Tag Archives: Crazy people

Well done, Your Majesty. Well done.

This piece isn’t that old, but it makes me smile.  So I’m reposting it on the day when Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.  Well done, your Majesty.  Well done.

One Badass Broad

In 1973, I went on a field trip with my high school acting group.  To London.  To a week of plays in London’s West End.

Because I was far too cool to be a tourist, I did almost none of the typical tourist things while I was there.  (I was an idiot.  There is a reason folks want to visit the Tower of London, etc.).  There was one exception, though.  I went to Madame Tussaud’s — the famous Wax Museum.  While there, I was still too cool to be impressed by how realistic the wax figures were.  Well, until something happened to really make me smile.

My friends and I had just about finished touring the museum, when we entered the exhibit for The Royals.  From behind me I heard the sweetest voice.

“Mummy!  That’s Our Queen!

A little English boy, no more than four had entered the exhibit.  He wore navy blue shorts and suspenders, and his cheeks were as rosy as a young English boy’s should be.  He lit up the room with his pride.   In his Queen.

“Yes, Darling,” replied his Mum.  “That’s our Queen.”

From Madame Tussaud's Website

From Madame Tussaud’s Website

At that time, Richard Nixon was President of the U.S.  I was quite sure that there was no little boy in my country who would speak with similar pride about Nixon.

The image of that boy comes to mind every time I see Queen Elizabeth.  And I always smile.

Today I read something about the Queen, though, that makes me smile even wider.

The Huffington Post reported a delightful anecdote about a visit from the newly-late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to the Queen’s Scottish castle, Balmoral.  The story was recounted by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who was the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  He’d been told the story by both the Queen and the King, and relayed it.

“After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate,” wrote Cowper-Coles, who is said to have heard the tale from both Elizabeth and Abdullah themselves. “Prompted by his foreign minister the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah had agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, his interpreter in the seat behind.”

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah. Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah. Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Little did Abdullah know, however, that his driver for the day would be none other than Elizabeth herself.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” Cowper-Coles wrote. “Women are not — yet — allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”

Not to mention a queen who can drive like the wind. According to Cowper-Coles, Elizabeth didn’t just drive the SUV, but rapidly whizzed along the estate’s roads as she chatted, prompting Abdullah to become increasingly anxious.

“Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead,” the diplomat said.

Queen Elizabeth II is one badass broad.  On behalf of drivers of my gender, as well as men far more enlightened than King Abdullah, I bow to you.  I’d curtsey but I’m not that kind of girl.


Quick thank you to Peg for correcting my typo!  Next time, lady, please read my post before everyone else does.


Filed under Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, Awards, Baby You Can Drive My Car, Europe, History, Huh?, Humor, Oh shit, Rerun, Seriously funny, Travel Stories

It’s Not MY Dream. Is it YOURS?

Many years ago, John decided that he and I should buy a Bed & Breakfast somewhere in picturesque New England and leave the Washington DC area behind us.

“No,” I said immediately, the first time he procured an ad for one.

My husband didn’t understand why I wasn’t jumping at the chance.

“Why not?  It’s perfect for us!”

“What would your role be at “our” B&B?”

“Well, I’d …”

I stared him down, believe me.  Because you see, John doesn’t cook.  He doesn’t clean.  And he’s an introvert. If you are an old friend or family, John will welcome you graciously.  Otherwise, he will say hello, and quickly make his way to another room and go back to his book.

And his lack of handy-man skills is legendary.

I would have to do the cooking, the cleaning, the welcoming, the chatting everybody up.  I’d have to work the toilet plunger.

“No,” I repeated. “I do not want to run a B&B.”

But YOU might want to.  YOU — You know — the person reading this, scratching his/her/its head.

This morning I learned about a wonderful opportunity.  The owner of the Deerfield Valley Inn is retiring, and holding a contest for her replacement B&B-er.  Check out the link on the Huffington Post.  And do listen to the video in that link and hear all the particulars.

