Job Seeking for Idiots — 2011

 Some of you might or might not know that I spent a good deal of my professional lifetime writing résumés for people. I executed documents mostly for business and creative folks in the fashion industry – mid-to-top-level management – but also for other professionals (lawyers, medical doctors, psychiatrists/psychologists), students, and more. Early on I got a reputation for taking badly written single pieces pages with random data and turning them into viable, strong job-search materials that got people jobs, and more often, made them think about who they were, what they really did, and where they wanted to go in their careers.

Talk about a gratifying gig –I worked for myself after “apprenticing” myself in a large national résumé writing company that at the time was the only operation that offered this service. Though the owner was truly nuts to think this kind of service was viable and profitable, he gets a lot of credit for this vision. He had three types of people working for him – 1] sales people who were between good sales jobs; 2] writers and other artists (I replaced the timpanist!) who needed a gig to make money – the writers to practice their craft; 3] people like me, both writer and salesperson, able to sell the product and know what they were talking about re: language, organization, grammarwhat a concept!! Today there are hundreds of these companies; some owned by individuals who want to write and do not know what else to write so they can make a living. I am guilty of sorts at being that kind of résumé writer, but have to say this form taught me how to write barebones. My late-bloomed college coursework and truly innovative teachers brought poetry and other artful skills to my execution of language, with a greater critical thinking to my reading and writing.

The other truly unique fulfillment of this work was the ability to provide people with a sense of themselves they have never owned. I’d see light bulbs go off every time I finished a project (still do). It was as if for the very first time these individuals saw their worth. I was adamant they tell me the truth about their work and the things they achieved. One woman client, a truly remarkable person was a death camp survivor who father was a well-known composer in Europe in his time. With a background mostly in charitable work she felt she was not capable of finding “real” work. Her humility was terrific but over the top; she never saw the value of the work applied to other circumstances. In interviewing her deeply, the document I wrote for her enabled me to flaunt her true skills, allow those reading her résumé to best understand how her confluence of skills could work for their companies. Like many clients she became a repeat customer; I also got a lot of referrals from my clients because the work I did was constructive.

The most frequent line I heard after finishing a résumé for someone was: “I’d hire me!!!” In my long-time career in this area, I’ve created some great tools, and executed ideas that made employers think about the people they were hiring. The notion that people began to understand their worth was key.

Fast forward to this facockta (Yiddish for really crappy!) marketplace.

I am appalled at the continual contradictions so-called HR experts currently make in all their articles on résumé writing. Yesterday I read an article touting the top five résumé mistakes specifically stating that Times Roman as a job-search document font was passé, that résumé writers need to check into more interesting fonts; today the same “expert” claimed TR as the perfect font to avoid overdesign.

HUH???!!! (BTW, I hate Times Roman and use Garamond whenever possible or Ariel Narrow — elegant or straight-forward is the way to roll.)

Instead of over-writing the topic, these guys ought to make sure they read their own previous posts so they do not look like their agenda is more important than the information they give to poor job seekers. Looking for work is hard enough these days…doing it wrong in the eyes of such authorities is daunting especially for older workers who have real knowledge and capability yet are subject to ridicule by no-nothing “experts” who only have opinions — they have no research, no documentation and no clout in this field – they themselves more likely are unemployable.

I get that résumé styles have changed — but we seasoned (a deadly word on a résumé I’m told but I am not 12) résumé writers are slow to make changes suggested by people who cannot consistently back their opinions. Most articles I read now about résumé writing provide no real data; they merely show the view of the article writer; I find even employers are telling people things they themselves do not understand. My feeling is that no one knows how to get a job right now because those on the other side don’t know who they want to hire. OR why.

It is disconcerting, disheartening and disgusting.

I have always told clients to communicate their skills and accomplishments on résumés to  propel their careers/job searches. That started 30 plus years ago — why is this suddenly the right view???? I cannot be the only person who functioned in HR that thought this. I used to chat up my recruiter friends to get their opinions since they were in the trenches, too, trying to help companies fill positions and candidates get jobs.

