Friday, March 31, 2006


It is impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re wearing polka-dot underwear.

Please. Try it some time. You’ll agree.
Another request: if you have Showtime please watch Penn & Teller’s Bullshit. It is the most intelligent television show ever.

They take a topic like environmentalism or ghosts or gun control, sprinkle in a few “experts” on those subjects, then apply logic and reason to dispel the bullshit. It's brilliant.

Also, they swear a lot to emphasize the silliness of it all and you know how much I like that.

It is without question my favorite show now that Six Feet Under is no longer with us.

In case you’re wondering: they’ve proven that environmentalism is a load of crap, the second amendment is necessary but not why you think, and that ghosts (if they existed) would be naked.
“Success? Don’t you know it is all about being able to extend love to people? Really. Not in a big, capital-letter sense but in the everyday. Little by little, task by task, gesture by gesture, word by word.”
- Actor Ralph Fiennes
I am reading: Web solutions practice overview
I am listening to: Insane Clown Posse - My Kind of Bitch (Big thanks for that one, you-know-who)
And I am: Quiet

Thursday, March 30, 2006

One more thing

You can't be in a bad mood when you hear "Your Smiling Face" by James Taylor.

Try it. C'mon.

Heaven - Revised

Walking. Downtown Chicago at lunch time. Sunshine. A nice warm breeze. The 'L' rattling overhead like a rollercoaster. And one scoop of chocolate ice cream in a sugar cone.

Yep. That's it.

A man

braiding his long, gray mullet on the train this morning.
I am reading: Holy Blood, Holy Grail (incredibly boring at parts but much better now)
I am listening to: Empty Garden - Elton John
And I am: Busy

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Elusive Quarter

If you read last night’s entry, you might be thinking that I rather like the idea of dieing.

You would be correct. I have a feeling that like all great adventures it will be scary and exciting and liberating.

However, that doesn’t mean that I am tired of this life.

Not by a long shot.

There’s so much to do before I go. And there are all sorts of amazing things I will miss about this planet when I am gone.

Shaving my legs isn’t one of them.
Cows. Running.

There’s nothing more disturbing, don’t you think?

Cows are supposed to be passive, placid creatures with nothing to do but moo and chew and poo.

Not yesterday. These cows were running. Like mad. Yes.

As if some urgent bovine matter was calling them back to the barn.

I didn’t like it.
A small downside to taking the train everyday is that I have to pay to park my car.


Which means I need a steady supply of quarters.

Usually there’s a baggie filled with them in my glove box.

But it’s empty and I’ve had to scramble like an addict for a fix each morning this week.

Today I experienced a small rush when I discovered four quarters in the tin cup in the laundry room that holds loose change from the washer and dryer.

The buzz was short-lived as there was only one quarter in the change holder in my car.

That elusive last quarter. Where could it be? What will happen if I can’t find it? I’m in the parking lot in desperate need of just one more.

A mad scramble. Then sweet relief.

Deep under the driver’s seat, a sad and very dusty quarter that had long given up hope of ever being used.

Lucky for both of us I guess.
I am reading: Marketing status report
I am listening to: Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon
I am: Rather blah

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Human Maintenance

is tiresome.

Chick doctor. Eye doctor. Haircut. Dentist.

Forget March Madness. Over here it’s been March Maintenance.

I will be so glad when my soul finally shrugs off this body and I’ll be finished with all this happy crap.

That’s my idea of Heaven.

Yes, all my dead friends and relatives are there – at least the ones I really want to see, anyway.

Doggies everywhere, of course.

But best of all: no more tiresome, unreliable, smelly body to contend with.

Although I must admit that I love, love, love having clean teeth.

I waited an extra six weeks to get my teeth cleaned (long story) and it was getting so bad that the aforementioned Shit Breath Avoidance Maneuver was no longer effective.

What do you do then? Ya got a trick for that, Heather?

Nope. At that point, there’s no avoiding it. Just try to keep your mouth closed and don’t stand too near friends or an open flame.
With all this train riding, I forget how much I love driving.

