Category Archives: Scribbles by Viv

Life Lists: From To-Do to Do-Who? to The Bucket List

by Viv Sade

I continue to stand by my claim that the vast majority of males and females have “A List.” I have always had one, although the listed names tend to change from time to time. My siblings, co-workers, in-laws, neighbors and friends have A List, which is never written down or documented and cannot be proven in a court of law. It lives only in the smoky, debased corners of the minds and libidos of the Listers.

Simply put, it’s The List of Who-You-Would-Throw-Your-Significant-Other-Overboard-For-In-A-Heartbeat. The List is not limited by geography, ethnicities, cultures or — and I cannot emphasize this enough— morals.

Chance encounters include scenarios such as:

Brad-Pitt-Most-Handsome-Man-2017
Brad Pitt

• You’re stranded on a desert island for a week with Brad Pitt, a single cot mattress and a Parcheesi board game — what will you do?;

• You’re traveling in another country, far away from anyone who knows you, the hotel has overbooked and you are forced to share a room with Channing Tatum and Denzel  Washington;

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Channing Tatum
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Denzel Washington

• You live in India and somehow get stuck in an elevator for three days with three bottles of water (hydration is important) and actor Hrithik Roshan, who was on his way to a photo shoot;

Hrithik-Roshan-Actor India
Hrithik Roshan

• You live in Iran and super model Omar Borkan Al Gala has unexpectedly shown up at your parents’ dinner party. He sits next to you and although you are dressed modestly and have covered your hair, you feel naked. Yikes!

• You’ve been hired to pull a rickshaw in Taiwan to earn credit toward your Ph.D in

Omar Borkan Al Gala
Omar Borkan Al Gala

Taiwanese Transportation Engineering when model/actor Godfrey Gao climbs into your rickshaw and you find yourself wanting to do a lot more with your loins than just pull him.

• On a business trip, while staying at the Holiday Inn Express and watching reruns of “Dexter,” Jennifer Aniston knocks on the door and asks if you have any Aveeno hand lotion she can borrow to lubricate her hands and your body (my hubby’s favorite scenario).

Godfrey-Gao-Taiwan-Model-Actor
Godfrey Gao

Anyway, high on My List was John Corbett. You know — Aidan, Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend on “Sex and the City” and Ian Miller, the betrothed of Nia Vardalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

The main reason people have A List is because they will never, ever, in their lifetime, run into the celebrities on The List. That is the whole point of the list. It’s harmless because it is unattainable.

Oh yeah, I’ve heard Jimmy Carter’s (a fine man by anyone’s standard’s) whole “Lust in Your Heart is still a sin” argument, but I think, well, I think that’s bull$#*! jennifer-aniston-aveeno-2014-lg(probably because I am not a fine woman by anyone’s standards).

So, imagine my surprise some years ago when I was assigned by my editor to write a story on John Corbett who, it turns out, was not only an actor, but a musician, and was performing at a concert at the Auburn Street Fair in northeast Indiana.

Professionally, I thought: Maybe I should ask for a more powerful camera strobe in order to get some clear night shots.

Personally I thought: Bonus! He’s on My List.

Lindsay and Jenny, two younger reporters, immediately volunteered to go along and “help.”

Later — after the three of us had made a fast trip home, changed our clothes and re-applied our make-up and perfume— we made our way to the street stage to write an unbiased, ethical and judicious story on John Corbett that would involve no personal feelings about how super hot he was.

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John Corbett

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, really.

It was a dark and stormy night.

It was pouring down rain and the concert crowd was dismal, sullen and drenched.

A group of women had gathered at the bottom of the stage to take photos and throw their scarves and hats on stage. Or was it their panties and bras? It was hard to see without a strobe on my camera, which I had neglected to ask for.

Since we were professionals and there was a job to do, we hardly noticed JohnCorbettCorbett’s ripped triceps and 6-pack abs that bulged through his form-fitting shirt or the tight jeans that embraced his tight, muscular thighs. Well, I hardly noticed, anyway.

After the concert, we ran through the downpour to a city hall room across the street, where I interviewed John Corbett with Jenny and Lindsay at my side. While asking questions, I ignored his twinkling eyes, dazzling smile and absolutely charming cowboy hat, which was tilted at a sexy angle over … have I mentioned his eyes?

Despite the wet, chilly weather outside, I had to stop a couple of times and use my reporter notebook to fan myself. I knew the HVAC system was out of whack because Lindsay and Jenny were doing the same with their notebooks.