The Deerfield Valley Inn

The Deerfield Valley Inn

For $150 and the winning essay, the Deerfield Valley Inn can be yours.  The essay?  Here’s your prompt; in 250 words or less tell the current owner your story:

“This is my dream: To own and operate a Vermont country inn.”

I’m having trouble getting the link about the contest to load, so here is a Hotels.com video of the Deerfield Inn so you can see it.

We are all writers, here, in the ‘sphere.  One of us should be able to nail this contest and change their life.

Go for it!

And save a nice room for me for Columbus Weekend, Fall 2016!


Filed under Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Crazy family members, My husband is lazy and wants me to do all the work, Vermont Country Inn

I Still Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Do you ever go back and look at your old posts?  There are a few that stand out in my memory, but mostly I forget about them unless someone else says something that brings it all back.  And then I have to go look.

Kate, from Views and Mews by Coffee Kat recently posted about her experience with customer service. It reminded me of this one, the second post here on FiftyFourAndAHalf.  That was over four years ago, and the world of customer service, and the robots who “service” us has not improved.

*     *     *

Automated telephone answering systems are responsible for the 40% increase in psychotic events over the past 15 years.

That’s my theory, anyway. My hypothesis. I’m not sure how to prove it, but it is true. My secondary hypothesis is that all incidents of domestic terrorism are directly tied to automated telephone systems. The FBI should investigate.

Personally, I become psychotic each and every time I have to press 1 for this and 2 for that. I’ll cut them a break for language, though. I have no problem pressing 1 for English. People need to grumble in their native tongue. Spanish speakers should have that right too.

But in fact, nobody gets to bitch. We just press 1 or 2 respectively and listen to additional options, none of which are what we want. None of the prompts come even close to what really want. None of them says “Press 4 to scream at a human.”

I become progressively more apoplectic with each and every telephone prompt. Eventually, with perseverance, I finally get a person. And by the time I do, that person on their end of the telephone is thinking long and hard about their career choice.

It’s not their fault. I always tell them that. I know it is true. But that fact doesn’t alleviate any of my anger at the time I have spent just to get to them. And nine times out of ten, the human I have reached is the wrong human in the wrong department and usually in the wrong country. I must start again. My psychosis soars along with my blood pressure.

There is even one telephone prompt voice that makes my blood boil. I call her Sybil. Sybil is everywhere: at my cable company and my power company and a couple of the banks I briefly considered doing business with until I heard her speak. She is young, chatty. She pretends to be my friend. She is not my friend. I do not want to be friends with a telephone prompt. I do not want to talk to her. I do not want to do anything she asks of me. And I really do not want to press her buttons. She is pressing mine. Remotely.

On average, after approximately 5 different prompts I am invariably led to a dead end where I have the same four original choices, none of which remotely fulfilled my need at the start. Or, if somehow one of the choices would work, I am promptly disconnected. I must start again with Sybil.

I am pretty sure the cost savings in terms of personnel is not worth it for businesses. Often by the time I am done with a call about this or that, I am ready to destroy the building. And if all your customers feel that way—and they do–perhaps you should rethink your policy.

One minute with a person early on and my problem would have been solved, amicably, and I would be a satisfied customer. Instead, an hour later, I would give all that I own for a battalion of similarly psychotic customers who would help me storm company headquarters and pin down just one human for us to yell at in turn. But by the time my turn comes, of course, I will have forgotten why I want to yell at them. And then I’ll have to talk to Sybil again.

I know, I just posted this video. But you gotta admit, it fits.  Besides, it’s my damn blog.


Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Bloggin' Buddies, Adult Traumas, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Cancer on Society, Oh shit, Shit happens, Why Do I always Have to Call?, Why Does Word Press Limit the Tags And Categories?, If I Were King We'd Use Humans

No Satisfaction — No Sat-is-FAC-tion

When I look at today’s GOP, I just don’t understand why they are so fired up at tearing down stuff that helps people.

