Thursday, December 25, 2008

My own Christmas miracle

FINALLY. I caught a green light at Meridian and Fall Creek Parkway! Merry Christmas to me.
(Oh, and to the rest of you, too.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Say it ain't so

My mom, calling me way too early this morning, reports she can no longer find Salerno Butter Cookies on store shelves. Listen closely and you just might hear my mournful wails.

Stuff me with filling

This past weekend I went to my mom's for the annual ravioli-making festivities. Give or take a year or two when I was unable to make it home, I've been making ravioli every year for ... as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, we made them in my grandma's basement. After grandma died, my mom insisted we continue the tradition (umm, we TOLD her that we were going to continue the tradition and that we would be making ravioli at her house.)
Last year about this time, my mom's house was on the market and she didn't want to make ravioli there because we would create too much of a mess. She lost that battle.
This year, she didn't want to make ravioli at her house because it's brand-spankin' new and we would get too much flour on the hardwood floors. You guessed it. She lost the battle again.

So, here we have the highlights from Raviolipalooza 2008:

Mom instucting Meg to get more "manly" while mixing the filling.

If it weren't for the 18 raw eggs, I could've eaten the entire bowl.

An arm made of dough.

I am the queen of ravioli filling spreading.

Best part about this photo is that Meg and I are screwing around while Col labors in the background to get all the semolina off the floor.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A very tiny rant

Can someone (anyone) please tell me why -- in 11 months -- I have never (ever) caught a green light going northbound at the intersection of Meridian and Fall Creek Parkway?
Never. Not one single time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is there such a thing as a butt sling?

Late last week while I was at work, I twisted as I stood up from my desk and immediately felt a twinge. I said to my co-worker: I think I just pulled a muscle in my ass. I was only half-kidding. Yesterday, the dull ache bothered me all day. It was my day off and I did absolutely nothing. The furthest I walked was from my living room couch to my bathroom. Today, I rationalized and allowed myself to go get a massage. As I walked down the block to the salon/spa, I was hit with shooting pain across my lower back and down the side of my leg. And again. And again. When I got in the door and sat down to wait for the massage therapist, I realized that sitting wasn't much more comfortable than walking. And then I had an hour of bliss. I was even feeling semi-cured as I walked home. Well, that lasted all of about 20 minutes and now I'm in the land of the dull ache again. I'm really looking forward to putting ice on my ass, as the massage therapist suggested. Good thing I'm not being taped for a reality TV show.
So, yes, it's official. I'm old and I broke my butt. The only potential bright spot I can think of (and it's not so bright considering I'd be in pain for the next week) is that I won't be forced back into the crawlspace to look for mice when I go to my mom's this weekend (scroll down for that story if you haven't read it yet.)
So, Col, if my butt's still broken, the crawlspace job is ALL yours. Love ya, sis.

Post(erior) script: OK. Two people have pointed out to me that I didn't make it clear what kind of massage I was gettin'. There was no skin on skin butt massaging going on here. There was butt kneading going on, and there were three layers of blanket between massager and massagee. Jeez. You people have dirty minds.

Poetic justice?

Wouldn't it be somethin' if these two bright shining stars of Illinois politics ended up sharing a prison cell?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A toast ...

... to my friends who lost their jobs today. It was too sad a day at The Indy Star for words.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Home, sweet home

Proving that karma gets ya every time ...
My sister and I consulted the day before I was to drive home for the weekend and she came up with the perfect plan: Wait until mom leaves the house and then we will put up the Christmas tree for her. At first I was really irritated. How dare Col so blatantly go after mom brownie points? Why didn't I come up with the idea first? Then my sister shared her pure evil, twisted genius logic: Umm, Kathleen, would you rather put the tree up while mom is home or while mom is NOT home? Duh. We had evil intentions, but we'd win the brownie points anyway.
First sign that our plan would not go well: My mom, supposed to be leaving the house to go see a play, had gotten the date wrong. OK, fine. We'd still put the tree up, but we'd lock my mom in her walk-in closet for the duration. (OK, not really, but you get the point.)
And then I had to open my big, dumb mouth. (Surely I was attempting to win *extra* brownie points.) I suggested to Col that we go into the crawlspace and try to solve the mystery of the missing d-CON. My mom had put some of the mouse poison in the garage closet above the crawlspace. Lo and behold, she checked it sometime last week and discovered the box was completely empty. And when we opened the closet door Sunday, there were tufts of insulation everywhere. Not a good sign.
So, fully equipped with a broom, dustpan, garbage bags and flashlights, we made our way down into the crawlspace. It smelled like death down there. Mouse death. I shined the flashlight across to the other side and saw two corpses. Don't come complaining to me that this picture is out of focus. Give me a break. I was in the depths of hell with dead mice, people ...

And if that wasn't enough, there was poop everywhere. I mean everywhere. On the floor, in the insulation, on the ledges ...

Oh, and there was a third dead mouse. The only good thing about the experience was that I somehow persuaded Col to pick up all three of the dead bodies. I figured she has kids and a dog so she's used to this kind of thing. (Not so much the dead bodies part, mind you. I was thinking more of the poop cleaning.)
The fun didn't end in the crawlspace. (Oh, did I mention that we were down there exposing ourselves to the hantavirus for an hour and a half???)
Of course, my mom would not let us step foot in the house with our infected clothes and shoes. She made us strip in the garage and gave us some really fashionable digs ...

The pants were about four inches too short on me and Col got stuck with the pink and white sweatshirt and grandma's pants. And we both got some really lovely sandals to wear.
All of this put us in the perfect mood to put up the Christmas tree. We weren't able to lock mom in her closet, so she was there to instruct us *how* to put up a tree -- you know, because we've never done it before ...

And what happened to the poor angel on top of the tree pretty much summed up the day ...

