Friday, May 29, 2009

Jesika's Last Gift

I am getting really good at finding disturbing pictures to put up on this thing, aren't I? I know it's been awhile since Jen and I engaged in a "My End or Yours?" debate, and frankly we all miss Jen's individual posts. Jon and Kate have been up to nothing but trouble since this rant, and I for one would like an update. But Jen's plate is full so all you get is me! Nah!

A few days after Jesika passed away, I had one of many emotional phone calls with Kevin, and we were talking about the Herculean task he had to endure of sorting through some of his and Jesika's old things. In the process, he discovered the remainder of a gift certificate he had given Jesika late last year. It was redeemable at this rather posh spa in the West Loop, on Jackson Street. During our conversation, Kevin said he wanted me to have the certificate, and to make sure I used it.

Initially, I felt morbid, maybe even amoral taking it, as if I were somehow profiting from the death of someone I missed so much. But Kevin wisely told me not to be silly. He assured me it would be a shame to waste, and that he certainly wasn't going to use it. Now I think Jen and I have told y'all before that we love spa treatments. So after the idea settled, I started to like it. Jesika's final gift to me.

And it was her final gift in so many ways. One more chance to have a heavenly giggle at Boop for example. I signed up for an aromatherapy oil shoulder, neck and back massage - thirty minutes. Sounds lovely doesn't it? Um, did someone switch my masseuse with an angry chiropractor? Because the harmless small Asian fellow who guided me to the soft, warm massage table bore no resemblance to the relentless torturer who attempted to crack my chakras right along with my ribs for the next 30 minutes. Now granted, I was very sore from my latest kettle bell circuit with trainer Rob the day before. I had also just come from my Friday Pilates class. I am pretty tightly wound to begin with, but all the more so in the last month. The tremendous uncertainty in my world apparently has my muscles locked up tighter than Fort Knox. And Daniel the masseuse had the wince-inducing key.

There were quite seriously a few moments when I considered asking him to cease the massage altogether. It hurt that badly. Trust me, if I were keeping any military secrets, Daniel the masochistic masseuse would have wrenched them sucessfully. I have had a few trips to the table before, and they felt nothing like this. But then a funny thing began to happen. When he would finish pulverizing and, literally, readjusting a particular muscle group, I felt better than I had in a long while - much better in fact. I started to ease into it, gritting my teeth (or grinding my braces) and willing the pain.

At the end, my sensai told me I was a "tough cookie," and that it took him only 30 minutes to break my strained-to-snapping-point neck, shoulder and back muscles. He said folks in similiar conditions usually need 45 minutes or longer to let go. He asked me if anything particularly stressful was happening in my life. Well sir, you may be a ligament magician, but I already have a therapist. He served me a nice plate of fresh fruit and a glass of water, even chatted with me while I imbibed. Then I paid the bill and left.

Does this story, from beginning to end, strike anybody but me as odd? As I said, I have had massages before, but besides the initial squirms of pain, I can't say there was anything offensive about it, per say. It was just...weird. And therein lies my old friend Jesika. She would have throughly enjoyed every bit of having contributed to such an odd, yet satisfying encounter. Thank you Jesika for sending me a painful, bizarre, but quite humorous life episode, and for giving me something else to write about today. I still wish you were here. I always will.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meet the Parents

(Cue shark attack music from Jaws)....

They're coming! And they bite. I am of course, referring to my in-laws, aka, Eddie's parents. They will descend upon Chicago from Mumbai, India on Thursday, June 11th. Eddie's father will be with us until the 27th, while his mother will remain for a full month, flying home on July 8th. While talks of this visit had been in the works for awhile, it was only last weekend that Eddie's folks firmed up the dates and purchased tickets. Notice that I purposely left out any role my husband and I had in the decision making process.

As many of my regular readers know, this planned meeting leaves me in a state of agitated conflict. I love my in-laws. They invited me into their family, when by any Eastern standards, I was a dubious choice of partner for their son. I am 2.5 years older than him for starters, which I did not know until after we became engaged, is a serious trangression in Indian culture. I came to the marriage without a family name, money, nor was I, shall we say, unsoiled (read: Boop was no virgin). Now to us Westerners, these points against me might sound like standard fare, but I don't have space enough on this blog to convey the crap Eddie's parents had to endure socially by blessing our union. They threw us a swanky, lavish 4 day affair in Raipur, India, 30 years to the day after their own marriage, and have always treated me with a love and respect I never had from my own folks.

