Monday, March 31, 2008

I heart today

Of course with Da retired now, my morning calls home will be forever changed.

I decide it’s critical to set the proper tone straight away so he understands the true nature of these important conversations:

“It’s your first day of retirement, Da. Try to do something special today, even if it’s just Mom.”
On one of the train rides home last week, I glanced behind the flip-down seats up top and saw this:

I, too, am a big fan of the crunchy-yummy goodness that is uniquely egg roll.

And while I can’t imagine proclaiming this deep and most definitely unrequited love to the world via train graffito, I understand the courage and passion behind it.

Of course the cynic in me says this is yet another way that commercialization is creeping into every aspect of our lives.

Although if that were the case, it probably would’ve said: “I heart Panda Express” or “I heart Manchu Wok” or some other fast food Asian fare.

Still, it’s got me thinking about a really good egg roll. And that's never a bad thing.
By now you’ve heard of Hillary’s Bosnian debacle.

She was caught regaling her misguided minions with stories of how her husband’s administration often sent her to parts of the world deemed too dangerous for the president.

Sure, she lied (repeatedly) about landing ‘under fire’ in Tuzla.

But on this particular topic, I actually believe her.


I’m the most powerful man on the planet. I’m married to a complete battle-axe.

I’m sending her ass to every war zone in the world in hopes she might not make it home.
I am listening to: Skyway – The Replacements
I am reading: Into the Wild by John Krakauer
And I am: Doing something special today

Friday, March 28, 2008

Da works

He never complained about work.

Forty years in the same place – Mom and Eric will confirm this – and we never heard him complain about it.

It’s remarkable enough that he went to the same place every day for 40 years. Fifty hours a week. On his feet. Lifting, building, moving.

But he never complained.

Da works. It’s what he does. It is what he’s always done. And it is simply inconceivable that he won’t be working anymore.

We’ve known today would come.

Today is his last day at the place he’s gone to every day for as long as I’ve been alive.

Forty years. Never complaining. Just working. It’s what he does.

We’ve struggled with what to say to him about retirement because it’s hard to imagine this new life he’s going to have.

That kind of freedom is hard to fathom. If the rest of us are struggling with the idea of him retiring, I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s feeling and thinking right now.

Of course your first instinct is to try and be helpful. I was going to make a list of the things I’d do if I’m Da.

But this isn’t about me or what I’d do.

It’s about him.

And it’s about goddamn time he gets a break. It’s about time he’s not doing what anyone else wants or needs him to do.

So have a ball, Da. Do everything or do nothing.

For the first time in a long time, this is your time. Enjoy it.
I am listening to: Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now
I am reading: Grisham’s The Innocent Man (it’s getting better)
And I am: Working

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why I'm here, still

Mom was born on this day in 1945.

Of course she's the reason why I'm here, but more importantly, she also is the reason why I am still here.

Any good decision in my life - any good thing, period - is because of her.

Thanks, Mom.
I am listening to: I'll Follow the Sun - The Beatles
I am reading: The Innocent Man by John Grisham (still waiting for it to get good)
And I am: Blessed

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New soul

“She woke up every day like it was the first day of her life."

That was Da, describing my maternal grandmother, Alma, during one of our long dinner table family reminisce-sessions a while back.

It’s true. It’s how Grandma lived her life.

Think about it. Wouldn’t it be great?

You mean waking up in your own piss screaming at the top of your lungs ‘cause you’re hungry?

No, silly.

To be able to shed all of the damage the world does to us on a daily basis and live as if you’ve never been hurt or disappointed or scared. To start each day with a sense of joyful wonder – and to share that incredible energy with every person you meet.

That’s what she did. She’s been gone more than 20 years, but her legacy lives in everyone she knew and loved.

She’s an inspiration. Today and every day.

And somehow I know she’s never really too far away.
I am listening to: New Soul – Yael Naim
I am reading: The Innocent Man by John Grisham
And I am: New

Monday, March 24, 2008

Murder by numbers

Five years. 4,000 Americans.