Trying to maintain my journalistic professionalism as Lindsay and Jenny stared at John’s belt buckle — or maybe that was me — I asked if he preferred acting or music. He answered something, I think. I neglected to write it down. I was lost in thought watching his perfect mouth form words through those perfect teeth. I’ll bet he paid some cosmetic dentist a fortune for those teeth. How much would a set of teeth like that cost? Maybe if I got a second job …

… The charming, tall, handsome guy with the body of a Greek god and Jared Leto eyes was asking me something.

“Are you writing down everything I say in shorthand?” Corbett asked while peering at my notes.

“Uh,” I stuttered, “yes, I am.”

“Read it back to me,” he commanded with that smile while pointing to the last sentence I had written.MyBigFatGreekWedding

“OK,” I said, “It says, ‘Well anyone can act but I’ve always had a passion for music.’ ”

(What I had actually written was, “This guy is so hot my joints have fused together and my overheated thighs have created enough friction to launch a NASA space shuttle.”)

He laughed. “Wow. Shorthand. That is so cool. But, how do I know that’s what it really says?”

“You just have to trust me,” I said.

The interview drew to a close, only because I could not think of one more thing to ask that would drag it out any longer, when John asked, “Hey, want to join us at the hotel? There will be chow and we can hang out.”

I thought I had imagined that invitation, except there were two witnesses, both of whom emitted audible gasps.

Did I want to join him?!  Did I want to wrap my arms and legs around his beautiful

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John Corbett and Sarah Jessica Parker (also a 10!) in “Sex and the City”

torso, swing on vines and play Tarzan and Jane? Did I want to play wannabe Beauty and to his sultry Beast? Did I want to be Marie Curie and rendezvous in the laboratory with my Pierre? Oh My God. Yes! Yes! YES!

Instead, I blurted out the only thing that came to mind: “Thanks, that would be fun, but I have a deadline to meet.”

I felt Lindsay and Jenny kick me in the kidneys. Hard.

I was 51 and feeling it. All I could think was that, as far as I knew, John Corbett still lived with Bo Derek — a f*^%$#! Ten.

I realized that he had only asked us to join him for chow, but I had no intention of going up against a Ten, even for chow (something I happen to excel at).

So we left. My younger co-workers chastised me all the way back to the news office. What was I thinking? Was I crazy?! Was I suffering from dementia?! Had I done LSD in my younger hippie days?!

 

I really was not sure what I was thinking. After all, he was on The List.

Corbett signed notebook
Proof, perhaps, that I was not dreaming?

When I got home later that night, I was so excited that I told my significant other every detail of the evening. He was less thrilled, although I could not, for the life of me, understand why. I would have shown him some empathy and support had Jennifer Aniston showed up with a bottle of Aveeno on our doorstep.

The stars had aligned and along with bad weather, a dismally low turnout and low lighting, had greatly increased the chances of John Corbett inviting us to “hang out” with him. I know those factors played very heavily in my favor. But, I’ll take it.

I’ll take it all the way to my grave with a smile on my face.

: < )

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Any woman who avoids sunlight, enjoys staying up all night and has an allergic reaction to garlic usually has Robert Pattinson at the top of The List.
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Ricky Martin is on The List of any able-bodied and sane gay man, as well as on The List of any heterosexual female who wants a chance to “turn him.”
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Canadian model Noah Mills is on The List of anyone wishing to cross the border for reasons that are not political.
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Tom Cruise is on The List of anyone seeking to decry and do everything possible to abolish any and all abuses against life and Mankind; to expose and help abolish any and all physically damaging practices in the field of mental health; to support true humanitarian endeavors in the fields of human rights; who believes the psychotic ramblings of a science fiction writer in the 1950’s; and especially those who like to play dress-up in spiffy naval-like uniforms and military style decorative medals and ribbons while handing the majority of their incomes  over to the meat vessels in charge.

Hoosier’s Relaxing Retirement Takes Radical Turn

by Viv Sade

INDIANAPOLIS – So there I was, for the first time in my life, with seven other women who, for the first time in their lives, marched for a cause, surrounded by thousands of others — many who rallied for the first time in their lives — to join in solidarity on our promise to “never go back.”

It was the day after the presidential inauguration, Jan. 21, and we traveled two hours south to join other women (and many men and children) in a protest on the outside terrace and walkways of the State House in Indianapolis. We rallied in support of the main march in Washington, D.C., which drew between 440,000 and half a million people in support of women’s rights and against the Trump presidency. We were joined by hundreds of thousands of supporters from more than 60 countries and at cities throughout the U.S.

