Sunday, December 03, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


For the past two weeks, I've been both traveling and then in deadline mode. Today I turned in a proposal - the last one due before the Thanksgiving holidays. I had planned on writing tonight about my trip to San Francisco. I have a lot to say about it...things I did, people I met, unbelievable sights...

But, I've been sidetracked by a piece of my past that has remained with me more than I ever realized until tonight. I'm absolutely wrecked, and while I usually don't blog when I'm slightly under par (OK, most of the time), I felt obliged to do so tonight. I'm not really sure where else to direct it, actually.

After I got home tonight, I did my usual...I put my laptop case and purse down, let Miss Tess Larue out of her cage, did the "good girl" dance with her and let her out to play a bit. Then, it was feeding time for her, and I sat down to read my email while listening to her munch. Just like I always do upon my return home from work. Much to my surprise, there was an email in my Inbox from my ex-husband. It's been a while since I've heard from him. And, it was titled, simply, Otis.

Otis was the very first dog that I got on my own. I got him in 1993 in Boston, while I was attending Harvard that summer along with my ex-husband. It was the best summer of my life, actually, that I can recall before I divorced. Boston is just one of those places that I loved instantly. I lived at 127 Commonwealth Avenue in the shittiest of student housing apartments. It was one of the hottest summers on record, and we had no air conditioning. We didn't have a kitchen. And, the linoleum on our apartment floor was cracked and aged - God knows it probably came with the place and was built in the Depression. But, I loved every inch of it, because it was in the best part of town - and it was Boston, for chrissake. There's nothing like that place. I was just 21 years old that summer, and it seems like it was yesterday.

One day, while strolling along Newbury Street (the Rodeo Drive of Boston), my ex and I walked into a pet shop. I remember looking through the cages and seeing Otis. I truly believe that animals pick us, and Otis definitely picked me that day. My ex had his eye on a little Shitzu, but I didn't notice any other dogs besides Otis. I had the owner take him out of his cage, and he ran around for a while before landing on my lap. His little puppy feet smelled like Fritos, and I knew I wouldn't be leaving there without him. So, I shelled out 150 bucks for the mutt (future vets would say he was part coonhound, part cocker spaniel, but we never really knew nor did I ever really care) - 150 bucks was steep, yeah, but it was Newbury Street, after all. And the rest was history.

We named him after Otis Redding. Being from Georgia, I had a sordid affair with Redding's music when I was in my early 20's. This was post-Bob-Marley phase and pre-Dave Matthews phase. Otis just looked like an Otis, too. There was never another name in the stars for him.

If someone asked me to describe that dog in one word, I'd have to say warmth. He was unconditional love...absolute joy...wrapped up in a dog. He was selfless, brilliant, and loyal to a fault. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He had a wicked-unbelievable vocabulary by a year old. He was tolerant and gracious and unbelievably patient as a dog. He let children pull on his ears and adults pose him at will as he laid there, trusting and always docile. He was definitely part hound, and hounds in my experience are like my favorite type of person. They're just real in every sense. No frills, no bullshit.

I didn't have kids, and Otis was my kid. He was my first baby, and so today, when I got the email titled with his name, I just knew what it was going to say. I suppose it's like when a mother gets bad news about her kid. She just knows. And, I knew. So, I hesitated, took a deep breath, and opened it.

My ex wrote simply, "Otis was put to sleep today. I thought you should know."

I would go on and on about Odie...what he meant to me, but I think I've said enough. In fact, I dealt with it the best way I could at this point. After a few glasses of vodka and a river of tears, I had to write something about the dog I loved so very dearly. My blog is the only eulogy he'll ever get.

If my faith in God ever wavers, I remember that dog. And, I know, in an instant, that there is a God. Because that dog was truly an angel sent from him.

I'll miss you, sweet little Odie.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Columbus Day

It's Columbus Day, so I had to post this. It kind of made me laugh, and doing that on a Monday these days is a feat in itself.

My Business Development Director (the one who thinks that Shawshank Redemption’s main theme is “Bull Queers take by force”) just came into my office and said:

“Happy Columbus Day. In honor of this day, I hope you will go out and meet some interesting people that you wouldn’t normally meet on an average day. Then, give them yellow fever and kill them.”

Ah yes. Holidays bring out the best in people.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Fresh Lipstick and the Unconscious Family Code

Right after I arrived at work yesterday - I got a phone call. It was my sister, telling me simply, "Mom is in the Emergency Room. I'm on my way there."

Since that phone call, my life has been seemingly on hold.

