Saturday, December 29, 2007

..and back to the job search

All right you HR people who have been out of the office in December: it's time to pick up that pile of resumes (or rather, open those computer files of resumes that have been emailed to you) and see mine. And contact me.

Staring into the abyss of no job at all in January has sobered me up about leaving the restaurant before I even have a solid temporary job to report to. So I'm going to go to an even more reduced weekend schedule in January, while I keep my weekdays free for office work. I just couldn't bear the prospect of not knowing when I'd ever be making a deposit to my bank account again. It was just too bleak.

But as soon as I either 1) land a permanent job, or 2) secure a long-term, temporary assignment, I'm outta there. As long as it happens before the Chinese New Year, I'm good. Working Chinese New Year in a Chinese restaurant is just too crazy hectic for me.

Why do people get so happy when someone tells them they're getting married?

Sometimes marriage is good. Sometimes marriage is bad. At least half of all American marriages end in divorce. Plenty of couples had no business getting together in the first place, especially to have children (poor children). I think many of us know how badly parenthood can go.

So why do engagements receive mostly positive responses? Even the most indifferent co-worker usually offers a "Congratulations," even if they could really care less. There's huge cultural pressure to participate in, or at least not oppose, the general good cheer and optimism that result when a friend or co-worker gets engaged.

If marriage so often goes badly, why do people get so happy at the prospect of another one?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa Claus, Why?

I was watching "The Polar Express" on Christmas Eve, which is the story of how a little boy goes from not believing in the existence of Santa, to believing. There are several movies and stories with the same plot line and I wonder why. Why is it important to make children believe there's a Santa Claus? It's such a blatant, almost cruel lie. No matter how hard a parent tries to make their child believe there really is a Santa Claus, there's no preventing the child's eventual maturity and realization that there really isn't.

Is it to make the child happy, believing in an unlimited source of toys and presents? Is it to enforce rules by evoking an entity who rewards good behavior? Is it practice so that the child will do well believing in God?

I think the ultimate disappointment that comes when a child learns that there is no actual Santa Claus isn't worth any of those motivations. And it is inevitable that every child will figure it out. There's only so long you can explain the multiple Santas at Christmastime, the impossibility of Santa's omniscience, the incredible accomplishment of hitting every domicile in the world at exactly midnight, local time.

Kids are gonna figure it out and when they do, it's gonna hurt. So why do parents bother? Just to be mean?

Thursday, December 20, 2007


At the beginning of the dinner shift, the office manager called me into her office and told me, "At 7:00 tonight, you're going to get a party of six at table 84. Here's their credit card on file. Just charge their bill to this Amex." I took the paperwork and thought, "Great. A guaranteed six-top."

At about five minutes to 7:00, sure enough, a group of six people were seated at table 84 and I went to greet them. Unfortunately, they said the table was too dark and requested to be moved. Easy come, easy go, I thought. I handed the paperwork over to their new server and explained the situation to him about the credit card on file and moved on.

About fifteen minutes later, a group of eight was seated at table 84. I thought, "All right. Maybe this group will be even better than that other one." Sure enough, they cooperatively ordered bottles of wine and lots of food and even coffee and dessert. They ran up a huge bill and I felt happy that my other group had been replaced with this one. I was sure that the first group hadn't ordered nearly as much since they had eaten and left in little time.

As the restaurant closed, I dropped the check for my eight-top. The man who seemed to be in charge picked up the check and said, "I believe this is all taken care of right? You have our credit card on file?"

Oh, no.

I'm a professional, no matter the industry, so I only stared at him for a second before I smiled and chirped, "Oh, sure. I'll be right back!" Ahhhh! Manager, please!

Yes, we charged the wrong party. And that first group never even said anything when they were told that their bill was taken care of! Can you believe it? Thank god they only rang up about $150, as opposed to my table which really ran up a bill. Of course, we quickly removed that first charge from the card and got everything straightened out. I just have a hard time believing the first six people breezily accepted a free meal and walked out.


Almost o-o-u-t

Yesterday I talked to the general manager about leaving the restaurant to go back to office work. I told her that starting in January, I'd be working with some temp agencies and would need my weekdays free, but I could keep working weekend shifts if they need me. She said they might not, which means I might be finished with waitressing at the end of the month!

What a sudden shift in my immediate future. I'm excited as well as nervous since, of course, I don't have a new job yet. But I have hope that one of these staffing agencies could be my connection to my next positon. Or maybe one of the dozens of companies I've been applying to will actually contact me once we're all done with wrapping paper and sugar cookies. Please let me start getting some responses to my resume soon!

Suckily, I'm scheduled to work dinner shifts on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, but I'll console myself with the knowlege that after these next few weeks, I will never wait tables again. Ever.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Quit

If I'm quitting music, I might as well ask: so who wants to hear these songs I've been rehearsing and recording and trying to find a buyer for? I'll try to think of a fair price and decide if I want to just fling these songs into the world without a proper CD or copyright. Regardless of my failure, I can at least see if anyone wants to hear this stuff.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quitters Win

(Part One)
Earlier today I was writing to a friend with whom I haven't spoken in months. I wrote him that I'm discouraged about my music. Again. I've had no luck with (the service that hooks up musicians with people who want to buy songs for film/tv placement or for another artist to record). But more disturbing than my failure to sell my songs, is my indifference to music. I'm disappointed at how driven I'm not. Years ago, I wrote songs as a way to deal with confusion and pain, a way to make sense of life and sort through how I felt about things. Music just came out of me without even trying. It was what I needed to do, like eating and breathing. That was my relationship with music. I knew I was a musician because it was just what I did.

Now I suspect that music was just a coping mechanism. I wrote, performed and recorded the most music when I was the most miserable. Now that I've finally (at the age of 41) settled into a wonderful, domestic relationship with a man who makes me happy, I just don't get the same high from making music. I don't even get the same pleasure from it. I rarely practice my songs, have no interest in performing and haven't written a song in - years? And I really don't care!

In September I joined a community choir and worked for three months to prepare for a Christmas concert. I should be at that concert right now, but tonight I'm sick and have almost no speaking voice. Singing is out of the question. Yet I don't feel very disappointed. I'm missing out on performing all this Christmas music with beautiful harmonies and a full orchestra and I'm like "Eh, so what." That's not how I'm used to feeling about music!

So I'm confused and feeling like I'm really not a musician. How can I be when making music seems so much a a part of my past? I don't know. Maybe I'm really one of those people who tries to enjoy their job (once I find one), but doesn't really have any true bliss in their life and feels dissatisfied, like something's missing, but doesn't know what to do because they don't think of themselves as an artist of any kind. Ugh.

(Part Two)
Later in the afternoon I picked up the January 2008 issue of Oprah magazine. It has two articles that feel relevant to my situation with music. In one of them, "Know When to Fold 'Em," Martha Beck describes how great quitting can be. I'll paraphrase. Psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch studied two groups of people: ones who hate to quit and ones who tend to give up in the face of what appear to be insurmountable difficulties. The second group had a lot fewer health problems than the first (such as digestive trouble and skin rashes -- my two lifelong burdens!) and had fewer signs of psychological stress. Miller and Wrosch found that people who try but don't succeed eventually become depressed at their ongoing failure. Those who give up earlier do better psychologically than those who keep trying and keep feeling like failures.

Quitters are better off than try-try-again-ers!

The other article seems to contradict the first and I wonder why the O Magazine staff put them in the same issue. In "The Willpower Myth" Stephanie Losee explains that the key to real change, whether it's adjusting diet and exercise to avoid another heart attack or getting off drugs and learning to keep a job, is having a mentor you can truly relate to. She writes that having a relationship with someone who's like you, but has succeeded where you have failed, has a powerful effect on one's self-image. In other words, if you're looking at someone in whom you can see yourself, you think, "If she can do it, I can."

This makes sense to me. If I hear that Carny Wilson successfully lost 100 pounds, I think, "Of course. Wealthy, famous people can do whatever they want. But I can't." The same will happen if I hear Bonnie Raitt's long tale of paying dues before she got famous. Her background and resources were so different from mine, it's not an inspiring story. It just confirms that I don't have what it takes to be a successful musician (and by "successful" I mean "paid").

But if I were to meet another middle class, Anglo-raised, Hispanic, older woman who had no musicians or musical resources in her family or environment, who spent the first half of her life having nothing to do with music, but who then changed her whole life to become a successful (PAID) singer, that might make me start to think there's hope for me. Specifically, I'd need hope that I someone will pay me for my songs and I can earn at least part of a living from music.

I've always regretted the lack of true role models in my life. I've never met anyone who served as a mentor for me, mainly because I've lived my life in the white, dominant U.S. culture and few people in that culture look like me. I've wondered what could be possible for me if I didn't always to have to forge my own path, hoping I'm getting things right.

After reading these two articles, I'm wondering: do I seek out a role model I can relate to and be inspired by, someone with whom I have enough in common that I can believe that what was possible for her is possible for me? Or just give up? I have to say, I'm not feeling very motivated to begin a big long search for a singer like me with whom I can forge an inspiring relationship.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I'm so excited: my Christmas shopping is all done. I ordered some great things from Sharper Image for my boyfriend. I've been looking forward to giving them to him because they're things he wouldn't think of himself, but he totally needs them.

When we order things that are shipped UPS, we usually have them shipped to Bob at his work because it's so hard to be home when UPS comes by. I regularly tell Bob I have some packages coming to him, but he should just bring them home for me to open. Bob's not a curious person, so this works pretty well. Someone at work receives the boxes, then he gets them and just brings them to me.