Turns out I was not alone in my fears for humanity. viv-sign-rally-1-21-17

It was a very peaceful, inspiring and, at times, emotional afternoon. But here’s the thing: I had numerous other things I would rather have been doing. What I resent the most about the Trump administration is not any of the hot topics that quickly come to the minds of the majority of people who voted against him (nearly 3 million, but who’s counting?)

After a major health crisis, I decided life was too short. I took an early retirement six months ago so I could spend time doing the things I love: hosting and attending get-togethers with family and friends, playing with my grandchildren, writing a novel, gardening, bird-watching, visiting wineries and reading the many books I have not yet had time to read.

At the age where I should be in a hammock somewhere — anywhere — warmer than Indiana, kicking back with a margarita (or two) and reading “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus,” I instead find myself forced into the role of an activist — attending rallies, joining women’s groups and calling state and national representatives every week to speak out on various issues. What the heck?

I got my first job at the age of 14 and, with the exception of a few short maternity leaves, have been working ever since, at times holding down two or three jobs at a time. I’ve been working and paying taxes for 50 years.

And then the Electoral College made Donald Trump President of the United States.

Damn it.

I wanted to take Garrison Keillor’s advice, which he outlined in a column shortly after the election: “…spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long , brisk walk and smell the roses.”jane-pam-rally-1-21-17

I tried, to no avail. For one thing, I don’t drink beer. For another thing, I live in northern Indiana where there’s a very small, climatic window for smelling roses.

Turns out I care about the rights of all people, no matter their race, ethnicity or birthplace. I don’t care what their choice of faith is, or isn’t, unless it harms others. (Think Leah Remini and her crusade against the Church Cult of Scientology, yet another cause which, alas, I feel compelled to join.) I care about the rights of relatives and friends in the LGBT community and often fear for their safety. I care about the quality of the air, water and land and protecting this beautiful world for future generations. I care about the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other tribes who have been disrespected and disregarded for too long. And, don’t even get me started on the First Amendment.

You get my drift. There just aren’t enough margaritas or artisan beers to dispel my concerns. Sigh.

And, that’s how I found myself in Indianapolis with thousands of others on an unusually warm January day.

Regardless of the balmy, springlike weather, I bundled up like I was joining the entire population of Antarctica — 30 people — at their women’s rally. Because, more terrifying than thinking about the future effects of climate change, was the fact that I could not afford to get pneumonia, since the first thing the new president did was issue an executive death order to deep-six my and my husband’s ACA healthcare coverage.

“Give him a chance,” the pro-Trump people said. I was prepared to, but he effectively ended any chances within two hours of taking office.

That’s when I grabbed my walking stick and started marching.great-group-shot-1-21-17rally

 

 

 

 

 

Wild and Crazy: All in the Eyes of the Beholder

by Viv Sade

I am no so much bothered by getting old − I much prefer it to the alternative − but I am extremely bothered by getting boring.

Take tonight, the 64th anniversary of my husband’s birth in LaPorte, Indiana — Home of the Slicers (a required phrase after the word “LaPorte,” according to Indiana statute).

We decided to use some gift cards we received for Christmas and take in a movie and then dine at a local steakhouse — not something we do very often.  We were both psyched.

In the old days, on a date like this, we would have whispered sweet nothings to each other in the theatre, left without the faintest idea as to the name of the movie, had two or three cocktails at the restaurant, skipped dinner altogether and hurried home because we could barely keep our hands off of one another.

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The author and her husband no longer think it’s funny to pose as Tacky Senior Tourists, since they are now living as TSTs.

As it was, we went to an early afternoon matinée, got the senior discount, waited in a loooong line behind other cost-conscious Baby Boomers, and shuffled into the theater, complaining to one another that it must be Senior Cinema Discount Day — until we realized that we were the seniors.

The movie was good, but one man in the back of the theater laughed loudly at every scene, and since it was not a comedy, this began to annoy my husband. He would roll his eyes and grumble under his breath every time the man chortled, which made me laugh out loud, causing me to became the Second Inappropriate Laugher.

Most theaters now have nice, cozy recliners instead of those uncomfortable plastic bucket seats, which would have been nice in my youth, but these days, after I recline and use my coat as a blanket, I start to nod off just minutes into the previews.

We tried to identify the Inappropriate Laugher on the way out of the theater, but it was impossible. Besides, people were nudging each other and casting sideway glances in our direction, obviously identifying me as the Second Inappropriate Laugher, so we ducked our heads and scurried out.