I love my family. (And I love that my mom is so computer illiterate that she will never find this blog post.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

When I was a kid ...

... I never wanted to be an astronaut.
The first "I remember exactly where I was when that happened" moment in my lifetime was the Challenger blowing up. I was on a grade school field trip to the bowling alley and we were walking through the bar. (OK, a trip to the bowling alley and a walk through the bar?? On a Catholic school field trip? I dunno what the educational value was, either, so don't ask me.) Anyway, I looked up at the TV in the bar at the precise moment Challenger blew up.
Then I remember watching at work as the Columbia disintegrated on its way back to Earth.
So there are two good reasons to *not* want to be an astronaut. (Although one could argue that journalism wasn't such a good choice, either, as that seems to be a field that's disintegrating -- although at a somewhat more slow, painful rate.)
As if the fear of instant disintegration wasn't enough, now we have this:

This dandy little machine is the "Water Recovery System" and it was carried up to the International Space Station by Endeavour last week. Don't let the name fool you.

Here's a description from Wired Science:
"The machine will use a distillation process that compensates for the absence of gravity to remove impurities from urine. Then the water will be combined with fluid from showers, shaving, tooth brushing and hand washing, as well as perspiration and water vapor that collects inside the astronauts' space suits.

All this reclaimed water will go through a processing system to extract free gas and solid materials such as hair and lint. Afterward, the system will remove any remaining contaminants through a high-temperature chemical reaction."

GREAT. I would get to drink my pee, my fellow astronauts' pee, my shower water, their shower water, my sweat, their sweat, my spit, their spit ... Oh, but thank God: The lint and hair will be filtered out.

And I always thought that accidentally swallowing a mouthful of Lake Michigan water was disgusting ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All I wanted for Christmas ...

... Was my one (sort of) front tooth.
And I got it today. Merry (early) Christmas to me.

(Let me just say, I can't believe I'm going to blog about this. How utterly embarrassing. Read on, and you'll understand.)

So, let's start from the beginning, about a year ago in D.C. I went to my dentist for a root canal. Root canal went fine, or so I thought until I went to have the crown put on. The dentist took an X-ray and the spot where I had the root canal done was infected. He put me on some antibiotics and told me to come back in two weeks. I went back and had another X-ray done. Still infected. Like really infected. Like traveling to my sinus cavity to my brain and potentially killing me infected. He had to take my tooth. And we're not talking back-of-the-mouth, nobody-will-notice tooth. We're talking right near the front of my mouth. I refused to walk out of the office that way while I waited for the dentist to create something semi-permanent for me, so he basically cemented a temporary crown in my mouth. Then came the semi-permanent something I could stick in there until I went to an oral surgeon to have a permanent implant.
And then I moved. First order of business: find a new dentist and an oral surgeon. I found both and then found out I'd be buying the equivalent of a Toyota Camry for my mouth. And then, I managed to break the somewhat delicate semi-permanent tooth while on vacation in Arizona. I spent half a week barely opening my mouth -- not even to gape in wonder at the Grand Canyon. I tried "fixing" it myself with Krazy Glue, but all I accomplished was cementing my own fingers together. I managed to have an emergency fix done when I got back from vacation. Since then, I've *really* been waiting for this day. The day when I could eat a bagel and laugh -- and say "HA! I've eaten you, Mr. Bagel and you have not cracked my somewhat delicate semi-permanent tooth while on vacation in Arizona."
OK. So I didn't eat a bagel today, but I did get my tooth. My dentist actually serenaded me with a few bars of "Beautiful Day" by U2.
Now had I gone ahead with my plan to sue the D.C. dentist, I probably could have used his money rather than my own to complete Phase 1 of my Camry purchase.
I hate hindsight.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It's that time of year again, the time when I do all I can to avoid the dairy and ice cream aisles at the grocery store. And every year, I fail. Multiple times. Today was my first failure of the 2008 egg nog season. It wasn't enough to just get the egg nog. Noooo. I had to get the limited edition egg nog ice cream, too.
No matter how much I love this stuff, it's really a good thing I can only get it for a couple of months out of the year. Have you seen those shows on the Discovery Channel about the half-ton man? If I had access to egg nog year-round, someone could make a similar show about me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Needed: One amusing kid

I need a kid.
Yeah, that's right. You heard me.
OK. So there is all that stuff about unconditional love and fulfilling life's purpose, but there's something more.
I've determined that kids provide perfect blog material.
Without a kid of my own, what do I have to say? What amusing stories can I share?
Just the other day I was reading my friend's blog and her story about having to pick peas out of her child's nose. How can I possibly beat that?
All I'm left with is sharing memories of stupid things I did as a kid -- and the peas-up-the-nose story reminded my sister of a similar incident. All I have to say is that I was a much tougher kid than my friend June Cleaver's kid. I didn't mess around with peas. I went straight for the wooden beads.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gastronomical goodness

I'm under strict orders from my Mini-Me to write about the following things:
Garlic. Gyros and ribs. Ben & Jerry's.
Now what am I supposed to do with that? Not much, but here it goes:
* Garlic. I've often said that if I could have a scent piped into my living area, it would be garlic. (Vanilla is right up there at the top of the list, too, but definitely not garlic AND vanilla at the same time. That would just be strange, even for me.)
* Gyros and ribs. Specifically from Munster Gyros. If you find yourself anywhere remotely near Da Region, run -- don't walk -- here. They make a mean gyros sandwich, one that can be stretched into two or three meals. It's also nice to see that huge slab of lamb on a skewer right behind the counter. But the ribs. Falling-off-the-bone wonderful goodness.
* Ben & Jerry's. Specifically Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Eaten on the beach. Two spoons, one for me and one for Mini-Me. Best if enjoyed after an act of idiocy by a male.