An old client, Annie, called me about a year ago asking me to redo her résumé. I had not — as with many of my clients — seen her in quite a while. The original I wrote for her was a really great template résumé: she was able to tweak it until she needed a new POV, a new fresh take on her career. This is where I shine. She’d submitted her documents to a website proclaiming to find jobs for professionals in the $100K plus bracket. The writer for that group wrote a critique of her resume that upset her so much she came running to me to redo the document – she DID NOT give him her business. Why? Because the idiot was hell-bent on telling her what HE thought about her résuménot how he could intelligently fix it. He was rude, obnoxious and so desperate for her business that it never occurred to him to give her solutions. I probably charged her more than he would have but then I knew what to do and how to do it to get her results; we’ve been working together for 20 years and she trusts me.

Last summer a potential new client, a young engineering student in the Midwest found my website and called to get writing tips for his résumé. We spoke for two hours because I was anemic and all I could do was talk copiously (surprise!!!). The conversation was a pick-me-up for me as I had been lolling around doing nothing, horribly bored despite my exhaustion. It also educated me further to the idiots on parade claiming to know anything about HR. At a job fair each employer told Jake something different about his résumé – none of them told him anything of value; they basically made stuff up.  I call this reinventing the wheel. Poor kid was so confused. He lucked out finding me – tho I was not looking for work because of my illness I opted to do his document because I knew it’d be simple and help him. Turns out the changes I made to his résumé got him the internship desired and the employer in turn hired him full-time after he graduated – I know because he took the time to call to tell me…

I vent verbally and rant frequently on this subject –it’s not personal; it is about all the writers on this topic who are misinformed and who misinform their readers. People need jobs and if 10 people tell you 10 different ways to write a résumé or how to conduct a job search then that proves there is no consensus and or intelligent thinking about the subject. I find this bothersome: to jobseekers; and to those of us who aim to truly help jobseekers find new paths.

It’s 2011 — don’t let the idiots get you down!!!

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Shtiklekh for a Christmas Eve

shtikl (shtiklekh):  little piece[s] (of something), a morsel; trick – http://www.yiddishdictionaryonline.com  

What’s a Jewish girl to do on Christmas Eve? I am not expecting copious amounts of gifts – nor am I giving any this year either so there is no frantic wrapping (my favorite task actually) or concerns in this area.

I was actually invited to dinner by one of nephew Hats’ good friends – a nice Italian boy cooking macaroni for friends and family. But though I might’ve loved the company and the food, I felt too settled in to get dressed to go anywhere, even around the corner. Typically I love being spontaneous – jump at the next great thing to come along — but I am actually spending the night throwing things out (a very hard thing for me to do – tho not a hoarder I am a packrat esp. papers) and pondering life in a unique way by doing so. I decided, you see, to have a small gathering to celebrate the holidays/my health, and in order to allow anyone into this abode, it has to be reorganized. This, my friends, is the method to my madness – invite people over then you HAVE to clean….That’s how I roll folks – forced reality!!! Commit first then do the work.

This is a healthy thing to do – organize and make room for the new…isn’t that what a new year is all about???

Yesterday I got a lovely surprise via the US Postal service. My friend Beth J who now lives in Austin, Texas has been following my blog; we reconnected on Facebook earlier this year. Beth and I worked together on the board of an organization for journalists/PR/marketing writers and other creative types back in the day, and we lived blocks from each other so we hung out on occasion. The organization did not survive its never-ending bout of internal politics, but Beth and I remained friends until she moved out of town, then we just simply lost touch as people will do. Each of us was having a tough time professionally, socially and personally, and needed to refocus…

Well, B sent this lovely box filled with little treats – this was a true trove (definition: 1: discovery, find. 2: a valuable collection: treasure; also: haul…) of tiny treasures. Ooooh boy! The energy she put into this collection of toys was palpable and it means so much to me. A lovely blue-toned Japanese-looking silk scarf; a terrific recycled paper fish decoration that is reversible from chartreuse green to ocean blue; two charming small books – one Haiku and another called the “The Heart Book”; a large Ghiradelli dark chocolate bar (do I eat it or bake with it; hmmm, a conundrum…); a 20-point mini-light set for a small area (too cute); tissues with Eskimos and polar bear figures imprinted (even cuter); a mini-mag flash light (the cutest!!! How did she know I’d been wanting one of those????); lovely full-bodied Earl Grey and white teas; a pin with an image of a cat that looks just like the Bengal when she yells at me; a set of shampoos/bath gels for my new hair crop; and last, but far from least, is a charming vintage bleached-white linen handkerchief with the initial “W” on it. The wubblew is pale pink hand embroidery, with French knots surrounding it…so beautiful.