All that being said, it was made clear to me when I married Eddie that the bar was set high. He is the only competent son of a highly respected, wealthy and accomplished family. My husband descends from the Marastian "caste," and although that classification system has long since been officially abolished in India, the social stigmas and privileges often carry over into present day. How do I know this? Because my mother-in-law has been all too happy to educate me about these facts ad nauseum. I am oft reminded that there have been 17 consecutive generations of happy and solid Sar**** marriages, and I had better not be the one to break tradition.

I have discussed the particular tug of war over if and when I will bear fruit on the pages of this blog in the past. This issue, above all others, has been the explosive divide. Although my in-laws and I get on very well, my reluctance to rent out my 30 year old womb to the next generation of Sar****'s has been met with decided disappointment. Nevermind that Eddie ain't ready to be no Daddy either. I am the woman and it is my job, nee, my life's work, to reproduce. Daughters are good, sons better still. The fact that I have entered my fourth decade without clamoring for a baby is a source of endless confusion to my new parents, though I am the first to admit they find me rather amusing and capable on the whole.

So for one month, I will be right in the line of fire. Eddie will still continue to travel four days a week for the entire length of their stay. That is non-negotiable. So for four weeks of my summer, I must balance my freelance writing and job hunting with a full-time position as chauffeur, tour guide, babysitter, chef and maid to my in-laws. This, in large degree, I am happily willing to do. Eddie's parents have seen very little of the City and I look forward to the opprtunity to meld our two separate families into one. There will be gatherings with Jen and extended family.

But there will be times, oh so many moments, where I will be naked, without the shielding support of my husband, where my life as it is here will be dissected, held up for scrutiny. My housekeeping, cooking (or lack thereof), gym and social schedules, drinking and habits (or lack thereof) as a "traditional" wife will be evaluated and judged against the backdrop of my mother-in-law's own perfection. She was an accomplished woman in her own right prior to marriage and child bearing: a Master's degree holding nutritionist and college lecturer. She rarely tires of telling me that it was the easiest thing in the world to let it all go for the sake of her family life. Read between the lines and you can almost see the judgement against me as I stubbornly cling to my selfhood. She is my mother-in-law and this is her job.

I am almost, without fail, a believer in shades of gray. So while I tremble in fear of a month alone with my in-laws in the confined space of my apartment, I recognize this as an opportunity to educate them as well. Perhaps I am arrogrant or naive in my hopes that my own brand of Boop uniqueness will win them over to my side, change their minds that mine and Eddie's marriage doesn't fulfill its destiny until we are parents? I have reserved an extra session with my shrink each week for the duration of their visit. I joked with Dr. Trotter that my regular slot will be for discussion, and the second will be devoted to my breathing into a paper bag.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Reality (TV) Bites!

I like to make a good fuss, throw some bluster around now and again, just to let the world know I am watching, trying to keep it and its denizens honest. But I have been preoccupied lately with travels, grief and career movements, so some of the little things that irritate I have allowed to pass without the benefit of a good cleansing editorial. Well no more Ms. Nice Boop!

Many of you might wonder why I bother to allow myself to become enraged by the likes of my TV set in the first place. There are, after all, so many urgent and serious things going on, and perhaps Boop, your first mistake might be in letting anything like unscripted entertainment ruin your week? And while we're at it, um, who cares? Well I do, and in order to fully account for my enthusiasm for reality television, allow me to plagiarize my own email, sent to my friends Tim and Diane yesterday, as we debated the merits of Patti Blagojevich's contestantship on the upcoming NBC summer show, "I'm a Celebrity...Get me Outta Here!"

"I will lay my cards out on the table. I love a lot of reality TV. I am a voyeur and am fascinated by the depths of humanity many people will plumb in the name of money and fame, no matter how slight or inauspicious. This is why I relish the idea of Blago or Patti on a reality TV show. They are a cautionary tale about political figures who wallow in the mire of their own bombast. I am beyond excited because it appears they have learned nothing from their fall from grace and are willing to pimp themselves out for as long as possible. Call my eagerness for this show my study in culutral anthropology. But seriously, the other castmates are promising too: Janice Dicksinson, Heidi and Spencer, Sanjaya. The premise of the show is that they are dropped in the jungle and America gets to devise tortures for them as it plays out on national TV. I know what I said before about Americans being dumb, ignorant sheep, but this opportunity is Christmas in July people! It's sick, admittedly. But people enjoy plenty of other sick things too, like watching people beat the shit out of each other, so I feel no shame."

And there you have it. My story is that I enjoy the world of reality television for the human character examination it offers, and I am sticking to it. However, the purpose of this post is not to defend my trashy adoration for this type of entertianment. No sir. My rage is pointedly directed at two shows who produced their season finales this week, ABC's Dancing with the Stars, and Fox's ratings stalwart, American Idol.

