Friday, April 28, 2006

In case

You were thinking: “All of this traveling lightly business has led to a lot of bag-buying for you, hasn’t it?”

Yes, I’m aware of the irony. Acquiring more things in order to carry less.

It is a peculiarity driven by my impatience.

At last, this latest bag is right. Now I can move on to the next step: Getting rid of stuff. Lots of it.
I had a garage sale once.

Right after September 11 when everyone felt the need to do something, anything to make things feel right again.

The sale changed my buying habits for good. Now every time I’m out wandering the stores looking for something, anything to buy, I picture each item sitting on a table in my garage. On sale for 25 cents.

It’s helped a bit with those impulse purchases.
No more garage sales for me, though.

I’m all about eBay.

I read an article somewhere comparing prices at a garage sale versus on-line. A new pair of tennis shoes that sold for $40 on eBay went for just $3 at a garage sale.

It’s a tiny hassle with the picture-taking, posting, and shipping, but I figure I’ll get good at it after a while.
Why not donate the things you don’t want anymore?

I do. There’s a lovely Goodwill drop-off center just up the street. Any time I want to feel extra unfettered I sort through things and make a deposit.

But there’s some stuff you just can’t donate.

Like what?

Stuff that nobody really needs, but somebody really wants and is willing to pay for on-line.

Think knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, give this bitch some bones. Oy!
In case you’re wondering if all this external lightening up has translated internally, I’m afraid not. Not yet.

It reminds me of a passage from the Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said, “Why do you wash the outside of the cup? Don’t you understand that the one who made the inside is also the one who made the outside?”

It’s my favorite of all the apocryphal sayings attributed to Jesus.

We bother with all this external stuff, scrubbing up so we’re presentable and homogenized for the world.

Jesus understood that the heavy duty cleaning – the get on your hands and knees with a scrub brush and bleach cleaning – needs to be done on the inside.

So just like spring-cleaning a dusty old house that’s been closed up far too long, I’m going to meditate on vanquishing some of the particularly virulent dust bunnies in my brain.
One more thing for the Can't Be in a Bad Mood List: When you see a dude on a motorcycle doing a wheelie down Wacker Drive at 7:20 a.m.
I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: Frank Zappa – Dirty Love
And I am: Filthy

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who knew?

Baby owls are called owlets.

Feculent means full of shit.

Dreamt is the only common word in English ending in MT.
Isn't it amazing how most corporate decisions are made by a group but when something goes wrong everyone looks for just one person to blame?
Of course, owlets have no say in what we call them.

I wonder what they call themselves.
I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Eric Idle
Oops - and I am: Disgusted

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Yesterday on a whim I sent a new friend my all time favorite song.

An hour later, out of the blue an old friend sent me this challenge: Tell me your favorite songs of all time. Any era, any band, one-hit-wonder, you name it.

It was a tiny bit of synchronicity.

Reminds me of the movie High Fidelity. It’s a slightly better than average film only because of Jack Black and the clever use of the top five list.

The main character is going through a bit of a life crisis and decides to examine his top five break-ups. It goes on from there, weaving songs and silliness throughout.

I’ll save you the misery of reviewing my top five break-ups. How tiresome would that be, delving into anyone’s history of self-induced drama.

But I did throw together a list of my favorite songs, 40+ in all. Here’s the top five:

Feeling Alright - Joe Cocker
Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Galileo - Indigo Girls
Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

These are songs that put me in a good mood no matter what’s happening.

The rest of the list? It’s the soundtrack for my whole life.
Probably the best scene in High Fidelity involves the main character (played by John Cusack) organizing his record collection.

His employee Barry stops by and asks how he’s doing it.

“Not alphabetical, I hope,” says Barry.

“No. Autobiographical.” he explains.

So now, as if I don’t have enough to do, I am organizing the songs autobiographically. Fun, eh?
What’s your favorite song? Send it to me and I’ll publish what I receive.
Quote of the Day: “If there weren’t any women on the show, we could call it 12.” - Jim, on my favorite topic of how chicks are constantly screwing up the tv show 24.
I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: Hedy’s Top Mix
And I am: Singing

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Only Tuesday

Last night I dreamt that it was Thursday, but everyone kept telling me it was Wednesday.

Then I woke up and it was only Tuesday.
“Spring-cleaning your relationships? You are such a cold-hearted bitch, Heather. Do you think people are disposable like pens and lighters to be discarded once you’ve used them up?”

