Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Wednesday, November 09, 2016  
I was hearing and reading a lot about "how do I explain this to my children?" and "what do I say to my children?" This being Trump's election.

Many of the children in question are under the age of eight.

I tried to recall my political mindset prior to my ninth birthday. Sure, I know historically who was in office during those years. But I couldn't remember any personal enthusiasm or disdain for the presidents or candidates or elections during my first eight years of life. I must have been stupid, unaware or apolitical in my early years. But I also can't recall my classmates espousing the merits of a political candidate or president. Electoral college? I'm pretty sure I was only vaguely aware that university was a place you went after high school. To my young (and apparently neophyte brain), the electoral college probably sounded like a place where mayors went to school to learn how to be mayors.

Are young children more politically inclined now? Are these savvy tots debating hot button issues and the pros and cons of the electoral college on the playground? Are red and blue more than colors in their crayon boxes?

When I talked to a friend today, post-election, she broke down sobbing about how she would explain Trump's win to her five year old daughter. I could tell she was having a full-blown ugly cry. "I have to tell her, I- I- I- have (sob) to (sob) tell (sob) her before she goes to (sob) schoo-oo-ool (sob) this afternoon. (sob sob) What am I going to say (sob) to her? How can I (sob sob) explain it to her?"

I saw this friend and her daughter a few weeks ago. The kid was wearing underpants on her head and had a meltdown over the remaining popsicle flavor options. That was the IRL gif going through my head as my friend sank further into an angst-filled sob fest over this latest parenting challenge the election had thrown at her. I struggled to imagine that little girl having an opinion or understanding of the election process and the candidates.

Naively, I suggested, "Um, maybe you just tell her there was a vote all over the country and, just like every four years, we'll have a new president in January?"

My friend felt I was underestimating her child's grasp of the election and what it really means. You know, really means to her as well as society at large.

My friend continued, "She named her new Barbie Hillary so she could play madam president! (sob) How do I break this horrible news to her?"

I made the mistake of asking about Barbie playtime, "Um, couldn't she still call her Barbie Hillary and play madam president? Does the real Hillary's loss remove all possibility of playing madam president with a Barbie doll?"

My friend brushed me off with, "You don't (sob) understand how much (sob) this election means to her!!"

I was honestly confused, "You mean to [your daughter] or to Hillary Clinton? I think I have a pretty good grasp on how much this election meant to Hillary Clinton."

"MY DAUGHTER!! (sob sob)"

Getting a little weary of what I thought was an overreaction, "Um, she's five. She gets a kick out of wearing underpants on her head. She plays with dolls. Because she's five. Does she really have a strong feeling about this election? Maybe you don't really need to tell her much about it. Maybe you answer questions on a need-to-know basis?"

My friend said I don't understand because I don't have children. She said her daughter is very aware of the election and what it means to America. And Hillary's loss is going to crush her five year old's soul and warp her sense of the feminist collective. I kept my mouth shut about how Barbie dolls are probably doing more damage to her child's soul and the feminist collective. I knew this was not the time to have The Barbie Talk. My friend was agonizing over how to "handle" this with her daughter.

The conversation had me wondering just how woefully unaware and stupid I was as a child. So I called my mother.

Here's a transcript of that conversation. I'm posting this as a guide for parents grappling with how to tell their children about Election 2016.

"Hi Mum, how's it going?"

"Boy am I tired, what a night!"

[long and meaningful pause] "Mum?"

"Yes?"

"Have you figured out how you're going to talk to your children about the election?"

[riotous laughter] "I've been worried about that all morning." [more laughter]

"But seriously, mum, I'm curious. I don't remember much about politics or elections or presidents until I was about 10 or 11. Was I really stupid, or unaware, or apolitical until then? Or do I just not remember that part of my childhood?"

"Oh good grief, no, you weren't stupid. I think you were probably a little more aware than some of the other children at school. You always had very good grades in social studies and government."

"Even when I was young?"

"You know your father and I never pushed our politics on you. We believed it was crucial that parents remain objective so their children can grow and develop their own political choices. Nothing worse that someone who votes a particular way simply because it's what their parents did. Religion, too, for that matter. Anything, really."

It's true, I knew this, I remembered this from my later childhood.

"But did you tell me anything about elections or candidates? Did I care?"

"Does any child under the age of eight really care about an election or candidates? Unless they're reciting what their parents told them, or what they overhear at home, I don't believe children that young have enough world knowledge and political understanding to talk politics. Nor do I believe they're naturally interested. Given the choice, children will play or watch cartoons or whatever it is they do on all those gizmos these days."

Bingo.

"So you didn't tell me anything about elections and politics?"

"Of course we did. We taught you the process. We told you to respect all points of view. That was more than enough until you were old enough to grasp issues and the candidates' stances. And even then we worked very hard to keep the conversations objective. Young mind forming and all that. We did not want to sway you with our opinions. Our job was to teach you the process, teach you about the different parties, give you some history, equip you with the tools you need to navigate the process. The rest, the opinion-forming, was up to you. "

"Thanks for that, Mum. I appreciate the effort you put into making sure I developed my own mind. Was I just lucky to be the youngest and the benefactor of trial and error, or did you do the same with [my brother and sister]?"

