Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"I own the ocean, bitches!!"

The usually mundane train ride home from work was anything but last night. Boop called me up from her business trip in Miami to inform me that she was....gulp....about to conquer her fear of the ocean. You see, she and I share the same hatred of all things swimming that aren't dolphins or manatees. So when I heard this, my jaw hit the floor. I have my irrational fears and I intend to keep them. She, apparantly, was feeling braver than I at that moment. The three glasses of liquid courage didn't hurt either.

Boop kicked her flip flops off in the sand and began to walk in. I could hear the tide rushing in the background and I must admit I was feeling nervous for her. It was dark, and you never know what is lurking just beneath the surface. She waded in up to her knees and screamed at the top of her lungs "I own the ocean, bitches!!!" Would you expect her to boast of her achievement in any other way?? I told her, what the hell, go up to your waist! SHE DID!!!! All the while screaming about doing it and owning it. Bitches. That was a bit much for her, though, and she dared not go any further.

When she got to shore (still screaming) she couldn't find her flip flops. It seemed the tide took them under. But being the ocean pro she now is, she went looking for them and, of course, found them. I would have let them become shark bait, but she was afraid no longer. Okay, perhaps that's a bit of an embellishment. Shortly thereafter, she said she may never go in the ocean again but at least she can say she did it once. Way to go Boop!

Friday, March 27, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayFourteen

So are you sad it’s almost done? Are you going to miss all of your fellow participants? Well, your assignment is to give us a farewell speech. I’m continually amazed that anyone decided to play along with the BufBloPoFo. I say you take it easy tomorrow for your last day and just post a quick “so long” to your fellow participants.

It occurs to me as I re-read my work of the last two weeks, that I was very open and confessional in my approach to BufBloPoFo. Notwithstanding the one attempt at humor I offerred where I lambasted my husband's housework contributions, I notice a distinctly dark and documentarian style to my posts. Well, I must admit I can be kind of dark as it is, but I have also been going through a sort of third-life crisis for the last nine months, and it is reflected in what I have put out there. I wear my heart on my sleeve and have often been accused of giving up too much, but I am not sure I know how to be any other way. Jen and I grew up in a house of secrets and I apparently have run so far from that, I am an open book entirely.

I am not a creative writer. I find it hard to concoct names, faces, places and situations out of the recesses of my imagination. When I read a work of amazing intelligence and vision, like this novel by Suri Hustvedt, which I just finished, I am alternately stunned and more than a little jealous:


I just don't have it in me. But what I can do, what I do not shrink from, is openly share my own experiences: my joys, sorrows and fears. My hope is that this sharing goes both ways. Maybe I amuse or talk about something that we all go through, but don't often discuss openly. But I also confess to selfish motives. I have, most of the time anyway, no answers, just questions. My wish is that by sharing them, I will receive enlightenment, and hopefully take another baby step in figuring out myself and this world in which we live.

I am going offline for the next week or so, except for the possibility of a return to a "My End or Yours?" with Jen in the coming days. I appreciate those of you who hung in there with me, and read some, if not all of my musings for the last fortnight. I want to thank Mike Garvey for coming up with a novel exercise like BufBloPoFo that forced me to stretch myself even as I was already a bit overextended. I want to thank my fellow participating bloggers who entertained me, and often intimidated me with their own brilliance.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayThirteen

Link to whatever you posted exactly one year ago (or whatever’s closest), and give your readers an update on that topic. If you haven’t been writing for a year, give us a list of three or four things that are going on in your life right now that you’ll want to update one year from now.

We're in the home stretch folks, lucky number 13. Just another day of reading my various navel contemplations and then we'll both go on a much needed break.

Jen and I only got this blog up and running in January, so I have no year-old posts upon which to reflect. However, my current life is a major state of flux and tumult, so I can easily think of four things that even I would like to know the status of in another 365 days:

1. My career - after I leave the ADA in early May, what next? I have just accepted my first assignment as a volunteer writer for StreetWise, but will I also be writing for cash? Or will I be standing next to one of the StreetWise vendors with a tin cup in my hand, rueing the day I ever walked away from the security of a 9 to 5?

2. Will my braces be off, and will I, for the first time since the age of 6, have a smile of which I am proud? I have attended all of my orthodontic appointments and followed Dr. Colleen's instructions to the letter (forgetting that unfortunate almond incident). The tentative treatment end date is March 2010. Will I cease to be a metal mouth as anticipated?

3. After I return from Miami, Israel and Danver, will I travel anywhere else, or will I be too bogged down by the job hunt and life itself? Is there a return trip to India in my future, my dream of seeing London, etc.?

4. Will I be able to continue the careful dance dance regarding babies with my in-laws? I have bought myself some time with Eddie's own career ups and downs, the recession, etc. But after my 31st birthday, especially if Eddie is solid on the employment front, I anticipate the turning up of the heat.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayTwelve

I want to hear your best advice for those of us raising kids.

To quote the drama plagued heroine of Grey's Anatomy, Meredith Grey, seriously? Do you know who you're asking? Is there anyone left on God's green Earth who isn't well aware of my conflicted feelings on this subject? Kids - I love them. In fact there are two in particular, 9 year-old KK and almost 2 year-old Rosebud that I find exceptionally appealing. KK and I in fact have a particular bond that stems from my heavy involvement in her formative years. Rosebud and I have not had as much opportunity to become bffs as she a) kind of hates people (so like her mamma at that age), and b) we can't see one another as often as I would like.

In fact my complicated reluctance to fulfill my "female destiny" (so named by my ever hopeful mother-in-law) has nothing to do with my disdain for the little ones. If I were being honest, my fear is of myself. I don't want to bring the dysfunction inflicted on me as a child to anyone else, and have thus at times decided it is safer not to risk it at all. At the same time, I still feel very much like a work in progress, into my 30s though I might be. There is still so much I want to see and accomplish. Hell a month from now I won't even have a job. Does this sound like someone who should be having babies? The third driving factor, and perhaps the darkest and most secret, is that I don't know how I could stand to love someone that much in a world full of pitfalls. Allow me to provide an example from Fall 2001, an incident that still hounds me and wracks me with guilt. KK doesn't remember, but I bet Jen does and it is while thinking of what she endured that I feel the most shame.