I mean look at them. They want to gut programs that have helped millions:

  • Social Security (Happy 80th, BTW!  Here’s to 100 and more!)
  • Medicare
  • Voting Rights
  • Immigration


Have you heard the latest?  Donald Trump proclaimed that the 14th Amendment — the one that grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States — is unconstitutional.

That Furball, The Donald, wants to pretend that rights that are in the Constitution are, well, unconstitutional.  And the rest of the clowns are falling all over themselves to agree with him!

Ummmmm, do they even have a clue that “Constitutional” means,well, in the fucking Constitution?

Apparently not.  Because, you see, these folks just can’t get no … <i?they can’t get no.  No no no…</i>

Of course, I found this at The Last of the Milleniums.  Where else?

And you know what?  I’m pretty sure these comedians in the GOP won’t stop until there is nothing left of what has made our country great.


Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Campaigning, Cancer, Cancer on Society, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Do GOP Voters Actually THINK?, I Can't Get No, Music, My Apologies to the Rolling Stones, Satisfaction

An Ordinary Tuesday

There was no reason to panic, just because Dad had disappeared shortly before he was supposed to “walk me down the aisle.”

“Find Beth,” I said to Mom, who was there in the church’s multifunction room that was functioning as the bride’s dressing room.

Beth had been my problem solver for nearly three decades by the time I was getting married. And she’d never let me down.  Beth could calm the crazies in me better than anybody I’ve ever known.  Just knowing she was around, made everything OK.

And if you had a splinter or a cut or any injury at all?  Go to Beth.  That was true long before she became a nurse who treated premature babies.  If ever there was someone with nursing in their DNA, it was Beth.

Surely Beth could find Dad, who’d gone for a walk, and get the keys to the car from him.  Because, while I’d gotten my wedding dress out of the car, everything else I expected to wear, beginning with my underwear, was locked in the trunk.  And the keys were in absent Dad’s pocket.

Fast forward to 2009.  July 4th was just days away, John, Jacob and I were in Maine, and I was in a panic.  My eldest brother, Bob, had just been taken to the hospital.

For a decade approaching holidays had terrified me.  I suffered from “heortophobia”the fear of holidays.   Well, my heortophobia had a twist:  It wasn’t simply a fear of holidays.  Nope.  For me, it was a perfectly logical terror of illness at holidays.  Someone else’s illness.  Because If anybody I cared about had so much as a sniffle, well, they were gonna die.

As you may have heard 4,327 times, my family members have a nasty habit of dying on holidays.  They’ve hit the all big ones — In order of occurrence:  Thanksgiving.  Easter.  My birthday.  Christmas.  Ho ho ho!

So when Bob ended up in the hospital with Independence Day approaching, well, I knew Bob was toast.  The odds, and likely the Gods, were against him.

“He’s not that sick, Lease.”  Beth said.   “You’ve been sicker and survived.”  She’d contacted his doctors, figured out what was wrong, and called to reassure me.  Beth, a nurse, knew this sort of thing. But as a fake medical expert with then six years’ experience, I was learning more and more –enough to make me fear everything, actually .  So naturally, I wasn’t so sure.

“Beth,” I said, through slightly clenched teeth. “It doesn’t matter how serious his illness is.  It’s the dateA HOLIDAY IS COMING.  He’s going to die!”

As the eldest in the family, Beth had been able to calm me down my whole life long.  She didn’t fail this time, either.

“Nobody is going to be able to trump Dad dying on Christmas,” she said, matter-of-factly.  “The Holiday Death Sweepstakes is over, Lease.  Fourth of July?  Pffttt.  Independence Day isn’t even a contender!”

“I HATE holidays,” I moaned, panic starting up again.

“Lease, I’m gonna make you two promises.”  Beth had always kept her promises. “First, Bob will be fine.”

“Mmmm,” I replied, not believing it for a minute.  Still, I started to calm down.

“Second:  When I go, it’ll be on an ordinary Tuesday,” Beth laughed.  “I cross my heart and hope to die, Lease, I will not die on a holiday.  I mean it.  I couldn’t do that to you,” she laughed still harder. At me, not with me.  Had she been nearby, I might have smacked her for ridiculing me.  Hard.

