Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Then there's this

I'm driving to the city one day a couple years ago. It's 7:30 in the morning. There's an OLD MAN in the far left lane doing 55 mph and my head is thisclose to exploding.

FINALLY, after like, 20 miles, he decides to move over to the right. I glance over to give him my standard Hedy Dirty Look and GUESS WHO IT IS?

My good friend Chris T.
Then there’s this:

I'm driving to Naperville one day a couple years ago. It's 7:30 in the morning. There's ANOTHER crazy tail-gatin’ b!tch riding my ass. She's thinking if she can get her little green hunk of shit around me, the thousands of cars between her and the big city will somehow all disappear.

I change lanes, broom-hilda shoots me a dirty look as she rockets past and begins a new death-stare with the next car now impeding her Mach-1 assent into the city. Moments later missy pissy pants tries not to make eye contact as I pass her in the right lane to exit on Winfield Rd.
It’s difficult to argue with someone who refuses to break the law, even a little bit.

But let’s agree that it is dangerous to drive slowly in the far left lane on the highway.

Right lanes are for slow grandpa-ass types who’ve got nowhere to go but the golf course and nothing particularly important to do beyond changing their Depends undergarments for the third time before noon.

Left lanes are for speedy death-wish havin’ busy chicks like me.
I am listening to: Melissa Etheridge – The Only One
I am reading: My hero Neil Steinberg
And I am: Laughing

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Plugged in

I am in San Francisco at a U2 concert. Up on stage.

Bono has just finished Beautiful Day. He takes the guitar he was playing, sets it on the floor, and slides it past me down a long hallway to the right of the stage.

A roadie hands him a beautiful acoustical guitar. He starts playing Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World.

All of a sudden, he turns around and plugs an amplifier into the center of my chest.

It feels strange, but what’s more disturbing is that all of a sudden I can hear my voice singing the song.

But I can’t sing, I say.

Yes you can, he says.

I listen to my voice. It’s deeper and richer and more haunting than anything I’ve ever heard. It scares me.

This is how you can sing, he says, if you would only try.

Stilled plugged in to the amp, we’re sitting next to each other now, high above the open air auditorium. It’s a clear night sky and the stars are amazing.

Then Bono grabs my ass.
I am listening to: U2 – All I Want Is You
I am reading: That book with the really long title about liberal hypocrisy
And I am: Plugged in

Monday, January 29, 2007

Slow in the snow

“Why don’t you turn on the radio to find out what we’re dealing with here?”

We were at mile marker 27 near St. Joseph in southwest Michigan, on the back half of a long drive home from visiting my family for the weekend.

I was focused on staying in the two relatively snow-free tire tracks in front of me – all that remained of the typically zippy three lanes available along that stretch of I-94.

To make it even more interesting, there were inexplicably large chunks of ice – like huge white boulders – stuck to the road every few feet. I’m guessing the snowplow dude responsible for this piece of highway spent a little too much time at the Tokyo Spa last night (“Open ‘til 2 a.m.”) and slept in.

Jim flipped on WGN and that’s when we heard: “90/94 east of Grant Street is a complete mess. There’s a 17-car pile up on the eastbound Indiana toll road and from the Indiana-Michigan border to Gary it is extremely hazardous with white out conditions. You should avoid driving through that area if at all possible because it is extremely dangerous.”
Hedy, it sounds really dangerous. Why wasn’t Jim driving?

Because then we would’ve ended up in the ditch for sure.

Not because he’s a bad driver. Not at all.

It’s because I’m a bad back seat driver.

After nearly nine years of marital bliss, we know that with me screaming “SLOW DOWN! Are you TRYING to KILL us?” every few minutes, we wouldn’t get too far before Jim’s poor brain would explode out through his eyes and all over the dash, leaving Gromit and me to fend for ourselves as the Honda spins horribly out of control, becomes airborne and lands in a snow bank.

It’s just safer and more peaceful for both of us with me behind the wheel.
When I’m not on a treacherous stretch of highway trying to get home with two creatures I might possibly be responsible for killing in the car, I love, love, love driving in the snow.

There’s something about the tires crunching quietly through the deep snow. And the scary fun feeling that you might might might slip outta control at any moment.
“There goes another one.”

There’d be an unmistakable white plume of snow shooting 20 feet up in the air, then break lights ahead. Another stupid driver lands in the ditch.

Oddly enough, most of the 20+ vehicles we saw stuck in the deep snow alongside the road were ginormous SUVs.

One might conclude something about the sad, stranded folks who drive these types of hey-look-at-me-I’m-a-tough-guy-going-to-the-grocery store trucks.

But I’m feeling nice today, so I won’t.
Long car rides tend to make me snippy, even when I’m driving.

I think it’s mostly because highway driving is one of life’s great equalizers: Stupid people are easier to spot and so much more annoying.

That’s the other reason why I enjoy driving in the snow so much. The stupid people are extremely easy to spot and completely out of the way.

In the ditch.
I am listening to: KT Tunstall - Other Side of the World
I am reading: Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy by Peter Schweizer
And I am: Really tired

Friday, January 26, 2007

Alive & well, not dead on the toilet



That was me yesterday morning.

Ya know how I call my Mom every morning before the train?

She didn’t answer. Four times I called. No answer.

This is extremely odd for several reasons but mostly because she always tells me when – for whatever reason – she won’t be there in the morning.

She would’ve told me if she wasn’t going to be there.

It’s what she does.
There is nothing worse than being 350 miles away from your family when there’s a crisis. It’s the only thing I hate about living in Illinois.
“Hi Anita, it’s Heather.”

Anita is my Mom’s closest friend and a neighbor for 30+ years.

“Have you talked to my Mom this morning? You know how we talk every morning? She’s not answering.”

“Well, you know, she’s probably, as they say, on the pot,” she replied.

This would’ve been very funny if I wasn’t really worried about the location of my Mother, pot or not.

“Call her again in a bit, I’m sure she’ll pick up.”
“Hi Joan, it’s Heather.”

This is my Mom’s other good friend who has lived right next door for 20+ years.

“Have you talked to my Mom this morning? We usually talk every morning and she’s not answering.”