Fall 2001 and KK is not quite 2. Jen and I are roommates and she hasn't yet met her wonderful husband. She is a single mother and her ex is in the military stationed somewhere out of the country. I have fogotten where - Korea? KK catches the flu in a bad way, and over a period of days appears to go further downhill. By the end of nearly a week, she is unable to walk and Jen takes her to the emergency room at Children's Memorial Hospital. Jen is barely 21 years old herself, and has the soundness of mind to take this step. And a good thing too because KK was suffering from sepsis, an infection of the blood.

KK spent almost a week in the hospital, and for the first couple of days, she was in very bad shape, enough for both Jen and I to fear for her life. Jen stayed at the hospital nearly round the clock, missed work and dealt with the gripes of her superiors. Nothing was more important to Jen than being near her baby. KK and Jen were, and are, everything to me, but where was I? Completely unable to deal with the situation, my stupid 23 year-old ass was out boozing, tripping the light fantastic with my crowd of gay friends, stopping by the hospital daily, but never staying long, prefering to check in with Jen by phone instead. Even as I write this, I want to cry for how selfish and incompetent I was as an auntie, a human, and most importantly, as a sister.

Jen had no one else. She was divorced, and our parents were not in our lives. She had me and she had KK. Period, and I let her down. She went through the whole ordeal totally alone, and I have yet to forgive myself. I readily consider this one of the lowest levels to which I have sunk in my lifetime. What's worse about it is that I have always sort of considered Jen to be my child. Therefore I failed myself, I failed as a mother, and I failed as an aunt. It was love and fear that caused me to behave the unaccountable way I did, but that is no excuse. I still don't know how Jen was able to absolve me. Whenever my mind wanders toward the idea of Eddie and I becoming parents, I remember this terribly awful episode. I am not sure I have the strength and endurance that it takes to be a mother.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayEleven

Okay okay, if you don’t have a cell phone with a camera in it, then your assignment is to write a post about what it’s like living in the scary and unfamiliar future world. Do you miss your caveman family and your pet dinosaur?

I do have a cell phone with a camera in it, but never sprung for the data package necessary to upload camera phone shots to my PC. I have plenty of use for technology, but not if it takes unecessary work and funds, which since I hate having my picture taken, this situation certainly falls into that category. Also, I am still a little tired from yesterday's post, and belive me I could have gone on much longer. I love me some Jen.

I am not sure it's really necessary to write about a scary and unfamiliar future world. Aren't we there already? Could anyone have predicted even one year ago the fiscal mess our nation would be in? Yet and still, as I wrote yesterday, I am leaving my job. The conclusion as to whether this move is ballsy or simply crazy has yet to be written. My husband is earning a lot in his present contract job, enough to offset my loss of income, especially if he stops flying home every week (I may join him in Denver for awhile instead), but again, his work is only of a temporary nature. In the past, I have proven very adept at finding employment quickly, but my search is more narrow this time and the economy badly faltering. There is no way I can continue to waste my best years doing anything other than following my heart, and yet I pray I don't come to regret my decision.

I spent a lot of time last night redoing my resume and posting it on Monster, with the support and encouragement of Eddie and Jen. I am going after a career in authorship. As of Friday, April 3rd when I formally hand in my resignation, I am flying without a net underneath me. I do not need to invent a fictional "scary and unfamiliar future world." I have one of my own in reality.

Monday, March 23, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayTen

For BufBloPoFoMonique day, tell me who inspires you. Who is your hero?

Finally, an answer to a prompt that will come as easy for me as shooting fish in a barrel. The most inspirational figure in my life is none other than my sister and fellow partner-in-blogging, Jen. For those out there that don't already know the scoop, Jen is a successful traffic reporter for several high profile Chicago radio stations. She is also married to an awesome guy, is the mother of two beautiful girls, and, no crap here fellas, ol' Jen is also quite fetching (see post below regarding Jen's attention grabbing booty). Her beauty is made all the more shiny by her witty and intelligent personality and her ability to have a laugh at herself. But objectively, even without these things, she'd a be a 10. She makes all of this look so easy and is one of the most approachable and accessible people you'll ever meet. These end results instill great admiration in me for my little sister. But the reason she is my hero is because of all the years of slogging through mud to get to where she is now.

Growing up, I was the typical big sister, alternately protective and annoyed, but always enamored of the kid I introduced shortly after her birth as "MY baby sister Jennifer." We are two years and three days apart, and not many people find this credible, but God as my witness, I remember everything about the day this child was born. I was that excited. Fine, I was a little reluctant to leave the slamming toddler pool party I was attending when my Dad came to pick me up to pay my first visit to the hospital, so as we can see I haven't changed much. However, I recovered quickly when I got my first glimpse of MY baby. She was sickly and spent her first few weeks in the hospital, but Baby Jennifer was never out of my sights for long. It didn't take many years before it was widely accepted that this stubborn little blonde thing with the super fine hair was really ever only going to listen to me. And I wouldn't have had it any other way.

From grade school, to high school, to college, I was the pacesetter. Jen had to endure years of teachers confusing her with me and my nerdy achievements, auditioning for sports, plays and other activities because I encouraged her to take part in the same things I loved. One would never know it now, but back then, Jen was quite shy, reserving her hilarious personality for the inner circle in our home. I will readily admit that I had my moments of concern that my kid might never break out of her shell.

But though I always knew her better than anyone, I was as nonetheless suprised when the student became the teacher. I stumbled in college - big time. I have come to refer to my years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as my "lost years." Those of you who knew the depressed, overweight, underfunctioning mess I was then know exactly what I am talking about. Those who got hurt by me due to the chaos and confusion going on in my head for half a decade, I still owe some apologies. It was at this time that Jen began to demonstrate a confidence and self-assuredness that I not only didn't know she had at the young age of 18, but it also contrasted in such a way with my post-adolescent floundering, that I appeared all the more ridiculous to myself.

