Monthly Archives: May 2013

Mary Grace

In the summer of 2011, my friend Carol, a nurse, joined a mercy mission to Haiti to treat people still suffering from the January 2010 earthquake.  A last minute volunteer, she hadn’t had time to fundraise, but was expected to buy and bring all kinds of medical supplies – bandages, Tylenol, alcohol wipes, rubber gloves.  Everything.

To help defray the cost, Carol sent emails to some friends, and we donated to help defray her costs.

A week after she got back, Carol invited me and three women I had never met over for a glass of wine to thank us, celebrate her return and hear about her trip.

One of the women, Mary Grace, rubbed me wrong immediately.  The middle-aged bleached blond wore a tight sparkly dress that screamed “I’m still 20!” with gold glitter-encrusted flip flops.

Before we were even introduced, I heard her say,

“Now they’re going after Michelle Bachmann because she has migraines!”  I had just the day before posted this blog piece about Michelle’s migraines.  Mary Grace and I were clearly not destined to be BFFs.

Me and Mary Grace are BFFs.  (Newsweek cover photo)

(Newsweek cover photo)

A minute later, she continued her political commentary:

“I’d push Nancy Pelosi under a truck.  I just wish I could keep her clothes …”

“Carol,” I said, looking at the enormous glass of Pinot Grigio she gave me and trying to lighten the mood Mary Grace had struck, “shouldn’t you just pass out the bottles and save hand-washing these glasses?”

Everybody chuckled and we made some small talk.  Drinks became dinner; Carol told us all about her trip.

Everybody but me had a few large glasses of wine, I was driving.

“Even after all the attention following the earthquake,” explained Carol, over grilled shrimp salad, “not much has been rebuilt.  People still live in tents, with cholera, typhoid, other nasty diseases that poverty and no clean water bring.”

Mary Grace didn’t seem to be at all interested; she kept trying to change the subject.  I was getting irritated because we were there, after all, to hear Carol’s story.  I certainly was.

Carol described the terrible plight of the Haitians, especially children, and how difficult it is for them.  Then Carol said the thing that set Mary Grace — and at least three large glasses of wine — off.

The most wonderful thing about my trip,” said Carol, “was Sean Penn.  He’s my new hero.”

“Ugh!” said Mary Grace with disgust.  “No!”

(Thanks, Google)

(Thanks, Google)

Carol continued.  “Right after the earthquake, he raised millions of dollars to build a hospital.  A few months later, though, his money was still in the US.  They couldn’t get it to Haiti.”

“Didn’t he have some crap Hollywood movie to make?”  slurred Mary Grace.  The rest of us rolled our eyes.

“Well,” Carol continued. “Sean managed to get the money, architects and skilled workmen there – he brought them over.  They designed a hospital, hired a whole lot of previously unskilled unemployed Haitians, and taught them the skills to build it.  They did it!  They built the hospital! It’s not done, but I treated patients there!”

Mary Grace rudely burst out “Sean Penn is scum,” she said.  “What good’s he ever done?  He just trades on his Hollywood connections.  Hero, my ass.”

Now I am not a huge Sean Penn fan.  But we weren’t talking about that; we were talking about Haiti.  We were talking about someone who’d helped over there.  We were talking about Carol and her incredible experience.  And we were doing it in Carol’s house.

“He’s an alcoholic, drug abuser,” she said, holding up her enormous glass for a fourth refill.

“Drink up,” I said to her to stifled laughter from everybody else at the table.

I couldn’t believe her rudeness.  Still, I was thinking I am a guest here,  so I clenched my teeth, bit my tongue.  But my heart raced and my blood pressure skyrocketed.  I didn’t want to offend Carol, but I did want to throttle Mary Grace.  Clearly, she didn’t care about offending Carol.

Kelly, one of the other women, said “Ooh, Carol, where did you get that sculpture?” in a transparent effort to change the subject.

But Mary Grace wouldn’t drop it.

“He just trades on his celebrity.  Those liberals in Hollywood, they just trade on their names.  What does he really do?  People like Carol do the real work.”

“Carol did a great job.  As a nurse, she has a skill that she can use to help people.  It is great.” I said with more reserve than I felt.  “But other people have different skills, abilities.  If Sean Penn can manage to build a hospital, why are you putting him down?  What’s wrong with using what you can to help people?

“He does nothing good.  Sean Penn hasn’t done anything good.  Other people do good things.”

“Well,” I said, “you’re a person.  What good things have you done lately?”

Without hesitation she told me:

She held up one finger.  “I am a nice person.  I don’t flip people off in traffic.  I am always polite when I drive.”

She had me there.  I have been known to raise a finger now and then.

Holding up her middle finger, she went on, “When somebody asks me how they look, I always tell them that they look nice.  Even if they don’t.” 

The rest of us sat in stunned silence, mouths gaping.

She held up a third finger:  “And I was in Chipotle yesterday.  Behind me in line were three soldiers.  And I said to the cashier ‘their dinner is on me.‘”

For a minute, I expected her to continue.  But she didn’t.

“Let me see,” I said, holding out my hands.  I held up my right hand, palm up, weighing things:  “On the right:  Lunch at Chipotle.”  I held up my left:  “On the left:  building a hospital for the poor people of Haiti.  Yes, Mary Grace, you’re by far the better person.”

The table was silent.  Everybody, including me, was watching Mary Grace to see what she would say.

She said nothing.

“Carol,” I said, rising from the table and fearing I’d just lost a friend, “I think it’s time for me to leave.”  I grabbed my purse and headed for the door.   Carol was mortified.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her as she walked me out to my car.  “I tried to not be rude, but it was your trip and your hero!”

