Monday, November 30, 2009


Its been a trying year, to say the least, for many of us. The laundry list of mine and Boop's trials and tribulations is to lengthy and even bother with at this point. So I decided to start a new list. Instead of "Woe is Me", I am calling it "Cheers to Me". I hope you all will join me and post your list in the comments section. Because, frankly, who else knows better just how great you really are.

  • Cheers to me for endlessly advocating for my kids and getting the results that have lead to improving their lives.
  • Cheers to me for having the BEST job in the world (still don't know how I got that lucky)
  • Cheers to me for being a good daughter
  • Cheers to me for being the better person
  • Cheers to me for finding a husband who finds me worthy of worship :)
  • Cheers to me for having a sister who understands all of it. ALL OF IT! She's the only one who could.
  • Cheers to me for being able to make people laugh even when the situation is not at all funny
  • Cheers to me for at least attempting to work my "curves" aka: 10 Rosebud pounds I can't seem to shake
  • Cheers to me for convincing my hubby to be proactive about his health
  • Cheers to me for taking time to say "CHEERS!" to myself. I rock.

Now its up to you. Go forth and toast to your own awesomeness!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Some Obvious Advice for Tiger Woods: If You Are Weary of "Rumors" and "Speculation", Tell the Cops What Happened Already

I was over this story the moment I first heard about it Friday morning. Yes, I am aware that I am nonethless blogging about it. It is not my fault. My hand has been forced by the nonstop chatter of media personalities, including one hyperbolic CNN correspondent who referred to the golfing great as "the most recognizable face in the world...maybe ever." I have a feeling Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Madonna (not to mention Gandhi, Churchill and Hitler) would beg to differ. The man has a minor fender bender and the world stops. Blame it on a slow news cycle I guess. Last year at this time, we were on the edge of our seats watching the outcome of the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Now that was news.

So fine, Tiger is rich, famous and talented, so any story about him is bound to get some play. But what never ceases to amaze me about celebrities is that they whine about unwanted media attention, whilst fanning the flames of curious fury themselves.

Case in point: Woods postponed the requisite police interview for the third day in a row. Whatcha hiding Tiger? A DUI? A domestic dispute gone horribly awry? If so, you wouldn't be the first, so out with it already. If any of us plebians refused to speak to the Federales after wrecking our vehicles, we'd have some time in lock up to think about it.

Call me cynical, but if ever there was a blood alcohol level issue, it is far too late to determine it now. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Woods have had leisurely days to get their respective stories straight. Conventional wisdom tells me Tiger Boy had one too many, got lippy with his wife, and tried to peel out of his driveway on Thanksgiving night, muttering something about, "showing them all." Fine, it happens to the best of us.

If you want the story to die, own up, tell the 5-0 the truth. Take a page out of the book of President Barack Obama, who when asked on the campaign trail if he had ever smoked dope and inhaled, famously replied, "I thought that was the point." Have you heard a thing about it since?


Friday, November 27, 2009

Jen's Black Friday

When Jen announced her plan to take KK (who wanted the "experience" - la dee da) and head out to Old Navy at 3 AM today, my jaw hit the floor. Jen has a hectic life, but yet and still, the woman likes her sleep when she can get it. We're talking about a lady who could hibernate for 10-12 hours anytime, even while lying down for a nap, in high school. Work, household, KK and Rosebud leave little time for such indulgences now, but surely I belived Jen would have a bit of a lie in the day after Thanksgiving.

As it turns out, in a year of spiraling medical bills, a declining economy and little retail therapy for my baby sis, the pull of low cost schwag was a siren's call too loud to ignore. She ran down the great list of items, in perfectly plotted coordinates, that she planned to score from Old Navy and Traget for less than $120, while we munched our Thanksgiving turkey. The variety was too much for my poor memory to handle, but I know a slow cooker, pajamas and an air mattress were in there. Door busters make stange bedfellows.