One semester into her pre-med freshman year, Jen fell in love, became preganant and got married. Goodbye U. of I. Goodbye Chicago. Goodbye perpetually confused older sister. Jen was moving out of state, about to be a first time mother and wife. These were grown-up situations I could not even begin to relate to, especially out of it as I was. I readily admit that when Jen completely changed her life to be a stay-at-home, very young mom, I wondered where it would all end up.

As marriages betwen two very young people sometimes do, this one fizzled quickly. But do you think my sister had the time or the inclination to give into self-pity and start wailing? No way. She was going to be a single mom. She packed up her baby (the famous KK), her car and her posessions and came back to Chicago. By this time I had graduated and was working my first "real" job downtown. Jen and KK came to stay with me. Within a few weeks, and without the benefit of a college degree, Jen landed herself a solid job, and even registered herself for night classes to boot. Not for the first time, I wondered who this confident woman was and how could I be more like her?

About a year later, Jen met her husband and my brother-in-law through the company where they both worked. They knew they were the real deal almost right away and sadly (for me), I was waving goodbye to Jen and KK as they started another new chapter of their lives in the suburbs. Not long after they married, Jen and the brother-in-law bought a nice house. Jen had earned several promotions at work, and the story could have ended there. But this is my formidable sister we are talking about, and it didn't.

Jenny didn't really care for her job, nor was she that into the classes she was taking. By now, she was no longer the shy blondie who hid behind her sister at other people's birthday parties. She called me one day to announce she was going to broadcasting school. Ok, fine, let's see how that goes. She entered into a 10 month program, still holding down her full-time gig, and keeping up as wife and mother. Again, she made all of this look easy while she attended classes, hosted an internet radio show through her program, etc. Later the next spring, I watched my baby sister get her diploma.

The school she attended did their due diligence. Chicago is the #3 media market in the nation. People just don't walk into jobs fresh out of broadcasting school in this town. She was told she'd have to pay her dues elsewhere: Topeka, Kansas or Scranton, Pennsylvania anyone? Pshaw! Jen was having none of that. Her husband, family and life were in Chicago and she wasn't going anyplace. Those of us who loved and supported her wondered if she had put all this hard work into learning the broadcasting trade, only to have the door shut on her before her career ever started. But here's the thing I have come to admire most about my sister: Jen doesn't let doors shut on her. Girl kicks them down with aplomb. For my sister, "No," only means, "Won't be easy," and she isn't afraid of that.

Still working her day job, still a wife and mother, Jen worked one payless, thankless internship after another, sacrificing her weekends, her valuable time with her family, because she knew she was building something - herself. Once again, this tenacity paid major dividends, because as my story began, there it ends. Jen is a fairly well-known radio personality in the #3 market - at the ripe old age of 28. I can only imagine where she will go next. I pity the fool who gets in her way.

And now of course, Jen is the mother of two. Rosebud joined the family in 2007. I could not imagine how Jen would find more room on her plate and love in her heart, and yet she did. Standing next to my sister, I often feel lazy and shallow, but not because of anything she says. In fact she is my greatest cheearleader, the one who has encouraged me to get my off my ass and give this writing thing a real shot before I end up looking back with regret. With all she has to do, she is the one who actually got this blog off the ground. If you have become sick of my blogging voice, it is only because Jen unleashed it on you. Blame her.

I broke the news to Jen today that I was planning to take my career mission a step further by resigning from the job that makes me miserable, and going after the career in writing and editing that I really want. Even in this horribly weakened economy, I received nothing but supportive feedback from my best pal and sister. Why? Because it's no risk she hasn't taken before, and with a lot more to lose. Jen of All Trades? You are my inspiration.


Ok, so things in the All Trades household have been a little nutty to say the least. The lengthy list of mishaps are too vast to get you up to speed. But in a rare weekend of having four healthy members of the household AND nice weather, we decided to pair off for date day. KK and the hubs went to a movie and Rosebud and I had a good old fashioned play date. It started with a trip to the mall to ride the choo choo (ok, and perhaps a little mommy shopping too), then back to the homestead to break in the new box of sidewalk chalk. I LOVED that stuff when I was a kid! I am all to happy to have an excuse to do it yet again.

I cracked the seal and drew a little moon and sun which got Rosebud all riled up. And it also got the dude passing by in his pickup truck a little revved as well because he gave me the old toot- toot -whistle. That's right, even in suburbia we woman are vulnerable to the pervs and their cattle calls. DAMN! Can't I bend over my little baby to draw a flower without my ass getting a shout out? And why, for the love of God, did I turn around? Perhaps subconsciously I was flattered in some twisted way that my kaboose was worthy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayNine

Today’s assignment was to talk about the BufBloPoFo participant below you on the list over there on the sidebar. Today, if the blogger above you on that list was kind enough to ask you a question, answer it! If not, either find a question that was asked of someone else and answer that or, you know, write a post about, um... soup. Look, these topics can’t all be winners, people.

The blogger above me on Garvey's list hasn't written a post since January 6th. What's that about? It's BufBloPoFo time people! Needless to say, Twine Elms Press did not direct a question my way. So then...soup it is!

My friend Jimmy made a fabulous fish stew from scratch this week. I know this because he invited me and our other friend/co-worker Diane to his nearby convertible downtown apartment for lunch on Wednesday. It had been awhile since the three of us has gone off on a lunch hour sojourn, and I would have liked nothing better. However, with these Miami meetings a week away, time would not allow me to step from my desk for a full 60. So Jimmy was kind enough to bring me some GladWare from his house so I could sample the wares. Mighty tasty.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayEight

Take a look to the right over there and you’ll see a list of the “BufBloPoFo 09 Participants”. It’s pretty, isn’t it?!? Look at them all! Okay, now find whichever blog is below yours and talk about that dude. If you know them, tell us how you met. If you don’t know them, talk about something you read on their site. Whichever it is, end your post by asking that person a question. (That last part maaaaaaay be important later on...)