I know I've talked about my mother in other blog entries, but I'll still begin this with a slight preamble. My mom is the chick who works in a hospital as a Patient Rep, but seems to hate doctors from a personal health standpoint. She's the one who stays awake during procedures if at all possible, believing it's simply unnatural and she may die from being put under. She is the woman who has surgery on her eye and drives herself home (looking like a pirate and swerving as she sees double, I assume), only to tell us about it three days after the fact. She is the woman who, when they ask, "What's your pain level on a scale from 1 to 10?" she will answer, "Oh, it's a 4." We know damn well that her 4 is the rest of the world's 10. She's the mom, when I was a kid and I wanted to stay home from school because I didn't feel well, that would look to see if my eyes were bleeding. If not, I'd have to get my butt to school.

She's not the kind of Mom who goes to the E.R.

To back up even more, last week was one of female family drama, where many past emotional traumas had come to the surface. Basically, my sister, mother, and I were in the process of "having words," as I like to refer to it. It was one of those "we put the fun in dysfunctional" type of peaks in the rough terrain of that treacherous family mountain range.

So, when I got the call, after my helacious morning in traffic, I didn't hesitate. I packed up my crap and I got right back into my car to make the trek back to the south side of town. The drive - the action of me getting in the car - was like blinking.

I showed up at the hospital to find my sister already there.

After 2 and a half hours of waiting, my sister, the nurse, started getting irritated. I don't claim to know a damn thing about hospitals, so I just tried to find something besides "Saved by the Bell - the Vegas episode" - on the television in my mom's examining room (while cracking a joke every once in a while to lighten the mood). Apparently, a nurse is supposed to check a patient's pain every 30 minutes or so, and moreover, my Mom is a friggin' employee at the hospital. My sister was slightly put off by this and subsequently ripped the staff new buttholes. A surgeon was in the room within 20 minutes. I was beaming with pride.

A lot of things go through your mind when you see a swollen belly and understand that there's a level of pain. The worrying mind tends to think of ovaries and tumors and the "C" word. We all think that crap. Especially when it runs in your family. Much to our amusement, though, Mom was diagnosed with appendicitis, and it had to come out as soon as possible. We were relieved, because it was a tangible outcome. So, we broke into the "dance". You know...that sibling dance that's done on the "heavy" occasions. I assume all siblings do it. You divide and conquer. You decide, in a very short period of time, what needs to be done, who will do it and how. I take this, you take that, drop off that car, pick up those clothes, stock her fridge with those groceries for her recovery, prep the bed, get some lunch, make sure we get her pain pills and antibiotics, alert the family, man phone calls, and of course, pick up her lipstick. She asked for that specifically. I knew she would also require lip liner. I realized at that moment that no matter where I went or how far I strayed from her, I was indeed her child.

This is the time when I tend to thrive, and it makes me wonder if I wouldn't have been a good hostage negotiator or something that requires on-the-spot, adrenaline-rush decision making. But, it's that unconscious auto-pilot thing we all have when a family catastrophe, or a bout with appendicitis, ensues.

It's funny how her appendix became inflamed after several harsh words and a few days of female family drama. I could get all hippie about that, but I'll save it for another day. It's funny how when faced with a situation such as this, my sister and I just stepped up without even thinking. It's funny how you do things for your family in such an unconscious way. It's amazing how a little appendix - a useless, meaningless, piece of the human body - can bring out the good in people.

Back to normal tonight. Mom is safe in her bed, tucked away with painkillers, her pocket solitaire, and some cheesy Saturday night movie. And, it's comforting to know that the family code prevails over drama.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wise women quotes for the day....

We were incompatible in a lot of ways. Like for example, I was a night person, and he didn’t like me.
~Wendy Liebman

I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.
~Willa Cather

Any woman who thinks the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach is aiming about ten inches too high.
~Adrienne Gusoff

Ted needs someone to be there 100 percent of the time. He thinks that’s love. It’s not love – it’s babysitting.
~Jane Fonda

It’s afterward you realize that the feeling of happiness you had with a man didn’t necessarily prove that you loved him.
~Marguerite Duras

When men do dishes, it’s called helping. When women do dishes, it’s called life.
~Anna Quindlen

Feminism is an entire world of gestalt, not just a laundry list of women’s issues.
~Charlotte Bunch

The only real elegance is in the mind.
~Diana Vreeland, Vogue editor

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.
~Nike ad

Friday, June 23, 2006

My review of Nacho Libre.

I finally saw last night what I had been anticipating for over a month now: Nacho Libre. It was everything I thought it would be, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a big Jack Black fan. It had a sort of mentally-challenged-Napoleon-Dynamite-Rocky’esque thing going on – and I’m also a huge closet fan of Rocky (1, 2, and 3 – not 4 or 5, because, well, I have taste, people).

I attended the movie with my SO and his 12-year old offspring, and we almost peed ourselves several times - especially at the genius fart humor strewn throughout, which proves that I apparently have the mentality of a 12-year old boy (fart humor, much like chimps, is comic gold).