On the way to the restaurant, I told my husband not to try and turn left unless he went to the nearby stoplight, which he did not do, and I inhaled sharply and might have screamed just a little as he pulled out in front of a truck and veered into the right lane. He yelled and forbade me from ever breathing or inhaling loudly — or for God’s sake, screaming — anytime he is driving.

It unnerves him, he said.

Not as much as pulling into four lanes of heavy traffic unnerves me, I thought but did not say. It was his birthday, after all.

Alive against all odds and seated in the restaurant, I ordered the sirloin steak dinner and the spouse ordered grilled swordfish, since beef always precludes a bout of no-doubt gout.

It was good, except that the Chef’s Special swordfish came with a side dish of white beans and kale. I’m a kale lover, but my husband often refers to the leafy green as “punishment.” So when I saw the fish atop a heap of beans and kale, I laughed, even as he narrowed his eyes and stared longingly at my loaded baked potato. I instinctively moved it closer to my side of the table.

On the drive home, we both looked at the dash clock in awe. By the time we drove the 20 miles or so home and pulled into our driveway, it was exactly 5:05 p.m. What a lurid night — well, afternoon, really — of debauchery and reckless adventure!

This led to a Senior Reminisce Moment. Remember when we would drink too many gin and tonics, sit on the same side of the booth in restaurants, forget to eat, stay up talking and laughing until 3 in the morning and then go to work three hours later?

Collective sigh from the two young-at-heart seniors in the front seat of the Buick LeSabre parked in their driveway.

As it was, we roused ourselves from our melancholy and simultaneously gave each other “that look.” We both knew what the other yearned for and wanted so badly. We could not wait a minute more to get into the house, run to the bedroom, tear our clothes off and …

… put on our pajamas and slippers and watch the latest episode of “Shameless.”

 

 

 

 

 

Pillow talk leads to marital discord

by viv sade

My day does not go smoothly if the bed is not made to perfection every morning.

The guy who lives with me — only ’cause I guess that’s what married people do (who knew?)— would crawl out of the same heap of sweaty sheets and covers every day of the year and never smooth the linens, fluff the pillows, straighten the comforter or arrange the decorative pillows if he had his way. He would never, ever launder them.

“Why? We’re just going to mess them up again in 16 hours,” he says with real sincerity.

Bed making is a habit instilled in me by a mother who grew up during the Great Depression and had few luxuries like sheets, pillowcases or bedspreads. She would spend the rest of her life buying an excessive amount of linen while honing —  and teaching her children — the fine art of dscn5389quality bed making.

Here’s the rule: The first one downstairs in the morning feeds the cats and cleans out the litter box. The last one out of the bed makes the bed.

I am an early riser and the Significant Other is a late nighter so the bed making usually falls to him. He is not happy about this.

He reasons that while sustaining life (as in feeding the cats) is a necessity, making the bed is not. Besides, as he often points out, there are enough pillows to equip an entire Army Guard infantry regiment.dscn5386

The Sig Other is of the same opinion as Hoosier comedian Jim Gaffigan when it comes to making beds: “Making the bed is like re-tying your shoelaces after removing your shoes.”

I quit listening to S.O.’s grumblings years ago, so when I recently redecorated, he resorted to leaving notes stating his displeasure at the new comforter and decorative pillows.

The first note said, “I have had no formal training on what to do with this pillow. Zero!”pillow-note-bg

He later decided to rearrange the pillows according to his Man Eye, which is useless when it comes to chic decor concepts.

Instead of the casual, yet symmetrical combination of colors, textures and placement that I had pre-approved, he had mixed clashing hues and fabrics in an asymmetrical jumble.

My OCD went into overdrive. But since I also have ADD, it didn’t last long. pillow-talk

Our intimate, heartfelt pillow talks have continued over the years, although admittedly we have never resolved this issue.

Our pillow talks usually morph into colorful — yet chic and asymmetrical —pillow fights, and always end with S.O.’s astonished cry of, “You’ve got to be kidding me — another $#@%ing pillow?!”

 

 

 

 

Paleo vegetarian serves up a lot of BS

by viv sade

I have a friend who is a vegetarian, which is Latin for plantslayer. is-3

Between her and me — a 10-year gluten-free freak, which is Latin for painintheass — going to a restaurant is a big deal for us and an ordeal for the waitress.

We tip well. We have to, otherwise there would be toenails and saliva and god knows what else in our vegetable-oil-sauted-organic-gluten-free-tofu-steaks.