Bob, whose illness wasn’t all that serious, was released before the holiday; his sentence commuted.  I breathed a sigh of relief, let me tell you.

Google Image, Natch

Google Image, Natch

But not for long.

On a Sunday, just over a month later, I called Beth.  We talked nearly every day.  Beth had had a pretty severe stroke two years previously. It affected her kidneys; she had been on dialysis for about two years.  Things hadn’t been going well, and she was more and more discouraged, depressed and disheartened.  More importantly, he hadn’t been feeling well in the last couple of days.

Still, I was surprised when her phone was answered by one of her sons.

“Mom’s in the hospital,” Chris told me.

It was a Sunday, though.  In August.  No holidays in sight.  So while I worried, there was no need to panic right?  Chris promised that he and his brother would keep me informed.

Late Monday morning, Dave, Beth’s eldest son, called me in tears.

“They don’t know if Mom’s gonna make it.”

I rushed home, packed a few things, and got into the car, and headed to Cleveland.

The weather was horrible.  Storms raged — the rain so heavy that I could barely see.  Traffic rushed by or crept along.  Trucks on the Pennsylvania Turnpike flew by at terrifying speeds when traffic moved.  But mostly, the highway was at a standstill, the rain not letting up.  I couldn’t get to Beth, and I couldn’t see to drive.

How much of my impaired visibility was due to my constant tears, and how much to the pouring rain, well, I didn’t know.

Dave called me again in the early evening to let me know that Beth was in a coma; they thought she would make it for another day or so.

So, exhausted I pulled onto an exit just above Pittsburgh, and into the first motel I found, where I collapsed into bed.

Beth’s doctor called me a few hours later.  Beth had taken a turn for the worse.  If I wanted to see her, to be with her, I’d better get back on the road.

I made it in time for Beth to personally deliver that second promise.  She died on an ordinary Tuesday, August 11, six years ago.

With her passing, Beth brought me an unexpected cure of my heortophobia, and even let me laugh at the bizarre trend she ended.

And on the way back?  The weather was clear.  The Pennsylvania Turnpike twists and turns through the mountains.  With each curve I rounded as I drove home, there was a rainbow.  Rainbow after rainbow.  I knew, seeing those colors in the sky, behind every turn, that Beth was comforting me still.

I miss you, Beth.  Oh, and I was the one who spilled nail polish remover on your new dresser in 1967.  Sorry about that.


Filed under Adult Traumas, Anniversary, Church, Crazy family members, Dad, Family, Heortophobia, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Love, Maine, Missing Folks, Oh shit, Shit happens, Sisters

It’s Not US, It’s THEM!

You probably can’t tell from my blog posts, but I love words.  I love the sound of them, the feel of them in my mouth and at my fingertips.  How changing just one word can transform a sentence from shit to shinola.

So I love it when somebody proves me right-ish.  Or like I’m in the right pew.

For decades one term has bothered me.  “Pro-Choice.”

Abortion ain’t a “whole wheat or rye” sort of “choice.”

So I’ve had my thinking cap on for all that time, trying to think of a better way to say it.  What else could it be called?  What word can express the magnitude of that decision for any woman.

And am I the person to come up with it anyway?  You see, I never had an abortion.  I never was able to get pregnant.  So perhaps it isn’t my role.

But I do know women who’ve had abortions. I’ve sat with them, talked with them, consoled them.  They have been friends and near-strangers who somehow tell me their deepest trouble.  They are not women who are making a “choice.” Rather they are women slicing a piece of their own heart out, most often because they have no “choice.”

That includes two women who were forced to have late-term terminations.  You know, the kind that is being outlawed in state after state, mostly by men, with no exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother.  No basis in the real world of what women face.

These two women had nearly identical stories.  Their prenatal testing showed that their fetuses had trisomy 18 (From WebMD):

A “trisomy” means that the baby has an extra chromosome in some or all of the body’s cells. In the case of trisomy 18, the baby has three copies of chromosome 18. This causes many of the baby’s organs to develop in an abnormal way.

