Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not so scary after all

“Quick! Come down here!” yelled Jim. “They’re in the catacombs in Edinburgh!”

He was downstairs watching one of those ridiculous ghost hunter shows last night. Apparently they were trying to contact spirits in these old and infamous hidden rooms and tunnels discovered in downtown Edinburgh.

When we were there in 1998, we signed up for a ghost tour that took us through those same cave-like tombs.

It was plenty scary during the tour, but even scarier when we went back by ourselves around midnight after visiting several local pubs.

Although I remember wanting something Supernaturally Scary to happen and being disappointed when it didn’t.
My personal fears range from the rational (God I hope I don’t fart in this meeting) to the completely irrational (driving over suspension bridges scares the crap outta me for no reason.)

What scares you? Anything?
I know a few people who have stories – good stories – about their own experiences with the supernatural.

And I believe them, mostly.

But I’m a cynic when it comes to ghosts and goblins.

Only because I’ve never personally experienced anything that would lead me to believe they exist.
Of course, it’s the daily, rational fears that get us most: Losing loved ones, our livelihoods, our homes.

Scary movies and ghosts tours are popular because it distracts us from the reality that eventually all of us will lose the extremely comfortable way things are Right Now to whatever might happen tomorrow.
Now that I think about it, I’m not afraid of much.

The cynical among you would say it’s because I’ve had a pretty cushy life to this point. True.

But I think it’s mostly because I have faith. Faith that everything will work out the way that it’s supposed to always. Always.

And that’s something - unlike ghosts - that I do have personal experience with.

Everything always works out. Everything gets better eventually.

So you can have faith or you can have fear.

But you can’t have both.
I am listening to: The fan on my desk
I am reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
And I am: Not afraid

Monday, October 30, 2006

Not so special after all

Check this out:

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Apparently there are 147 other chicks in the United States who share my first and last name.

Try it on yourself and let me know how many you come up with.
I remember being one Little Pissed-Off Second Grader when I learned there was another Heather at my elementary school.

I was livid. How dare she take MY NAME? If I’m like a goddamn snowflake and there’s nobody else on the planet like me, what is this bitch doing with my name? Who was this imposter Heather, anyway?

I got over it eventually but never liked her much all the way through high school.
Heather. It’s a good name. It’s different. I like it.

And I’m a firm believer that your name has an impact on your life and on your future.

That said, have you ever noticed that on TV and in the movies, Heathers are mostly whores, sluts and strippers?

This is another one of those moments when you can keep your snidely-ass comments to yourself. Trust me, you’re not gonna come up with anything that I haven’t already heard a thousand times before.
Whaddaya think?

Does your name make you special? Does it make you who you are?

Or would you have the exact same life if you’d been named something completely different?
I actually communicated with another of the 147 Heather S’s via e-mail two years ago.

She contacted me because I owned the .com URL of our name.

I bought it during a silly moment of hubris way back when the Internet was just gaining popularity – I thought that someday I’d be a famous writer and it would be important to own the rights to the site bearing my name.

Turns out she’s a famous photographer from New York who offered to buy the site from me for a thousand dollars.

I turned her down.

Not because it was rather unsettling admitting to myself that I wasn’t going to be the famous Heather S______.

And not because it was like giving up a lifelong dream.

It was mostly because it felt like taking money for the site would’ve been bad karma.

So I ended up just giving it to her.

She obviously had a better, more legitimate use for it than I ever would.
I believe that having a classically bimbotic name like Heather has made me try harder in some respects.

If I’d been named Susan or Hilary or Phyllis I might not have to work so hard to prove I’m not an idiot (most of the time.)

I read more. I try to keep up on current events. I work my brain harder to not live up to the stigma that comes with having a name like Heather.
Do you mean to say that you wouldn’t read a lot if you’d been named Ann or Liz?

I don’t know. That’s what makes me a Heather.
It was odd meeting someone else with my name.

We discovered that we shared quite a few other things in common besides our name. Her nickname is Red. My nickname is Hed (an unfortunate yet logically shortened version of Hedy.) We both moved away from our hometowns in our early twenties to make a go of it alone (she to New York, me to Chicago.) We curse like truck drivers. And we’re both relatively unconventional – although she much more so than me.

It was like meeting another, slightly different version of myself.

Not a better Heather, mind you. Just different.
I am listening to: Heather Nova – Walk This World
I am reading: Steinberg
And I am: Not so special after all

Friday, October 27, 2006

A trip to the karmic toilet

“But five hundred dollars isn’t even going to cover the cost of the food,” said my contact at the City Club of San Francisco.

“I know,” I replied grimly. “But it’s all we’re prepared to offer you at this point.”
I walk to the restroom in the exhibit hall after that decidedly unpleasant conversation.


I’m not in the stall for two seconds when my mobile phone slips out of my hand and falls right into the toilet.

Without a thought, I reach in and grab it.
Instant karma.

It’s been the hallmark of my 39 years on this planet.

When I do something bad, the Universe immediately pays me back in spades.
I know what you’re thinking: Ew. Ick. Yuck.

And of course, the obvious: Why didn’t you just leave it there?

I’m with you. All of the above, and then some.

But it was submerged for less than a second so I thought it could be saved somehow.
Remember the Code Red Marketing Emergency from last Friday that bled over into Saturday?

Well, on Monday it turned into a Karmic Event that registered 10.0 on my personal Richter scale.

It’s a long story so I won’t bore you with the details. But I found myself in an ugly, unbelievably impossible situation.
The phone had drowned of course. It was a bad, bad feeling.

I’m out of town for a trade show with co-workers, business partners, and vendors who can no longer get in touch with me. Their contact information (along with numbers for all my friends and family members) literally went down the crapper.

I knew why it happened. And I knew there was only one way to fix it.
Hi [Contact at City Club],

After speaking with you for that last time yesterday, I went into the bathroom and accidentally dropped my phone in the toilet. I tell you this not as further confirmation that I am a raging idiot, but to let you know that the concept of karma is not lost on me.