“Well, you know, she’s probably in the bathroom,” Joan said. “But you’re right, she knows when you call every day. It is strange. Do you want me to go over and check?”

“Would ya please? Then call me back. Thanks so much.”
If you’re keeping track, both of her friends automatically assumed she was in the bathroom. If you know my Mom, this would’ve been fucking hysterical.

If I wasn’t in Major Freak Out Hedy Ready to Explode mode.
Not five minutes later, Joan calls back. Your Dad’s car is gone so he must be at work. But she didn’t answer the door and all the blinds are still drawn. That’s not right.”

I jump off the 7:42 seconds before it’s about to leave. Sir Richard sees that I’m stressed out.


I’m sure he thinks I’ve totally lost my mind but he gives me a really big hug and tells me everything will be fine.
It’s the whole blinds thing that really scared me. And Joan, too.

Mom is an early person. She can have the entire house cleaned on a Monday morning before the rest of us normal people have taken our collective morning dump.

It’s what she does.

Joan has a key and offers to go over and check. But she’s nervous about finding my Mom dead on the toilet. Or something.

So before sending her over, I make one last call.

“Eric, it’s Hed. Do you know what’s going on with Mom this morning? She’s not answering the phone.”

My brother (who turns 37 today by the way, Happy Birthday, Eric!) calmly informs me that my Dad is not at work today because they both have doctor’s appointments.


They’re together. My Mom is not dead. A rush of relief. I quickly call Joan to tell her she doesn’t need to key herself into the house.

She’s relieved, too. Mostly at not having to find my Mom dead on the toilet or something.
Turns out, my parents did have doctor’s appointments and I knew that, but they were scheduled later in the day.

Turns out, the doctor’s office called them at 7 a.m. to ask if they could come early. They rushed outta the house without taking a moment to open the blinds and that’s the end of the story.

Well, almost.

Around 9:30, my phone rings at work.

“Hi it’s me,” she says, and hearing her voice is the best thing I’ll hear all week. “I’m alive and well, not dead on the toilet!”

“Mom, they both thought you were in the bathroom,” I tell her, laughing.

“I know,” she says, laughing too. “But you wanna know something they don’t know? I bring the phone in the bathroom with me just in case you call.”

I knew that.

Because it’s what she does.
I am listening to: Apache Indian – Boom Shack-a-Lak
I am reading: Barack again
And I am: So glad it’s Friday

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The 5:26

If I make it to Union Station right after the 5:04 leaves, I know I’ll get a good seat on the 5:26 in the first car up top and on the end. Ends are key so you don’t have two sets of elbows pressing in on you the whole way home.

I like the seat closest to the engineer’s cockpit on the far end (Please Do Not Put Belongings In Front of Door) because there’s more room and then I don’t have to twist my legs to one side letting people out.
There’s a very pretty, largish black woman sitting across the aisle. She is writing in a diary.

She glances up once in a while to look around and I’m guessing she’s writing about train people, too.

I wonder if we see the same things. I wonder if because of her experiences she sees things differently. Maybe she notices the things that I don’t.

I wonder: If we put our train notes next to each other would it even seem like we’re in the same place?
My train notes: I bet she has beautiful penmanship. She has perfect French-manicured nails and writes slowly and deliberately like someone who takes pride in that sort of thing. Her eyebrows are gorgeous – perfect thin arches. She’s very pretty. We smiled at each other a few minutes ago.
Her train notes: She is chewing gum. The gum, combined with her deeply furrowed brows as she tap tap taps loudly on her laptop make her less pretty than she could be. She is working it seems. She offers a brief, violent smile to the conductor as he punches her ticket but then it’s back to business. We smiled at each other a few minutes ago.
Some days I feel so connected to everyone it makes me cry.

And other days I couldn’t feel more far away from all humanity.

The train brings that continuum into sharp perspective every day.
I am listening to: Paolo Nutini – New Shoes
I am reading: To do list for today
And I am: Stressed

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I love this country

“How does it feel to be the first African-American coach to take a team to the Super Bowl?” asks some vacuous sportscaster during those precious, breathless moments right after the Bears beat New Orleans on Sunday.

It is without question one of the greatest moments of Lovie Smith’s life.

And the first question anyone asks him is in reference to the color of his skin.

I don’t know if it bugged him, but it sure bugged the hell outta me.
I know, I know.

It’s a milestone for African-Americans who just 40+ years ago were sitting in the back of the bus on their way to segregated schools and lunch counters throughout the south.

I get that.

But does it have to be the Very First Thing they ask?

Whether you’re black or Hispanic or a woman or gay – does your minority status have to be the first thing that defines who you are?

Wouldn’t you rather be recognized by your accomplishments than by something over which you had absolutely no control?
That said, I’m just thrilled about the three (so far) Democratic candidates for president. We’ve got an African American, a woman, and an Hispanic.

If nothing else, the fact that we have three minority candidates – and at least two who actually have a shot at getting somewhere with it – illustrates the progress our society has made.
WAIT A MINUTE. You just said…

I know, I know.

I’ll prolly do this badly, but let me explain.

Lovie Smith took the Bears to the Super Bowl because he’s a great coach, not because of the color of his skin. He was able to become a coach because of the way our society has changed over the past few decades, but what he did with the opportunity has nothing to do with this ethnicity.

Whether or not those three minority candidates would be able to lead this country effectively is highly debatable at this point. However, one thing is certain: Their ability to lead will have absolutely nothing to do with the color of their skin or their gender.

But ain’t it cool that they finally, finally have the opportunity to try?

That’s why I love this country.
I am listening to: Paolo Nutini – New Shoes
I am reading: Press release re: new MWRUG board members
And I am: Quiet

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

F*ck Cartridge World

Erica the Admin drops off the mail every day around 2.

On Mondays, the most interesting thing she brings is a Crain’s Chicago Business. The rest of it is junk mail addressed to someone named Clay Frisby (a former employee whose career, here’s hoping, took off much better than his unfortunate name implies.)

Half the time I throw away his mail without even opening it. But sometimes Clay gets something from the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and – even though it’s mostly crap – I feel obligated to open it.