On Thursday I checked the shipments online and noticed that two of them had already arrived, a week earlier. That was strange. They don't usually let boxes sit around without notifying the recipient. I asked Bob to check for them.

When Bob asked about the boxes, it turned out they had arrived, but no one had told him. Worse, the person who received the boxes had opened them, so Bob was handed the unwrapped presents. My surprises were ruined!

Now what do I do? I don't want to give him gifts he's already seen, especially when they got handed to him in such an unceremonious way. I can't believe someone opened boxes addressed to someone else and then didn't even inform the person the items were there. I'm so disappointed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Repeal the 21st Amendment!

Hey, everybody, I just found out that today, December 5th is the anniversary of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited the sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors. Today is the anniversary of the end of Prohibition.

But since I don't drink, I can't celebrate this in the obvious way. In fact, I hate the taste of alcohol and have given up trying to like it. In fact, working in the restaurant industry has schooled me in just how idiotic people become when they drink, plus I regularly hear more about the harmful effects of alcohol, especially on women (the U.S. Department of Health recommends that women drink only one drink a day or LESS, in order to avoid health problems).

As I see it, alcohol is just bad: it tastes bad, it's bad for you and it too often contributes to people behaving badly. Why did the U.S. government ever repeal Prohibition? Bring Prohibition back! Ban all alcohol!

Monday, December 03, 2007

December, finally!

Last spring I had more than one dream that I was strolling down a street adorned with Christmas decorations, feeling so happy that my favorite time of year was here. But each time I would wake up to the disappointment of March or April or June. Maybe other grownups are thinking, "How can it be December already?" but I'm so happy that my long wait is over. It's December, FINALLY!

Thanks to everyone who has been encouraging me in my job search. Apparently it is impossible to be taken seriously as a job candidate during the holidays, plus companies are too busy to respond to applicants and set up interviews. So I'm sort of half-hunting at this point.

I'm shifting my focus from "gotta-find-a-new-job, gotta-find-a-new-job" to enjoying my favorite season of the year, and appreciating my final weeks at my current restaurant job because these ARE my final weeks there. There's no way in hell I'm working another Chinese New Year at a Chinese restaurant.

I'm going to accept that I'm not going to find a new job now and I won't be starting at a new position on January 7th (which I was imagining because in 2001 I DID start a new position on January 8th, so there!). Instead, I will relax and focus on all the great things December brings because come January all the twinkling lights and frosted cookies will be gone and that's when I'll resume my job hunt in FULL FORCE.

So Merry Christmas and may my New Year dreams come true.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Job Search

So I've been applying and applying for administrative support jobs and I'm getting very little feedback. What do you think of this explanation that I got from a friend of mine:

A man who hired and fired people at Illinois Masonic (a hospital) for over 30 years says most employers don't hire between Halloween and New Years. He says that most quality people aren't looking during that time. His feeling is that because the holidays are so busy, people generally stick with their jobs through November/December and only desperate people are looking for work then. He feels that after January, a lot of people decide to turn over a new leaf and the pool of quality workers opens
wide up. There are companies who hire during that time, but they often look to hire within, but are required by law to advertise outside the company.

This explanation is so discouraging to me. Am I making myself look like a big loser just by sending resumes to all these places? Should I stop the job hunt until January? Can it be true that employers avoid any applicant who's looking for work during the holidays?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back to the CTA...

I crashed the car and am now afraid to drive. I'd only been driving regularly since last spring and now I've had a $4200 accident. The last time I owned a car was fifteen years ago and I totalled the car back then. I obviously don't belong on the road.

So a month after triumphantly cancelling my monthly CTA pass, I'm getting a new one. I'm stuck with public transit and that's just how it is. I just wish I didn't feel like such a loser.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


So I cut back to four shifts a week because my body can't take the physical pain of waitressing full-time and I'm driving more because the Chicago Transit Authority train line that I take is getting worse every week. These changes mean I'm not using my monthly CTA pass subscription enough to make it cost effective (it gives me unlimited rides for $75 a month), so I cancelled it.

Of course, a week and a half after cancelling it, I smashed the car. In fact, it was the day of my last post, November 3rd. I left for work at 2:30 pm, joined the extremely busy and congested Saturday afternoon roads going into downtown Chicago and never made it to the restaurant.

Was it because I was in a hurry? No. I leave plenty of time to drive to work and usually arrive 30 minutes early. In fact, I'm a total granny driver. On the highway, I don't like going faster than 55 miles an hour. On roads, I rarely inch up past the speed limit, I don't mind when people cut me off and I cruise calmly along while others frantically change lanes to shave a few minutes off their commute. I actually don't like changing lanes at all and will actually stay behind the slow-moving bus or wait behind the driver who's waiting to take a left turn. I'll just sit and sit or crawl along because I don't like changing lanes (it requires too much aggression) and I always have plenty of time.

So I put-putted along, with thousands of other cars, trying to reach downtown Chicago on a Saturday afternoon. I had just manuvered around a stalled car with its hazard lights on. I was glancing in the rearview mirror at it, thinking how much it must suck to be in that position -- and I was going maybe 25 miles an hour -- when I looked at the car immediately in front of me and saw that it had stopped. And I was still going 25 miles an hour.

Hitting the brakes slowed me a little, but the crash was enough to totally dent the front of my boyfriend's car, crack the transmission and drain all the fluid so that the car immediately lost its power steering. Un-drive-able. Then I became the car with the hazards flashing.

The SUV-jeep-car thing I hit showed no physical damage. Do you think I can tell you what kind of car I hit? I don't remember cars when I'm NOT in shock from a collision, so, no, I can't.

No injuries, a tow truck, about three thousand dollars of repairs, blah blah blah (we're fully covered so we don't have to pay the whole thing). And I'm through with driving. I'll just have to get used to the suckiness of the train and getting home at 2:00 a.m. It'll be my punishment for managing to get into a car accident at 25 miles an hour, even with my granny driving. I plan to pick up the car when it's repaired (I haven't even called to check on it. I don't care when I get it back), put it in the garage and go back to the sucky CTA.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I'm going through job ads, I'm applying, I'm interviewing, I'm trying to gauge the damage I'm doing to my feet each restaurant shift I work. I'm trying to decide if I should give my two weeks notice when I find a new job or when my feet reach a certain level of pain. It might have to be the pain. It is not worth it to me to develop a chronic condition just to keep working for another couple of months. I can always temp.

I've worked in six industries now and it seems to me that people in the restaurant industry work the hardest, and not for much money at all. It's really amazing. It's great if you're a nightowl/people person who wants a more flexible schedule and has no nerve endings in your lower body. I'm just about done. By the absolute latest, even if I haven't found another job and my feet are doing fine, I'm leaving the restaurant by February. I will NOT work another Chinese New Year. It was a nightmare last year and I'll quit before I'll do it again.

I'm looking for:
1. Office job (I want to SIT DOWN).
2. Part of a team of people.
3. 25-30 hours a week.
4. On the northside of Chicago or in Evanston (no more 75-minute commutes for me)
5. Non-profit organization or at least a company with a goal that feels meaningful to me.

I really hope it doesn't take more than a few months to find this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Am I responsible for public transit?

The Chicago Transportation Authority, which provides bus, subway and elevated train service to the city of Chicago, has been having no end of difficulties in the recent past. Between the federal government, state government, city government and fare revenue, they just don't have adequate funding to operate at acceptable levels. As a result, in the past several months, CTA riders have been experiencing slower trains, fewer buses, increasing commute times and generally shittier service. November 4th is the date for more bus routes to be eliminated at the same time that fare prices will increase. Chicago public transportation sucks and is we're going to be paying even more for it to suck even worse if the government can't prioritize the only transportation that thousands of Chicagoans use to get to work and live their lives.

I now live with a man who has a car and I've been driving way more than I ever expected. Especially after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, I'm very uncomfortable with how much my driving has increased as the CTA has become worse. I've become so frustrated with getting off work at 1:00 a.m. and having my commute time go from 45 minutes, to 60 minutes, to 80 minutes, that I've become a consistent weekend driver. I'm realizing that because I now drive to work so much, plus I'm cutting back on my shifts, plus I now walk to the gym (I used to ride to the gym as much as I rode to work), I really don't use my monthly CTA pass enough to justify the $75 (soon to be $84 or whatever) a month price I'm paying.

I'm ready to cancel it and just pay out of pocket for the four or five times I make a round-trip each week. And I'm wondering: is it possible that if enough people like me stop supporting the CTA (I've been overpaying for how often I ride), it could just go out of business? I'm thinking that those of us with alternate means of transportation might mostly quit using the CTA, resulting in more financial difficulties, resulting in reduced service and more expensive fare prices, causing more of us to quit using the CTA, etc.

Could the CTA eventually find itself dependent on the poorest of the working poor who have no choice at all but to use buses and trains, at which point the CTA will be unable to sustain service and just go out of business? Should that motivate people like me to keep paying $75 or more a month for service we're not getting since it's important to have good public transportation? Or shall I be Republican about this?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Occupation: Changing Occupations

After three years of waitressing, which started when I was 38, I can no longer deny that my body can't take it. My feet are developing problems, I'm tired of the late hours and the restaurant industry itself is getting a bit stale for me. All signs indicate that the waitressing experiment is over and it's time to move on again.