This last treasure — and I do mean treasure – reminds me of the only other personalized handkerchiefs I have ever owned, gifted to me by my paternal Russian grandmother, my Bubba Bessie. Everyone in my family knows the story I am about to impart – each of us has a favorite bubba-meinsa (old wives’ tale essentially) about our Bubba – this is my fave.

I was about eight years old maybe even a little younger. Dad used to take Big Sis and me to relatives homes on our bi-weekly Sundays together – we either went where there were other kids so Dad could relax and we’d have a semblance of family life, or we’d go to Bessie’s house for a good old-fashioned home cooked meal, and some time with my grandmother. Going to Bubba’s was easy for him because we lived close by; the drive home took 5 minutes, if that from her Horrocks and Levick St.corner – I could’ve walked a beeline there from my house in those days. Bessie had been to Floh-ida for a vacation and probably spent the better part of her time there buying presents for her 40-some grandkids. There were many of us since she had had 10 children; the nine born here survived a very poor childhood and spawned this new group, of which my immediate family boasts five siblings. So here we are at Bubba’s apartment and she presents her tschotchkes to us. It could not have been easy selecting gifts for so many of us, in so many different age groups. Yikes!! Or should it be a loud OY??

Now I love to give, but also love to get presents, it could be Ajax cleanser and I’d be happy…what can I say? I’m a cheap date…I gingerly opened the quickly, imperfectly wrapped gifts to discover two bright white handkerchiefs with embroidered “W’s” — one with blue the other with a deep pink threading. Next was the box that every girl knows is jewelry – even at eight I knew this held the real treasure from my grandmother. There though was the real surprise: it was a gold necklace with a heart displaying the letter “V.”

V?

Huh?!!?!!?

I thanked Bubba in an obligatory way – muttering under my breath; this was not a gift that commanded one of those great bear hugs we all so cherished. She went back into the kitchen. Dad read the paper almost in a daze.

“Daddy, WHY did Bubba give me this…??” I whined.

He was taken by surprise; he had no idea I was upset. I showed him the necklace, and he laughed very loudly. I was visibly upset but realized something was going on if he was laughing – which BTW did not stop me from pissily pouting. My take was that Bessie was a grown-up – didn’t she know how to spell my name???

“Hey, Mom, can you come into the living room for a minute…?” he called. “I need to ask you a question.”

Bessie came, spoon held vertically in hand, something dripping from it.

“Voos?”

“How do you say Wendy?”

My grandmother was getting annoyed – she had dinner to cook and her son was asking her this idiotic question – even I could see this dynamic.

“Vendy…” she said angrily.

“How do you say the name Victoria?”

“Wictoria.”

I began to laugh; her pale blues eyes were starting to blaze cobalt: a true sign of annoyance…Dad explained to her in Yiddish why he had asked. Then this large Russian woman and I shared that big all-encompassing hug and laughed together. I still have my “V” necklace – wrapped in my embroidered hankies. I suddenly had this clear picture of my grandmother shopping in some little store owned by another Jewish grandmother telling her she wanted to buy her granddaughter an initialed necklace.

“Vat’s the goil’s name??”

“Vendy…” sayeth the Bubba. And the “V” she got!

So, to all a good night!

To my friends celebrating tonight and tomorrow, I wish you a lovely and very special Christmas…to all who read these essays, I hope that memories like mine glide into your brains and give you great cheer even midst tears.

Besides, I got great presents already – I got stability AND my hair back. Strand-by-strand, curl-by-curl, thick and soft — it’s white, black and gray…so I might look like a zebra when it all comes in….but who’s complaining??

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The Results are In.

I am friggin’ tired.

My trip east was relaxing and fun; just what I needed — time away from my job as a full-time patient with each day spent with one enjoyable person or another doing something special like seeing a musical play/movie, or going to a party or something as simple as hanging out and talking with family. Shopping at Wegman’s was a considerable singular pleasure I must say. (For the gourmet-inclined who live west this is an east coast über-supermarket with all kinds of gourmand-type items both prepared and up for creative inclusion in a new experimental dish!) Par for the course, I digress.