Both of these programs contain an at-home audience voting element, as you are likely aware. The philsophy is that by letting the people choose, the winners of these talent competitions will be representative of the nation, the entire nation, not just the 12 year old girls who beg their parents to allow them to dial in multiple times with their spanking new Cricket phones.

Overall, I am a great believer and champion of the democratic process, a belief strengthened by America's "getting it right" during last Fall's presidential election. So this week, I gamely assumed my position on the couch and prepared to witness the foregone conclusion of Gilles' walking away with the Mirrorball trophy on DWTS. Likewise, I sat with a box of kleenex next to me as I prepared to weep the tears of joy I knew would come once Adam was finally announced the winner of AI. But instead, my loyal season viewership was rewarded with...

Shawn and Kris? To quote Kyle's Mom on South Park: "Wha, wha, what?"

Shawn, 17 and spunky, an Olympic medalist in gymnastics, was no doubt without talent. But compared to the tour de force of smoldering sexiness and raw skill that was Gilles? No, I say! Likewise, Kris Allen is 23, adorable and may have a future in music. But are we to believe he was more deserving than the Freddy Mercury channeling rock God that is Adam Lambert? As Whitney Houston once memorably uttered on another classic reality gem, Being Bobby Brown, "Hell to the naw!"

What happened America? We thirty, forty, fifty and other somethings watch TV too. Why do we let the young tweens make our decisions for us? Is there some sort of social shame attached to picking up the phone and spending $1.99 to protect what is right? There must be, because I didn't vote either. Curses!

I have been disappointed with the outcome of Dancing with the Stars before, and may be so again, but I am willing to give it another chance next season, because 50% of the final decision comes from the scores of judges Bruno, Carrie and Len. I am aware that the audience for DWTS skews older, so I am willing to write off this hideous injustice as a fluke unless I am proven wrong in the Fall. But AI? we are done. I mean it this time.

It was bad enough in Season 5 when I had to wave goodbye to the far superior Chris Daughtry and Elliot Yamin in favor of Katherine McPhee and Taylor Hicks. Seriously? Does anyone know if those yahoos are even still breathing? To go back a couple seasons earlier, I was incensed with Ruben over Clay, the criminally early exit of Jennifer Hudson, and two seasons ago, the ageist dismissal of Melinda Doolittle. I had threatened to remove American Idol from my DVR schedule before, only to return sheepishly later. I will not do so this time. Do you hear me Eddie? No Adam Lambert as Idol, no Boop as viewer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I haven't done a damn thing!

With this blog, of course. In my life, I am constantly doing very important things such as scraping dried mac and cheese out of my carpet and yelling at KK to "eat! You have 5 minutes to finish that cereal before I...." The rest of that sentence has varied at times and might possibly incriminate me in the future so I will leave it at that.

I started with a ramble, but I do have something blog worthy. It occurred to me yesterday that I think there is some truth to the old belief that if you are married long enough, spouses start to look like siblings. I will never have brown skin and bushy eyebrows, so in the case of hubby and I, the reference is more of a personality thing. When hubby and I first met, I was the loud-mouthed, not afraid to speak her mind, bad-ass type of gal. Hubby was meek, lover-not-fighter type. He would let someone take his wallet right out of his pocket then make an issue of it. "He obviously needs it more than I do" would be his response. All of that has changed.

  • We have had some difficulty with Rosebud's health lately. On top of it, our pediatrician is somewhat of a d!ck and suddenly hubby has no problem making that known.

  • Hubby received two phone calls and a letter from different companies alerting him to the fact that some a$$hole is using his social and name to try to obtain lines of credit. In trying to get to the bottom of this, hubby wasn't getting the answers he wanted and thus laid out a slew of curse words that I am not sure I have ever said (and anyone who knows me knows how improbable a scenario that is).

  • Yesterday my year-and-a-half-old SUV had its first flat tire. Tire was trying to be changed when it was discovered the tool bag that WAS supposed to be in the back wasn't. The service man basically told me I was S.O.L. Hubby called back and demanded a tow truck to the dealer at the dealers expense, or a service man in our driveway within minutes. The service man came within minutes.

Who is this? I would think I was talking about myself, but in ALL of these scenarios, I have been the one meekly stepping back. I am proud of him and scared of him and mad at myself at the same time. We are slowly morphing into each other and I am not sure if I like it. If I one morning wake up with bushy eyebrows and an inability to spell, I am going to be really pissed off.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Bar Method

Since Thursday, April 16th, I have put on 6 pounds. I am typically very mindful of my exercise and diet habits. Jen was gifted with the metabolism and body type of our father, which allows her to pop out children after a 9 month diet of cheesesticks and couch surfing, only to regain her original figure approximately 10 days after bearing her fruit. I am not so lucky. I take after the pear-shaped, bottom heavy body type of our mother. Unfortunately, this means that if I experience a bad few days - no time for exercise and food consumed with abandon, I am going to pack on a few.