Since leaving grad school in 1992, I've worked in five industries (academia, non-profit, childcare, music, corporate) and held about nineteen jobs. In the past, this inconsistent work history has made me feel like a failure who is unable to commit to a career or stick with a job for more than a couple of years. Most people change jobs regularly, but at least have a running theme in their resumes. For instance, my boyfriend has been a dishwasher, busboy, server, bartender, manager, general manager and district partner, but all those jobs have been in the restaurant industry. Another friend has worked in several industries, but she's always in human resources. See? It's usually like that.

My resume has little consistency. I have various useful abilities and lots of valuable skills and am, for the most part, an appealing employee. But five industries (now six) and nineteen jobs in fifteen years? This has been a great source of my feeling of failure in life.

But not any more because -- so what if I rarely stay anywhere for long? Yeah, I'm one of those jack-of-all-trades types, but I've got an impressive amount of life and job experience under my belt. I can talk about the challenges of teaching, the hardship of childcare, the difficulties of recording live music, the politics of academia, the pettiness of the office, the nightmare of waiting tables, the highs of musical performance and the loneliness of working for the guy at the top. I can give you my opinion -- from personal, in-the-trenches experience -- of the most stressful industries, the most physically or psychologically or intellectually demanding jobs, and the difference between situations in which people act like it's life-and-death and the situations in which it really is.

I'm more flexible than most people. With a little training, I can work just about anywhere. I accept change in my workplace with enthusiasm, while most people dread new procedures or the new computer program or the new boss. I don't fear being laid off or fired because I've bounced back so many times. Yeah, I've been laid off. And I've been fired. I've been on unemployment more than once and I'm not afraid of it. That's kind of rare and it's a powerful position to take with respect to one's job.

Because I've done so much and know I can do so much more, I'm just not afraid of job loss or job change. I will always be able to find work. I have to admit that's not just because of my job history, but partly because I have a masters degree from Cornell University. But having changed jobs and industries many times, I don't limit myself as people do who believe they are strictly support people or tech people or white collar or academic. It's really quite freeing.

So here I go, launching another job search (which industry shall I choose this time?). So it goes.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Myth of "The One"

One of the strongest beliefs that keeps single people looking for love and helps couples stay together is the idea that we all have a soul mate, a life partner, a person we were destined to meet and be with. As a single woman searching for her life partner, I wanted to believe this also. As I went from my 20's to my 30's still looking for "The One," I had a changing idea of who and what I was looking for, but I had to have faith that there was someone out there for me, who was most likely searching for his partner, too.

At the age of 33, I had a conversation with the mother of one of my friends, who gave me a new way to look at this. She said there wasn't necessarily a Mr. Right out there waiting for me. She said it really depended on whether I was truly ready for a relationship. She presented me with the idea that rather than it being a matter of random chance or "God" bringing me my man, it was up to me to be prepared for love: "It's not that when The One appears, then it'll happen. It's that when you're really ready, the next guy will be The One."

I considered this very seriously and it eventually replaced my former hope that I had an ideal soul mate. Frustrated by continued failure to find a relationship, by my late 30's I had given up the idea of a destined partner. I just wanted to not be alone anymore. I took the practical view that there was no Mr. Right to whom fate was leading me. There were only a bunch of men out there, any of whom could work for me as a life partner, if I were truly open to falling in love. So I focused on being truly open to fall in love.

In January 2006 (at the age of 39) I had an epiphanic realization about how hard I had been holding onto my single status and I made a conscious decision to give up the single life and Fall In Love. After that I finally did it: the next guy I dated after that realization, turned out to be the man with whom I fell in love and stayed. I am living with him now. He's an amazingly loving, generous and optimistic person who treats me like gold. I never expected to be worthy of such an experience of being cherished. We are very happy together and this could be the guy I stay with for a very long time (I don't believe in "forever").

But I remain troubled by the question of whether my search is over. Maybe it's just the momentum of man-hunting for so long that makes me reluctant to give it up. But I think the problem is that I don't have the myth of Mr. Right to reassure me that this is they guy I belong with. If any guy could be my ideal man, depending on whether I'm truly open to loving him, then how can I ever know I've found the absolute best guy for me? If there's no Hand of God guiding me to the man I was always meant to be with, how can I trust myself to pick someone who is really good for me?

After decades of dating, after dozens of partners, after hundreds of dates, you'd think I could be assured that I've looked over ALL the goods and this man is really the best fit for me. But I don't trust my judgement and I don't believe the past 20 years have really yielded my best view of all the men, of all the types of personalities, of all the sexual dynamics and all the possible shared values. Am I really done? Is this really the best relationship for me? Without a god or religion or belief system about how the universe works, how can I ever know? I envy people who have the belief that their husband/partner was the one they were always meant to be with. I envy people with faith that their god led them to their Mr./Ms. Right. Without that myth of The One, how can I ever be certain the man-hunt is over?

Monday, October 15, 2007

On the run

1. Working six shifts a week at the restaurant.
2. Still trying to finish up the eight original songs I recorded last month.
3. My man is gone until November.
4. Trying to head off a depression.
5. Feeling like I can't keep working six shifts a week for much longer. Hate the late nights, but more importantly, my feet really hurt and that makes me unhappy, even though I like the job. I just don't do well with ongoing physical pain with no end in sight. New job? Fewer shifts? How would I earn enough if I did fewer shifts?
6. Wish music project would pay off, but it will undoubtedly be a while.
7. Trying not to give in to discouragement and depression.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Phase One

My current project, as a recording musician, is almost finished: I'm down to the final mixing of the eight original songs I recorded last month with Neal Alger. I recorded the instrumental tracks on September 6th, recorded the vocals on September 10th, re-recorded parts of some vocal tracks ("punch-ins") on September 24th, mixed the songs on October 3rd and this week will be receiving a CD in the mail that I can listen to and decide if there's anything else I want to change. I think at this point I don't want to change a thing! I'm new to this process and I've had enough of it for a while.

I also need to rally my spirits. This is just the beginning of months/years of recording and submitting songs before I achieve any success selling them for film/tv placement (or as songs to be recorded by another artist). I already feel discouraged and that's no good. I'm realizing that if I keep recording my songs with just guitar and bass accompaniment, they're going to sound like folk songs and few people want folk songs. I need a poppier sound, or at least a more country/western sound because country music is much more marketable than folk. I never thought I'd long to sound like a country singer, but right now I do. Sounding folk just feels like the kiss of death since record companies aren't looking for folk songs (folk singers tend to write their own songs). I need to change my sound when I can't really afford to hire more musicians to record my songs. So how do I change my sound? If it's just me and a guitar, am I doomed?

Also, the man I love and live with has been sent to work in Florida for the next month or so. I'm facing the Halloween month alone, when we had made all these great Halloween plans. We're cold weather people and had been looking forward so much to the fall. We were so excited when September finally arrived. Now he's stuck in a stupid, sunny place, where he doesn't want to be and I don't want to visit. He left at 3:45 a.m. this morning and I'm realizing this apartment is too big for just me. My boyfriend's company SUCKS!

Monday, October 01, 2007


TAXI report:

I have submitted six songs to for consideration as background music for tv shows/film/commercials or as a song that could be recorded by another artist. They have been returned with the note that these songs were not what they were looking for. One of TAXI's many benefits to the musicians it serves is that most submissions receive constructive criticism, whether or not they are forwarded to music directors or record companies for consideration. TAXI's critics, with years of experience in the music industry as A & R executives, musicians and directors, generously give feedback on what is good about our songs and what can use improvement. This is an invaluable service and critical to process of making our songs better and more usable.

Most of the criticism I've received has been pretty positive as far as the songwriting and arrangement go, but the biggest weaknesses right now seem to be that my songs sound like children's songs or folk songs and the other weakness is the vocals. I'm beginning to suspect that most of my recordings sound more like folk music than anything else because I love Neal Alger's acoustic guitar so much. There's not a lot of call for folk music because most folk singers write their own songs.

Also, I've been told that I do not have a strong voice. One comment said that a strong voice can make a song work that doesn't have the best lyrics, but the reverse is also true: a weak voice can sink even a great song. Thanks a lot. But one thing to keep in mind is that the songs these reviewers were listening to were recorded a few years ago. I hope the singing on the songs I've recorded in the past month are better. I hope.

I know it's important not to get discouraged, especially since I'm at the very beginning of this process. In July, I paid $300 for a one-year membership, so I'd better use every day of it! I have to give myself a chance. I guess we'll see.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Suck It, Jesus"

So on September 8th, Kathy Griffin accepted an Emmy Award with the words, "Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God, now." (Newsweek Oct. 1, 2007) And that event has caused believers, free speech supporters and atheists alike to respond to each other's responses. At you can sign a petition in support of Griffin's right to free speech. But it doesn't seem like very much is really going on at this website, except a lot of crosstalk.

I appreciate Griffin's expression as well as her sentiment. I, too, say, "Suck it, Jesus," although I see the contradiction of being an atheist who's talking to the god she doesn't believe exists. Really it's just my expression of disgust for all religion. Religion causes just as much pain, violence and damage as it does good works and loving acts and I'm better off without it. The balance just doesn't tilt in the direction of religion, or any kind of spiritual practice, ultimately being a good thing for me. That's what I believe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Scary Movies?

