Monday, December 31, 2007

About Bhutto

Say what you will about Benazir Bhutto, she was a true patriot.

She believed in bringing democracy to the people of Pakistan. And she was willing to risk her life to do it.

It can be a challenge keeping up on world events, what with blogging about poop and handjobs all the time. So you shouldn’t be surprised to hear I’m a typical American and didn’t know much about Bhutto until her ballyhooed return to Pakistan in October.

But I’ve had nothing but Bhutto on the brain since terrorists finally succeeded in killing her last week.


Not because it was all that surprising – the terrorist whack-nuts said they’d kill her if she returned to Pakistan and they did. Maybe it’s sad to say, but we should never, ever be surprised by terrorists doing what they say they’re gonna do.

Here’s why I’ve got Bhutto on the brain: The world needs more patriots. We need more people willing to die for what’s really important to them.

Look at our current candidates on the cusp of the big caucus. A pathetic paucity of patriotism.

Okay, there’s McCain – the truest of true patriots among them.

But can you honestly see someone like Hillary Clinton dying for democracy? Or any cause, for that matter? Of course there are plenty of people who’d gladly kill her for way less, but that’s not important right now.

Mitt? Edwards? Barack? Giuliani? Thompson?

Nope. Softies, the lot of ‘em.

Maybe Ron Paul. But only because he’s a half-crazy Libertarian already. It wouldn’t take much to tip him over the patriotic edge.

What about Huckabee, Hedy? He's leading the polls in Iowa.

Mike Huckabee was on Meet the Press yesterday and I liked him. A lot. Way more than I expected. While I disagree with him on practically all the big issues, he seemed to have more integrity than the others and he was very honest and logical about his views. Plus, he was a pretty successful governor in Arkansas. Sadly, the only thing Huckabee's gonna die for is cuddly-wuddly Christ, but I respect him for his willingness to die for something in this silly day and age.

So where are all the true patriots? Am I missing someone? Who's a true American patriot that should be running for president right now?

And what would you be willing to die for? Anything?
I am listening to: Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne
I am reading: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
And I am: Holding out for a hero

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The ugly three-way

"Heading into the Iowa caucus, it's a three-way race with Hillary Clinton fighting to . . ."

That was one of the talking heads on Channel 7 news a few minutes ago.

I didn't hear the rest of the sentence.

With all the inevitable ugliness in the months ahead, I'd like to propose a new rule: Never, ever use 'three-way' and Hillary Clinton in the same sentence.

Thank you.
I am listening to: Channel 7 weather
I am reading: Wired magazine
And I am: Warm

Friday, December 28, 2007

Magical pajamas

"They looked witchy and I thought of you," says Jim as I unwrap my new Christmas pajamas Tuesday morning.

"Magical. I prefer magical. But I know what you meant."
I am listening to: Traffic on Jackson
I am reading: Neil Steinberg - Sun-Times
And I am: Witchy

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feeling Robert Frosty

"Plane delayed to 1:40"

That was Jim, texting at 10:30 yesterday morning.

He'd taken The Nephew to Midway for his annual/obligatory Christmas in Minnesota with the woman who carried him around for nine months and then dropped him like a brilliant little blue-eyed potato to be raised by his grandmother, great grandmother, and anyone else willing to try. Anyway.

"Taking Grom for walkies," I reply, knowing that there's no way the Indomitable Dog could stand waiting 'til the afternoon for his Sunday constitutional by the river.

I check the temperature outside. 23 degrees. The wind is fierce and we've had a few snow squalls through the morning, but I know it's always better by the river.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I'm right. It's perfect. Cold. Quiet. Snowy. Blowy. And not a soul in sight.

We park in the park and Grom is off - sniff, pee, sniff, pee, smile, sniff, pee, sniff.

I'm feeling all Robert Frosty and wondering at the small miracle of the snow-covered path when I realize it's snowing. Hard.

It's a blizzard. By the river.

And that's the reason no one else is on the trail.

My face starts to sting. I brush away the flakes from my eyes and look down to see my jeans caked with white.

Suddenly, Gromit does something he's never done in the seven year history of Walkies: He jumps up, puts his paws on my chest and grabs the leash right out of my hand.

Then he turns around and starts walking back to the car as if to say "Screw this, we're going home."

Wishing you a warm and dry Christmas. And a four-legged friend who reminds you when it's time to come in from the cold.

