The Spice Girls

Yesterday, as news broke regarding the resignation of Sean Spicer as White House Press Secretary, I immediately contacted a fellow Washington vigilant – my younger sister Jenny. Since our earliest childhood days, we’ve been news and politics aware (I’ll hardly regret a ballot more than one cast for Reagan in a 1984 kindergarten mock election). But ever since the post-9/11, Fox News-aided ascendancy of modern-day Republican ideology, neither one of us has been able to relax for a moment.

Wound tightly by patriotic and personal concerns involving the war on terrorism, protracted assaults on woman’s reproductive health, the social safety net, voting rights, immigration and rational gun policy, we’ve been busy worrying. The Obama years brought some comfort in the form of a decent, rational if imperfect leader. But even then the Tea Party and other self-styled citizens of the “real America” talked endless, incendiary shit about the President, immigrants, the LGBTIQ and a long-settled woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.

Some of it was more than talk. Jenny and I have paid attention to what’s gone down in the states, including our own. Budget impasses, government shutdowns, disgustingly offensive bathroom laws, innocent citizens of color gunned down by local police. Elections matter and the right has been gaining the macro and micro majorities required to transform America into something less free for “those people” (most of us) – for decades.

My second favorite pundit and I are especially alert, exhausted and afraid for our country in the Trump era. The international shame, ridicule and danger. The proud, illiterate ignorance of our President, the moral and ethical stench wafting from every corner of the White House. But every now and then we’re given a gift of comic absurdity, a small moment of levity that transcends danger into the mere comically sad. So many of those moments have been offered by Sean Spicer these last, harrowing six months. Bless him.

It’s kind of hard to pick a favorite. Writers such as Erin Gloria Ryan have pointed out that Spicey came out swinging for the unintentionally humorous fences:

“Mr. Spicer’s relationship with the press got off to a bad start. Just one day after President Trump’s inauguration, our boy Sean issued a bizarre statement claiming the crowd was the biggest ever. His sagging suit indicated that perhaps he was not the greatest at gauging the sizes of things.”

Her piece in The New York Times yesterday ends with an endearment I burningly wish I’d written first: “Goodnight, sweet wince.”

No matter how insane Spicer’s behavior grew in defense of his probably-bankrupt-in-every-sense boss and the Trump administration, it was a mostly harmless show. We (and here I mean the larger “we,” not just Jenny and I) have long expected slanted spin from the Press Secretary’s podium. Spicey added that special mix of pitiful audaciousness that made his briefings among the highest-rated programs on daytime television. The man hid from the press in the bushes. This is a thing that actually happened. Under the direst circumstances – the running aground of America by a circus clown and his enablers – we need the occasional laugh to keep us going.

What are we to do now? Basically, this was my question to Jenny when I messaged her late yesterday morning. I sent her a link to the Times’ breaking news item about Spicer’s decision to walk away from the madness. She’s a mother of two girls married to a wonderful Muslim-American man. As many readers know, Jenny’s had to take vigilance a step further than some (me) when it comes to protecting her family from rhetorical and legislative threats. Thus she was predictably less flapped than I:

“This should surprise no one.”

Point taken, and yet somehow I was blindsided by Spicer’s move. I assumed that a man who’d spent six months and a day eating shit in front of America on behalf of Donald Trump could survive anything – especially a new supervisor. The moment when one is lulled into the belief that a head can’t be further scratched, The Donald and his team offer a new itch.

In reply to Jenny’s resigned assessment of the latest Friday news twist in Washington, I offered this. Maybe a sign of obscured, but persistent optimism.

“We must be ready for anything and yet because absurdity continues every day, any sort of end of it is still a jolt.”

Spicey was easy to dismiss. A fool who earnestly wanted respect, even if he had no idea how to gain it.  As Forrest Gump said, “Good, that’s one less thing.” Scaramucci, Sanders and their soulless sleaze on the other hand? No more laughing. Just more worrying.

The Case of the Ex (April 22, 2010)

ex-boyfriends

Trying to get settled into my new life (apartment, job, a bundle of freelance projects that seems to grow everyday) has left me exhausted, not to mention woefully ignorant of anything important in the realm of news. I have stayed abreast of pop culture through furtive Blackberry readings of Perez Hilton on my daily commute (cut to image of Boop hanging her head in burning shame). Therefore, instead of one of my signature topical rants, you will keep getting anecdotes from my daily life until I can find time to re-enter the larger world.

My new office, located at Lake and Clinton is, quite literally, a stone’s throw away from one of my former employers, a company called Information Resources. I worked at the consumer spending tracking company from 2005-2007 while completing my Master’s in English Lit. at Northeastern. If you have ever seen the movie Office Space, or are familiar with the similiarly named TV show, The Office, you will be easily able to bring an image of IRI’s employees and work ethic to mind. It is, without the shadow of a doubt, the silliest place where I ever did time. I mean that in the best way. Full of happy hours, sloppy floor parties, hookups, rumor and innuendo, I am not sure much work ever got done. This may be part of the reason the company has gone through massive layoffs since I left, but I digress…

Boop was a single graduate student during her tenure at IRI, and I will own upfront that I was a great partaker in the aforementioned bundle of shenanigans (see paragraph above). My fellow employees and I got on, as Forrest Gump might say, “like peas and carrots.” I had nicknames such as “The Prom Queen,” “The Happy Hour Genie,” and “The Makeout Bandit.” It is all too true. During those freewheeling single days, I did use my place of employment as a de facto dating service. And not unsuccessfully either. Eddie and I met while he was a consultant at the company.