Cinematic genius. A must see.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In this age, which believes that there is a short cut to everything, the greatest lesson to be learned is that the most difficult way is, in the long run, the easiest.
– Henry Miller

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
– Beverly Sills

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Map out your future, but do it in pencil.
– Jon Bon Jovi

Friday, June 02, 2006

Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.
~Frank Herbert

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Invading the Herd and a Rite of Passage

I was a pseudo soccer mom this past weekend. I went with my significant other, dressed in a tight Janis Joplin t-shirt, still feeling slightly out-of-place, but getting more comfortable with the environment. I found that pre-teen boys’ soccer can be quite entertaining. Not unlike the Cubs games I’d go to at Wrigley and really enjoy, even though I’m not a baseball fan at all (I went for the beer and the ambience, of course). It’s the sociological aspect of soccer that seems to fascinate me a bit. I’m not embarrassed to admit that. From a technical standpoint, the games themselves are a definite notch above watching tiny kids that just jump on the ball with no skill (my S.O. calls that clusterf*ck ball). Eleven and twelve-year old boys actually know how to play the game and exhibit skills and proof of training, so that’s a bonus from a spectator standpoint. I do like watching sports in general. But, it’s really the parental units and the animalistic nature of the game that make it a true spectator sport.

I’ve received much underlying teasing from family and friends about my newfound, inherited hobby as a result of being involved with a man that has a pre-teen and a teen who both play the sport. My sister keeps talking about slapping one of those half soccer balls on my back car window without my knowledge. You know - those dorky ones that look like they’re stuck halfway through. She threatens, laughs hysterically, and I consequently shoot her the bird.

The teasing I get is due to the knowledge my family and friends have about me. They know I’d rather stab myself in the eyeballs with a rusty knife than drive a minivan and assimilate with suburban drones that are known as the dreaded soccer moms. I cringe at the thought of rubber shoes and Bermuda shorts. I’m not above them, by all means. Just different. I don't know, though...maybe I’m the one missing the boat. Maybe the big world outside the fields is just distraction in the form of scenery. Maybe a minivan would make me less cynical and analytical and more pleasant. Maybe soccer and the life that is wrapped up in it is a life more extraordinary. Maybe breeding soccer kids is the answer to the world's problems. Hey, you never know. They may be on to something...

I’ve been part of groups all my life, so I really can’t say that I’ve been a rebel against them without backing it up with substantial data, and the only data I have is how I felt. I’ve done the circuit of clubs throughout my life, mainly because I’m social and have way too many interests. I was a princess among the piano dorks, the head cheerleader, and felt the pride associated with National Honor Society. Albeit a false pride, but it was like any other petty milestone in life. I was in a sorority back in my undergrad days. These were rites of passage. Maybe that’s how these moms feel; like having the soccer sticker on the back of their car is a rite of passage. A badge to be worn with pride. “I popped a kid out; look at my sticker.” Kind of like the pregnant parking places at Kroger. You’re special because you got knocked up. Huh. I have often pondered parking in those spots to see if I’d get ticketed if I did it. I mean, how in the hell would they know if I was a month pregnant or not?

I like to think that on that soccer field, I’m a bright red crayon in a box of Eddie Bauer-brand khaki crayons, but I'm not. I'm just the soccer Dad's girlfriend, really. Tight Janis Joplin shirt, platform flip flops and all.

Just like any other stereotype, though, reality exists. There are exceptions to the soccer mom rule, and I must give props where props are due. It was approximately my fifth game I’ve attended since being a soccer Dad’s girlfriend. Keep in mind that five has historically been my lucky number. This was no exception last Sunday when one of the mothers actually engaged me in conversation. I think I may have yapped at her first, come to think of it, but we chatted nonetheless. This was a step forward in evolution, as one species approached another, and much to my dismay, she was somewhat normal and had an actual sense of humor – something that can be difficult to pinpoint amongst the screaming stage moms who are on the brink of blowing a carotid artery when their son’s footwork is not up to par. She didn't bite or claw at me. She just sniffed me for a bit. I figure I've always had the ability to communicate with a wall or a CEO (no redundancy intended there), so why not the soccer mom?

So here I stand. A gazelle who’s making her way into the herd of sheep. I didn’t try to break in, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever be truly accepted as one of the herd. I’m so OK with that. It’s just fun being the new species in the gene pool, and it's going to make for some interesting future entries.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.
– Harvey Fierstein

Friday, May 05, 2006

It's not what you are, but what you don't become that hurts.