My friend— uh, let’s call her Becky — (NOTE: all names similar to or the exact same as my real friends are purely coincidental) — not only avoids all meat, but inquires as to whether or not the food is prepared with any animal products, such as a chicken stock base.  That’s too much work for me. Being gluten free is like following a paleo (think: Caveman) diet. This is Indiana. Throw a half a cow on a platter and call it a day. Double-deep fry a stick of butter in pig fat and I’m good to go.is-5

Becky is not a vegetarian because she loves animals. She is a vegetarian because she hates plants.

I’ve never been able to diet and I suck at exercising. The second I think “D-I-E-T,” I crave a triple Big Mac with double bacon. And, I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.

I know people who swear by the Atkins Diet and have lost a tremendous amount of weight, which is nothing short of a miracle. I mean, geesh, have you seen what those people eat?!is-1

Daily Atkins Menu

Breakfast: Deep fried sow, scrambled eggs in heavy cream sauce and a dozen cheese sticks

A.M. snack: Four pounds of bacon and a wheel of Colby with whipped cream

Lunch: Two lambs, three ducks and a partridge in a pear tree

P.M. snack: Pork crackling nachos with whale blubber and ostrich egg and butter salsa

Dinner: A black Angus steer and two cheesecakes with pork rind crusts

Bedtime snack: Elk pate′ and two 24-inch cheese crust pizzas topped with hamburger, ham, pepperoni, sausage, a triple layer of  mozarella and a large bowl of whipping creamis-2

Atkins followers are single-handedly to blame for the extinction of the animal species.

I have to admit, at recent dinner parties I have been serving Atkins-type meals. My plan is to fatten up everyone else around me so that I will look thinner.

This is not hard to do when one considers that the casket adds 165 pounds to the ones who have keeled over with a heart attack.

 

 

 

HOW LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES ARE BORN; OR THE WAR OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH

viv sade

It all began at the Teamsters Union hall party at Christmas, when my brothers and I would receive a bag of oranges, a bag of candy and visit with Santa Claus. Dad, a commercial truck driver and Teamster member, once brought home a 10-pound bag of cashews from the party and my brothers and I gorged ourselves until we threw up. I’ve been pro-union and anti-cashew ever since.

Then in fifth grade I fell madly in love. He was dreamy. A “cool cat.” When he smiled or spoke I melted. I wanted to run away, or at the very least, hold hands — with President John F. Kennedy.

The very first page in my elementary scrapbook is a picture of the president that I cut out of Life Magazine. My leanings were established. My feet were firmly planted and took root on the Democratic yellow brick road.

I didn’t really think about politics as a child or even as teen or young adult. In fifth grade, I only worried if the boy I secretly liked would say “ugh,” when he saw my new hairdo — or worse, not even notice my new hairdo.

But I was aware there were some bad things going on. Dad was reading, “How to Build a Family Bomb Shelter,” there seemed to be a fight with a bay of pigs on some island far away and children — like me, except for the color of their skin — could not go to school with white people.

The photo of the pretty little girl with the sad face who was dressed in a frilly white dress as police escorted her to school through a crowd of mean people yelling horrible things — she was just a little girl! — was forever etched into my young, impressible brain. It is on page two in the scrapbook.

I was a liberal by President Kennedy’s and Webster’s definition: “one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways.” But I would not come to terms with this label until I was well into my thirties.

To top it off, I lived in northeast (READ: very-Republican) Indiana. No one had the courage to tell me I had a hard row to hoe.

Recently, I asked Elizabeth, the 20-something youngest daughter of my first cousin in Arkansas, to explain why she is a conservative.

Her father and I hung out as kids when I was in the South visiting our grandmother. We rode bikes all over the Ozarks (those hills!), went swimming in creeks and stone quarries and stole watermelons out of nearby farmers’ fields. At night, we would lay side-by-side in the grass on Grandma’s front lawn and talk while gazing at the stars and moon.

We have always had a lot in common and still do.

Other than he named one of his six daughters Reagan after “the greatest president who ever lived,” and I have a niece and nephew named Kennedy and Truman.

For the past eight years when we visited I’ve had to listen to my cousin blame President Obama for a tornado that took out his barn and two shade trees, a recently acquired toenail fungus and the high price of a gallon of milk.

But that’s payback.

He had to listen to me rant during the G.W. Bush years.

His daughter, Elizabeth, told me that some people (mostly liberal Yankees — no names, please) may think her parents dropped her on her head as a baby, but that is not the case.

“I, a true conservative, can tell you the actual haunting reasons for my swing to the right started on a hot summer’s day in 1997. I was six-years-old and kicked out of the house, along with my older sisters, so Mommy could have her “Fox News Time” (also known as wine and soap opera hour),” Elizabeth recounted.