“You know,” Carol said in her lovely British accent, “Mary Grace wasn’t even invited tonight.  She’s always crashing along with Kelly and Kate.”  She grabbed my arm to make sure I heard the next part.  “When I sent that email asking for donations? I got an email back from Mary Grace telling me ‘no’ and saying ‘Charity begins at home.’

I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one to think Mary Grace a rude bore.

“Mary Grace has been rude to me every time I’ve seen her.  She’s not my friend, yet she always just shows up.” she said, laughing.  “But until tonight, nobody has ever managed to shut her up.”

Carol told me the next day that Mary Grace was insulting Bono along with Penn when she got back in.

“Apparently,” Mary Grace sneered as Carol sat back down, “your friend just couldn’t take it.”-.

Carol closed her eyes.  “Mary Grace, please leave.  You’re no longer welcome here.”

*     *     *

This piece is from my memoir class.  I had to recount a memorable argument.  I thought I’d post it tonight to celebrate two things:

  1. Michelle Bachmann’s Retirement!
  2. My 2nd Blogging Anniversary!  Thanks, everybody.  It’s been a blast!

This is long but it is taken from just about the view I have from my office!


Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Humor, Hypocrisy, Stupidity

Memorial Day

I was just watching the Memorial Day Concert on the West Grounds of the Capitol, when they replayed this video, recorded a few years ago by Charles Durning, a WWII Veteran. Durning survived the first wave of D-Day landing at Omaha Beach, the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate one of the concentration camps.  He won the Silver Star.

In case you didn’t see it, I thought I’d share it with you.

John and I visited Normandy twice, once with my Dad and with a very young Jacob.  It’s a beautiful, terrifying, moving place.  But it isn’t the only place where soldiers and sailors and airmen (and women) have fought and died.  There are many of them around the world.

To veterans and soldiers everywhere, thanks.


Filed under History, Mental Health

Modern Conveniences

Modern marketing really scares me.  And I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

A few years ago John and I needed to replace broken toilet that had a built-in shelf above the tank top.  (Not the kind of tank top you wear, but the kind with all the parts of a toilet that break.)

We needed a special size and type.

Toilet with shelf 2

Naturally, I looked online to find the best price.  Then off-to Home Depot John and I went expecting to flush away a wad of money.

As we were trying to choose between two models, the salesman tried to help us make the decision:

“You can flush an entire bucket of golf balls down this American Standard toilet and it won’t clog,” he said.

John tilted his head, dog like, and looked at the salesman trying to figure out if he was joking.  He wasn’t.

I looked at John and then at the salesman.  Somehow I maintained an interested customer demeanor.  “Why would we want to do that?” I asked.  “We don’t golf.”

“I’m just sayin’ that you could,” said the salesman.  “I mean, if you did golf.”

“We probably wouldn’t be golfing in the bathroom,” John said, thoughtfully.  “I mean, if we did golf, we wouldn’t golf there.  We’d probably do it outside.

“And if we take up golf, I think I’d rather keep the golf balls in the garage,” I added.

“Plus we have a septic system.  I don’t know if it is designed for golf balls.”

“It might be hard to explain to the guys when they pump it out.”

We had to leave or we would have wet our pants in the toilet aisle of Home Depot.  In spite of the fact that it would be expensive, we opted to replace the innards of our own non-golfing toilet instead of spending – I kid you not – more than $1,000 on a toilet that would fit the spot and accept golf balls.

Since then, though, I have been getting ads for toilets.  But not just any old toilet.  Strangely shaped toilets.  Apparently, to the marketers of America, I not only like to flush strange hard things down my toilets, but I like my toilets to look like anything but.  Or butt.

Toilet 2Toilet 1Toilet 3

So imagine my dismay when I read this article that explains where modern advertising is heading.

They’re going to mine our DNA

to figure out how to market stuff to us.

The article gives the example of someone who is lactose intolerant getting special coupons for lactose-free stuff.

Oh joy.

I wonder if my DNA will tell folks that I’m not interested in what they’re selling.

Which gene says "NO SOLICITING"?

Which gene says


All the pictures are from Google Images.  I can’t wait to see what they try to sell me next!


Filed under Conspicuous consumption, Gizmos, Health and Medicine, Humor, Technology


Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending.


The Web is a wonderful tool to help people. Please reblog this and spread Nichole’s face around WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

She could be anybody’s sister, daughter, friend.


Filed under Uncategorized, Word Press

It’s What’s For Dinner

As someone who once worked for a United Nations organization (The World Health Organization), I’ve often been frustrated at the lack of respect that the U.N. receives, especially here in the U.S.  I mean the U.N.’s mission, as stated in the organization’s Preamble is truly inspiring:



  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,


  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
  • to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
  • to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
  • to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,


Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

*     *     *

Now in spite of its noble mission, there are whole swaths of folks in America who have a phobia about the U.N.  Really!  They are stockpiling weapons because they fear the black helicopters of the U.N. that will invade the U.S. any minute now.  They are sure that they will need to fight those nasty aggressors who might force Peace on them.  Or Love.  Or Brotherhood.  These are not considered the sanest people in the U.S. of A., I might add.

So you will understand my concern when I read that the U.N. has figured out how to fight obesity.  I’m sure that the folks who are currently stockpiling guns and ammo will soon be hoarding bacon, Spam and scraple, too.  And I’m not sure I can blame them.

Because I just read in Reuters that on Monday the U.N. released a report that says that “the health benefits of consuming nutritious insects could help fight obesity.”


To match Reuters Life! FOOD-INSECTS/

Dinner! Who’s Hungry?
Reuters – Photograph by Catherine Hornby

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be at the grocery store.  Buying Spam.


Filed under Childhood Traumas, Conspicuous consumption, Humor, Stupidity