I will grant Jen that she did actually need all of these items, and I certainly admire her pluck, as well as KK's in venturing out, to save some money. It was a witch's tit of a windy morning too, the first bonafide winter day we've had this month.

Jen was kind enough to provide me fodder for this post by adding FaceBook status updates from her iPhone whilst wrestling with the chilly masses:

  • Yesterday at 10:39am: Mapped out my black Friday plan. Old Navy at 3 am, Target by 4am, then Kohls and maybe Wal Mart if I don't receive any injuries before that.
  • 15 hours ago: NOT enjoying my first doorbuster shopping experience. I spearheaded a 20+ person fight to get in line.
  • 13 hours ago: Done!

Now by my calculations, since it's 7:40pm now, Jen and KK briefed us on their initial doorbuster disaster at at 4:40am. Once I realized this, I felt a tremendous shudder of sympathy for my little lambs. Then I got angry.

My question is this: Why must retailers put people through this crap? If they can afford to introduce some loss leaders to bring foot traffic into the store, where they always offset the finacial hit, why can't they do so on a normal day? And for Christ's sakes, not at 4 AM. I have a funny feeling they enjoy the sight of us acting like desperate mice, saving the dollars that matter for our families and willing to do anything to get it. It's like the ultimate reality show for the fat cats.

People are on hard times this Christmas season of 2009, more so than most of us can recall in recent memory. If the retailers want our consumer confidence back, the one we lost with the collapse of the nation's financial institutions, job market and housing sector, throw us a bone. Let us get stuff we need at reasonable prices all year round. We will pay more for some luxuries than others granted, and that seems like a fair market practice. But let us get some rest too. Lord knows we all need it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The bloggers of Which End is Up?! wish you and yours a satisfying Thanksgiving, no matter what form that takes.
Eat up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Foiled Again

Granted, my recent posts have been a little dark, but it's not always gloom and doom in Boop's World. For the last four years, I have been competitively involved in my friend Wayne's annual Pick a Winner football pool (better known as "PAW" by fanatics). For those of you who have never participated in this type of exercise, the premise is pretty simple. Pick one, and only one team to win their match each week. The catch is that you may use each franchise only once. So this year, when I used the New Orleans' Saints in Week 1, who have gone on to dominate their division, they were lost to me for the ensuing 16 weeks. The game is pretty easy the first few rounds, but about Week 8 or 9, when you have used a lot of the best teams and have to start dipping your toe into the chaff, things can get messy. All it takes is one bad pick and you're done. There are no second chances in PAW.

Here is a recap of my history in the pool. Needless to say, I have an aptitude for the game:

2006 - Made it to the final 5 competitors in Week 12.
2007 - Out in Week 2 (obviously, an unfortunate anomaly)
2008 - Final 3 in Week 17, only to be cruelly, painfully undone by that grey haired pig fu*&er better known as Brett Favre. There is still a lot of pain here.
2009 - ?

Yesterday was Week 11 of the NFL season, and I did something I normally do not: solicit advice. Up to now, my strategy has been to go with my gut, after a little bit of research. But lately my instincts appear to be on the fritz, so I thought I'd reach out. There is after all, $1800 at stake. My Yale-educated co-worker, a delightfully odd little man named Ned, provided me with his best calculations, based on my pick history and available teams. He not only selected the club I ought to have gone with this past weekend, Arizona, but suggested picks for the next two weeks as well. How lovely.

Only I went with my gut and picked Cinncinati. The rest, as they say, is now history.

Dammit! Wait 'til next year? What's the point of soliciting Ivy League advice Boop (I ask myself) if it is not to be followed?!

I am quite the competitive one. After the game ended, with a pick thrown by Bengals' QB Carson Palmer in the last seconds, my husband came and hugged me solemnly, whispering the words "I'm sorry" in my ear as though I'd just been laid off. I tend to distort loss/failures on my part under any circumstances, but when it comes to sports and money, my trauma can adopt epic proportions. Just ask Eddie about my Week 17 meltdown last year (Brett must die).

