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April 16, 2017 / thackersam

Wonderlust

I’m getting that antsy feeling again. That feeling of going – going someplace new. Sooner rather than later. Oh, I’ve been wondering where I should go for a very long time, considering the options. The Netherlands is always an option, but it is the only one I’ve actually physically explored and during my last visit nearly a year and a half ago, it was ruled out. (For those who need a refresher, please refer to the accompanying picture, which is the Inner Selfie I took while there, and wrote about in November of 2015.)

I am kind of a homebody, though. I never had wanderlust, and have not been to many places. When I used to travel for business, I could say I’d been to Chicago and L.A., but as those trips for my job in conference management sometimes lasted up to 10 days of all work and no play, at their ends I just wanted to go home. I saw little of the cities I visited, but I did like D.C. and Boston and if I had a friend in either, and probably a job, they would be strong contenders. I also remember Colorado Springs as one of the most beautiful places with the nicest people, but that was from 30 years ago, and the only person I know there is Lt. Joe Kenda. They do seem to have had a lot of homicides there.

But getting back to the Holland idea, there are so many things weighing heavy on the pro side, particularly lately, as they rely heavily on wind power and seem to be the masters of it (I just read that their electric trains, and not of the Lionel variety, now run on wind power), and they put out the best video appealing to trump to make The Netherlands second, which I think we should honor based on their efforts alone. They also have really great fruits and vegetables, endive is so incredibly cheap, most people speak English, I can figure out the Euro, and am familiar with the modes of transportation. And there is this apartment sitting there empty of its resident, that I can live in. But, there is that one humongous con that flings all the pros up into the air on the seesaw of life. And that con, my step-mother, is what caused that face (again, please refer to the picture). If I go, she returns, and will be my roommate in HELL.

However, I think I’d like to stay in the States. I did say, long before the unbelievable happened, that if it did happen (as I thought there was a good possibility it would), I would have to stay and fight. I’m RallyWoman after all. I attended the Tax march yesterday and next week is the March for Science. Note to self: remember to get rally shoes, not so much for marching but for standing in one place for more than an hour.

But, where to go, I wonder. I live in the hub of the universe, an experience I would not trade for the world, and can honestly say that the past five years living in Manhattan have been my happiest years. I have to chuckle at that because in that time I’ve had cancer twice, lost my oldest, bestest friend suddenly, lost another old friend of ours just months before, and have that thing with my feet that has been progressing. There have also been some awful sorrows for people who are very dear to me. But I am no stranger to extreme suckiness and anyone who knows anything about my history knows that this is just par for the course. Still, my current living environment has been very satisfying. Plus, I live in a blue state in a city where we even liked our red mayor. Bloomberg, not Rudy. I may be done, though.

Where can I vent my frustration and do my part in a fight that we can win, practically at the drop of a hat. Should I go to a red state where the fight may be less frequent but perhaps more intense? Should I go to Berkeley, where I could become Rabble-Rousing RallyWoman? Maybe just somewhere mellow, or I could find myself a smaller (and by that I mean shorter), less expensive and a bit quieter city to love. I would really like to have my own yard. It wouldn’t have to be a big yard. It could be a small back patio where Max could sun himself and I could grow tomatoes and marigolds. Some forsythia maybe.

Oh but gosh darnit, I’m afraid I’ll be stuck in the wondering phase for a while until I prompt myself to start wandering. And being a homebody, well, you get the picture.

BTW – I just started acupuncture Friday for my neuropathy. I’ll let you know how it works.

A total aside – I think it should be mandated that every movie made from now on must include a David Bowie song.

 

April 9, 2017 / thackersam

Bell Bottoms and Pea Jackets

I didn’t know the girl that lived in the house behind ours. Actually, I had known her years before in school, but didn’t realize that her parents had moved there, where we hadn’t known the occupants since my brother and I were tykes. They were there a couple of years I think, before their daughter Monica came back to live with them, when she was no longer herself.

She was a bit of a tough girl when I met her back in our 8th grade English class. She didn’t hang with the popular girls or the cheerleader wannabes, she didn’t seem to want to. Believe it or not, I was kind of a dork. I mean, I was an individual, but was torn between being myself and being like everyone else, without having a freakin’ clue how to do either. Monica – she had long straight blond hair and always wore her pea jacket over her skirts. She complimented a dress I wore once, a stupid, florally pink thing with these poofy sleeves. She thought it was pretty. I assume I did too, back then. It was before I discovered that it was just easier to wear black. One time, when moccasins were all the rage, she laughed at me when I walked in to the classroom with the fringe on my brand new pair going all which way around my ankles. She got down on the floor and fixed them for me.

Another time, I was buying poster paints at the local art store and she, having tagged along with our mutual friend was leaning on the counter next to me. There were two small jars of paint missing. I had put them down on the counter to pay for them, but where could they be. The young sales clerk and I searched the counter for them when Monica produced them from the sleeves of her pea jacket, laughing that that was how she shoplifted. The clerk seemed to play along. She was a little intimidating. But likeable. It was hard to know how to react to her.

I didn’t see much of her in 9th grade though we were in the same gym class. I happened to have the first pair of hip-hugger bell-bottom pants in my junior high school, and I was getting more politically minded, so the dorkiness was shedding. In fact I wore the bell-bottoms on the day slated for the girls to rebel and wear pants in school to challenge the no-pants on girls rule. We won, though it may have been one of those concessions that was not that difficult for adults and authority to make. Besides, the girls in high school were already allowed to wear pants. But I took a chance as the majority of the girls, including my two closest friends then, did not. Perhaps that is when RallyWoman was born.