Our behavior in response to your truly stellar customer service was unprofessional. Reprehensible is more like it. On behalf of ________, I hope you’ll accept my sincere apology. I am so sorry for the stress and frustration we caused. I was put in an awful position by a person who is clearly irrational and the source of this entire ugly situation – and I should’ve done what I knew was right rather than listening to him and passing the bad situation along to you.
Maybe it’s the latent Catholic in me, but I set myself up for further self flagellation by sending out another e-mail the next day:

There's nothing quite like admitting you're a complete idiot to all of your friends and family.

I dropped my mobile phone in a toilet on Monday. All of the contact information I have for you literally went down the crapper. When you have nothing better to do, please find it in your heart to send me your phone numbers (home, mobile, work, whatever.) I'd really appreciate it.

I gotta go wash my hands for the bazillionth time since Monday...hope you're having a better week than I am...thanks.


It turned out to be an interesting social experiment.

My chick friends were generally sympathetic and helpful. On the other hand, here’s a response that is representative of the decidedly unsympathetic messages from among my more brutish acquaintances:

"No. When I want to talk to you; I'll call you."
But Heather, don’t you keep a back up of your phone numbers somewhere? You’re in the IT business, for the love of Pooh. You should know better.

Yep. Thanks. Gotcha.
So, here are some lessons I pulled out of my trip to the karmic toilet:

1) Follow your gut and do the Right Thing, even when someone in a position of power pressures you to do otherwise.
2) If you must take your phone into the bathroom, put it in your pocket before approaching the bowl.
3) You can never wash your hands too much.
4) An honest, heartfelt apology is the only remedy for a karmic catastrophe.
I am listening to: Elton John – Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
I am reading: Today's Steinberg
And I am: Forgiven

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday random

“Brad Pitt or Vince Vaughn?”
“Brad for a one-nighter for sure, Vince for long-term.”
This is the kind of silly over-sharing that happens when you’ve spent way too much time with your co-workers.
Three different people tried to walk off with the beanbags from the Baggo set yesterday. They were sitting on the counter. One guy actually made it four booths away before we caught up with him.

What would someone want or do with a little blue beanbag? Didya notice how I didn’t yell this time? It’s Thursday and I’ve been beaten down by the greedy idiot masses.

What is it about trade shows that makes it okay for people to just walk up and grab something off of a counter without asking for it or even looking at you?

Why is socially unacceptable behavior somehow okay at trade shows?
Of course, at this point they can have the goddamn bags, as far as I’m concerned.

They’ve been handled by hundreds of people over the past three days and are germier than the aforementioned Turd Giveaway Concept.
It’s been two chicks versus five guys out here from our company all week. Not great odds. But since most of them have been thinking with their dicks all week, it evened out nicely.

What is it about trade shows that makes it okay for men to act like pigs?

Walking the exhibit hall is like walking through a bad eighties meat market. Guys don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re checking out chicks.

And again, these are professionals. Men who oughtta know better.

Men who would never think of muttering “nice” under their breath if you walked by them in the office.
“Why Vince?” the guys in our group asked last night. “He’s just a big oaf.”

Sure, he looks like an oaf. But he’s smart and funny. The other chick and me explained to the boys that for the long haul, having someone who can make you laugh is key.

Jim made me laugh out loud this morning via e-mail from almost two thousand miles away.

Who the hell needs Vince when I have an oaf of my own waiting for me back home?
I am listening to: Marilyn Manson – The Dope Show
I am reading: Nothing, my brain is officially fried
And I am: Done

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sir Elton

I was wrong yesterday.

Oracle OpenWorld isn’t one of the largest tech conferences in the world, it is the largest with more than 40,000 people here this week.

We learned that little fact while waiting for Elton John to take the stage for Oracle’s ginormous hoop-dee-doo appreciation event at Cow Palace on the far north side of San Francisco last night.
I was never a huge fan.

Don’t get me wrong. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Tiny Dancer, and Rocket Man are classics of course.

But it’s a bit incongruous to me that the same man who wrote Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters could also author such vapid ear trash as I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues and Candle in the Wind.
I am pleased to report that the portly little poof pulled it off, putting on a truly amazing performance last night.

It was the songs for sure. Hearing those first jangling notes of Tiny Dancer gave me chills. And the live version of Rocket Man that lasted almost 15 minutes was one of the single best performances I’ve ever seen in my life.

Of course, being 20 feet from the stage helped, too.
He didn’t interact with the crowd much – just a few thank you’s and glad to be here’s. But I guess when you’re a Major Star and you’ve been doing this for as long as he has, you could get up on stage and whip out your winkie and folks would cheer.
We were trying to decide if performing for 40,000 Oracle customers, partners and employees makes him a sellout.

To me, he was more of a sellout for transforming that awful Marilyn Monroe song into a morbid memorial for Princess Di.

People near us in the crowd seemed to know that he was paid in the millions for his 90-minute performance.

That doesn’t make him a sellout, that makes him smart.
I am listening to: Elton John – Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
I am reading: Steinberg
And I am: Sore

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Free shit

I’m at Oracle OpenWorld this week.

It’s one of the biggest technology tradeshows in the world and my company – with about a bazillion others – has a booth here.

Our goal is to talk to people who might be interested in what we do.

The goal of most attendees is to grab as many giveaways as possible.
“Can I have that? What is it?” - Idiotic woman at our booth yesterday.

I’m sorry for yelling, but there’s nothing like a good trade show to remind you how fucking greedy and stupid some people can be.

And I’m convinced that if I placed a small turd on the counter at our booth, within five minutes someone would walk away with it.
What is it about free stuff that makes people so nutty?

I don’t get it.