I believe it's never too early to start preparing for holidays, even Halloween. So, as I get ready, I wonder: what scary movies would anyone recommend this Halloween season? I'm asking about genuinely frightening movies that make it hard for you to go to bed later, not slasher stuff with just a bunch of people getting killed or just a bunch of torture. Since I'm not interested in movies that focus on people being physically tortured or killed, I think that rules out films like Saw and Tourist (or whatever it was called). I want to know what movies made you afraid to be alone, or afraid to go into your dark apartment or afraid to turn out the lights. I guess I'm going for movies that are more like The Ring, which was a re-made Japanese film. The Ring scared the hell out of me. I didn't sleep well for a month.

A friend sent me this. This is on the right track:

"J-Horror" is a term used to refer to Japanese contributions to horror fiction in popular culture. J-horror tends to focus on psychological horror and tension building (anticipation), particularly involving ghosts and poltergeists, while many contain themes of folk religion such as: possession, exorcism, shamanism, precognition, and yōkai.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why Have Children?

I attended a wedding last June and today I received word of the bride's pregnancy. I stared at a jpeg of the ultrasound in shock. I was surprised at how soon she got pregnant, but I also just felt baffled at the universal, almost without exception, desire of people to have kids. Why do they? At the age of 41, I've had numerous friends, family and acquaintances who've had children and I've had conversations with them about their experiences. From what I hear, being a parent can be a thankless job. Doesn't having babies sap energy, destroy all sleep and maim the social and sex lives? Isn't parenthood expensive and draining and endless? Don't children take over your life and strain your marriage? Don't many parents look back, realize how completely they had no idea what having kids would be like, and feel some regret, at least over the timing? Why do people have children?

Or maybe what I should be baffled by is my failure to comply with one of the strongest instincts we have: the instinct to procreate. When almost the entire population of the planet willingly participates in yielding offspring, how have I managed to resist? Why do I find the desire to have children so incomprehensible?

I just don't get it. I mean, I guess I sort of understand people who inadvertantly end up having a baby. A mistake is a mistake. And I sort of understand, although much less, people who become parents just because that's what everyone else expects of them. But why do people actually make a conscious choice to have kids when life is so much easier without them?

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I guess there are more steps than I anticipated: I counted making the recording of these songs as one step, when really there are also the steps of listening to the mix, evaluating it, deciding what songs (or parts of songs) to re-do, rehearsing more, going back to the studio to re-record and repeating this process until I'm satisfied with the recordings. THEN I can turn my attention to copyrighting, updating my music website and working as many hours as possible to save up for the next round of recording.

Next week I'll go back into the studio and "touch up" five of the eight songs I did last week. They will be done by the end of the month as I'd planned, I just didn't know it would be so close to the end of the month. And then I can stop rehearsing these songs! That will be GREAT.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How it went

I warmed up my voice at home and ran through each of the songs before I left for Handwritten Recordings on Monday afternoon. The recording session went very well (eight songs in two hours, Tom L). I still felt nervous, but I was able to avoid the "Don't blow it NOW!" thoughts while I was singing, which is an accomplishment for me. I was pleased with the takes we got, but also aware that I'm not Celine Dion or Selena. So I think it went well considering how little recording experience I have. Of course, I imagine that when I hear the takes again, I'll hate many of them, but then I'll just record the vocal tracks over again, which I can do at any time and as many times as I want as long as I have the money.

The most challenging song to get through was one I wrote in 2005, a couple of months before I started dating Bob. It's called "Hold This" and it describes the fantasy physical encounter I was longing for at that time. In order to sing it, I needed to summon that kind of energy and it took me a couple of takes to get it. I finally sang the whole thing with my eyes closed half the time, imagining being with Bob, oh yeah, really imagining him, oh I'm there, not here. And it finally worked! That's the take I'm using. I'd never had to do that before (and doubt I will again).

But it was a priority song because has a listing for a music library I want to submit to. A music library is basically a bunch of songs someone puts together (paying the songwriters for their contributions) and then makes available to people who are looking for songs. The music director of a weekly show might need a song that sounds just like Diana Ross and the Supremes, but they can't afford to pay those licensing fees, so they find a music library of songs that sound just like girl groups of the 60's. From that library they choose the song they want and that songwriter/artist/band gets lucky.

There's a listing for a music library of songs about sex (but no profanity, etc.) and the deadline is TODAY. So I and Handwritten Recordings are scrambling to get "Hold This" ready to submit this afternoon. This is only possible because I submit online. If I mailed my submissions in on CD, as many musicians do, I'd have already missed the deadline. I'm also submitting one other song I've written that's about sex, but that's more of an introspective explanation of how I've done relationships in the past. "Song for Valentine's Day" is about sex, but not in the same way as "Hold This."

Yes, this is me becoming a songwriting musician who earns her living with tv/film placements and selling her songs to be recorded by other artists. If anyone else finds this information useful, great.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

recording fright

Tomorrow I record the vocal tracks to eight of my original songs. I've been practicing these eight songs for six weeks now. I'm sick of them. I can sing them just fine, if I stay relaxed. Relaxing is what I do worst in the world. So the vocals are pretty much doomed. At least Neal's guitar will sound good.

Friday, September 07, 2007

We're gonna do it! (from the Laverne and Shirley song)

Yesterday Neal Alger and I recorded the bass and guitar tracks to eight of my original songs at Handwritten Recordings studio in two and a half hours. A couple of songs we did in one take. I understand this is startlingly uncommon and efficient of us, but Neal and I have been playing most of these songs for several years, so it wasn't surprising to me. We're also not perfectionists who keep saying, "Let me just do that one more time." If we liked the take, we called that song "done" and moved on.

On Monday I'll go back and record the vocal tracks to those songs, probably in just a couple of hours. My voice is what it is and I'm not going to waste time trying to sound like Kelly Clarkson or Bonnie Raitt. I'm trying to sell the songs, not get some A&R executive to go, "What a great voice! I want to take this singer to the next level!" Over the next several months I'll work on getting my voice more in shape and I can always re-record them later (when I sound more like Bonnie Raitt or Kelly Clarkson).

When these songs are done, I will have completed the first phase of my plan to earn money by selling my songs and/or getting tv and film placement deals. The next step (that I left out of my last post) is to get my music website back up so it's promoting me properly. In the meantime, I have already been submitting songs to and will keep doing so.

And for those interested, yes, I will make these recordings available to the public as soon as I get them legally copyrighted. It's time to stop giving this stuff away for free.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I hear music

Current goals:

1. Record the instrumental tracks to eight original songs this week with Neal Alger, my favorite guitarist to work with.

2. Record the vocal tracks to those songs (at Handwritten Recordings) next week.

3. Keep submitting songs to with the goal of selling my songs for TV/film placement or to be recorded by other artists (or other uses that earn me money).

4. Spend October, November and December focusing on waiting tables and earning as much as possible towards more recording and more submissions.

5. Cut back on waitressing shifts in January to write/rehearse/record more songs.

6. Repeat through -- oh, maybe 2009 -- at which point I'll evaluate if I want to keep doing it.

Focusing on music again, especially earning money with it, feels like the best thing I've done in a long time, occupation-wise. This is right.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Whining, minutiae-filled, boring

On Tuesday I cancelled a chiropractor's appointment I had for that afternoon because my digestion felt fine. Within @#$-damn 90 minutes I had a pain in my right ankle that was bad enough to have me limping. What the hell? But I hesitated to get my appointment back because I'd had so little sleep for the previous two nights: I really needed a nap before my 4:30 work shift began. The appointment or the nap? I went for the nap.

But the ankle didn't feel any better as I left for my work shift. All night, with every step, the pain reminded me of the mistake I'd made in cancelling that appointment. I felt so disappointed in myself. Plus I hate being in pain. Whenever anything bothers me, I constantly worry that it's my fault and it will never, ever go away and it's the beginning of my whole body falling apart and it's my fault.

By the time I limped home last night at 11:00 p.m. (having earned $35 dollars for my trouble) I felt so tired and defeated and certain that I had totally screwed up by cancelling that appointment. If only I'd kept it. If only this pain had started an hour and a half earlier, so I wouldn't have cancelled it.

I took a sleeping pill and finally got enough sleep last night/this morning. This week I wasn't scheduled to work today or tomorrow which would probably give my ankle time to heal. But on Monday I picked up a shift for tonight. And last night, determined to get out of working on Labor Day, I switched shifts with someone and that means I work on Thursday, too. So instead of taking it easy today and tomorrow, I'll have to keep working on this ankle. And then I work on Friday and Saturday nights, too.

I hate myself. I've had cake for breakfast and lunch today.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Well, well. The little brown one has finally toppled. Why is Michael Chertoff the most likely replacement for the attorney general position? How did that happen?

As I was watching a CNN anchorwoman greet two talking heads and ask them their opinions on the Alberto Gonzales resignation, I wondered, "Why do these so-called experts spend time voicing their opinions like this on places like CNN? Is CNN paying them? I doubt it. Are they hawking books? No. So what's in it for them to appear and say things like "President Bush wanted Gonzales groomed for the Supreme Court?"

Did anyone get my reference to George H.W. Bush's long-ago comment about his grandchildren? He said, "These are Jebby's kids. The little brown ones." Anyone?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dream Weight

Photo by my boyfriend, Bob.

For months, maybe even years, I've been thinking that since I'm five feet, two inches tall and shrinking, my ideal weight would be 118 pounds. This weight has seemed variably far away or impossible, depending on my state of fitness. But in the past month, I've been having some health problems that have affected my ability to eat. Unable to consume my usual diet, but not being willing to reduce my daily exercise, I suddenly dropped weight over the course of a few weeks. Sometimes your dreams do come true.

