Friday, June 29, 2007

Unexpected walkies

“What are you doing?” asks a friend on IM.

“I think I'm gonna take Grom for a walk,” I reply. “He needs it. I need it.”

It’s Thursday.

Walkies are for Saturday and Sunday mornings. Not for weeknights.

Gromit knows this.

So hearing “How about walkies?” puts this What the Fuck look on his face that makes me laugh out loud for the first time all week.

I say it again. “Walkies? Gromit?”

The unexpected walkies get him every time.
It’s one of those days where seeing the other side of the usual is so necessary.

So instead of heading north on the path, we go south.

Gromit is sniffing the new smells. I am enjoying the new scenery.

He glances back every so often to flash one of his standard Isn’t This GREAT? smiles.

Not far, Gromit's sniffing takes him down a path that veers off toward the river. A path I’ve never seen before.

Again, it’s that kind of night, so I follow.

We’re walking. Into the woods. Down a worn, dirt path. We are careful to step over the gnarled roots of overgrown trees. The only sound is the wind. The river, like a promise, is silent but constant through the trees.

Everything is so green and gorgeous and unexpected it occurs to me that we died in a car accident on the way to the park and that we’re in heaven and it would be perfectly okay if this forest just went on forever and ever amen.

We’re less than two miles from home but I have no idea where we are.

Better still, no one else knows where we are, either.

It's perfect.
I am listening to: Staind – It’s Been a While
I am reading: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
And I am: So much better now

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Whistling Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah out of our assholes

I love it when art imitates life. Or is it life imitating art?

What if you have dog shit all over the outside of your car but you keep driving the 12 hours from Boston to Ontario?

What do you call that?

If you're Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, you call it a vacation.

Have you heard about this?

Romney strapped Seamus the Irish Setter in a dog crate to the top of his car and then hit the road. Shortly after, the shit hit the fan.

Or car, as it were.

This heartwarming story was presented as evidence of Romney's 'emotion-free crisis management' skills in a profile of Romney published by the Boston Globe.

Here's a highlight:

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway.
"Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much fucking fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles. You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of you're assholes! Ahh. ha. ha. ha. I gotta be crazy!" - Clark Griswold, National Lampoon's Vacation.
According to the Boston Globe, Romney 'built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.'

Obviously Seamus didn't appreciate the whole windshield comfort effort.

Now, before you go writing PETA or whoever, the incident happened back in 1983. And if the trip home didn't kill him, Seamus is most certainly dead by now.

Just like Romney's presidential campaign.
I am listening to: The Strokes - You Only Live Once
I am reading: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
And I am: Not surprised for some reason

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Never again

“I’ll try anything once.”

That was me in my unfettered youth.

Now that I’m older and have tried just about everything, I can honestly say that trying everything is seriously overrated.

A person who is silly enough to say they’ll try anything once invariably ends up saying ‘I’ll never do THAT again’ even more.

So here’s the last of the silly hypotheticals for a bit: What is one thing you’d never do again?
As usual, there’s always more than one:

Eat black licorice
Live with a guy
Perm my hair
Anything wintergreen flavored
Have a one-nighter with a nearly anonymous frat boy
Wear my hair shorter on one side than the other
Play bunco
Smoke pot
Late-night White Castles
Read anything by Ernest Hemingway
Ditto Ann Rice
Raw oysters
Shop anywhere ending with 'mart'
Believe it when someone says “C’mon, nothing bad will happen.”
Amusement park rides that spin
Host a home shopping party
By the way, unfettered is my all-time favorite word.
There’s also the list of things I’d very much like to never do again, but will probably have to eventually:

Attend a wedding I don’t believe in
Wear panty hose
Go to a mall
Hurt a good friend
Have surgery
Get married
Barf after too many tropical drinks
Fly coach
Attend a home shopping party
You’re planning on hurting a friend again? That sucks, Hedy.

No. That was originally under the Never Again list.

You don’t ever intentionally hurt someone you love.

We’re human. It happens. I’m a realist.
Of course, there’s also the list of things that I’ll never do again that you’ll never know.

And now we never have to talk about nevers again.
I am listening to: The Strokes – You Only Live Once
I am reading: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
And I am: Damp

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And then there’s this

The early morning flight to Detroit wasn’t crowded.

So I was more than a little surprised when an older, gray-ish woman stopped next to me in the aisle and angrily announced:

“I BELIEVE you’re SITTING in my SEAT!”

Now I’m no rocket scientist, so I usually check and re-check and re-re check my ticket to make sure my ass is where it’s supposed to be come flight time.

“28B?” I say, having memorized it on the jet way.

“28D!” she says with triumph, then confusion.

“28D is over there,” I say, pointing across the aisle.

“OH,” she says, obviously flustered now. “I thought I was in an odd-numbered seat.”

She was angry. She was wrong. I pointed it out.

And she responded with nonsense, rather than an apology.

It happens all the time.

Most recently with Large Marge and her “I’m having surgery” retort after being told to shaddap on the train last Friday.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, this anger followed by idiocy thing.
And then there’s this.