"Your father and I agreed on this before we were married. We felt that strongly about making sure our children formed their own minds and opinions. We were not interested in creating and controlling miniature versions of ourselves."

"But that's risky, we don't all agree with you."

"Exactly! How boring it would be if the entire family agreed on everything! And what would be the point of creating people only to manipulate them into the same opinions as ours? Why bother creating a family of sycophants? The fun of creating children is learning who they are and helping them develop their unique personalities. Forcing our opinions on you would defeat that."

"What if you felt strongly about a candidate?" 

"We never had that problem. There have been very few candidates we felt strongly about - positive or negative. Some of the candidates certainly concerned us, but not to the point of fear or hostility."

"I don't remember you or dad getting really upset over an election result. Surely you have not liked every president."

"No, but you know us, 'the people have spoken,' and 'this, too, shall pass.' No sense getting worked up over something you can't control. And something that will change in four years. There are good lessons about winning and losing, too. We wanted you to learn to be a gracious winner and gracious loser. So we never got too worked up over election results."

And that's how you "handle" the election with your children.



8:43 PM

Sunday, November 06, 2016  
-->
There’s a lot of talk about leaving the country if a chosen presidential candidate doesn’t win.

I understand.

It’s frustrating when you believe in a cause or a political party or a candidate and other people don’t share your passion - or even understand your point of view.

And it’s disconcerting and disappointing when a cause, or political party, or candidate in opposition of your choice is popular enough to threaten your choice.

You look at the people supporting the opposition and you think, “I’m not like them. They’re not like me. If they support ___________ we can’t possibly have anything in common, and I don’t want to know them.”

And maybe you think, “The people who support ____________ are stupid/backwater hicks/uppity city folk/brainwashed/lemmings/etc. etc.”

And then you might become so frustrating that you think, “If those stupid/backwater hicks/uppity city folk/brainwashed/lemmings/etc. etc. manage to gain control of __________, that’s it, I’m leaving America because I cannot possibly live in a country full of stupid/backwater hicks/uppity city folk/brainwashed/lemmings/etc. etc.”

I’m hearing and seeing a lot of this – from both sides (and the middle) of the political spectrum.

And it makes me sad. And frustrated.

What I hear is, “If you don’t agree with me, if my ‘team’ doesn’t win, I’m not willing to work for compromise and change. I’m too narrow-minded to consider another point of view, too lacking in creativity to find a creative solution that solves problems beyond party affiliation, I’m too angry to take a deep breath and think about a bigger picture. I’d rather mock, rant, taunt and ridicule than listen, think, evaluate and solve. If everyone doesn’t agree with me, I’m taking my citizenship elsewhere.”

I quietly take all this in, listen to the angry (rage-filled, actually), frustrated, stubborn, narrow-minded, uncreative, threats from both sides (and the middle, and the outside). And I wonder, “Am I the only one who sees how similar they are?” On a Meyers-Briggs assessment they’d share traits: Anger (to the point of rage), frustrated, obstinate, stubborn, narrow-minded, opinionated, uncreative, passionate, selfish, steadfast, loyal, task-oriented, lacking big-picture thinking, unoriginal, unwilling to compromise. The only difference is their party affiliation.

I understand passion. I love and respect animals and nature, passionately. It’s difficult for me to understand hunters and companies who pollute the environment. Really difficult. I struggle with it. 

But I'm working on acceptance.

There’s a family in my hometown who have gone above and beyond to help my mother. They’ve taken time off work to help her to doctor appointments. They drop meals off to her. They salted and dugout her driveway after a bad ice storm. They’ve done airport pick-ups and drop-offs for me. They are humble, giving people. They always tell me how much they like my parents, and how helpful my parents were to them when they first moved to our small town. Every time I thank them they say, “Oh my heavens, it’s the least we can do, after all your parents did for us when we moved here. Don’t give it another thought.” 

Nice people, right? Yes. 

Here’s another thing about them: They hunt. The whole family. Obviously I would prefer that they not kill animals for sport. I have to separate my feelings about hunting from who these people are: kind, sincere, generous people. It’s not always the easiest reconciliation. But it’s the mature, big-picture thing to do. See the good, applaud it. Look past the differences. They know I’m vegetarian, I’m sure they think I’m weird because of that. But they, too, look past our differences and focus on the good.

When my mother had a major health crisis while on vacation with my dad, they had to rely on healthcare 1,000 miles from home. She was airlifted to a hospital by a medicopter service funded by Catholic charities. A Muslim neurologist saved her life. A team of physical and occupational therapists comprised of Baptist, Hindu, and Jewish therapists helped her walk, talk, eat and write again. The townsfolk in the small town heard about the out-of-town couple in the hospital and brought food, toiletries, a hand crocheted blanket, books, a steady stream of therapy dogs, and representatives from every faith/practice imaginable stopped in to wish my mother and the family well. They prayed, meditated, raised hands, laid hands, wrapped hands, counted Rosaries, chanted mantras and in one particularly big leap of interfaith, performed a Shinto ritual carried out by 97-year-old local Shinto leader whose granddaughter was a nurse at the hospital. All these people, strangers, didn’t care about my parents’ religious or political beliefs. They only cared that a vacationing woman had a life threatening health crisis and they did what they could to help.