That’s how this mess ended up on my desk.
“You’ve got something in your hair,” says Scott, one of my favorite co-workers who always stops by to chat when he’s in the office and not on a project at a client site. “Looks like confetti.”

Confetti. They put confetti in the goddamn envelope.

When I opened it, little bits of brightly colored foil exploded out on to my desk, landing all over the Mac and my wireless keyboard.

One can only assume the pure exuberance confetti must feel upon finally being released but I am quite certain that’s exactly what propelled it up into my hair.
Dear Fellow Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Member,

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening celebration of our newest Cartridge World location, downtown at 40 West Lake.

Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Network with members blah, yadda, blah, etc.

It appears to be a black and white photocopied invitation. The graphic (a large cork, how clever!) is pixilated to the point where it’s not entirely evident what it is.

In fact, immediately following the mini-explosion, at first glance I thought: “Why is someone sending me a picture of one of those ginormous fur hats that Russians wear in bad movies starring Sylvester Stallone and/or Arnold Schwarzenegger?”
Dress: Business casual recommended.

“Gee, dahling, what should we wear to the Cartridge World gala this evening?” I ask Lord Jim, who is lounging in the drawing room in his smoking jacket and Van Halen sweat pants.

“The black tux, I think, Sweetums,” he replies, holding a pinky out as he downs the last of his Miller Lite. “Wouldn’t want to get re-cycled toner on the white one, you know.”
I’m in marketing, so I’m no brainiac.

But I sure as shit know better than to make a MESS on somebody’s DESK whilst trying to SELL them something.

It took me more than 10 minutes to clean it up. Mostly because, upon landing on my keyboard, about 20 of those foil scraps immediately embedded themselves under the keys.

There’s still one little orange sucker under the Apple key that refuses to come out.

I understand, though.

If I’m confetti, once I’m free, there’ll be no catching me.
“This flyer was printed from a refilled cartridge!”

Obviously. The nicest thing I can say about the crappy little invite was that they spelled hors d’oeuvres correctly.

You wanna know the best part?

The invitation came yesterday. The party was January 18.

"Damn, damn, DAMN YOU, Cruel World," I howl, shaking my fist at the sky in the melodramatic fashion befitting a marketer of my stature.

Actually the best part about this silly little bit of idiocy is knowing that if this whole high-tech marketing thing doesn’t pan out, I can always get a job with Cartridge World.
I am listening to: KBCO songs from Nelson
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Never, ever buying anything from Cartridge World

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yelling at the past

The game is at 2 >:(

That was the text message Jim sent from California on Wednesday, just as I hung up from purchasing the tickets. We’d been texting each other for the better part of an hour figuring out what to do for The Nephew’s 15th birthday weekend.

Yes, we waited ‘til the last minute. Yes, tickets to the Saturday shows for Blue Man Group were sold out.

“What about Sundy?” I text.

And that’s how we ended up watching shiny blue men whipping marshmallows at each other instead of watching THE BEARS play in the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP game here in CHICAGO.
I am not a sports-minded person. I didn’t even grow up here. And I’m a chick, for the love of Mike.

Jim is not sports-minded either, but he's spent the better part of 47 years in Illinois.

His excuse was that he was in California for a sales kick-off meeting and wasn't thinking about the game.

I'll let you decide who's more responsible for this little cock up.
The BMG show was at 1 p.m. If everything went as planned, I figured we’d be home in time to catch the second half.

But with the game DVR’ing at home, Jim insisted on Radio Silence during the drive home.

“Wouldn’t you rather know what’s happening?” I beg.

“No, I want to watch the whole game when we get home.”
While Jim watches the DVR’d game on the Large Main TV in the living room, The Nephew and me sneak away periodically to check the score on the Smaller Auxiliary TV in the family room.

Within minutes, Jim is yelling at some player who didn’t do something he should’ve done or at least something Jim would’ve done had he become a professional football player instead of a computer geek.

“You’re yelling at something that happened two hours ago,” I say.

“You’re yelling at the past,” says The Nephew.

“Can we at least fast forward through the re-plays?” I ask.

“It’s a replay of the past,” says The Nephew.

“ShadDAP, both of ya!” says normally mild-mannered Jim.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole DVR thing. It’s great for catching up on The Office or Boston Legal or whatever.

But for live events – especially sports – it makes no sense to me.

One of the best parts of about watching a game is experiencing it with every one else, right? The excitement, the rush of watching your team do exactly what everyone wants them to do.

It’s all about being in the moment, while it’s happening.

DVR’ing sports (unless you use it for your own instant replays) is like tourists who never actually experience Disney World or wherever they are because they’re too busy recording it for later.
Fortunately, the smart little DVR system stopped recording right at 5 p.m. just like the schedule told it to do. When Jim flipped over to the live game to start recording again, he saw the score and it was enough to suck him into watching the rest of it.

The lesson: Be where you are, stop shouting at the past, and Go Bears!
I am listening to: Brian the inside sales guy on the phone
I am reading: Rick Telander – Sun-Times
And I am: Here

Friday, January 19, 2007

The w factor

“You smelled like a greasy Italian sausage with onions? Jesus, Hed, it’s not like you’re doing any heavy lifting there at your cushy little office job. Do you have a problem?”

The makes-my-throat-hurt odor from Tuesday is best explained this way:

P2 – D + W = GISWO

If P is pits and D is deodorant, W = Wool sweater.

Wool, a typically inert yet intensely itchy substance, is the catalyst for creating pungent pits in this equation.

And now, one of the great mysteries of science (or at least HedyBlog) has been explained.


I am listening to: KT Tunstall – Other Side of the World
I am reading: Steinberg in the Sun Times
And I am: Scientific

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The call

I’m not even out of our sub and I’m dialing.

“Good morning, you flip-flop wearing slut!” says Mom, recognizing me on caller ID this morning.

“Good morning Mudder!” says me.

I talk to my Mom every day during the 15-minute drive to the train station.

While I was down with that damnfuckshithell hurty back thing, I missed a whole lotta work and a whole buncha holiday festivities, but what I missed most was talking to my Mom every morning.
“I forgot to put on deodorant yesterday,” I confess in our Wednesday morning call. “I just forgot. So around three, I smelled like a greasy Italian sausage with onions. The smell was so bad it gave me a sore throat.”