I left for Israel about a month ago, and freely admit that I "let myself go" while with my friends. It's a constant struggle to balance my routines and neuroses with allowing myself to enjoy new experiences fully. So I put it all aside for the nine days I traveled, working out sparsely and sampling the cuisine everywhere I went, without too much worry about my waistline. It was a happy time. But then I came home to the news that Jesika had passed, and I am not too disingenuous to declare that I embarked on three full weeks of emotional eating. My exercise schedule was back on track, but every bit of sweat I poured forth was almost immediately undone by late night cookies, Indian food buffets, and the like. I had felt pretty good about myself while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. But all of the sudden, on top of grieving for my friend and worrying about the next phase of career, I had a nice case of self-loathing and poor body image to add as the cherries on top of my sundae of misery.

I was sort of getting fed up with myself last week, but after a weekend spent gorging on carne asada at my friend Wyatt's BBQ (coupled with a dessert feast of vanilla coconut cupcakes), I decided to put my foot down. I met my trainer, Rob, on Monday, who I see twice a week. He has been on me about my diet for awhile. Not because he thinks I am overweight; because I whine about not being able to shed those last 5 pounds (which have now become 10) without the discipline required to ignore all four desserts when I finish my Indian buffet lunch with Eddie. I told Rob I was ill with this cycle of hard work followed by guilt, and was ready to put myself back on the path to summertime hotness.

Goodbye garbage food, hello low carb/high protein meal plan. It isn't easy, but I am determined. And I remain as serious about reaching new fitness heights. On Tuesday morning, I was up with the sun at 5:30 AM. Weeks ago, my good friend Diane had sent me a coupon for a free workout at this studio called the Bar Method, located at Belmont and Sheffield on the North Side. The class focuses on micro movements, influenced by ballet. I do some light ballet in my own home workout programs, so figured it would be tough, but certainly doable for a fitness maestro such as myself.

I have long known, especially in my case, that arrogance leads to a heavy fall. Yesterday morning was no different. I reported to the Bar Method at 6:45 AM, bottle of Gatorade G2 in hand, ready to sweat. All of my classmates were women, of all ages, shapes and sizes, and I felt my confidence build. I was given a tour of the studio and its amenities, which were both comfortable and lush. I actually began to wonder if this little session was going to be enough for me.

I entered Studio A promptly at 7:00 AM, and immediately began to panic. There was no light warmup. We went immediately into some intense sets with varying handweights. The instructor was about 5'1" to my 5'8", and probably weighed 95 pounds with dumbells tied around her ankles. She demonstrated each and every move with utmost grace. I have never felt such a clod in my life as I huffed and puffed, wheezed and collapsed red faced at the end of each pose. How in the world can such tiny movements cause my arms and legs to tremble like a detoxing crackhead? The only thing that kept me from bursting into tears of pain was looking around the room to see most of the other women writhing in the same agony.

As I told Eddie about the experience that night, he assumed I would never return, because to the logical male mind, it is easy to wonder why anyone would choose this form of torture again. I told him I couldn't wait until next time. The extra 6 pounds I am carrying: you have been put on notice. Don't eff with the Bar Method.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Hustle

Not that I am complaining, because I realize how lucky I am to have the time, will and support to pursue my dreams, but man, independent contracting sure is tiring. Not so much the work itself, although it is a challenge to quickly get yourself up to speed on a given topic so that you can write about it is a manner that sounds informed and authoritative. The part that wears one out is the endless game of cat and mouse: the moment you finish a piece and get reimbursed for it, you are onto the next one. No time to breathe. In between, you are looking through the want ads for full-time, part-time, and yet still more freelance work. It never ends. However that is the nature of the beast, what I signed for, and, as a competitive person, I relish the idea of having to sell and prove myself over and over.

On a daily basis, I comb through and Craig's List for freelance gigs. Then I am onto Monster and CareerBuilder for part-time and full-time writing work. It is important not to leave any of these four stones unturned. While it is true that Monster and CareerBuilder often overlap, the same cannot be said for Virtual Vocations or Craig's List. I have to tip my hat to two women in my family, my A.D. and Jen, for bringing me up to speed on these venues in the Twitter age. The last time I was on the market for anything for a very brief period late in 2007. The career development landscape has apparently changed a good deal in 24 months.