Assume two parents and at least one sibling each, plus a couple of grandparents. That’s at least 20,000 surviving family members oh so proud of their son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, sister or brother but oh so fearful they’d die alone and afraid in this ugly mess half way around the world.

Assume at least half of these patriots left behind someone special who hasn't slept much, wondering if they’d ever get another hug, another kiss, another sweet smile, another laugh together. 2,000+ hearts broken.

Assume at least a quarter of them had a child or maybe two. 1,500 kids who’ll never, ever know their brave mommy or daddy.

Assume all of them left behind at least one childhood friend or maybe a beer-drinking buddy. Another 4,000.

Unimaginable, exponential grief.

For greed and ego and stupidity.

This isn’t a war. It’s the worst kind of travesty.
I am listening to: Mad World – Sara Hickman
I am reading: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
And I am: Stranded

Friday, March 21, 2008


I'm home, but my brain is still on the beach.

So here's something to keep you kiddies occupied until its triumphant return:

I am listening to: Kenya!
I am reading: Atonement by Ian Mcewan
And I am: Flaking off

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mas felicidad!

Upon arrival it is hot and humid. The locals are extremely friendly.

And most importantly, text messaging works.

It is at this moment I decide to inject a little of the local flavor into every message home for the duration of our stay.

ME: We made it por favor buenos muchos!

JIM: Cool your phone works? Is it hot there?

ME: Mochos caliente! But ugly so far.

JIM: Que?

ME: El ride-o from el aeroport-o esta Rosie O’Donnell.

JIM: Your taxi driver is a fat lesbian?
It’s amazing how much better the tequila tastes here.

Saul, our bartender, says any time we want more shots we should shout “Mas felicidad!” which I’m pretty sure is Spanish for “I’m a drunken American whore!”

Like the Internet service here in Cancun, my posts will be unreliable and irritating for the next few days.

Hola esta bonita burrito Don Gato ai carrumba! Dos Equis! Corona! Si!
I am listening to: Soccer on the tv in the hotel lobby
I am reading: Not a goddamn thing
And I am: Crispy

Friday, March 14, 2008

Uh-oh moment

“What the HELL is this crazy broad doing?”

That was the dude walking behind me on the way from the parking lot to the 7:42 train this morning.

Every few steps I’d stop, bend over, and stare intently at my shoes.

“You’re not gonna believe this,” I tell Mom.


“I’m wearing two different colored shoes.”


“Yes. One black. One brown.”

“Well,” she says between laughs. “It’s a good excuse to go out at lunch and buy some new ones.”
You’ve had one of those days.

It’s a stain on your shirt. Or a missing button.

Or maybe two different colored socks.

The whole day you’ve got this vaguely uncomfortable feeling, because it’s all SHOES! LOOK AT MY SHOES! I AM AN IDIOT! WITH SHOES!

Fun fact: Did you know that ‘shouting at your shoes’ is a British euphemism for barfing?

I briefly entertain the thought of throwing up on my shoes so no one will notice they’re different.

Shoes, Hedy? What happened? Is this job from hell thing affecting you that much?

That would be a fabulous excuse, but no.

It was dark. I grabbed two of the same shoe from the closet and put them on.

Here’s the deal: I’m not a shopper. On the great continuum of fashion consciousness, I’ve been in a persistent vegetative state since 1979.

So if I find a pair of shoes that are remotely comfortable and look good, I usually buy them in different colors.

The worst part? This isn't the first time the wrong shoe thing has happened.

Although last time it was way worse.

One navy blue pump. One brown. Plus I was wearing a skirt.

Now THAT was a day for SHOES!
I am listening to: Paolo Nutini – New Shoes
I am reading: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
And I am: SHOES!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Putting the ass in assignation


How long before his last name becomes a fun little euphemism for idiots who pay wayyyy tooooo much for anonymous ass?
According to the Chicago Tribune, his wiener is a crime scene.