I tell her this story so that I get to hear the Best Sound on the Planet: Mom’s laugh. Her laugh makes me laugh and then it’s hard to stop.
“Good morning, my little CUPCAKE!” she says most mornings when she’s not commenting on the blog.

“Good morning my little MUDDER!” I say to that.

These are the silly fun familiar rituals we all have and we all live for.

What are yours?
She gives me family updates and news from the neighborhood where I grew up. I tell her what’s going on with work or home or friends or Gromit.

Sometimes we gossip.

“You have to promise me you WON’T TELL ANYONE,” she starts. “PROMISE.”

She knows this will crack me up completely because a) she knows I would never tell anyone and b) she still has to say it.

I think it’s her way of signaling for me to really pay attention because what follows surely will be a Very Good Story.
“If you can’t feed it, clean it,” said my Mom, describing her Mom. “That was her philosophy.”

From my smelly sausage armpit story, our conversation naturally turns to scrubbing things and that’s when she tells me about Grandma and Porky. I’d heard about Porky before, but today there are different details.

“Your grandmother used to go out there with a scrub brush and a bucket and wash that pig,” says Mom. “Then one day your grandfather put the bucket over Porky’s head so he couldn’t see where he was going and they lead him up a ramp into a truck. Then we had bacon.”

“Animals with names shouldn’t be killed,” I say, suddenly sad for a dead pig who last saw the live side of bacon 50+ years ago.

“Have you had a pork chop lately?” says Mom. “Everything dies eventually.”

“Yes, but not everything dies and gets eaten on a sammich,” I say.

And it’s just an ordinary Wednesday in the middle of January but I know it’s going to be a great day because it started off laughing with my Mom.
I am listening to: Israel K – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
I am reading: OutlookSoft webcast invitation
And I am: Relaxed

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How to kill an office

Human resources.

Great concept. We’re humans. We need resources.

A human resources manager ought to get that.

An HR manager ought to understand that her role is all about helping us humans do what we were hired to do. It’s about creating and maintaining an environment in which employees can do their best work – a place for all of us to thrive and grow professionally.

So why is it that so many human resources managers are among the most inhuman individuals I’ve ever met?
Yes, I’m talking about work here. And it could get me into trouble.

But screw it. This shit’s important.
Once upon a time, a very long time ago, Hedy became a manager.

She was nervous. She had virtually no training. She knew what she liked and didn’t like about being managed, but wasn’t sure how to apply what she knew to the four people who would soon be reporting to her.

So she called her wise friend Bill.

“Here’s the only thing you need to know about being a manager,” he said. “And most people never get this. Your employees don’t work for you. You work for them. That’s all you have to remember and it’ll be fine.”
Bill was right. It was fine.

It wasn’t about being in charge. It wasn’t about making sure people follow your rules. It was about making it easier for people to do what they do best.

I wish Bill could talk to every new manager on the planet. Especially HR managers.

The world would be a much better place.
“Ever since they made her HR manager she’s turned into a total bitch,” said someone in some office somewhere in the Chicago Loop.

“She’s so focused on the rules – it’s all black and white with her anymore,” agreed someone’s co-worker at some office somewhere.
It seems like the whole “I’m a Manager” thing grows exponentially worse when it comes to HR folks, doesn’t it?

Is it because they’re responsible for the employee handbook and all of its inherent rules? Is it the power of knowing and keeping so many corporate secrets that goes to their tiny little HR-impaired brains?
HR Pet Peeve #1: Lacking the courage to confront one misbehaving employee on his behavior, the HR manager sends out a memo to the entire company.

“Reminder: Employees must not wear ‘My other ride is your mother’ t-shirts to the client site.”

The irony is, the person to whom the memo is directed is completely clueless and doesn’t see anything wrong with wearing his favorite t-shirt to work.

Meanwhile, morale goes down because the rest of us are pissed off at being reminded to use common sense.
“Fire me,” I said last summer. “Please fire me for wearing flip-flops. That would be AWESOME.”

That was me talking to my manager last summer after ‘someone’ reported that I’d violated company policy by wearing the wrong kind of flip flops to work on a Friday.

My flip flops weren't hurting anyone. But discovering that there's a small-minded shoe Nazi in the office sure hurt morale.
HR Pet Peeve #2: The very person charged with maintaining employee confidentiality happens to be the biggest gossip in the office.

“Did you know,” she says in an excited whisper to anyone who will listen. “That he’s GAY and he’s married to a GUY?”

More irony: She’ll remind you she’s the HR Manager and tell you you’re making her uncomfortable if you happen to dish a little well-known dirt on a co-worker that everyone hates anyway.
HR Pet Peeve #3: HR Manager soundly rejects employee’s request to work part-time from home in order to be with her newborn baby.

Irony: When finally, by some ugly miracle of science said HR Manager gives birth, suddenly working from home is okay. What's more, the company’s entire family leave policy is re-engineered for the convenience of the HR Manager and her cute little Nazi spawn.
I’m not saying all HR Managers are evil. I don’t need to; Dilbert does a great job with that.

But I am saying that HR Managers – hell, all Human Resources professionals – need to understand that they are responsible for making it easier for the rest of us to do our jobs.

Human resources managers need to remember who they work for: All of us human-type resources. Even the flip-flop wearin' rule breaker types.
I am listening to: Norah Jones
I am reading: Nothing interesting
And I am: Annoyed

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


“Can I buy you breakfast?” asks Jim Saturday morning.

There’s something vaguely sexy about that, I think.

And when a man offers to buy you breakfast, you should always say yes.

So we’re off to Kathy’s Diner.
Kathy’s is a good old-fashioned in-the-middle-of-downtown, sit-at-the-counter and watch the cook cookin’ kinda diner.

You walk through the narrow green doorway and it smells just like a diner ought to: Cinnamon and butter and bacon and eggs and toast and dark, rich coffee.

Kathy is there with her salt and pepper hair, warm smiling eyes, and that grandmotherly way with everyone. She’s rather short and slightly roundish (as all grandmothers ought to be) and she offers you coffee while you wait for a seat.