So anyway, I have this image of myself, when I respond to the freelance writing gig posts, as a scalper selling premium seats outside Wrigley Field on game day. However instead of waving my product in the air repeating, "Tickets! Who needs tickets?," I exchange the stubs for a copy of my resume, and my recent writing sample from StreetWise. Then I email blast each requestor with my information, as though they are so many sports fans parading down the sidewalk, offerring up my wares for bargain basement prices. It's as though the game starts in 20 minutes and you can either accept the $15 bucks apiece being offerred to you by the father and his son, mitts in hand, or go home empty handed. To mix in yet another metaphor, every day is another episode of Let's Make a Deal in my world. Do I respond to one of the endless requests for writers on short projects that entail no pay? Or do I hold out hope that those with some money in their budgets will like what they see from me?

I am an admitted control freak, though I have been trying to rehabilitate myself for the last nine months and counting. I am used to having things just so, and in the past, any threat to my equilibrium would keep me up all night. So what in the world am I doing venturing into freelance, with its hit and miss, stops and starts, and complete lack of security?

Answer: I am finally living.

Friday, May 15, 2009


This afternoon was very painful, but a necessary step in the recovery process. After Jesika passed on April 25th, her live-in love Kevin and I had discussed paying a visit to the cemetary in Lemont, IL where she now lays resting peacefully. I had purposely skipped the part of her official funeral where she was lowered into the ground, for reasons I am not yet ready to share. But I always knew I had to go back one day, if only for the closure, the finality. Today was that day.

It is another windy, rainy Spring in Chicago, a setting to match the mood of Kevin and I as we undertook our journey. We met at the apartment he once shared with Jesika, a place I had not returned to since I last spoke to Jesika in person on April 10th. There was nothing much left in the space that Kevin must vacate by June 5th, to remind you that a vibrant, hilarious and energetic woman once lived there. Not for the first time, I found it hard to connect with my friend and her memory inside four walls, whereas she has been very much alive in my mind.

During the long drive to Lemont, Kevin and I told funny stories and shared memories. In particular, I treasure the tale of how he and Jesika finally came to be a couple after years of "will they or won't they?" friendship. Apparently, they were the Ross and Rachel of Ohio, where they both attended law school. When we arrived at the cemetary however, the weight of our mission began to set in.

I had just come from a series of job interviews, so was not exactly sensibly dressed to wade through a slew of mud puddles, soft and thick after several days worth of spring showers. I wore brand new silver pants, no coat and black spiked heels. Kevin and I, in our unfamiliarity with the place, spent some time looking for the right spot, inspecting a number of headstones before we realized we had passed Jesika's marker several times already. We both looked at each other and took a moment to recognize that Jesika was somewhere laughing her ass off at the sight of the two of us, in a frenetic downpour, slogging through the mud, me sinking a good five inches with every step, black splatters all over my prized new pants. For a moment, I seriously considered dumping both the shoes as well as the pants. By this time, they were sloshed with rain, just weighing me down. However, I wisely concluded that this was neither the time nor the place to be served with a ticket for public indecency, no matter how hilarious Jesika would have found that as well.

We stood at Jesika's side as the rain fell along with our tears. Both Kevin and I said what we came to say, supporting each other as we got the words out. I will not share what those words were, as that is private moment that will forever bond Kevin and I. It was awful, painful, emotional and for a few seconds, I wasn't sure I had the strength to finish what we came to do, but we did. And I am glad. I definitely felt Jesika's presence, and though the scabs on my heart feel ripped open all over again, the knowledge that there's a place I can go to spend time with Jesika, to feel her laughter still with me, is of infinite comfort.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Simple Life

I have to tell you guys, so far, semi-unemployment really looks good on me. When I announced my intentions to leave the ADA to pursue freelance writing, a corporate writing job, or both, when I wasn't getting looks of disapproval for leaving a safe and solid full-time gig in an awful economy, I received skepticism from those who wondered what I'd "do all day." In reality, I have spent only a minimal amount of time drinking wine and watching all the programs on my DVR, as I had fantasized. I have actually been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, and I love it. Why? Because frantic as I have been, the actions I perform are twice as satisfying. Instead of working for "the man" doing things to further someone else's agenda, that I may or may not believe in, everything I have done this week is for myself or my family. Though the compensation in terms of dollars is much lower than what I am used to, I am infinitely more satisfied.

I have published another article for the life coach in California. Here is the link for anyone interested:

I also published my first small piece for the Institute for Public Dialogue. Scroll down to the small section on China and Tibet:

I must confess that researching and writing this latter bit really got my nerd juices pumped and flowing.