There’s nothing like a good 45-minute trip on good expressway to put me in a good mood.

I love shifting through the gears. I love the strategy to navigate around idiots in the left lane (you know who you are.)

But most of all, I love the speed.

80 is good. 90 is better. 95?

Indeed. Zippy, unparalleled bliss.

With nearly 17 years of Chicago driving, I’m good.

Very good.

And never, ever reckless.

For me, Heaven also would be a fast car and endless miles of open road.
So here’s a question I’ve been asking lately: if our souls are separate from our bodies, and our bodies and minds give us gender, then logically we would have no gender once we die.

Whaddaya think? Good? Crazy? Possible? Boring?

What would it be like if we just loved each other’s souls? Do you love the soul of the person you’re with? Would you still love her if she didn’t have the same body or mind?

Isn’t that a bit of a mind-fuck?

I believe there are certain human characteristics that live in your soul: courage and compassion, mostly. These are things that do not require logic – and in fact they’re most powerful when there’s no thinking involved at all.
“But, Heather! Bodies can be fun! And interesting!”

Of course. The communion of bodies can be lovely, albeit temporary.

The communion of souls can last forever.
I am reading: Holy Blood, Holy Grail
I am listening to: Salinas - Gonzalo Sorondo
And I am: Thinky


I haven't been writing much because I've been workin' like a dog.

Actually, that's not a very accurate statement. My dog doesn't work. Ever.

He has the best life I know.
Huge thanks to all of you who made the Big Birthday Weekend so exceptional. Lotsa cards, phone calls, singing, laughing -- couldn't have asked for a better time.
Ginormous Congratulations to two of the dearest friends in the world.

I've been thinking: this gives us an excuse to celebrate practically ALL YEAR!
I am reading: e-mail
I am listening to: Tori Amos - Winter
And I am: Tense

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I leave

the office in a foul mood.

Everything tech-related was flakey today – making the easiest tasks irritating.

I pass the gauntlet of homeless people on the Madison Street bridge; most just shaking their plastic cups, too tired/lazy/crazy/high to ask for help.

Then, walking through Union Station, I see Sir Richard the train conductor and suddenly I just feel better.

Finishing our conversation from this morning, he tells me how he works at the Chicago Board of Trade in addition to the trains. Working on the grain floor, he used to make sure the trades were accurate because “errors can be costly, you know.”

Now, with electronic trading there are no worries when it comes to errors. But I didn’t get to hear what he’s doing for them now because he had to help someone looking for a train.

The extra money allows him to take his family on amazing vacations – right now they’re saving up to go to Australia and New Zealand.
Okay. Of all the things that drive me completely bat-shit, #1 is the sound of crinkling wrappers.

Yesterday on this train I sat next to a woman eating Cheese Nips. One at a time, extracting them from the bag between two elegant yet fat fingers.

Every time she reached in I wanted to scream: “Dump a bunch in your hand! Pour them into your mouth! Either way, cut the crinkling!”

Let me just say this: she sure didn’t need the Nips. And I didn’t need to hear it.

Today – wouldn’t ya know it – she’s next to me again. Crinkling that goddamn snack bag, oblivious to the excruciating mental pain it’s causing me.
And yes, you can forget that whole giving-up-being-irritated-with-people-I-don’t-know thing.

Lent is just no match for two days with the Nip Lady.
“Oh, it’s a guitar!” I realize, staring at the large cardboard box sitting in the luggage bin at my feet.

Taylor Quality Guitars.

Somebody on this train is excited. They’ll get home and carefully take it out of the box, run their hand over its smooth surface, play that first magical chord. And smile.

Or, they’ll wrap it up and give it to someone. Someone who’s wanted a guitar for as long as they can remember.

Turns out, it’s an old, white-haired man with the guitar. He gingerly pulls the box from over his head, making sure not to bump it against the rail.

He doesn’t look excited, just inconvenienced. Almost angry.
Train conversation:

“Jimmy Carter got it right: he lusted in his heart.”
“He was the first president that I voted for.”
“He is a good man.”