– Oscar Levant

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Writing, Madness, and Sanity

I have a dog now. Tessie Larue. And, she's fabulous. She's a semi-baby boxer, complete with a moosh mouth and newly forming wrinkles. She genuinely makes me smile. Consistently, on a daily basis. She tries to bat me around like a fellow canine pal when I'm doing Pilates. She greets me with her butt, wiggling sideways toward me, wagging her little nubbin tail, when I come home from work. She jumps up, puts her paws on my shoulder, and lays her head down on me - just like she's giving a human-like hug. She looks at me with these inquisitive, big brown, almost-wise eyes, as if to say, I love you no matter what the day was like, you know."

She's a pretty darn good pup. Already one for the record books, and I've had a lot of canines come in and out of my life. For being only about 7 months old and a resident of my home for a mere three weeks, she has only been rebellious once. A week ago, she escaped her cage during the day while I was at work. I have never confirmed how, actually, but I suspect it was through the top. She broke and wiggled through, climbing out to freedom. She was understandably pissed off and ruined my blinds. I think the blind-shredding was just her way of saying, "I really hate that cage." I'm just shocked she didn't chew anything else. Nothing. Not even the biggest chew toy of all - my brand new, supple leather couch. Instead, she just jumped up on it, got comfortable on the faux-fur throw, and watched VH1 until her humans returned.

Tess has been a Godsend over the past few weeks. It's been a while since I've had a dog - due to my nomadic existence the past few years. I have a dog now, and life is better because of it. She loves me. And dogs are never wrong.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Top Five Men Every Woman Must Date

I'm in this really cool class called "Stiletto Boot Camp". It's a 10-week course designed to make normal chick writers into mainstream women's magazine writers. It's just what the title implies: boot camp for getting published in rags like Redbook, Marie Claire, and Cosmo.

One of my first assignments was to do a service article. Service articles give a reader a list of things to do that will empower them or inform them. For instance, I did an article on "The Top Five Vitamins you Should be Taking Now"...

Fluffy stuff, but it's fun.

I had to keep mine sort of tame as it was my first assignment, but what I really wanted to write was "The Top Five Guys Every Woman Needs to Date Before She Turns 35". So, I'm doing it here.

The Top Five Guys Every Woman Needs to Date Before She Turns 35

1. The financial mogul
This guy is your typical MBA, ivy-league, blond-haired, blue-eyed ex-frat boy who was raised in the south, has impeccable manners, hits it big in the banking industry, and is looking for a well-bred trophy wife. This guy reeks of new money. He's also clearly in the state of a homosexual panic, as backed up by his impeccable taste in window treatments and the act of french-kissing his champion Labrador Retriever, which makes you extremely uneasy and nauseated. You date him for a few months, enjoy the free 5-star restaurant meals, and bat your eyes until he lets you drive both his Range Rover and his Mercedes convertible. Then, you stop taking his calls.

2. The abstract expressionist
This guy is the one with the mop haircut, the pensive eyes, and the brooding disposition. The first time you meet him, he calls you rubinesque and offers (i.e. begs) to paint you naked. He doesn't own a couch, but he has an easel, a carton of Marlboro Lights and a seemingly unending supply of tickets to the Steppenwolf theatre. He's basically living off Mom and Dad's cash flow until he gets his first big gallery exhibit. Which is basically forever. You date him for the poetry, sensitive artist "thing", and the compliments on your bone structure. Then, you promptly dump him.

3. The tattooed Italian guy
This guy is tough on the outside, sweet on the inside. He's like a pair of Manolos. You can't really see yourself wearing the shoes every day, nor will you get them as they're not quite your style, but they're fun to try on for a few minutes, anyway. Nice and polite, but with that machismo undertone. He wears enough leather to embarrass you in public. You wonder how he can have that much skin covered in ink and still hold down a normal job. You enjoy the canoli and martinis and say ciao.

4. The Man Still in the Closet
This is the gay guy who pretends he's not. He's the one who holds his cigarette like your mother, compliments you on your gorgeous chandelier earrings, and asks you what type of moisturizer you use while pointing out some dryness around your delicate eye area. He is fun to hang out with, but when he tries to kiss you goodnight, it's like you just kissed Hillary Duff and you want to run home so you can shower at least four times from the ickiness. You consider being an almost-fag hag, but weigh the pros and cons and decide to bolt. Faster than you can say Bravo.

5. The Boy
This is the pretty boy. The one 8 to 10 years your junior. He's just nice to look at. Period. It works for a while, until one day you're in the car, REM comes on the radio, you proclaim that you saw the Green tour when you were a senior in high school, and he says, "I was 10." Um, yeah.

There are more. Like the ones who rip your heart out and run it over with their trucks. Those are the ones who build character, though, while the five above are the fun ones. And, they say dating is supposed to be fun, after all...