I used to be good at it. Telling a story from one perspective and then switching over to the other side of it to offer a guess and a glimpse into why people do the bat-shit crazy things they do.

But this time, I can’t.

I’ve tried putting myself in the shoes of that mean, sad woman from the Friday train. I’ve tried to feel just a sliver of sympathy for Loud Large Marge.

But I can’t.
Like Jim said, it would’ve been great if the story had ended with her shutting up.

But it didn’t.

She cried. Hard. And she was obviously stressed over what happened.

It is troubling that she responded that way. It is troubling that everyone on the train smiled over it.

I’ve been replaying this extraordinary event over and over again to figure out what it means when an entire train car of people can’t muster any sympathy for a fellow human being.

Are we that angry and jaded? Is it public transportation that makes us respond differently?

Did she deserve our sympathy after the way she acted?

I'm judging again, aren't I?
Nope. Still no sympathy for her.

Here's the thing.

If Train Hero had said, "Hey LADY, SHUT the FUCK UP!" it would be easier to understand Large Marge's angry and outrageous response.

But Train Hero was, well, a hero. He was polite. And patient. He said please. More than once.
What about that angry idiot ‘I’m-having-surgery’ thing, Hedy?

Utter nonsense. And here’s why.
  1. If the surgery was weighing on her so heavily, why didn’t she mention it in any of the three conversations we heard prior to the Brotherhood of the Train Solidarity Moment?
  2. If she had been talking about her impending surgery at the top of her lungs, perhaps we would've been a little more sympathetic.
  3. If the surgery was indeed serious – and by serious I mean cancer-related – I'm certain she would’ve said so. You don't say "I'm having surgery!" You say "I have [insert terrible affliction here]!"
  4. Does having surgery – any type of surgery – make it okay to be rude and mean to others?
  5. I’m guessing it was gastric by-pass surgery.

Yep. Still no sympathy. Can someone, anyone set me straight here?
I am listening to: Sleeping dog breathing
I am reading: Nothing; finished 19 Minutes last night. Bleh.
And I am: Bleh

Monday, June 25, 2007

Train hero


This is the third phone call we, on the 2:30 train home, have endured from the Loud, Large and In Charge Marge sitting up top in the second car.

And the train hasn’t even left the station yet.

I shoot her The Glare twice, but she’s too busy testing the limits of her patently prodigious lungs to notice.

She belts out her phone number and address – and I’m waiting to jot down her credit card information when suddenly, a man wearing headphones two seats ahead does something I’ve never seen in three years of commuting.

He gets up, walks back, and in a surprisingly quiet voice asks her to lower her voice.

She glares up at him with mean brown eyes. I can see what’s coming but am still surprised at what she says.


It appears that Train Hero isn’t expecting that response, either, because he stops short and stands up just a little bit taller.

“We do not want to hear your personal conversations,” he says calmly. “Please be considerate of others on this train.”


“See that man over there?” he asks, pointing to the dude behind me whispering into his mobile. “He’s on the phone, too, but we can’t hear him. Please use your indoor voice when you’re on the phone.”

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE BOTHERING ME LIKE THIS,” still with the yelling, this hefty one.

Train Hero finally gives up and sits back down. Loud Marge proceeds to talk on the phone even louder.

“YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT I’M DEALING WITH HERE,” she says to someone we can only presume is completely deaf. “PEOPLE ARE SO RUDE!”
You’ve heard this before: I don’t tell people to shut up on the train because I am afraid of the response.

I’ll take having my ears temporarily blown out by some loudmouth fuck-ass over having my brains permanently blown out by some psychotic, loudmouth fuck-ass.

You just never know what might happen. Case in point follows.
Inspired by the Train Hero’s courage, I decide to throw caution to the wind blowing outta her yap-hole and take action.

“Excuse me, ma’am?” I say, smiling.

She turns her head and glares with those brown beady meanies.

Pointing at the Train Hero, I say: “I agree with him. Please lower your voice.”

“DITTO!” someone instantly yells from two seats behind me.

“Yeah, stop talking so loud!” chimes in another.

It was a truly beautiful moment.

“That’s three people who agree with me,” says Train Hero, grinning in vindicated glory.

She finally shut up.
“It would’ve been great if everyone would’ve clapped at that point,” says Jim later that day.

What would’ve been great is if the story ended there.

But it doesn’t.
A few minutes after our beautiful Brotherhood of the Train Solidarity Moment, we hear it: An unmistakable wail.

She’s not crying is she? She is. She’s crying. On the train.

And of course, it’s Loud.


She was wrong and now she’s CRYING?

Train Hero glances over, mirroring my disbelief.

It gets louder. Unbelievably louder.

People sitting five rows up are looking back and – get this – they’re smiling.

Suddenly all of us are smiling at each other.

I think but don’t say: “Excuse me, ma’am? Could ya do us a favor and go back to the loud talking? Way better. Seriously.”

Loud, Large and now discharged Marge realizes she’ll get no sympathy from this tough train crowd.

She gets up out of her seat and stops in front of Train Hero.



I think but don’t say: “Gettin' a lung reduction, honey?”

At this point, I can’t help but let out a nervous giggle.