Yes. His wiener. Is a crime scene.

Tiny yellow bits of tape. Trampled manscaping. Chubby little frowny-faced cops scrambling around his ballsack shouting ‘nothing to see here, folks’.

And your intrepid reporter, newshound Hedy, straddling the scene.

“Back to you, Peter.”

I guess that’s what you call it when you pay $5500 dollars for a piece of ass.

What do you call a $5 handjob from a one-armed junkie prostitute in a bathroom stall at a bar across from the train station in Aurora?

In the case of at least one loyal HedyBlog reader: A possible family reunion.
By the way, this is the smart guy who beat me to the ass/assignation thing.

It popped into my head on Monday after seeing that strange, wonderful word in the Washington Post or the New York Times or somewhere.

If I’d published when I thought of it…anyway, here’s to you, Chat Wrecker.
Editorial note: In this section, I was going to pick on Spitzer's wife for staying with him. The brilliant, diabolical plan involved drawing an unkind comparison between Silda Spitzer and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

But it wouldn't be right because I honestly don't know what I'd do in that situation.

Wait. Yes I do.

"FIFTY-FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS? Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? Next time, get a $5 handjob from the one-armed junkie prostitute and I'LL GO SHOPPING."
What is with these high-flying Democrats who risk everything for meaningless moments of muff?

If you’re a politician and you find the need to stray, at least get a little freaky with it like that tap-dancin’-in-the-crapper Republican from Idaho or that other dude from Florida with his penchant for hot young male congressional pages.

And I don’t care how much it costs, there’s no puss on the planet worth the pain and humiliation of losing your family, your career and your reputation.

Of course I’ve never paid $5500 for an hour-long assignation, so what the hell do I know?
I am listening to: Shirley Bassey - Where Do I Begin (Away Team Mix)
I am reading: The God Delusion
And I am: So ready for sunshine and sandy toes

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

God is in the details

The young blond man sitting up top on the 5:49 train is coughing.

Coughing, coughing.

Serious up-a-lung coughing.

An older gentleman two seats away reaches into his backpack and pulls out a pack of Ricola cough drops. He smiles and leans over, passing the bright yellow bag to the gagger.

This small moment – missed by most – is when I catch a glimpse of what you might call God.

So let’s take all of the rhetoric and concern about what really happens when we die and put it up against this small, infinitely important moment.

Because to me, what we do while we’re here matters most.
I am listening to: My Chemical Romance – Dead!
I am reading: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
And I am: Detail-oriented

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The definition of irony

Your Mom is pissed at you for writing about your beliefs about God, one of which is that beliefs about God have divided friends and family since the beginning of time.
I am listening to: Winter 2008 workout mix
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Tired

Monday, March 10, 2008

God vs. the Internet

When I ask the Internet a question, it provides an answer immediately. I stopped asking God questions a long time ago because he never, ever answers.

The Internet makes it easier than ever to connect with friends and family. Beliefs about God have divided friends and family since the beginning of time.

Better still, the Internet connects people who don’t even know each other from all over the world. Sadly, the world remains divided over religion and God doesn’t seem to be doing much to help that.

If I am ever lonely, I can talk to my friends via Instant Messenger or Skype – day or night. When I’m lonely, that’s when God feels the most far away.

When I want something, the Internet helps me find it and get it. When I pray to God for something, there are absolutely no guarantees it will ever arrive, let alone on time and with free Super Saver shipping.

All you need is a browser to access the Internet. If you want to get to heaven and see God, there are a bazillion different rules you have to follow and still there are no guarantees.

Nobody ever killed anybody because the Internet told them to do it. More people have died for God than any other cause on the planet.

When something bad happens, the Internet lets the world know what can and should be done about it. When something bad happens, God is silent.

Thanks to WiFi, I have Internet access everywhere, all the time. To feel closer to God, the accepted practice is to go to a church or synagogue or mosque.