I like this little homework assignment to begin the second week of BufBloPoFo. Because as much as I have wanted to, I haven't found the time I hoped for this last week to check in with my competition. The name of the blog below mine, entitled "Whoa Mama," is written by a lady named Leah, with whom I am not acquainted. However, she is apparently, a highly educated person, a mother (twins!) and an excellent chocolate chip cookie baker. In a few ways, she reminds me of my well-loved sister (though I wish Jen would try a little harder with the chocolate cookies. Come on!). I am impressed that Leah finds the time to blog at all, considering her full and busy life. Once again, this reminds me of the ongoing conversation I have with myself about someday: to mother or not to mother? When you read the voice of someone like Leah, who is apparently doing it very well and has a very sunny quality to her blog space that cannot be false, it's emboldening.

Anyway, this is where you can look up Leah's blog:


My favorite post on her site is one she did outside the confines of BufBloPoFo, before the mayhem started. The post is dated March 13th and it's titled "Rats." She really gets to the heart of the emotional roller coaster that comes with the job hunt. The nerves, the excitement, the self-confidence that often comes before a crushing disappointment. I admire Leah's determination to work her temporary "purgatory" job, and to do so with humor, until the next great career phase of her life arrives.

My question to Leah may seem banal, but after spending some time on her blog, I found that Leah and her hubby genuinely love and support each other. So tell me how you two met and fall in love? I am interested in beginnings because there is usually a great story to tell. Did you know he was the one right away, or like myself and Eddie, was your first instinct to run screaming in the other direction? My gut is usually reliable, but on the subject of men, I have found that the one who repelled me at "hello" was bound to be the one I ultimately lost my head about. So my soulmate needed some time to grow on me. How was it for you?

Friday, March 20, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DaySeven

You get a freebie for Day 7. It’s like the center square of your BufBloPoFo bingo card where you get to use those creative participant brains of yours and come up with your own topic. And hey, if I like it, I’ll use it for everyone in week two...

How many times am I told I can write about anything at all, and yet find myself in the frustrating position of having nothing creative to say? It's much like a broken pinata full of candy falling in front of a diabetic child. Useless. This is the quandary I find myself in late this afternoon.

It's been a hellish week, professionally speaking, and I have taken a few hits: to my time, my ego, my ability to blog and update my FaceBook status (the horror!). Don't get me wrong. I come to work to work. But like everything else in my life, I tend to produce on "10" and typically do find myself with a spare moment or two to waste. Not so much this week. I think what really has sapped my energy is the unfortunate and unfair dressing down I and my teammates received, publicly yesterday afternoon. Actual screaming was involved. I will not bore you with the details, because I am already bored myself.

I had every good intention of going home last night for a workout. Instead, I found myself nursing a 24 oz. can of Miller Lite in the train station bar, alone after my pal Mark left go home. Folks, if there is any image more pathetic than this, please tell me. Normally, I find my own bouts of solo intoxication oddly refreshing (see Hotlanta posts from early February), but this time it appears I was intent on sinking further into my own wallowing, rather than celebrating my fabulousness. When I got home, I figured since I had already had the equivalent of two beers, why stop there? I chased down my train station ale with 3.5 shots of Jose Cuervo. For some reason that only God knows, I often follow these mini binges with a determination to shave my legs. Seriously, I have done this quite a few times over the years. Apparently, I need intermittent reminders that alcohol + razors = blood. Two minutes into my nice warm bath, I nearly required a transfusion, and realized I need better coping mechanisms.

So there you go Garvey, I guess my topic for the day, like any episode of Seinfeld, is nothing. Or since I am literary-minded, perhaps I will deem it stream of consciousness in the vein of William Faulkner.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DaySix

Tell me about your first home away from home. Tell me about the first apartment you had that wasn’t under your parents’ roof. A dorm? A loft? A cardboard box? Give us a tour.

Before I proceed, I have to give a shout-out to Garvey for his most excellent, gut-busting post from BufBloPoFo 09 Day 5. It was a three hankie event of laughter:


Truth be told, I am feeling a little winded on Day 6 of this blogging bonanza. I have to find a way to recharge. All the more difficult since my day job literally sucks the lifeblood from my veins these days. But I digress...

I could launch into a tale of my first dorm room at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, the first time I ever had U.S. Postal mail delivered to a place where I happened to live, besides my folks' pad. However, I think it would be inaccurate to call this my first "home away from home."

My first dwelling that deserves the title is a tour bus in South Africa, summer of 1996. I was about to turn 18 and I was on a performing tour with the Chicago Childrens Choir. That all sounds very wholesome, doesn't it? False. One of the more scarring, and thus maturing episodes of my young life, literally thousands of miles away from anyone who shared my DNA.

What didn't happen on this tour? The coldest winter South Africa experienced in 40 years. Stop laughing. It was cold on that tour bus at night. It was 40 degrees or so, and bear in mind that South Africans generally do not have central heat on their buses, and almost none of us had brought along our winter coats. The weather was a freak thing, naturally.

I suffer from motion sickness. Ironically, I also enjoy daredevil activities, so that is my cross to bear. But on this tour, I just wanted an adventure off the bus. My mother had filled out my pre-trip medical forms, which clearly stated that I suffered in this area. I had brought a fair supply of Dramamine with me, but at 17, I had no concept of what 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for five weeks really meant. My drug supply was cashed quickly. This led to some unfortunate puking incidents, one of which involved an ostrich farm. Don't ask. Now, I had a longterm boyfriend who also happened to be in the choir, and also on the same trip. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Of the four chaperones on the trip, three of them were women (one a nurse). Women being the gossipy beeyatches they often are, they saw a frequently barfing 17 year-old girl who spent a heck of a lot of time with her fella and drew the worst conclusions. Much later there were accusations in a parking lot from the nurse as we boarded the bus - in front of just about each of the 60 other choir members on the tour with me. But before we reached that hellacious humilation, the leaders made an executive decision to cut me off from any more Dramamine doses. You know, because it's bad for the baby and all. So I vomited unnecessarily for days until I found a pharmacy in a South African mall that sold drugs way more effective than Dramamine. All the stomach chill without the sleepiness.