Friday, April 21, 2006

If you must begin then go all the way, because if you begin and quit, the unfinished business you have left behind begins to haunt you all the time.
~Chogyam Trungpa

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tessie and the Resurrection

Fate has stepped in, and as a result, I am now a new pet owner. It all started two weekends ago when my guy and I were playing baseball with his son outside my apartment (I live in the Field of Dreams, for chrissake). We noticed a dog on the second floor balcony of a neighboring apartment. The poor thing was trying to scratch her way out. Porches in my complex are screened in, and she had already destroyed a panel. When she saw us, her efforts became even more focused. I found out later that her owners had left her on the deck for over 13 hours (this is a 6-month old puppy, I must add). She ripped through the screen, then propped herself up like she was going to jump. I immediately freaked out, guy-I-date ran over to her, and before he could get there, she did just that...she jumped. Beautiful, brown little boxer baby just jumped off the deck like a kamikaze pilot. Poor thing just wanted to be away from where she was. She fell on her shoulder and it looked pretty broken when he got to her. He scooped her up, brought her back to my place and we doted on her for an hour while I desperately tried to track down her absent owners.

After we found them through my leasing office, I learned a few things about the owners. Dude owner is not only a deadbeat and hasn’t paid his pet fee, but he also is delinquent on rent, and there have been complaints before about his pet handling skills. Nice. As a side drama, my ex-cop neighbor answered her door sometime last year to a bloodied face of dude’s live-in girlfriend caused by an “argument”. I swear to Christ, I live in Jerry Springer’s backyard.

Now, I know the Ted Bundy-type abusers. These are the guys who are handsome and charming on the outside, dress well, act "normal" to the outside world, but are manipulative beyond belief and sing a different song behind closed doors. I've experienced that type in my life, for sure. They all have that “devil’ thing in their eyes. It’s your classic fratdaddy look with the Ted Bundy interior. This guy is one of those guys, and I seriously want to cause bodily harm to him as a result. You know that if he’s beating his girlfriend, he’s definitely smacking the puppy around without any conscience whatsoever.

After the kamikaze episode, it was the girlfriend who picked the dog up from my apartment, and she really didn’t say much at all. In fact, she barely could look me in the eyes. She’s your textbook abused woman, truth be told. Beautiful face with no trace of makeup (he probably doesn’t let her wear it), disheveled hair, cute figure with abnormally baggy clothing (textbook). She never once looked me in the eyes, instead averting them to the ground pretty much the entire time. I talked to the couple a few times. With the combination of their body language, the fact that the dog cowered every time dude approached her, and then my newfound knowledge about what these people were all about, I was peeved.

Now, I know I can’t do much for the girlfriend except befriend her a bit and hope that she wakes up in time to leave that bastard. I have opened my door to her in case she needs someone to come to, but that’s pretty much the extent of what I can do. Well, that, and I told my ex-cop (yet always connected) friend down the street, but who's keeping score, right? As for the dog, though, she’s now mine. I pushed a bit to take her off their hands, and I got her last Friday night. I’m not looking back. She’s beautiful, well-tempered, and so appreciative of her new digs. She rides in the car like a human, chases after tennis balls like a bunny, and has the best, most loving personality. I can’t wait to see her grow up.

So that is the story of how Tessie Larue came to be. Easter weekend 2006. For Christians, it's a weekend of celebration for resurrection. For Tessie, it was just that. She fell out of the sky, really. Kind of like a fated gift from the heavens. And now she has a shot at a great life. And, I've got a new shot at getting back what I've lost in the past canine-wise. At least I’d like to think so.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn't permanent.
– Jean Kerr

Saturday, April 08, 2006

If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.
~Buddhist Saying

Friday, April 07, 2006

I searched through rebellion, drugs, diet, mysticism, religion, intellectualism, and much more, only to find that truth is basically simple and feels good, clear and right.
– Armando "Chick" Corea
The past is fascinating, but it's where to learn from, the future is where we want to live.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow."
– Julia Cameron

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Technicolor and a Place to call Home

When I moved from the big city to the cornfield a few months ago, a friend of mine asked me, “what are you going to write about THERE?” As if the cornfield was vanilla compared to the hustle and bustle of the big city and my brain would shrivel up in the midst of a seemingly simple lifestyle. I thought for a second that my friend could be right. I even panicked a little. Maybe there wouldn’t be enough to write about. Maybe it wouldn’t be as exciting of a life as the big city provided me.

It wasn’t until today that I realized that my friend was wrong. I’m busier now than I was in the city. I have family here, and I’ve made more friends than I ever did in the big city. The people here are three-dimensional, and I love that. The big city was a place for acquaintances and occurrences, I’ve learned. Not for anything of substance - at least for me. It was like a year vacation, really. A damn good one, but looking back in hindsight, the friends I made there were like the ones you meet at summer camp. Short-lived and bound to fizzle within a few months of my departure. Simply put, they were my martini friends. I love martinis, but I don't want them every day.