Next up, a trip to the beach wearing garlic-scented suntan lotion with a dinner of ribs and gyros and a dessert of Ben & Jerry's.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Almost back ...

Think I'm nearly through the election recovery process ...
Stay tuned. I'm alive. I promise.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Looking pretty blue

OK, so this is a pretty horrible screen shot, but it gets the point across. This is from the brilliant people at The New York Times, showing the voting shifts from 2004 to 2008. And, for the record, each of the 92 counties in Indiana showed a trend toward Democrats. Pretty cool (and I don't even want to think about how long it took the Times to put this together. But I guess that's why they're the Times.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tonight ...

5:25 a.m.
Just got home.
In the spirit of bipartisanship, I will just say:
Glad to see history made -- for the world, for the country, for my state.
And thank you to John McCain, who gave an incredibly gracious concession speech.

Country: Let's heal and move on.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Me 'n' Joe

My Biden-mania day.
Coming after I recover from the many hours I spent in the car today ...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I think I might be alone here

Two days left.
(It's hard to believe there are only two days left because I am sitting outside, 75 degrees and sunny, on Nov. 2.)
I'm not your *average* person about politics. I live and breathe this stuff, and I never seem to tire of watching, listening, reading about it. Some might call it geekiness. I prefer to think I'm just well-informed. Very well-informed.
When left D.C. in February, I knew one of the biggest things I'd miss was feeling like I was right in the middle of everything. Heck, I could see the Capitol from my apartment and I had senators and congressmen living in my neighborhood. I could go to my corner grocery store and run into Trent Lott or go get a sandwich at Cosi and see James Carville walk past my table. For a geek (uh, well-informed person) like myself, it doesn't get much better than that.
So it seemed perfectly logical to pick up and move ... back to Indiana. Yes, Indiana, the very definition of fly-over country. Indiana, which never matters in the political process because our primary is so late in the game and everybody already knows how we are going to vote anyway.
Ah, but not so fast. Not this year. God, did I have good timing.
We've had the cadre of Clintons here. We've had Obama. Hell, we've even had Stevie Wonder. And, I have gotten to see them all. In (gulp) Indiana. When is this ever going to happen again? Considering the last time Indiana backed a Democrat for president was in 1964, probably not again in my lifetime. I just want to soak it all in. And I don't want it to end.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

For Col and Cris

Can either of you answer the question: How the hell did we even KNOW this song? "That girl can sure enough make my little light shine"?!?

Eyes that look like heaven, lips like sherry wine
That girl can sure enough make my little light shine
I get a funny feelin' up and down my spine
'Cause I know that my Elvira's mine

So I'm singin'
Elvira, Elvira
My heart's on fire Elvira
Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow
Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow
Heigh-ho Silver, away

Tonight I'm gonna meet her at the Hungry House Cafe
And I'm gonna give her all the love I can
She's gonna jump and holler 'cause I saved up my last two dollars
We're gonna search and find that preacher man

Now I'm a singin'
Elvira, Elvira
My heart's on fire Elvira
Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow
Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow
Heigh-ho Silver, away

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Musical connections

I'm sure we all have them -- bands or songs that remind us of certain times or people. Here are some of mine:
* Anything by the Beatles and early R.E.M: Hanging out in the Long brothers' garage in high school. God, we had a lot of fun in that garage, even in the dead of winter.
* Billy Bragg: My dad, who liked to sing along with him while we played pool. We eventually took my dad to see Billy in concert in Chicago. He liked the show, but I don't think he knew what to make of Robyn Hitchcock, who was the opening act.
* Robyn Hitchcock: Playing cards in between classes at IU with Amy.
* "See a Little Light" by Bob Mould: My first boyfriend, who was a big fan. I later went to see Bob Mould at the Aragon in Chicago. Worst.acoustics.ever.
* Dashboard Confessional: MattE. We went to see Dashboard together and we were about 15 years older than anyone else there.
* Depeche Mode: My grandma, who asked when she found out I was going to see them in concert: "Why would you want to see a band named Douche Mode?"
* "Roll to Me" by Del Amitri: Sitting in Barb's dorm room at IU.
* "Lips Like Sugar" by Echo & the Bunnymen and the album "Achtung Baby" by U2: Dan, the second person with that name I dated. I think I'll avoid that name in the future.
* Ellis Paul: John Wesley Harding, who had Ellis open for him once at Schubas. A fan is born.
* John Wesley Harding: So many great shows with so many great friends at Schubas. I could go on and on. But if you know me, you know I love my Wes.
* "Allison" by Elvis Costello: Marge singing along with Phil Angotti at Shannon's Landing. Somehow she made "My aim is true" turn into "My name is Trudy."
* "100 Years" and "The Riddle" and pretty much everything else by Five for Fighting: Ash, in my car, singing. Actually, you can include pretty much every song on the radio or any CDs in my car, and this would remind me of Ash. That boy sings along to everything. At all times. He knows every song ever written and it's kind of scary.
* "Lukey" by Great Big Sea: Rich put this song on a mix tape (yes, a TAPE) for me once. A fan of Great Big Sea is born.
* "Galileo" by Indigo Girls: Hanging out at Ricciardi's. This song was nearly always on my juke box playlist.
* "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack: I was sitting on the lawn at the Capitol in D.C. for Memorial Day and she sang this song accompanied by video of U.S. troops. It made me cry, but in a good way.
* "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin: Eighth-grade dance at the American Legion.
* "Your Wildest Dreams" by Moody Blues: Again, Ricciardi's. This was a favorite of Clark's and it became a favorite of mine.
* Paul Simon's album "Negotiations and Love Songs: My dad singing along to "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" and my mom demanding I make her a Paul Simon tape to listen to while walking. She wanted "Kodachrome" to be every third song.
* "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel: Love and lost love.
* "I Love Rock n Roll" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: Me and Jeannie putting together our own little show to this song in grade school.
* "Not Fade Away" by the Rolling Stones: See Moody Blues entry above. That Clark has some good taste in music.
* "Darling Nikki" by Prince: When you're in grade school and you hear this, it's downright revolutionary.
* "Angel" by Sarah McLaughlin and "Shimmer" by Shawn Mullins: My dad. It seemed every time I was about to pull into the parking lot at Community to visit him, I would hear these songs.
* Tracy Chapman: My sister. First time I remember hearing Tracy Chapman was when I visited Col at IU.
* Van Morrison: Mansfield singing.