The coffee mugs, like the rest of the place, are seasonal. On Saturday, the Christmas decorations are still up and so the mug Kathy hands to Jim has a Christmas tree on it. At Kathy’s you’ll get your coffee in an Easter mug in the spring and a Halloween mug in October.

And when it’s not covered with Christmas or Halloween or Easter decorations, the shelf that runs the entire length of the diner high on the back wall, is covered with bicycle knick-knacks and artwork.

The logo for Kathy’s is one of those old-fashioned bikes with the big wheel out front. The busy, bustling employees wear either green or yellow shirts with the Kathy’s Diner bicycle exactly where a logo ought to be on a shirt.

The diner is near the bike trail that runs along the river through our town. Thus the bikes.

There are only seven stools at the curvy counter and maybe 10 tables, tops. But people tend to move through quickly – on the way to start their day running errands or whatever – and the wait is never more than 15 minutes.

We usually sit at the counter. It’s the best.
“Is this okay?” asks Jim, always checking to make sure I’m where I want to be.

“It’s perfect,” I say, because it is.
The grill is the heart and soul of the diner and Phillip the cook keeps it ticking.

“When I first bought this place seven years ago, I was really struggling to make it work,” said Kathy. “Phillip came for an interview, saw me at the grill and said ‘Let me try.’ That was it – he’s been there ever since.”

Phillip is squat and dark and Mexican, and rarely looks away from the grill. It’s by necessity, of course, but I usually catch him turning around once or twice to flash a smile at his hungry customers.

There’s a flow to Phillip and his grill. Everything he does is effortless, everything moving along according to the hand-written orders hanging above the grill.

He keeps an eye on the pile of slow-cooking hash browns in the back corner. Omelets are bubbling in the back left. Bacon and sausage and pancakes are to the front. Plus, he’s got skillets going on the stove next to the grill.
We're lucky today: Seats at the counter right in front of the grill. It's the best place to sit and watch Phillip work his magic while listening to Kathy's easy banter with her customers.

As for Jim and me, we have the same conversation every time. I think I’ll get a skillet. Maybe I’ll get a pancake. What about French toast?

And then of course we usually order the usual. The waitress (because that's what they ought to be called in a diner, waitresses) with the unbelievably long braid down below her waist takes our order.

“Ham and cheese omelet, wheat toast, please” I say.

“Sausage and cheese omelet, white toast,” says Jim.

The braid lady rushes off to help someone else and Jim is already searching through the little plastic jelly organizer on the counter. He’s looking for the red strawberry jelly packs for me because he knows that a) I’m like Rain Man when it comes to strawberry jelly on my toast and b) strawberry jelly is sometimes hard to come by.

Sometimes I’m stuck with mixed berries and it’s not the same. Not the same at all.

But not on Saturday. Plenty of my kind of jelly.
“Warning: Our pancakes are not your average pancakes. We are proud of their size and quality.”

You order just one pancake at Kathy’s. Trust me, it’s the best pancake you’ll ever have. And it’s more than enough.

You gotta love a diner with a pancake warning.
Before we know it, our breakfast is gone.

Jim leaves a tip under the Christmas tree mug and pays at the register. Kathy is busy giving candy to the kids who are gathered around her like Santa, so we give her a quick wave goodbye.

Then we’re off to start our day running errands or whatever, just like it ought to be.
I am listening to: The auditors in the conference room
I am reading: Marketing Objectives Q1
And I am: Okay

Monday, January 15, 2007

Out of the closet

“Will I ever wear this hat?” I ask, holding up a bright pink Race Girl bucket hat.

“I sure hope not,” says Jim.
That was yesterday morning.

My side of the closet was looking decidedly Sanford & Son-ish since, in a completely unexpected development, Jim decided to clean and organize his half last weekend.

As the ‘neat’ one of the two of us, I couldn’t stand it.

So despite Take It Easy directives from the chiropractor, the orthopedic surgeon and the physical therapist, I dove in.
For some reason, a Hard Rock Café London shirt worn only twice in five years stays in the closet.

But a ‘No Worries’ t-shirt from Australia goes on the Good Will pile because of its weird color and even weirder collar.

An ugly pair of what-the-hell-was-I-thinking shoes goes on the pile.

And a tiny little jean skirt that I haven’t worn since college stays – a sad homage to the silly part of my brain that still believes my ass will squeeze into it again someday.

Each thing pulled off a hanger or off a shelf is a memory – where did I wear this, when did I get this, why why why did I ever buy this?

And of course, will I ever wear this again?
There’s a story behind the bad Race Girl hat.

We were at the drag races down in Joliet with our good friends Steve and Judy. There was a lot of alcohol involved, a bribed and bumpy ride on a golf cart, capped off by a tornado.

Remembering how I got that hat makes it hard to give it up because it would be like giving away all the memories from that day.
I’ve heard that if you haven’t worn something in more than a year, you should get rid of it.

Why do we hang on to things we rarely wear? And what’s the one piece of clothing you just can’t give up?

Mine is a ginormous tattered yellow Eddie Bauer sweatshirt that I appropriated from Jim before we were married. It was a comforty thing I’d wear whenever he went out of town.

Now soft and worn, the sweatshirt is part of what he calls my ‘uniform’ – the comfy, cuddly duds I wear whenever we’re on the couch and staying in for the night.
By 10 a.m. my lower back was singing Ring of Fire, but my side of the closet was looking good and the Good Will pile on the floor had turned into a mountain.

A mountain of memories to be passed on to someone else.

Except for the bad pink hat. I’m keeping that.
I am listening to: The The - This Is The Day
I am reading: Steinberg in the Sun-Times
And I am: Ouchy

Friday, January 12, 2007

My dog thinks I'm boring


"Yawwwwn." - Gromit


"Yawwwwwwwwwn." - Gromit

I did a little experiment and gave him five commands in a row. He yawned five times.

No dog is that tired.
I am listening to: Friday sales meeting
I am reading: Barack Ack Ack Ack
And I am: Boring

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The demise of the obscene call

“Guess what I have in my hand.”
“I have no idea,” said a sleepy me answering the phone at 2 a.m.
“Twelve inches of [beep],” said a throaty voice on the other end.
“I don’t believe you,” said a now wide-awake me.