These folks are professionals, too. The same people who could totally afford to spend a buck on a tchotchke from Walgreen's will grovel and whine for the tiny plastic pieces of crap that companies hand out at trade shows.
It’s football season and the Chicago Bears are 6 – 0, so we decided to do a tailgating theme in our booth this year.

We’re running Super Bowl highlights on a 42” plasma TV, which is the Grand Prize to one Randomly Selected Winner. Wink wink.

We’re handing out Koozies (not what you’re thinking, Lisa, but that certainly would make for an interesting giveaway) to everyone.

And to complete the tailgate theme, we’ve got Baggo. It’s fun. The lucky few who actually get the beanbag in the hole receive a 12-pack soft-sided cooler that folds flat, making it easy to take home from the show. All of this stuff is emblazoned with our corporate logo, of course.

It’s worked out pretty well so far – traffic through the booth was steady for the eight hours we spent in the exhibit hall yesterday.

But I’m almost regretting having great giveaways because it increases the idiot factor exponentially.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want free stuff. Free implies very little value. Free shit takes up space.

And don’t we all need less shit in our lives?
I am listening to: Just Jack - Snowflakes
I am reading: USA Today
And I am: Disgusted

Monday, October 23, 2006

Airborne to elsewhere

Due to a Code Red Marketing Emergency that waylaid my Friday and bled over into the next morning, I was in a decidedly foul mood heading to O’Hare Saturday afternoon.

I’m usually pretty good at maintaining perspective about my job: Nobody ever dies in marketing.

There’s the occasional bruised ego, but that’s about as bad as the injuries get in my fluffy little line of work.

The trouble lies in helping others maintain that same perspective.

My biggest challenge in that regard is the folks with a fondness for firing off ugly little ill informed e-mails after regular business hours.

You probably never do it, so I’m at no risk of offending when I say this: Only pussies use e-mail to solve the occasional perceived Major Business Crisis.

Ironically, these are the same brainiacs who can’t be bothered with reading messages sent to them before blasting everyone else for the Profound Lack of Communication that invariably causes every business challenge known to humankind.
Our pilot is one of those classic irritating types who loves the sound of his own voice:

“This is Captain Blah-Blah speaking. We’ll have you landing in San Francisco at 15 minutes past the hour of five o’clock, that’s a 5:15 p.m. arrival into San-Fran-cisco. Blah blah crew blah blah temperature blah de friggin’ blah blah blah.”
Back to Saturday.

In spite of the ugliness of the previous 24 hours, the closer I got to 22C on American Airlines flight 1835, the better I felt.

Now, with my ass planted comfortably in an aisle seat and a cold Diet Pepsi next to my Mac on the tray table, life is good again.

I call it the state of Elsewhere. And for me, being Elsewhere is one of the best natural highs ever.
By the way, Lorna Doone cookies rock.

Why do I only eat them when I’m on planes?
So here’s my San Francisco ritual: I cab it to the hotel, check in, and drop my bags in the room.

Then I waste no time heading out into Elsewhere, excited and alone.

I people watch. I shop a little. But I mostly just wander the city by myself until I get tired around 10 p.m. and head to bed.

It is one of the most joyful feelings in the world. I just can’t wait.
Maybe it’s because my job is fairly boring (again, nobody ever dies.)

But being on a plane alone heading to Elsewhere is a mini adventure.

Elsewhere means new people, new sounds, and new smells.

It means being where nobody can find me for a while.

It means being reminded that the world is so much bigger than my backyard.

And it provides a much-needed boost when reckless and idiotic evening e-mailers rock my normally well-preserved perspective on life.
I am listening to: Plane sounds
I am reading: An article about Barack Obama in Harper’s
And I am: Elsewhere

Friday, October 20, 2006

Know your role

“Did you score?” asked Jim.
“Nope, but I had a lot of assists,” I replied proudly.
Have I mentioned my company knows how to have fun?

Last night about 50 of us played Whirlyball – a fast-paced and fun game involving whiffle balls and bumper cars.

It’s cool because the bumper cars level the playing field so you really don’t need to be in great shape to play; it’s more about hand-eye coordination and teamwork.

And I can say this without a hint of hubris: I am the Queen of Whirlyball.
You can learn a lot about people by watching them play games.

There’s the egomaniac dude who hogs the ball all the way down the court without looking to see if anyone else might be open, only to whip it as hard as he can at the net without ever coming close to scoring. I suspect these guys are eternally frustrated with virtually every aspect of their lives and are the main reason why Viagra is so popular.

Then you’ve got the people who always seem surprised when the ball finds its way into their scoopy racquet thing and immediately toss it away without a moment of thought to where or whom they might be throwing it. These people are the delightful combination of nervous and generous – they can never give away enough and always sacrifice their own comfort for others.

There are the timid players who really aren’t into the game so much as riding around in the cool bumper cars. These are your otherwise quiet and unassuming neighbors who always and inexplicably seem to have the latest, hottest car in their garage.

Then you have the Professionals. They’re really, really Into It and will leave the court frustrated and pissed off even though it’s just a silly game. These are the guys whose athletic careers peaked in high school and were seriously pissed off to learn they were not quite good enough to play college ball. They are now middle-aged wanna-bes who embarrass their wives and families by heckling professional ball players and dialing in to sports radio shows to tell the coaches what they really shoulda done in last night’s game.

There are cheaters, too. Both men and women who will do whatever it takes to steal the ball from you, including whacking you on the head/hands with their plastic racquet. These folks devote their lives to keeping up with the Joneses, are always looking for sneaky ways to get ahead, and will never be satisfied with what they have.
So what type are you, Queenie?

I know my role. And that’s what makes me so goddamn good.

I can throw. I’m always aware of who’s around me and where the ball is. I’m not afraid to get in the middle of things to steal the ball, but I don’t need to be a superstar. There are others who are better at getting it in the net, so I’m perfectly happy passing the ball to them whenever I can.

Knowing your role makes life less challenging and more fun. It makes you a more valuable member of your team.