We’re on this train. Heading in the same direction.

But that’s about all we have in common sometimes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Sometimes while walking through Union Station I fantasize about getting on a different train and just...disappearing for a while.
I am reading: Holy Blood, Holy Grail
I am listening to: Natalie Imbruglia - Torn
And I am: Busy

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

And then

someone you haven't spoken with in over two years surprises you with a phone call and a classic, wonderful compliment:

“It reminded me of something you used to do: any time someone came by your desk, you’d stop what you were doing, stand up and give them your full attention. No e-mail. No instant messenger. 100% focus. When I find myself distracted I remember that.”

Made my day.

Also a tiny bit disturbing because I don't think I stick to that so much anymore.

Happy Spring Equinox

Or a blessed Ostara for you pagans out there.

Equinox: equal day and night. Equal light and dark. A balance of all things. In the Spring it means we're heading into longer days and more light.

Time to thing about a new life. Time for planting thoughts and ideas that will bloom as the sun grows warmer. Time for new beginnings.

Blessed be, dear friends.
I unplugged last night.

No TV. No laptop. And no phone.

I sat on the couch with Gromit and read a book until I fell asleep.

Sad: I can't remember the last time I did that -- one of my favorite, simple things to do.

Happy: I finally did it and I'm doing it again tonight because I'm up to my ears in a fabulous new book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail. A surprisingly easy read -- it's the non-fiction book behind The DaVinci Code. Highly recommend it if you're into that sort of thing.
I am reading: proofing employee handbook
I am listening to: sales meeting blah blah in the background
And I am: Pretty happy

Monday, March 20, 2006


the 7:22 train this morning for a change.

I like being earlier than usual in to the office, but I generally stick with the 7:42 because of Richard, the train conductor.

Have I mentioned him?

First, let me say that I am not one for striking up conversations with strangers. It’s not something I do.

But last year, with all my obvious injuries (crutches, knee brace, etc.) Richard and I started talking. His wife had ACL surgery from a soccer injury. He helped me navigate the stairs and avoid other passengers getting on and off the train. He started bringing me water. I started bringing him cookies.

Now he’s Sir Richard. He reminds me a little of my Grandpa Kammer – bright blue eyes and a slow, deep way of talking that draws you in to the stories he tells.

And that’s why I rarely miss the 7:42.
But today it’s the 7:22 and I’m sure I’ll be glad of the extra half hour before all the meetings start.

I will get nothing done today. I have meetings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with no lunch break.

Tomorrow is the same.

All that time. Talking about doing things. Rather than doing things.

I am reading: Night by Elie Wiesel
I am listening to: Heather Nova – Walk This World
And I am: Vaguely disturbed

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Abstain or Die: The Cervical Cancer Vaccine Debate

You might've already heard about this, but scientists have discovered that cervical cancer is caused by a virus.

It's good news for so many reasons, the least of which is that if the pap smear that I had this morning comes up negative for the virus, then I don't need to experience another one of those uncomfortable expeditions for another three years.

But the really great news is that there's a vaccine that is 100% effective in fighting this virus. Eliminate the virus, eliminate the cancer, everybody wins. Right?

Not exactly.

Apparently those control-freak misogynistic fucktards on the fundamentalist far right are at it again -- fighting FDA approval of the vaccine because it poses a threat to their whole abstinence agenda.

Yes, the virus happens to be a sexually transmitted disease.

And somehow these idiots think that they're the only thing standing between the vaccine and a nationwide Girls Gone Wild pandemic. Because the vaccine fights an STD, they honestly believe that inoculating young women will make them more likely to have sex.

Remember, these are the same men who fought birth control -- men who claimed that offering easy access to safe, reliable contraception would turn rational, decent women into Sex-Crazed, Out-of-Control Love Monkeys.

Yet all of the symptoms of a Love Monkey Revolution -- abortion, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases -- have been steadily declining since the 1970's.

The fact is, these men are so preoccupied with what everyone else is doing in the sack, you just know they're either a) not getting any, ever or b) depraved perverts. Or both.