So I am hurt today. But will I ride again in 2010? You betcha! Come to think of it, PAW might just be the most appropriate metaphor for my life as a whole at the moment.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Chaos

Admittedly, I have always been a humbug about the holiday season, that blurry boundary between mid-November and the first week of January. Although if I am being fair to myself, I have good reasons for going Scrooge when the weather turns cold. An inordinate amount of bad juju, calamity and misery seems to creep it's way into Boop's World like clockwork every Christmas annum.

I foolishly lulled myself into the complacent assumption that I had already had enough this year: Eddie's unemployment to ring in 2009, Jesika's untimely and tragic death, the near implosion of my marriage over the summer and the ups and downs of youngest niece Rosebud's health. 2009, by any personal measure has been trauma personified. But the 4th quarter of this year started peacefully enough, personally and professionally, and I wanted to believe I had been tested my quota.

I guess not because even after confronting all those aforementioned crises, Jen and I sit in the middle of the biggest shit storm yet. Whenever I make a claim like that you, dear readers, can always be sure it has something to do with our parents, the larger than life, Gloria and Gregg. You may notice that though I tend to be quite open with my personal struggles, in large part because it is free therapy for myself, I tend to shy away from mentions of my progenitors. There is good reason for this. The truth of mine and Jen's upbringing is stranger than fiction, not to mention painful. Jen and I have both tried, as much as we are able, to leave the past where it belongs and move forward with our own reasonably successful lives.

But it seems one can never run from their past entirely. As long as the players are still living, the ghosts of afore will always rear their ugly heads. Jen and I are in the weird position of being simultaneously shocked and completely unsurprised by the fatherly mess we are trying to dig our way out of this month. Again, out of respect for loved one impacted, I am being purposely vague. Suffice it to say, I posted Shakespeare's "Seven Stages of Man" speech a couple days ago because it is highly reflective of where things stand.
Is it 2010 yet?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Post One Fiddy

The Seven Ages of Man
William Shakespeare
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon
,With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CTA: The Chicago Threatening Authority

I seriously cannot believe the gall of these people.

This is not an exact figure but I think the last few days represent roughly the 10,000th time in the last two years that the CTA has threatened a "Doomsday" scenario without the aid of some immediate cash. Of course this bloated, corrupt, inefficent and retarded agency would never once consider pulling its head out of its ass as a cost saving measure. Do they truly think anyone would pay $3 for the "privilege" of riding that rickety, undependable shit in the first place? I know the good citizens of Chicago depend, in many cases, entirely on public transportation, which only makes this continuous extortionist chain yanking the more criminal. Be that as it may people, the time is upon us when we must declare "enough! We will endure no more!"

Where I ask you, does the hard earned cash that so many of us spend on fare cards even go? Does anyone actually work for the CTA anymore? Ah yes, I remember: as the #30 South Chicago bus driver Richard W. Linn, a 25 year veteran of the outfit (word used purposely), told me, upper management is so packed with Daley patrons, there is little left in the till for full-time, trained staff. You know, the kind that actually give a shit when you have an issue and don't just yank your 30-day pass two days early (I remain fumed about this incident at the Damen Brown Line stop)?

What I love the most about this farce is that our fine Mayor would have you believe that despite the department being named the CHICAGO Transit Authority, rather than the State of Illinois Transit Authority, the City is in no way culpable for this mess. There is nothing the King does better than blame shift, and he is ever ready to place the villain's mantel on Governor Pat Quinn. Our highly educated leader had this to say about the two year fare freeze compromise:

"They don't permanent fix too much in Washington, D.C. or Springfield. They don't permanent fix it."