Yes, for those astute enough to see it, I AM dragging out telling you the results of my CT because I need to tell you just how tiring being a full-time patient is. I really do feel good. I feel lucky, too, that I feel this good, that the chemo process has not beat the total crap out of me. That being what I originally expected, because radiation four years ago did just that: I expected a constant battle. BUT what actually exhausted me this last year (along with the fucking low hemoglobin/anemia!) was fear, negative expectations, and well, yes, the constant running around to 12-plus doctors of varied and sundry types. Though now I seem to be down to four docs of constancy, I am still running to UCLA all the time – bi-weekly now rather than almost daily but it still is too freakin’ often…

So I came back West feeling refreshed, peaceful and stress-free; I missed the truly cold weather – yippi-io-ki-ay freakin’ AWE-some – to bring out the winter bedding. The wonderfully rich down comforter I bought some years ago that in warmer weather is a disaster but in this wet winter wonderland (Yes, Virginia, we will have a rainy winter this year!!! Thank GOD!) is absolutely PERfect. I was hoping all this rest and amusement would do just what it did – calm me sufficiently so that I was prepared for whatever the docs told me about my future.

Fast-forward from my trip (or turn backward from now) to two days after I came home. The 2nd CT scan during this chemo protocol – for those who do not know this test tells the medical pros visually what the lymph nodes previously affected look like – are they smaller or larger? Is there new stuff going on??? I actually handled the scan OK but as each day passed anxiety set in. My POV? I felt good, looked good, have maintained a certain level of healthfulness, so the news’d be good, but there is a word in Yiddish (http://www.mishpouka.com/web/yiddish_words.php )Kinehora n: A curse in reverse. A colleague says with best intentions; “Looks like you’re going to get a promotion…” Kinehora! You quickly cover his mouth, for to utter such a thing is to ensure it will never happen.) Kinehora –you spoke waaaaaayyyy too soon, so you don’t speak at all if possible about a particular subject. You knock wood a lot, you make no conjectures or prognostications – you just fucking wait.

I waited and each day a little more anxiety crept into my head; some tears flowed, my cat acted weird (sweet but weird though she had been faced with her poodle relative the night I came home – but that’s another story…I just wish I had photographed their first meeting), and I ate chocolate. Tuesday I wrote the doc an email requesting info…nicely, not in a demanding, freaked out way.

“If you want to let me know what the test results are please feel free to email me back…”

Not a desperate tone, just seeking info I thought. Yea, right. His answer was, as Big Sis sighed, “vague”, but promising and cautious. I made the appointment to see him before I even wrote that note knowing full well he’d not tell me anything unless my face was in front of his.

“Everything looks stable thus good…” was his electronic reply. OK, Stable. A very old friend who I have not seen in 30 years wrote this to me…. waiting for test results is the most stressful thing in the world. your mind conjures up every visual possible scenario you can torture yourself with. however…i would be hanging on to the word stable right now because i like that word. it’s a calm word,”you are stable!”now you’re wondering how stable? if you weren’t stable stable they would have said something like somewhat stable or unstable .so rest, mumella, i think you will be o.k. STABLE.

This was so on the money I laughed out loud – just what I needed.

By Thursday I was exhausted again. And unaware of it. Anxious and fully aware yet not freaking out somehow. I was ready for whatever the hell he had to say. Of course, Big Sis was on the way to St Louis to see her new delicious grandson, with her phone turned off while waiting on a DC runway for her plane to be de-iced a few times (yikes!!) and unavailable, so I made an appointment with my therapist to shore me up if needed. It was NOT needed.

TA DAAAHHHHH!

Bottom line? OK, everything IS stable – most of the nodes are smaller, or at minimum the same. One node keeps rearranging itself like a lithe Cirque du Soleil act — smaller on one side than last time but on another side longer. Some new nodes appeared; my lungs are showing all kinds of crap (from the evil Taxol and 35 years of smoking no doubt…) but none of this, says the doc, is worrisome. I’ll be taking two more cycles of chemo, a preventive maybe even palliative measure, but now that the three-hour drip is gone from the mix this is like taking a bad lunch. (Really bad – the dietitians at UCLA need to clean up their act – when tuna fish sandwiches are horrid and cannot pass my lips you know it’s bad. And apparently wheat bread is out of their lexicon…)

“I never expected you to tell me this cancer was gone.” I share with Doc K. “I know this is a chronic disease. And that is something I can deal with – as long as I win some of the battles, maybe I can get to win the war.”