The Technicolor that the city provided is now starting to be replaced by the people around me. And, they're proving just as colorful - if not more so. My life has continued to gain momentum in the cornfield that I never really expected. When trying to figure out where I’d land and live years ago, my Dad told me something that didn’t quite stick until now. Life isn’t about geography. Home is where you make your home. Home is about the people around you, not the geography of where you live.


I’ve always loved Midwestern people, as I’m one of them. I was born here and left when I was one, but the cornfield mentality never left me, I guess. And, I'm damn proud of that. Especially when my city friends ask how many mullets I've seen today and I find myself getting slightly defensive in their stereotyping. When I talk about my upbringing in Atlanta and tell someone I'm from the south, I don't really own it like I should. I suppose because it’s true what they can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl. I guess I'm living proof.

I live in an apartment complex, as I’ve done several times before, only this time – as a Midwesterner – I’ve realized that the people here are way more friendly than they were when I was living in apartments in cities like Atlanta or Boston. People here find you. I know several of my neighbors now, only because they all came over and introduced themselves without any prompting from me. One of my neighbors is a cute blonde, presumably in her late 30s. She’s got manicured nails, perfect hair, and a handsome live-in boyfriend. I was expecting her to be a Mary Kay saleswoman, so needless to say, I was shocked to find out that she’s in construction and that she is an ex-cop. I asked her why she gave up being a police woman, and she said, simply, “Because I shot and killed a 16-year old boy.” How’s that for interesting. She also has two different types of cancer – both back a second time from a few years in remission. She informed several of us in the complex that the cancer has returned, only because she didn’t want us “freaking out that her hair was falling out” from the chemo. She did so with a smile on her face, unassuming and trying to make us feel comfortable in the wake of her inner turmoil, I'm sure.

And, I thought I had problems.

My other favorite neighbors are two 20-something boys. I call them boys, because that’s what they are. They like to have parties and surf down their stairwell on baking sheets. Their stairwell happens to be above my living room, so this makes for interesting noise at 2 in the morning. I know this is what 20 year old boys do, so I try to let it go. Plus, they’re generally good boys, they do a lot of apologizing for the noise, and they always invite me to their keggers. It’s sort of a validation, seeing as how I’m old enough to be their very young and unwed mother.

My Dad tasked me with a three-year plan three years ago when I was in the midst of my divorce and starting over. I couldn’t even think about what I was having for dinner (as I probably had ten dollars in my checking account), let alone where I would land in three years. Well, it’s three years later, and here I am...standing up straight in the cornfield. Living in Technicolor. And coherent enough to write about it. He was right.

Home IS where you make it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Plug for the Day

This guy cracks me up. He writes a column for the Aspen Times...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.

Mark Twain

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.
~Victoria Holt

Monday, March 13, 2006


What I'm listening to right now.

The time is right
I'm gonna pack my bags
And take that journey down the road
Cause over the mountain I see the bright sun shining
And I want to live inside the glow

I wanna go to a place where I am nothing and everything
That exists between here and nowhere
I wanna go to a place where time has no consequences oh yeah
The sky opens to my prayers

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,

Please understand that it's not that I don't care
But right now these walls are closing in on me
I love you more than I love life itself

But I need to find a place were I can breathe
I can breathe
I wanna go to a place where I can hold the intangible
And let go of the pain with all my might

I wanna go to a place where I am suspended in ecstasy
Some where between dark and light
Where wrong becomes right

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

~India Arie, "Beautiful"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Think it more satisfactory to live richly than die rich.
– Sir Thomas Browne

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you're going to do now and do it.
– William C. Durant

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.

~Walt Whitman

Monday, February 27, 2006


I wanted all things to seem to make some sense,
so we could all be happy, yes, instead of tense.
And I made up lies, so they all fit nice,
and I made this sad world a paradise.

I don't know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves "Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment."

...what made being alive almost worthwhile for me, besides music, was all the saints I met, who could be anywhere. By saints, I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society.

Joe, a young man from Pittsburgh, came up to me with one request: "Please tell me it will be okay."
"Welcome to Earth, young man," I said. "It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, Joe, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of: Goddamn it, Joe, you've got to be kind!"

~Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Spring Fever and the new Hendrix Commitment

Today I want to be on a beach, somewhere in the Caribbean...cold Corona in one hand and the latest Vonnegut book in the other. I keep hearing Stephen Stills at the end of Suite: Judy Blue Eyes...I canNOT get that song out of my head today.