One of the therapy dogs was handled by a retired guy. He and my dad bonded over sports and “man” talk, which was more helpful therapy than his dog. The guy stopped by the hospital for an hour or so in the afternoons and had coffee with my dad, gave my dad a much needed break while my mother was in various therapies. My dad went into town for lunch one day and saw the guy getting into his car. The car was adorned with several bumper stickers of a specific political party, a political party that my moderate father was frustrated with at the time. But he was already friends with this guy, and grateful for this stranger who took time to just talk sports and tools and cars. He did not think, “I can’t be friends with him because of his political party affiliation.” He simply did not bring up politics when he saw him again.

I know these are extreme and “well, in that situation, of course…” examples.

But.

When I see/hear someone say, “If you are a ______________ I don’t want to know you,” I think of that retiree and his therapy dog and the afternoons he spent keeping my dad company, which kept my dad comforted and sane during a very difficult time. There are people making blanket statements saying they don’t want to know that guy and others like him because of his political choices. Or that they will leave the country because of people “like him.”

So I feel compelled to speak out about this.

I’m getting older, I’ve lived through a lot of elections, I’ve seen a lot of candidates come and go. Some good, some bad, most of them mediocre. The good ones inspire us, the bad ones give us something to complain about. 

Life goes on. 

We still have to go to work (or find a job), we still have to eat healthy, get some exercise, and find time for family. Find time for whatever spiritual devotion fuels and inspires us. Work on hobbies, read a book or two, maybe take in a ball game or movie now and then. Throw in helping a neighbor or stranger, and keeping your community clean and safe and there’s not a lot of time left for anger and selfishness.

But if you do all that and still feel anger welling, and a deep level of frustration that makes you want to renounce your citizenship, I suggest making time to volunteer time (not money) to a charity that serves the: elderly, disabled, abused, or children. Giving yourself and time (not a check) to people who need help with basic life needs will broaden your perspective. You’ll meet some of the people you want to leave behind, people you didn’t know needed you.

Closing yourself off to people who don't think like you is comfortable because you're always surrounded by like-minded people. Everyone agrees with you. You're in a cozy blanket of conformity. It's the easy choice. No conflicts, no compromise, no challenges that lead to introspection and broadening of the mind.

Isn't one of the goals of life, a goal we all share, to expand horizons and perspectives?

I'm not sure where the people who are threatening to leave America are going to live. Are there islands for Democrat expats only or Republican expats only?  Let's presume money is not an object. You have a steady stream of bazillions of dollars. And you are so angry at the opposing candidate that you vow to leave America if they win, move somewhere where everyone shares your exact political beliefs. Where is that? Where is that place?

Anger, blind-hatred (any hatred), stubbornness, narrow-mindedness, unwillingness to compromise, unwillingness to look at an issue from a different perspective, lack of creative thought, and most of all, running from a situation that’s not in-line with your personal outlook, is not going to lead to a better life, a happier life, or even a decent night of sleep.

6:25 PM

Wednesday, August 19, 2015  
I need very specific help.
If anyone out there has grown a Maple tree (I believe it’s a Norway maple) indoors, starting with the helicopter seed pod thingies, please email me at triciamcmillian42@yahoo.com
Here’s what I know about growing plants:







Nothing.

I am not a gardener.
A) I have a lot of allergies, both skin irritation and the sneezy coughy itchy eye types of allergies. 
B) I like communing with nature. I enjoy trees, flowers, the occasional topiary…but I’m more of an observer/enjoyer than a pruner/gardener.
My vision of a perfect garden is one where nature has taken its own course. I appreciate a well-designed, cultivated garden, I appreciate the work and planning…but I like nature for the nature’s sake.
So houseplants have never really been my thing.

And then my mother put my parent’s house on the market.
And the Maple tree that held my tree swing and tree house…is going to be sold with the house.
And the Maple tree I climbed and hid in because I was sad my gran died and I couldn’t handle all the funeral planning going on in the house…is going to be sold with the house.
It’s the same tree where, a few years later, the neighbor’s dog chased a matted, shaking kitten up to the highest branches and my dad coaxed it far enough down to scoop him into an apple basket taped to a rake, and we nursed the kitten to health and became a family pet…is going to be sold with the house.
And the Maple tree rescued when it was a three inch sprout and begged my dad not to mow over and then survived one of the worst Winters in Michigan history as a five inch sprout and went on to become an enormous tree…is going to be sold with the house.
And suddenly I care about gardening.
I have a bunch of the helicopter seed pod thingies. If I plant them in a pot will they sprout? (I think they will, that’s the whole premise behind greenhouses, right?)
Do I plant the helicopter seed pod thingies when they’re green, or should I dry them and plant the brown dried pods?
Is regular old potting soil I can buy at Walgreens sufficient?
Should I use a small, cozy-sized pot or start it in a large pot so it has room to grow and won’t have to be transplanted?
And then what? Will the sprouts die? If they don’t die, will they go through seasonal changes as if they were outdoors? Will the tree grow to a certain size and then die?
What about light? I can provide East, South or Western light.
Watering? Water every day?
Plant food?
I know I’m foolish for trying this, and that’s advice I need, too. If the best advice is: “Don’t do it,” I appreciate that help.