“Well, uh, would ya settle for six?”
That happened my senior year in high school and it still cracks me up completely.

Here’s hoping that my sleepy incredulity/cruel giggles combo cured that creep of his craving for calling chicks in the middle of the night.
“What color underwear do you have on?”
“Well, they’re mostly brown because I just crapped my pants,” replied me, a sadly seasoned veteran of the obscene call by the ripe age of 22.
What ever happened to the obscene phone call?

“Caller ID,” said Jim, yesterday during our morning trip to the train station.

Sure, caller ID seriously wounded the obscene call, but I think the Internet finally killed it.

Thanks to the world wide web, men can find scads of willing women to talk with them about their 12 or would-ya-believe 6 inches of whatever.

And it’s not just talk either, it’s video. You can find chicks willing to let you watch them fellate a goat whilst playing the fiddle.

Well, maybe the fiddle part is a stretch, but isn’t it just a tiny bit pathetic that every twisted form of sexual fetish is so readily available now that someone like me is REMINISCING about the days of the OBSCENE PHONE CALL?
I think my Mom is right. The world really is coming to an end.

“And lo, the sixth seal was opened and the whore of Babylon, accompanied by her Trusty Goat Fred, played fiddle-dee-dee while Jesus wept.”
I am listening to: Poison - Talk Dirty to Me
I am reading: Obi Wan Obama
And I am: Silly

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The office

“Are we going to Big Bowl today?” I ask. We sit less than 30 seconds away from each other but we’re talking on the phone.

“Yep,” replies Jim the IT guy. “I’m checking out their menu on-line.”

“They’ve got a spicy cashew thing that’s pretty good,” I say.

“Okay, you get the spicy cashew shrimp,” he says. “I’ll get the orange chicken and we’ll share.”

“That’s what I like about you. We’re not even there yet and you’ve already figured out what we’re having.”
We do these welcome lunch things here at work. I might’ve mentioned it – four of us representing the various departments take new hires to lunch to let them know what we’re all about and make them feel, well, welcome.

It’s a good process but today will be my third welcome lunch in three days and I’m a) tired of restaurant food and b) really tired of being perky, fun and interesting and c) really, really tired of trying to be interested in a new hire that I won’t see again until the holiday party in December because he’ll be working at a client in Minneapolis.
We’ve got a fancy-shmancy phone system in our office. It lets me program special ring tones. When I first started it was Curly saying “Nyuk nyuk nyuk!”

Now it’s Cartman from South Park saying “Yeah, I want Cheesy Poofs!”

Our recruiter’s phone sounds like Chewbacca when someone calls. It irritates our HR chick but I love it.

The other thing I love is the call-screening feature. When you call me, you will hear a very polite feminine voice ask “Who may I say is calling?”

You’re supposed to say your name so I can decide if I want to speak with you. It’s awesome. One of the best inventions ever, ever.

A lot of people refuse to say their name, thinking they can sneak through. I wish there was a way to save them the trouble of calling because I will never, ever speak with them.

I always, always pick up for “Abe Froman.”

That’s my friend Jeff calling.

Because seriously, who doesn’t want to speak with the Sausage King of Chicago?
Beer is big where I work. There are mini-fridges in practically every office. Guinness is the standard but there’s always plenty of Miller Lite in the kitchen fridge. Last week someone brought in a case of Schlitz and it disappeared in less than a day.

After 3 p.m. there are always one or two guys walking around the office with beer. For any meeting happening after 5, it is mandatory.
“The wireless network is being a Dirty Stinking Whore today,” I tell Jim the IT guy via IM.

I love that I can tell him that and he knows exactly what to do to make it better.

I also love when Brian the Recruiter sings and dances around the office. Yesterday it was “My Girl Wants to Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy.

Watching a hairy yet balding Jewish dude shake his ass down the hall is what makes being here in the office so goddamn good.
I am listening to: The fan on my desk
I am reading: Obamarama
And I am: So glad to be here

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Regarding big words

Last week I mentioned meeting the best friend of Denny Hastert’s right hand man. He’s the one who said the Obama book I’m reading has a lot of big words in it.

I also said something to the effect that ‘He might be a Republican and that would explain the big words comment.’

What did you think I meant? That Republicans are a buncha big dummy-heads who don’t read s’good?

That’s not what I meant. At all.

I’m really sorry if I left that impression.
The guy’s name is Reuben, by the way. He’s a sweet-faced, engaging, intelligent man.

And here’s what I meant to say: If Reuben is a Republican like his friends, then his perception of the book might be clouded by his political beliefs. Maybe he sees Obama the Democrat as a threat.

Maybe by making him out to be some kinda big-words-usin’ liberal think-monster, Reuben might try to convince others that Obama’s not the Honest-to-Gosh Political Messiah this country’s been craving since John F. Kennedy.

That’s what I meant.
Or, like the Washington Post last week, Reuben the Republican might make Obama out to be a big-words-usin’ liberal cokehead.

Have you heard about this? In his first book, Dreams from My Father, Obama admitted using marijuana and cocaine in high school.

First, do me a favor and read the previous sentence one more time. Then replace ‘using’ with ‘trying’. What is the effect?

I almost made the substitution because I knew it would leave a better impression. But I didn’t, because I’m pretty sure he did way more than try those drugs. Some sneaky little reporter from the liberal-biased media might try to pull that on ya someday, so be warned.

Next, I don’t know too many people who didn’t get high once or twice in high school. Obama’s admission makes him more human, more honest than that other “but I didn’t inhale” Democrat.

Plus, Obama admitted he’s made some mistakes. How refreshing.

He’s a candidate who admits to his skeletons rather than using his family’s wealth and influence to cover them up like that “I didn’t really go AWOL” Republican we know.
“But I didn’t get high in high school, Hedy.”

Good for you, honey. Neither did I.

However, I did get shit-faced with my good friend Jack Daniels on a semi-regular basis before turning 21 and that was illegal, too, so what’s the difference?
Here’s my favorite quote from the Obama book so far:

“The Founders may have trusted in God, but true to the Enlightenment spirit, they also trusted in the minds and senses that God had given them.”