One day this month, the scale registered 118 pounds (see photo). I was stunned. I had reached my goal weight, my floating dream weight! It was a miracle. I felt so happy, so accomplished. My body was now perfect.

Or so I had expected. All those years I had been thinking that weighing 118 pounds would mean all my problem areas would be gone. That's what ideal weight means, right? Wrong. Losing weight in my 40's is proving quite different from losing weight in my 30's. I can no longer count on the weightloss to even out my proportions. I've been trying on clothes and looking in the mirror, trying on clothes and looking in the mirror. It turns out that weighing 118 pounds means I look thin, but my problem area is still solidly there: when I totally relax, I could easily be mistaken for being pregnant. It's the abdominal bulge I've spent my life hating and it's still there, even when the rest of my body is totally thin.

I exercise almost every day for over an hour. I conscientiously stick to 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity, followed by 30 minutes of resistance training, alternating days between arms, legs and core, with pilates thrown in for good measure. I watch what I eat and no one can call me overweight. But even when I lose as much weight as possible, my stomach still protrudes as if carrying a baby. As hard, hard, hard as I exercise and as far below 120 pounds as I can get, I think there isn't anything I can do about this 41-year-old body of mine. It is what it is.

It's sobering to give up the fantasy that there's an ideal weight at which my body will look 20 years old again. There isn't. At this point, the best I can achieve is looking great for a woman in her 40's. If I try to lose weight beyond that point, I'll appear starving and/or like a middle-aged woman who's trying too hard (we've all seen them). Working out every day and building muscle and trimming down and losing all the body fat just isn't going to get me a 20-year-old, hourglass figure, no matter what. I'm 41 and that means that exercising and dieting and self-discipline will help me look great, but not like Jessica Alba.

(p.s. Since reaching the 118-pound mark, my health problems have diminished and my weight has started going back up to its usual point in the 120's. Just as well.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Music for Sale

I decided to be a singer in 1992 (at the age of 26), but it was four years until I wrote my first song. After that, I began performing with friends sporadically and it was several more years before I had a repertoire of originals and a real band. In my most miserable years (my late thirties) I produced the most music: I played open mics and bar gigs, wrote songs about living in the moment and being single and making money, and paid the best instrumentalists I could find to perform and record with me. From 2002-04 I was working a cushy corporate job and had plenty of money for this. I managed to put together nine broadcast-quality songs, although I didn't have the follow-through to actually turn them into a proper CD.

Then I met Bob [lighting change, music shift] and I stopped feeling miserable. I actually became happy and the music stopped. In 2006 I didn't write a single song. For a year and a half I had no performances and my electric bass collected dust. I thought maybe I was done and the music had simply been a coping mechanism.

It is now summer 2007 and after a nineteen-month intermission, I'm making music again, but not for performance. I've realized I don't like performing, at least not the way many bands do it. I don't like bars, smoke, alcohol, being out late and I really can't stand the decibels at which live music is performed. I also don't like the burden of having to generate my own audience: posting flyers, sending out supplicant emails, doing open mic's and acting like the Pied Piper of "Come to my gig!" I'm not good at promotion and always disliked it. Self-marketing, plus the loudness and the lateness of the music scene, completely repel me, so I'm leaving it behind.

I'm now focusing on making recordings of as many original songs as possible and seeing if I can sell them. I've let go of the fantasy of one day hearing my voice on the radio. I no longer want to become even locally well-known if it means more self-promotion and more late nights in loud bars. I've stopped dreaming about being Discovered. For years I've been caught between the desire to be heard and the fear of finding out I'm really no good. Being a great songwriter with an incredible voice has been the most important thing to me and I think it's really hampered me. Terrified of finding out I wasn't a great songwriter with an incredible voice, I've always stopped myself before I really accomplished anything, before anyone could really hear me.

Listening to myself after my nineteen-month hiatus, I'm realizing that I'm not that great a singer. In fact, my singing voice might just be mediocre, but suddenly that feels fine. It no longer feels like my self-worth depends on how good a musician I am or how much people like my music. I don't really know why. I imagine some people aren't motivated until they decide they want to be Great. For me, letting go of having to be Great is finally allowing me to accomplish something.

Now I just want to generate some income from work I've already done. I love the idea of royalties: getting paid for work that's completely accomplished for as long as someone continues to use it. If one of my songs ends up in a commercial, that might mean royalties that stop after a few weeks or months, and many jobs will produce one lump payment. But I'm excited about the possibility of receiving money for an indefinite broadcasting period -- years? Oh, to hit the Gilligan's Island of music royalty deals.

I've joined, a company that supplies music for record companies, TV and film producers, and anyone else who need music for any kind of project. It could be months or years before I make the deal that pays me for music I've written and it's a process that requires great patience and persistence, but so be it. It'll take a couple of thousands of dollars in musicians' fees and recording fees to make these songs market-ready, but I've got to try. I believe it will eventually pay off.

Now I spend a good portion of my days rewriting lyrics, revising charts, practicing my songs and preparing to record them. I've got piles of original songs I've written over the past ten years. Why not try to make some money off of them? I just know there's someone who can use a children's song about being magical, an anthem to atheism, a soliliquy about facing death. Oh, I've got songs. I can supply a ballad about realizing you're middle-aged, a why-does-my-life-suck rant and a driving mantra telling us to "be here now." And I think there's a love song in there somewhere. Songs I got, and there are more where those came from.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yay, August is halfway over

And here I am at the halfway point of August, feeling excited about the coming fall season, which includes one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. Halloween is the most widely celebrated American holiday that does not include any pressure, or even suggestion, to spend time with loved ones. I love that about it. When I was lonely and manless, I appreciated that only on Halloween could I throw myself into the spirit of the ritual, without feeling like a failure because I didn't have any family or lover to spend it with.

I love fall. I love the fall holidays and I love the long anticipation of Christmas. I've been dreaming about November for months and I'm ready to get on with it. This summer hasn't even been good for thunderstorms. I'm very disappinted in how little rain Chicago has had. You won't hear me mourning the end of summer.

Good-bye, August! Good-bye, sunburnt, languid, over-air-conditioned, can't-get-anyone-to-call-you-back, Summer! Well, summer doesn't really end until the end of September, so I'm premature, but I believe it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Help me name my website

In 2006 when I stopped performing my original songs and stopped writing songs and stopped playing bass and singing at all, I seriously questioned whether or not I was "really" a musician and thought maybe it was a phase I had gone through -- in my teens and 20's and 30's -- and I decided to let it go. I had a website I had carefully built with info about me, songs you could hear and lyrics, and when my domain name, "" came up for renewal, I said to hell with it. And I didn't renew it.

Well, in a great surprise to me, it turns out I want to make music again and I'm practicing and writing songs and getting ready to do some more recording. And now I'd like to get that website back up again, but of course "" has been taken and I have to come up with a new address. Any suggestions? I'm brainstorming here:

I don't even know if these are available. Anyone have other ideas?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dennis Kucinich For President

After watching the Democratic presidential candidates in debate, hearing/reading about the candidates in debate, reading through their website and taking in what I can of the presidential race so far, at this point my vote is going to Dennis Kucinich (If the link doesn't work, it's The latest input on the race that I've seen is on Oh No a WoC PhD (Woman of Color PhD) who compares the candidates' latest public appearance. She was impressed by Kucnich and she'd never really considered him before.

I did some fundraising for Dennis Kucinich's campaign in 2004 and I still support him. He's the straight-talker and the one I want in the White House. In 1977 he was elected as Cleveland's mayor (the youngest mayor ever) and he's served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997 (in Ohio's 10 district). He was one of few congresspeople who voted against the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has since voted against funding it. His presidential campaign platform includes the following:

Creating a single-payer system of universal health care that provides full coverage for all Americans by passage of the United States National Health Insurance Act.
The immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq; replacing them with an international security force.
Guaranteed quality education for all; including free pre-kindergarten and college for all who want it.
Immediate withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Repealing the US PATRIOT Act.
Environmental renewal and clean energy.
Providing full social security benefits at age 65.
Creating a cabinet-level "Department of Peace"
Ratifying the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol.
Introducing reforms to bring about instant-runoff voting.
Protecting a woman's right to choose
Legalizing same-sex marriage.
Creating a balance between workers and corporations.
Restoring rural communities and family farms.

Back in 2004 when I compared the presidential candidates, including Howard Dean, I knew Dennis Kucinich was my man and nothing has changed my admiration of and commitment to him. When Andersen Cooper asked (in the July 23rd debate) if the Democrats had failed the American people, Kucinich was the only one who began his answer with an actual "yes." He's consistent in where he stands on the issues and doesn't apologize for his convictions.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Spanish non-Speaker

The other day at work, I was standing near the manager's office. She was on the phone, but turned to me, "Regina, do you speak Spanish?" As I always do at that question, I felt fearful, hesitated and tried to think of how to get out of another opportunity to show what a failure I am to not speak Spanish fluently.

"Uh," I responded. "Kind of."

So instead of handing me the phone, she said, "Well, what does 'mejor' mean?"


"OH!" and she eagerly turned back to the conversation, happy to hear that one of her workers was recovering from an illness. A few minutes later, after she'd ended the phone call, she told me, "You really helped me out there." I thought she was being sarcastic and I felt bad that my contribution had been so paltry. But then she went on, "Just knowing that one word turned the whole conversation around."

She was serious. She actually felt grateful for my translation of one lousy word. I felt better. Maybe I wasn't such a complete failure. At least, not completely.