Liz SMith Peru 2016
Elizabeth is shown spending time with some local children on a mission trip to Peru.

“We played basketball in the front yard, chased each other with sticks that had cow manure firmly attached to the end (something all southern conservatives know about) and fought among ourselves until we almost killed each other. The true test came when we got thirsty.”

Knowing we couldn’t enter the house without stern yelling for interrupting Bill O’Reilly, we took turns slurping long drinks from the water hose. There was something in that water that I blame to this day for being a conservative. Maybe it was the taste of freedom that the cold water brought to a hot July day. Or the way the water made you scream, “Merica” when someone would intentionally spray you in the face,” she said.

“I do know that when my liberal Yankee cousins came to visit they always avoided the hose. I am sure it didn’t have anything to do with how redneck we looked; maybe one day when I visit them I will try their water.”

Viv Hippie Janet unknowing
1975: The author’s liberal ways seem to horrify her little sister, or was it the bell bottoms?

Elizabeth and her sisters are educated women who are beautiful inside and out. Elizabeth is a missionary and very involved in her church. She recently returned from a mission trip to Peru.

She is a person who will, and has, made a difference.

My chosen passion is writing and my only hope is that I have made people laugh, smile or think with a piece I’ve written.

We’re from opposite ends when it comes to age and political leanings, but our values are the same — we both want to do good, help our fellow man and contribute.

I believe that in the end, politics will not matter at all — whether a person is a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green Ticket, voted for Stewart/Colbert or does not even know the name of the current president of the United States.

All that will really matter is if you were kind, considerate, forgiving (especially of the Yankee liberals, Liz) and tolerant of others.

Note: The author is still a bit miffed that Cuz Liz is a funnier writer than she is and that may be the only thing the liberal in her cannot tolerate.

When it comes to creating passwords, I’ll pass

by Viv Sade

When my oldest son — who works in security in Washington, D.C.— comes to visit, he is always completely aghast at my total lack of anything remotely resembling security.

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Identity theft can happen to anyone who is not aware.

He runs around securing the premises every night, locking doors, planning the escape route in case of a midnight emergency, stocking up on bottled water and 20-pound cans of beans and wearing cammo and SWAT gear to take out my garbage.

Normally, my nightly security routine consists of getting up at 2 a.m. and shutting the front door after I fall asleep on the couch watching “Intervention.”

What drives my son the craziest, though, is a document on my computer desktop titled “PASSWORDS.”

Actually, there are now two documents — one entitled “NEW PASSWORDS” and another called “OLD PASSWORDS.”

“Mom,” he admonishes, “Tell me you do not put your passwords to every account you have out there for the whole world to see?!”

So I tell him, “Don’t be silly. Of course I don’t. I’ve never had the whole world stop by and want to use my computer. Just you or one of the other kids.”

My kids know better than to try and steal my credit or lack thereof. And God help any thief who swipes my identity. The joke is clearly on him. He’s not laughing all the way to the bank. The bank is laughing him all the way out of the bank.

The problem is that I often forget my password and am forced to come up with a new password — so I continue to keep a list of OLD and NEW passwords. For that reason, I try to K.I.S.S. when it comes to passwords.

I prefer easy-to-remember passwords like “password,” “vivspassword” or “mypassword.”

But because of security measures, that usually does not pass the muster. As a result, I can sometimes spend an entire afternoon on the computer, just trying to come up with an acceptable password.

My son, on the other hand, will change his password every five or six days just to make sure he is secure. One week he changed it from “<>catinhatprobe?/{678}=&!^%2jack@$$esDRAG78men2Jail<>” to “<>hatincatprobe?/{678}=&!^%2jack@$$esDRAG79men2Jail<>.”

When I wanted to use his laptop, it took three days and two nights just for him to relay the password.

Seriously — who’s got that kind of time? I’m not a young woman.

This is how I create a password:

web1_9.16-CBN-viv-column2-2c-c
To be creative when developing new passwords, one must first unlock the Windows of his mind.

WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.

VIV: password

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

VIV: passwords

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one numerical character.

VIV: 1password

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot begin with a numerical character.

VIV: password1

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one symbol.

VIV: password1!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.

USER: password1DAMMit!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.

VIV: DAMN password1 and I hate you!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain blank spaces.

VIV: IamdrivingtoWINDOWScity, whereIwillstranglethelifeoutofyou-andleaveyou4dead!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation or hyphens.