No big words there. Just simple, practical wisdom combined with a refreshing undercurrent of honesty.

I’m still not sure if Jesus is coming back, but Obama just might make me a believer. In something.

And that's really something.
I am listening to: Train sounds
I am reading: Obama fama fo fama
And I am: Tense

Monday, January 08, 2007


Dr. Atwood
Order moon phase
Order Yankee Candle
Order TEC table
Finish sell cheat sheet
MET web pages
Update main with MN RUG
Check w/Andee re: 9.0 upgrade blast
Update CRM with RSVPs TEC breakfast
e-mail sales & mktg re: TEC breakfast list
Don’t get any funny ideas that I might be a list person. I’m not.

I make lists only when: a) There’s a lot to do in a short time or b) There’s a lot I want someone else to do in a short time.

Today, there’ll be no screwing around. It’s all work. Except for those first three items of course.
The Wizard of Oz
The Big Chill
Pride & Prejudice (A&E version)
Pulp Fiction
Crossing Delancey
Almost Famous
The Big Lebowski
American Beauty
Why do we like lists so much? And why are they usually Top Tens?

This one cracked me up completely: Star Wars Lines Improved by Substituting the Word "Pants"

It reminded me of combing through 45’s at Musicland in Lakeside Mall, adding “between the sheets” to top 40 song titles with my best friend Lisa. My belly hurt for two days from laughing at “The Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia.

Here, give it a try with the Top 200 Songs from 1980.
Make a wish, baby
Well, and I will make it come true
Make a list, baby
Of the things I'll do for you
Here’s a fun one: Top Ten Douchebags of 2006.
Charmin Ultra
Diet Pepsi
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes
Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Curel lotion
Hebrew National Hot Dogs
These are products I would have a hard time living without. What are yours?
I am listening to: You’re the Biggest Part of Meeeee…
I am reading: Obama lama ding-dong
And I am: Busy

Friday, January 05, 2007

The 110th Congress and whatnot

I was home again yesterday due to the damnfuckshithell hurty back thing.

I got back from the chiropractor just in time to hear a reporter from CLTV talk OVER the first woman being sworn in as Speaker of the House.

Why do they do that? Why can’t they just shut the fuck up and let a moment happen on television? Why do they have to TELL us what we’re SEEING?
Other highlights as the 110th Congress convened:

All that stand up and clappage.

As I sat there icing my spine again, my mind wandered: “I wonder if someone in the audience has a herniated disc like me. I bet they’re having trouble. Maybe someone from the opposite party is taking it the Wrong Way.”

Perhaps it was local boy done gone, Denny Hastert.

The cameras zoomed in (well, not much zooming was necessary – the man is like a Midwestern version of Jabba the Hutt) on him and he wasn’t standing all that much. Or clapping. Or even smiling for that matter.

If I’m the Speaker, newly ousted from the House, I’m right out front grinning and clapping like a motherfucker to show no hard feelings and whatnot.

I guess if I’m a Republican and don’t feel like standing up for the new Democratic leadership, I’d blame it on a herniated disc. Hastert shoulda pointed at his back, winced, and shook his head when the cameras panned to him.

That’s what I would’ve done.
Speaking of Hastert, I met his right hand man’s best friend on the train Wednesday morning.

“What do you think of that?” he asked, pointing to the Obama book in my lap.

“Good so far,” I say, somewhat hesitant to talk politics with strangers.

“He used a lot of big words,” he said. “I had trouble getting through the audio book.”

I wasn’t sure how to respond because I haven’t noticed a whole lotta big words yet. Then I wondered if, like his best friend's main man, he's a Republican.

That would explain the whole big words thing.
"This is an historic moment for the Congress, and for the women of this country blah blah years of struggle blah blah all men and women are created equal blah blah we have broken the marble ceiling.”


Of course it’s an historic moment.

But if Pelosi thinks for one minute that she’s broken or even cracked the marble ceiling, I’m sorry, but she’s just another bat-shit crazy broad.

White men still run this country. White men like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush who think it’s quaint that a chick now holds the gavel in the House.
Back on the train with Hastert’s right hand man’s (“I almost married his sister”) best friend, I’m thinking again.

Obama needs to appeal to everyone if he’s going to be elected president. And if anyone, anywhere says they’re having trouble getting through his book because of all the big words, that’s an issue.

I wonder if he knows. Someone should tell him.

I'm just the broad to do it.
I am listening to: The commentator yapping over the new speaker SHADDAP!!!!
I am reading: Obama’s book (still)
And I am: Blah

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Nothing on

“There’s nothing on.”

I’m half-listening to Jim as he channel surfs through New Year’s Day.

We’re in the family room on the couch with Gromit between us, enjoying the Christmas tree for one last day before the holidays are officially over.

“How about National Geographic channel or Discovery?” asks me, hopeful for something semi-intelligent as background noise whilst blog-surfing on the Mac.

“What’s this?” I ask, glancing up from Rather Than Working a few minutes later.

“History of the hot dog.”
Jim has since seen the light and we spent last night watching shows about Saddam Hussein on the History Channel. Historically impaired, neither of us realized the link between radical Muslims and Nazi Germany.

The show was mostly an awful lotta boring blah blah about troops and strategy and alliances, with some dude called the Grand Mufti orchestrating most of it from the Muslim side of things.

Based on his extremely poor choice of headgear alone, you’d be surprised if one of these guys could orchestrate his way out of a paper bag.
“Is it muff-tee or moof-tee?” I ask Jim.

Here he comes! He’s the Grand Mufti!

He is Fierce and Powerful!

Confuse him with a dessert involving Marshmallow Fluff and those tiny chocolate sprinkles At Your Peril!
Yes. I am the one who wanted to watch Something Intelligent. Deal with it.

I am listening to: INXS - Don't Change
I am reading: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
And I am: Mufti-riffic!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

MAD already

Against my better judgment, I decided to walk from Union Station to my office yesterday. It was my first day back to work after three weeks.

Walking is still goddamn-fuck-hell hurty for me but I need need needed to be out walking in my city rather than taking a cab as planned.
Have I mentioned I look down when I walk?