I continue to apply to different freelance postings, as well as sending out resumes to "standard" corporate entities, as long as the work is writing related. But the most important assignment I am occupied with at the moment is the tribute I am preparing to deliver at Jesika's second memorial service on Saturday, May 23rd. I have been chosen as one of the lucky people who gets to talk Jesika, a woman who affected my life so positively for 16 years. It is important that I write my speech out and practice it beforehand. I believe that repetition of the material may help in preventing a public emotional breakdown. Those of you who know me realize how possible that is.

I miss Eddie, who is away traveling for work in South Carolina. I always long for him when he is gone. I have a small voucher left to use on American Airlines and we are currently working out a plan for me to join him in the South for a few days at the end of the month. I will drive his rental car around and explore while he works.

I realize that my posts on this blog can be a huge downer at times. I am, I have admitted before, a relatively serious person, alcohol misadventures notwithstanding. But right now, I am feeling fine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dirty, Rotten Husbands

I have been afraid to laugh the last two weeks. Well, the first week plus after Jesika passed, I just didn't have the urge. After her funeral however, whenever I started to feel that familiar tug at the corners of my mouth, I supressed it as quickly as possible. Humor felt disloyal, on the one hand to Kevin and others whose awful grieving process is only beginning. But more importantly, any experience of mirth also felt like a betrayal of Jesika, as if the world could ever go on as normal without her in it. To giggle seemed, on some level, as though I might be forgetting.

In recent days, I have begun to rethink my position. I could not forget Jesika, even if I really tried. She is still with me, every third or fourth thought throughout my day. 16 years of her light in my life is not so easily extinguished, and certainly not through the form of a good chuckle, an expression of humanity Jesika both enjoyed and encouraged like no other.

My new attitude toward laughter could not be more timely, as my husband Eddie powerfully tested my resolve to keep a continuous straight face yesterday. We drove out to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg for what seemed like an innocent day of lunching and shopping together, two activities we both enjoy. However, on this warm spring afternoon, my husband left an imprint of quirks, idiosyncracies, and downright hilarity across the Northwest suburbs.

We began with lunch at the Olive Garden. Now traditionally, I am reluctant to patronize chain restaurants, being the champion of urban individuality that I am known to be. But when it comes to the OG, I am powerless to resist. I lay the blame at the feet of the bottomless salad bowl, with that delicious and zesty dressing which must contain crack as its secret ingredient, given I have never consumed fewer than three full bowls per visit. But I digress...

The nice part of being in a committed relationship is that, with any luck, you can freely be yourself. I confess, I eat like a man in front of Eddie: both because I love food and secondly, because he seems to enjoy my hearty appetite. This works both ways. For as well-built and handsome as my husband is, his eating habits are very much akin to a seasoned sumo wrestler in training. Knowing these things about each other strengthens our bond, and yet even I was shocked as our waitress set the first of Eddie's soup bowls in front of him, and he sort of nonchalantly reached down and undid his pants. Yes, he did. As though we were watching reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and eating sloppy joes in our living room. I do believe he was discreet enough so that none of the other patrons noticed. But at the end of the meal, I felt a sudden urge to jump up and stand in front of him as he calmly rebuttoned before we made our way out the door. Men of the world, I say to thee: if you must unfasten your drawers to enjoy a big meal, please, for the sake of your beloved, buy a bigger pair of pants to wear out to dine. I would have hoped it went without saying that your wife does not want to sit across from you as your boxers are on full display to the children crawling under neighboring tables, but apparently, it does not.

I managed to compose myself after this Mother's Day lunch rush shame spiral, at least long enough for Eddie and I to enter Macy's. I was after a new set of gym shoes and a bathrobe to replace my decade-old version, mottled with wine stains and burn marks. I confess in this case, I should have been able to anticipate Eddie's coming somewhat unglued in the women's lingerie section. He has never been able to so much as utter the word "panties" without becoming visibly excited (no I did not mean THAT way - get your minds out of the gutter!). Right before the section of the department dedicated to bath robes, there were three female manneguins on display, draped in expensive looking thong underwear. I was able to breeze right by this, but I should have had the presence of mind to ensure that Eddie was moving with me. Because the next thing I know, I wheel around the to the sight of my husband massaging the plastic buttocks of one of the aforementioned manneguins. I had a momentary Andrew McCarthy/Kim Cattral flashback before I sidled up to Eddie and hissed urgently in his ear, "Just what kind of perverted shit are you doing to embarass me now?"

The excuse given, wait for it, was the following, "I was thinking of purchasing some new panties (there's that word again) for you, and I was feeling the quality of the fabric so I could decide if it was worthy of my wife." It was at this moment that the bullshit sirens in my head began to blare excruciatingly loud. Instead, I merely yanked Eddie's arm of out his socket as I pulled him away before any mothers with young children could complain about the freak feeling up plastic asses in the store.