Or in my case, the Queen.
I am listening to: Garbage – You Look So Fine
I am reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
And I am: Bruised

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Putting the cuss in customer service

“Name?” the sour-faced girl at the counter grunts at me without looking up.

I diligently reply even though I’ve been coming to this particular tanning salon since it opened back in 1998.

“Eyewear?” another grunt.

I comply, showing her my requisite pink peeper protectors.
If you’ve never been, here’s how it works: They set the timer on the bed from a computer at the front desk. They tell you which room is yours. You lock the door, strip, recline, pop on your peeper protectors, press the start button, and bask in the warm glow of potentially harmful and damaging rays.

It’s lovely. Usually.

But for the third time in less than a month, the counter chick forgets to set the timer, so I have to get dressed, open the door and remind her.

She shouts a shallow “Sorry!” and the timer is set.
I seethe for the seven minutes in the bed.

It’s supposed to be relaxing. I usually think about my favorite beach on Maui.

But all I can think about this time is how bad the customer service has become since that Crabby-Ass Bitch took over the business.
“The cuss in customer service? What a clever girl you are, Hedy.”

No, not so much. Somebody else thought of it way before it popped into my sorry little brain last night.

I love the Internet. It’s a great way to find out if you are Truly Brilliant or merely Sad, Average and Late.
It’s not as if I need to tan. It’s a luxury. Like escaping to a seven-minute spa.

So it oughtta be a positive experience. I should walk outta there relaxed and refreshed instead of tense and irritated.

What’s worse, it’s not as if the transaction is complicated or difficult. I’m not applying for a home loan, for shit’s sake.
The previous owners were an incomprehensibly orange and wrinkly pair of whacky middle-aged women who knew how to have fun while running a business.

They greeted me with a smile, looked me in the eye, and called me by my first name. Every time.

And even though it was most certainly work for them, they never gave off that impression. They were always very happy to see their customers, made it fun to be there, and thanked me profusely when I left.

I miss them.
On Saturdays, the new owner (the aforementioned Crabby-Ass Bitch) is always there.

Last weekend I walked in and waited patiently while she kept her back to me, folding a pile of towels. It was a full two minutes before she finished folding, turned around and barked what I’m assuming has become the standard greeting there: “Name?”

She never smiles. And she sighs a lot, like it’s a huge effort to push the two buttons required to set up the bed.

The only time she comes close to smiling is when I’m on my way out, as if she’s glad to be rid of me.
How do you know she didn’t see you come in?

1) This is not a large place.
2) She was standing at the counter.
3) And there’s a little bell on the door to let everyone know when customers arrive. That bell is now the friendliest part about the place.
We’ve all got ‘em. Ugly customer service stories.

Nothing is worse than giving your hard-earned money to someone who doesn’t appreciate it.

So I’ve decided to stop. I’m canceling my membership.

If it means driving a few extra miles to permanently damage and prematurely age my skin, I’ll happily do it.

Because I’m done getting burned by bad customer service.
I am listening to: A new episode of South Park
I am reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
And I am: Dark

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I hop on the 7:42 expecting to see Sir Richard’s smiling face but he’s nowhere to be found.

Instead, I’m greeted by the unmistakable stench of human crap. Apparently the restroom in the forward part of the car is backed up.

I head up the stairs to my usual spot. I look down at the only available single seat (the type that don’t flip up) and there’s a fingernail smack dab in the middle of it. The floor beneath the seat is littered with them. Someone’s been cutting their nails on the train.

I find another seat. But now I have a train rookie behind me. He’s on the phone informing all of us that he’s HEADING INTO NORTHWESTERN FOR A CAT SCAN.

ugh interj

used as the written form of a grunting exclamation of disgust, strain, or horror
Have you seen the movie Barfly?

It’s the story of Charles Bukowski, a famous poet and infamous drunk who lived in L.A.

The movie is a classic character study of a brilliant and prolific writer who wanted nothing more than to drink and fight and fuck his days away. It’s dark and slow and will make you want to down an entire bottle of really cheap Scotch whilst watching it.

So why should you care about this movie? Because it’s got one of my all-time favorite lines in it:

“Do you hate people?” asks Bukowski’s girlfriend, sitting next to him at the bar like a crumpled up tissue.
“No, but I seem to feel better when they’re not around,” he replies without looking up from his drink.
And that’s how I feel today.

I don’t hate people. But sometimes I feel better when they’re not around.

I am listening to: The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin’
I am reading: The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
And I am: Ugh

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The 'miracle' I missed

It was around 10:30 p.m. and Grossman had thrown his fourth or fifth interception when I finally gave up. Maybe it was six. I don’t know. But it was ugly. And I was tired.

Before saying more, let me remind you that I am not a sports fan. I do not live in a sports house. I watch teams when they’re winning and I don’t waste my time when they’re not. To me, it’s just another form of entertainment.

You can like me or dislike me for that fact; I’m okay with that.
So to wake up to a text message from Jim saying: “Bears win!” was just a bit surprising.

I’m pissed I missed it.

And as a friend admonished me: “A lesson perhaps for the non-believers among us.”
Yep. Non-believers indeed.

Apparently, along with Brian Urlacher, God played a role in last night’s win because here’s the headline from the Chicago Tribune: “Bears pull off Monday night miracle.”
And now I’m even more irritated.

Because miracles do not happen in sports.

A miracle is when a passerby pulls a woman out of a burning car on the side of the road. Or when a man who is in the hospital and near death recovers and goes back to living his life and loving his family.

A miracle is when people’s lives are profoundly and irrevocably changed for the better.

To say that the Bears performed a miracle last night degrades the true meaning of the word.

Miracles do not happen on football fields, goddammit.
But what about Lance Armstrong? If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.

It was a miracle that he lived. It was not a miracle that he won the Tour de France seven times -- that was due to hard work and determination on his part.

He could've survived cancer and sat on the couch eating potato chips for the rest of his life and it would still be a miracle.
Of course, I’m still sorry to have missed the Bears win last night.

