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October 16, 2016 / thackersam

More Reasons to Be Cheerful

bob-dylan-nobel-prizeMore Reasons to Be Cheerful

  • Well, how ’bout that Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. With that news, I took out my Bob Dylan thrift store record album find and proudly marched around to “Rainy Day Women,” because it reinforces that fact that we are not so all alone. It is an interesting and unconventional choice, and I say kudos to Mr. Zimmerman and to the Swedish Academy, who perhaps were also listening to that particular song when they voted.
  • October is such a lovely month with its beautiful colors and cool crisp weather that allows me to break out my collection of fall jackets, all of which I believe are also thrift store finds. Yes, I have a bit of a fall jacket collection (one winter coat), and yes, I have too many shoes, considering I will wear the same boots for more than half the year. And it is boot season! However, in cleaning out the bottom portion of a closet today, I had to throw away a lot of pairs of shoes and boots that were no longer presentable. Some have hung around for sentimental reasons. In fact, to the one non-black pair; a coincidentally multi-fall colored strappy pair of Thom McCann’s, I said goodbye and thank you.
  • I cleaned the bottom portion of a closet.
  • It looks like I am finally going to be able to give my cherished colleague the promotion she has well deserved for several years. Maybe. Though given the green light to forge ahead, we are both still dubious because people lie for whatever reasons liars lie. And don’t you hate when sexists warn you not to use sexism as an issue?
  • There are other reasons to be cheerful which include being very happy for friends who have been successful in their quests, or in their businesses, and for reminding me that people can be smart and caring and concerned for the state of the world. I am particularly cheered at the news that there is rain in the valley. And thank you Bob Dylan for helping a whole generation long ago open their minds.
  • BTW – Someone pointed out that Luke Perry is on the cover of AARP Magazine. I just joined recently. Keep Smiling.
October 11, 2016 / thackersam

I Got You Babe


They say we’re young and we don’t know, we won’t find out unti-i-il we grow. Well I don’t know if all that’s true, cause you got me and baby I got you. Babe.

October 9, 2016 / thackersam

I Will Do No Man’s Laundry (unless he does mine)

fire-islandThursday, which was a glorious sunny, warm fall day, I hopped on the Long Island Railroad to go play with the Ex. He just got a new old car and because of the old old car situation, I had not been out on the Island in a very long time. You can’t do anything on Long Island without a car, and one in working condition, so the Ex has been coming west for our playdates. If I may be allowed a small tangent here, the LIRR, no, the whole MTA, sucks. Nothing specific. It just does. Maybe not as bad as New Jersey Transit, but this isn’t a contest (It should be noted that I wrote this 6 hours before there was a major LIRR accident on Saturday night).

Of course, we did our traditional breakfast thing and were going to see either The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, which obviously we didn’t, or this post would be all about that, or The Dressmaker, because I loved Kate Winslett in Steve Jobs, a movie I highly recommend, but you need to see it from the very beginning. But, I miscalculated the times and both movies would be starting at the Huntington Cinema Arts Centre in three hours from when we left the diner. So, we went for a drive. The Ex loves to drive, and I love to be driven. I missed that before the new old car came into being, and if the window on the passenger side of the new old car worked, I would have been driving along with my head out the window like a dog.

We drove south to the ocean and wound up on Fire Island, going over the bridge to the eastern tip, which, as I learned, had extended itself further east over the past century. We strolled to the lighthouse, passing a deer that just ignored us. The museum gift shop on the bottom floor was roped off though it was supposed to be open, and this very nice man who was dry mopping the shiny wood floor gladly removed the barrier for us, explaining that everyone was upstairs having cake for someone’s birthday, and they didn’t even invite him. I did get the feeling that it was more like he volunteered to stay downstairs, because someone had to, while everyone else had their fun. He did, after all, know that the cake was of the carrot variety.

