonnets done with a cast of seven, three women taking on the voice of Venus and four men as Adonis. It was great! And that I could have recited along with as it is my favorite poem, my favorite work by the Bard. And I don’t even like poetry, but yeah, I have read Shakespeare. I can’t really believe it myself. And get this – my favorite play is August Strindberg’s Dream Play. What? Who? I said this last year and I say it again, now with the spring in the offing, I have got to use my NYC creds and get me to the theater.

So the picture, that’s a tough one with losing Amy and Vicki so close together, seeming like yesterday rather than three years ago. That’s Vicki in the middle, and her sister holding on to Amy, the beautiful blond, because Amy hated having her picture taken.

I’ve just finished the third shot, and it is increasingly difficult to write as I am continually correcting as I go, and still thinking I’ve done well. I want to point out that unlike last week when I experimented by writing off the cuff for the hour before I had to hit PUBLISH, I am writing this on Friday, painfully aware that come tomorrow I must bring the laptop I love so much in to the Geek Squad for whatever it takes to cure its ails. So unless I say otherwise, this is being posted from my cellphone.

BTW – It’s not like I have not written under the influence before, far from it, but this is raw and I’m leaving it as is. And I’ve got another rally tomorrow, Monday. I’ll be sober when you read this, but now, well I think it’s a good thing I’m done.