Um what? I am not even going to touch upon the rampant illiteracy of that statement. It's fish in a barrel. Getting past that however, I actually have to give Pat Quinn a small hand. The two year fare hike at the very least gives us a 24-month reprieve from any more blackmail about hitting transit riders harder than they already are. And Governor Quinn accomplished this without yanking the free ride privilege from seniors, which if I may, was one of the few things ex-Governor Blago did right. Daley and his cronies were ready to charge Granny and Gramps full price again as long as the wheels continue greasing. Sickening.

This is a rhetorical question of course, but why is the answer never to fix the way the goddamned CTA operates? This fare freeze has not silenced the agency a whit when it comes to service cuts and layoffs. I say, let the layoffs start at the top. Let's start with Daley.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Which End is Up?

This week, I feel the appropriateness of the title of mine and Jen's blog more than ever. For both of us, the last 5-7 days have been immensely trying, on family, personal and parental levels. Many of the experiences of the last few should provide inspirational fodder for my writing, and yet I find myself perversely wordless at the moment. I believe Jen, as I am, to be walking around in a dense fog of shame, confusion and of course, that good old standby, anger.

If it were only about myself, I'd go into detail. My goal is not to titillate with the dangling carrot of hot gossip, only to hold back. But with respect to current situations, there are too many people I love involved who might be hurt by my characteristic openness, so I will depart from the usual and remain mum for now.

For those of you out in the blogosphere who check in with us now and then, we need your strength and support to get through the rest of this week. Many more challenges lie ahead before we greet the next Monday morning. Jen and I need to hunker down, grit our teeth and pull out the ferocious tenacity that has gotten us both where we are today, but there will be plenty moments of weakness too. That's when we'll need each other the most.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Sky Falls (Literally) on the Old School

Jen and I have had an interesting day. About 3:00 this afternoon, I received a FaceBook message from an old grade school pal by the name of Barry Burman (the erstwhile Brad as he wished to be called at Pilgrim Lutheran Grade School). Barry is kind of a dorky name (I kid!). Has anyone read or heard this new story today?

The house above and to the right is the unfortunate home slammed with the errant refuse. Guess what dwelling this is? The abode of the maternal grandparents of your very own Boop and Jen. Excuse me, WTF?! What kind of weird karmic fuckery is this?

Most people are quite familiar with their grandparents homes, no doubt, but it is not an exaggeration to state that Jen and I lived here for 16 years. With two working parents who lived on the Northwest Side, and our grade school a mere block and a half from Nanni and Poppa's house at 4242 N. Wolcott, we spent far more time in Ravenswood that we ever did in our home neighborhood (which in truth, I am not even sure the name). And what a bumping block the 4200 block of Wolcott was back in the day. Yes, I am about to go all retro on your asses. But it must be said: we Pilgrim kids who lived on that street were a bunch of bad mamma jammas.

Take for example, the time myself, Jen and Becky Jo Lauderdale from across the street (a little white blond pipsqueak of a thing) choreographed our own dance, complete with cartwheels and pelvic thrusts, to the Salt and Pepa classic, "Push It." Or the 25,000 games of tag we played with Becky Jo, J.B. from next door, and two out of the three Burman boys from down the street. My first "french"kiss occured on that block (with Latin hottie Martin Aramburu - seriously, meow!). Jen got hit by a bike once right in front of the house, on the sidewalk, as my humongous Poppa, all 420 pounds, former ball turret gunner of him, put down his fly swatter and glass of homemade sweet tea (a most unusual turn of events) to cuss out the little "son of a bitch" who hit his granddaughter. Too many good times people.

So I can't tell you the flashbacks I endured, and I know Jen went through the same, as we looked at the smoldering wreckage of our grandparents' roof. True it has been 10 years since either of them lived there. They were renters and Poppa, with his morbid obesity, passed away in 1994. There was never, mark my words, a finer man. In fact I owe it to him to write more on that another time. Nanni moved into a retirement home in 1999 and died there. But even after the long passage of time, it was like stepping right back into the mid 80s when I clicked that hyperlink today. Jen and I are sitting side by side on those unmistakably tall steps that led to Nanni and Poppa's second floor apartment. Then we were running down those same steps as fast as our little legs would carry us to overtake the ice cream truck. We rarely missed.