There are three types of trisomy 18:

Full trisomy 18. The extra chromosome is in every cell in the baby’s body. This is by far the most common type of trisomy 18.

Partial trisomy 18.The child has only part of an extra chromosome 18. That extra part may be attached to another chromosome in the egg or sperm (called a translocation). This type of trisomy 18 is very rare.

Mosaic trisomy 18. The extra chromosome 18 is only in some of the baby’s cells. This form of trisomy 18 is also rare.


What Is the Outlook for Babies With Trisomy 18?

Because trisomy 18 causes such serious physical defects, many babies with the condition don’t survive to birth. About half of babies who are carried full-term are stillborn. Boys with trisomy 18 are more likely to be stillborn than girls.

Of those babies who do survive, less than 10% live to reach their first birthday. Children who do live past that milestone often have severe health problems that require a large amount of care. Only a very small number of people with this condition live into their 20s or 30s.

Both women were happily married.  They and their husbands wanted their babies; they were devastated by the news.  These women had to choose when, not if the baby they wanted so much would die.  One of them said that because their fetus had a condition called Intra-uterine growth restriction, the baby would essentially starve to death inside of her.  And then she’d go through labor.

See what I mean about “choice”?  It’s way more like being between a rock and a hard place.  Or just being in a hard place.

In all my years, and with the numerous women I’ve known who’ve terminated a pregnancy, there was only one who did it casually.  She’s a staunch Republican.

So I was delighted when I read about Sister Joan Chittister recently.  Because she’s the one who made me realize it’s not us, it’s them.

We’re not necessarily the ones with the wrong term.  They are.  Because they are DECIDEDLY NOT PRO-LIFE:

I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t?  Because you don’t want any tax money to go there.

Thanks Google.

Thanks Google.

That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

Nuns Rule!


Filed under 2016, Abortion, Adult Traumas, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Cancer on Society, Catholic Church, Nuns, Pro-Birth

Fathers and Daughters

The father-daughter relationship is fraught with all the possibilities a therapist could wish for.  Even in my family.

Well, except for my relationship with my father.

You go ask Dad …” was one of the enduring sounds of my childhood.I only asked “why me” once:

It was a hot summer day when I was about four.  I was happily cooling off in the puddles on the sidewalk.  I didn’t even really want to go to the beach.  My brothers and sister did, though.

“Go ask Dad if he’ll take us to the beach,” Judy commanded.

That summer, Dad, already working two jobs to support his wife and five kids was studying to take his insurance licensing test.

“Why me?” I whined.  “I always have to ask Dad.”

“‘Cause when you ask him, he always says yes” Bob responded.  Judy and Fred agreed.

So I went in and asked him.

Sure enough, he packed up his books, loaded the four of us up into the car, and headed off to Beardsley Park, where there was a delightful stream that formed the most wonderful pools of different depths, where we would each be happy and cool.   I can still see Dad sitting on a rock ledge in the shade, his pants legs rolled up, his feet in the water and a large black binder on his lap.

I never again asked “Why me” when it came to getting Dad to do anything. Because I realized that my brothers and sisters were right.  Dad always said yes to me.

Somehow, the fact that I was the clear favorite in Dad’s eyes was rarely held against me by my brothers and sisters who all had far more complicated relationships with Dad.  It was pretty much accepted by everybody.  That’s just how it was.

Dad and Me in Geneva, June 1998.  You have to guess which is me.

Dad and Me in Geneva, June 1998. You have to guess which is me.

I don’t have any recordings of his voice, which was deep and scary (to everybody but me) when we were kids, and became deep and comforting when we were grown. But this song, while he never heard it, always makes me feel close to Dad, who died in 2000. Today would have been his 98th birthday.

I love you, Dad.


Filed under Baby You Can Drive My Car, Birthday, Crazy family members, Dad, Family, Father-Daughter Relationships, Geneva Stories, Holidays, Humor, Love, Missing Folks, Taking Care of Each Other, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?, Writing