The Ex wanted a T-shirt, and I wanted a stuffed animal for my colleague’s three-year-old niece, with whom she lives. Frankly, clothes shopping for the Ex was always a bigger deal than need be (it should be noted here, that when we were together, he had a knack for helping me pick out clothes, but I promise I did not subject him to that often). So of course there was a decision to be made about which T-shirt, and which stuffed animal, and before we knew it, the lovely woman who was supposed to be manning the shop, had returned. She was helping the Ex with his decision and I heard her explaining how to properly wash the T-Shirts. I looked up and realized she was talking to me (yes, I can hear the gasps coming from all of you who know me best). “Oh,” I chuckled, “don’t be telling me about washing instructions.” Everyone chuckled as I went back to choosing between the baby seal or the red fox that were the two finalists in my stuffed animal selection. The seal won. I was not annoyed at the two assumptions being made, rather amused that it was perceived that the Ex and I were a cohabitating couple, and, had we been, I would be doing his laundry.

BTW – It did not go unnoticed nor unmentioned that while we were enjoying this lovely weather and the ocean air, which seemed to temporarily clear up both out eyesight issues, that our countrymen and women down south were awaiting the impending storm and that the hurricane they were dreading had already caused much devastation in the Caribbean.

Now, I am preparing for the second debate, and regardless of what has recently been disclosed, I am still nervous about the possibility of having a truly bad man leading this country. And, I am doing this sans Jack tonight.

October 2, 2016 / thackersam

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate


I really have to concentrate on another project right now, so this will be awfully short. I’ve been on some writing jags the past few weeks, perhaps a little too verbose, so please consider this a break, for you. Let’s see – weight’s inching down, I’m digging Linda Ronstadt and the Beatles, and my team made our deadline (as we always do). And most importantly, I haven’t enjoyed watching a debate so much since the Dan Quayle years. This election has certainly slapped me awake.

September 25, 2016 / thackersam

The Fluffy Affair

fluffy2Before you go and ask why it is that the Ex and I are not together, let me remind you that people are exes for a reason, usually more than one. He’s a great guy and we are great friends, but he was not a great boyfriend. And I don’t think it was just me that has thought so. He is the kind of guy who stops on the highway to help a stranger, and he has been a good influence on me that way. He is a champion of children and animals, yet has neither of his own.

Without going into too much detail or complaining about what an ass he was, I will tell you a little about Bubba, a cat with both looks and personality – smart, sociable and loving, with attitude. He would have liked you to believe he was pure Russian Blue, except if you looked very close to the tip of his tail, you could see the telltale rings of a tabby. He had been left behind when his family moved and came to me demanding to be mine. When the Ex came into my life and became a fixture in my apartment, the two hit it off. Anyone who ever met Bubba couldn’t help but like him. He was that great. He was happiest when the Ex and I would sit on the floor with our backs to the couch, watching TV with Bubba snuggled between us purring and I swear, smiling. We were an exceedingly handsome trio, if I do say so myself. Bubba certainly would have. The Ex, in his early 30s at this time, had been living “at home” and we had been together for a few years, when I started suggesting strongly that he move in with me. He resisted until one day, citing his allergies, he agreed that we could live together, but Bubba would have to go.

I believed that he had allergies and didn’t want to live with a cat, and it hurt that I wasn’t a person he would make an exception for. But I knew that it was just an excuse because he didn’t want to live with me, and that he was using my cat, my pal and responsibility, to prove my love for him.

Bubba was not going anywhere. And you my friend, can hit the highway.

The Ex and I broke up so many times in our 12 year relationship (we’ve now been friends for way longer than that), I can’t remember if we did then, but I can tell you that my phone did not stop ringing for two days after he said it was either him or Bubba.

Answering machines had been around for years at this point, but I am always the last holdout on these newfangled technology things and didn’t purchase my first one until well after this incident. In fact, Vicki’s husband, who has some renown around these parts was the first voice on my answering machine, and he didn’t even need to write down what he was going to say or rehearse 37 times before recording it. Yes, it would have been interesting to hear any messages the Ex would have left, but I got much satisfaction out of the ringing phone.