“YOU MIGHT BE RIGHT IN PRINCIPLE BUT…” she says, trailing off.

As she sniffles and shuffles her way down the aisle in search of the train car designated for crazy, loudmouth fuck-asses, we of the 2:30 Train Brotherhood share one more moment together and breathe a collective sigh of relief.
I am listening to: Blessed silence on the train
I am reading: Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
And I am: Kinda giggly over the whole thing

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thank you, Dick Cheney

I don’t know about you, but thinking about politics hasn’t been much of a priority around here lately.

It’s all the same people saying all the same things and BLAH de BLAH de fucking BLAH who cares it’s summer let’s go have a BEER.

Plus, there’s only so much prolonged outrage you can sustain for an administration that has systematically ignored the U.S. Constitution and its own constituents with impunity.

But not today, folks.

Dick Cheney has managed to stir up a heretofore unimaginable batch of fresh Fuck You in the Ear anger.

I’m sure you’ve heard about it. Here’s a summary from The Raw Story:

The Office of Vice President Dick Cheney told an agency within the National Archives that for purposes of securing classified information, the Vice President's office is not an 'entity within the executive branch' according to a letter released Thursday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Your position was that your office 'does not believe it is included in the definition of 'agency' as set forth in the Order' and 'does not consider itself an 'entity within the executive branch' that comes into the possession of classified information,'" a National Archives official claims Cheney chief of staff David Addington wrote to him.
So it all depends on what your definition of ‘entity’ is, Mr. Cheney?

Tell me something, all you staunch and sturdy Republicans: Is it worse for a man in the highest government offices to parse words over a blowjob or over national security?
I am listening to: Pink – U + Ur Hand
I am reading: Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
And I am: Angry again and it feels kinda good

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reading people

On Saturdays and Sundays, Gromit goes for walkies on the river trail nearby. He knows this. And he won’t let us leave the house without him.

Out on the path he’s your typical dog, sniffing at and peeing on just about everything.

He is always Extremely Interested in other dogs and ignores only one or two of the most irritating/barky.

The opposite is true with people on the trail. He ignores everyone – bikers, runners, walkers, and wanderers.

Everyone except This One Guy.

When he sees This One Guy, he barks and lunges at him as if the dude is a bacon-flavored enemy combatant.

We don’t know why.

But we suspect it is because This One Guy actually is an enemy combatant. The jury is still out on the bacon thing because we haven’t had the courage to get close enough for a sniff.
There’s This One Guy at work that I do not like. At all.

From the very first moment we met I thought he was a smarmy, know-it-all, lazy-ass chooch.

Of course I stopped short of actually barking and lunging at him, but if he smelled like bacon I just might have.

So what is it about This One Guy that sets off Gromit? And what is it about certain people that makes us wanna bark and lunge?
Call it instinct. Maybe it’s a survival thing.

I think it’s a gift. Being able to read people.

I can tell within the first few minutes if I’m gonna like you or not.

How do I know? I have no idea.

But like Gromit on the trail, I just know when someone isn’t quite right.

And this gift or gut feeling or whatever it is? It is never ever wrong.
“You better have a good lawyer.”

“You’re in for a miserable experience.”

“You will hate people when it’s all over.”

That’s what we heard when we decided to sell our home by owner four years ago. The housing market was good, we were in a great location and the house pretty much sold itself.

But I’ll never forget one of the first messages we received after the sign went up in our front yard. It was this friendly, genuine voice telling us: “Hey, I saw the sign in your yard and I have a feeling your house would be perfect for us. Could you call me back so we can come over and check it out?”

Right now, I’m smiling, just thinking about that message.

The couple came over. And from the very first moment, I liked them. Somehow there was this instant connection between the four of us and it just worked.

They bought the house. They’ve become two of our closest friends.
Some folks don’t have the ability to read people. They make bad hiring decisions. They choose the wrong friends. They fall in love with gay men.

“But I had NO IDEA!” says the tearful, slightly overweight woman. “He was just so nice and we had great conversations and he had a FABULOUS condo!”

Gaydar isn’t special. It’s just a subset of the being able to read people gift.
You’re judging people and you don’t even know them.

Yep. That’s the whole point.

It’s completely irrational and totally unfair but like I said, this gift has never been wrong.

The positive note in all of this is that 85 to 90% of the people I meet are good.

Do you have the gift? Have you ever been totally wrong about someone?
I am listening to: Paolo Nutini – New Shoes
I am reading: Nothing yet
And I am: Not barking

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Three cups of inspiration

Read. Write. Read? Write?

That was the mental dilemma on this morning's train.

I made a point to be on the 7:42 for the first time in forever to thank Richard for his fabulous Florida tips. Him and his smiling eyes were there as expected, but the regular train gang was curiously absent.

Read? Write?

With no Hot Topic for Today and just thismuch left of Three Cups of Tea, I decided to read.

Our soldiers are dieing every day in the Middle East because the U.S. is using bombs rather than books to fight terrorism.

As an American citizen, you have an obligation to read this book. To understand the root causes of terrorism. To understand that educating children - especially girls - is the only way out of this mess.