I am listening to: Joni Mitchell - River
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: The brain less traveled

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bright blessings to you this holiday

You walk
out of the office
it’s a little colder
than you thought

You think
about the things
that didn’t get done
and the things
that have to get done

And then

You look up at the stars

And you remember

It’s not about meetings,
faxes or quotas
e-mail, voice mail
or proposals

It’s about your family,
good friends

And finding a moment of peace
under a starlit sky
I am listening to: The Weepies - All That I Want
I am reading: Steinberg - Sun-Times
And I am: Peaceful

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas, Spike

So I’m prepping for some present wrapping last night and flipping through the channels – skating past all the science and sports and sex stuff in search of something Christmasy, when I see this:

Hmmm. Amateurs: Handjobs 19

I get the amateur thing. There’s something about amateurs. You’d like to think they’re working extra hard in hopes of going pro – like with minor league baseball.

But ‘Handjobs 19’?

First thought: Wonder what episodes 1- 18 are like.

Is it a classic miniseries like Roots or Rich Man, Poor Man? I wonder if there’s a boxed set.

Must check Amazon.
Next: Given the, ahem, mechanics of this maneuver, wouldn’t two or three shows (including a pilot) pretty much do it?

It’s not as if it's tricky, people.

Perhaps it’s all about the location that makes each episode better than the next. Each week a different spot. And all the anticipation is about where they'll be next.

Week 20: The Laundromat.

“Be sure to tune in next week for Bridget Brentwood in ‘Loads O’ Glory’.
Maybe it’s a reality show like Survivor, only it’s handjobs.

Each episode, one lovely amateur gets eliminated.

It’s a beat the cock – oops – clock kinda thing.

Although they’re also judged on enthusiasm, technique, and costumes. Like Dancing with the Stars with more Kleenex and less Marie Osmond.
FYI: Bridget Brentwood is my porn name. Have you heard of this?

Take the name of your first pet and combine it with the street you grew up on and voila, you’re a porn star.

Jim’s porn name is Candy Darling. If his software career ever heads south, he’s got what appears to be a brilliant future in transvestite sex flicks.
Question: How many before you get to go pro in the field of handjobs?

50 sounds about right to me.
Confession: You might’ve noticed I’m at a relatively low point in my career right now. It’s no biggie, I’m working on it, really.

But today I feel worlds better knowing there’s somebody out there whose life's work is amateur handjob movies.

Makes me feel like a professional.
I am listening to: Sha-Na-Na – Born to Hand Jive
I am reading: Marketing Plan 2008
And I am: Goin’ pro

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Deathmas

“Speaking of death,” I say to Mom this morning. “Jim knows, but I’m telling you too: I want to be cremated with no viewing.”

“Ditto,” she says.

“Great. When we’re dead we’ll finally agree on something.”
It’s been a few funeral-filled months here for family and close friends.

So the typically benign morbid underbelly to the season seems a little more – I don’t know – painful and poignant this year.

What is it about Christmas that makes us think of death?
The week leading up to Christmas is right about the time I start listening to Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.

This excellent CD is an irreverent respite from all the Silent Nights and Joy to the Worlds and O Holy Mary Jesus Hoo-Ha Blahs.

My all-time favorite is Merry F*cking Christmas, sung by Mr. Garrison.

You’re in a mad scramble for last minute gifts, sweating your ass off in a store and swearing at the sonofabitch who snatched the last Scooby Doo Chia Pet from the shelf.

Get in your car. Take a deep breath. And sing Merry F*cking Christmas at the top of your lungs.

Trust me. It helps.
Then there’s this pretty, melancholy tune from the South Park CD that’s been playing over and over in my head:

Dead, dead, dead
Someday you’ll be dead
Dead, dead, dead
Someday we’ll all be dead

The minute we’re born we start dying
We die a little more every day
Young or old, rich or poor
There’s nothing we can do to stop it
So look long at that Christmas tree
It may be the last one that you see
Decorate your house in green and red
‘Cause someday you’ll be dead

Dead, dead, dead
Someday you’ll be dead
Dead, dead, dead
Someday we’ll all be dead
The holidays are high pressure. It’s forced festivity and gift giving.

Add to it the crazy concept that this Could Be the Last One for anyone of us and shit, it’s no small wonder the suicide rate is so high this time of year.

I don't know, to me the whole Christmas/death thing is kinda comforty. I appreciate everyone a little more. And it makes all the blessings shine just a little bit brighter.