Not what I meant. At all.

They’re called Emotional Vampires.

Admit it. You know who I’m talking about.

There’s at least one truly insufferable person in your life that you dread seeing because she sucks all the energy right out of you.

Emotional vampires are joyless creatures who refuse to see the good in anything. They cannot be happy for anyone. Often controlling and manipulative, the only genuine pleasure they take is in making others as miserable as they are. They do not see that their own bad decisions are the source of their misery and consequently blame everyone else for all that appears to be wrong in their lives.

The EV is someone you need to kick to the curb. Now.

I did it. And my life is better for it.

There’s so much to do and see on this planet. Time is short.

Don’t waste it on people who are unworthy of you.
Name the movie: “The evil-doers are easier and they taste better.”
I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: Nothing
And I am: Blah

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hedy Golightly

Hard to believe we’re already a third of the way through the Year of Traveling Lightly.

To re-focus, I made a rather pleasing purchase at the Apple store in Oak Brook mall on Friday: A slim little case for my PowerBook.

It won’t hold much beyond the Mac and that’s why I like it so much.
Don’t you find that the more room you have the more room you use?

It’s that way with houses. And it’s certainly that way with baggage.

The rolling computer bag that I acquired because of my self-induced back problem was considerably larger than the backpack that started this whole mess.

Like a black hole, that wheelie bag sucked in all kinds of crazy crap from my universe. The final straw came when a friend saw it and asked: “Goin’ bowling?”

Back with the backpack, I felt decidedly unfettered. Using it correctly this time (straps on both shoulders, rather than hanging off just one) I had no fear of re-injuring myself.

But it was still too cumbersome and not exactly professional.

This new case barely holds the power cord, forcing me to re-think everything that I “need” during the course of my day.
So I’ll ask again: what are you carrying around that you don’t need?

Guilt? Fear? Bad relationships?

I read an article in the Red Eye about that last one.

We spend time Spring-cleaning our homes, yards, and cars. Why not our relationships?

Are there people you’ve collected (even carried) over the years that have become unhealthy for you? Why are you still hanging on to them? What purpose does it serve?
Speaking of traveling lightly, did you see the moon this morning?

It is my favorite: the skinny waning moon. Overnight it’ll disappear down to nothing.

I love it when the world is far away from the next full moon.
I am reading: The Cockroach Theory (again)
I am listening to: Garth Brooks – To Make You Feel My Love
And I am: Unfettered

Friday, April 21, 2006

Out of Office

I will be out of the office on Friday, April 21. If your message is urgent, please call me on my mobile phone. If you don't have my mobile number already, then there's nothing urgent that you could possibly need to reach me for. And yes I ended that sentence with a preposition.

I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: Nothing
And I am: Fucking Awesome

Thursday, April 20, 2006


With our thoughts, we make the world. - Buddha

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


A rare, mid-day update: So anxious to pop the Hershey's Kiss in my mouth, I neglected to remove the little white "kisses" flag.


Wednesday Random

Remember when you could watch tv without that irritating channel logo in the corner?
I love my new New Balance cross trainers. The shoelaces remind me of edamame – they have little lumps that lock in place so I don’t have to double knot them anymore.

This saves me at least 30 seconds a day with all that tiresome tying and untying. Big thanks to the big brain at New Balance for that, yo.
Isn’t the Internet a wonder? A whole site dedicated to soy beans.
It’s Spring and that means it’s time to watch the Wizard of Oz.

Before cable and video and dvd, I had to wait for my favorite movie to come on network tv. And for whatever reason, the Wizard of Oz always was shown in early Spring.

Now, even though I could watch Dorothy and Friends every day and twice on Sundays if I really wanted, I still only watch it once a year in April or May.

The start of it – when the lion roars and the dramatic music starts up – still gives me chills.

I’ll be watching it this Sunday afternoon if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
The place where I go to tan (andhellyeahIknowit’snotgoodformewhatdo youdothat’snotgoodforyousmartypants?) uses island names for all the rooms with the tanning beds. Maui. St. Thomas. You get it.

Last night the perky, unbelievably tan little counter person said: “Okay, you’re goin’ to St. Martin!”

This morning I explained this to my dear friend Nelson who was kind enough to invite me along for a blissful week on the beach in St. Martin earlier this year. He understood instantly.

“Right,” he said. “It used to be cute. Now it’s just annoying.”
A short man wearing a large cowboy hat walking south on Wacker.