9:13 PM

Monday, July 20, 2015  
It's really happening.

My mother moved out of my parents' house.

We're prepping for an estate sale. And having a little work done to pretty it up for potential buyers. And in a  few weeks there will be a for sale sign in front of my parents' house.

And then that's that.

I knew emotions would reach up and bite my mother when she least expects it. And I knew I'd have a few "moments."

It's just a house. But it's not just a house. My parents built it. They tilled the land. Even when we lived abroad my parents kept the house. One of my cousin stayed there much of the time we were away. It's been "home" for me all my life. So I knew I would have some emotional moments. But. It's too much house and too much yard for my mother. She needs a stress-free, trouble-free, safe place to live. And she found one. She has a lovely, large retirement apartment with a patio overlooking a private courtyard. She has friends who live there. Once the emotional letting go happens, I think she'll be happy there.

Meanwhile, there are weekends filled with numerous trips back and forth between home and the new place. I tell her we need to make the switch, call the new place "home." She can't do that, yet, and it's not exactly rolling off my tongue, either.

We've pretty much emptied the house of all the things we want. All that remains are the things we left behind for the estate sale. Our discarded items, some of them predate my parents' marriage, some are relatively new. My parents and their three children called it home. During my sister's divorce her three children called it home, and they all still refer to their grandparents' house as "home." A couple of my cousins spent extended stays there and refer to it as "home." Cats, a few stray dogs, hamsters, fish all called it home. There are trees, huge trees, that were taken as saplings from my grandparents' yard.

You get the picture.

Home.

Every time we pull out of the driveway some stupid home-related song enters my head. Madness' "Our House." Edward Sharpe "Home." CSN's "Our House." Simon & Garfunkle's "Homeward Bound."

The Nails' "The Things You Left Behind."

What? I'm talking about the general feeling of discarded stuff left behind. Not so much the heroin and garter belts. More the Canasta cards and records.

My mother and I sorted the difficult stuff last weekend. My parents' record collection. Their books. Stacks of insurance papers. During the many trips between the old and new homes the abandoned stuff looked more like sad remnants. Soon home will look like the Grinch was there when his heart was still two sizes too small. I started making mental notes about what my mother wanted at the new place and what was to be left for the estate sale. I repeated the list on the ride so I wouldn't forget. That's when Marc Campbell's raspy rap started beating in the back of my head. After a few trips The Things You Left Behind was updated for my family. I imagined The Nails performing this updated version and pretty soon I was giggling as I packed up stuff and discarded other stuff. Rock and roll can, and does, solve most emotional problems.

The Things We Left Behind

A set of Canasta cards, an old tin toy
An 8-track tape by the Beach Boys.
A vintage bottle of Bal a Versailles
A poster of Iggy Pop Blah Blah Blah
A third place ribbon from a relay race
A Time Life series book about space
A gas station workshirt covered in grime
These are some of the things we left behind.

Cards and letters from people they knew
Back before they had kids and things to do
A cookbook signed by Liberace
Wait, a Liberace cookbook? Is that worth anything?
Five yellowed pages of gran’s scrawled recipes
A Marine Corp jacket missing a sleeve
A couple spools of Macramé twine
These are some of the things we left behind

Two postcards in a cling film photo album
Anyone have a rhyme for album?
Soap on a rope, a book of clans,
Springform and bundt cake pans
Forgot how much we used to celebrate
Birthdays and holidays we always ate cake
A junior high school ID, that hair cut was ill-timed
These are some of the things we left behind

A box of broken beads and rhinestones
We always meant to restring those
A bag of Mexican jumping beans that hatched
Bought on vacation at a tourist trap
A highschool class ring that isn’t ours
Found under a seat in the old car
A bottle shaped like swans with necks entwined
These are some of the things we left behind

A Count Basie record set
(We haven’t had that valued, yet.)
A box of empty Pendaflex folders
A telephone desk with a phonebook holder
A spiral notebook with band names written in ball pen
Containing second year French verbs conjugation
A box made in third grade for school Valentines
These are some of the things we left behind

A reading lamp, some Barbie dolls
A few paintings that adorned the walls
A first aid kit from a Scandinavian cruise
Including “medication” no one used
A cookie jar with the ill-fitting lid on
Where there were always a few twenties hidden
A pantry door marked with children’s heights in penciled lines
These are some of the things we left behind

A set of canasta cards
A third place ribbon
A cookbook signed by Liberace
Bundt pans
Macramé twine
Soap on a rope
An 8-track tape
High school class ring
A Marine Corp jacket missing a sleeve
A Valentine box
Broken beads
A cookie jar
Money? Did we get the twenties?
One last entry on the pantry wall
Two words

“Our Family”