So we may not have broken up that time, but we did many times after, our issues having nothing to do with cats. And I’ve always had cats.

Anyway, he has always been very adamant about not having a pet, though he’s rescued a number of them in his time. Then along came Fluffy. I never met Fluffy myself. Nor his owner. But I did meet the owner’s dog Rex, who’s real neat, and heard stories of the owner, who’s a real jerk, in my humble opinion, and a neighbor of the Ex’s. Due to the handiwork of a doctor and a misplaced cortisone shot, Fluffy and Rex’s owner had to move recently. The Ex predicted that Fluffy would be left behind. And he was right.

“Okay, just how fluffy is Fluffy,” I sighed, knowing that Max would love it if I got him a companion, but I’ve resisted as I really don’t want to live in one room apartment with a big Max and an outdoor cat that I neither of us know. Turns out Fluffy is not fluffy and the Ex would think of me only as a very last resort (whew). The weather was suitable and it turns out that Fluffy was used to getting locked out at night so he probably had his hidey holes, but something would have to be done about him before the weather turned, and the Ex did not want Fluffy to go back to his owner, if he should even come back for him. The Ex would call me periodically, first to ask what kind of food to get Fluffy, then to say that Fluffy didn’t like the dry food he got, but, he did like the rotisserie chicken the Ex had bought for himself, and didn’t mind sharing with Fluffy, who had been very skittish after being abandoned. The Ex was quite pleased with himself. They were becoming pals.

The next call had me worried. He was saying something about Fluffy that caused me eventually to say – “Is this where you’re going to ask me to take Fluffy?” He swore he would never do that and that was not the purpose of the call. So I was now less distracted as he told me that one of the other tenants on the property knew a woman who might take Fluffy and she has 14 cats… “No,” I shot. “Okay good. That’s what I thought,” he said and let me know he appreciated my immediate response. It’s not a kindness to the cat, and shouldn’t we at least try to start with the best options for Fluffy rather than at the bottom? And isn’t it also taking advantage of someone’s illness? Usually, those with 14 cats don’t live in a place large enough to accommodate a brood like that, and the conditions are not often pleasant for man or beast. Yes, let’s just give another cat to the crazy cat lady. She probably won’t notice anyway.

Then he called to tell me how Fluffy followed him into his cottage and hung out a bit and left. Big step for both of them. Uh-oh. It sounded like he just may break down. He and Fluffy were buds, and instead of me or the cat lady being the last resort, he now held that distinction. “Well, when the weather gets bad and we haven’t found anything. I really don’t want a cat…” But those buts were coming. Then this past week he called with some sad news. Because the other neighbor and the landlord had been giving him hell about the cat, the owner came and took Fluffy away. I felt sorry for the Ex, and very sorry for Fluffy. It sounded like he was happier hanging with the Ex, getting rotisserie chicken, not being yelled at for licking himself or being chased by Rex. At least he had this time. Like a vacation. And hopefully when he goes back to his old life with a guy that would abandon him and who yells at him for being clean, not to mention dealing with the exuberant Rex, he will have this fond memory.

BTW – Happy Birthday to The Ex this week. As he has not read my blog in a long time, I can pretty much say whatever I want.

September 18, 2016 / thackersam

Reply All

no-reply-allSomebody, just the other day, did one of those stupid email things, in which said person should not have forwarded my email to others without forewarning. I could have said – wait a minute, can you just delete that part. I didn’t call the president of the company a dickwad or anything like that, plus the forwarder wrote so much before it, the receivers would be fast asleep before they got to my message. But it was one of those – oh, why did you have to go and do that – moments.

And that made me think of my beloved friend Vicki. Now there was a woman who should have had her reply all button permanently disconnected. Had she really needed to reply all, she would have had to do it the hard way, prompting her to think first. She told me once of a time that she replied to an email from a PTA member to other members and referred to one of the mothers, who was indeed part of the group that received the message, as tiresome (I believe the chosen word was “tiresome” although it could have been something a bit stronger, but not to the “asshole” extent). And of course, she hit reply all without realizing it. I don’t recall the aftermath, but it couldn’t have been pleasant.