I wrote about my not-speaking-Spanish shame last year in a post called I'm a Bad Mexican, Part One. I ended that post optimistically, hoping that the complete lack of judgement I get from Spanish-dominant immigrants would counteract the judgement I've received from Mexican-Americans. I've found that American bilingual (Spanish/English) Hispanics tend to harshly judge those of us U.S.-born for whom Spanish has been a difficult second language (judgemental idiots).

It turns out the acceptance I've received from Spanish-dominant immigrants might never heal the shame I've had for almost 41 years. Sucks.

(Actually, for an American my Spanish is very good. I've got the vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, syntax, etc. But the psychological block of always thinking, "I'm going to blow it and look like an idiot and shame My People" is always there every single time I start to speak Spanish. And it sinks me every time.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On Hillary Clinton

Yesterday I received an email from an organizer of the local Kucinich campaign, saying that if anyone wanted to attend the Democratic debate being held in Chicago tonight, August 7th, they should email him by last night. I was scheduled to work tonight, so I didn't even respond.

Then at 2:30 today I got a call from work: a gas leak in the building forced my restaurant to close for the night. This bizarre and rare occurrance means I'm not working after all, but what good does it do me now? If only I had responded to that email yesterday.

Anyway, I like the political analysis of a blogger called Profbwoman. She considers Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy and writes,

When the desire for power supersedes commitment to representing the best interests of the people and providing them with the basic needs to live lives relatively free of oppression there is no well-worded speech nor biological argument that should supersede the people from choosing a candidate that does represent them.

It is not anti-feminist to look long and hard at Hillary’s track record and find her lacking. It is not anti-feminist to demand that when we have a woman running the White House she represents the least among us better than she lines her economic and political pockets.

This is preceded by very specific criticisms of Hillary's words and actions in the recent and-not-recent past, including how she changes her stand on issues such as the Iraq war, depending on popular opinion. Profbwoman says it better than I, so take a look.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Birthday presents

A friend had a birthday party and on the invitation she put,

No gifts, please. But if you don't feel right coming to a birthday party without a gift, contact So-and-So to contribute to a gift certificate to my FAVORITE spa (it's all I want for my birthday!). But really no gift is necessary.

She did this in order to prevent people from giving her things she doesn't want or need, like candles and gift soaps, etc.

Some contributed to the spa certificate and some did not and that was fine. But some people came to the party with gifts they had bought. One brought cologne, another brought an expensive candle, another a bath gift basket. In other words, they brought exactly what my friend didn't want.

Am I wrong to consider those that brought the gifts inconsiderate since they didn't follow her wishes? Why would someone try to go shopping for something the birthday person will like when she's told them point blank that there's only thing she wants? Did the gift-buying people not read the request or did they think contributing to a gift certificate was too impersonal and thoughtless? I think getting a gift other than the only thing the person wants is thoughtless.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

July 23 Democratic Debate

At this point of the 2004 election season, we were months away from any Democratic presidential candidate taking the lead and looking like a likely nominee. I just can't get over how ahead of schedule we are to have Obama and Clinton (and Edwards, kind of) already being the clear front runners.

To prepare for the July 23rd debate, I went online and looked at the websites of Obama, Clinton, Edwards and - my hero - Dennis Kucinich. I was impressed by the level detail of Edwards' plans for the economy, Iraq and the environment. I was really impressed with the thoroughness of Clinton's health care ideas. Based on the websites alone, I'd be looking at Clinton and Edwards as my main choices.

Then I watched the debate. I still wish John Edwards' words captivated me a tenth as much as his physical appearance does. I like looking at him so much I wish he'd give me a reason to vote for him. But he never did in 2004 and he still doesn't now. Why? I don't know. His assertion that we can eradicate poverty in the first half of this century is optimistic and wonderful, but I seriously wonder if it's true. Wouldn't we have to completely overhaul the very economic structure of society in order to eliminate poverty? Doesn't the existance of a middle class depend on the existance of a working class? Isn't the United States sort of like the bell curve of an algebra class? In order to give ten people A's you have to give ten people failing grades, right?

I thought Clinton looked and sounded great at the debate, but I can't get it out of my head that she's part of the problem. As a senator, she hasn't impressed me by sticking her neck out for her convictions no matter how unpopular they are. She's demonstrated the same inability to admit the mistake (the MISTAKE) of backing the Iraq war as Prez Bush has demonstrated. Is Hillary Clinton "Bush-Cheney lite?" It looks like it. At any rate, while Clinton shows great campaign strategy, great beauracratic attention to detail and all the marks of a born politician, I haven't seen the passionate conviction I want in a president. What does Clinton truly believe in? On what issues will she not budge? What really matters to her, deep down? It's not just that I don't know these things about her, it's that by this stage we should already be able to see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice, feel it in her presence. But I can't and that makes me question her humanity and trustworthiness.

Obama has the passion and conviction I'm looking for and the plans detailed on his website back up that he's thinking in a way I can understand. I appreciated that he said he'd meet with formerly shunned world leaders like those of Venezuela, Iran, North Korea and Cuba (Cuba). I don't know why Clinton makes a big deal about needing conditions first. The United States has a long history of treating governments it doesn't like with sanctions that don't work, refusing to recognize them which doesn't work, and refusing to meet with their leaders, which doesn't work. If any of these tactics actually caused other governments to shift in the directions we want, the world would look very different.

Take Cuba, for example. Despite our best efforts to isolate it economically, asassinate its leader and bring it to its knees until it's begging to become a capitalistic democracy, it hasn't. Maybe it's time to start treating it as the successful, established government it is and not like a rogue state.

Clinton's answer to the world leaders question seemed fear-based and cagey to me. Obama's attitude of wanting to treat nations with respect felt much better.

I must say there are a couple of Democratic presidential candidates who aren't going anywhere, but whose presence I appreciated anyway. Mike Gravel came across as a cranky old codger, but he wasn't afraid to call stuff out. He called Obama out on some of his campaign contributions and Gravel repeatedly complained about how much more airtime certain candidates were getting, at the expense of others, like Mike Gravel. You go, Mike! Good for you! And then there's my favorite candidate, Dennis Kucinich. I voted for him in the 2004 primary, reluctantly switching my focus to John Kerry only when his was the only train leaving the station. On July 23rd Dennis was one of few candidates who answered yes or no questions with a yes or no (Edwards was horrible about hearing the question and then rephrasing it to his own ends -- "The question really is..."). When Anderson Cooper asked if the Democratic party had failed the American people, others talked around the question. Kucinich actually said, "yes" before he gave his longer answer, and I thought "Yay, Dennis! Break it down."

I understand some candidates (Edwards) would like to see the debates limited to the big-money candidates (although that's obviously not the stated reason). I say, no! We need candidates like Gravel and Kucinich to keep the discussions grounded in the actual questions. The hot air that gets blown around can pull us off topic.

And on the subject of personal sacrifice for environmental concerns, Cooper asked everyone to raise their hand who had come to the debate in a private jet. Everyone raised their hand except for Gravel and, my hero, Dennis Kucinich.

[Go here for a complete transcript of the debate]

Saturday, July 28, 2007


My father tells a story that has a certain ending, even though he tried his damnedest to make it turn out differently. He recently wrote:

In 1962, I decided to make a month-long circle tour of Europe, i.e., London, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Rome, Nice, Madrid and Paris (the roundtrip fare was only $650.00!).

I had all my hotel and flight reservations made in advance. At one point during the trip I called the airline, AirFrance, to double check on my flights, especially the last one from Paris to New York/Houston. At one point they told me that I was to be changed to another flight out of Paris. I protested this since I had made my reservation months before, plus I wanted to keep to my schedule. They would not relent. From different cities I called AirFrance to try to persuade them to allow me on that original flight. They said, “No. That flight has been taken over by a group so it is no longer available, you have to go on a later flight" (that same day). Even when I got to the airport that day I still argued with them but to no avail. I had to watch "my" flight take off without me.

Well, my new flight was delayed, delayed and delayed and they would not tell the passengers why. When we finally landed in the U.S. I found out why the flight had been delayed. There had been an airplane crash. Soon after take-off “my" plane had crashed. There were no survivors.

Imagine: if my dad had succeeded at getting on that doomed flight, right now I would be -- not. I wonder what never having been born would feel like. Most people think it sounds bad, but I think it might be just fine (and there are certainly times in my life when I would have preferred it). (But not now.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today I am 41...

...and I'd love to publish that updated photo of me that I published in a post on July 19th, but it's not working. I'm using the link (from when I go into "edit posts" mode) that starts with "img" as blogger suggests, but when I try to update my profile, I get a message saying that link contains illegal characters. Even though it's from blogger's own code!! Any suggestions? A solution would be a great birthday present.

Fear of Men, pt. II

In response to the comments on my last post:

There used to be a social expectation that gentlemen greet ladies, such as with a tip of the hat, without any encouragement from the ladies? Why? How does this show respect? Respected is the last thing I feel when a male stranger says hello. I feel insulted, as in "How dare he presume I could be sexually interested in him?"

But this discussion is beginning to show me that maybe I've been wrong in assuming that all men are sniffing around for sex at all times. Maybe these unsolicited greetings are actually polite. Some of them anyway. How do I tell the difference? A couple of times I have responded to a greeting only to have the guy start a conversation and then I really felt like running away. How do I avoid that? How do I tell the difference between a "tip of the hat" and a guy who wants time and attention?