The problem is that some of my failed dalliances remain very much employed at IRI. I like to think I have morphed somewhat into a more respectable person since I left the halls of Information Resources: married woman, graduate, thriving career of sorts. Long gone are the days when I did three or more messy rounds of after work cocktails per week. My liver and gym routines will not allow it.

However, I cannot reasonably expect my discarded paramours to recognize my newfound maturity. So each day in my new role at Illinois Partners contains the same routine: I disembark from the Metra and run like hell for the safe confines of my building’s vestibule. At 5:00, I skedaddle back to the Ogilvie Station with sunglasses firmly in place, praying to avoid running into anyone who hates me.

This plan carried me through a full week free of the ghosts of boyfriends past. However, my luck ran out on Tuesday afternoon as I was lazily returning from lunch. The enemy always seems to attack when your guard is down.

He was getting out of a cab and oh no! It was the worst possibility of all: Kiran, the guy I left to get together with Eddie. The fact that Eddie and I have been married for 2.5 years, and Kiran’s own status as a happily married fella with a one year-old daughter, lulled me into the belief that perhaps we had grown, and could have a cordial conversation with bygones being where they belong.

Wrong. I could see recognition wash over Kiran’s face, followed closely by what can only be described as a look of withering scorn. I prayed very hard for the sidewalk to open up and swallow me, a la Baby Jessica down the well, but that shit never works when you need it to. So I braced myself for the stilted, unnatural conversation that was to follow.

It took all of about 30 seconds, but of course the discussion felt like hours. I left with the distinct impression that Kiran thinks he “won” because he has a child at this point and I don’t. Ah yes, baby making as some sort of contest: yet another reason I don’t go there. I didn’t feel the need to explain to him that there’s nothing at all wrong with my eggs or Eddie’s sperm. Let my personal choice make him feel avenged if it means an end to sidewalk nastiness.

It’s only week two at the new job and there’s at least five or six former suitors left for me to run into. Stay tuned…

Moving Lessons (April 1, 2010)

moving1

I think that part of the reason people (like me) view moving as an unbearable chore is because each relocation has its own distinct personality. You can plan and prepare yourself into an oblivion, but until the thing takes off, as Forrest Gump’s Mama once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Honestly, were my new apartment not such a fabulous upgrade, I would have preferred to stay put. But after five days of personal injury (cuts and bruises), internal wounds as a result of standing up to the cable company, cleaning, organizing and yes, a little bit of crying now and then, these are the lessons I take away from this round of life roulette:

1. Just because your new handyman sounds like a middle-aged Soviet relic on the phone, doesn’t mean he is.

In this case, voices were deceiving. Hello Roy! Young, buff and hot, with natural red hair and freckles (I realize “hot” and “freckles” are typically an oxymoron, but I swear it’s true!). Not to mention he’s knowledgeable, quick and laughs at my jokes. I will have to resist the urge to break things on purpose.

2. Wherever you think your cat couldn’t possibly be, that’s the place where you ought to look first.

See: aforementioned bouts of crying. Jordan, my six year-old kitty, is hardly what you might call brave. As the movers and Comcast techs did their thing, he went into hiding, so well in fact that I believed he had gotten out. Even the usual go-to method of sussing him out (shaking his bag of cat food) produced nary a sound. I panicked. I ran all over the building, even took a frantic turn around the block (figuring in my insanity that Jordan had learned how to use an elevator during his flight). Hours later, after I had posted a sign in the vestibule begging for information as to his whereabouts, and long after all workers had left, Jordan sauntered out, chill as can be, from under the dishwasher. Under the dishwasher! There is about 6 inches of space there. I still don’t know how he managed it. All’s well that ends well.

3. Off-street parking is not, after all, what it’s cracked up to be.

Our garage spot is about six feet wide, nothing more, and sandwiched between two stone pillars, with the remote garage sensor sticking out of the right hand side. In all my years of frustratedly parking on City streets, getting parking tickets, wandering blocks away from my destination, at least I never scratched my car. Yet I did so after a mere three days of living here. And we’re not talking about a small line either. It’s a nasty, deep cut to the driver’s side rear door. Goodbye $500 to repair a two week-old car. Eddie was understandably furious with me, and I am taking my lumps. Ironically, Rogers Park appears to have ample, non-zoned side street parking. I may avail myself of that in the future. Be careful what you wish for.

4. Finally, and most importantly, a lesson I seem to re-learn with each move: Comcast sucks. They are not to be trusted, and when the installer is on site, watch him/her like a hawk!

Jordan’s MIA routine caused Eddie and I both to take our eyes off the ball. Though the brand new condo building we moved into is cable ready, the clown tech who came on Saturday needed no less than three hours (!) to set up our services. This was a simple move and transfer, so I did smell a rat, but was too preoccupied with hunting for my baby. Once he finally finished, he hightailed it out the door, without asking me to sign anything confirming receipt. Another suspicious move. Three hours later, all services went down.

On Tuesday, when Comcast was finally able to get someone else out to have a look, it was discovered that the first tech had installed a bunch of software on my desktop, Comcast branded, and totally unnecessary given that this was a transfer, which compromised Internet Explorer and Windows. The company was very pleased with itself for giving me a “courtesy” waiver on the installation, and a $25 credit on my bill. This however did not spare Eddie from having to move all our files to an external hard drive, before wiping the system clean and reinstalling every single program. As I write this, the process remains unfinished, although I am mercifully back online.

I think now the worst is over, and the marvelous upshot is that my new place, my new community, and the weather are just perfect. I am locked into a 18-month lease, but wish for the moment that it were at least 60 months. I do not want to think about moving again for a long time.