Of course if this is my last Christmas, I also can look forward finally agreeing with Mom.
I am listening to: Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics
I am reading: Niagaran Pebbles
And I am: Living

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Festive holiday greetings from the W____’s

Warning: If you’re guilty of sending out those trendy and tiresome holiday letters, then you probably shouldn’t read HedyBlog today.

Just once. Just once I’d like a letter from some far-off fuckwit that isn’t overflowing with frothy bits of family fluff.

Here’s a little tip for you few who get the itch to share Nothing But Good News with the rest of us: Nobody cares if you bought a new house or remodeled your old house. Nobody cares that you went on five (five!) vacations this year. And trust me, nobody cares that your big-brained brat of a son/daughter/Schnauzer won [insert award of your choice].

They're bad enough any time, but these “LOOKEE how HAPPY we ARE” letters seem particularly egregious this unbelievably sad year when so many families have lost their homes in the sub-prime suckfest and so many soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq.

If you’re happy and doing well, God bless ya. But think before boasting on your blessings lest we think you’re a bullshitter or braggart. Or both.
Greetings friends, family members, ex-co-workers and your respective children and/or pets, most whom we really don’t know or care too much about:

As I write this festive Christmas missive, it is so good to be sitting on the couch and not, as they say, on the pot. Since last Sunday, I’ve been stricken with a particularly grievous flu/virus thing. Ever stalwart Jim has been extremely supportive during this trying time – keeping me in a steady supply of shit-paper and Alka Seltzer for the duration.

While we’re on pot-related issues: I wouldn’t want to jinx us since 2007 isn’t quite over, but I am pleased to report that we’ve made it through yet another year with neither of us shitting our pants. That’s nary a shart in 2007, which makes three years running. Keep us in your prayers for 2008.

More health news: My back only went out once this year after an ill-fated mattress flipping incident. Unfortunately both of us continue to fight other old-people problems like bad knees, failing eyesight, and disconcerting hair growth in unexpected places.

Speaking of Jim, we’re still married. He’s finally faced the reality that he is stuck with an irresponsible, spendthrift of a wife. Which is great, because now we only fight about what a reckless speed freak driver he is. Thankfully this only happens when we’re going anywhere in the car together.

“It’s a miracle how I make it to work every day without you to guide me, dear wife,” says Jim.

On the topic of reckless driving, I only crashed the lawn mower three times the whole summer – once into a tree and twice into the fence – another record. The bad news: I blew out the latch on the back gate by trying to slam through it with the tractor. Silly me, I thought it was unlocked. Thankfully, Jim was able to fix it right up with a bit of bungee so it doesn’t bang closed in the wind anymore. It’s a veritable aural and visual treat for our neighbors, as you can imagine.

Here’s some good news for all you pet lovers: Gromit is alive and well in spite of our best efforts at killing him with little bits of pizza crust, crackers and the occasional scrambled egg sammich. We’ve tried to stop giving him people food but it’s really the only way to keep him from drooling all over our pants, the couch and sometimes our shoulders if we’re dining (ah, the romance!) in front of the television.

Did I mention Gromit is a genius? During their visit last summer, Mom and Da discovered our indomitable dog knows how to spell Frisbee. He is currently enrolled in the gifted program at the local canine Montessori and spends his down time licking his ass and penning his memoirs.

Speaking of visitors, we were blessed with lots of them last summer. If you are invited back for summer '08, then we thoroughly and sincerely enjoyed having you here. If not, well, I hear Milwaukee can be charming in the summer time.

On the employment front, Jim is still working for ______, a software firm that has been trying to kill his favorite product for two years now. With any amount of luck, they’ll succeed at it in 2008 and he will move on to IBM or Oracle or some other IT behemoth to retire anonymously happy.

Of course I was unceremoniously fired in September. After much thought and more sobbing, I have taken complete responsibility for what happened. Lesson: Be a leader. Don’t worry about stepping on anyone’s toes. Don’t give people what they say they want, give them what you know they need. Oh, and try not to work for a bunch of spineless, lying fuckwads if you can help it.

On the home front, we had the septic tank emptied. Two more bushes died in the front yard. The fence isn't too badly dented. The deck needs to be refinished but now it’s covered in six inches of snow so Gromit the Genius Dog is peeing and pooping all over it. We are so proud.

Best wishes for a 2008 filled with Only Good Things.
I am listening to: The idiot Bears getting spanked again
I am reading: Rather Than Working
And I am: Grateful

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The perfect gift

"We got you that frying pan on your list," I say to Mom this morning.