OK. I've belatedly realized that I could continue this list ... forever. It's your turn ... Show me some blog love here, people. Give me a song or a band and tell me what it reminds you of.

Friday, October 24, 2008

An open apology to Barack Obama

Sorry, Barack. I did not attend your rally in Downtown Indianapolis on Thursday. I know you missed seeing me there. After all, you've seen me in Plainfield, Anderson, Evansville and three other times in Indy. I won't bore you with the reasons why I didn't make it this time -- I know you're very busy. But please, please come back before Election Day. Would ya? Could ya?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On the soapbox

They had run out of "I voted" stickers at the county building where I went to cast my ballot, so here is my own virtual version. If you do nothing else this year, please go vote. It took me all of five minutes to cast my ballot. Five minutes. Personally, I'm hoping my vote in those five minutes will help change the course of history. Obviously, I want my candidate to win. But do what is right for you. Think about which candidate is best for your future, the futures of your children, your grandchildren, your parents, your grandparents -- and for the future of your country. Think of all the places in the world where citizens don't have the rights we do.
In my book, if you don't vote you have lost your right to complain.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just a thought

When someone's grandmother is dying, it's sickening to hear the chattering classes talking about the possible "political costs" of leaving the campaign trail.
Grow a heart, people.

My mom and aunt - acting like frat boys

So, I had some major dental work done this morning. Long story, but it was the kind of dental work that required me to sign paperwork swearing I'd have a ride to and from the appointment because of the happy pills they'd prescribed me. My mom and my aunt (the senior citizen version of Thelma & Louise) dutifully drove a couple hours to my place so they could accompany me. They did the same thing for me a couple of months ago, so I figured I could trust them.
Now, last time I had this kind of work done, my car had just been broken into and I needed to get to the collision center the day of the dental appointment to sign paperwork authorizing the place to start the repairs. My mom and my aunt drove me there after the dental hell and when I was in a full drug haze. Afterward, I had no memory of signing any paperwork or talking to the guy at the shop about what needed to be fixed on my car. I had no memory of being driven from the car repair place in Downtown Indy back up to Carmel. I had no memory of laying down and falling asleep. I had no memory of my cousin, who lives nearby, stopping by my apartment with his son. Pretty much everything that happened that day was ... well, like it never happened.
This time, though, I had proof -- in writing -- that Thelma & Louise had been here. After driving me home and depositing me on my couch, they laid in wait for me to fall asleep. And then one of them (and I'm holding them BOTH responsible) took a Sharpie and wrote on my forehead: KO, GO BEARS! I discovered their handiwork a few hours after they had left. Thankfully, they either couldn't find my camera or didn't know how to work it because there is no photographic evidence.
So to everyone out there: If you see these two ladies, you may think they are harmless, angelic senior citizens. I am here to tell you they are a menace to society.
Now that they are safely back at home I am going to take another pain pill and lay down on the couch without fear.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Me on the campaign trail

I'm no "Joe the plumber," but I've seen my share of rope lines this campaign season. Once I get all my campaign trail photos in order, I'll post more ... but here's one from Obama's recent rally in Indy. The credit for this photo goes to my friend Zbigniew Bzdak at The Chicago Tribune, who is always kind enough to spot me in the crowd and snap a photo at *just* the right moment.

A shout-out to all the parents out there

Reason No. 27 why I would make a horrible parent: I couldn't take care of a kid when I'm sick.

I'm sick right now -- not death bed sick, but sick enough to be moderately miserable. I want to stay in bed and have everything I need within my reach: Nyquil, Kleenex, cough drops and a remote control for when I slip out of the Nyquil-induced coma. I want to stay in my T-shirt and sweats and maybe forgo showering for a couple of days. I want to screen my phone calls.
How do you do all of this when you're a parent? You don't, I guess. You suck it up and do what needs to be done, trying to forget that you're miserable.

I guess I should be happy that my eggs are probably old and dried up and incapable of producing a smaller version of myself. As for you parents out there, I raise my measuring cup of Nyquil and toast to you.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane ... in a couple months

Well, I've hit the "Purchase this itinerary" button, so it's official. I've got a trip planned to D.C. and I've timed it, conveniently, to coincide with Inauguration Day. (Thank you, BT, for the brilliant idea.) Here's hoping I'm not responsible for the biggest jinx of all jinxes. If this goes as I'm hoping it will, I'll be there in person to witness history. If it doesn't, I'll cry in my beer with my D.C. friends, visit the Newseum and trek over to the Capitol (away from the reason I'm crying in my beer) and see if the underground visitors center has FINALLY opened.
(P.S. to Col: Hold your fire.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Notes on a name

Kathleen Bridget Claire O'(redacted for "privacy")

