Saturday, February 27, 2010

Team June/Jesika

I have been uncharacteristically quiet about this so far, but not because of a lack of interest. Quite the opposite actually. As we roll toward the first anniversary of Jesika's death (April 25th), I think of her as much as ever. Sometimes, I have to admit, it's still too painful to talk about, even from the safe comfort of my keyboard. I miss her easy laugh, her teasing, her commentary on pop culture. I would love to hear her reaction to some of the events of my life that have taken place in the last twelvemonth, though it is easy enough to conjure some of those responses ("Girl! What the hell are you doing walking around in Englewood? $10 an hours isn't even enough to pay the doctor to remove the caps from your little white ass! Are you tired of living?").

I loved my Grandmother too, the formidable June Rose Crowley. I was there at her home in rural Wisconsin in June 0f 1991 as she died after a long battle with ovarian cancer, the same disease that struck down Jesika in a mere 17 days. As a 12 year-old girl watching a woman who had raised six children alone on a waitressing salary, a person who had the strength to endure two divorces during a period in American history when even one ws a scandal, a lady who had the courage to sign her alcoholic first husband to a lifetime of VA care when it was clear that his demons would be the end of him without constant monitoring - to watch this tiny dynamo shrink and disappear was one of the most scarring experiences of my girlhood.

So in honor of these two inspirational figures, Jen and I, with a team of nine friends and family members, are walking. We are walking three miles to raise awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research. Because I never want to see another strong woman lowered into the ground due to this awful disease. But we still need your help. We are one person short of the squad of ten we need to fill out Team June/Jesika. For $20 bucks, you can take a relaxing spring stroll with a team of wonderful people, and earn some good karma points too.

If you can't join us in person, we'd be honored if you'd consider a donation. I know these are tough economic times and disposable cash is a vanishing resource, but any amount is appreciated.

Jen and I are not done talking about this. We still have two months until May 1, and a lot to do before then. I heard a rumor that Jen and KK are planning a cupcake sale. Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I like to think of my self as a relatively intellegent woman. Perhaps not the most educated, but "street smart" and savvy in ways that matter. So I hope that you, my fellow bloggers/readers, will join me in my absolute lack of understanding on a hot topic being dissected in the media right now: Why do so many people have their undies in a bundle over the full body scanners being installed in airports??

Lets lay out some facts here. Over the holidays, a not-so-nice man blew up his own undies in a botched attempt to take down an American bound airplane. Sure wish someone had seen THROUGH his undies ahead of time to prevent the panic and lifetime of anxiety for those passengers fortunate enough to have the worst thing on that flight be the smell of his burning genitalia. It could have been SO much worse. And he totally deserved it. Obviously there are MANY other examples of terrorism in the sky. If you are as intelligent as I (there needs to be a sarcasm font), they need not be explained.

That being said, I firmly believe we should all be willing to drop our drawers in the name of safe skies. It may not be the most prideful thing, but for the love of God, if all I have to do to be safe is allow the TSA dude to get a sneak peek of my naughty bits, SO BE IT! And as my friend Cindy so cleverly pointed out, this machine has a slimming effect. Again, how can this be a bad thing? I think we should collectively drop trou in a display of solidarity. Ready! One, two.....

Square One

I am done with the CNTP (Chicago Neighborhood Tourism Project) at the City. If this seems rather abrupt, well it kind of was, but like with any decision I make in life, the seeds of certainty that this is the right move were sown awhile ago.

When the project began, it was all about the fun of exploring the City and sharing my research and findings in ways that would enrich the tourism experience, for locals as well as visitors. But as all City funded projects seem to do, this one started to derail. Between 1/29 and Monday morning, I worked with, and lost, three research partners (including the first and greatest, my Sammy Boy). I injured my hand on the job in mid-January. The fieldwork part of the position became less important over time as data entry and other bureaucratic initiatives began to trump hard research. In the early weeks of this month, I found myself continually getting up at 5 AM and trudging through the cold to reach the office in order to catch up on busy paperwork.

Bah! The very situation I had determinedly abandoned when I left the corporate world last May. At the risk of sounding like a totally delusional hippie, this is not life man.