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8:24 PM

Friday, July 10, 2015  
Area woman Tricia McMillian has new awareness and elevated concerns about life in the wealthy north shore suburbs of Chicago. McMillian recently attended a concert in Chicago where she was seated in front of four fancily clad and fastidiously groomed women. McMillian initially noted that their fresh highlights and coordinating Tory Burch blouses were a little out of place in the more middle income/art industry crowd, but she assumed they were having a ladies night out and thought it would be fun to pretend to relive the alternative music phase they didn’t have when they were in college. Much to McMillian’s surprise and concern, the erstwhile politely and delicately seated women rose on four-inch-Aquazzura-heeled feet and chant-yelled the lyrics to a disturbing song with such zeal and vigor that they drowned out the stage performers.
“I don’t usually judge on appearance, but these women stood out of the crowd. They were obviously not like most of the rest of us in that venue who still bear visible scars of socially awkward formative years. I mean, they were wearing white jeans and enormous diamond-encrusted jewelry from crying out loud. I could understand women ‘like that’ identifying with, oh, I don’t know, maybe Kiss Me a Lot or even Suedehead, you know, when they get sloppy drunk on girls night, but to hear them belting out, ‘Hector was the first of the gang with a gun in his hand and the first to do time, the first of the gang to die,’ was a little unsettling.” McMillian noted that the women didn’t just know the lyrics, they knew every note and nuance. “These women have clearly studied that song with the intensity and earnestness of a 13 year old Justin Bieber fan. The song obviously touches them, they seemed to relate, deeply, to the plight of Hector and the gun in his hand and the bullet in his gullet.”
Their depth of emotion over the song was made more profound by the relative lower key audience during that song. The crowd was jubilant and even riotous for many of the more WASP relatable songs, but ‘Hector’ is not as easy for most of the performer’s fans to relate to on a personal level. Many of the fan base in attendance, who are primarily white, aged 30+, work in science, libraries, IT or the arts, and are of a more sensitive and gentle souled nature with limited or no personal experience with gang affiliation or weaponry, took the time during the performance of ‘Hector’ to sit down for a few minutes, rest their middle-aged backs and feet and have a few sips of their beverages. This break in the crowd’s standing enthusiasm for the concert made the four zealously-singing women stand out all the more.
It was at this juncture that Ms. McMillian grew concerned about the spread of gangs in the Chicago area. “I know gangs are not limited to the city boundaries. But I didn’t realize that Tory Burch blouses might be some sort of gang apparel, a type of ‘colors’ worn to signify gang affiliation. And all of them were wearing white jeans…”
Ms. McMillian also chastised herself for judging the women based on their appearance. “I berated myself pretty harshly for a while. I thought, ‘for all I know they could live in a rough ‘hood in the city. They might be living in the midst of gang violence with drive-by shootings on their streets and gang tags spray painted on their houses.’ I felt really awful for judging them and making presumptions about where and how they live.”
McMillian’s worries quickly turned back to the suburbs, though, when the concert ended and she voiced concern about finding a cab with all the concert goers hitting the street at the same time. The posh women had vague looks of confusion until one of them said, “Oh, a cab, yikes. I can’t even imagine dealing with that.  Our drive back to Highland Park [an affluent North shore suburb of Chicago] doesn’t seem so awful compared to that,” motioning to a taxi stand line wrapping around the building. The four women suffered a brief moment of panic when they couldn’t remember which one of them had the valet tag. A quick check of their coordinating Balenciaga handbags erupted in a surfeit of giggles among the women when the one they call ‘Becca’ produced the valet tag. Apparently Becca has a history of forgetting where she stows valet tags, an inside joke the ladies find uproariously funny, perhaps harkening back to a gang initiation rite.
“I don’t know what’s going on up there on the North shore that makes these women relate so deeply to a song about gun violence,” McMillian lamented with a somewhat confused tone, “but the next time there’s a gang-related shooting in my inner city alley I won’t be so quick to assume moving to the suburbs would solve that problem for me."

The area woman recorded a snippet of the gangstress' heartfelt rendition. One of the gals can be heard really getting into it around the 1:45 mark

11:15 PM

Tuesday, June 30, 2015  
Funny how some silly old song can suddenly become sentimentally poignant.




9:38 AM

Saturday, June 20, 2015  
After my father died I dreaded and hated Father's Day. I had a Father's Day related grief meltdown in Target. I avoid retail establishments as much as possible from the day after Mother's Day until the end of June. I know avoidance isn't the best way of dealing with an emotional (or any) problem. So, this year I decided to confront the Father's Day retail season. I've been to Target twice during the Father's Day season. I took deep breaths, summoned emotional courage and walked into Target. And the greeting card aisle in Walgreens. And I had to return a skirt for my mother at Macy's. These are heavy hitters of merchandising and display and I faced them. I confronted my grief. 

I like to think my dad would be proud that I finally took this step to confront my emotional hurdles. My dad was like that: He dealt with stuff head on. He didn't let things fester. Some of that is because dads have to deal with stuff head on, at least in my family. My dad was the one who dealt with broken things that required immediate repair or replacement. Plumbing, cars, anything wired - things we needed daily - those were my father's responsibility. If something broke he sprang to action. He had to spring to action because a family with three kids and a plumbing problem is unpleasant. He had to confront problems or things would only get much (much) worse. 

A coworker was talking about a broken car problem a few weeks ago. I said, "Yes, AAA is good, but it's times like these a dad is really handy to have around." She laughed and said her father was useless. Useless. I'm not sure if she meant useless with cars or useless in general. It felt a little uncomfortable, she seemed to have some father contempt, so I just said,"Oh, well, thank goodness for AAA!" 