VIV: IHATEU!IHATEU!IH8U!

WINDOWS: Sorry, you have already used that password and must create a new password.

VIV: @#$%!&1*@#$%@&&!HATEHATEHATEyou!

WINDOWS: That password is already taken.

— Viv Sade lives in Churubusco and is a lifetime member of the International Identity Thieves Do-Not-Call List.

Getting old? Who’s complaining?

I used to hate the way my face was falling to the earth – outpaced only by my thighs.

The other day a lady asked the name of the chubby dog who was sleeping soundly and wrapped around my feet. I had to tell her it was my ankles.

The main problem with growing old is that even if you still feel young mentally, externally you begin to crack and disintegrate like a human pork rind.

But I’m not complaining. Every day I wake up is a great day; every birthday is a celebration.

I had always been healthy, but at 50 was hit with breast cancer. I never felt sick and came through the treatment of radiation, surgery and a five years of medication just fine.

Last year, at the age of 60, doctors discovered a tumor the size of Rhode Island growing between my brain and my ear canal. It was called an acoustic neuroma, the doctor said gently. All I could think to say was that it sounded like a great name for a rock band.

This all came within months of my daughter having a life-threatening adrenal tumor and my mom dying of breast cancer.

I don’t mind telling ‘ya – I was convinced the gods were conspiring to kill me – not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, as well.

Yeah, I know, I know – what doesn’t kill you …

Anyway, after a 13-hour brain surgery at I.U. Medical Center in Indianapolis, I was as good as new.

That’s a lie.

I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t drink. I couldn’t sit up. Heck, I couldn’t even roll over in bed.  Half of my face was frozen and numb because the tumor had wrapped around my right facial nerve. Someone had fashioned a turban out of barbed wire and attached it to my head with steel beams and iron spikes which were tangled in my bloody hair.

On the up side, I was on some pretty mind-blowing narcotics. Normally, I don’t even take aspirin, but after surgery, well, I was waaaay down in the hole with Alice and the White Rabbit.

My family members were there for most of my 9-day stay and did their damnedest to make me rip out my stitches and blow out my brain with laughter.

That’s the one thing I could do — laugh— albeit out-of the side of my mouth with a gurgling sound and one wide-open, freaky eye that refused to close, giving me the appearance of a mutant swamp monster. I didn’t care. Did I mention the drugs?

On the head trauma floor of the ICU unit, there’s not a lot of humor to be found, but my kids, husband, and siblings are experts at turning over big, black, ominous rocks and finding the potentially unfunny funny.

Every few minutes, around the clock, a staff member would come to my bedside, ask me to squeeze his/her fingers and ask the same questions: “Do you know your name?”, What day is it?”, “Where are you?” and “Who is president?”

I have married twice, taking both husbands’ names, reverted to my maiden name after my second divorce then married again and did not take his name.

My mom, on her deathbed, told me she had quit writing my names in the family Bible — there weren’t enough pages.

The first time the nurse asked me if I knew my name, one of my brothers quipped,  “Oh sure, start with the hard questions.”

My own children, after telling the hospital receptionist that they were there to see their mom, paused and looked dumbfounded when she asked my last name.

I’ve decided to be like Cher. It’s just Viv.

I did like to mess with the nurses when they asked if I knew who the president was: “Taft?”, “Churchill?”, “Weird Al Yankovic?”, “Grant? Did the North win?”

It was weeks before I could walk or take a shower unaided. I’ve never had to depend on anyone and there I was, helpless as a newborn. The gods were conspiring to humble me.

Accomplishing one goal at a time — walking up and down stairs, gardening for ten minutes straight, driving, going back to work part-time, and hiking 5 miles up and down a  Virginia mountain with my kids and grandkids five months after surgery – I recovered.

There’s still a slight palsy on the right side of my face but for the most part, my face came back home and my wrinkles returned. I no longer look like I got Botox injections from a one-eyed physician.

I was so happy to see my wrinkles that I made them a welcome home casserole with extra Oil of Olay.

I just wrote 751 words to describe an experience that could be summed up in five: I’m grateful to grow old. I don’t like the alternatives.

 

by Viv Of-Many-Last-Names

IU MEd angel day
A couple of dear friends delivered this angel to watch over me.
At the summit hiking in Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia – five months post-op.

 

 

A glorious, short while with my brother

I remember that Fourth of July like it was yesterday.

Tuesday, July 4, 1978.

I can still feel my gut sink when I remember how I watched out the front window at my parents’ house as the state police car approached the driveway, red lights whirling, but the siren strangely silent.