Someone who tries to chat me up in a bookstore or bar is not what I'm complaining about here. In that case, I can easily make it clear that I'm not interested. I'm talking about two strangers passing each other on the street when all they know about each other is what they can physically see at that moment. Why does any exchange at all have to happen? Why can't we all just leave each other alone?

I'm having SUCH a hard time accepting that this isn't all about sex. What does that say about me? That I'm an egomaniac who believes the whole world is attracted to me? That I'm so full of myself I can't imagine a casual greeting that's unmotivated by sexual desire?

I appreciate Mary reminding us that some men count on women not wanting to be rude. I've had men sit too close to me on the train and I've felt that conflict between, "I've got to get away from this guy. But if I move, he might be insulted, like I think I'm too good to sit next to him." As stupid and absurd as it sounds, that's exactly how women get taken advantage of or assaulted. I once had a guy masturbating next to me on the el, and I actually debated in my head for a minute, "Is he really doing that? I should move. Wait, maybe he's not and I'm imagining it. I should stay. No, he's really jacking off. I gotta go. No, wait. Um, okay, I'm moving." Women are so trained to not offend others we can really end up in bad situations.

That's why I'd rather err on the rude side. I'd rather assume the worst of people rather than then best because it's safer. Can anyone argue against that? Can anyone convince me that it's actually safer and in my best interest to answer strange men on the street when they greet me (instead of pretending I didn't hear them which is what I do now)?

(Tom, is it really possible they're just tipping the hat? I have such a hard time believing that!)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fear of Men

It's 1:20 a.m. on a Friday night and I'm almost home from working the dinner shift. I'm getting off the train and as I head towards the stairs that lead down to the sidewalk I hear an unknown man's voice behind me saying, "I see you at the gym."

What would you do? Turn around and say, "You do?" or "Are you talking to me?" Or "Excuse me, do I know you?" Whatever your words, you might at least turn around. I don't even glance back. I don't even consider glancing back. My response is the same as when any male stranger tries to talk to me at any time: I pretend I don't hear and keep walking. It's not because it's after 1 a.m. or because I'm alone or because it's creepy to hear a stranger address you so closely and casually. It's because I am afraid of all men, all the time. In broad daylight, with plenty of people around, when I'm in a good mood, I respond the same way. "Hello!" a man will sometimes say to me, or "How are you today?" or "Hello, fellow Bally member!" (this guy has spoken to me once before at the same el stop). Nothing in my demeanor, expression or gait reflects that I've even noticed that anyone's speaking. I just keep going. Sometimes the guy will switch to Spanish, thinking I'll want to talk in that language. "Hola, señorita!" he'll try, which only gets the same response, plus me thinking to myself, "Idiot."

This is how I behave in public. At the age of (almost) 41, I act as if I were ten, following my parents' strict instructions to never talk to strangers. Sometimes they really are just trying to be neighborly and wish me a "Good morning." I still ignore them. I figure, if everyone's so nice and neighborly, why do only men address me this way? I rarely pass a female stranger who tries to greet me. In fact, I don't know if I've ever had a woman I didn't know try to tell me hello on the street. It's really only men.

And that makes me feel hunted and unsafe. I hate this attention. Sometimes when I'm walking towards a man and he's about a half a block away from me, I'll feel his eyes on me. If I glance at his face, he'll take the eye contact as an invitation or acknowledgement and then he's more likely to say hello to me. Why? Why does a man stare at me and then when I look back for a quick-quick glance, he takes that as his opening? Why?

So I make a point of not looking at men when I walk down the street. But sometimes even when I don't look, they still talk to me. I really hate that. How dare they speak to me? I've given them no opening, no invitation, no reason at all to think I might like to talk to them. So why do they say hello, good morning, how are you? Why?

It feels like a game, with men trying to get me to return their greeting and if I do, they've won. It's like they just want my attention, even for just a second, because if they can get my attention, if they can get me to answer them ("Fine. How are you?") then they're in. And what does that mean? I don't know.

Is it about sex? Are men so relentlessly on the lookout for possible tail at all times that they just constantly say, "Hello," "How are you today?" "Good morning!" "Hola" just in case one of us might actually say, "I'm good. How are you? Can I press my body against you for a little while?"

Am I paranoid? Am I filled with irrational man-hatred? Am I just a hardened California feminist surrounded by all these nice midwestern men who just want to offer me their seat?

I hate when strangers talk to me. I ignore them every time.

Friday, July 20, 2007

too happy to tell that I'm unhappy?

Trying to figure out if I should marry my boyfriend, I'm reading a book on compatibility in relationships and it's making me think that my boyfriend and I are compatible in most important ways, except one: how much we engage in serious conversations about politics, social patterns, global policies, interpersonal dynamics, etc. If I want to talk about an article that shows how men and women are genetically programmed to interact in certain ways, he'll listen, but he doesn't have a lot to say about it. I have to go to other friends in order to get a real discussion going. And I regularly need those kinds of discusssion.

I hadn't been worrying about this, but now I'm imagining that we could get married, but in a few years I'll go, "What am I doing? I need to be with someone who has an analysis of our foreign policy with North Korea!" It could be a long time before I realize how truly unhappy I am because I've been very happy so far. Things have been great. But how can I be happy when we don't think the same way? How can I be happy when we're not having the discussions I need to have? How could I be so happy with this guy when we're not really compatible?

I'm stressed about this and still gaining weight. It's so easy to see how people become obese if worrying about your marriage puts a couple of pounds on you a week. Maybe this has all been a mistake. I was trying so hard not to be one of those spinsters who settles down with someone with whom she's not really compatible just because she's so old and tired of being alone.

I thought I was happy, but maybe I was wrong.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

updating my photo

The photo on my profile is over three years old and since my birthday is next week, I figure this is a good time to update it. This photo was taken on moving day, April 29th. It's hardly representative of my usual mood, but it's recent. (Can you look at the two different shirts I'm wearing in these photos and tell what my favorite color is? Yes, they are two different shirts.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Grow old(er) with me

Ah, middle-aged love. That's me and my boyfriend, who can't even pretend to be in the first flush of life. My birthday is coming up in one week and I'll be 41. We moved in together this past spring and co-workers have asked me if we'll be getting married. Is that question only strange to me? I thought most couples either got married OR moved in together. We've moved in. I've also heard that couples who move in together might be great for years, but if they get married later the relationship goes to hell and they end up divorcing. I've witnessed this. It's like their relationship stablizes and thrives when they live together, but then getting married changes the dynamic and -- I don't know -- fear takes over? The horror of staring "til death do us part" in the face?

I'm ambivalent about marriage, by which I mean that I feel pretty strongly in both directions. I feel strongly that marriage would be a noble goal for me since it would mean I am lovable, normal, mature, a full adult. I want to be all those things. At the age of 41, I'd love to be able to say, "I am an adult." I can't do that while I'm still referring to "my boyfriend" instead of "my husband." The two of us are certainly OLD enough to be husband and wife. Why don't we get on with it?

I also feel strongly that marriage is a cultural construct, used to organize societies and establish paternity, inheritance, familial ties, political alliances, etc. It's a legal arrangement that may or may not be useful to me personally. I'd be eligible for my man's health insurance coverage, but I'd also take on his debt. Practically speaking, I'd do well to consider all the legal and emotional consequences of becoming a "Mrs."

I also feel strongly about the title "spinster." I like being a spinster. I like startling people with it, since I think of it as a positive (or at least neutral) term. Why not spinsterhood? Let's all (women) remain single for as long as possible until we are reasonably sure marriage will bring us more benefits than problems. Let us all view the altar with skepticism and clear eyes. Falling in love is an emotional experience over which we have little control. Getting married is a legal state we should consider with level-headedness. Oh, that more people did.

Although being countercultural appeals to me, unfortunately the myth of marriage - that it leads to happily ever after, establishes your adulthood and is a goal worthy of all your time and effort -- has worked on me, too. I fear I remain stunted and arrested in my life progress as long as I wear no wedding ring. No wedding ring?! Also, one of the main reasons people get married, to have children, doesn't apply since neither my boyfriend nor I wants kids.

Are my (44-year-old) boyfriend and (41-year-old) I going to get married? My question back is, how long should we live together before we decide?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yay, July is halfway over.

It seems like I was just celebrating June being half gone and now July is. Let's see, what's happened since then? I was fired. I gained weight. I started thinking about yet another job search. Okay, I hope the next four weeks are better.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

this explains the bubble popping image

I finally told my boss at the restaurant that I lost my other job and am available for more shifts (for now). It's very weird to explain to your boss that another boss fired you and you can't even say why, especially when she (the restaurant general manager) considers you one of her top servers. She just looked shocked and confused. I felt bad all over again.

But I'm okay and now that I've recovered my confidence from my bad Bubbles Academy experience (There! I wrote it! That's the place that treated me in such a suspicious way! Bubbles Academy, Bubbles Academy in Lincoln Park, Chicago!), it's time to decide what kind of job I'm looking for. Another position similar to that one: being a teacher of music to young children and/or babies? A similar but different kind of music job? Do I want to teach at all?