In case you're wondering exactly who "they" are: The Family Research Council is one of the leading proponents of all the hateful, sexist, homophobic legislation that currently threatens our nation and our freedom.

These are the people behind the Bush administration's infamous anti-science agenda that among other things is promoting the teaching of creationism in our public schools.

These people would rather protect their ineffective control freak sex agenda than protect women from cancer.

Please write your representative and support FDA approval of this vaccine. Today.
It is liking the things we have to do that makes life blessed. - Goethe

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Did ya see

the moon this morning?

It was amazing.

And it explained a lot.

In spite of the fact that I have a moon phase calendar posted prominently in my cube, somehow I missed this one.

I should've known it was happening by how crazy-mean-stupid people were.

Things feel better now. Like a giant sigh of relief.
I am reading: an e-mail from Nelson
I am listening to: Pearl Jam - World Wide Suicide
I am: Better than yesterday

Monday, March 13, 2006

Walkies, talkies

“It’s nice having you along for walkies today.” - J.
“It’s nice being along. I just hope I’m not talking too much.” - H.
“Not at all. I usually talk to myself.” - J.
“You do? What do you say?” - H.
“I don’t know, I never listen.” - J.
Gromit knows he gets walkies on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you’re not familiar with walkies, rent a Wallace & Gromit DVD. I recommend A Close Shave or The Wrong Trousers.

Jim usually takes Grom for walkies. When Jim is outta town, I take him.

But Sunday I joined in for the extremely rare event: Family Walkies.

Yes, family walkies.

Don’t laugh. You know you’ve got an equally absurd saying you use with the people/animals who share your home/life.

Walkies happen on the trail that runs along the Fox River. It is lovely and interesting year-round.

Most other dogs are very orderly in their walkies. They stick to the trail and heel like they’re supposed to.

Not Gromit. Early on, we decided the walk was for him, not us, so we put him in charge.

If he wants to stop and examine an unidentifiable pile of something for five minutes, he does. If he wants to meander off the trail to follow a scent, he meanders. And if he wants to take the leash and walk himself for a stretch, he grabs it and goes.

We are respectful of others on the trail and reel him in when necessary, but for the most part its his program.

I feel kinda sorry for the dogs whose people don’t get the concept of walkies.

And I feel worse for the people – so determined in their mission to Walk the Dog, completely oblivious to the wisdom that their four-legged friend could impart if only they’d just slow down to sniff and meander for a bit.
Yes, I am concerned with talking too much.

I am always concerned about this. In any setting.

I heard a long time ago that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we should listen twice as much as we talk.

So I try to listen mostly.

You’d be surprised at the shit that people spew when they are finally in the company of someone who will actually listen to them.

You learn a lot.
“Ferrari is Italian for ‘I’m not banging my wife.’” - From Real Time with Bill Maher tonight.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Prick, Pipers, Protesters, Pooped

[Editor's note: this is from yesterday. I was too pooped to publish last night.]

“I don’t care if he builds the goddamn thing with Tinker Toys as long as it does what I need it to do.”

That was me earlier today. Charming, eh?

I work with people who are big on technology. Programmers, developers, geeks.

Had a meeting with the guy who is supposed to help me orchestrate transferring my company’s web site to the new .Net Nuke development platform.

If you’re wondering what that is, so am I.

These geeks, they have to make everything that they do sound mysterious and dangerous when in reality they’re mostly pale white men whose major pastime besides computers is fierce and prolonged masturbation.


He was condescending, which never helps. And like most techno-geeks, wayyyyyy too focused on the technology and not at all focused on how it is supposed to help. He spent a ridiculous amount of time explaining the nuts and bolts on the new site when all I wanted to know was when I can get started on the damn thing.

At one point I had the audacity to ask him if the selected technology was appropriate for what we needed to do.

“To a guy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” I said.

I don’t think he liked that much, but it was my little return jab for his arrogance.

Another warning sign that this thing is never gonna get done: I asked him if it was appropriate at this point to solicit feedback from some key folks at the company, to maybe get some consensus on updates to the content and format.