That’s the moment I learned first-hand what the silent siren meant. That’s also the moment I learned what it means when two somber officers walk to the front door with heads down and hats in hand.

I was 26, the oldest of eight living children.

Now seven.

My brother, Marcus, was 20, soon to turn 21. He had enlisted in the Air Force to complete his college education and “see the world,” and was home on leave for two weeks from Lackland AFB in Texas before beginning a new post in Alaska. He was very excited, promising mom and dad that he would “buy a little piece of Alaska where the entire family could vacation.”

My parents, siblings — including twins who were only 6 — my two young children, and a bevy of aunts, uncles and cousins had gathered for a Fourth of July barbecue. It was a joyous celebration – Marcus was home to regale us with his side-splitting, humorous stories of of the rigor and rituals of the Armed Services and life in general.

He was the darling — the nucleus — of the family. My brothers, sisters and I would all probably have to agree that he was the most handsome, talented, intelligent, creative and wittiest one of us all. Marc had just returned from Mexico and brought back gifts for everyone, a wool poncho, blankets, sombreros, and — for dad — a large bottle of Mexican tequila with a fat worm lying at the bottom of the bottle. Mom frowned her disapproval.

To the delight of the younger ones, he fished out the dead worm and offered to cut it up and let each kid have a bite. They squealed in horror and he laughed. He also played “Monster” with the little ones — a game he made up — where he was the Monster and the kids had to run and hide or defend themselves and slay him. They loved it.

Marcus in Texas 1978

Some of his old high school friends stopped by and talked Marc into going canoeing at Chain O’Lakes State Park. He was reluctant — he was having a good time with the family — but mom urged him to go and have fun with his friends. He could visit with everyone when he got back, she told him.

As he walked out the door, he jokingly said to mom, “Well, OK, I’ll go, but you know I’ll just become another July 4th beach statistic.”

It was the last time we ever saw Marcus.

Two hours later, he drowned after jumping out of the canoe and racing his buddy, Mike Dell, to shore.

Mike later told us that they both dived in, but Marcus, an excellent swimmer, never resurfaced.

There was no autopsy, so we never knew exactly what happened.

My family had never known tragedy until that day.

Darrell Tim Marcus 1963
Marcus at right, with brother, Darrell, at left, and cousin, Timmy, in 1963.

Rescuers had tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late by the time they found him.

Nearly 30 years later, while interviewing a source for a newspaper story, I found out that the man I was interviewing — Department of Natural Resources officer Gary Bontrager — was one of the men who came to our door that day. He told me the other one was Indiana State Trooper John Barrett.

I was shocked. I knew both men well and had no idea they were the ones who had delivered the terrible news of my brother’s death.

All I remembered was the pain.

My dad aged ten years in the three days it took to bury his golden-haired son. His shoulders stooped, and his hair seemed to gray overnight. My mom did not fare much better. They never fully recuperated.

None of us did.

The younger siblings were confused: “When is Marcus coming back to play with us?” The older ones were bewildered: “Why? Why Marcus? He was the gifted one.”

There was never another family get-together or barbecue on July 4th. The older siblings who had children would dutifully take their kids to the fireworks, but to us it was never the Fourth of July — it was the anniversary of Marc’s death.

The Air Force gave my brother full military rites. As they folded the flag that had been draped over Marcus’ casket and handed it to my mom and dad, jets from Grissom Air Force Base flew overhead in a “V” formation framed in a brilliant blue sky. A friend of Marcus’ played “Taps” on his trumpet, choking up several times and having to start over.

An Air Force officer read a poem — something about how this child was not ours to keep, but only loaned to us for a short while.

It was sunny without a cloud in the sky, but we saw nothing but clouds.

Marc’s friend, Mike, suffered tremendous guilt for years, agonizing over what he could have done, what he should have done, but none of us blamed him. Our hearts broke for him. Life sometimes deals a horrible hand, one beyond understanding — and no one is to blame.

Mike later moved to Oregon and had his own charter fishing business. He was out at sea one day, a storm came up and he never returned. They never recovered his boat or body.

Dad died in 1999, Mom in 2012. They are buried next to Marc. I like to think they are all together again. Maybe Marc  and his friend, Mike, are entertaining them with stories of their earthly adventures.

He was only with us for about 21 years, but they were  wonderful years – a glorious, short while.

I always thought Marcus had a say in what would be his last day on earth. I can almost hear him saying, with that beautiful smile and twinkle in his eyes, “For the rest of your life, every time you see fireworks, you will think of me.”

And we do.