Brian Urlacher is a god.
I am reading: Salon.com
I am listening to: Nothing – Oprah is muted (a small miracle perhaps)
And I am: Pissed

Monday, October 16, 2006

One month from today

I will be recovering from surgery. Not Major Surgery. Not minor surgery.

Just surgery. It’s elective.

And I’ve been debating whether to let this out, but I think it’s mildly interesting and therefore worthy of HedyBlog.
What what what what what?

I’m having breast reduction surgery on November 15.
WOW. Did ya hear that?

That was the collective scream of men The World Over: “NOOOOOOooooooooo!”

Hey, I can say it. They’re my boobs. And it’s true.
Remember Nancy Kerrigan after getting cracked on the knee by one of Tonya Harding’s goons?

That’s what I’m hearing now.

“WHyyyyYYYY? WHyyyyyYYYY? WHyyyyyYYY?”

Sorry. I’m amusing myself here.
“But Heather!" [Finally catches breath from uncontrollable wailing]


The thing is, they’re way too big. They gotta go.

I have chronic back and neck problems. My chest hurts a lot of the time. If I’m not in pain, it’s just a sort of general discomfort that I’ve grown accustomed to over the past 25 years.

It’s long over due. And will make my life so much easier.
“We’re going to Hooters for lunch, ya wanna come?” asks IT guy.

“No thanks,” I say.

“Right. Because if you walk in, the whole place would go silent and someone would whisper ‘Our Leader!’” says IT guy, cracking himself up.
“Boob job, eh?” said Jim. “Well we can only afford one this year so should I start calling you Lefty?”
You won’t understand this, but here it is: When you go through life with Freakishly Huge Boobs it changes everything.

People look at you differently. Well, they mostly look at your tits but they also make assumptions about you that are rarely kind or accurate.

I’m tired of it.
“Why can’t you just make Jim’s hands bigger?” asked a neighbor at a bonfire Saturday night.

That was probably the funniest response I’ve heard yet.
Of course, Freakishly Huge Boobs isn’t the technical term for what I’ve got.

“Massive in size.”

That’s how my surgeon described them in the letter to my insurance company. Nice, eh?

Thankfully, the insurance company agreed and the surgery for my Massive in Size mammaries was deemed “medically necessary.”
Oh, poor big-boobed you. Boo-hoo.

There are starving, flat-breasted women everywhere who would be grateful for a rack like yours.

Not really. Trust me.

And I would gladly donate what's being removed to not one, but a whole slew of deserving women, should they come forward in the next few weeks.
How does Jim feel about this?

Like a good bra, he’s always very supportive. He wants me to be happy and less self-conscious.

And after 8+ years of marriage, he’s kinda excited about getting his hands on some new boobs.
I am listening to: Nothing
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Counting down the days

Friday, October 13, 2006

The happy return of grab-ass

Was it 1991 or 1992? I can’t remember.

Clarence Thomas and his fuzzy little can of Coke were making headlines and changing the face of office flirtations forever.

Well, not quite forever it seems.

I am pleased to announce the Happy Return of Grab-Ass.
“Is your neck stiff again?” asks Concerned Sales Rep.
“Yeah, I woke up this way. Must’ve slept funny,” replies Office Chick.
“I wake up stiff sometimes, too,” says Concerned and Now Jokey Sales Rep.
It’s harmless, funny and fun.

And I would argue that it makes a workplace more comfortable, friendly, and productive for everyone.
Here are two scenarios; you tell me which is more offensive:

Scenario One:
“What can I do for you, Richard?” asks Helpful Office Chick.

“You can start by taking off your shirt,” replies CFO.

Scenario Two:
“We’re twins today,” says Office Chick who happens to be wearing an Oxford cut from exactly the same cloth as the shirt worn by Male Co-Worker.

“Of course I’m much cuter in it,” says Somewhat Jokey Office Chick.

“Of course, but what I like most is the idea of you starting the day in my shirt,” replies Male Co-Worker.
First of all, both of those scenarios actually happened. The name was changed to protect the lecherous.

Did you see the difference? The first one was kinda icky and demanding, especially coming from a senior-level executive.

The second scenario was innocuous and silly and occurred between co-workers.
Boston Legal is my new favorite show. And the law offices of Denny Crane et al remind me a lot of where I work.

It’s fun here. People say exactly what they’re thinking all the time, it’s usually fairly profane, and it’s always exactly what everyone else is thinking.

Rather than creating a hostile environment as the Vehement Feminists claim, playful banter makes all of us want to be in the office more due to the relaxed, friendly and casual environment.

We’re all professionals, of course. But we’re people too. And why can’t work be fun and silly sometimes?
“To the many people who believed Anita Hill's claims or opposed the Thomas nomination on other grounds, Thomas's appointment was a defeat. Yet, the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas controversy had other long-term consequences beyond Justice Thomas's life-term on the Supreme Court. Foremost, national awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace heightened considerably. According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filings, sexual harassment cases have more than doubled, from 6,127 in 1991 to 15,342 in 1996. Over the same period, awards to victims under federal laws nearly quadrupled, from $7.7 million to $27.8 million.”

- From the George Mason Center for History and New Media web site.
So everyone became hyper paranoid, fearful, and tense. And the lawyers got richer. Isn’t that great?

Yes, sexual harassment is real – I’ve experienced the harmless kind hundreds of times throughout my career.

But let me be clear: Never, ever in the you-do-this-for-me-and-I’ll-do-this-for-you sense.
“This one is probably gonna be too small,” says Office Chick holding up ladies’ Calloway logo wear wind shirt to herself.