For me, she caused some embarrassment when she forwarded an email that shouldn’t nor needn’t have been forwarded, to a friend of hers. I quite like this woman now, have for a long time, and should really give her a call, but initially when she came to work for me as a seasonal writer, I did not care too much for her. It took us all a little bit to get used to her, including my one permanent staff person and other seasonal writer, at that time. I wanted her to come back to work for me the following year and could not find her personal email address. Thus, my email to Vicki. But the email included more than just the request. I told Vicki a story I’m not particularly proud of, but still laugh when telling it.

It was a few years ago when my office was on Wall Street and my tiny department was relegated to three cubbies in a row on the 5th floor. Mine was by the window with my one permanent (and invaluable, I may add) staff person in front of me and our seasonal writer at the desk at the front of the line. I hired Vicki’s friend as a second seasonal writer and due to the lack of space, she was seated at a small desk near the kitchen, out of our view. We didn’t get along well and her squinting at her computer screen reminded me of Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella character from the early Saturday Night Live days. I shared this with my other two people who, being Generation Xers, delighted in their new discovery. Yes, we poked fun at Vicki’s friend behind her back, but luckily, that part was not in the email.

One day I’m sitting at my desk with my fake walls and the window at my back, when someone snuck up behind me and shook my chair. I turned around, but there was no one there. Poltergeists, was my next thought, which quickly turned to something’s up. Someone called out – Did anyone feel that? Only a few of us had and knew it was something. Others, like my staff were unaware. But when I saw that there was no construction going on downstairs that could cause the shaking, I told my staff that we were going down to the lobby, where Ari, the building’s front desk manager and terminal flirt, would undoubtedly know what was going on. Minor earthquake, it turned out. This is New York. We have other things to worry about than earthquakes, but I’d never felt one before, nor since, and though it lasted a nanosecond for me, it was pretty creepy.

I boasted to Ari about what a good boss I was, getting my staff to safety even though we took the elevator down (I swear, I didn’t think of that until we were in the elevator). The smile on my face suddenly dropped to an expression of dismay. “I’m a very bad boss,” I lamented looking at my one permanent staff member and my one seasonal writer, and we all doubled over with laughter, again at Vicki’s friend’s expense, me still bemoaning what a horrible manager I was. Poor Ari had to wait till one of us could stop laughing long enough to tell him what was going on.

We all forgot about her, but it was my responsibility. Fortunately, she was among those who hadn’t felt a thing, and was none the wiser that we had abandoned her. I will say that the incident softened me toward her and I developed a certain fondness for her.

No thanks to Vicki and her poor email habits though. In this case, had she hit reply all instead of adding her friend’s email address, it would have worked out better. I never knew if her friend read my email, or if it bothered her. It was never brought up. It did cause Vicki to get pissed at me for being pissed at her. But that was Vicki, and while I will forever be pissed at her for dying, I wish she was still around for me to get pissed at for the other things, though I’d probably insist that she only be allowed to email in the company of someone in authority.

BTW – I’m a pretty steady 142lbs right now and intend to be securely under 140 by the time I need to make the many batches of bourbon balls that have been requested, which I start rolling each year during the Thanksgiving holiday and eat too many of. Very glad indeed that my friend who runs a bar in Chelsea is safe.

September 11, 2016 / thackersam

The Weird Thing Is

writing-nyxThe weird thing is that I started to slide out of last weekend’s doldrums almost immediately after returning to the routine of work on Tuesday, but was not able to return to the routine of exercise. It’s not that I love my job, but I am easily distracted. But not once did I exercise since the Thursday before last, not even last Sunday. Yes, I confess that I broke my vow to myself that no way, unless I am not at home, would I miss the Sunday evening workout. I can use the wallowing excuse any other day of the week, but when Sunday rolls around, well, buck up kid, turn on the stereo and lay down the mat. Couldn’t do it last Sunday, nor the rest of the week until this evening (I would never let myself hear the end of it if I missed another Sunday). I have however dropped another pound. But that’s not even the weirdest thing.