Greg Mortenson is an American who has done more to promote peace in the Middle East than all U.S. politicians throughout history - combined.

He is an inspiration.
After reading Three Cups of Tea, a boy named Jake Greenberg donated $1000 from his bar mitzvah money to Mortenson's organization, the Central Asia Institute. Here's why:

"When I heard Greg's story, I realized that, unlike me, children in the Muslim world might not have educational opportunities. It makes no difference that I'm a Jew sending money to help Muslims. We all need to work together to plant the seeds of peace."

This, from a 13 year old.
Mortenson is educating girls in the Middle East. While most of the people over there consider it a blessing of all blessings, as you might imagine, there have been a few fatwas as well. Here's another excerpt from the book to illustrate the miracles this man is working over there:

In August, 2003, when the Shariat Court issued its final ruling, it sided firmly with Mehdi Ali and Mortenson. The court declared Agha Mubarek's fatwa illegitimate and ordered him to pay for the 800 bricks his men destroyed.

"It was a very humbling victory," said Mortenson. "Here you have this Islamic court in conservative Shia Pakistan offering protection for an American, at a time when America is holding Muslims without charges in Guantanamo, Cuba, for years, under our so-called system of justice."
Here's a quote from a girl named Jahan, who is now attending high school because of Mortenson:

"Before I met you, Dr. Greg, I had no idea what education was. But now I think it is like water. It is important for everything in life."
I know. You won't read it.

No time. No interest.


I don't care if you're not a reader. I don't care if you're too busy.

You can't continue to piss and moan about the Middle East until you've read this book.

Here's the deal: I'm buying copies for everyone who wants to read Three Cups of Tea. Send an e-mail to within the next 24 hours and I will pay for your copy of this amazing book.

If you'd rather purchase it yourself, please do so here: Three Cups of Tea. That way, 7% of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to Mortenson's organization.

Since 1993, Mortenson has built nearly 60 schools in some of the most remote, impoverished and dangerous regions of the Middle East.

He's not a religious zealot. He's not a tree-hugger. And he sure as hell isn't a politician.

He's just a dude who, in his quest to climb mountains, found what all of us really want: A higher purpose.
I am listening to: The Killers - Read My Mind
I am reading: The passages I dog-eared in Three Cups
And I am: Enlightened and inspired

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Truth & consequences

This one came from HedyBlog’s silent partner/agent via IM yesterday:

"What is one thing that you'd LOVE to do? Or, if you could do one thing and would get in NO TROUBLE for it, what would it be?"

So, here’s my If I Could Do One Thing Without Consequences List (and yes, it’s more than one thing, shaddap):

Crash into bad drivers – Nothing more satisfying than plowing right into an ass-hat driver going too slow in the left lane and then leaving them stranded on the highway. This is my #1 non-sex related fantasy.

Have a Portillo’s Chocolate Cake Shake every day – If you haven’t had one of these yet, please do. It is like sucking up little bits of heaven through a straw.

Bret the Trainer - At the fitness center. His calves look delicious. And this is my #1 sex-related…well, I'm sure you get the idea.

Swim naked - Especially in the Gulf of Mexico. With good friends.

Rescue all homeless dogs - If it weren't for Jim, I would be that old lady you hear about in the news who lives with 73 dogs and piles of crap everywhere. Well, maybe not the crap part. In the no consequences scenario, there's no crap.

Speaking of crap - I would never poop again. There are some folks who enjoy nothing more than a good sturdy crap in the morning. Not me.

Tell chronic train yappers to shaddap – They usually just get The Glare. I do not have the courage to actually say anything because a) I don’t want them to feel as if they need to respond by talking MORE and b) You can never tell if a seemingly harmless yapper might turn into a deadly stabber.
So, c’mon. Don’t disappoint me. What’s one – or better, a bunch of things – you’d do?
I am listening to: A webcast
I am reading: Three Cups (thisclose to done!)
And I am: Still in melted buttery goodness mode

Monday, June 18, 2007

The demonic Joneses

SUV. Domestic. Several fatalities. Joliet.

That was about all we could gather from a muted FoxNews channel hanging high in the corner of Harry Caray’s restaurant at Midway airport Thursday morning.

Something big was happening near Joliet. Big enough that FoxNews devoted the better part of an hour to it.

But this is the same channel that spent days on the whole Paris-Hilton-won’t-poop-in-prison saga and we had bloody Marys to finish and a flight to catch.

So I didn’t give it another thought until last night back home again with Gromit, Sunday paper, and couch.

Every headline – every single headline – on the front page of the Beacon News was devoted to the murders:

‘I don’t understand why people would kill’
Pain lies behind ‘perfect’ suburban lives
Children try to grasp neighbors’ killings
Experts say Vaughn slayings don’t fit profile
Have you heard about this?

It’s an unusual story. The husband, the lone survivor in this tragedy, told police his wife started shooting a gun and hit him in the leg so he ran off. He returned to his family’s vehicle to find his three children dead and his wife shot in the head – presumably self-inflicted.

That’s all we know at this point.

Oh, wait.