As the story goes, I was supposed to be Bridget Kathleen. That is what my mom wanted, but my dad apparently won the naming war. I guess if I would have been Bridget Kathleen, the typo in my senior yearbook would have made my name Bridget Athleen, rather than Kathleen Ridget.
Now let's get to Claire, my confirmation name. If you know me, Claire just doesn't seem to fit. Please allow me to explain. Before confirmation, we had to write a paper explaining why we had chosen our name. I found a St. Clare and a St. Claire. Now St. Clare was saintly, apparently, from birth. St. Claire, however, didn't turn saintly until she was 33. Easy choice. I figured choosing St. Claire would give me the freedom of screwing up for another 20 years. A pretty forward-thinking plan for an eighth-grader, I think. (Odd thing is, I just Googled St. Claire and came up empty. Guess my eighth-grade research was a little flawed.)
O' -- I love my last name, I really do. But unless you've lived with an apostrophe in your last name, you can't understand what trouble that little ' can cause. My God, we can put a man on the moon, but we can't figure out how to make computers -- and I mean ALL computers -- deal with a freakin' apostrophe. Try ordering most anything online with an apostrophe in your last name and you get a pesky note that no "special characters" are allowed. But if I go to CVS to pick up a prescription, they can't find me in the computer unless they enter the apostrophe. I'll look at it this way ... having that apostrophe is my little cross to bear in life -- maybe not good enough to make me as saintly as St. Clare, but, c'mon, close enough. Right?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Just give me a plate of pasta and I'll be happy

Asparagus (when it's prepared *just* right).
Artichoke hearts.
(Pausing to think here.)
(Still thinking.)
Yup. That's all I can come up with in the "foods I grew to like after hating them as a kid" category.
Don't most people grow to like far more than three things that they didn't like as a kid?
* I still don't like mushrooms. They are slimy and I can smell them from a mile away. Please don't try to hide them from me. I will find them and I will curse you.
* I don't eat anything that lives in the water. I haven't since the fourth grade -- with the exception of some calamari I felt I *had* to eat at a wedding reception in Sicily when I was 17. I think this one always gave my mom fits on Fridays during Lent.
* Please don't ruin polish sausage by throwing sauerkraut on top of it.
* Cantaloupe. I think this is just a smell thing.
* Anything more spicy than not really spicy at all. I'm a wimp.
* Brussels sprouts. Sorry. I just don't like the 's' on the end of "brussels." And they just look ... funny.
* Potato salad, chicken salad, antipasto salad, cole slaw and all the rest of that nonsense. Just give me a plain ole tossed salad, please.
I could go on for days.
What can I say? I guess I just don't have the most sophisticated palette around. But I'm perfectly happy liking what I like and avoiding the things I don't. My chances of traveling the world with Anthony Bourdain just sank considerably lower. That, I have to say, is the only downside.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just a note to say ...

... That I've temporarily fallen off the face of the blogger earth -- and don't think I'm not feeling guilty about it. Could it be that I've run out of things to say? Maybe. But I doubt it. Have I fallen victim to TiVo mania, leaving me no time to post anything? Maybe. A little. Mostly, though, I blame the presidential race, the bailout plan, the Cubs and lack of sleep.
Fear not, the guilt will get to me ... I shall return.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As Bush would say ... strategery

It would have been really handy as a kid having a staff of strategists.
I mean, when John McCain came out and said he wanted to delay the debate to deal with the economic crisis, Barack Obama's strategists came up with the "a president should be able to deal with more than one thing at a time" argument. Brilliant. (By the way, I was trying to be "post-partisan" by coming up with a brilliant McCain strategy as well. I put at least five minutes into trying to think of one -- and I came up empty.)
Anyway ...
If I would have had political strategists on my side as a kid, life would have been so much easier.
Take, for example, the time my sister and I decided we wanted to get the chaise lounges (or if we must be proper here, chaise longues) down from the attic. Our parents weren't home and our desire to lay out in the sun couldn't wait, so we went for it. We set up the ladder in the garage and up she went. She pulled herself up into the attic and took one step. And then her leg came through the garage ceiling. All apologies to my sister, but I wasn't worried about her. She would be fine. I was more worried about what kind of wrath we would face when my parents got home, so I immediately started trying to come up with some reasonable explanation for why there was a big hole in the ceiling. (My sister, being the good and perfect daughter, was suggesting we go with the truth. Fool.) I can't remember now how we resolved that struggle between good and evil. But certainly, if I would have had a team of strategists on my side, I could have turned that hole into something good -- maybe an escape hatch for mice in the attic or something.
Or let's take the time my sister and I decided to start a nice, cozy fire in the fireplace but forgot to open the flue. (Oddly enough, the 'rents weren't home for this, either). Sitting right in front of the fireplace we didn't realize how smoky the house was becoming. It was only when we left the room then looked back toward the living room that we realized ... we couldn't really see the living room anymore. Once again, I immediately started thinking of the cover-up. (Yeah, I know, it's the cover-up, not the crime, that gets you into trouble.) In my mind, the best way to cover this up was to get rid of the smoke, and that involved opening doors and windows and turning on our big exhaust fan. BIG mistake. Now, not only was it smoky, but now there was soot all over the living room. Think of how you smell after sitting all night next to a campfire. That was our house. I never said it was a good idea -- but it was an idea. If I would have had a team of strategists, they could have given me the proper talking points. I could have told my mom that it's good to have your curtains and furniture and carpet professionally cleaned every once in awhile. I could have told her that, at least until we opened all the doors and windows in the middle of winter, we had saved them money on their utility bill because all the heat from the fireplace was staying in the house. I could have told her that it was a nice sister bonding experience.
Alas, I had no strategists and was left to my own defenses. And trust me, for a kid who regularly explained being late for dinner by saying she had been picked up by a dinosaur on her way home and dropped miles away, that is not such a good thing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman

Jan. 26, 1925-Sept. 26, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008


I miss coming home from work and seeing, from my living room window, the light still lit on the Capitol dome.
I miss the Capitol Hill police stationed at every corner in my neighborhood.
I miss walking and driving by the White House.
I miss getting stuck behind motorcades.
I miss running into senators in my corner store and seeing James Carville wandering down Pennyslvania Avenue.
I miss my reading spot in front of the Library of Congress and sitting on my steps at the John Jay.
I miss the protesters in front of the Supreme Court and the homeless guy begging on New York and Bladensburg.
I miss the solemnity of Arlington National Cemetery and the bustle of Georgetown.
I miss Eastern Market on the weekend, with a stop at Tunnicliff's for pizza.
I miss Lincoln and Jefferson.
I miss screwing up when driving around Dupont Circle.
I miss biking in East Potomac Park and stopping to watch the planes take off and land at Reagan National.
I miss marveling at the sheer size of the Pentagon.
I miss the bridges on Rock Creek Parkway.
I miss Thursday nights at Trusty's -- and leaving smelling like the bar fryer.
I miss my trips to Shenandoah and the 105 miles of peace I felt on Skyline Drive.
I miss the Smithsonian.
I miss the neverending construction on the underground Capitol Visitors Center.
I miss getting lost on my way ... anywhere.
I miss watching people play softball, soccer, lacrosse, football in the shadow of the Washington Monument.

I think, maybe, you get the point. And I haven't even mentioned the people I miss ...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A wish list

Sometimes I think my dreams are too big, my hopes too high.
I am not a wealthy person (at least not financially). And I think I'm more adventurous in my mind than I am in real life.
But having said that, there are a lot of places I'd love to see, cultures I'd like to embrace. If I had time to kill and money to spare, here are the 10 places that would be included in my first trip around the world.

Specifically, Petra. This is the absolute top of my list. I hate to think I'll never see it. Oh, and Jordan is home to my absolute favorite king, Abdullah II. (Yes, I DO have a favorite king.)

Does anyone *not* want to go to Australia? I don't think so.

I think it should be required that we all see the pyramids before we die.

OK. Maybe not the safest place in the world, but it does have mountain gorillas.

Worth the trip just to see the seals sunbathing on the southernmost tip of South America.

Many people would head straight for the Acropolis. Me, I want to see Santorini.

The buildings in Moscow just don't look *real.* When I think of Russia, I think cold and gray. I would like to be convinced otherwise.

Also not high on the "world's safest places" list, but I would love to wander through a market in Kabul.

I've seen Scotland from the coast of Northern Ireland. Now I want to see Northern Ireland from the coast of Scotland. And I never, ever tire of seeing castles.

I wonder how many people even want to *go* to Mongolia. This is on my list because I think it would be so utterly different than anywhere else.

Do you ever wonder?

I do. I wonder all the time.
I wonder about this girl with bright eyes and a bright smile.
I wonder some days if she's still a part of me. Other days, I'm absolutely sure she is.
I wonder if she'd recognize herself all these years later.
I wonder if she knew that life could be wonderful at times and painful at others.
I wonder if she'd be happy with who she has become.
I wonder what it would be like to be that age again, to live life again knowing everything I know now.
I wonder what happened to my blanket, my doi-doi.
I wonder.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An addendum -- and a much nicer way to remember a friend

When I was writing about my friend Bill the other day (scroll down), I searched and searched for the card we received at his memorial on the lakeshore. I finally found it today and here's what it said:

When I leave you, don't weep for me.
Pass the wine around and remember how my laughing pleased you.
Look at one another, smiling.
And don't forget about touching.
Sing the songs that I loved best and dance one time all together.
As for me, I'll be off running somewhere on the beach, and I'll fly to the top of the tree.
I always meant to climb.
When you're ready, I'll be there waiting for you.
Take your time.

The birth of a phobia

Age 7. I think that's when it began.
That year, I was officially old enough to go on the annual dad/kid canoe trip. There's nothing cooler than a rite of passage when you're 7. Because it was my first year, I couldn't be in a canoe with my best friend, Crissy. Or with my brother and sister (as if they'd even WANT me in their canoe). Nope, I was in a canoe with my dad. (Thinking back on it now, that must have sucked for him. Fifteen miles of paddling pretty much by himself. I mean, what good is a 7-year-old in a canoe?)
So, it must have been about three miles into the trip when I realized: I have got to pee. NOW. My dad told me to go for a "swim" and pee in the water. I was horrified by this suggestion and refused. Being 7, I had no concept of 15 miles. Being 37, my dad knew very well how long 15 miles was going to be with a kid who needed to pee. About a mile later, he presented me with my only remaining alternative: Peeing in the woods. Later I would perfect the art of peeing in the great outdoors (and seriously, when you're a girl it IS an art). But, at 7, I had never heard of people doing such things. After much convincing (and probably a few threats) I agreed that it was the only option. My dad steered the canoe to the bank and led me up a hill, looking for the perfect place to do my business.
And then it happened.
I looked down at the forest floor and there were spiders scurrying everywhere. And I was barefoot. I tried to convince my dad this was not a good idea, that I could hold it for the rest of the trip. No dice. He found me a tree, then walked about halfway down the hill so I could have some privacy.
Now please let me tell you what is involved in pulling off a pee squat when you're a 7-year-old girl with no peeing-in-the-woods experience: It means you're completely exposed by the time you've gotten your bathing suit down to the necessary level. It was when I was in this exposed state that I realized that the tree in front of me was also covered in spiders.
That's when the shouts for my dad and the tears began. My dad lumbered back up the hill to see me half-naked and doing a kind of weird spider avoidance dance. The poor man did the only thing he could think of (the only thing that would get him to the end of that 15 miles): He held me up above the ground, facing away from the spider-infested tree and DEMANDED that I pee. And lucky for me, about three canoes from our group passed by at this precise moment and they all somehow managed to spot us up on the hill. (Yeah, thanks for picking such a *secluded* spot, dad.) There were shouts of, "Hey, whatcha guys doing up there?" and a lot of laughter.
When you have an experience like this, you've got no choice but to learn how to perfect the pee squat. I've done that. But the spiders ... I still can't get over the spiders.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Something I don't want to do while naked