Monica sightings in high school were scarce, and early on when we were 14 and 15, my friends and I liked these older guys, more than five years older. We invited two over one night, and they came to my friend’s house really drunk, probably drug enhanced, with a barely mobile Monica in tow. For a nanosecond she recognized me. “It’s you,” she slurred at me before her eyes closed. I was jealous. I really liked one of these guys. I don’t remember seeing her again after that. Rumor, based strongly on the truth, was that she and her friend Sue had stolen a prescription pad from our mutual friend’s psychiatrist father’s home office, and had gotten into a really bad accident in a stolen car. Sue was pretty banged up, but Monica was in bad shape.

The people who had moved into the property angled behind ours, were psychologists we learned, and we new there were a couple of teens, as we could hear them in their pool. Then came the animalistic noises, and I could see through the tall, wooden fence that had been erected long ago by previous homeowners, that a long, zig-zagged ramp had been built. At some point in time, I found out the noises were from Monica and the ramp was for her. Sue had talked about what she and Monica were going to do when she got better, but Monica was not going to get better, and her coming back home didn’t mean she was coming back. She was gone.

I don’t know how long she lasted in her vegetative state, but I believe she outlasted both of the guys with whom she came to my friend’s house. One had walked in front of a train and the other had gotten in such a bad car accident that he had to spend months in a body cast and after a long recovery, choked to death after when he passed out without his necessary neck brace. Well, that was the story, which is plausible as the last I saw of him in a bar, down to a partial body cast, he looked like he hadn’t learned any lessons from his situation. But both deaths were caused by severe drug and alcohol abuse. And I assume Monica’s too.

I thought of Monica yesterday. I had passed a woman pushing a young woman, possibly a teenage girl with long hair and a deep inward stare in a wheelchair. Sad, whatever the reason. And sad for Monica. I liked her. She was really quite different, but one has to wonder how the daughter of psychologists, growing up in the suburbs with a darned good school system, wound up as she did, as a cautionary tale.

BTW – Tonight’s post was not going to be another political rant, nor was it going to be about this ancient of my history. I had written about the Ex and how he’s changed, blah, blah, blah, yet he still has these issues with women, blaming them for everything… but I can write about him anytime. I do however still want to mention that we saw the movie The Zookeeper’s Wife when we got together this past Wednesday, and I highly recommend it. I don’t understand the criticism I’ve heard, that it’s too much about this couple (that would be the zookeeper and his wife) and not enough about the Holocaust. I found it to be a lesson in kindness and how we should help one another, a lesson that should be open to all factions and events, and something we should remember always.

April 2, 2017 / thackersam

Blow Away Dandelion

I can’t blame Bill O’Reilly for being distracted by his own shallowness. I too find it hard to listen to those I disagree with. I’m not however, an old crotchety, sexist bigot, with an overblown ego fueled by the idiocy of others, but I have had many a shallow moment myself. I am in good company with those who can’t get past the McConnell mutant neck, and when I look at Ryan, I can’t help but think he might be a good-looking fellow if not for that enormous nose. The ugliness of the current president has always been there and when I set eyes on him the very first time decades ago, I deemed him to be the epitome of “the ugly American.” And he just keeps getting more hideous. His creepy kids require full access to a variety of stylists and his third wife who is sucking New Yorkers dry, has a voice so irritating I wouldn’t have blamed God if s/he struck her down after she said “Let us pray,” before reciting the Lord’s Prayer at a rally a month after the inauguration, based on voice alone and not just the hypocrisy. But she does have a voice, mind you, and any momentary pity I felt for her, and I did, for a moment, is long gone. These are not attractive people.

Kelly Anne’s spackled on make-up is less of a distraction for me as it just adds to the amusing ridiculousness of the words that come out of her mouth. I will admit that she does bring the humor to this whole situation for me. But that bannon guy, holy moly, what a freakin’ ick-face, totally. I can’t listen to him, nor look at him. I actually do not know what he sounds like. So while we shouldn’t back off O’Reilly for his idiotic remarks and offensive demeanor, we should understand his limitation as an unevolved person that is a beacon to those that are threatened by evolution, and by truly intelligent people they like to consider beneath them. His comments were not inappropriate for him. Quite the contrary.

BTW – Or, in other news this week, I was rather dismayed that Crayola has decided to discontinue the lovely yellow-colored crayon that we all know as “dandelion,” in favor of a shade of blue. Well, it just better be a special blue! Dammit. So of course I had “Dandelion” by the Rolling Stones going through my head, but was singing it as “go away dandelion.” But “blow away dandelion” fits with my wishful thinking as Hillary is out and about, talking and inspiring, and looking refreshed and recharged. And that started Springsteen’s “Kitty’s Back” playing in my head. Kitty was not a woman to be messed with.

As I press Publish, I am about to re-watch last week’s episode of Big Little Lies, which I am just loving. I do have my theories about tonight’s finale, but only one that I’ve bet money on with Cousin Bratty. This is right up my alley. No, they’re not giving a lot of clues about the murder, but they really are. I still can’t predict the end though. Along with everything that is intriguing about this series is the soundtrack and the choice of songs from several decades. Hearing Grace Slick’s vocals alone on “White Rabbit” in one episode reminded me of what a powerful a voice she had. But when they ended another episode with Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Ball and Chain, I just went into another world listening to Janis Joplin belting it out and feeling oh so very lucky that I was around when she was. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I wonder if Bill O’Reilly had a hard time listening to her in the sixties based on her appearance.

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.