Her offhand description of her father stuck with me. My father was not always perfect, but, one word I could never use to describe my father is useless. My father was the opposite of useless. But I don't like to think of my dad in terms of usury. 

I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a great dad. I feel really, really sorry for those people. They have to face life with an unfortunate disadvantage. 
 
Life isn't always easy for me, I've had some difficult stuff to handle. But. No matter how bad the situation I have one reconciliation: I won the parent lottery. When it comes to life factors I hit the mega million jackpot with my parents. People like my coworker, who describe their father's with adjectives like "useless" don't have the advantages I had. 

He wasn't a good dad. He was a great dad. 
 
Here's what we get when we are lucky enough to have been given great fathers. 
 
We get wisdom, joy, firm but fair discipline, unwavering support, the secret to riding a two wheeler and tricks for memorizing multiplication tables. 
 
We get the toys our mothers deem too dangerous or expensive and the explanations for all things mechanical, athletic and scientific. 
 
We get gently coaxed into the deep end of the pool and we get bedtime stories narrated in deep, funny voices. 
 
We get the pronunciation and proper use of swear words and the importance of a firm but not creepy handshake. 
 
We get stern warnings about fire, force and speed and lessons in how to use tools and why it's important to take care of them. 
 
We get yelled at when we lash out in teenage anger, and we get forgiveness 10 minutes later. 
We get introduced to the mysteries of outer space through fact and fiction. 
 
We get to listen to Elvis, Bo Diddley and Ronnie Hawkins. On the way to church. And we learn the importance of a decent set of speakers and a quality amplifier. 

We learn that sometimes presents are brought home from business trips. And sometimes they're not.
We get an extra $20 surreptitiously slipped to us on our way out the door and a sly "don't tell your mother" glance. 

We get Barbie Dream Houses constructed and waiting for us on Christmas morning, and we get a lecture on the importance of taking care of things and not carelessly breaking them. 
 
We get long summer evenings around the backyard barbecue, and longer winter nights at the kitchen table going over homework until we get it right.

We get picked up from school dances and a ride home without having to talk about what happened at the school dance. 
 
We get an understanding that true bravery has nothing to do with wrestling bears or shooting guns. 
 
We get shoulder rides when we're little, and we get jocular pats on the back and hugs so tight and enveloping it gets hard to breathe for a few seconds when we're too big to sling up on shoulders.  
 
We get the threat of being disowned if we ever so much as consider skipping an oil change every six months or take the batteries from the flashlight and use them in the portable radio. 
 
And we get to always, always feel safe. 
 
We come out ahead in the deal, especially since we did absolutely nothing to earn any of that except to arrive screaming into his world, demanding his time, knowledge and money. 
 
Here's the problem with great dads: You also get the emptiness and loneliness when they're gone.

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7:47 PM

Wednesday, May 27, 2015  
Area single woman Tricia McMillian, a self-acknowledged science fiction fan, recently spent 165 minutes viewing the 2014 blockbuster film Interstellar. The local woman chose a Thursday night to spend 2.75 hours viewing the galactic tale so as to not feel even more pathetic about watching an almost three hour movie at home, alone, on a weekend night.

She explains, "I knew how long the movie is, but I didn't want to watch it on a weekend because, well, I'm already depressed about spending my weekend evenings alone. I don't need to amplify my obvious loser nerd facet anymore than is already abundantly apparent. So I waited for an work night when I was able to leave week before 6:00 and then raced home, put on my comfiest pajamas, laid out snacks and beverages and let 'er rip. Doing that alone on a Thursday night seemed far less depressing than it would have felt on a weekend evening."

When asked if Interstellar lived up to the hype and if she enjoyed it, the area woman shrugged and offered this review, "Meh, I dunno, I guess it was a good way to spend an evening alone. I mean, what else was I going to do with those two hours and 45 minutes? But it's been done before and more efficiently. It only took Rod Serling 25 minutes to poignantly and effectively cover the same topic in the Twilight Episode titled The Long Morrow."

As of press time the local science fiction fan was creating a spreadsheet of blockbuster movies and the Twilight Zone episodes that covered the same topics in more concise and less-is-more-poignant storytelling style of Rod Serling.

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8:50 PM

Tuesday, May 19, 2015  
Okay, the Cannes heels thing is getting out of hand.

As you probably assume, I have opinions about this.

I'll get my opinions out of the way.
1) I agree with an "attire code" at Cannes. They want to keep it elegant. It's France. And more than that, it's the Riviera. Note that I did not say that they want to keep it classy. Telling people what to do is rarely classy. Telling people what to wear is almost never classy.

However. There are occasions and events where an attire guideline is helpful, and yes, necessary. I appreciate invitations that spell out the attire expectations. I want to know what tier of attire the host would like guests to attain. The host is spending time, effort and money planning the occasion/event, the very least attendees can do is follow the attire guideline the host offers. It doesn't matter if the requested attire is casual, black tie, costume or luau, I like to know the attire expectations so that I don't show up dressed completely inappropriately. (We all remember vicars and tarts scene in Bridget Jones' Diary.)