Grabbed your attention, eh?
Well, there are multiple things I probably wouldn't want to do while naked (such as mowing the lawn or going to the grocery store) but this thing is pertinent to today.
I stepped into the shower this morning and was confronted by a spider the size of Wyoming (OK, maybe Connecticut).
This was not your run-of-the-mill spider. It stood on two of its legs and waved the other six at me menacingly. I think I heard a small spider laugh. I'm convinced that spiders can smell fear. So there I was, naked and with no defenses (such as a vacuum cleaner or a big can of Raid).
Now, some of you might think it's easy to dispose of a spider while in the shower. I am here to tell you, it is tricky. Once you get over the shock of being confronted by a spider when you are at your most vulnerable, you've got to figure out a way to make it quickly swirl down the drain without coming close to touching the tips of your naked toes. I filled my hands with water and dumped it on the thing and ... it didn't even move. I tried again, and the spider made a break for it. Now it's waving all eight of its legs at me -- and it's PISSED. Not only that, the thing is doing a spidey-paddle to the area farthest away from the drain and I'm doing a not-so-pretty naked dance trying to avoid touching the thing. Finally, it floats toward the drain and I think I'm about to claim victory. But, no. Mr. Spidey is not through with me yet. He swirls a few times and appears to go down the drain, but then magically reappears to taunt me again. My next attack involves making the water as hot as possible to show this spider I mean business. Problem is, I seem to forget that I'm in the shower WITH the spider. Do you remember back in the day when someone flushed the toilet or turned on the dishwasher while you were in the shower? Yeah, my plan was not really well thought out, but it turned out to be successful. The sucker finally surrendered.
But then I moved on to my next fear: Do you remember that movie "Alligator," when a baby alligator is flushed down the toilet, grows to some monstrous size and then starts picking off humans? Somewhere, down in the sewers, is a group of spiders that has it out for me.
I think I might be doomed.

Coming soon to a blog near you: The birth of a phobia.

I've taken the plunge

As if I needed *more* motivation to be lazy ...
I ordered TiVo.
I had been contemplating it for a while. Everytime Jenny asked if I'd seen "House" the previous night because she HAD to discuss it with someone. And everytime Patti sent me an instant message while I was at work asking, "Why don't they EVER listen to Tim Gunn?"
But the absolute final straw was when my mom got TiVo. Don't get me wrong. I love my mother to pieces, but she's not the most technologically inclined person on earth. The woman calls me from 200 miles away asking me to figure out what button she's pushed on her remote to cause a blank screen. (And I can say this all here because I'm just about 100 percent certain she hasn't the slightest clue what a blog is. *Megan and Col: Please don't bust me.*)
So I broke down. Now I'm waiting anxiously for my new toy to arrive. I'm excited to set the thing up so it will record old "Remington Steele" episodes for me, excited that I will never miss a single moment of Anthony Bourdain traveling around the world being snarky.
Ah, yes. My life will be complete.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Two simple thoughts

When you call yourself a hero, you are not a hero.
When you tout your own honor, you have no honor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Revisiting a dark place

I was watching a show tonight about a mother meeting in prison with the man who had murdered her daughter. I've not had a child murdered, so I can't know her pain. I do know the pain of having a friend murdered, and watching this show brought it all back to me.
Silas W. "Bill" May was my neighbor when I lived a block from Lake Michigan in Miller. We became unlikely friends, he a recently retired university vice chancellor and me a 20-something journalist. He taught me that it was invigorating to swim in Lake Michigan in April. I taught him that it was fun to turn up the volume on Irish music and dance in the living room. He told me about his travels and I kept him up-to-date on politics. I bought the beer, he grilled the steaks. And somehow, we always managed to come up with solutions to all the world's problems during each conversation we had in our adjoining driveways.
My phone rang early on July 18, 2002. It was another neighbor, telling me that Bill had been killed. The day became a blur of dried blood in the driveway, police tape, TV cameras and tears. By the time the coroner's van pulled away, there was a suspect in custody.
Lamar Pierre Ricketts. He was 23 at the time. He had four felony convictions and was on parole from prison in Michigan at the time. He had seen Bill's Chrysler 300M in the driveway and decided he had to have it. He got the car, but he had to kill Bill to get it.
Before Bill's sisters arrived in town from New Mexico, I went with another neighbor to discuss the case with the prosecutor. In that office, I saw crime scene photos that I will never be able to erase from my memory. The weapons of choice were a piece of firewood, a wine bottle, scissors and a hammer. I had to excuse myself part of the way through the meeting because I thought I was going to be sick.
Ricketts pleaded guilty in September, then decided, against the advice of his attorney, to withdraw that plea. We all prepared ourselves for a trial and the prosecutor put the death penalty on the table. That seemed enough to persuade Ricketts to reverse course again. He pleaded guilty was sentenced in February 2003 to 92 years.
This brings me back to the TV show I saw tonight. I've often wondered what it would be like to sit down across from Lamar Pierre Ricketts, still a young man at 29. What would he have to say for himself? If he expressed remorse, could I even begin to believe him? Could I sit across from him and forgive him for taking away a brother, an uncle, a friend?
I wish I was brave enough to find out the answers -- his and mine.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Glad to be back

The last year has been ... tumultuous. Changes in my personal life, which led to changes in my professional life. I left a city I love, D.C., and moved back to Indiana. I questioned my decision every step of the way. (More than a couple people questioned my decision as well: "Indiana??? Why???")
When I left D.C., I felt like I had no choice. It seemed at the time to be a rash, out-of-control decision, but one I had to make.
A little more than six months later:
I've come to realize that decision was the one that helped me regain control.
I walked right into a job I love and I get to work with an amazing group of people (and I'm not just saying that because one of them might stumble upon this blog).
I am closer to my family, and I don't care how sappy it sounds, but I actually like my family.
I've reconnected with people from the old days and realized how much I missed them during those three years in D.C.
I've learned that people care -- and I mean really care -- about me, and they don't hesitate to come to my defense.
I rediscovered the Midwest, where people hold doors open for you, pull over for emergency vehicles, don't honk their horns, say "bless you" when you sneeze.