But guess what? My mom was a nurse too. After the Jerry Springer-like confrontation in the aforementioned parking lot, I gave Mom a ring and told her they had driven me around for days and let me upchuck with impugnity, despite my denials of being knocked up and given the fact that I had a medical form stating my condition. It is not for nothing folks that Jen and I are experts at dressing people down. One phone call to the choir elders later, and suddenly I was being given a surprise 18th birthday party in a dorm lounge, and all the anti-pukey pills I could ever want.

I could go on about this trip. Who slept with whom and where (fine, some of that involved me - I told you I had a boyfriend). Don't ever let anyone tell you that "kids today" are so much more awful than previous generations. Kids unsupervised are always going to be little shits the world over in a timelessly predictable fashion. But what was my point again? Oh yeah, I carried my own money, fought my own battles (and lost some), cried, puked, drank, laughed, had sex, stayed up too late - a foreshadowing of my soon-to-come University days. This was my first adult home away from home. Oh yeah, and I was in fucking amazing and gorgeous South Africa too.

BufBloPoFo 09 DayFive

I used this topic last year, but a) we have a lot of new blood for ’09 and b) maybe your answer has changed. Also, c) I’m lazy. Who would play you in a movie?

I wish I could say Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie. However, the former is too young, thin and way too hot. The latter is also too thin and hot, but also has an overabundance of children. I realize that biography does not matter much since the person playing me, would be, you know, acting. But if that performer were a follower of the Method, in order to get to the heart of what it feels like to be Becky Boop, then avoidng childbearing is critical.

I have been told I have hair like Julia Roberts (in her Pretty Woman days), the curves of Bette Midler (from her Bathhouse Betty period), and the profile of Drew Barrymore. All of these opinions are more than acceptable to me, but since I cannot clone a Roberts/Midler/Barrymore hybrid as of yet, the search continues.

There are certain actresses, no matter what their appearance or calendar age, that I feel a strange connection with: Felicity Huffman or Isla Fisher for two examples, who I feel might be able to access my weird personal mixture of brains, sloth and clumsiness, the myriad millions of quirks I own that have always made me a divisive character. Love or hate me, people rarely find an iffy middle ground, and I like it that way.

Well it seems I am not able to decide this one here. Anyone out there with suggestions? I find myself unusually wishy washy today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayFour

I think everyone should use their blogs to brag about something. And it can't be your kids or significant other because Katie said she doesn't want to read about that crap.

I live in the greatest City in the world - Chicago. And though I have not seen every world City on my list (London, Rome, Athens, Cairo and Madrid come to mind), I have seen quite a few: Mumbai, Capetown, Moscow, Warsaw, not to mention New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans and San Francisco. Very shortly, I will be able to add Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to my list. But though I have seen many places, and many faces, I am convinced that no urban environment can ever hold a candle to Chi-town.

I admit that our winters do at times, put our claim to the Greatest Town Ever in serious peril. When Jen and I first got this blog going, I wrote a whole post about God's shameless abandonment of the place from December 15-March 1. But if you can get past the three months of pitiless frozen tundra, ah what delights await the senses the rest of the year. My husband hails from India, a nation that evokes the name of the great book by Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded (ok maybe not so flat, but you get the idea). When he first migrated to the U.S., he lived in the New York/New Jersey area and though there were certainly less people, his view of New York, and by extension his opinion of cities, was hardly undermined: dirty, dense and treeless.

Eddie and I have been together for over three years. When he first came to the Chicago area, he beelined for the suburbs. He wanted quiet, open spaces, and plenty of road to drive his oversized vehicle around. In other words, he wasted no time adopting good old fashioned American values. But since I forced him to return to the City with me, he has come to see that the dogma I have so nefariously set out to beat into his head is actually true. With Chicago, you get the best of both worlds: clean streets, exciting places to go, plenty of foliage, and the diversity (in all senses) that one would expect from a first-rate world City.

I already mentioned the weather, and if I am going to to make a case for the greatness of Sweet Home Chicago, I am also wise enough to dodge the subject of local politics. This means you King Daley. No place is perfect, but we come pretty darned close. Where else can you find clean sandy beaches, Lake Shore Drive, Wrigley Field, the view from the Hancock, Milennium Park? I could go on and on, but if you're looking for an official tour guide, please contact me directly.

I have had opportunities to move to other cities, and I have done small town, even Southern living. It probably goes without saying that those shoes didn't fit me right at all, but those trials only underscore my right to claim expertise on this subject. For all its flaws, and for all the competition brought by many other fine environments, there's just no other place to be.

Monday, March 16, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayThree

If nothing else, BufBloPoFo is a learning tool. Last year, we learned how to load a dishwasher, how to take a leak, etc. Let’s keep that going this year, but instead of focusing on what people are doing wrong, tell me what you think you do right. Walk me through a process. Give me the step-by-steps. Can you make damn good baba ganoush? Can you tie a bow tie? Can you pour the perfect Guinness??? Teach me how, perfesser.

How to Have a Meltdown on Your No-Housework Doin' Husband without Destroying Your Marriage or Your Self Respect - a Primer by Becky Boop

I am the first to admit, I went about this 100% incorrectly early in my marriage. My greatest folly was operating on the mistaken belief that your husband is at all moved by his wife's shouting or tears. Not so, ladies. These sounds function as a kind of dog whistle in reverse, penetrable to the ears of everyone EXCEPT your beloved pet, er husband. Through 18 months of trial and error, I believe I have finally uncovered successful methods for getting my darling up off that couch, making him understand that I do not in fact enjoy wiping the urine he leaves behind on the toilet seat five times a day. Like your beloved, you too can spend hours of your own day engaging in fun activities that do not include the removal of dirty dinner plates from your kitchen barstools. However, we women have been forced into adopting stealthy, psychological tactics that bring our men in line without the slightest appearance of nagging or badgering. With any luck, you can even make your husband believe that it was his idea and initiative to act as something other than a destructive force in your living room. Read on:

1. Logic/Flattery: Upon walking in the door to discover an overturned pot of Indian chai on the stove, after your man has had hours to clean up his breakfast mess before your return home, don't give into that overwhleming urge to yell. Keep your blood pressure low and still get across your utter disgust for this act of laziness with the following question:

"Honey, help me understand how a man with a Master's degree in Information Systems, a person who moved to a brand new country, alone, with a small duffel bag and nothing in his pockets but a lifetime supply of pluck, can't seem to locate the proper receptacle (that would be the sink) for his dirty dishes?"