Ok, I admit, it took me about a half hour to recover from this incident, but bravely I soldiered on. Eddie and I finished our shopping and made our way back to the City. He had been complaining about back pain for the last two days and repeated, for about the millionth time in 48 hours, that he wanted a massage. It is, however, stereotypical for a reason that people of Indian descent are woefully penurious. Eddie loves the pampering of a Mario Tricoci spa, but balks at paying more than $50 for things he feels ought to be a given in life. A cheap metrosexual - where did I find this guy?

But Eddie was in luck. There is a "massage parlor" on Lawrence, right down the street from our apartment. Why do I put this title in quotes? Because I have long been suspicious of this place of business, with its requirement that one rings the doorbell before entering, the darkly tinted windows and their odd business hours: open until 9 PM or later most days of the week. Let me put it this way: it's no place I would ever step inside, and for quite some time I have referred to this storefront as the "Happy Ending Hut." Well after a full of day behaving like a registered sex offender, I was hardly suprised when Eddie expressed a desire to find out how much a massage would cost him. I pulled the car over and he went in after inquiring if I were interested in going with him. I believe my look of profound disgust said it all. It turned out, Eddie could avail himself of a one hour massage and access to the sauna for the low price of $75. Now all jokes aside, I wouldn't have tolerated this price inquiry were I the least concerned about Eddie's fidelity. He is a weird one, never afraid to do what he pleases on the off chance that society might find him odd. But he is definitely all mine. So with my intellectual writer's curosity leading the way, I encouraged him to go for it.

I went for a jog around the neighborhood and reviewed my Woodfield purchases. When Eddie came home 90 minutes later, surprise, surprise he found the experience a bit seedy. He mentioned low ceilings and dark light, bizarre music. But I finally had my "I told you so moment" when my husband revealed that, toward the end of his treatment, the masseuse firmly demanded he remove his towel. To hear Eddie tell it, they nearly got into a tug of war about it. Might this have been the inevitable attempt to provide my man with the "happy ending" I predicted, or simply the miscommunication of a language barrier? I will never know, but my warped sense of humor is dying to conclude the former.

Eddie left again this morning. He has started his first series of business trips for Blue Cross that will take him to Columbia, South Carolina for the next few weeks. How will I adjust to the lack of his presence, especially now that I am free from the 9-5 corporate world, and I do not have anyone else in my life who will drop trou, hit on plastic women and visit the Chicago version of the red light district, all in one day?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back from my sabbatical....

...otherwise known as *my life is boring and I had nothing to talk about*. However, a tabloid item that came out in the last week or so has me really burning up; the Jon and Kate Plus 8 scandal. I do not watch the show, have sporadically in the past, and am familiar with the dynamic of the rediculously large family. Its pretty much like this:

Kate is a demeaning, controlling, lippy little
b!t@h and Jon cowers in the corner while the children fuss and fight all while wearing matching attire and displaying all-too-obvious product placements.

So, Jon was spotted leaving a club late in the night with a "mystery woman" while his wife was out of town (wouldn't you?), then he is caught on camera sneaking out of the back door of her home in the early hours, then mystery womans brother/roommate alludes to the fact that he didn't appreciate being subjected to the noises of Jon and MW's hanky panky. All of this adds up to damage control on all ends.

Now for what bothers me...


Jon says she's a friend and he should have been more careful (in covering up his AFFAIR!?) and Kate is on the Today show with her 'tude in tow saying they are "handling it privately". That's code for "I am going to stab that cheating SOB in his sleep when no one is looking". Is any of this "private"? Last time I checked millions of people watched the Today show and millions more read the magazines they are giving "exclusive interviews" to. Look people, when you decide to let cameras tape your life so that you can have money to raise 8 kids and have a million dollar home than you have to take EVERYTHING that comes with it. You don't get to pick and choose what the public becomes interested in with regard to your televised life. The evidence is clear and Jon is already guilty in the court of public opinion.

Kate claims that she is not ashamed of her reputation because she has always said the camera shows things as they really are, love it or hate it (and most of us have grown to hate her) and sadly, now, this scandal is part of all that. If you really feel like this is something that should be kept private, then get your a$$ of the morning show circuit. It really ticks me off when people are contradictory.

One final word to Mrs. Gosselin: the cameras that you now blame for stirring up trouble in your marriage are the same ones that allow you to have the fancy house and cars, vacations on comp, a new career as a writer...I am not feeling to sorry for you right now, lady!!!