The ideal, of course, is to get paid for doing the thing I love doing the most: singing. The baby music teacher job did that, but in addition to singing I also had to do a lot of other stuff. A lot. How could I get paid to sing without so many other plates to keep spinning in the air? (rhetorical question, not really looking for an answer)

By the way, is it still possible to look me up and download my songs on and (real question, looking for responses.) I set up pages and uploaded songs on those websites years ago, but I don't know if they're still accessible and available. I remember I had trouble getting onto them with my browser.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I was just over at Mr. Underhill's blog, When you're burning in hell, I'll ask Jesus if I can send ya some koolaid, and he tells a story that includes some bizarre blogstalking. I've heard of bloggers getting stalked (receiving emails, having the weirdo monitor your comments on others' blogs, etc.) by someone who became completely obsessed, even to the point of the blogger having to delete their blog to break the connection. I'm grateful this has never happened to me. It's actually kind of odd to me that it hasn't, since I include my photo, full name and city on my homepage. Maybe the stalkers pass me by because I've made it too easy?

Also during my depressed, lonely, manless years, I dated about five million guys, all of whom I told about my blog. I'm lucky none of them has given me more attention than I wanted. What luck that I'm much more obsessed with myself than anyone else.

(Can you tell from all these posts that I have some extra time and energy these days? Clearly there's a correlation between how unhappy I am and how much I blog. When I'm totally happy, you rarely hear from me.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

thank god I don't believe in him

These rough two weeks after being fired have made me grateful for one thing: that I don't believe in a god. Growing up I believed in a Catholic god, but had no clear idea of what that god was like. At the age of 19, as I put it in one of my songs, I gave Catholicism up for Lent. For several years I believed in nothing and didn't care.

In my 30's I joined a New Age spiritual community called Unity in Chicago. During that time I developed a very specific belief system. Now I'm not saying this is what anyone else believed or that this is what Unity in Chicago was teaching in any way. It's just what I got out of my spiritual experience at that time in my life.

What I believed was this: there's no heaven or hell, and "God" isn't an external patriarch with human qualities (like jealousy or pleasure) that judges us or moves us around like chess pieces. There is a god force that exists in everyone and everything. We are all participants in the dance of the Universe and the only "sins" are the errors we make. If we remain open at all times to divine guidance, we will naturally move in the direction of our highest good. Everything happens for a reason. We can find "the good" in any experience.

That's all crap to me now. It turns out I'm unable to believe in any kind of divine mechanism without suspecting its motivations. I guess this is a trust issue. I don't tend to trust anyone or anything, including "God." While I was an active member of Unity in Chicago I tried to trust this benevolent divine force. When good things happened, I felt grateful to divine guidance. When bad things happened, I suspended my anger and bitterness because I wanted to look for the life lesson, "the good," the ultimately positive reason that this bad thing happened.

Then I had a personal family crisis. Then my boyfriend and I realized we didn't want the same things and broke up (very bad when you're 35 and never-married). Then I had another personal family crisis. Then 9/11 happened. Then the job I loved so much disappeared after Arthur Andersen was indicted for obstruction of justice. This all happened in one year. I spent that time holding on to my faith, suspending anger and bitterness, and looking for the good. Oh, I wanted to believe the good stuff was going to come clear at any minute. I wanted to believe this would all make sense. Then I fell in love with a man who didn't tell me he was married. And finally the anger and bitterness took over and I pitched everything I believed (or had been trying to believe) out the window.

I've been doing much better since I re-embraced atheism. I feel much freer and less fearful now that I believe it's just us here: no god, no divine energy, no angels, no spirit guides, no saints, no highest good. It's a godless, random universe and that means that sometimes there's a reason for stuff happening and sometimes there isn't. And sometimes really incomprehensibly horrible things happen and there's no "good" to be found in the experience. It's just the worst of how life goes.

I find much more peace in this understanding of how the world works. I'm too willing to believe that if there's a god and bad shit is happening to me, it's because the god doesn't care about me, or it wants to do me wrong. It's not good to believe in a god that's screwing you over, so I'd rather believe in no god at all.

I guess this makes me weak in faith, but people whose faith is strong, even in the face of extreme loss and unimaginable pain (I think of those who still believe in "God" even after 9/11, the 2006 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, etc.) are people I will never understand.

Bobbing to the surface

After two weeks of feeling bad about getting fired, eating cake, putting on weight, soliciting the opinions of friends and blog readers and trying to listen to the comments that made sense, I think I'm recovering my confidence. Some have told me they believe this wasn't just about my performance; they think there must have been other circumstances contributing to my firing. I have to consider this when I think of how much of time passed between receiving my job performance reviews and getting canned. Usually an employee will receive an initial evaluation, even a poor one, and be given some amount of time to improve. My 11:00 a.m. class was observed, after which I received one person's review, and then my 2:00 p.m. class was observed after which I received a second person's review. By 11 a.m. the next morning I received a phone call to set up a time for me to come in and meet with a third person, which was the person who fired me. From the distance of two weeks, I think this sequence of events suggests they were in a bit of a hurry to let me go, either because I sucked that bad or because they suddenly needed my position open or because they were receiving some other kind of pressure to give my classes to a replacement.

In any case, I have no way of knowing exactly what happened, so it's time to stop assuming that I sucked that bad. If there's anything to be learned from this experience, it's that I shouldn't take all the responsibility for a situation that is unclear, especially if there's no way to ever make it clear.


This week I start putting together a new plan of action to find another job (and lose some weight). I will consider if I want to work with children, if I want to teach, how far I'm willing to commute, how the place feels to me, and how much initial training and ongoing support will be available to me. I'd also like to know what system they have in place for giving (new) employees feedback and monitoring improvement. I need to remind myself that I've done best at jobs with solid corporate structure and protocols for training, performance reviews and termination. I like clear rules and above-board explanations. I don't do well in situations where expectations are more fluid and supervision is less consistent, as is often the case with many (but not all) small businesses where the owner runs the daily operations. If it's an organization where we all wear many hats and sort of figure things out as we go and everyone's a troubleshooter, I tend to get confused and overly dependent on the approval of the boss, who's the only one empowered to make final decisions. This has been MY experience. I'm sure others have had completely different ones.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me through this rough time. I really appreciate all your words. Onward.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fired from music

Today I woke up after four hours of sleep and suddenly remembered that I have friends who earn money in some way from the vocations they have chosen (art and music) and I did too, but then I got fired. I've been fired from my musician job. I'm sure it's just as well since I was in over my head and if I were still working there I'd be really stressed right now since this week begins the new term and I would have had a dozen new songs to learn, including some to learn on guitar. Plus I'd be working in this high pressure situation in which I'd be aware I wasn't doing the job they wanted and I'd REALLY better freaking RELAX right NOW. It would have been bad.

But I don't know what to do now. I really don't think I should try to get another baby job. Why don't I take a hint? It's time to start finding and talking to people who are doing musician jobs that I AM qualified for, or that at least I could actually do. I guess my confidence is pretty shot right now. What can I do? I don't know anymore. Of the 18 (make it 19) jobs I've had since I left grad school, half have been jobs I didn't have the background for, but was able to figure out as I went. That's how this job was supposed to go, but it didn't. Am I unable to do that anymore?

I feel old and untrainable. I feel discouraged.I spent $1500 on a life coach and worked hard on all the steps and all our work got me to that job as a baby music teacher. I wasn't supposed to be left with a waitressing job, a $1500 hole in my savings account and the knowledge that others are earning money in their fields but I'm not because I was fired. I was fired from a music job. Who cares about being fired from a deskjob or a babysitting job? But I have now been fired from music. I think it's time for another cake.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Okay, maybe I was being unrealistic by thinking that Libby would actually serve as an example of how the Bush administration has got to stop f$%*-ing with the law, the Constitution, etc, but damn. I guess the only way anyone's going to be held responsible for anything is if they're prosecuted after Bush leaves office. I wonder how long it will be til that happens...

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Michael Moore's movie runs a little over two hours, but I made it through the whole film without once having to leave the theater because of nausea! I was twenty years old the first time I noticed that seeing a movie in the theater caused me to feel queasy. It's gotten worse over the years and more than once I've had to rush to the women's room to throw up, missing a significant part of the film. Now I've learned when to leave and walk the lobby or hang out in the women's room (or any place I can go that doesn't reek of fake butter), which lessens the nausea so I don't have to lose my dinner. I also try to go with someone I can ask, "So what happened when I left?" But mainly I just don't go to movies. In the past three years I've seen about three movies in actual theaters.

So I fully expected to miss part of Moore's film, especially since he uses a lot of hand-held camera work (the worst for my motion sickness). But I didn't. I actually sat through the entire film and heard every minute of it (one of my techniques for watching movies in theaters is to look away from the screen as much as possible). It's miracle!

Was this movie made palatable by all the time Moore spent on people's health care stories without stepping onscreen himself? Was it his comparisons of our criminal health care system with the much more humane ones of Canada, England and France? Was it Moore's coverage of 9/11 rescue volunteers who now receive no medical care for their rescue-related illnesses? Was it the bravery of Moore and three of those workers as they sailed to Guananamo naval base, seeking the unlimited health care that detainees receive? Or maybe it was seeing the Cuban doctors (the Cuban doctors, for chrissake) step up and finally give the 9/11 workers the care they needed?

I don't know. It's really incredible that this movie did not make me throw up when I consider that it also featured stories of people dying because of denied medical coverage and showed that hospitals regularly send people off in taxis to be dropped off on the street when they can't pay their medical bills. There was plenty to make me heave. I guess Moore's film is homeopathic.

I strongly recommend this movie. Maybe it would be good for hangovers, too. And if I had seen it when I was lonely, manless and depressed, I might be married to a Canadian right now (if you'd like to consider marrying a Canadian for their free health care, go to