2. Justice: When your loved one has spent 8 hours wearing a path on the floor from the office, where he peruses wikipedia for the latest on China's nuclear plans, to the living room, where he checks in with Campbell Brown's extended broadcast of "No Bias, No Bull," but neglects to find any time for a shower, appeal to him from a calm perspective of right and wrong. Example:

"Baby, do you think it's fair that I get up in the morning, and do my very best to keep myself looking attractive: the shaving, plucking, scrubbing and moisturizng necessary to give my husband the beautiful wife he deserves? Meanwhile, you have crumbs from your morning breakfast sandwich stuck to your cheek, there are fruit flies swarming about your hair, which has not been washed in three days, and you are wearing the saggy grey sweatpants my Dad gave you last Christmas, only they haven't been through the washing machine since that holiday?"

3. Age/Disbelief: Upon the discovery that the trash you requested to be taken out three days ago, still remains, growing out rather than up, with the pungent and tangy aroma of fortnight old cat vomit, resist he temptation to degenerate into a rabid and foaming lady of the house. Instead, appeal to your man on the basis of maturity and your persistent belief that he does in fact know the difference between right and wrong.

"Dear, my eyes must be going faster than I thought because I SWEAR that's the exact same pile of putrid mess in the wastebasket I asked you to take out last week. Now I know you care about the air that I breathe, because you love me that much. No husband of mine would expect me to come home after a hard day's work and inhale toxic waste. You must have fogotten your trip to the dumpster when you left the house this morning to buy your latest pack of death sticks." (Note subtle dig at husband's smoking habit - kill two birds with one stone).

It is unfortunate that my normal maxim of honesty as the best policy fails miserably when it comes to the subtelties of domestic chore warfare. We ladies, in order to prevent a lifetime of Cinderella-style drudgery, or Stepford-wife style seething underneath the drug cocktail of our choice, have been forced into an attack full of pleasant subterfuge. Sarcasm, flattery, and outright sociopathy have taken the place of the useless marital screaming match. Try my far healthier recipe of calm manipulation and I guarantee at least the occasional break from doing it all yourself.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayTwo

If you had the power to put together the most perfect, end-of-the-universe, nothing-better-was-ever-made repast, using whatever ingredients you want, and with whomever you’d like as your co-diners, what would you want? Tell me about one little bit, or all fourteen courses. Tell me about venue, about background music, about which box of wine goes best with which flavor of ramen noodles.

I have invited two temporarily resurrected men, Tim Russert and Jesus, to my place for dinner. Joining the three of us will be one person who remains of this world, Madonna. I have offerred to prepare a zesty vegetable lasagna from scratch. I have chosen a veggie meal because Jesus and Madonna are both Jews, and I do not keep a kosher kitchen. I understood from Tim Russert's waistline while alive that he is not a picky eater. I set three plates at the bar in my kitchen, and pour three glasses of red wine. Madonna only sips gingerly at hers, requesting a bottle of Kabbalah water alongside her plate. Tim Russert and Jesus start sucking it down. We all know Jesus was a pretty fun wedding guest. Tim Russert came from a blue collar Irish background. 'Nough said. I keep a plate for myself on the side. I will eat (and drink later). I do not want to be distracted or compromised whatsoever as we begin our discussion.

Wine has reddened the cheeks of Tim Russert and so he introduces a lively debate on the current economic crisis. Russert heatedly lays the blame at the feet of George W. Bush, though he does admit that the U.S. had been a little too lax about a lot of things in the last twenty years. Jesus is of the opinion that he sort of likes Obama's Robin Hood approach to his most recent budget plan. However, realizing he may have said too much, Jesus grows a little sheepish. The son of God ought not to appear to pick sides, he says, so can we all keep what he said under our hats? It's not exactly a lie, and thus we wouldn't really be breaking any commandments. I tell Jesus to relax and poor him another glass. Madonna, who charges $200 or more to see one of her shows, apparently doesn't realize there is a recession at all. Nevetheless, Jesus is always one to find a silver lining, and though he encourages the Material Girl to get to know some of the "little people," he nonetheless commends Madge on the adoption of the formerly impoverished David Banda.

As we move toward the dessert course, a homemade banana bread pudding (in this fantasy, I have miraculously learned how to cook. Perhaps the divine intervention of Jesus?), the discussion moves to the subject of children. Jesus, just like Michael Jackson a couple millenniums later, obviously loves them (However, He pointedly resents the Gloved One's use of "Jesus Juice" to calm them down - J endorses no such product), but immediately lets us know not to believe everything we read. The Da Vinci Code is just a work of fiction and there were no Jesus Juniors. I can barely mask my disappointment. Tim Russert, by now a little intoxicated, grows misty eyed at the thought of his now adult son Luke. I show him a clip of Luke working on behalf of NBC news during the McCain/Obama debates and he is done for. Madonna has three children from three different fathers (fine, the last one was adopted). Jesus knows it's 2009 and doesn't want to come off as a prude, so he stays quiet during Madonna's confessional.