Oh, no. He didn’t want any part of that.

I understand the “too many cooks in the kitchen” concept, but this was not the case.

He just didn’t want me to tell anyone that after six months of promises he’s finally going to work on this, for fear he might be held to a deadline.

Went to a meeting in the Sears Tower today. It’s just a couple blocks from my office.

There were bagpipers playing in the lobby.

Not something you’d expect in the middle of the day, but it was nice. Reminded me of my wedding.
“What’s with all the helicopters?” asked someone from the meeting, staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows of the 67th floor.
“It’s a big protest today. Some immigration thing.”
Down on the street, it was awesome: My first close encounter with a big city protest.

Fascinating. Endless. A veritable wall of people.

I still don’t have any idea what they were marching about.

But it was inspiring, all these people coming together for a cause they believe in.

Honestly, I don’t want to learn what it was all about for fear of being disappointed.

I really hope it’s something amazing and worthwhile that will change the world.
And now, riding home on the train, I am completely pooped.

I really need this weekend.

So best wishes to y’all, love ya, and g’night.
I am reading: The Cockroach Theory by Dick Wake
I am listening to: Chevelle – An Evening with El Diablo
And I am: You know, pooped.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Customer Service Surprise

So we hired this chick here to answer the phones and do administrative stuff. She’s fresh outta college and very enthusiastic. The fact that she’s really, really hot helped her get the job, but she’s actually proving to be a very valuable resource.

For example, last night we had our first company meeting of the year. It’s an all-hands-on-deck dinner/drinks/presentation thing that lets everyone know how the company is doing and such.

The company is growing so much that for the first time ever we needed nametags for everyone. So I asked New Chick for some help. I gave her the list of who was coming but she was expected to figure out the rest. It’s pretty straight forward: you go to OfficeMax up the street, pick up the stick-on nametags and run ‘em through the printer.


She added the company logo. And the department and/or title of each person.

Way better than expected. Way more than I would’ve done with a list of names and little or no instruction.

And that’s the Customer Service Surprise. It’s extremely rare.

Exceptional customer service. When was the last time it happened to you?
I am reading: Neil Steinberg’s column in the Chicago Sun-Times
I am listening to: Chevelle – An Evening with El Diablo
And I am: Pretty goddamn good

Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Heather, you forgot

Sweetface Dog and Mr. Fuzzybutt," said Gromit last night.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Mr. Dog
Mr. G
Sweetheart Dog
Saturday Dog
Crazy Dog
Walkie Dog
Captain FuzzyPants
We like snacks.
We get pissed off when we’re left alone for too long.
We are not judgmental.
We are left-handed/pawed.
We are known for occasional emotional and irrational outbursts.
We have the same favorite people.
We can be very irritating when we don’t get what we want.
We like lounging by the pool in the summer time.
We feel really bad after we get angry.
We like rubs and scratches before we go to sleep.
We shake our asses when we’re really, really happy.
“Love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do.” - Nate from Six Feet Under

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's starting

It's gonna be Giuliani in 2008, mark my words. It's starting.

You'll see little media blips about him. This poll is the first I've seen in quite some time.

Trust me, it's all carefully controlled and managed. His folks really know what they're doing.

And by the time he's ready to announce his candidacy, it will be a full-on media blitz.

Another prediction: Woo, boy. Giuliani finally comes out as the Democrat that he is, leaves Hillary crying in the dust, and forces the suddenly candidate-less Republicans to (finally) embrace McCain (because Obama has already said, and I believe him, that he won't run for president in 2008.) What a race that would be, eh?
Otherwise, I am still blah. I feel achy and tired and cranky.

Friday, March 03, 2006


in the conference room for an early morning sales meeting, I can see the Chicago Sun-Times building across the river.

I am here. And I am happy.

I'm not one for regret, but that building is taunting me with all of my bad decisions, all of my early missteps.

My Dream is to be a columnist for that newspaper.

I am here. And I am happy.