This does not mean that specifics are in order. Black tie does not mean, "A formal dress that costs more than $1,000, heels more than 2.5" in height, and jewelry and accessories procured at this list of retailers." Black tie means, "Dress up. Men wear a dark suit and tie, or a tux, and women wear a formal dress." Where that suit/tux and formal dress are procured and what it costs is up to the attendee. Taste is personal and subjective and not to be dictated.

I suspect the Cannes people want to keep the focus on the movies and want to maintain the idea of glamor in the film industry. Without attire guidelines the red carpets turn into arenas for attention a la Bjork's swan dress at the Oscars. I cannot remember what year that was or what movies won at that Oscar ceremony, but I remember Bjork's dress. I presume this is exactly what the Cannes people are trying to avoid. They want the event and the films to be the center of attention and not overshadowed by Bjork's swan dress or Gaga's meat dress.

2) I agree with the black shoes for men requirement. The men are required to wear a black tie appropriate suit, and that means black shoes. The Cannes people obviously want men to recede and women to exceed. The more sedate and monotone the men are dressed, the more the women will pop and shine in comparison. There's a whole truckload of gender inequality in that sentiment. I find it interesting men aren't more irate about this obvious case of female chauvinism. 

3) Heels over 2.5" does not automatically mean formal. I know shoes. I know shoes really, really well. I've perused a lot of women's shoes worn at Cannes and I've seen a lot of stripper shoes and hooker heels and some Eurotrashy numbers. But, they're heels, many of them appear to be in the 4" range, and thus accepted on the red carpet at Cannes. (The heels in the over 4" range tend to be the most questionable in terms of elegance.) Meanwhile, in other outposts on the internet, not on the red carpet at Cannes, I have seen some wonderfully elegant, tasteful and yes, classy, low-heeled or no-heeled shoes.

4) Some of us ladies would dearly love to strap on a pair of 4 inchers and head out to a movie premier at Cannes. But some of us have foot/ankle/knee/hip/back problems that prevent us from safely wearing heels over 2" in height. That does not mean that we are less worthy of admission to the event. It means we're either afflicted by a horrible ailment like rheumatoid arthritis, or that we were out there living life and had an unfortunate accident that left us with physical limitations.

5) Why isn't anyone saying anything about the irony of the three women in low heeled/flat shoes denied access to Carol, a film about lesbians? Not that there's anything wrong with that. And I certainly do not want to stereotype anyone, but, um, it's a film about lesbians. A group of people known the world over for their sensible footwear choices.

6) More to the point, Cannes people, what is the priority? Women wearing heels or women who are talented, creative or business savvy enough to score an invitation to Cannes?

That's the extent to which I am going to opine about shoes at Cannes.

Like many others, I see this as an opportunity to address the issue of gender inequality.

But I don't agree with making heels the bad guy in this.

Prior to my foot/ankle issues I loved heels. I wore heels a lot because I like them. Not because men found me more attractive in heels. Not because I felt that I needed to conform to the (male dominated) fashion industry. Not because I felt that I needed to conform to a sexually stereotyped image. And certainly not because I needed to add height to bring my physical stature closer to men. (At 5'11" I'm taller than a lot of men I encounter in business situations...add 3" - 4" heels and I am almost always taller than men in the office.) Don't blame Barbie. Don't blame my mother. Don't blame Vogue. I just happen to love heels. And then my foot and ankle were mangled, twisted and torn and that was the tragic end of my days and nights in heels. But it wasn't the end of the love affair. I still look at heels and even covet them. And then I go to work and devise strategies, plan, execute, create, manage, organize and make stuff happen brain to brain with men. My footwear is of zero consequence.

Heels are not the bad guy.

The bad guys are rigid, narrow-minded people with a skewed set of priorities, and who lack the ability to understand what class truly means.

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9:36 PM

Sunday, May 17, 2015  
So this year I finally did it. I put the kybosh on gift giving for good. I tried pre-empt Christmas gifts a few years ago and there was a lot of backlash, especially amongst my family. This time I did it 6 weeks prior to my birthday.

I sent another email to everyone with whom I normally exchange gifts for birthdays and holidays. It was similar to the one I sent prior to the holidays a few years ago, but, because it regarded my birthday, it didn't impact anyone but me and the results were very (very) different from my attempt to bow out of holiday gift giving.

I kept it brief and breezy:
“As much as I appreciate and enjoy your generous and thoughtful gifts, I'm hoping we can start new traditions. Instead of gifts, I would much prefer the gifts of time and connection. I would love to go to lunch or a museum with you, or just a long phone conversation with you is what I need and want more than gift. Or, spend the money you would have spent on a gift on planting a tree or a charity. Or buy something for yourself! It makes me happy to think of you splurging on something you would enjoy.”
 
Some of my friends responded immediately. They were clearly relieved to put an end to the gift giving. The first responders, obviously all of a like mindset, said something along the lines of, “Thank you for having the courage to do this, I’ve been trying to do the same thing with my family/other friends for years and I can’t get up the nerve to suggest it. I’m going to borrow your words to send to my family/friends.” 