With all the hours I spent devoted to spreadsheets of late, for slightly more than minimum wage, I began to feel like maybe I had taken my eye off the prize. I left the ADA last year to be a writer, not to spend my days typing data into Mircosoft cells. The job was initally supposed to last four months, but my contract was extended, and a little voice instead my head started to whistle with increasing volume that perhaps I had been hasty in agreeing to continue.

So anyway, I sort of came to earlier this week and resigned. Low and behold, that insomnia I have been battling for the last six weeks has evaporated. I have slept like a lamb since Monday night. I understand, belatedly, that my conscience, the part that felt obligated to stick it out until the end of April, was wrestling with my will and desire, which was to catchup on freelance projects, and make the time to find actual writing employment.

But I have freed myself from that moral picadillo now, and perhaps I ought to feel more guilt and panic (I have spent a lot of my years hanging out in these twin cities), but I don't. I have a lot to look forward to. Eddie and I are moving to a great new place in Rogers Park on March 27th and someone has to get that business underway. The Shamrock Shuffle is on March 21st, a week before the move, and I'm training harder than even I believed I would. Team June/Jesika will strut its stuff on May 1 for the three mile Ovarian Cancer Walk, in memory of two of the most awesome women I ever knew. That same day, I'll find out if I am an Illinois Woman's Press Association award winner.

And somewhere in all that, there's another job for me. I know the economy and the market still suck, but I believed in myself enough to walk away from a stable corporate gig, at the worst possible time, almost a year ago. When I did, it was with the certainty that this road was going somewhere - this path I've been wandering with a pen and paper in hand was going to lead me to career fulfillment. Despite this minor setback, I am not giving up.

Monday, February 22, 2010


As readers of this blog are well aware, one of Boops BFFs, Jesika, lost a tragically brief battle with ovarian cancer nearly a year ago. Boop and I also lost or grandmother, the dear June Crowley, to the same disease in the 90s. In 2010, its time for us to take action. No more talk about wishing we could have done something.

On May 1st, 2010 the National Ovarian Coalition Illinois Chapter is hosting the Walk to Break the Silence at Diversey Harbor. If you can join Team June/Jesika, AWESOME! If you cannot but have even a dollar to contribute to the cause we would certainly appreciate that as well. Here is a link to our team site

Boop and I hope to see you there, even if its only in spirit

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do you want to get physical to "Physical?"

Let me begin by saying that I am a HUGE ONJ fan (that's Olivia Newton-John to the rest of you). The reasons for my love of the cute blonde Aussie are too numerous to delineate here. Grease! Xanadu! Ok, I'm done.

Among the many Newton John projects I have enjoyed over the years, 80s radio staple "Physical" surely rated with me. Of course I just thought it was a nice song about working out in the gym when I was in kindergarten, much like I believed wholeheartedly that "Little Red Corvette" was a ditty about a rad sports car.

"Physical" is an ear worm piece of pop candy that I personally love to consume. Be that as it may, and even despite its racy subtext, I still don't think I find the song overtly sexy in any way.

Now when I think hot in the 80s, I picture Baby and Johnny Castle practicing intimate Latin dance moves to Eric Carmen's "Hungry Eyes." Now that's sexy. A bunch of fat sweaty guys ambling around on a badly lit faux gym soundtage? Not so much. I would also argue that ONJ's sweet singing voice sort of precludes anything she warbles about from sounding suggestive. You could have replaced the lyrics with a well chosen "Penthouse Letter" and the result would be the same.

What do you make of the results of this poll? And what songs get you in the mood for love?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Race Training - Outing 6

Wowee! My dogs (not to mention my calves) are barking. Consider this shamrock officially shuffled!

I have never been the greatest runner. My trainer Rob described my usual stride as "lethargic and heavy footed" - not a compliment by any standard. But when I commit to a challenge, I want to give it everything and do it right. My aversion to social embarassment is off the charts, but serves me well when it comes to the study and practice necessary to avoid peer mockery. So in the midst of last week's blizzard, PMS and plenty of overtime on the day job, I have thus far stuck to my plan of running at least 4.5 miles twice a week. Starting Monday, the frequency will be upped to thrice.