“Right. Put it on. And wait here while I get the hose,” says Male Co-Worker.
Here’s the key to keeping office grab-ass fun and safe for everyone:

  • Be an equal opportunity offender – never single out one woman for all your jokes. It’s creepy and will freak her right out the fucking door.
  • Know your target – you can usually tell within the first five minutes of speaking with someone if they can take a joke. Steer clear of the humorless uptight twats.
  • Keep it light and flirty, never explicit and/or personal.
  • FYI on explicit or personal: Relating to, describing or commenting on specific body parts and/or sex acts.
  • Groups are best – try to make your comments in a good mix of male and female co-workers, that way no one, even the target of your comments, is likely to take it personally.
  • Good touch/Bad touch – Never touch anyone at work for any reason. You don’t need to, so don’t.
  • Porn – Never send pornographic images via e-mail to a female co-worker. Instead, invite her to your office and watch it together. Kidding! Please keep your porn collection out of the office and in a box hidden in your basement where it belongs.
  • Diversionary Tactics – If you’re a chick and someone takes it too far, take every opportunity to mention your husband/spouse/significant other. It’s a subtle reminder that they have no chance in hell of gettin’ with ya. Exception: If you’re a lesbian, never, ever mention your partner – you don’t need to plant any hope of a sandwich situation in the brains of your male co-workers. Trust me, they’ve already thought of it and don’t need encouragement on that front.
  • And for the love of Clarence, if you’re a manager never, ever say anything offensive in a one-on-one situation with anyone who reports to you.
Now get your ass back to work.
I am listening to: Aerosmith – Big Ten Inch Record
I am reading: Not a goddamn thing
And I am: Amused

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Once upon a time

“I am more comfortable around men than women.”

“I do not have a plan for my life, I mostly wing it.”

“I don’t care about money.”

“I am a good listener.”
Those are a few of the stories I’ve been telling myself since I can remember. Some of them have defined my life in small and big ways.

What are your stories? Are they true?
My former best friend – who I blew off so thoughtlessly back in May to stay at a bowling alley, of all places – was a part of that first story. I used to take a silly little bit of pride in having a male best friend. It made me different. And it was special.

But the reality is I’m not necessarily more comfortable around men than women. I’ve just been telling myself that forever and ever to the point where it seemed true.
I’ve also been telling myself that I’m a good listener. That’s only true part of the time.

If I’m really interested in what you’re saying, I’m the best. I’ll ask questions and maintain eye contact.

But if I can hear another conversation nearby that might be more interesting, forget it. I’m distracted and rude.

It’s ugly, but true. A true story.
“I don’t care about money,” I told a friend a while back.

“You say that, but it’s only because you have it,” he replied.

I took great umbrage at the comment. Of course I don’t care about money, I thought.

He was right, though. I care about money way more than I’d like to admit. I like being comfortable. I like having nice things. And I love being able to shop whenever I feel like it.

It’s also the reason why I work so hard and try to do well career-wise.

I tell myself that satisfaction with the type of work I do is more important than my compensation but I don’t know if that’s entirely true. I certainly wouldn’t do it for free.

I tell myself that if it all went away tomorrow I’d still be blessed in many ways. But the fact is I’d be pissed off beyond belief and trying to figure out how the hell to get it all back again.
Taking a hard look at the stories of your life isn’t easy. In fact, it can be quite unsettling.

But it’s also very enlightening.

I read somewhere that an unexamined life is like an unopened letter.

Lately it feels like I found a dusty old shoebox of unopened letters in my attic. And now I’m struggling to catch up on what’s really been happening my whole life.
I am listening to: Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life
I am reading: Old letters
And I am: True

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The stories we tell

I had written an entirely different blog for this morning. But then I read it and realized it was nearly 100% crap.

Don't thank me, really. It's part of the service.
So now I'm thinking about the stories we tell about ourselves. Our stories. The things we've been telling ourselves (and others) so long that they feel like they're true.

Lately I've been re-evaluating my stories, checking to see if I have my facts straight.
Here was the last line of today's original blog: "It’s the mistakes and unplanned events that bring the most joy, the best memories."

That's complete crap. And I don't really believe it.

Mistakes make things more difficult than they need to be. And I'm most irritated when my day doesn't go exactly according to plan.

So the little "Heather likes to wing it" story doesn't hold true.

If that one isn't true, what about the others?
What are the stories you tell? Why? How do you define your life?

And what if, half way through, you had to re-define it? Could you?

This story is to be continued. . .
I am listening to: Office noises
I am reading: An e-mail from Nelson
And I am: Re-thinking my stories

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mutually assured eruption

Sunday morning I woke up with a giant angry zit on my chin.

It was big and red around the edges with a pulsing yellowish white core.

I had felt it percolating below the surface since Friday, a large painful bump just waiting to burst.

I’m 39 years old.

If there’s ever been a time when “What the fuck” was appropriate, this was it.
What did you do?

I popped that sucker like an old pro, of course.

I’d forgotten what a great pleasure it is doing that – pressing hard enough on either side until a mess of goo and blood blasts out, creating a tiny crime scene on your mirror or wall or countertop.

For my thirteenth birthday I had a party with some girlfriends.

“What games can we play? We gotta have games,” I demanded like the whiny hormonal teenager that I was.

“Here’s an idea: We get little hand mirrors for you and all your friends. When I say go, everybody starts popping pimples – the first one to cover their mirror with pus wins. Good?”

That was my Dad. Brilliant and twisted. It’s why I love him so.
Now it’s Tuesday and thankfully the zit has receded to a tiny hard-crusted lump that’s just begging to be picked off.
Um, Heather?

That scary little nutsack in North Korea is popping off nukes. He says “war is coming to U.S. soil.”

And you’ve just devoted an entire blog entry to your zit. What gives?

Zits are caused by stress. If that ain’t stressful, I don’t know what is.
I am listening to: An iTunes song search on ‘pus’ (there are eight!)
I am reading: Henry James – The Portrait of a Lady
And I am: Crusty

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jigging in the afterlife

“The media reports had said the Pope would formally cancel limbo on Friday but a key participant, Italian Archbishop Bruno Forte, said the 30-member commission were still fine-tuning their document.” [Reuters, October 6]
Some of you might be surprised that the Catholic Church has plans to eliminate the fine tradition of limbo after hundreds of happy years claiming babies who die without the benefit of baptism don’t go directly to heaven.