Some of them elaborated, and shared perhaps a bit too much. It turned into a confessional for a few of them.  “Oh thank God. You are my hero. I’ve been trying to get out of a gift exchange with my sister-in-law for 15 years and have not been able to cut the cord. I’ve danced around the topic, but she doesn’t take the hint. She takes personal pride in gift giving. She thinks she gives really good, personal gifts, but she doesn’t. I send most of what she gives me to Goodwill. She gives nice - and usually expensive -  gifts, but they’re not my taste whatsoever. So then I feel obligated to reciprocate with a gift of equal value, and I really don’t have a good handle on her taste, so it feels like wasted money. I know a couple restaurants she likes and I’ve given her gift cards for those places, but then she goes on and on about how she takes so much time and pride in finding just the right and personal gifts for friends and family and I feel like heel for resorting to a gift card. The whole thing is a stress-inducing nightmare saga for me. I’m copying your email and sending it to her. Right after I have a couple drinks.”

From another friend:
“And that is how it’s done. Remember Kelly, my roommate in grad school? We’ve drifted apart over the past 10 years. But we always made a big deal about our birthdays so we keep sending each other birthday gifts, even though we haven’t actually seen each other in 11 years. We barely even talk to each other. Christmas gifts and birthday gifts are pretty much the only time we communicate with each other. It’s silly. And yet I feel guilty if I don’t send her something. Trill, I don’t know the slightest thing about her anymore. In her holiday card she mentioned a new job and longer commute, but I don’t even know where she was working before the ‘new’ job. In fact, I didn’t even know she was working! She quit after her second baby, I didn’t realize she’d gone back to work and then she’s telling me she started a new job with a longer commute. And yet every August I go shopping for a birthday present for her. I just find something I like and send it to her. I’m sure she probably re-gifts the presents I send her. This has to stop. I’m doing what you did with this email.”

And then…there were the others. The people, mostly family, who protested. “But Trill, we love giving you gifts.” 
 
Really? At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I have to ask why, if you love giving me gifts, I have received such memorable gifts as: a sweater shaver that was obviously regifted because the Christmas tag from the person who originally gave it to my sister-in-law is still on it; Bath and Body Works pre-packaged holiday gift sets in a weird fragrances from the same person for the past five years; a handbag that had obviously been used; an Omaha steak delivery from a cousin who knows darned well I’m a vegetarian (perhaps this is a “gag” gift, and it did make me gag); novelty socks in a child’s size…shall I continue?

I know, I know, it’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts. But. Erm. Exactly what are the thoughts in the above mentioned gifts? Certainly not, “I care about you,” or “you’re special to me,” or even, “I saw this and thought of you.” Those gifts say, “It’s Christmas/your birthday and I am obligated to send you a gift, I found the fastest and first thing I could find and gave it to you.”

I’m about to show a side of me I don’t often show. It’s the evil Trillian, or, Trevil, as I call her.

Perhaps they object to discontinuing the gift-giving because they want to continue receiving the gifts I send them. Apart from a couple years when I was unemployed, I typically spend a decent amount of money on gifts for family and friends. I’m not saying I’m the best gift-giver ever, but I do spend a fair amount of time finding a gift that’s at least somewhat relevant to the recipients. And, I don’t take the cheapo way out by giving one gift for a husband/wife/kids unit. My brother, his wife and his daughter all receive individual gifts for holidays and birthdays. Yep. That’s three gifts I’m giving, while they’re giving only one to me. Not that I’m keeping score. But. Monetarily-wise most of my friends and family are coming out way, way ahead in the gift exchange with me. (I told you, Trevil is not nice, she can be petty and acrimonious.)

After many emails along the lines of, "No, no, really, there's nothing I need or want, spend the money on yourself or make a donation to a charity that's important to you," the subject subsided. 

And then my birthday rolled around. Please note, I spent the Sunday prior to my birthday with my mother and we had a Mother's Day/birthday dinner and gift exchange. My mother outdid herself this year.

On my actual birthday I received: a phone call from my mother, two happy birthdays in emails from friends.

I got exactly what I asked for: Nothing. 

Which is fine. I did not want gifts. 

And my birthday really is not a big deal to me. I really don't care about greetings. Truly. In spite of how this is probably sounding, I'd rather have silence than a perfunctory, "Happy birthday" from a friend or relative for whom the greeting is nothing more than something to cross off their daily to-do list.

However, this turned into an interesting social experiment. I requested no gifts, suggesting instead social outings or a phone call or that my friends and family spend the money on something for themselves or a charitable donation.
 
Most of my friends and family took this as a "Get Out of Trill's Birthday" pass. People who normally sent me gifts did absolutely nothing, no call, no card, not even texts. 
 
 One friend and my sister did send texts after my birthday, apologizing for the tardy greeting. 
 
It now poses somewhat of a conundrum for me. There are people, friends, family members, for whom I enjoy sending a birthday greeting. I like making birthday phone calls. But now I've painted myself into a socially awkward corner. If I don't send birthday cards/calls/texts to friends and family on their birthdays, will it look spiteful? The message being: "You didn't even send me a text on my birthday, so, even though I always call and send a card for your birthday, I'm giving you what you gave me: Nothing."  
 
Or, if I do send card/make calls will it look like I'm trying to play some guilt or superiority game?

9:16 PM

 
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