Everything, and I mean everything, hurts during this adjustment period, as my body attempts to acclimate to running a lot farther and a lot faster than it ever has before. I was prepared for sore legs, but sore arms and abs too? I meet Rob on Tuesdays and Thursdays for kettle bell strength training, which is fairly intense. But it seems I don't feel the full brunt of those efforts until I have spent an hour pumping my arms in the wind. The walk up the four flights of stairs to my apartment never feels longer than after a practice run - sweat running everywhere, winter hat stuck to my head.

But you know something? Through all the discomfort: the cramping in my left calf, the aching between my shoulder blades, the chafed skin on the left side of my torso (windburn) - I have never felt better. A month before the Shamrock Shuffle officially begins, I feel like I have already achieved so much. This old dog is learning a new trick, and the results of my efforts are showing up in my timing.

When I started training almost three weeks ago, it took me 70 minutes to run 4.5 miles. When I put the key in the lock to my front door last night, I had covered the same distance in 47 minutes. Better yet - I managed to jog briskly for the first two miles without slowing down to catch my breath. During my first drill, I couldn't get to one. Surely, I am not where I want to be yet, but I think I see a dimly lit path to success. Yes we can!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And Then There Were 58...Bayh, Bayh Evan

If there is one thing I admire about the hard Republican right, it's their apparently insatiable appetite for battle. Over the last 12 months, the "Party of No," has used its spare energy for nothing beyond intense ideological and bureaucratic grudge matches - and seems to relish the confrontation. Like Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple as well as Pixar, the people who have taken you back to the Revolution - literally to the 1770s with the resurgence of the "Tea Party" - seem to thrive on adversity and their underdog status. It's like they are daring anyone in Congress to actually try something. Democrats are body checked at every turn.

But the bullying gets so much easier when your opponent takes his toys and goes home. It has always stymied me to come up with reasons why those most wed to change (many, but not all of the left leaning Dems) appear to have the weakest stomach when it comes to fighting for it.
Today we learn that Evan Bayh, a former two-term Indiana Governor, and two-term Senator, who has never lost an electoral contest, is leaving the game. His reason: "'There’s just too much brain-dead partisanship' in Congress, Bayh told ABC, and the American people need to vote out those who are 'rigidly ideological.'”

Alright, I feel you there Evan, but how does your resignation help us to achieve that goal? By vacating your formly Democratic seat, aren't you just opening it up to Republican takeover, a prospect not impossible in semi-conservative Indiana?

It is hard, both as a staunch liberal, and as a lover of the textbook (rather than actual) political process, to find much to celebrate these days. Though I do not place the blame on Obama, who has nonetheless developed into a curiously "lame duck" first term chief, "Change" becomes an ever dimmer possibility with every news cycle. The divided electorate seems more fractured and unwilling to come together to get work done than at any time in our history. And that is dangerous, because we have a comprehensive list of real problems that need solving now.
I would beg Senator Bayh to reconsider, but I am sure he has already fielded calls from Majority Leader Harry Reid, possibly even the President himself.

I am daydreaming of a targeted flood, a la Noah, that could wash away Capitol Hill and give it a fresh start. It appears nothing short of that is going to move American democracy forward. I guess Evan Bayh shares my dream. It's just that I thought we went through the process of electing officials so they could help us, not get bored/frustrated/annoyed and give up. If Senators get disillusioned and quit, how do they expect us to stay engaged?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Wishes

Yes, it's a semi-unserious Hallmark holiday, and it certainly is no reflection on one's life if they don't have a partner today. But it's kind of nice to recognize love one day a year, period - in all its forms. So I buy into it all in my own way.

Hope whatever y'all are doing, you feel the love.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wow, John Mayer, Just Wow

A few weeks back, my co-worker Lora and I took a little break from the grind to play a game. It was called "What celebrity would you like to have hit on you, just for the joy of being able to turn him down?" Lora's choice was Brad Pitt, a controversial one for certain, and largely driven by the ugly beard he was sporting that he has since shaved off.

My pick was instantaneous and for me, way too easy: John Mayer. For years I have watched this slutty egomaniac get famous for too many things besides his music - like his sidewalk press conferences, endless Twittering and the stream of hot Hollywood babes he has banged, and then had the class to report about. Never will I understand what some of these impressive women saw in this fleabag (et tu Jennifer Aniston - twice?!). Incidentally, I might also mention that I hate his music. He may be a fine guitar player, but his singing voice sounds like a small barnyard animal in heat.