I know the Internet exists because I’ve seen it. Of course the Internet does go out occasionally, but that’s because of those godless fuckers at the cable company. But at least it’s here and works most of the time.

The jury’s still out on God.
I am listening to: The Corrs – Borrowed Heaven
I am reading: Neil at the Sun-Times
And I am: Fine

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Any given Sunday

“Should we put a picture in the paper for our 10 year anniversary?” I ask, glancing over the Keepsakes section of the Sunday Beacon News this morning.

“I don’t know,” says Jim. “But we really need to figure out where we wanna go for that.”

“I think we should go . . . oh, I dunno. . .where do you wanna go?"

“I think we should go to the Vatican," he says. "Because it’s a fucking miracle we’ve made it this long.”
I am listening to: Matchbox Twenty – How Far We’ve Come
I am reading: Post Secret
And I am: Giggly

Saturday, March 08, 2008

It's the economy, stupid

It's the economy, stupid.

It is without question the best, brightest statement that came out of the Clinton family's first presidential bid. It got him elected. Twice.

James Carville sure is creepy, ain't he? Like an aging Gremlin. But you gotta admit the guy is brilliant.

So here we are again. In the economic crapper with a Clinton on the campaign trail.

She should win in a walk. Seriously. If she wasn't such an unlikeable shrew, she could do it.

And I really, really hate to say this, but if it meant our economy would get back on track, I'd be okay with another Clinton in the White House.

Now I'm gonna go take a shower because I feel dirty having said that.
I am listening to: The voices in my head
I am reading: Nothing important
And I am: Nuts, I know

Friday, March 07, 2008

The watching of the weight

My whole office – except for the skinny people, damn them straight to hell – is on a popular weight-watching program.

Meetings once a week. Over-priced, portion-controlled snacks. Clapping.

I went for the first time yesterday.

Perhaps it was the weigh-in. Or the group therapy atmosphere.

But I felt like sobbing uncontrollably from the moment I stepped in the room.

Then it began.

“Tell me one thing you did over the past week that would make Fat Watchers proud of you,” says a mousy little group leader.

I involuntarily burst out laughing. The chicks sitting closest stare angrily as if I’ve taken the last doughnut on the tray.

What I want to say: “Hi, my name is Heather. I only ate half a bag of crunchy Cheetos for dinner last night.”

What I say: Nothing, whilst making every attempt to wipe the silly-ass, Cheeto-eating grin from my face.
This program is similar to AA, so a co-worker Who Shall Remain Nameless happens to be the only man at the meeting among 30 or so women. Back at the office, I remind him of this fact.

“Don’t you love the odds?” I say. “Like fish in a barrel.”

“No WAY,” he says, shaking his head vehemently.

"Are you kidding? It’s a target-rich environment: You're the only guy in a room full of women with low self-esteem and self control issues. It just doesn’t get any better than that."
There are two eating options.

With the first, you eat whatever the hell you want but you calculate the point value before putting anything in your mouth. On the other plan you eat anything you want from a certain Approved Menu consisting of mostly strange vegetables starting with the letter ‘k’.

I am not a math person but the idea of eating what I want on the points program is appealing.

So I tune out mouse-woman, and crack open the starter kit to look up the points for pizza, steak, sushi, whiskey and potato chips.

Let’s just say that what I found does not bode well for the points system.
“I don’t think this is going to work,” I tell Jim at dinner. “Can’t I just go back on Vicodin?”

I remind him how, a few years ago, in spite of being laid up for several months with a torn ACL quickly followed by a broken knee, I lost a ton of weight because of the fabulous drugs my doctors gave me.

“Why don’t you just try crystal meth if you want to use drugs to lose weight?” he says helpfully. “Wait. Heroin’s better. Meth would ruin your teeth.”

“That’s the plan then. Heroin. But only for a month. Two, tops.”
We’re not 10 minutes into the meeting when it happens. The Monopolizer takes over.

On the extremely rare occasions I’ve found myself in small group meeting situations (ill-fated book clubs, plus a brief stint with a Jungian dream interpretation group – now THAT was trippy), there is always one person who monopolizes the group.

