First of all, Jimmy Greenfield of the Tribune wrote me a nice note saying that I wouldn’t be de-bloglisted because of my close personal association with the former Vice/Living columnist, recently dismissed, Steve Dahl. I am reassured that I can hold forth here for a bit longer. Steve is the primary component of my “et al”, though; I was reluctant to write my blog(or even read the paper) if it seemed disloyal. Turns out, he knows a blabby Janet is a happy Janet, and so he was amused that I would even think of shutting down this little corner of my expressive universe. I was also very touched by the kind words posted by readers after my last entry. Thank you to all who offered encouragement and support. It means more than you can know.
I think I have some Autumnal doldrums- my Pollyanna gene has gone missing. This is unseemly, because I do not recall an Autumn that gifted us as lavishly with beautiful days and warm temperatures. I have been struggling to keep my face to the light, and really searching to figure out the root cause of my blues. I have a few theories.
First of all, I think that the election season was very disheartening. Some of my choices won, some lost- but it was the tenor of the ads that dragged me down. There was so little information, and so many vile misrepresentations in the commercials on TV that all voters were entitled to be hostile. Money poured in from political action committees with specific agendas- and those agendas had nothing to do with governance. They had to do with lobbying interests. We can try really hard to research a candidate, but we cannot distill what deal with the devil is buried in ads bought by “American Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads” or “Republican Governors Association.” Karl Rove seems over represented on the right, trial lawyers on the left. The Supreme Court has loosened the boundaries for campaign contributions, and corporations are now considered to be “citizens” for donation purposes. I am not sure the little guy is going to get the same representation as the money guys with this system. At the least, it means that voters need to look harder to pierce the “All American” nomenclature of these Political Action groups, and figure out what the agenda is. So far, banks, insurance, legal and health care interests seem to pop up as generous donors. The issues are not addressed, but I think I can extrapolate as to the desired outcome for their contributions. Time will tell who is bought and paid for.
And so, in this great state, we were given Pat Quinn, a swell guy with an optimistic persona and a spine of jelly, and Bill Brady, the enigma. Quinn, after winning with the narrowest of margins, claims he has a mandate to raise taxes, which I offer as proof of his post election fatigue. What the taxpayers of Illinois wish-dream-pray for is some fiscal restraint. Free CTA rides for all seniors comes to mind. It may feel good to put Grandma on the train for free, but Grandma’s grandkids will live in a state that is broke as a joke. The big gesture makes for a swell photo op. We need courage and leadership.
Quinn also invoked a time-trusted technique for recent governors in Illinois: hiding behind kids. He says he needs to raise taxes to pay for schools. Well, yes- because the state constitution states that the state must pay the majority of educational costs for K-12 education. But it has not, and will not. That grandstanding was a little “thank you” to the education lobby for its traditional support. Maybe someday our politicians will realize that many teachers do not vote the union lobby’s endorsements. I am discouraged as hell that Pat Quinn will have four years to spend every new tax dollar strategically -to get reelected- and not to chip away at our ridiculous debt. We need to expect more.
On the positive side, I think ABC 7 will avoid the layoffs that plague other media outlets due to the absurd number of commercials run during their newscasts. They were the station of choice for political ads. I imagine they are hoping for a mayoral runoff so that they can milk that ad cow until the spring. At least I can see winners in this scenario- Ron Magers and Kathy Brock!
Another cause of my doldrums is my stupid knee. My equipment was installed well, but it is wobbling and popping. My physical therapy has helped me to strengthen and re-educate my muscles, but I am among a lucky 20% with post knee replacement crepitus. It may be scar tissue getting caught, or general atrophy of the supporting muscles, but my knee cap feels like popcorn when I flex my leg. It is not happy to do stairs. I have to sort of hold it together to roll over in bed. The good news is that the constant pain is gone. The places where the knee cap attaches get pain, but it is predictable and specific. It’s WAY better than ice pick pain and bone on bone grating. But I still could not chase a grandkid, or carry one up stairs (if I would ever move to that next part of life) and that was part of my rationale for doing the replacement young. So I am biding my time until I can get the insurance and Doc Collins approval for a scope to suss out what is impeding me….because the X ray shows that the doo dad is in the perfect position. In the mean time, I am like a carnival freak. I make the kids feel the knee cap popping around, and they are appalled and grossed out by me.
Last on my gloom list is the large number of people I know that are navigating really hard times. My physical therapist, Gus Flick, has been encouraging me since I was in the hospital. He has taught me so many ways to rehab the knee- to stretch scar tissue, add strength, to tape and reorganize my muscles- and in the midst of it, he ends up with a ridiculous and very bizarre thyroid cancer. I cannot whine when he is spending every other week at the University of Chicago, undergoing simultaneous radiation and chemo. Knee, schmee. And there is Ed Karza, Cherokee Ed, of the Little Guys, who has lost his adorable wife Rita. And the graceful Brigid, grinding through chemo for breast cancer with determination and an Irish charm. Mark Zerang, who was Steve’s audio guy for every remote for 20 years, as well as the Blackhawks, White Sox, and Bears broadcast audio engineer, is fighting lung cancer. This is the challenge of being in this part of life- reality nibbles away at your complacency, and reminds you to try to be grateful for each day. It tells you to be aggressive taking care of yourself. But you want everyone to be well, have peace. And you concede your immortality. It is a hard process, and it is challenging me.
OK- I think this malaise is part and parcel of my absence on Chicago Now. I am a bummer. I am trying to save you from my gloom. Now that I have vented, perhaps I will put a skip back in my step. The holidays beckon. Family time is inevitable. I am hoarding Christmas LEDs in warm white, and soon I will be decorating anything that does not move. No- I will even decorate stuff that DOES move. Mabel and Milly have Santa Hats. Nothing says “happy days” more that a dog disguised as Santa. And I have Steve to add the “bah, humbug!”
I am over my crabbiness. Promise.