This from a devout pacifist.

He was relieved – no doubt. I can be a real pain in the ass and he anticipated that but I am a reasonable patient and would rather know WHAT is going on and deal with it than know nothing and be scared all the fucking time. Not a way I can live comfortably, nor will I.

So this IS good news. Great news would be that I am “cured” and the cancer is gone. Not realistic though. Yesterday, interestingly enough, news on my home page showed that the first HIV/Aids patient HAS been cured. It’s taken what, 30 or more years for that? I feel strongly that since cancer is an individual disease; “it” will never be “cured” in a generic way; but each day people’s lives are extended by new scientific findings. I am one of those people. As I’ve said before: Halle-freakin’-lu-jah. (listen to Leonard Cohen sing his song to hear how I really feel … http://www.metacafe.com/watch/sy-17305740001/leonard_cohen_hallelujah_official_music_video/)

And, oh yea, my day was filled with calls from friends who want to know how I am (thanks all) and was capped finally by winning $20 in an online bookstore for touting my most recent favorite book: Cutting for Stone,” a truly remarkable book. I wrote the small capsule review the day before thinking, “other people have already praised this book, I’ll never win,” yadda yadda yadda….Then last night getting my final emails of the day I saw my Daily Dose from Powell’s Books with MY NAME on it. Huh?!?! Too kewl.

How can life be bad when a great book so inspires you to win money to buy more great books???????

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And Now I Wait. Again.

 I’ve been home for under two days and am already directly back in the swing of patient mode. Today was the CT scan that determines my future.

B-u-u-u-u-u-R-R-R-R-R-R-R-R-r-r-r r-p-p-p. Oh, the Berrie Smoothie barium suspension crap just decided to return to consciousness. Yuck. As the technician called me inside for the test today I showed him I was not done with this horrid stuff. He was kind:

“Just take one more sip.”

Music to my ears — I did and it was all over my mouth like a bad milk mustache because I hurried to sip it then close up the container to go into take the dreaded test. Last time I did this was after the third chemo cycle to see whether the toxins conjectured by the docs to heal were really working. They were, they did, and we marched on. Last time though I was a nervous wreck and had my best friend, Fran, and the normally Italian-residing sister, Carolyn, with me for buffers; this time I was only slightly afraid and had the sleepy grown local nephew, Hats, to keep me company.

If my lymph nodes are reduced and other tumors or “materials of concern” gone, then I am chemo free going forward for a while and possibly on the way to remission. If not, there might be two or more cycles to go…and a clinical trial in the wings as it were….who knows where or when (you old folks, can you remember the song from the 1950’s – See the pyramids along the Nile, something something on a tro-pic isle, blah blah blah blah blah, dah dah DAH!!! You belong to me!!!!)

As I’ve said before, this is clearly for me a chronic disease, so there may well be other bouts of chemo I’ll need to go through; hopefully those will be in pill form and less intrusive than these days of chemicals coursing through my body for hours at a time. Times when I’ve had to spend whole days in the chemo lounge, entertained by both the nurses and the other patients. Mostly it was quiet in there, but there were times that were hilarious I must say, thanks to Nurse Amy and some of the other practitioners who were a hoot.

I was so very sorry to leave the East coast and my family this week; I miss them already. Though I tried to see some old friends on my travels I realized this was a trip best served in seeing family. Virginia was a blast and big sis and I traipsed all over though not exhaustingly so, I thought. We went somewhere every day but that’d be no different for either of us each in our own homes: we just did more fun stuff, and I got to meet so many new people my head is spinning. My train trip to Philly was lovely and seemingly short since I spent most of it writing thanks to the advent of technology – and I got to see my brother, his girlfriend, and my niece, whom I almost never see. Then off to the real Jersey Shore to see my kid sister and her family – two high school/college age boys and her hubby (all December birthdays — Happy Birthday guys!!). Then back to Philly and a quick breakfast with a cousin I also never see – her kids were sick and busy, in that order.