I'm not saying everything has been rainbows and bunnies. I still fear the same thing I've always feared and I have no control over that. But I've taken control of the things I can, and all it took was a 10-hour drive back home.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Incredibly random thoughts

There may be more of this to come, so let's consider this Part One.

* Is there one guy sitting in an office who gets the utility bill each month for, say, a huge place such as IU? How much is that stinkin' bill?
* Think of the main road you travel each day, now the most deserted road you've driven on. Now think of all the roads in between. Now multiply that by ... the world. Think of all the work and time it took to build all those damn roads.
* Has anyone ever admitted to actually falling for the Nigerian e-mail scam?
* Why is it so impossible for many people to grasp the proper use of the apostrophe?
* What do police officers actually do while you're sitting in the car waiting for them to come back with the ticket? It can't really take *that* long to check your record.
* I don't get fax machines.
* Look at your eyebrows. I mean, really concentrate. What a strange thing eyebrows are.
* Think of the last time you had a really bad cold. Where in the world does all that phlegm come from?
* I would hate to have to learn English as my second language. Seriously. Tear (as in drop), tear (as in rip) or trip (as in vacation) or trip (as in sticking your leg out in another's path) or crop (as in farm) or crop (as in a photo). I could go on and on. Someone please stop me.
* Has anyone ever heard Billy Mays (the OxiClean guy) doing anything other than screaming?
* Can animals tell that a person is allergic to them?
* Do any of the millions of infomercial products actually work as well as they do on TV?
* Belly-button lint. Weird.

On that note ...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kind of makes you go "Hmm"

I got this from a colleague today and just thought I'd pass it along:

Let me see if I have this straight ...
* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
* If you grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, you're a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* If you name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.
* If you graduate from Harvard Law School, you are unstable.
* If you attend five different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
* If you spend three years as a community organizer, become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a constitutional law professor, spend eight years as a state senator representing a district with more than 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend four years in the U.S. Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local TV woman, four years on the city council and six years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest-ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising two daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
* If you teach responsible, age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system, while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner-city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
* If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude," with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the United States, your family is extremely admirable.
OK, *much* clearer now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Running from the law

So tonight at work, I'm reading a brief about a girl being pulled over for doing 118 mph on I-65. I jokingly say to a colleague (one who has heard all about my lead foot): That wasn't ME speeding on I-65. Fast-forward an hour or so and I'm driving home. I'm almost there, just one turn right and one turn left. And all of a sudden, there are the flashing lights. I go through the possible lines I could use and the best I could come up with was: Did you ever have one of those days? He wasn't amused. "License and registration, please." OK. Now I know for certain I am going to get a ticket. As I'm reaching for the glove compartment I realize what I'm going to find is ... nothing. I haven't put all the standard glove compartment crap back in the glove compartment since my car was broken into at the end of July. OK. Now the guy really thinks I'm a delinquent. He tells me he's probably going to write me a warning and I think: Yeah, right. Just WAIT until you see on your fancy police car computer that I've gotten two speeding tickets since moving back to Indiana in February. (Just a side note: Can someone please explain to me the difference between Maryland/D.C./Virginia cops and Indiana cops? I managed to live out there for three whole years without getting a single speeding ticket. Parking tickets, yes, and plenty of them. But I never got nabbed for speeding. I move back to Indiana and I'm a speeding ticket magnet. Can someone also explain to me why the ticket-writing process takes so long? Part of me believes it's because they want to shame you into not speeding again by leaving you sitting on the side of the road, lights flashing behind your car as others fly by thinking, "Sucker.") So after an eternity, the officer returns to my window and grudgingly starts to hand me a warning ticket, but only after pointing out that he now knows what I already knew: two speeding tickets in a matter of a couple of months. Not knowing what to say, I told him I had reformed myself since then. OK. That obviously did not make him happy. He had a look in his eyes that said, "I'm just about to tear up this warning and give you the real deal. And I'm going to keep you here for another half-hour." Instead he said, "Reformed? You reformed yourself by speeding AGAIN?" Oh no, officer. What I meant to say is that I had reformed until this very night, just a few minutes ago, when you pulled me over. I don't know what happened to me. I must have suddenly lost all of my senses and decided to put all of Carmel at risk by doing 65 in a 55. So shoot me. That's what I told him. Sort of. Or I might have just looked pathetic, sputtered an apology and drove the remaining two blocks to my apartment.
Lesson learned: Do not speed home on Wednesday night. You will get pulled over and will miss the replay of "Project Runway."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A memorial to nobody

I took this picture last month in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona (more photos from that trip to come) and the more I look at it, the more it bothers me. It can't have originally been a memorial to nobody. Whose picture is supposed to be there and what happened to that person? Who would want to deface (figuratively and literally) a memorial to someone's loved one? I know it's a small thing, but to the person who set up this memorial, it means a lot. To someone like me who stumbles across it, it's a reminder of the million injustices that happen everyday, everywhere. I'm no bleepin' Mother Teresa, but c'mon people. If there were 999,999 injustices everyday instead of a million, we would at least be moving in the right direction.

Do I have anything to say?

I've always read others' blogs with amazement. Where do they find the time? Do I have that much to say? And do I want to write it and save it for the entire world to see? If I write something and nobody reads it, have I really written anything at all?
So here I am entering the scary world of blogs. I don't know how frequently I'll post (I can hear myself already: I'll post something tomorrow.)
Let's see how long I last until laziness and procrastination get the best of me.