I, however, am shocked by the fact that there is a 30-member commission charged with determining the fate of limbo.

30 guys deciding what happens when we die.

On the afterlife continuum there’s Dead Like a Bug at one end and Heaven in All Its Glory at the other.

Some people believe when you die you’re dead like a bug. Nothing happens, you’re just gone. Phfffft. It’s a rather nihilistic but simple philosophy that I find oddly comforting.

On the other end of the spectrum, folks believe that you go somewhere far more pleasant (or painful I guess) depending on how much good you did during your life.

I’m thinking what happens is actually somewhere in between.
What’s heaven like for you?

Floating on clouds behind pearly gates high above us toiling mortals?

A carefree place where all of your loved ones eventually meet?

Or is it something simpler: A magical land where you never, ever have to wait in line for anything?
I’ve got different versions of heaven. This one is my favorite.

It’s a trail through the woods. You’re walking, it’s a beautiful day. Every once in a while you run into creatures you know. When you want to sit down, there’s a perfect spot to rest. When you’re hungry, there’s good food.


My other version of heaven involves big fluffy throw pillows, cookies, and backrubs.

Oh, and giggling. Lots of uncontrollable giggling.
Speaking of giggling: If there is a God, he’s laughing his ass off right now.

He’s laughing at the hubris of those 30 humans who’ve taken it upon themselves to define the afterlife for the rest of us.

“A commission? Gee wiz. But just 30? Are you sure that’s enough? And are these your best guys? I sure hope so.”
This is neither here nor there, but limbo isn’t actually mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
Also, in my version of heaven there’s lots of dancing.

But not the limbo. Too confusing.

“Do you want to do the limbo?”
“But we’re in heaven.”
“Oops. Right. Sorry. Let’s jig.”
Anybody who says they know exactly what happens when we die is completely full of shit.

Are ya with me on this?

Of course, Catholics must claim to know all about this stuff. It wouldn’t be too comforting for God’s own to come out and say, “Our bad. We really don’t know what happens when you kick after all. Good luck.”

Not good for business. Best to stick with the whole heaven/hell/purgatory/limbo thing.

Keeps people fearful and generous.
Personally, I like not knowing what’s gonna happen. It’s exciting.

I just assume that it will be another great adventure like this life has been.

But with way more backrubs.
I am listening to: The Cure – Just Like Heaven
I am reading: Nothing, sadly
And I am: Here

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday random

Didya see the moon this morning? It was low on the horizon – big and heavy and bright orange, just like an October moon oughtta be.

As much as I love the Fall, I could use just one more day of warm-your-bones 80-degree sunshine.
So me and the nephew rocked out at the Aerosmith/Motley Crue concert in Tinley last night. Froze our asses off – it’s an outside park like Pine Knob in Michigan.

Here’s what we decided: Motley Crue looked like amateurs compared to Steven Tyler and his boys. The fat chicks didn’t need jackets. $65 for a hooded sweatshirt is totally worth it when you’re Very Very Cold. And overall it was a good show but we wished Aerosmith would’ve played a little bit longer.
Just in case you're like my friend Stacey from Minnesota and thinking “Wow. Heather’s a motorhead, who knew?”

No. Not so much.

I just like a good show. Unfortunately this one wasn’t as good as the Crue’s Carnival of Sins tour last summer and Aerosmith was way better five years ago when Steven Tyler was still clean and sober.

It pisses me off when you pay that much for a concert and they phone it in. I’m sure to them it’s just a job and maybe they’re even a little tired of it.

But damn, when I slack for a day I’m not doing it in front of thousands of drunk adoring fans.

Although I’d like to try it sometime. Wouldn’t that be fun?
“Turn on your TV! It’s a special report LIVE from BATAVIA, IL!”

That was my Mom yesterday afternoon. Turns out Dennis Hastert, whose office happens to be in the town where I live, was having a press conference that was picked up nationally because of that Foley fucktard.
“My first thought was: What the hell did she do now?”

That was my Mom again, who makes me belly laugh at least once every day during our on-the-way-to-the-train phone calls.
Foley. Yep.

Prediction: His last name becomes a verb and a noun, synonymous with all child predators.

As in: “Somebody tried to Foley me on IM last night, Dad. Totally creeped me out,” says your 14 year old son or daughter next week.

Or: “My biology teacher’s a real Foley.”

What I’m really hoping for is that Foley will not be remembered most for what he did with his pathetic excuse for a life, but for how he died: Slowly and painfully at the hands of his Godless cellmate who will give him an anally inserted lesson on what karma feels like when you use a position of power and trust to prey on children.
Also, there was too much swearing at the concert.

Yes, I know. As a Truck Driver in Training, you’d think that nothing would offend me.

And it wasn’t because the nephew was there; he’s heard all those words and then some (from me, even.)

It was just gratuitous. Like they were trying too hard or something.

Like little Hedy when she first discovered her love of cussing and did it all the time back in the seventh grade.

And cussing, in case you were wondering, is fourth on the list of My Favorite Things.

Hell yeah.
I am listening to: Aerosmith – Seasons of Wither
I am reading: Nothing – no time lately
And I am: F.I.N.E.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Crazy socks

Crazy socks.
Helen K.
How did he die?
Oven mitt.
And you’re the mousse!
Does any of that mean anything to you?

Because it means everything to me.

They’re words and phrases that represent memories. Really good memories.
You know what I’m talking about.

You’re out with friends and someone shouts “Whore!” and everybody busts up remembering that crazy afternoon at the Moose Lodge when Heather got too drunk and started yelling bad words in front of the blue-haired ladies having their afternoon highballs.