For all of this so called running around I now feel refreshed, stronger, and as an added fillip, my hair which grows fast anyway is almost wearable in public – translated that means it almost covers the scalp so that no skin is visible. Yippeee!!! I love my wigs but frankly am getting sick to death of them. They’ll keep me warm, have kept me sane and beautiful, but I’m ready for a change back to normal; whatever the fuck that is….. And ultimately I’m glad to be home again. I am not sure what I’ll be doing next, but writing will be a component whether it is writing a book, in addition to keeping this blog up or doing some kind of marketing writing.

It is now six days since I got home; four days since I had the CT and the only word I’ve gotten so far from the doc is “You are stable thus good…” I am clinging to these words hoping that “stable” means decrease rather than simple maintenance or no growth since the last CT. I’ll know later this week. So now I wait. And I am in a pissy mood because of it despite coming home to lovely, sunny 70-plus degree weather…And the weather has met my mood today – gray, cold and very cloudy. This is true humbug.

And though I do not like to air my political views most of the time, I am getting really pissed off at this moron of a new Speaker of the House, John Boehner. His emotionality and rampant tears are personal and have no place in a public forum. I am sick to death of this manipulation about his being so touched (publicly mind you) how he reached the American dream yet all of his words and potential policies dismiss the middle class, thus many of his constituents and now the rest of this country as undeserving of that dream. So he swept floors as a young man – BFD; so he is thrilled to have become something he never thought he could. I really don’t care. He’s a jackass for all his hypocrisy; tears do not humility make.

And my pissy mood has nothing to do with feeling this way about the new speaker – Barbara Walters nailed him on The View the other day from a very balanced POV – saying that if Pelosi had cried she would have been ostracized greatly for being weak. I agree with her, and hence my analysis that his behavior is manipulative, vulgar and crass. Suddenly men’s tears are viable? Certainly. I am a feminist and believe that all humans cry, male or female, I just do not care for such obviousness.

Nah, Boehner’s tears are just another political ploy and I for one am sickened by it. And guess what? I have what for to be teary (and sick) about…I need no help in this area and I ain’t cryin’ about it. Well, not yet anyway….

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VIRGINIA – Trek Home Part 2

 

Celestial T-day

Thanksgiving

T-day Menu

I literally just got on Amtrak to go to Philadelphia….home the early part of my life. Looking forward to it tho my experience is so different when I come back since I rarely go to the old neighborhood. But I digress before I even start this travelogue.

Virginia this visit has been really fun. Subtle fun – not Raucous Laugh-Out-Loud stuff tho my sister and I have had a few of those…it’s been fun because it’s been entertaining and engaging. Seeing old friends and meeting new people – endlessly meeting new people which I am loving.

 Last Tuesday I went out to see a long-time pal, Jeff, whom I had not seen pretty much since Junior High school; maybe elementary school. Yikes!! We blabbed endlessly about school and our historic cronies, as well as our current lives; we as folks over a certain age will do, we talked about our maladies – that always makes me laugh. But we also shared our political beliefs — great since I rarely get a chance to do that much anymore. Three and a half hours later I was back at Eileen’s refreshed and happy to have connected with someone from my very middle-class simple past. 

The train just left the station and I am greeted by a grey day:  industrial parks and seedy motels line the frontage roads paralleling the railroad tracks. For some reason every time I’ve traveled the east coast by train it’s been grey and damp. I still love it. I remember last time it was sunny and glorious in Baltimore but by the time I got to Jersey it was nasty. Likely it will be that way today but I’m happy to go through it. It’s a visual delight…even tho I’ve missed the ravishing red and gold colors of the trees; I saw a bit of those wondrous leaves then Thanksgiving winds came in. Now they’re gone. All the trees here in Maryland except for piney ones are bare…

Thanksgiving Food offerings

Thanksgiving Offerings

 Wednesday, Eileen and I actually got up early for a noon matinee of “Oklahoma” – speaking of raucous ballyhoo – wow!! What a great production: in a theatre-in-the-square essentially in the Arena Theatre in Washington D.C. The space is relatively new and very exciting incorporating innovative set functions – live plants and set pieces at the top of each seating area; the small orchestra area is raised behind the seats in one section. The performances were stellar and brought to life this very potentially aged and dated play to a modern sensibility. They even added scenes and songs often not used that made the dark side more understandable. The last time I saw it  was on Broadway over 20 years ago…a good rendition, colorfully costumed but honestly it put me to sleep; this version was lively, energized by the talented young cast and their clear love of the process and craft of performance. 