Tim Russert can barely stand by the time we finish our meal. Jesus tells us the coolest thing about being the Son of God is his immunity to basically, well, everything. He hoists Tim up on his shoulder so they can begin the walk back to heaven. Surprisingly, it's not that far. Madonna has a chopper on top of my roof and will fly off with her boy toy, 22 year-old Jesus Luz. She realizes the irony of sleeping with a pretty young thing that bears the name of the Chosen One, and accepts that as further proof that her bed hopping is indeed all part of God's plan.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

BufBloPoFo 09 DayOne

For your first day of Blufporbfofoing, tell me the three biggest things going on in your life right now.

Well I can't forget the first one because he is sleeping not 20 feet away from me, so I am trying to keep it down. I am a hard and fast two finger hunt and peck typer. Pretty odd for a person with a Master's in English Lit. I know. Anyway, my husband and the continued drama and uncertainty following his career path in 2009 is #1. Will he find a permanent job? Will it allow him to remain at home? We continue to be on pins and needles.

The second biggest thing going on in my world is decidedly less stressful. I am going to Tel Aviv, Israel from the 16th of April, returning the 26th. I am visiting my very good friend Bobby who moved to Israel five years back. He wanted to be closer to his spirtual roots as he grew older, and fell in love with a wonderful Israeli man named Moish. I had long promised I would make it over there, but when I was in grad school, there was no time, and afterward, no money. But this year, I can finally make good. In addition to looking forward to nine days with one of my best friends, Israel is teeming with religious and cultural history. I am a nerd at heart and this factor alone sets my blood pumping.

I had to stop and think pretty hard about the third biggest thing revving me up these days, because #1 and #2 admittedly soak up a lot of my free thinking hours. But I think, if I am being honest, the third biggest thing happening is me. 2009 has so far been one of transition in myself. I have broken out of a lot of old ruts, tried new things I have only talked about doing in the past (like blogging, or taking the online Jeopardy! test). With the help of a great therapist I have been seeing for the last six months, I have become nearly zen-like in my ability to adapt and cope with challenges. For anyone who knows me, this is especially astounding, as I have always been known as a German/Italian hothead through and through. I kind of like this calm new me who is not afraid to take risks, think outside the box and go after what she wants. I have been more honest with myself and pursued that which I desire, with the result that I think I have become far more bearable to those around me.

Friday, March 13, 2009


This is the busiest time of the year for me in the office, and Lord knows I have had my hands full at home, especially with my husband away. So I don't know quite what I was thinking when I signed up to do this, but I always like a new challenge, and as I have heard said, if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

I have a friend, Mike Garvey, who lives in Buffalo, and is a fellow blogger. For the last two years, he has sponsored a sort of writing contest. Basically, every day for the next 14, Garvey will choose a topic and all of us participants have accepted the challenge to write a reponse to the prompt on our respective blogs. That is right my friends, every day for the next two weeks, you will be treated to a new treatise from me. I call us particpants, rather than contestants, because there is really no prize at the end except the satisfaction of having committed and made it out the other side. For more on the rules and details, please visit Garvey's blog:


The fun starts tomorrow, March 14th, and I am counting heavily on your moral support. Let the games begin!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Embarassment of Riches

Those who know me know I am quite humble about what I do for a living. Part of it comes from the reality of being one of the lower most rungs in the radio personality totem pole (nothing to brag about there!) . Part of it, I recently came to realize is a feeling not unlike embarassment.

The discovery came late last week when my bro-in-law (who we all know as the Denver-travelling love of my beloved sister's life) treated me to lunch before "work". You will understand the use of quotes later. After our noshing, I offered him a tour of the studios I work out of. It was his first time ever seeing such a thing, and I gotta say the look on his face was much like that of a wide eyed child seeing an amusement park for the first time. He was in awe of all of the technology. After a turn on the green screen we huddled in my broadcast booth for a quick tutorial on all things Jennifer Roberts. Yes, I have an alias. I am that cool.

I opened up the PC, logged onto the appropriate screens and within about 5 minutes he had the rundown. See why I said quick? It only took me that short amout of time to lay out what I do. It wasn't "in a nutshell" it was the whole kit and kaboodle (who says that anymore?) and it took probably less than the aforementioned 5 minutes. He stayed for a few reports and when he asked what I did for the other 56 minutes of each hour that I wasn't actually on the air I told the truth; I search the web. That's my "work".

Surfing the web gets me up to speed on all things pop culture and often leads to topics of discussion on the air with or with out me participating. I help one of the hosts I work with find stuff to talk about. But really, I would be doing that anyway as a self-titled gossip column junkie. I felt so guilty! This man has been spending more time looking for a new job after getting laid off a few months back that I have actually spent working probably all year! That guilt led to a discussion with hubby about the guilt and the guilt I had for feeling guilty.....

The point of all of this is not to be self-indulgent..."look at poor little me with nothing to do, getting paid for it, blah blah blah" but rather to shout it out that I am L-U-C-K-Y! Not a whole lot of other folks get the chance to feel guilty about getting paid to have fun. It has been like a dirty little secret I liked to keep to myself, except now my B-I-L saw it with his own eyes and now the cat is out of the bag. In a world of bad news, its my piece of good.

Lonesome Dove

It's day two of my new weekday life without Eddie. I mentioned that we have done this before, so I saw him off early yesterday morning without tears (not sure if I am capable of them at 4:15 AM anyway). I am bound and determined to make our time apart productive and as fulfilling as possible. I have my nose to the grindstone at the office and do my best to fill my evenings with work around the house, my regular gym schedule and other sundry activities. For the most part, I am so active and diligent in my attempts to distract myself, I forget that I am actually alone. The only two circumstances when I cannot ignore that weird feeling that something is missing are the bookends to my day.

My husband is noise incarnate. He talks, he snorts, he snores, he sings (loudly). Those of you acquainted with him know just what I am talking about. Eddie has a life force about him that I have often wished to emulate, but have been unable to duplicate. It's just impossible to remain ignorant of his presence. So it was as I got dressed for work yesterday morning that I wondered about the eerie quiet. When Eddie was unemployed, he wasn't even awake at that time, so why did I feel so alone? I realized that even my husband's sleeping noises carry a weight and comfort for me. His tossing and turning, coughing and heavy breathing became as much a part of my morning routine as did wrapping my scarf around my neck before walking out the door.