Thankfully, the current families who live there were unharmed. The roof will be patched up and life will go on. They will likely sue some airline or another. But for two little girls at heart today, a random news oddity literally hit too close to home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bronzeville with Ms. Catherine

On leave today from our normal Monday-Thursday routine of hitting the streets to play tourist detective, Sam and I were sent out into the field with one of the volunteers from The Chicago Neighborhood Greeters' Tour, operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs. It's a pretty neat program actually. Visitors, new residents or simply people looking to learn something new can go out for 2-4 hours with a layman expert in their neighborhood of interest. That person will show you the insider's guide to what's what. Sam and I are assigned to research Bronzeville next week and the Powers that Be thought it might be a useful exercise to take one of these tours to assist us with our fact finding. And it was. But what Sammy and I found out was that Ms. Catherine, the formidable 70 year-old woman who showed us the sights today, was about to educate the two of us about a lot more than Bronzeville history. She was about to school us in the game of life.

Ms. Catherine Williams is a 19-year resident of Bronzeville, a retired employee of many years with the City Colleges. She has raised two sons succesfully, both Ivy League educated and living in New York doing fabulous things. Her eldest granddaughter, 21 years old, is about to graduate from Harvard. She interned with former Senator, now Secretary Clinton, and Ms. Catherine has a photo of this child in her living room casually posing with President Barack Obama. How do I know this? The first stop on the Bronzeville tour, Ms. Catherine-style, was her living room, a fantastic apartment on the 19th floor of a Lakefront building. She wanted to show us the breathtaking view she has of both downtown as well as Gary, Indiana. The latter is a mixed blessing, but you get the point. I felt like such an ambitionless underachiever after listening to Ms. Catherine recount her brood's lengthy list of accomplishments. Did I mention that the superstar granddaughter is also a gorgeous classical ballerina? Come on!

Ms. Catherine is once divorced, once widowed. Her husband is gone and her family lives on the East Coast. Do you think Ms. Catherine is sitting around feeling old and sorry for herself? As Whitney Houston famously said on the television classic, Being Bobby Brown, hell to the naw! She is too busy. In addition to being involved with the Chicago Greeters' Program, she is also a jetsetter. She just returned from a four-day trip with some girlfriends to Hilton Head Island, and she's headed to South Beach with another galpal in March. Ms. Catherine is well groomed, chic and expensive looking without being dated or overtly gaudy. She is active in her Church.

Best of all, Ms. Catherine can't turn off being a mother - not ever. Friends, I am 31 years old and I got sent to the bathroom before we took our trip, "just in case because there's a lot of walking." And I went. Such was the command of the 5'3" granny. Apparently, Ms. Catherine is superhuman and never bothers with silly things like bodily needs or sustenance herself, though it was nice of her to think of us. She walked step for step with Sammy and I throughout the day - three miles easily, yet she never used the restroom, ate or drank, or appeared tired at all. In fact, after she dropped Sammy and I back the Cultural Center, she was off to the Mag Mile for a little shopping. Meanwhile, come 2:00 PM I am nursing a hunger headache, and my bladder was heavier than the burden on Bears' coach Lovie Smith to hold onto his job. Do you think I was saying anything? Whining about fatigue in front of a 70 year-old lady in high heels?