Que linda me la traiga Cuba,
la reina de la Mar Caribe.
Cielo sol no tiene sangreahi,
y que triste que no puedo vaya,
Oh va, oh va, va.

For those who have forgotten high school Spanish, the rough translation is:

How happy it makes me to think of Cuba,
the smiles of the Caribbean Sea,
Sunny sky has no blood, and how sad that
I'm not able to go
Oh go, oh go go

OK, maybe not Cuba, but I'd settle for a bucket of sand and a fridge full of Corona on my 39-degree porch at this point. I think they call that Spring Fever.

Instead of trying to find a beach, I did something today to cure my ADD-like antsiness and also to prove that I'm not afraid of commitment. I got myself a pet. Now, keep in mind that I am aware of my limitations at this particluar junction of life. I can't afford a dog, nor do I think I have the time or space to raise one properly (yet). I pondered something very low maintenance like a goldfish or a tarantula, and then I decided on the "I am dangerously close to being 14 again" pet. I got a teddy bear hamster. Black and white. And, I named him Hendrix. After Jimi, of course. He looks like a little rocker.

While pondering my rodent options at the pet store, I asked the sales girl what kind of life expectancy the different animals had. She said a guinea pig lived about 8 to 9 years. A hamster lived about 2.

The hamster was a slam dunk.

Hendrix is a cute little thing. He's quite the cuddler, and isn't very skittish like most hamsters. He squeaks occasionally just to let me know he's alive, and I got him this nifty little Volkswagen Bug to sleep in. It's a red, shiny, plastic little VW Bug with tiny hamster-size windows and everything. So far, he seems very happy in it. God knows I've been happy living out of mine for the past few years. I'm not exactly sure how to tell if a hamster is happy, but I'm assuming he is. I think I may have seen him smile at one point, but it's hard to see him through the tinted windows.

As I proudly walked to the counter with my box o' Hendrix, I talked to a nice gentleman in line who carried a small plastic bag.

"What's in the bag?" I asked.

"Oh, it's a dead, frozen rat to feed to my snake."

Lovely. And, it truly was a dead, frozen rat. He even opened the bag, took it out, and banged it on the counter so I would get the full effect of its solid-as-a-rock consistency.

I told him to stay away from my pet or I'd call the authorities.

So, I'm now with hamster. A commitment that will last me roughly 2 years. I haven't had that long of a commitment from anything since my divorce. A man, a job, or a place of residence. A two-year commitment is a big step, but I think I'm ready.

One small hamster step, one huge step for womankind.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In a dream you are never eighty.
~Ann Sexton

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mickey vs. Goofy

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, but it was also my father's birthday. A true Aquarian, Dad decided that the best way to celebrate his 60th year on the planet is to go to the one place where everyone acts like a giddy 7-year old: Disney World.

So, my sister and I shall meet at the airport today, leaving the chilly midwest air and bulky coats behind us. We'll replace them with tank tops and sunglasses as we arrive in sunny Florida, wait in lines with America's finest, and act like immature children all in the process.

I haven't been to Disney in 22 years. I'm sure it's changed a I recall, Mickey always sort of creeped me out. I'm partial to Goofy. I'm a sucker for the underdog, after all. My sister has an itinerary planned, my stepsister has hers, and my father and stepmother are about to pee their pants with excitement. Because they have no grandchildren yet, they will relish in watching their 30-something collective offspring act like toddlers while riding Space Mountain. (Toddlers that plan on drinking around the world at Epcot, that is...)

I've been so busy these past few weeks, I really haven't had time to be excited, but today I truly am. Bring on the rides!

And, because I'm family oriented, I'll do my part to keep my kinfolk from getting arrested at the most magical place on earth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Do or do not. There is no try.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Genetic Mutations

Because I work with a bunch of geek scientists (and I've jumped on the bandwagon), we have this "Wall of Genetic Mutations" in my department. I'll miss the wall. It's been a source of both education and amusement for me. My latest contribution has been a picture of Tony Robbins.

Cy, the one-eyed kitty, is real. And, plainly put...EEWW.
A goal, a love and a dream give you total control
over your body and your life.

~ John Wayne Schlatter

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And I wasn't even paid to advertise for her.

Her mom was a rocket scientist; her dad was an alcoholic traveling trailer salesman. Cool writer. Atlanta chick. Funny as hell.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.
Helen Keller

Tamales and Adulthood

I took a job the other day, and then I got a second offer. That never happens to me. So, I did what any anal-retentive, commitment-phobic girl would do. I made about a thousand lists. Pros and cons, blah blah blah. I decided on the one with the more pros. Also the one with more responsibility, more of a commute, more of a leadership role. It’s official. I’m now an adult. Next thing you know, I’ll be purchasing cookware. God help me.