We also know that the family lived in a subdivision where homes are valued in the $300,000 range.
Denise Crosby is a regular columnist in the Beacon News. She’s known for telling make-you-cry stories about local tragedies.
Crosby’s about as good as it gets for a small-ish, near average paper like the Beacon. She lets her subjects tell the story and she’s pretty good at answering all the questions you’d ask.

But yesterday? Not so much.

Obviously desperate to give her loyal readers something – anything to explain why this family died so tragically, Crosby interviewed Sherry Bryant, whom she describes as a longtime family therapist in Oswego:

“In the quest to keep up with the Joneses here in the suburbs – with our fancy homes and big cars – we are so busy ‘chasing materialism,’ said Bryant, ‘we are starving our souls.’ And, in turn, feeding a pain that can be as intense, as life-threatening as a family struggling to survive in Africa or Iraq.”


We know next to nothing about what happened – the police are still interviewing the husband and presumably making with the whole CSI bit to get to the bottom of this.

And this fuck-knob therapist is comparing the life or death struggles of families in Africa and the Middle East to keeping up with the Joneses in the suburbs of Chicago?
But wait. As usual, there’s more:

“We forget that what happened (to the Vaughns) could happen to any of us because we don’t always know the dark sides of everyone’s personalities, including our own.”

Okay, admit it.

We all know at least one person we think could go postal under the right circumstances.

I know two. But these people are not going to kill anyone because they can’t buy a bigger house or a better SUV.

They’re just a little off. A little different.

And it’s not keeping up with the demonic neighbors that will eventually make them snap, it’s the demons in their head who lived there long before the Joneses moved in next door.
I am listening to: Some ass-hat yammering into his mobile on the 8:06
I am reading: Three Cups – nearly finished! Fabulous!
And I am: Like a piece of warm melted butter

Friday, June 15, 2007


You talk about your Mom a lot. What’s your Dad like, Hedy?

He’s been Da to me for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure why or where it came from, but he’s Da.

Maybe it’s because he gave me my nickname – Hedy – when I was just a few days old.

Hearing him say “Hiya, Hed” makes me smile like a little kid. Every time.
I must’ve been around three or four years old. Way before the remote control made it too easy to change the channels.

We had this ginormous (to me, at the time, anyway) Magnavox console TV with the shiniest, reddish brown finish I’ve ever seen. It was gorgeous.

It had a huge dial for changing the channels to 2 or 4 or 7 and sometimes 50.

“Hedy, change the channel to 4,” he said, from the big green La-Z-Boy recliner.


I was petrified. To touch the TV, let alone change the channel.

“You can do it, Hedy,” he insisted.

“I CAN’T!” I said, near tears.

“Yes, you can. Do it,” he said sternly.

With small, sweaty hands I reached up to that great big scary dial. And slowly, carefully turned it.

It might seem like an inconsequential thing to you.

But to me, it was a Defining Moment. It's a lesson that echoes through everything I do.

When that small, awful voice of self doubt starts yammering away, I close my eyes and hear Da saying: “You can do it, Hedy.”
It’s December and we’re bringing down Mom’s mountains of Christmas decorations from the attic.

Da is up at the top of the stairs handing things down to us. Us is me, my brother Eric, and David, my boyfriend at the time.

It was a long process and we were all pretty crabby and dusty towards the end.

“Here’s a box of ornaments,” Da said. “Be careful.”

“Here’s the wreath.”

“Here are the outside lights, put those over in the corner.”

Finally, he got to the last box. The three of us looked up expectantly at Da, leaning down with that trademark half-serious grin.

“And here. Here’s the goddamned manger.”

Thanks to Da, every manger, anywhere (especially in my own house, dragging out decorations in December) is referred to as The Goddamned Manger.
Da also taught me:

How to throw a Frisbee
How to throw a punch
How to use a clutch
How to handle a gun

He believes that you’re never too old to climb a tree. That you’re never too old to ride a motorcycle. That a long walk in the woods will fix just about anything.

Da is the one who taught me to love words, to love what language can do to you. To love silly puns and limericks.

He taught me to appreciate dry humor. That playing outside is important. And that laughing at a funeral is not only okay, it is expected.

He’s why I love The Three Stooges. Why I love to go fast. Why I measure my words and speak only when there’s something worth saying.

He’s my Da.

And he is without question the best father a girl could ever ask for.
I am listening to: The Happy Da’s Day Mix
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Wishing all the great dads I know a heartfelt Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Never is a long time

Walking under the Opera House portico after lunch, I see a woman with a large tattoo on her left breast.

“I would never do that,” I think.

Quick. Don’t think. Just answer.

What is one thing you’d never do?
In an informal and completely unscientific HedyBlog survey, here’s what you said (in order received):

A barbwire tattoo around my arm
Man on man
No body piercing
Go to a nude beach
Pose naked
Have gay sex
Kiss men
Sell crack to kids
Let a man fuck me up the ass (“But I’d let a woman do it”)
Kiss a man on the lips
Cheat on my husband (“Not that I’ve thought about it or anything”)
Child molestation
Be a cross country truck driver
Respond to a blog survey
Buy a pretentious gas guzzling luxury SUV
Vote Democrat
Have sex with a man other than my husband
Commit suicide (two people said this)
Have an affair
Touch a snake
Stop loving my children
Hey, no offense, Tattoo Booby Loop Woman.