And the Chicago River was filthy-smelly-gross this morning.
I am reading: Red Eye
I am listening to: Shakira/Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie
I am: Looking forward to Thursday

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Only the bad witches are ugly

So says Glinda the Good Witch of the North.

Is it true? Do the things we do have an impact on how we look?

I’m not talking about smoking and eating and drinking too much – that stuff obviously has a long-term effect on your appearance.

I’m talking about our daily thoughts and actions, how we live our lives.

Does it show?

Here’s why I’m thinking about it: George Ryan, former governor of Illinois was found guilty yesterday on 18 counts including racketeering, tax evasion, mail fraud and lying to the FBI.

And he just looks like a greedy bastard, doesn’t he?

Wait a minute, Heather.

Are you saying that all physically unattractive people are evil?

Of course not.

Whether someone is physically attractive or not is purely subjective.

For example, I tend to notice someone’s personality/intelligence before their physical characteristics – that is what drives my perception of whether he is physically appealing or not.

So maybe that’s why I think Ryan is such an ugly human being.
Speaking of breaking the law, I’m heading to the health club this morning. I'm stopped at an intersection and know from experience this one stays red for a painfully long time.

It's 5 a.m. A quick look behind and ahead. Nobody. So I zip right through.

The thrill of finally being an outlaw after 39 years was diminished only slightly by the name of the street as I pass by: Ice Cream Drive.
Then there’s this guy.

The Pope.

I haven’t met him yet so I have no idea what he’s like as a person.

But the way he looks just creeps me right out for some reason. I know it’s wrong, but I just don’t get a good feeling looking at him.
I am reading: The Chicago Tribune’s Red Eye
I am listening to: Pearl Jam – Severed Hand
And I am: Cool

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Wave

Nobody told me about it.

The biker wave.

Have you seen it?

Stick out your arm, low by your waist with your hand kinda flat like you’re gonna pet your dog. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, stick out two fingers.

That’s it.

Unfortunately, nobody told me about it.

So last summer, when I finally felt confident enough to acknowledge other riders, I was waving like Forrest at Lieutenant Dan every time a bike went by.

I’m better now. Really.

But sometimes, I’m just so goddamn happy to be riding I still cut loose and wave, all big and goofy.
Of course, there are some who would not deign to wave at the likes of me and the aforementioned zippy Suzuki.

The angry minority of bikers who refuse to wave have two things in common: they ride Harleys and they have teeny tiny wieners.

Okay, maybe the tiny wiener thing is pure speculation on my part, but they have to be angry over something and having a tiny wiener is as likely a reason as any, don’t you think?

In truth, it’s a very small percentage of Harley riders who refuse to acknowledge non-Harley riding bikers.

All the Harley guys I know are friendly and have ginormous wieners (again with the speculation. Gee, isn’t this fun?)

Seriously, it’s just plain silly to be divisive over something as pure and blissful as riding a motorcycle.
The bus driver I pass every morning on my way out of the subdivision. The large, sad-eyed old man who sits behind the security desk in the lobby of my office building. The street vendor at the corner of Madison and Wacker selling copies of the Sun-Times.

I smile and wave at these people pretty much every day.

It’s friendly, yes.

But on a deeper level, it’s a way of acknowledging our humanity, our common bond.

There are two types of people: uniters and dividers. Uniters always see the things they have in common with others; the dividers only see the differences.

Most days I try to be a uniter. Thus the wave.
I am reading: Nothing :(
I am listening to: Black Eyed Peas – Pump It
And I am: Waving

Friday, April 14, 2006

A small favor

Never forward me an e-mail that says "if you don't send this to 10 friends within 10 minutes you will die." The only one likely to die in that scenario is you.

Speaking of dieing, don't send me an e-mail demanding that I prove my love for Jesus by forwarding it to everyone I know.

I am quite certain with everything going on in the world today, Jesus -- wherever that rascal is -- doesn't give two shits about who I am or am not e-mailing.
I am reading: The Red Tent
I am listening to: Train - Drops of Jupiter
And I am: Good

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Magnolia

out front is starting to bloom. And I'm cutting the grass for the first time this weekend.

Life is so good.
I am reading: The Red Tent
I am listening to: Living Things - Bom Bom Bom
And I am: Awake

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

One block

There is:

A bucket-drummer who sits on the north side of the Madison Street Bridge. I find myself walking to his beat. On game days, he yells “Go Cubs!”