The Monopolizer.

She’s got a bazillion questions that only apply to her unique situation. She interrupts the presentation. She tells long, pointless stories about her favorite topic: Herself.

And any value you hoped to derive from attending is lost because half the meeting is taken up by her yapping while you spend the other half devising creatively abusive ways of eliminating her from the group.


Just like that.

Turns out our fierce little fat-fighting group has not one, but two Monopolizers. Fabulous.

I’ve got an hour for lunch. I’m supposed to be listening to some skinny bitch inspire me to stop eating crap food, instead it's two attention-starved twats duking it out for Queen of the Meeting.

The stress of all this makes me want to run straight down to the Pot Belly sammich place in the lobby for 50 whopping, wonderful points of toasted ham and cheese on crusty bread followed by an entire bag of their famous mini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
“Can I try one of those 1-point snacks you have?” I ask a co-worker, having foregone the Potbelly fantasy.

“Banana or lemon?” she asks.

I go with banana and she hands over a tiny, plastic-wrapped piece of cake that I could easily pop into my mouth whole.

It’s gone in seconds and I’m already contemplating ways to lure her out of her office so I can sneak in and grab five more of these little banana fluff cakes.
The thing is, the program makes sense.

But I don’t need to pay them $12 a week to learn that Cheetos are not a major food group while listening to lonely women yap.

I could just break my knee again. It would be considerably less painful.
I am listening to: Queen – Fat Bottomed Girls
I am reading: Series 3 study materials
And I am: Disgusted with myself

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Your morning walk from the train station is uneventful.

You push your way through the revolving doors. You swipe the ID. The light turns green and you hit the turnstile.

The Masters of the Universe gather in this, the most venerable of buildings.

Of course today is no different so you’re the only woman in an elevator jammed with men. The traders bound out at four like always. A few more exit at six.

You’re all that’s left in the lift save a white-haired gentleman leaning on a shiny wooden cane.

“FINALLY!” he says with a grin. “I never thought I’d get you alone.”

“I was just thinking the same thing,” you say, playing along.

The next stop is yours. The doors open. You turn to smile before stepping off.

“I hope it was good for you,” he says.

“Outstanding, thanks.”
I am listening to: Louis Armstrong – A Kiss to Build a Dream On
I am reading: Not much
And I am: Delighted

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The learning turd

Hed. Just tell me his name.”

That’s my brother Eric calling from Michigan. Mom told him about my Turd of a boss.

“And where do you work again?”

If you have (or are) a sister or daughter, you understand the No One Fucks with My Girl phenomenon. And it’s obvious my only brother is only half serious so it’s cool and scary and funny all at once.

“The thing is,” I say, avoiding his questions. “There’s a lesson in this. I just have to figure out what it is.”

“Right,” says Eric. “Do that. In the mean time, what’s this guy’s name again?”
“Picture this, Hedy,” says Mom yesterday morning. “Your father and your brother coming to Chicago, to your office.”

“Turd, I’d like you to meet my family,” I say, making the fantasy my own.

“Yes. Da on one side, puts his arm around the little Turd. Eric on the other side, pats him on the head…” she continues.

“And then they proceed to beat the living shit out of him.”

We laugh, knowing in some crazy parallel universe that is exactly what would happen.
“There’s a lesson in this,” I tell Mom later. “You know I have anger issues. I snap occasionally. Maybe the lesson here is that by dealing with someone who has off-the-charts anger issues I can see a small part of myself in him and get better.”

“Maybe,” Mom says, careful to avoid saying anything that might, well, make me angry.
“You weren’t here when he got beat up, were you?” asks the office manager.

“No,” I say. “Someone beat him up? Here, in the office?

“Yes,” she says. “The guy was a floor trader and an ex Navy Seal. Arms like this. It was awful. But he had it coming.”

I let out a nervous laugh thinking about the familial fantasy from earlier in the day.