"Really? The ten inch?"


"Oh, good. I've never had a ten inch. Frying pan. FRYING PAN!"
I am listening to: Nothing
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Going to the doctor finally

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I've had a bad, bad stomach ache since Sunday. Plus a fever. Chills. And everything aches.

"I know it's bad when you're not eating anything," says Jim.

I know it's bad when I'm not writing anything.

Take care and I hope to return soon.
I am listening to: Flu
I am reading: Flu
And I am: Flu

Friday, December 07, 2007

The hierarchy of idiots

“Boys. I shoveled the sidewalk and driveway and they’re covered again.”

That was my friend Jeff on IM late yesterday afternoon. His son had a play date – and the two boisterous boys undid all of his hard work clearing snow.

“Girls. You gotta love ‘em.” I replied.

“Until they’re fourteen. Then it’s all drama.”

“Right. A million dollars and I’d never be 14 again. No way,” I said.

Jeff disagrees: He’d go back if only to do things differently.

“Well, in that case sure I’d go,” I say. “And try to be less of an idiot.”

“I’d try to be more of an idiot. Relax more. Not worry about being embarrassed so much.”
Apparently there are two types of people. All of us recovering idiots. And folks like Jeff who somehow managed to navigate the prime idiot years successfully.

Although I’m okay being in the recovering category.

I would much rather regret a Major Screw Up (or in my case, myriad Major Screw Ups) than be left wishing I had taken more chances.

Plus, the thing about being an idiot early on is, you never get the itch to let it all out later on. You get it outta your system.

So I suppose there's actually a hierarchy of idiots: The recovering idiots, the still-in-denial idiots, the late bloomer idiots, and the idiot wanna-bes.

Although anyone who regrets not being an idiot qualifies as an honorary idiot on some level, eh?
I am listening to: Brandi Carlile – The Story
I am reading: Neil at the Sun-Times
And I am: Taking it one day at a time

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A non-negotiable clarification

“So you think that EVERYTHING should be negotiable in a marriage?” asks Mom this morning.


“You’re nuts.”
Perhaps a clarification is in order.

I’m not talking about fuck-nut husbands with teensy wieners beating up their wives. Or shrew-bitch wives who mentally (and often physically) beat up on their husbands for having teensy wieners or whatever.

I’m talking about healthy marriages between two relatively self-aware people with good communication and just the right amount of honesty.

Here’s the problem: Way too many women and more than a few men think the negotiating ENDS once you get married.

“He’s locked in now, I’m in charge.”
“She’s mine now, I can do what I want.”

That woman from the Monday morning train was one of them. And I suspect the Dilf’s wife is another (if she really is using sex as a bargaining tool, we’ll never know for sure.)

What do you call it when one person holds all the power? When one person spews non-negotiable mandates?

Certainly not a marriage. Dictatorship is more like it.
I can only write what I know.

I know healthy marriages that have made it through some seriously Godawful cock-ups (mine included). And I know hellish, miserable marriages that should’ve ended years ago.

I’ll say it again: For the people who want to STAY in a relatively healthy marriage, everything is negotiable.

When one misguided spouse starts laying down mandates and non-negotiables, the other spouse feels trapped and unhappy, like a second class citizen in her own country.
Ah, fuck it, it’s Christmas. So let’s get Biblical for a bit here.

The Old Testament was all about rules – you must follow these Ten Commandments and you’ll get to heaven. Thou shalt not this and thou shalt not that. It was happy days back then, I tell ya.

Then Jesus came along. He had more faith in people. And he understood that people don’t want to be ruled or oppressed. They want to be loved. Jesus understood this better than anyone. He knew there’s really only one commandment you need and all the other commandments will happen automatically: Love one another.

Love one another.

If you love one another unconditionally there’s no need for non-negotiables. All the other rules are unnecessary and you do what you have to, to make and keep things right -- not because you need to be in charge, not out of fear of losing something, and certainly not because of some mythical reward.

Because it’s simply the right thing to do.

Better? Not nuts now? Lemme know, Mom.
I am listening to: Sara Hickman – Mad World
I am reading: A Guide to NFA Compliance Rule 2-29
And I am: Trying to get it right

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The non-negotiable marriage

It’s near the end of my typical up-top train ride into the city yesterday morning, when suddenly, there’s this from below:

“SOME things in MARRIAGE are just NOT negotiable!”