A blind fellow on the south side of the bridge, closer to the Chicago Merc, camped next to a large sign that reads: “Can-you-feel-Jesus-in-your-heart-today?” It includes a picture of Jesus that is not at all comforting.

A homeless guy (“disabled veteran hungry please help”) sitting on a yellow milk crate on the west side. His skin is wrinkly and gray.

Just beyond him stands a tiny man in a ragged gorilla suit passing out flyers for a local gym. I’ve seen him without the mask taking a break around the corner and he looks exactly like you’d expect. Like a pinched up flower that doesn’t get nearly enough sun.

And this morning: The abortion protesters are back.

Picture this: 5 of them standing on each side of the street approximately 15 feet apart holding 5 ft. tall signs titled “First Trimester Abortion". Under it, a giant photo of a bright red bloody mess with one tiny foot poking out.

The pictures are graphic and appalling, sure, but I would never deny anyone their right to free speech.

The 6-year-old passing out flyers next to one of the signs seemed wrong, though.

And abortion protesters claim we should have respect for human life – what about respect for the dead?
All of that stuff: within just one city block.

What I like most about working in Chicago is that it gets me out of the same-ness of the suburbs.

There’s an intersection in your town – you know it – the one with the video store and the gas station and the pharmacy and the tanning place and the carryout pizza joint.

You could be in a 1,000 other towns across the U.S.

Makes you feel like there might be a 1,000 other you’s out there, too.

In the city, there is something new-exciting-strange-awful-wonderful at every corner.

It’s bursting with different.

And you’d never once forget where you are. Or who you are.
I am reading: The Red Tent
I am listening to: Chevelle - An Evening with El Diablo
And I am: Okay

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I’m a German-Swedish-Scottish-Native-American American

What are you?

Unless you’re 100% Native American, you have no business pissing and moaning about immigration.

“But they’re illegal!”

Be honest. It’s not that they’re illegal. It’s that there are so many of them.

And that, dear friends, is racism.

The fact is, this country has survived and been made stronger by waves and waves of immigrants. It’s what we do.

A few people from the Land of Elsewhere decide to come here. They realize how great it is, tell their friends and family, and all of sudden whole neighborhoods of Elsewhere-ians crop up.

A handful of Archie Bunkers claim they’re taking over OUR country, they ought to speak OUR language, blah blah.

Then our culture changes. It grows. And diversity is always a good thing for our economy.

“But they’re taking away jobs from Americans!”


The jobs they’re doing, nobody else wants. Another hallmark of immigration.

Two facts: There always will be low-paying crap jobs here in the U.S. And it always falls on the most current wave of immigrants to fill those roles.

They work at these low-level jobs for a time, build families, improve their lives and move on. Then the next wave of immigrants comes through to fill those roles. Irish, Italian, German, Polish – all of these groups were feared, hated and then integrated. It’ll happen with our Mexican friends, too.

The system works. And they work. Their assess off.

“Our healthcare and education systems can’t support them!”

True. Right now. But we’ll figure it out.

This challenge didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to be fixed any time soon.

And if you expect the current administration to do anything helpful, just remember how well it handled Katrina – a hurricane they could see coming for five days.

“We need to secure our borders!”

Of course.

But a giant, endless, ugly wall along the southern border wouldn’t have stopped the 9/11 terrorists. And trust me, it won’t stop the next rabid band of nut-jobs determined to attack us.

Most of the folks coming here want to work for a better life. How can you argue with that? Do you really want to put up a wall to prevent them from doing the same thing your ancestors did?

“So what are we supposed to do?”

It won’t be easy.

An amnesty program would be a good start: Anyone here illegally gets to stay with no legal fallout if they register within a certain timeframe. They register, putting them on a path toward U.S. citizenship, they pay taxes, and the system adjusts. It would take a major financial investment involving public education and outreach programs to help these folks get settled.

I know, I know.

It’s not perfect – a certain percentage just won’t go legit. In fact, the program likely will force a bunch of them even deeper underground.

“That’s when we get ‘em!”

Um, no.

That’s when you go after the legitimate businesses that profit by using migrant labor to do undesirable, often dangerous jobs for far less than minimum wage without providing benefits like health insurance.

Remember, this is all about work. Which means it’s about money. Ultimately, it’s your money.