But I could be there. And I could be happier.
I am reading: my notes for this meeting
I am listening to: people talking about wins/losses and pipeline
I am: glad it's Friday

Thursday, March 02, 2006


out of my office building for lunch earlier today, it hit me.

The warm, wonderful, unmistakable smell of chocolate.

The air was thick with it.

Its healing powers were like magic as I imagined inhaling it all the way to the tips of my fingers and toes.

This heavenly scent wafts over occasionally from the Blommer Chocolate factory a few blocks away.

There’s a long list of things I love about working in Chicago. The chocolaty good air is near the top.
I like Girl Scout cookies.

Not so much for the taste, because let’s be honest, they’re not even in the same league as Oreos or Keebler Fudge Stripes.

No, I like them because of the process.

You order them what seems like forever ago in October or November.

And long after you’ve forgotten how many or what kind, those unmistakable boxes appear on an otherwise ordinary day in March.

“Wow! Did I really order FOUR boxes of Thin Mints? What the hell was I thinking?”

I’m convinced the waiting actually makes them taste better than they would if you could pick them up at Jewel any time you choose.

Right now, sitting next to me on the train, is a plastic grocery bag filled with GS cookies. $21 worth to be exact. I actually left one box in the kitchen at the office to share. It was gone in less than 15 minutes.

The Thin Mints are for Jim. He likes putting them in the freezer and uses them to dress up a boring bowl of ice cream.

Me, I’m all about the Caramel deLites. They taste okay. But better still: the caramel pretty much holds everything together so it’s a relatively crumb-free cookie experience.
I keep a stash of pretzels in my desk at work.

Everyone knows and they stop by occasionally for a snack.

It’s nice to have the visitors but they get surprisingly surly if I happen to be out of them.
I wonder how they choose the photos.

Is there a contest? Are the girls from the troop that sold the most cookies the previous year? That would make the most sense I guess.

One would hope these are authentic Girl Scouts and not pseudo scouts hired because they’d look good on a box. That would be disappointing.
Lenten Update: Sadly, I completely forgot my vow to be nice to irritating strangers and only thought of it Just This Moment. The good news is that I haven’t encountered any idiots in the past 48 hours, so I’m still goin’ to Heaven. For now.
“What did you give up for Lent?” - H.
“In between meal snacks.” - Larry, my boss
“So no more pretzels for you then?” - H.
“No, but I can have four dry-roasted peanuts a day.” - Larry
“Is that in the Bible?” - H.
“Yes. And Moses walked into the desert with a large jar of peanuts.” - Larry
“And he said, ‘Let my peanuts GO!’” - H.
I am reading:
I am listening to: Alkaline Trio - Mercy Me
And I am: Pooped

Did ya ever notice

Your hair looks best on the day you’re getting it cut
Your tooth stops hurting the day you’re going to see the dentist
Your computer magically heals itself as soon as the IT guy shows up
I am fighting a cold. I am winning right now.

Only because I did the right thing today by getting out of bed and coming to work.

Simply being useful and productive makes me feel better.
Help me understand: The Bush administration is hell bent on securing our borders when it comes to letting in poor Mexican immigrants. But they have no problem opening our ports to wealthy Arabs.
I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: The Strokes -- Juicebox
And I am: blah

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From yesterday

Sometimes if I’m early enough, I’m on the platform before the 7:42 train arrives. I can see it in the distance, waiting for the 7:20 train to pass by as it leaves loaded for the city.

Next: two short sharp bursts of the horn, followed by their hollow distant echoes to the west, then my train starts its slow smooth roll to the station.

Listening for those small echoes is one of my favorite parts of the day.
At lunch I laughed so hard my stomach hurt, I tore one of my contact lenses and chocolate mousse went up my nose.

You had to be there.
I’m lucky to be walking across the Madison Street Bridge at the same time as a city bus lumbers through.

The bridge shakes and so do I with the weight of it – fabulous and huge.
I am reading: Research on IT in the Healthcare Industry
I am listening to: People in Planes -- If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode)
I am: Annoyed