I wasn’t judging you. Really.

I am so glad we live in a country where you can tattoo your left breast and then expose nearly the whole damn thing to the public in front of as refined an institution as the Chicago Opera House on a Wednesday afternoon.

Never is a long time.

And I’m guessing if you found yourself in a life or death/me or him situation, you could kill someone. If you weren’t too busy shitting your pants of course.

The same with stealing. Jean Valjean is a classic character because he’s us. If we had to, we’d steal bread to feed our hungry children, too.

The fact is, we all say never but we don't really know, do we?
How do the things we’d never do define us? What do these things tell us about ourselves? Are these our biggest fears?

And isn’t it interesting that most of these confessed Nevers involve our bodies? Unwelcome sexual encounters. Exposure. Mutilation/alteration.
Here are a few things I’d never do (in no particular order):

Go to a strip club
Eat a bug or worm
Get divorced
Have sex with a woman
Shoot a deer
Of course I was more than a little amused (and not at all surprised) at how many of the things you say you’d never do that I’ve already done.

By the way, here’s one more thing you’ll never do: Find out the things I’ve done that you claim you’ll never do.
I am listening to: NBC 5 News
I am reading: Three Cups (vowing to finish it this weekend)
And I am: Never telling

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lunchtime adventures

“Water taxi today?” I ask via instant messenger to three co-workers.

“YES,” comes the simultaneous response.

Water taxis run up and down the Chicago River in the summer time. I’m ashamed to admit that after working downtown for nearly three years, yesterday was my first time.

“Where’s lunch?” asks Jim the IT guy, who is like me and always, always concerned with lunch.

“Who knows? Let’s wing it,” I say, throwing caution to the wind.

Adventures, whenever possible, should involve a boat and an undetermined destination.
We walk less than a block to the Madison Street dock across from Union Station and we’re part of a mixed crowd of tourists and city workers by the time the 11:15 boat arrives.

Water taxis look exactly as you might imagine: They’re yellow and black, just like regular taxis. Only bigger. And they’re in water. Thus the name.

“Watch your step, miss,” says the young but portly water taxi driver, taking my hand but not my money since the water taxi is free the first two weeks in June.

We sit on black cushioned seats (“OW!” says me, leaping up again, the only one wearing a skirt) in the prow of the boat.

It’s sunglasses and smiles all around. And we’re off. Cruising up the green sparkly river with the Chicago Sun-Times building dead ahead.

Adventures, whenever possible, should involve warm sun and cool breezes.
We reach the first stop too soon.

“This looks good,” says one.

“Let’s eat here,” says another.

It’s Fulton’s Fish House on the water between the Clark and LaSalle Street bridges. Window boxes filled with fuchsia geraniums everywhere. Blinding bright white tablecloths. Tan umbrellas.

We’re seated Right Away at the perfect outdoor table.

Adventures, whenever possible, should involve fresh calamari.
Over lunch we toast with our passion fruit lemonades to this, the First of Many Water Taxi Adventures. We deal with unexpected side orders of broccoli. And we hear a boat story involving naked, drunken imitations of Leo “I’m the king of the world!” DiCaprio.

It feels like Saturday but it’s Tuesday.

Adventures, whenever possible, should happen on weekdays.
Sleepy and full-bellied, we walk downstairs to the taxi stop to catch our boat back to the office.

That’s when I hear: “HEATHER! What are YOU doing HERE?”

It’s my good friend and train buddy, Ms. Moo. We hug hello and make co-worker introductions all around.

Adventures, whenever possible, should involve unexpected meetings with dear friends.
I am listening to: The Killers – Read My Mind
I am reading: Neil at the Sun-Times
And I am: Looking forward to the next adventure

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I am listening to

It was 1990. I'm pulling out of the dealership parking lot with my first ever brand new car when Feelin' Alright by Joe Cocker comes on the radio.

It was a silver Mercury Tracer. It'll always be my favorite because it was first.

And I'll never forget that moment.

Sure it was a landmark event, but it was the music that really made it.

You got one? A moment made perfectly memorable by music?
I am listening to: The Killers - Ready My Mind
I am reading: Not a goddamn thing
And I am: Uninspired but awesome

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hell hath no sense

“Who is that caterwauling SHREW?” I ask Jim and Gromit snoring next to me on the couch during SNL a couple months ago.

Of course they didn’t hear me.

But their slumbering rumblings sounded way better than what was coming outta the TV, so I muted the shrew until the song mercifully ceased.

Turns out it was Carrie Underwood – dressed like White Trash Whore Exhibit A – wailing about her Cheatin’ Man.

Have you heard this song yet? It’s a lovely, heart-warming tune about one woman’s mature, intelligent and stable response to her man’s infidelities.

She keys the outside of his car. She pokes holes in his tires and leather seats. And she busts out his headlights with a baseball bat.

It’s real catchy if you’re into the Woman Scorned brand of psychotic rage.

And the chorus? Priceless.

