Winter fund drive

Cash 1-22-15 months

Isn’t he adorable? His name is Cash — and coincidentally, that’s what this old blogger is asking for: Cash. Moolah. Buckaroonies.

I used to have this reader who, whenever I would do a fundraiser, would leave a comment saying she couldn’t believe bloggers had the nerve to ask people to fund their “hobby.” This is not my hobby, guys. It’s a public service, and it’s work. When the rest of you knock off at 5 or so, the second part of my day is just beginning.

(Please note: I stopped running ads, especially not the nasty popups that block what you’re trying to read.)

What news on the interwebs is interesting enough to bring to your attention? (I sometimes describe myself as a “news concierge.” The service I offer you is the ability to ignore the news as much as you want, because odds are, if something’s all that important, you can trust I’m going to bring it to your attention.

So if you value the digging I do, or enjoy the old and new tunes I provide, please send some of your hard-earned dollars my way. I do appreciate it.

Venmo: @Susan-Madrak-1

Or you can donate to Paypal here.




Face down in the moment

You were standing in the water but only up to your knees
But you know a strong current could always sweep you off your feet
You were waiting for the right time
But can it take so long while you’re
Face down in the moment waiting to let go.

I was on vacation in Virginia Beach with my then-boyfriend, and the surf was rough from recent storms. I assumed it was just like the Jersey shore, but it wasn’t. When the first wave slammed into me, it knocked me under so hard that both knees were badly scraped and bleeding when I finally staggered to my feet. It was like being in a giant washing machine; I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t tell which way was up.

Obviously, I survived. But I’ve been wary of the power below the surface ever since.

The past two years reminded me of that feeling. Like most of us, I just didn’t know what to expect next. BAM! BOP! BOOM! I’m so wrung out! The remains of covid have transformed me from someone who had trouble sleeping more than four hours a night to someone who has trouble staying awake. I now take a minimum of two naps a day — sometimes even four. It’s really difficult to get things done, so I read and binge a lot of TV.

I don’t get as wound up as I used to; I don’t have the energy to spare. (I read years ago that the primary developmental task of middle age is to learn to accept paradox.) I do wish I could get back some of the time I’ve wasted, but it makes me more determined than ever not to waste any more of it on drama.

But there is a chapter yet to come, and I expect this year to play an important part. I hope the same for you.

Happy New Year!


Feminism saved me

I watched “Maid” on Netflix, based on the book called Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. It was hard to watch as the main character made one bad choice after another. (Andie McDowell is great in this, by the way.)

I wasn’t that different, and yes, I was a cleaning lady. I didn’t mind the work so much, but the rich people I worked for frequently sucked. When they crossed the line, I walked. But even 20 years earlier than this story, I was making more money than she was. First of all, those maid services where you work as a team? They suck. You only make minimum wage.

I had more options than she did. If my boyfriend or husband had dared to knock me around, I had family nearby. My father would have demanded to know why I didn’t hit him in the head with a cast iron pan while he was sleeping, but yeah, I would have had a place to stay.

Thanks to feminism, though, I have boundaries. I don’t often give into troublesome people to be nice, the way she did. I’m not that nice, not that way. Don’t ask me to risk something just to be polite. Don’t expect me to modulate my tone and make every sentence into a question because you don’t like assertive women. (Funny story: Every time I plug my work into one of those “which writer do you write like” apps, it’s always a man. Always.)

I met this guy a couple of years ago, and I could tell he really liked me. But after our first date, I told him I was only interested in friendship because he had a terminal condition and I had enough trouble taking care of myself. He was hurt; I said, “How can you take this personally? I’ve only just met you!” But he did. Maybe I was too blunt, but I know far too many women who would have kept seeing him for a while — to be nice. And then they would have broken it off. (He died a few years later.)

A lot of my independence is a trauma response. When you don’t trust people to come through for you, you don’t ever want to ask for help. It’s why I can’t stand asking people for money, and I hate being in that situation.