When you decide to move and give your two weeks’ notice at a job, you start to notice more. I notice the people I work with more in the past week than I have for 10 months. My coworker John, the ultimate scientist-former-hippie who speaks of the old days when he wore a "Disco Sucks t-shirt with a big-ass pot leaf on it." My younger female coworker, who is an MIT grad and wicked-smart, but still asks me for dating advice on a daily basis (why she does that, I have NO clue). My boss, the always-made-up Louisiana woman who understands my cravings for Waffle House omelets and our shared past culture of southern sorority life. I’ll miss the people here, for sure.

I’m noticing the dogs I see everyday on my walk to my car. I’ve learned a lot of their names and have memorized their fuzzy faces. I’m noticing the sound of sirens throughout the city – something I’ve gotten so used to and have completely tuned out until now. Everything here in Chicago tastes better this week, like the fresh tamales at Tony’s Burrito that I will crave like crack-cocaine upon my departure. I’ll miss having a Starbucks on every single corner...and that’s no exaggeration in this city. I’ll miss Foster Beach and running on Lake Michigan. I’ll miss the Tap, our local pub. The Tap is our Cheers...

This weekend, I ran my errands as usual, then got into my car and did something I haven’t done since I moved here. I tried to get lost. I just drove with direction abandon, and took wrong turns to get lost on purpose. Much to my dismay, though, I could NOT GET LOST IN DOWNTOWN CHICAGO! I couldn’t believe it. I know my way around this city as much as any other city I’d lived in for years. I guess it really IS time to leave...

It’ll be a week of remembrance while I pack boxes and stack them neatly in my new storage-space bedroom. It’ll be a week of putting things behind me once and for all as I throw away old, sorted memories from years past. Case in point: I pitched my wedding album in our alley trash yesterday. So very liberating, indeed.

I think it was even better than the tamales...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.
~Sydney J. Harris

Friday, January 06, 2006

Bohemian Beginnings

From City to Cornfield

I was a hyper kid. Always into something. My parents have pictures of me and my sister when we were really little, and she always looked so perfect. She had that Marlo Thomas, "That Girl" perfectly coifed hair. My hair was cut short from day one. There are a few pictures where I had pigtails, but that was short lived. I think my parents figured that keeping my hair short far outweighed the hassle of constantly cutting gum out of it. Looking at old pictures, I notice a continuous, distinct layer of drool on the front of my shirts, too. It was lovely. I looked like a little boy. A damn cute little boy, but a boy, nonetheless. In fact, my mother has told me that during the first year and a half of my life, so many people mistaked me for a boy that she just played along after a while. Even with the scotch-taped bows stuck on my bald head.

I suppose I’ve always had a bit of a bohemian spirit, despite my Virgoan tendency to be organized and anal-retentive. I spent my 20s married and somewhat caged, my 30s have been nomadic thus far, but now I’m realizing that I’m almost in my mid-30s, on that downhill slope to 40 (well, in 8 months, anyway). I now have the urge to do things like buy a couch and a frying pan. There’s the school of thought that living footloose and fancy-free is the fun way to go. I’ve had several married and tied-down friends tell me to continue on my nomadic path..."Have don’t have kids, you don’t have any responsibilities...just you." Then there is the conservative viewpoint, the ones from people like my father, who say, "You need a five-year need to start saving...settling...laying down roots."

Someone told me once that life isn't about geography; it's about the people within your geography.

So, I’ve decided to compromise. I’m moving back to the cornfield. I like the cornfield. It boasts acres of corn, beans, and blue-collar people with a Saks just a mere 35-minute drive away. It’s a family-oriented place. A pleasant place. It’s my home, or the closest thing to it that I’ve ever had. I believe a nice, cozy couch will be in my not-so-distant future, along with a one-woman bachelorette pad. I will live on my own, sans roommates and roommate’s furniture. I will establish semi-roots with a smaller state sales tax. But I will remain a contractor, keeping my fear of professional commitment at bay. And, I will still eat my take-out dinners standing up over the kitchen sink. Ovens be damned. I have to draw the line somewhere.

I’m leaving my beautiful, adopted city in a short week. The price I pay for the freedom I fought for. The price I pay as a contractor. I go where the work is. I go where I feel the most loved. Bohemian thinking, for sure. But so far, it’s worked well enough for me.

I told myself I’d live in the big city for a year, and I did just that (maybe a month shy). I took subways and adopted alley bums and became one with the rats on my walks home from the local Whole Foods. I gained a thicker skin and observed. I did a hell of a lot of observing. It’s an alive place. It’s truly technicolor. It’s fabulous, and I will miss it. But I won’t cry until I drive away next week, and I’ll only allow myself a 45-minute window to do so. Only until I hit the state line. :-)