What a day. Oh and Bronzeville was pretty cool too. For all my intense fear of aging, if Ms. Catherine and her indefatiguable energy are what retirement look like, I want some of that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kick it Like KK

I am, quite possibly, the biggest softie in the entire free world. Now I know that may come as a surprise given that my tough side equally represents. I can be a hard ass when I need to be, certainly. However, to bring the point home, let me hearken back to my 8th grade graduation. The teachers at Pilgrim Lutheran Grade School got together every year to do a comedy sketch, lampooning that year's crop of graduates. The teacher chosen to play me, Mrs. Halter, a flaming red haired, pale skinned woman (admittedly, the best physical choice for the role), hammed up two elements when fashioning my character: huge green glasses, and a whole lotta crying. Her portrayal stung with the humiliating brand of truth that 13 year-old girls cannot endure in front of their peers. I wished I could scream that it was horribly off base to depict me as a nonstop water works, but I knew even then that the basis for any good roasting is a healthy dose of reality.

I have grown somewhat of a thicker skin over the years, but I am still pretty damned weepy. How many times have I bawled after a particularly moving routine on So You Think You Can Dance? Jennifer Hudson, when she competed on her season of American Idol (her 7th place finish was a travesty that has since been exposed), brought tears to me eyes every time she lifted that beautiful voice toward the sky. This year's episode of The Office which finally inaugurated the marriage of Jim and Pam choked me up in the extreme.

But as 10 year-old KK was reminded anew today, Aunt Becky's tears are not limited to the privacy of her living room and television stimulation. Yes, even though KK is Jen's daughter, I reserve the right to play the proud Aunty and write about this kid. KK and I have always had a special bond - dating back to when I lived with her and Jen for nearly the entire first two years of her life. I changed KK diapers, gave her a bath and put her to bed while Jen toiled away at night school. These were the young crazy days before Jen and I settled down with our husbands, and KK was an adorable light in our bachelorette lives. The connection I have with my now almost 10 year-old niece has always been something I treasure (note: I hope to have this same bond with the more discriminating Rosebud if she ever decides I make the grade).

KK has been involved in quite a few activities over the years, and I am proud to say is a two-time beauty pageant victor among other accomplishments. But my girl is much more than just a pretty face. In recent months, KK has taken to karate like nothing else she has tried before. To know my niece, this idea would instantly bring a smile to your face. KK is the skinniest mini in the world, a relatively tall gal, but appears to weigh all of 10 pounds soaking wet. The karate gi she wore today looked like a parachute, and she had trouble keeping her hard won green belt (fourth level) around her tiny hips.

But you know what? KK might look like a sweet and delicate flower, but she can kick some booty! For reasons that remain unclear, all of the girls in her regular class except she chose not to enroll in the tournament out in Naperville today. There are some reasons I could suggest but that is not my business right now. Thankfully, Max and Jen have no problem allowing their darling daughter to toughen herself up and take a knock now and then. It truly does build character and if I may say, KK apparently took some hard practice shots to the face that left her stunned and red, but she neither quit nor cried.

Instead it was KK's opponent in the first heat who needed the tissues. My little niece brought the pain. Fine, I may be using a bit of hyperbole here. It was not an ultimate fight or anything and the kids were well padded, but there was definite contact. At one point, KK illegally, but mistakenly, connected with her sparring partner's face, and I am sure it didn't tickle. She was not awarded a point for this, but is it sick if I admit it was nearly my proudest moment?

Ultimately, KK took second place in her group, the only girl competing against four boys. Her final opponent, the first place victor, had at least three inches, not to mention 25 pounds on my kid. She held her own amidst the backdrop of the whooping of myself, one of her cousins, Jen, and especially Daddy Max. She was steely and focused. Man did I like what I saw today.

I felt a swelling in my heart as I snapped photos and watched KK receive her rather large 2nd place trophy. But it was the quick victory of her very first heat that set me off in a fit of verklemption that even Jen found surprising. I maintain that she should know by now that Aunt Becky is elated almost to the point of physical pain by her nieces' triumphs. I reminded her again that they ought to know better than to invite me to these things. I realize I am a tremendous embarassment, but I literally can't help myself. Once again, watching KK punch little boys on her way to victory, I experienced what has been known since August of this year as the "Westminster Effect." What can I say Jen? Blame your fabulous daughter.