Anyway, I just kept thinking this was a book I could have written. But unlike the author, who ended up going back to college, I was still working. There have only been a few times in the past 30 years where I didn’t have at least two jobs, and often three. It wears you out, poverty does.

I remember the time the guy from the electric company came to shut off our power again. “Oh, J’s really getting tall!” he said. Because I was living so close to the edge, the shut-off guy knew my kid’s name.

Anyway. Just some thoughts.



Thank you so much

Thanks so much, I don’t need any more donations. I guess everyone else is as terrified of the IRS as I am!

Looking for donations — turns out there was an oversight in preparing my taxes (not my fault, I’m too nervous to do my own taxes), and I now have one month to come up with $400.

This is important because I still have one year left on the agreement that I signed with the IRS, and if I miss a payment, it voids the agreement and all taxes and penalties they waived come due. Gulp.

By the time you read this

A Birthday Cake for Susie!::From MyNamePix on Pinterest and at | Cake, Birthday cake, Desserts

It will be my birthday, and the Phillies are either done for the season, or hanging by an improbable thread. They are such a schizophrenic team — in the past two weeks, I’ve seen them play incredible baseball, come back from 6-run deficits in the 9th inning, and basically dominate the other team.

I don’t know where that team went. And even if they won last night (UPDATE: They lost), all it will do is postpone the inevitable. Oh well.

One of the classic signs of a bad team is when one person tries to drag the team on his back, and the person who did that this year is one Bryce Harper. He is a joy to watch (at least most of the time) and in the past six weeks or so, almost superhuman at times.

The story of my birthday is that every year, my mother would bring out the cake, my family would sing a rushed “Happy Birthday” to me, I’d blow out the candles, and my father and brothers would load up their plates with cake and ice cream before rushing to the living room to watch the Phillies play the last game of the season.

It was easier then. There was no chance of post-season play (except for 1964, but we don’t like to talk about that). And now, because for a short time, the Phillies made us see the vision again for at least a week, the last day of the regular season will be a little more poignant than usual.




Tornado alley

This is the “particularly dangerous storm” tornado that was headed my way last night. Fortunately, it didn’t hit me. I was listening to tornado warnings for hours last night. Thanks, global warming deniers!

This is literally five minutes from my house:


Embed from Getty Images

UPDATE: Aw, thanks, you guys. I really appreciate it.

Turns out the new ignition switch is going to cost $385, which I can put on my new credit card (which has a $400 limit), but I’d really welcome anything you could chip in to help me make a payment. (I haven’t mentioned this, I don’t think, but one of my jobs went south.)

I’m really tapped out after vacation, but I want you to know I’m working to stabilize my finances enough so I won’t have to bleg online.

I’m back

Back from vacation, which was not as restful as you might think. I am simply not used to being around people after the lockdown. (And Ocean City was SO much more expensive than when I took my kids when they were young.)

But my dear grandson is sweet and funny, and it was so nice to spend time with him.

Of course, WordPress went kerplooey while I was gone and nothing published when it was supposed to.

Then the check engine light went on in my car as soon as I was back within the city limits. (Bad ignition switch, $200.) Oh well!

Thanks to Boohunney for holding down the fort!



Mercury goes direct

gal_vr_c_o_TPMBK (ca. 1989 or 1995, unnumbered, AC89-0146-3 eq)

And I’m finally getting my car in shape. Yesterday I waiting outside in the heat for my turn to get my muffler replaced. The shop was around the corner from the most famous drug corner in America, and it took a little over an hour for the repair shop to turn around the three cars ahead of me.

“Your muffler needs to be replaced,” Julio said, squinting into the sun. “It will cost $120.”

I gave him a thumbs up. Twenty minutes later, my “new” car had a muffler. And today, as Mercury finally goes direct, we’re on to the badly-needed air conditioning recharge. In this heat, it’s been really hard without cold air.