When I came home from the office for the day, I found myself calling out to him from the front door out of habit. I somehow hoped he'd stick his head out of our office door to bellow the familiar, "Hello Pumpkin!" There are so many instances where I have found the attention grabbing and scene stealing powers of my husband to be annoying, but once they are missing from my everyday, I realize that I am nothing without my larger than life better half.

There are many couples in far more dire straits than us, and I only need to keep this up for four to six months. It will get easier each week. The human being's ability to adapt to change is really quite remarkable, no matter how we may resist new scenarios at times. It's sort of tough though when the person you most want to discuss these ideas with is the one person you just can't see.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My End or Yours?


Becky Boop: Yes and Yes

My husband has told me before that he relies on my sixth sense even more than he trusts his own logic and intellectual capacities. Scoff if you will, but Jen and I have both always believed ourselves to be a little bit psychic. If you were to ask our mother, or her mother before her, they would tell you of their own long histories of small little dreams that came to fruition, little feelings that ultimately led to major life changes, etc. Now I am not claiming that Jen and I are regular mediums who should take jobs with the police department hunting down serial killers, but I firmly believe that these inklings are real and should be trusted.

Let me give you an example of a time I ignored my instincts. In early 2007, in my giddiness at being a newly engaged woman, I agreed to give up my beautiful rented coach house in the City and move with my fiancé to a suburb near the airport. For both financial and logistical reasons at the time, this seemed to make good sense. But every fiber of my being was screaming that I would live to regret the choice, not only because as we have seen, I am the ultimate City Chick. No, my gut told me that this move would be bad for both Eddie and I, and yet I went, ready to go with any flow as far as my soon-to-be-hubby was concerned.

One year of solo isolation, a smashed car (some doofus lost control of their car in the building lot and wrecked our vehicle), a tornado, floods and several snowstorms later, it was clear that I had made a fool of my own intuition. Since relocating to the City, our luck has improved considerably, job loss or no, and I believe my karma has been corrected with doing what I should have done all along.

I have other personal reasons for putting this topic out there, and concluding that the story of my own intuition may not be fully written. Sorry to be cryptic, but this is as much as I am willing to give up right now. I don't want to jinx anything. Yes, I am one superstitious girl.

Jen of All Trades: Yes and no

I definitely agree that people tend to have a sixth sense about certain things. The saying "go with your gut" is often/over used in just about every arena: real life, movie lines, the boadroom, etc. BUT - there are a lot of idiots in the world who can't decide which cereal to eat in the morning, let alone trust their inner voice to make a major life decision.

This "gut feeling" is reserved for the logical, dare I say gifted ones who really can push aside emotion, other's opinions, or additional outside factors to have that moment of clarity that leads you to the path best choosen. With that, you also have to take into account the whole "everything happens for a reason" phrase that has become my mantra. The truth is, not every decision is a good one, but it ALWAYS leads to the next thing and the one after, etc. and somewhere down the line you get where you need to be. Without those botched scenarios that inevitably will happen, you would be at that moment where you are truly content with whatever the issue it.

In conclusion (another of the many overused lines), definitely go with your gut but know that it may not always be right. It might just be the shrimp toast you chose to have for dinner. Afterall, food poisoning is baaaad but it leads to the very wise decision to never eating at Phoenix EVER AGAIN! (4 years later, I can still remember that awful feeling....)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mixed Blessings

Hubby got a job. A job with Comcast. It's a 4-6 month contract-to-hire position. That's not exactly longterm security, but in this economy...well I don't need to tell any of you. It also pays darned good money, enough so that we can sock away a bit more while bracing for another possible hunt over the summer. But, though this is exactly what I've prayed would happen, as with any boon, there is always a catch. Eddie will have to travel back and forth to Denver, Colorado every week from Monday at 4AM, until Friday night at 11 or midnight. That's going to be rough on him personally, and hell on our marriage in terms of time spent together. Believe me, this is no whine. We need this, and most critically, Eddie needs this. But I will miss him terribly.

We've done this before. In the 6 months leading up to our wedding in Raipur, India, Eddie was away each week on a project in Phoenix. We lived almost next door to O'Hare at that time, and he always returned on Thursday night. This was rough, especially on a bride to be, but back then he slept at home more nights than he was away.

The first 7 months of our marriage, Eddie was away in Red Bank, New Jersey, and I again held down the fort at home. The one thing that rendered this bearable to a newlywed wife was that I got him to agree that we'd move back to the City, pronto. It did make things slightly harder on him in terms of getting to the airport and back, but thankfully that was a sacrifice he was willing to make for my sanity. What really killed us both with this project were the 16-18 hour days Eddie put in as a leader of the team. More often than not, this work schedule was in effect even on Saturday and Sunday. One week, he just didn't come home at all. Comcast at least states that they keep a pretty regular 9-5, Monday-Friday routine (and judging from the crap service I receive as one of their customers, I can attest to their immovability on that front), so I am keeping in mind that my sadness over the imminent disruption to our homelife can only pale in comparison to the trials we endured in 2008.

The field that Eddie has chosen for his career definitely lends itself to high earning potential. But it also comes with risks. One of those is volatility. The work is usually temporary, which creates a lot of opportunity to try new things and see new faces. But as I have seen throughout the worst of this economic downturn, that benefit of change can quickly turn to a disadvantage when you are a temp worker and payrolls are being sliced. There are no unemployment insurance benefits to collect. There's no real way of knowing when your next paycheck is coming, even if you saved during your employed period.

But as a wife who genuinely and truly adores her husband (Jen and I have that in common), I can tell you that money means nothing when you have to look at your husband's face after he returns home from months of living in hotel rooms and rental cars, working like a dog, just so he can give you the financial security he thinks you deserve. You just want to grab his weary body and never let him walk back out the door. I am proud of him. The job he has landed is nothing but wonderful, especially when you consider the many other people out there who are forced to make tougher choices than these everyday. But I can't lie to myself. It won't be so easy.