Tuesday, December 28, 2021

As 2022 approaches, Happy New Year from… wait, I haven’t decided yet

This past Thursday, returning home from a dental exam and teeth cleaning (of my remaining teeth that is) I looked thru my shuffle of mail, and saw I’d gotten a letter from Pennsylvania Agency of Human Services.

It said pending verification of my social security number, my application for public assistance—a monthly check, SNAP voucher (food stamps) and Medicaid was approved. 

It included my caseworker’s contact information.  Great, but--

I NEVER APPLIED FOR ANY PUBLIC ASSISTANCE!  I called the number on the decision letter and someone named Ashley answered. 

I told her they had the wrong Douglas Morris, this must be for one of the other Doug Morrises in our city because I know for a fact they’re all losers. 

How do I know this?  Because over the years, I’ve gotten calls & threats from bill collectors for a $400 bar tab, bad checks written for a bicycle & auto tires, and one Doug Morris had the audacity to open and close a flower shop, owing money to a couple dozen customers & creditors.  Oh and one was arrested for DUI, I got his court summons.  Need I go on??

Ashley said she was very sorry, and the only reason this was sent to me (she thinks) was because HER Douglas E Morris was moving into an apartment and mine was listed as being one.  Huh?  Anyway, she told me it wouldn’t happen again and I said I know it wouldn’t, because the first thing I’m going to do in 2022 is change my name.  First last & middle, the whole shebang!

After I cooled down, I thought about this off & on over the holiday weekend.  And then yesterday (my laundry day), in between loads of wash, I ran into my neighbor Janice in the hall, asked if she had a nice Christmas, then told her about the new Doug in town, and how I decided to change my name.

I added that after much thought, I decided I liked Douglas enough to make that my new last name.  Now I just needed a new first.

She said “How about Mike?  Mike Douglas!”   I said “You mean like the actor married to Catherine Zeta Jones, or the 1970s talk show host?  I also have an Uncle Mike, my dad’s brother.”

She said “Ok, Steve Douglas.  No, Rob Douglas!”   I said “Believe it or not, I’ve got a brother named Steve and not one but TWO brothers-in-law named Robert.  Where are you getting these names?  Oh I know, My Three Sons!  Janice, c’mon!” 

Janice laughed and said “When I was born, my mother named me after a girl she grew up with who died.  I always said if I had a choice, I’d be Angela.”

I said “My mom wanted to name me after her dad who died when she was only 5, but my dad talked her out of it.  His name was A-R-R-O-L.”   Janice said “How do you pronounce that?”  I said “Like a stroke victim attempting to say Earl.  Well, I’ve always been partial to Paul.  I feel like a Paul.”

Janice said “Hey!  I like the sound of Paul Douglas!”  I said “So did 26 other parents in Pennsylvania, I already looked.”

So, after wishing each other a Happy New Year, I came back into my apartment and began washing dishes.  I thought, I want something short, but it had to be uncommon too.  As I was rinsing off a bent fork, it reminded me of Uri Geller, that 70’s psychic who claimed he could bend silverware with his mind.  A voice in my head said “Uri… not Uri… Ari.  Ari Douglas.”

That’s it!  I ran over to my computer, did a search for Ari Douglas in Pittsburgh.  None.  In Pennsylvania?  NONE.  In the US?  Okay there is one. Hmm… it appears he was run over by a NYPD scooter during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.  Oh man, a loser.  But wait!  Ari Douglas sued, and 7 years later won 145K! 

He looks like a winner to me!  Okay, to be continued… in the meantime, Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

And the Christmas card winner is…it looks like a tie

A couple hours ago, my mailman buzzed me from the lobby and I hurried down there, thinking it was a package of some sort.  Nope, it was this Christmas card with a good third of it missing, in a “We Care” sleeve from the Post Office.  Jim (my mailman) said “Doug... I’m real sorry.”  