We’ve all got our little catch phrases that mean nothing to most but can spark a smile or a spontaneous laugh in the right company.
And the thing is, I’m guessing if I tried to explain crazy socks or the oven mitt or that mousse thing to you, you’d think: A) That’s not very funny and B) That’s not even very interesting.

But they’re my friends and my memories. I probably wouldn’t laugh at your stories, either.

Although I don’t care who you are, that ‘How did he die?’ thing is hilarious.
I am listening to: What It Takes - Aerosmith
I am reading: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
And I am: Looking forward to tonight

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Pandas, Bibles and Tacos

This is my friend Collier.

He’s going to be eight years old next month. He lives in Florida with his mom, who happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Collier is holding a picture he made of his three favorite things: Pandas, Bibles and tacos.

Isn’t it great?

What are your three favorite things?

It’s more difficult than you think, coming up with just three.

For me, it’s books. Trees. And beaches.

And the really neato-skeeto thing about my three things is that they haven’t changed all that much since I was Collier’s age.
What’s the number one thing on your list?

Maybe it’s a sport or a pastime or a food, like Collier’s tacos. Or maybe it’s a thing, like cars or airplanes.

Now think about the moment when you discovered your love/passion/affinity for that thing.

Quite a rush, wasn’t it?
I’ll never forget the first ‘real’ book I read. And by ‘real’ I mean it had way more words than pictures.

It was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

I can close my eyes right now and see the illustrated cover of that book. The pages were soft and somewhat worn from all the little hands that had held it before me.

“Please, Dad, can I please stay up a little later?” I begged. “I’m almost done.”

After gobbling up that last delicious page, I could hardly sleep thinking about the amazing story of Charlotte the spider and her friend Wilbur, who was “Some Pig.”

And I just couldn’t wait to dive into all the other really great stories that were waiting for me in the library back at school.

It changed my life.
When I was a little older, I combined two of my favorite things by climbing a tree with a paperback stuffed in my back pocket. I’d stay up there for hours reading while the wind gently rocked the branches around me.

It was a great way to feel far, far away without ever leaving my front yard.
It’s just a very vague early memory, the first time I went to a beach – Up North during a visit to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house near Grayling, Michigan.

But you can bet your butt that I remember every beach I’ve visited since then.

Each one of my life’s greatest memories happened at the shore of some lake or ocean, with my toes dug in the sand and a big smile on my face, just like Collier’s.
I am listening to: Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – BJ Thomas & Burt Bacharach
I am reading: Henry James – The Portrait of a Lady
And I am: Young again

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Happy endings

The scrappy little mutt finds his way home. The Death Star is destroyed and peace reigns in the galaxy. The bad guy gets what’s coming to him. And of course, my favorite: The good guy gets the girl.

Books and movies oughtta have happy endings, don’tcha think?
Editorial note: Just in case, upon reading the title of today’s blog you were thinking “Whoa boy! This is gonna be GREAT!” I am sorry to say we will not be covering that particular brand of Happy Ending today. We here at HedyBlog strive to keep things family-friendly in spite of the occasional fuck-knob and what-not.

Here’s why happy endings are on my mind: I finally finished ‘The Birth of Venus’ late Friday night.

Like I said before, it’s a fabulous story. Right up ‘til the last 20 pages and then I wanted to throw it out the fucking window.

Spoiler warning: If you plan on reading this book please skip to the next section or two now.

Our intelligent and unconventional heroine meets a guy – a very talented artist. They fall in love. They fuck just once but it’s off the charts fabulous.

Somehow she ends up marrying another guy (a ‘sodomite’ – I love, love, love that word for some crazy reason) and everything’s all wrong for a long time. Near the end of the story she finally hooks up with her artist guy again but – get this – she chooses to stay in a convent rather than living out the rest of her days blissfully screwing the love of her life.

There’s a bunch of other Very Important Stuff going on in the story – art, religion, history, the Medicis, the bonfire of the vanities, etc.

And that’s why I’d still recommend the book. It’s fascinating from a historical perspective. But the ending sucked major ass.
He’s right there – the guy she’s been longing for practically her whole life.

And she says “Nah, I think I’m just gonna stay here, married to Christ, and die in these uncomfortable boring clothes surrounded by uptight praying chicks instead.”
And they lived happily ever after.

That’s what we want in stories. Because that’s not the way it goes in real life.

The people we love eventually leave us. Bad, stupid things happen and nobody seems accountable. And of course there are no fairy godmothers.

If we could choose happy endings for ourselves, why wouldn’t we?
I know, I know.

Good stories don’t always have happy endings, that’s what makes them so good. Or true to life, anyway.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t like the ending of The Birth of Venus – because in spite of the fact that it’s fiction, it just didn’t ring true.
I am listening to: Boats & Birds – Gregory and the Hawk
I am reading: Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
And I am: Hoping for a happy ending

Monday, October 02, 2006


Hey Neil,

I read your column tonight and then scrambled upstairs to find my LifeSource donor card since I couldn't remember my blood type.

I'm O+.

Don't get too excited, though, I don't think I can do it. My first reaction was why not? I'm healthy -- I don't smoke, I don't drink (too much) and I'm in relatively good shape.

But I did a little research on it before writing to you and found out that donating a kidney is Major Surgery. I'd have to be off work for four to six weeks. That's huge.

It made me think though: What is one life worth? Is it worth a month of my life to save someone else? Would I do it for a family member? Hell, yes. A friend? Of course.

But for someone I've never met? I don't know.

And that really, really sucks. I hate feeling this way, but it's good to be thinking about it. Thank you.

Heather S.
Dear Heather --

I know the feeling -- I'm lucky because I can fall back on the knowledge that I'm not that good a person. I don't think the surgery is quite as major as it used to be. I'm going to do a follow-up, and will find out how long giving your kidney would lay you up.

I am listening to: The Bears beat the crap outta Seattle
I am reading: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
And I am: Contemplating kidneys