Never used to do it. I always walked head up and high, looking at stuff and enjoying the world.

But after falling so many times over the past couple years, I’ve gotta keep an eye out for treacherous terrain.

That’s mostly why I noticed the car keys.

I had just crossed Adams when I saw them sitting on the sidewalk near the bike rack. The man ahead of me saw them, too. I could tell by how he hesitated stepping over them.

I almost did the same thing.

But then my mantra for 2007 popped into my head. So I turned around and picked them up.

“What the hell do I do now?” I thought, looking around for I don’t know what.

I’m in the middle of the third largest city in the United States. It’s not as if there’s a Lost and Found on every corner.

I look down at the key ring – a remote lock thingy with the “Panic” button jumping out at me. Just one key.

Volkswagon, prolly, I think.

Someone won’t be able to get home tonight without these.
A personal ad?

“Found keys at Adams opposite Union. Call to identify.”

Right. They’re car keys. It’s not as if they have any identifying marks on them. And which paper? Trib? Sun-Times? This person needs these keys tonight, not three days from now if and when they happen to check the personals.

The police?

“Let me get this straight. You’re calling the Chicago Police Department to report that you FOUND some KEYS? Have you heard the news? The murder rate went up in 2006. We’re a little busy over here.”

Still in What The Hell Do I Do Now mode, I see a frantic looking woman stop the man who walked right over the keys (oh the irony) and ask him something.

He turns around and points back towards me. I hold up her keys.

She comes rushing over to me – breathless and relieved and smiling.

“I just realized there’s a hole in my pocket,” she said. “Thank you. Thank you for picking them up.”

It’s silly, because all I did was pick them up.

Still - hours later - I have absolutely no clue what I would've done with those keys.
I’m not telling you this story so that you can say “Yay, Hedy! Way to go with that Making a Difference shit!”


I just wanted to point out that there are opportunities to make a difference all around us every day.

Looking down helps.
I am listening to: Yappy women on the train
I am reading: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
And I am: Goddamn hurty ass shit hell fuck

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

YOMAD: Explained

So it’s the Year of Making a Difference, eh?


Hedy, the only reason you’re doing it is to make yourself feel better. That doesn’t seem quite right.

True. I didn’t do a stellar job of explaining the motivation behind YOMAD yesterday. And yes, making myself feel better is part of it.

But here’s the Really Big Question I’ve been trying to answer for a while now: Is everything that happens in our lives a simple matter of geography?

If I’d been born in the Middle East or Africa my life would be entirely different. I might be Muslim. Or Jewish. I might know someone who was killed because of the conflicts in my country. I might have been killed myself.

However, through fortune or fate or karma, I was born here in the Midwest and my life has been easy by most standards.

So do I just call it luck and enjoy the shit outta my good fortune as I have been?

Or is there something I’m supposed to do because of where I was born and what I have?
“New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Mark Twain said that.
I’m not big on resolutions. But christening a year with a particular theme seems to work for some reason.


As a reminder, I’ll make it part of my password for e-mail and voice mail. There are YOMAD reminders in my calendar. And I will meditate on making a difference when I want to motivate myself to get outta bed in the morning or do something that I don’t feel much like doing.

The other thing I like about YOMAD is that it’s open-ended. Just like the Year of Traveling Lightly – it’s going to take on a meaning and a life of its own. It will take me places I never imagined.

And that’s cool.
You’ve spent too much time watching TV, haven’t you, Hedy? You’re gonna donate to Save Darfur and Feed the Children and then blab to everyone how you’re making a difference.

Sending a check is the easiest way to make a difference, and yes, I might do that. But I wanna be smart about it so I’ll start here: The American Institute of Philanthropy.

This is a watchdog organization that helps people make informed choices about charities. They rate organizations by how much of your donation goes to actually making a difference versus how much pays for the administrative costs involved with running their organization.

It’s neat. Check it out.
But wait, there’s more.

The Year of Making a Difference ISN'T about:
  • What’s convenient or easiest for me
  • Writing a check to some charity and then writing it off on my taxes
  • Telling you what I’m up to
  • Getting credit or accolades

It is:
  • My mantra for 2007
  • About giving more time, energy and attention to my relationships, at work, and to the world
  • About making a difference because it is needed and because I can
Just like last year, I’ll keep you posted on any really interesting developments. For the most part, though, YOMAD will be more about action than words.

It’ll be about standing up and making a difference.

And that, my friends, feels good.
I am listening to: Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club
I am reading: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
And I am: On it

Monday, January 01, 2007

Standing up

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

Henry David Thoreau said that.

Standing up.

It’s been a bit of a challenge for me over the past three weeks since I have what appears to be a herniated disc.

Herniated disc is the polite way of saying “FUCK SOMEONE IS STABBING ME IN THE FUCKING LEG MAKE IT STOP. FUCK.”

Mostly immobile, icing my spine, and heavily medicated, HedyBlog ran outta juice on December 22 – right around the time the whole Donald Trump/Rosie O’Donnell thing kersploded.

The physical pain was nothing compared to the mental trauma of experiencing an Explosion of Idiocy of this magnitude. So I shut down for a bit.
Plus, much of what happens in HedyBlog comes from being out in the world – especially out in Chicago, the best city on the planet.

Trapped at home, the topic list is limited: Gromit, pain, medication, bad daytime TV, Gromit, naps, fuck that fucking hurts, Gromit, and the always popular: effective methods for showering when you can’t stand up for more than two minutes.
2006 was the Year of Traveling Lightly.

It was the first time I’d ever christened a year and I was surprised (in good and bad ways) how it took on a life of its own.

As planned, I off-loaded some mental and physical baggage. There were successes and failures too boring to mention here.

And I’m still working through some of it, which is why 2007 will be The Year of Making a Difference (YOMAD).
Hedy, how do you shower when you can’t stand up for more than two minutes?

Apologies to Kermit, but it ain’t easy being clean.
I read somewhere that when you’re not feeling great, the best way to feel better is by doing something for someone else.

So that’s the plan for 2007.

Standing up to live so I can sit down to write.

I am listening to: Dumb New Year’s Eve TV
I am reading: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
And I am: Hopeful