Next time you feel like having an apple or a salad or a baked potato, think about how all that amazing stuff came to be piled up in the produce section of your grocery store. While you’re paying for it (with money you earned from working), remember the people who made it possible for you to fill your plastic bags.

Chances are, a Mexican immigrant had a hand in it.

A tired, underpaid, un-insured hand.

They’re working hard, just like you. Together, we’re putting food on our tables.

Still angry with all those immigrants?

Monday, April 10, 2006


glad that I got outta bed at 4:30 this morning.

The big buttery moon low out west made it all worthwhile.

And a good long, sweaty workout first thing always makes my days extra zippy.
I finished Holy Blood, Holy Grail over the weekend. I almost gave up, it was so painfully boring.

Then, two-thirds through it got interesting.

If you haven’t read DaVinci Code yet, I won’t spoil it.

But let me say that sadly, these authors didn’t do a great job of proving their theory. It makes sense, and they were very logical in their approach, but without proof it’s rather pointless.

Plus, it doesn’t really change who Jesus was and what he did.
Of course, I had to jump right in and read DaVinci again. I started it Saturday morning and finished it last night.

Having read the actual research behind this decidedly fictional book made it that much more interesting.

What I love most has nothing to do with the story, though.

Dan Brown has a great understanding of religious history. And he makes a point to remind readers that the early Christian church appropriated many pagan traditions and holidays. Threaded through the entire story are little reminders that religion wasn’t always male dominated; that there was time when the sacred feminine was revered equally.

For that reason alone, the book should be required reading.
And yes, I spent the entire weekend reading. I haven’t done that since I was single and living alone in Geneva. It was fabulous and I really want to do it again next weekend.
Okay, I lied.

I didn’t spend the entire weekend reading.

I did a little zip zip zipping around.

Funny story: took a spin through the neighborhood first to make sure everything felt right after its long winter nap. I usually ride to the far end of the sub and turn around in a cul-de-sac. Turns out, I’m not the only one. Yesterday there was a Large Marge on a Harley doing the same thing, just ahead of me. It was obvious the bike was brand new and she was getting a feel for it. But that didn’t stop her from giving me and my bike a look of distain as I pulled up. She was riding with no helmet and no leather; just the smug superior smile of someone who needs a big, expensive toy to feel better than everyone else.

She stalled it. I gave her a friendly little wave as I zipped by.
I am reading: The Red Tent (Thanks, Judy!)
I am listening to: Raconteurs – Steady as She Goes
I am: Zippy

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Next Great Adventure

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 either a daring adventure, or nothing. - Helen Keller
You’re going to Hawaii and you’ll come back with a different name.

You’ve lost a loved one and life will never, ever be the same.

You’re struggling with what you want to do with your life now that you finally have the time/energy/support to really do it.

You’ve lost your job and it hurts more than you ever imagined.

You’re happy where you are but feel like you could be a little happier elsewhere.

Your mind is sharp but your body is failing; seems like every day now.

You are alone and far away from the people who love you most.

A daring adventure, or nothing.


Love each other. Fearlessly. Unconditionally.

Because it’s the most important thing you can do. And you never know when the Universe will throw you the next great adventure.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Planting Pansies

Waiting out front of my office building for a friend before heading to lunch, I watched workers planting pansies in the median.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of plants. Purple, yellow, blue.

And men. Methodically digging, planting.

What a great job.

You actually have something to show at the end of your day.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Walking along the river to my office. The flow of people into the Loop is magical and I can’t take my eyes from it.

Suddenly, all separation fades away. We are one.

It’s overwhelming and takes my breath away.
I am reading: Nothing
I am listening to: Bob Schneider - The World Exploded into Love
I am: Zen

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I'm not purple

AUNT SARAH: Maybe you’re not an artist.
CLAIRE: Why would you say that?
AUNT SARAH: Did it hurt your feelings when I said it?
AUNT SARAH: Maybe I’m right. Maybe if you were an artist you would’ve laughed when I said it. Like if you told me I was purple I would laugh because I know I’m not purple. But when I said you weren’t an artist you felt bad maybe because there’s a grain of truth in it.

(From Season Five of HBO’s Six Feet Under)
And that’s what being offended is all about: a grain of truth.

It’s usually some ugly reality about ourselves that we’ve buried deep for a reason.
“Why don’t you get off your big fat ass and get me a drink?”

Yep. Someone I’ve known less than a year said that to me a while ago.

How would you react? How did I react?

I laughed my big fat ass off.