I had a choice of two activities for Friday evening. Yes, that is weird, but still not the weirdest. I could go to the weekly write-in I kept meaning to check out, or I could attend the annual to-do by the river, thrown by the tenant’s association of my large complex that was promoted as honoring Chuck Schumer, but the day of turned into an honoring of local officials instead. Don’t be disappointed, but I chose to write over free food and drinks, and over going home and being a lump, AND not exercising. Focusing on the class itself and not the more unpleasant than dangerous midtown west neighborhood where the class was held (see, no tangent), I will say that the class was not what I expected or hoped for. I knew it was two hours of writers writing to prompts, if they chose, and reading aloud, if they chose. I would choose neither. I went for the atmosphere of writers as a brain prompt to start an article that needs to be written. It’s a swell and timely story, but no, we are staying focused.

From the description of the weekly event, I pictured a larger room, chairs lined up facing front, and more people allowing me my anonymity and the “don’t bother me, I’m writing” air that I emanate. I had no intentions of participating, even when I stepped into the small room with the tables set in a hollow rectangle layout that was filled to capacity with 14 people, plus the teacher. Too intimate, but not entirely bothersome. I opened my laptop and started writing the beginning of the article, even after the less than inspirational prompt of “lipstick” was given. The noise level in the room of the air conditioner, sirens passing outside and an inconveniently timed garbage pick-up, plus the acoustics problem I’ve always had, made it hard for me to hear a lot of what was being read, and the teacher had to coax the majority of us first-timers to read. She was much better at listening and providing positive feedback, very good in fact, than she is in coming up with writing prompts.

We had a break during which plastic cups filled with about two shots of white wine were available and an odd array of snackies: some cookies and unrelated sweets, pretzel sticks and yesterday’s crudité with a dip that may have been hummus. Then someone brought out something quite different that turned out to be jerk chicken. With my plate of pretzel sticks and two baby carrots, and double-shot of wine, I went back to my seat and to my article, but instead of writing, I socialized with the woman seated next to me. No, we are still not at the really weird part. I decided to put the article aside as I had a pretty nice beginning down, and participate. However, instead of using the equally lame-ass prompt “dilemma” I used one of my own. Lines often pop into my head out of nowhere, and often for no reason whatsoever, and the most recent one – “Barbara-Ann woke up yelling ‘Is this going to be on the test,” seemed to be worthy of a stab at a story that I could write in 15 minutes.

I am an exceedingly slow writer, and in these situations have never produced anything with an ending, but I made a point of letting Barbara-Ann take me along with her thoughts and at the one-minute warning, I wrapped it up. The teacher again had to coax people into reading, wanting to hear from those of us who hadn’t already read, and yes, this is the really weird thing, I volunteered. I wasn’t at all nervous, and probably made more comments afterward than anyone else did on the inconsequential piece. There were no oohs and aahs at my fabulous writing skills, and I didn’t care. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but still not overwhelmingly so. It just felt natural. What have I been so apprehensive about all these years? I don’t read, never have read anything I’ve written in front of more than one or two people, and even that’s rare. The one time since college when we have to make presentations, I have read aloud was a year and a half ago when I read the short piece I wrote about Vicki at the gathering for the one-year anniversary of her death. And even that started with the line that I would rather get a Brazilian wax in Macy’s window than speak publicly, which fortunately got a laugh. Progress people, progress. Just some pit stops along the way.

Aside – I want to acknowledge this day. I have my story of that day 15 years ago. We all do. But there are much more important stories to tell of 9/11, and mine is more of a conversation.

BTW – I have come to the end of another notebook dedicated to the blog, which was started three years ago from just about now. And long after the original intention of exercising to my album collection A-Z ended when we came to ZZ Top, I still have no idea what I’m doing. So thanks for playing along.