"Maybe next time he'll think before he cheeeeeaaaaaats!"
Have we forgotten the Don Imus Ho Incident?

White people everywhere were Outraged. It went a little something like this:

“Rappers sing about violence and drugs! They sing about hos and bitches! We should be able to sing about hos and bitches, too!”

Where’s all that White Outrage over Carrie Underwood’s song?

Is it okay for her to wail about breaking the law because she’s a not-so-nappy-headed cute Southern white girl?
C’mon, Hedy. No man’s ever cheated on you?

Of course.

Well, wait. I’m assuming.

I never actually caught any of my myriad dudes en flagrant delicto.

But odds are good it happened.

Here’s my take (and girlfriends, it should be yours, too):

I am the best thing that will ever happen to this man. If he’s cheating, he’s obviously ignorant of that fact and no longer worthy of my time or attention.

And he damn sure ain’t worth the whole arrest/jail/unwelcome lesbian encounter/early parole for good behavior thing.
I am not offended by Underwood’s song so much as troubled by what it is teaching the next generation of impressionable young women.

How about having a little dignity? How about eating a half gallon of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey in one sad sitting, and then channeling all that hurt pride and damaged self-esteem into something positive like a kick-boxing class?

How about remembering that living well is the best revenge?

It also bugs me that the song just assumes this is a reasonable reaction if you find your man screwing around.

We chicks get enough crap over being hormonally impaired 25% of the time. We certainly don’t need one of our own promoting our psychotic tendencies in song.

Now I’m just waiting for Keith Urban to respond with a song titled “Maybe next time I’ll think before marrying a psychotic, insecure, controlling bitch.”

Now that's a song I’d sing along with.
I am listening to: Hedy’s Classic Country Mix
I am reading: Press releases
And I am: A good-hearted woman

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

‘Expert’ follow up

So yesterday morning was the first of two Great Big Hoo Ha events planned by the aforementioned marketing ‘expert’.

Did I mention the ‘expert’ decided at the last minute to not fly in from Denver for this event?

Did I mention we agreed to pay this ‘expert’ $4,000 to develop, launch and manage this campaign?

I got my ass outta bed at 4 a.m. to be on the 5:25 train to arrive at the Sears Tower at 6:30 to set up for the 14 registrants arriving between 7:30 and 8:00.

Got that?

Yes, 14 people. More on that later.
Up until last week, my responsibility on this whole project was limited to securing the venues in Chicago and Minneapolis, which I delegated to our Lovely Assistant.

That was it.

Last week I offered to help by sending out e-mails and make reminder phone calls to the 14 registrants.

Yes, 14 people. More on that later.
The reminders amount to a fairly simple administrative task.

We put Everything You Need to Know about the event in an e-mail: Agenda, location, parking, etc. All the way down to the bring-your-photo-ID-security-is-a-bitch-at-the-Sears-Tower level of detail.

Anything we can do to make it easy on these people to show up. It’s not a big deal, but it helps.

I send out these reminders to the contact information provided by the ‘expert’ for these 14 registrants. Yes, 14.

Six of my messages immediately bounce back. Bad addresses.

This is one of those times when What the Fuck is entirely appropriate.

I contact the ‘expert’ and her assistant to find out WTF is with the bad e-mail addresses. I am provided new data.

Again with the bounced e-mails. Again with the Bad Swears.

I give up on the e-mail and decide to make phone calls.

The first number dialed is a fax number. The next one is wrong. And so on.

Again with the bad data and even Badder Swears.
Typically after sending out reminder e-mails, we get a percentage of Thank you’s and See You Tomorrow’s. We also always, always get a fair amount of Sorry, Can’t Make Its. This is normal.

From the eight e-mails that managed (I’m assuming) to get through to the 14 registrants, I got nothing. No response whatsoever.
“Two. Three? Two,” I think to myself, setting up for the event. “Two people, tops, will show up for this.”

Then I feel guilty for being so pessimistic about this event.

Turns out two, in this case, qualifies as optimistic.

14 people registered.


17 years of marketing and never, ever an event with no attendees.

“We had no-shows,” says my boss to the ‘expert’ on speakerphone later yesterday morning. “And by ‘no-shows’ I mean, no one showed up. No. One.”

You know that scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta shoots that black dude in the face and his brains spatter all over the car?

That is what my head felt like when I heard her response:

“Heather was handling the reminders, did you check with her to make sure she did that?” replies the ‘expert’.

Throw me under the bus? Blame me for the fact that out of 14 fucking registrants NOT ONE PERSON SHOWED UP?
Later yesterday, we discovered that 95% of the registrants for both Chicago and Minneapolis were completely fabricated.

The ‘expert’ said she had 14 people registered for Chicago, all of which were bogus. She claimed to have 27 people registered for Minneapolis and 20 of them were fabricated as well.

So if this silly twat is an expert, what the fuck does that make me?

A Marketing Goddess?
I am listening to: Three Days Grace - Pain
I am reading: Bleh, nothing
And I am: A goddess

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Apologizing for the rain

I’m sorry for no blog yesterday.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Irritating, yes?