I just saw a big fat lone Cardinal in a treetop perusing the Maryland countryside, a trailer park to the right of the train….houses, mostly freestanding, made of siding; Virginia houses are mostly brick with some siding accents or some stone. Ahhh, row homes – my fave – tall connected brick structures that go a block long before the “building” ends. Semi-detached tall units coming into view. We’re pulling into Baltimore’s Penn Station.

Thanksgiving Surprise!!

Thanksgiving Surprise!!

Thursday of course: Thanksgiving. A late leisurely AM for Sis and me; we slept late, had a nice simple breakfast and I watched “Breaking Bad – Season 2.” Eileen had been invited months earlier to a friend’s who also lives in suburban Virginia in a truly gorgeous home overlooking the Potomac with an incredible skyline of D.C.’s mall – the Washington Monument, The Jefferson, a new strikingly modern building dedicated to international peace, and of course, the Kennedy Center for the Arts. Our late – thank God – 7PM dinner was perfect for girls like us who like to sup. We came in through the cleanest garage I’ve ever seen, and Dumb and Dumber waited what seemed endlessly for the small elevator. This house is five – yes five — stories high and the kitchen is on the top. It finally arrived but getting the thing to open was very tricky for we two idiots.

We walked out into a stunning environment. Mostly tall blonde people dressed in sequins and beads, and a gold and white table that belonged in Metropolis, or Town and Country or Architectural Digest. Smells of the holiday abounded and the welcoming of the group astoundingly lovely, especially to a short casually dressed gal with blue hair.  Admittedly some of these folks had no clue what cubbyhole to place me in, but sooner or later I spoke with everyone. The house is actually two town-homes that Debbie, our hostess, melded together to form one incredible space filled to the gills with glass and metal art to rival a small museum. My seat at the dining table was smack in the middle, on the far side of the table enabling me to gawk at the incredible skyline of D.C. Though I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the party – warm and interesting people, exciting visuals, lively conversation, et al. – I could’ve stared at that distant skyline all night and been very happy.

The best part of the party was the menu and favor pictured here. I never expected to be at a party quite this elegant, enhanced by a continually evolving tabletop that was so exquisite that I did not want to eat to spoil it; but to get a present, too??? The menu opened to a charming antique postcard of a spoon, and was written in calligraphy by the hostess. It sat in front of a lovely antique-style fabric-covered box which, on opening, revealed a beautiful silver serving spoon for berries or nuts. Eileen and I both were so touched by this favor…The food was basic but very good. Lively flavors interacting on the same plate but traditional foods that felt like Thanksgiving – ahhhhhhhhh. (Sorry I missed you Cuz Caveman but this was so cool.)

Friday, I sang for my supper. Tea and scones actually. Eileen hosted a Tea & Tarot party for a small group of her friends, comprising about 15-20 people. She made tea and the lovely edible accompaniments, and I read tarot for each person who wanted a reading. It was a fun way to get to know these people more intimately and do something special for my sister who has done so much for me.

More to come….I’m now ensconced at my brother’s place in Bryn Mawr, PA – and staying in for the day writing, reading, watching TV and enjoying a nice fire while the rain wails outside. My night was spent waking with every new cell of rain pounding on the roof – throughout the morning – smiling with each new bout, pulling up the lovely down quilt keeping me at the perfect temp, knowing that I could simply enjoy the sounds and sights of this downpour and not have to move an inch. The perfect day to reflect on my time away, where I am in my life now and where I might go next…a conundrum. Hmmmmmmm.