“But the really sad part is, he’s been here 20 years and you couldn’t find one person in this entire building who would say a kind word about him.”
The guy obviously has issues. Serious anti-social issues.

On my bad days, I take it personally. Whine to friends and family. Eat Fudge Stripes. Lotsa Fudge Stripes.

On my good days I let his insanity roll off like so much acid rain.

But through all of it, I’ve been a bit of a turd myself.

Describing him here. Judging him. Laughing at him.

Rather than trying to understand him, I’ve vilified him. Rather than being compassionate, I’ve been cruel.

Which makes me no better than him.

So I think that’s the lesson. Yep. I think that’s it.

What if it isn’t, Hed?

Then I’m really looking forward to the next time my family comes to visit.
I am listening to: New Soul – Yael Naim
I am reading: Neil in the Sun-Times
And I am: Getting there

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The turdliness continues

“Did you talk to Ryan?” asks the Turd yesterday afternoon, passing my office on his way out the door. “His 30 days are up.”

Ryan is the admin guy we hired last month after the Great Turd Explosion of 2008. We agreed that after 30 days we’d decide if he was working out.

“I thought you and I were going to talk about it,” I say.

He shakes his head in frustration.

“No, you were supposed to speak with him first.”

I figure there’s really nothing to lose here and I’m not about to be bested in the management department by the likes of this insufferable douchebag, who I wouldn’t trust running a pay-per-squat shithouse at the county fair.

“Since he started we’ve been speaking on a weekly basis, often daily, and based on his progress and feedback, I’d say he was a very good hire.”

Now at this point, if you are a rational, sane person, you’d probably say something like “I’m glad to hear he’s working out.”


The Turd frowns, and yells:

“Well he BETTER BE, or HE’S OUT!”

Then he stormed off.

It was a good thing, too, because I burst out laughing.

Who says shit like that?
I am listening to: Mendelssohn's Spring Song
I am reading: This article from the New York Times
And I am: Giggly

Monday, March 03, 2008

Flower house

"Welcome to the Garfield Park Conservatory," says the smiling woman sitting at the desk in the lobby. "Could I have your zip code please?"

And that's all she wants.

You're about to enter a miracle. A tropic isle in the center of cold, gray Chicago.

And there's NO ADMISSION.
You open the door and Humidity hugs you like an old friend. Your glasses fog up. You breathe deeply. Again and again.

"You okay back there?" says your husband, turning to smile at you.

"Just soaking it up," you say.

Your mother-in-law leans over to sniff a gardenia. You do the same. So does the older couple walking behind you.

It smells like happiness.

But Jim is right: "Just the smell of warm wet dirt would be enough."
It's been the Flower House to Jim's Mom ever since she was a little girl, walking there with her father on weekends.

Going on a cold winter day became a tradition for us over 10 years ago.

Of course this year's trip was especially necessary what with one of the longest, coldest, snowiest and blowiest Chicago winters in recent memory.

But five seconds after stepping into the Palm House - all the ugliness is forgotten - as your lungs wake up to fresh, moist air and your sad, dry skin soaks up the humidity like that sad, dried up sponge that's been sitting on the corner of your utility sink since you moved into the house four years ago.
There's a small bit of sadness at leaving the heat of the Palm House for the cooler, dryer Show House, but the flowers, ahhh the flowers.

"OHHHH, this is the BEST room!"

That was a smiling six-year-old boy, yelling what the rest of us were thinking as we stepped into the Fern Room.

He's right. It is the best. But it's all good here at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
I am listening to: NBC news
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Refreshed

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Obama '08

We're running errands Saturday afternoon.

"See that?" I say, pointing to an Obama '08 bumper sticker on the BMW next to us. "I wanna get one."

"Oh yeah?" says Jim. "Where exactly do you think you're gonna put it?"

"In your butt."
I am listening to: Gromit sighing next to me
I am reading: Steinberg in the Sun-Times
And I am: Obama-riffic