It’s because I’m an Apologizer. You know the type.

We apologize for every goddamn thing – even the stuff that isn’t our fault.

It’s what we do.
I asked Jim the IT Guy to lunch one day last fall.

After the standard where do you wanna go I dunno where do you wanna go bullshit, we looked outside and realized it was raining. Hard.

Having invited him to lunch, I felt bad for dragging him out into the cold wet city.

“I’m sorry it’s raining,” I said, as we walked through sidewalk puddles to the food court at Ogilvy train station one block away.

“Are you apologizing…for the RAIN?” he asked with no small amount of sarcasm and incredulity.
Today I am sorry for:

Not getting an anniversary card for my parents (their 41st anniversary was yesterday)
Not going to Palm Springs with my friend Nelson for Memorial weekend
Not starting my detox fast yesterday as planned
Not answering your e-mails quickly enough
Not being there for you when you needed me
First thought: It’s guilt. I apologize all the time because of a guilty conscience.

Maybe. But it’s gotta be more than that.

Perhaps I apologize because I want everyone to be so goddamn yippee-skippy joyful in my presence that if there’s something getting in the way of it, I feel…sorry.

There are some people who never, ever apologize. They see it as a sign of weakness.

Or if they do apologize, it’s one of those weak-ass “I’m sorry if you’re offended” sorries that isn’t really much of a sorry at all but a veiled, passive-aggressive You’re an Idiot accusation.
Got it: The answer is a Continuum of Sorry.

On one end, there are those of us who feel responsible for Everything.

Global warming. The price of gas. Your bad haircut.

On the other end, there are them that take responsibility for Nothing.

Ironically, these are usually the people most responsible for things like global warming, the price of gas, and your head, which looks like it was attacked by an angry and/or horny ferret.
I am listening to: R.E.M. – So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)
I am reading: Not much lately
And I am: Soaked

Friday, June 01, 2007


About two months ago, the company I work for hired an outside marketing firm to help us navigate the maze that is the Microsoft partner site – an overwhelmingly complicated web portal with literally thousands of pages on how to market and sell Microsoft’s business solutions.

We hired “experts” who could help us “maximize” our Microsoft marketing dollars.

I was perfectly okay with this.

In fact, I thought it was a fabulous idea because a) I honestly didn’t know how to make sure that Microsoft would match the money we spent on events and b) Even though I’ve been doing this for 17+ years, I’m always, always open to the opportunity to learn new things from “experts”.

Well fuck that. Hard. And with much hatred.
I’ve said it before: Marketing is not rocket science. By any stretch of the imagination.

It’s a field for people like me – with average intelligence and perhaps above average creativity. Of course, big tits and a good personality will more than compensate for those pesky intelligence/creativity requirements in a pinch.

Marketing people are NOT the folks you want leading the charge in blood-all-over-the-dashboard situations.
Unfortunately, before too long, it became apparent that even the simplest, menial tasks were challenging for these marketing “experts”:
  • Numerous typos on the snail-mail invitation delayed printing until less than three weeks before the events were to be hosted in Chicago and Minneapolis
  • A typo in the e-mail version of the invitation sent Minnesota contacts to a registration link for the Chicago event
  • Half way through the registration process, the “experts” questioned whether or not registrants were receiving confirmation e-mails automatically (even though when we met during the planning phase this concept was confirmed repeatedly)
  • Nearly 50% of the registration data gathered by the “experts” hired to make follow up calls was incomplete and/or inaccurate
  • After spending $12,000 on two events (nearly quadruple what we typically spend) there were a whopping SEVEN PEOPLE registered for each event
  • And finally, the people registered for these events were mostly from car dealerships and community churches – not the type of organizations that would ever, ever need or use my company’s services.
“Guess what?” I ask my boss, the VP of Sales & Marketing. “Bill Hybels is coming to our event. Do you know who he is?”

The founder of Willow Creek Church?” he says, with a bewildered look on his face.

“Yep,” I say. “Maybe we can get him to pray for more registrations.”

Bill Hybels is not only the founder of Willow Creek Church, he’s the inventor of the McChurch concept. He's like Oprah Winfrey for born-agains.

He’s NOT attending a breakfast seminar to learn how to use software to help manage his financials.

How do I know this? God told me.
Hedy! You've never made a mistake?

Of course. I've made some whoppers over the years.

But never, ever this many on one project. And certainly not when someone was paying me $12k for my "expertise".
The last event I hosted – sans experts, mind you – had 40 people in the room. This is an entirely respectable number given the yawn of a topic we covered.

And the event before that? More than 170 people attended. In two cities.

This is still small-time marketing for sure. Again with the tits and personality.

But I can fill a room goddammit. I can fill a fucking room.
I’ve never been a big fan of “experts.”

And I’m especially wary of the self-proclaimed ones who want you to pay them thousands of dollars for stuff you could readily do yourself.

What pisses me off most?

I honestly thought I’d learn something from these incompetent fuckwits.

Maybe I should start calling myself an expert.
I am listening to: The Eels – Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues
I am reading: Bleh, sorry, Three Cups still
And I am: Looking forward to the weekend