Looking down, I see a way-too-angry-for-the-morning woman glaring back and forth between what, from my vantage point, I could only assume were two of her shocked into silence cohorts across the aisle.

“NOT NEGOTIABLE I told him,” she says in her outdoor voice. “Taking CARE of my SELF is NOT NEGOTIABLE.”

This was followed by another of her patented I-DARE-YOU-TO-DISAGREE-WITH-ME stares towards her understandably quiet comrades.
“She’ll be divorced in less than five years,” I thought, exiting the train.

Because everything in marriage is negotiable. Everything.

If you want it to last, that is.
Taking care of herself?

Sadly, it’s a total guess what she meant by that.

How do we wives take care of ourselves? Exercise. Manicures. Massages. Quiet time in a bubbly tub with a good book. The occasional weepy movie/pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Right?

And how could any of these things possibly be a Major Issue in a marriage?
“Hedy, that woman was right. Some things are not negotiable in a marriage.”

Oh yeah? Like what?

C’mon, bring it.
Okay, never mind. Lemme guess.

The Number One All-Time Non-Negotiable in Marriage: Screwing Around.

If your spouse is screwing around on a regular basis, he/she has already left.

So what’s to negotiate?
IM Conversation #1:

H: True or false: Some things in marriage are not negotiable.

David (married): True.

H: Really? Like what?

David: Clean up this blood.

H: Let's subtract the idea that I've married a serial killer or other criminal type. I think once you're married EVERYTHING has to be negotiable if you want to stay that way. You don't stay married by being a demanding bitch from hell.

David: True.
But Hedy! What if my spouse screwed around once and felt really really really bad about it and said it would never happen again?

Totally negotiable.
IM Conversation #2:

H: True or false: Some things in marriage are not negotiable.

JimmyC (single): True.

H: Really? Like what?

JimmyC: What if my wife wanted to stick a dildo in my ass?? NEVER!!!

H: Well let’s hope she would know that about you ahead of time and marry you anyway. ☺
WHOA! So you’re saying Jim gets a free pass if he screws around once?

Not really. Karma will certainly handle the majority of his punishment should he choose to stray.

That said, am I gonna throw away 10 years of marriage because Jim got drunk and fooled around with Pamela Anderson and then was even more foolish enough to tell me about it?

Of course not.
IM Conversation #3:

Hedy: True or false: Some things in marriage are not negotiable.

Mr. O. (divorced): True!

Hedy: Really? Like what?

Mr. O.: Violence, spouse abuse.

Hedy: Let's assume you know your spouse as well as you possibly could.

Mr. O.: Shall we also assume that sunbeams shoot out of our asses?

Hedy: I say, in a relatively healthy marriage, all things are negotiable.

Mr. O.: That statement is only true for the person who wants to stay married the most.
So there you have it.

If you want to stay married, you gotta negotiate.

And I say the big heavy non-negotiable stuff needs to be worked out in advance of getting married.

For example, when Jim and I got married, we agreed to discuss any Major Purchases ($400 or more) beforehand. We figured it out in advance so there was no need to make it negotiable or non-negotiable. It’s just one of our rules.

This woman’s husband, bless his sorry soul, probably knew she was high maintenance and that ‘caring for herself’ was a big thing for her, whatever the fuck that means.

He’s giving her a hard time about it – it could only be because she’s spending too much time or money on said care. Right?

If he’s giving her a hard time about spending too much time, it’s because he wants her to spend more time with him. This is not a bad thing in a marriage.

If he’s giving her a hard time about spending too much money, well, this is what husbands do. Unless he’s out of work and then she should be willing to sacrifice a bit of her ‘care’ items until things are back on track financially.

So what’s non-negotiable in your relationship?
I am listening to: The Weepies – All That I Want
I am reading: Neil at the Sun-Times
And I am: Negotiable

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Craving space

"Can I ask you something?" asks my friend Spike via IM last week. "I don't want to offend you, but if you want to be a writer full time, how come sometimes you don't have anything to write about on the blog?"

"It has nothing to do with being a writer," I say. "If I don't get to spend any time alone, I don't get to think. And if I don't get to think, I've got nothing to write."

It's beyond frustrating - I'm on the train, Mac all warm and ready in my lap and . . .nothing.

Nothing to say. Two days in a row.

Good news: Jim's in Pittsburgh tonight so HedyBlog will return tomorrow.
I am listening to: The Weepies - All That I Want
I am reading: West of Kabul, East of New York
And I am: Craving space