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VIRGINIA – Trek Home Part 1

 Monday afternoon. I arrived Wednesday night at Dulles, drove to the boot camp, and had a nice chat with my big sis before partaking in some greatly needed sleep…I barely remember what we did Thursday – oohhhh, Eileen baked my favorite cookies (not for me mind you but for events coming up – her theatre group for whom she markets, parties she will be attending, and other people visiting, et al) and something else…who knows?? Chalk it up to chemo brain I always say these days…

Her best friends from high school visited who were an absolute hoot and charming for me to see after all these years, and that day we opted to go to the Newseum, the museum dedicated to journalism now located in Washington, DC. — http://www.newseum.org/exhibits-and-theaters/index.html. The 4-D orientation film is short but terrific; the chairs that move 20 degrees fore AND aft are stupid and jarring…but I digress. After walking around somewhat I realized there was so much to see and it would be challenging to say the least and very hard at most for someone who has not been in practice to walk a lot; after seeing a man in a scooter I requested one. The people that run this place are terrific and kind – the woman behind the counter helped me immediately seeing my orange hair — she smiled throughout the whole process of explaining how to run the little machine. I am hooked now. I had so much fun driving around on that thing tho my sister thought I was dangereuse!!! (we’d been speaking French all weekend…)

The turtle and the rabbit were the icons depicted on the speed button. I was always at rabbit you understand….the thing still crawled except when I got in the elevators. I was on a bumper car for sure just crashing into the walls. But what a great turning radius!!! The little scooter turned on a dime as the saying goes; I wish my PT Cruiser did that – my pink SUV was far better at turns and far more muscle car. Go figure?! 

After seeing John Dillinger and other FBI captures, Elvis, a wall of journalists, pieces of the Berlin Wall including the Brandenburg gate (maybe a replica — not sure!!!), political cartoons (my fave) and Pulitzer prize winning photos, we came home and readied ourselves for a lovely Italian dinner. I say that but everything on my plate was wrong. The waiter was adorable – his chef was an idiot. The meat I ordered was scarily underdone, the potatoes I asked to substitute became cauliflower, and the mushrooms I said I could NOT eat were ON THE PLATE,  almost covering the meat. The final straw was ordering a decaf espresso — I got cappuccino. I did not want milk; it was easier to drink the damn thing. 

Saturday morning was brunch time with the goils and nephew Adam; poor Adam who is a quiet lovely soul was stuck in a room with four very vocal women. He was lucky to get a word in edgewise. I was so happy to see him though – I haven’t since my last birthday. After company left it was just family: we sat and talked for a bit, called the new baby and his dad and relaxed the rest of the day before going to a party of sis’s friends.

I, of course, dressed in the celestial hair — it was hysterical to see reactions of people. Eileen had not been privy to that part of my reality; she was just as amazed as I at what people did and said. The men were a riot and seemed to like the hair a lot if not freaked by it; the women (all strangers but newly acquired acquaintances to me) were less reactionary but by the end of the night, several of the more astute asked or commented on the reason for the wig. The fact is that I would not be wearing the damn colored hair if I had not lost my own fabulous white stuff. White wiry stuff that is growing back pretty fast but surprisingly with black strands filling in where the others drifted off months ago…One woman, an attorney who regaled us with stories of buying very expensive shoes for nothing via having the patience of a saint waiting for the perfect sale and screw-ups by the store who was stretching them for her (and did not!)  commented:  “You are obviously going through something or would not be wearing that wig even tho it suits you well…I hope you get well soon…” 

That Sunday we went to meet more of E’s pals at a Redskin’s game gathering. Not being much of a football fan I was glad we did not stay long – we had something we had to do tho now a week later I am at a complete loss of memory…I know I spent the better part of the week trying to get her DVD player in synch with her TV…by Friday I just starting hitting buttons willy-nilly on the three remotes made available for the TV, DVD and Cable:  and God said “Let there be ‘Breaking Bad’ “ – It’s a show about a quiet chemistry teacher cancer sufferer who becomes a methamphetamine cooker…great for my imagination….

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Pics from the Trip

The start of our Newseum visit

The Goils

At the Newseum
Elvis & Me at the Newseum

A little tease — not many pics have been taken because I am having too good a time just hanging out with my sis and meeting her cronies. The ladies above are HER old high school buds whom she recently hooked up with from FB….I do love technology.

I met up with an old frind from elementary school and hopefully will be seeing more folks I have not seen in sooo many years.

Until the next post….

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