I like Jim, he’s a decent guy.  He’s my age and has plans to retire next summer.  I thanked him, told him it was okay but still winced a little when I saw the handwriting on the envelope.  That’s from my Aunt Dena, she always includes a letter inside.  Yep, half of her words were shorn off!

Thirty plus years ago, I started this custom of bringing 1-2 Christmas cards from home into the office and displaying them on my desk.  It was always AFTER the holiday, and they were usually from my mom & Grandma Morris, who both took the time to include nice messages inside.  In the beginning, a few curious coworkers would ask why I did it, and I’d say “Oh, they’re this year’s winners of my Christmas card contest.”  

I don’t know why this became a thing, but the ladies in my office saw it as a competition, and every year I wound up displaying 10-12 cards on my desk until Martin Luther King Jr Day, or until my boss would come to me for something and say “Dougie… c’mon!”

Anyway… I’m a 60 year old man now, never married or had a family of my own, so the cards I get every year are what put me in the holiday spirit.  Three in particular stood out to me this year (besides that shredded card from Aunt Dena).   A card from Bobi E., a lovely Canadian who wanted to let me know she enjoyed my blog and included a cool smashed penny taped to the inside.  Thanks Bobi, that’s going to be my good luck charm this year! 

The second was from my (ultra conservative) dentist Dr. Shannon, dressed up as a Disney princess.  Ugh, her politics drive me batty—but she has to be one of the kindest, dearest people on this planet.  If anyone turned me to the Dark Side (you know, the GOP) it’d be her.

Third was from my former coworker Kimberly Hall, who I haven’t worked with since 1997, or seen since 2001.  Only one month apart in age, we became close friends from the first day we met.  I loved her then and still do, and what she wrote to me in this year’s card made me cry!  My God, what’s wrong with me?   I’m a basket case!

Seasons Greetings Everyone


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Dragon Food & Democrats: Where the Friday takes you

This past Friday was my sixth anniversary of leaving the corporate world behind to pursue early retirement.  To celebrate said event, my good friend (and former coworker) Danielle got together with me for dinner. 

It was great seeing her, the last time I saw Dani in person was in August 2019 when I met her & her husband Josh at Lincoln Brewery.  That was before the pandemic, which makes it seem even longer ago than it was.

Anyway, we got General Tso & crab rangoons from Dragon-Town up the street from my apartment, and Danielle brought along some very fresh cupcakes from the bakery. 

We ate in my apartment, and since my small dining table is being used by my ceramic Christmas tree, and I’ve yet to assemble that coffee table under my bed, I asked if she wouldn’t mind sitting on the floor and eating off a blanket like a couple of hippies.  Can you believe what I put my guests through?

She presented me with this (very heavy) 5 starred coin, and said it was in recognition of my many years of hard work at UPMC Healthplan.  I said “Wow, for real?  They’re giving this to me after all these years?”  She said “Of course not, no one remembers you!  All of us got one of these recently, and I’m giving mine to you.”  I felt like the Cowardly Lion getting that hand-me-down medal of courage from the wizard’s bag in Wizard of Oz.  Oh well, I always liked getting company branded stuff—I still have a pair of dark blue coffee mugs we got when UPMC Healthplan hit 25,000 members umpteen years ago.  I use them to this day.

While we ate we talked about estate planning and who we should leave our stuff to, the various streaming platforms on tv (we agreed that Netflix has too much junk and Hulu is our favorite) and Michelle Obama.  We still love her, wished she had run for President in 2020 but her motto “When they go low we go high” needs tossed out with the baby’s bath water.

I’m sorry Michelle, but it hasn’t gotten us anywhere.  We think Dems should go lower instead, and hey—we should have a couple crazy low-lifes like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene in Congress too, they pull no punches!