The Freelancer

I haven't even worked my last day at the ADA yet (that is tomorrow), and I already have more freelance writing work than I can handle. Ok, excuse the bit of proud hyperbole. I can handle it just fine. I just can't believe my good fortune. About a week ago, my Aunt Diane sent me a link to a web site where they post all these "work from home" writing opportunities. I replied to quite a few of them and was surprised at the results. I would have been happy to get even one return call, and didn't have my hopes very high that would happen, given my lack of experience. However, I will say that my StreetWise piece, and the work Jen and I have done on this little blog, have paid serious dividends in short order. I used them both as examples of my work. Obviously, I did not send links to the pieces about my drunken hijinks in Atlanta. Funny sure, but doesn't necessarily scream, "Take me seriously dammit!"

My first client is a life coach from California. He takes his work very personally: relationship counseling, with a focus on infidelity. He wanted a writer to develop short 500-1000 word pieces on various topics with a focus on making the articles very easy to read (8th grade level), and increasingly "hittable" on Google. There's a whole science to it that Jay explained to me. Not to sound arrogant, but I found it a challenge to "dumb it down" at first. I am normally so verbose with my work (as you good people can attest), that I usually end up tripping over my own tongue, word count rising at an alarming rate, while I do my best to appear intelligent. My first piece for Jay was published today:

The topic: how perfect for me right? My regular readers are aware of my fondness for all things gay. The second client I just took on is a company that writes sample term papers, thesis and reports for colleges and universities to use as reference materials. Basically, they give me an article and a question, and I write about it as if I were still in school. At the bottom of my heart, I am nothing more than a bookish, academic nerd, so this is right up my alley. These folks are so busy they were ready to get me started yesterday, but I put them off until next week so I can wrap things up nicely at the ADA first.

The money I make from both of these jobs will be just about enough each month to pay mine and Eddie's cable, phone, internet and electric bill. I have to keep reminding myself this is not the point. No one becomes a writer to get rich. My issue (isn't there always one?) is that I have to fight the persistent fear that I am a selfish freeloader. Freelancing keeps my skills sharp and gives good copy for my resume while I hunt for full-time work. I am still doing that. I just have to be patient. I am so lucky to have a partner who has more of that, and more faith in me, than I do myself.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


My heart is still a bit raw, but I feel the tiniest amount of closure after yesterday's funeral for Jesika. Oddly enough, it was not the funeral itself that allows me to feel I am starting to heal, but the events that happened after my family, friends and I left the site of our girl's memorial. It was hard to connect with Jesika within the confines of the church. For one, heavy makeup and treatments had been applied to disguise her last days' suffering and the fact that she'd been deceased a week already. The body I saw in the chapel had none of Jesika's naughty smile, playful eye and droll wit. I felt Jesika during the tributes delivered by her two older brothers, Brandon and Kyle. However, it was difficult to reconcile such a somber setting with the light spirited person that was Jesika Thompson.

When I was a freshman, I was part of a four person crew: Jesika, myself, my best friend Gary, and our other pal Danielle. After graduation, Gary and I sort of lost touch with Danielle, as tends to occur when people grow, move and change. We hadn't seen her in more than 10 years before she walked in the door of the Joliet chapel yesterday morning. It was like no time had passed, as the four of us, in addition to Jen, sat close, whispering, sharing funny and irreverent reminiscinces. It was as if Jesika was there right there with us, egging us on to perform mischief at an inappropriate time. Gary, Danielle, Jen and I decided we'd take Eddie, Max and the girls, skip the anticlimatic part where Jesika's long lifeless body was laid to rest, and head to a place where we could catch up and tell old tales about Jesika's enormous stock of bravado.

We headed for Rosemont, Danielle driving in the front, myself and Jen following behind in our cars like a funeral procession in microcosm. We were in search of T.G.I. Friday's, a place sure to sell cosmos, Jesika's favorite drink, at 1 PM in the afternoon. The mood of Friday's seemed appropriately unserious, as I think Jesika would have appreciated. The best part was that Jesika's boyfriend, Kevin was able to drive up to join us at the end for a celebratory, tearful, but humorous toast to a life well lived by a woman well loved.

I chose this title because of its intentional double meaning. The group of us celebrated Jesika as she was, warts and all, loving each and every precious fragment of memory she left with us. These memories often include tears of laughter so intense, you wake up the next morning with sore abs. At the same time, our little Jesika convention began to remind me that she left me and so many others with unbreakable ties, as her brother Kyle said yesterday, her own "rainbow coalition." I will always miss her. But as alive as she felt at that T.G.I. Friday's table, I know Jesika will never be difficult to find.