To be honest, as our chatting turned more animated (and more political) I felt the “old me” emerging again, someone I’ve been trying to keep buried in a shallow grave.  It seems the more bloggers  I’ve gotten to know online, the more I worry about stepping on toes.  A few weeks ago an old friend—well, not old but I’ve known this person since we were 9 years old—told me 1) they were Republican 2) they read my blog 3) I caused them discomfort over the anti-GOP stuff I’ve written here.

We haven’t talked much since, mainly because it left me tongue-tied.  The last thing I want to do is offend my friend, but it’s not like I’ve written anything I feel the need to apologize for either.  I’m a Liberal, dammit!  In fact, I have one liberal friend who keeps asking if I’ve gone over to the dark side yet because I never write anything here anymore.  I know he’s kidding, at least I hope he is.

Anyway, I’m just sitting here babbling.  I always get down in the dumps this time of year to the point it’s become a holiday tradition, and right now I’m not feeling motivated to do much of anything, let alone come up with an entertaining blog.  But I need to post something, I’m tired of looking at that photo of the two coats. 

Well, I think I’m going to close this up and make myself a cup of coffee, or maybe a cup of hot cocoa.  At least with my pair of vintage work mugs, I can have both.


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A tale of two coats (or… torn between two coats, don’t know what to do)

Last week when I wrote about my ill-fated trip to the doctor (and learning I was 60+ lbs overweight) I included—then later went back and deleted—a piece about my winter coat.  I was getting dressed that morning, had my radio on and when they said it was 25F and not expected to get much warmer, I knew it was time to get out my dark brown winter coat. 

When I put it on, I was dismayed to find it really tight around my midsection; I could barely zip it up.  (I’d soon discover when I got on the bus headed downtown I couldn’t sit down without unzipping it first.) 

I bought the thing on clearance from JCPenney a dozen years ago, had been meaning to replace it for awhile anyway.  It was fine for most winter days, but never quite warm enough in January or February, when temps dipped into the teens or below zero.  Why I kept putting off buying a new coat every year is beyond me.

When I got home, I spent a couple hours online looking at LL Bean, JCPenney, Columbia (ouch they’re pricey!) and a couple others.  I finally found what I was looking for on Amazon.com, a Dockers MicroTwill Long Parka.  It came in 3 colors—black, olive, navy, priced at $89.99.  Most of the reviews were glowing, though some warned to be careful, as sizes ran “a bit small”.

I knew I wanted the olive, but do I order an XL, or XXL?  Wouldn’t the latter be much too big?  The XL Olive had 3 left in stock with the message “Only 3 left, order soon”, the XXL had 4.

I thought I’d sleep on it.  The next morning I decided I’d order the XL, if it was too snug, I’d return it for the XXL.  But when I went online to place my order, both sizes now said Only 1 left in stock.  I was out of time.  I put both in my shopping cart & pressed ‘Buy’.  They weren’t kidding about their inventory, the olive XL & XXL now showed “Out of Stock” for both sizes.

Have you ever ordered something from a catalog or the internet, only to discover it wasn’t as nice as what was pictured?  THIS WAS THE OPPOSITE OF THAT.  The Docker coats that arrived looked twice as nice than what was pictured (or expected).  Dark olive, very soft, “lofty”.  Made for very cold weather.  At the same time, they weren’t heavy.  Big zippers and metal buttons, quilted lining, pockets inside & out, water resistant—I’m in real love here.

HERE’S MY DILEMMA.  After trying on both, the XL is too small.  Unlike my old brown coat (also an XL) which is snug but zippable, this one can’t be zipped together at all.  Other customers said sizes ran small… but would it fit if I was 60 pounds lighter?  

The XXL (on the right in that photo above) is very roomy.  But will it become too big if I lose 60 pounds? 

Amazon is giving me a couple weeks to return one of the coats.  I have no choice but to keep the XXL, I need a warm winter coat that fits NOW.  But do I keep the smaller XL too?  What if I send it back, then lose the weight by next winter, want a smaller size and it’s no longer available? 

Questions questions… any advice?  Nerd smile