So it's clear I do not like the guy and would love to personally give his ego a check if the opportunity presents itself. But it seems Mayer himself has beaten me to the punch. Have you folks seen this? I could paraphrase, but it packs a greater wallop to read the disgustingness first hand:

If I had any respect left for Mayer, I do believe this would have finished it off. Is there anyone out there who will admit to being a Mayer fan? If so, what do you make of this seeming attempt to self-destruct?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ship's Going Down: Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em!

Ah yum, the familiar taste of egg on our faces. Too bad I don't care for eggs, but to be a resident of Illinois, you'd better learn to love that chicken born protein, because as long as you are a voting adult of this State, one humiliation after another is to be your lot.

It almost seems like a farway dream that a man named Obama: classy, intelligent, thoughtful and competent, could have ascended the ranks of the political mire we crawl through in the Land of Lincoln. But it did happen, a once in a lifetime gift, and enjoy it folks, because it looks more and more like that's all we're going to get.

Because no sooner did the primary polls close last Tuesday night, then we found ourselves in familiar territory:,CST-NWS-cohen09.article

A pawnbroker, a repeated domestic violence offender, consorter of admitted prostitutes and SuperBowl party killjoy (did you SEE that mess as he withdrew from the Lt. Governor's race in a teary press conference, in the middle of a pub, as innocent people attempted to watch the Saints march to victory?) I would ask, fair citizens, what we have done to deserve this nightmare, except we, or at least the Democratic ilk of us, actually voted for this loser. Let this be a cautionary tale to those who think their vote couldn't possibly matter. When you achieve a paltry 25% turnout, you get Joey Buttafucco as your candidate.

I didn't vote for Cohen, but no matter. I am again ruined through guilt by association. And now that Cohen has quietly (ha!) exited the race, where do we go from here? Are there any good choices? It seems some would like Dan Hynes, the Democrat who just lost the nomination for Governor to incumbent Pat Quinn, to step forward. But surprise, surprise, he seems a little reluctant to fill the shoes of a man who will let his morbidly obese son weep with heartbreak next to him on national TV.

Between this crap and the blizzard, I need a drink already. It's gotta be noon somewhere...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Go New Orleans!

It was not until the Fall of 2006 that I began to take a real interest in the NFL. At first, my thirst for knowledge was driven by the need for information, a competitive edge so that I could take everyone's money in the Pick A Winner Pool which I participate in every year. I haven't actually mamanged to take it all yet, but I am working on it.

Anyway, I found as I studied, once I got past the assumption that I will ever understand EVERYTHING that happens on the field (the sport is just too complicated), I started to like what I saw. I enjoy the way a lead changes four or five times in a game, the way that a pick can shift momentum and put you back on the edge of your seat when you'd already given up on the home team. I like the loud, rowdy fans, the crunching of hot male bodies (in some cases), the failure of my enemies (I am talking to you Brett Favre). In short, football kind of makes me feel alive, riding a roller coaster of emotions that are precarious from one whistle blow to the next.

Tomorrow, as you know, is the Super Bowl, another championship game without the Chicago Bears (I maintain they didn't show up to the last one they played in either). No matter because I find myself firmly on the side of the New Orleans' Saints. Not only have they never won a team ring before, but the City has been through an awful lot in the last six years. They need the morale boost, and with the play of their football team this year, they deserve it.

I am also a bit tired of Peyton Manning and the Colts, not the least because they were the team to humiliate the Bears this weekend in 2007. The Colts are becoming like the Patriots once were, or the Yankees still are - that annoying team that always seems to find itself in the last stages of the playoffs, predictable, the ones you start rooting against.

It promises to be a good match. I have picked my side. What's yours?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shamrock Shuffle Training - Outing 2

You would think that a woman who beats herself up in the gym (or at home doing Tae Bo) six days a week would be a competent runner. You my friends, would be wrong, as I was when I had the foolish idea to undertake this race on March 21st. It's a 8k (roughly 5 miles) and I was somehow under the impression that all the cardio I do would make this thing a breeze.

Saturday was too cold so I ran indoors on a treadmill. I logged a highly unacceptable time of 70 minutes to finish the 5 miles. I felt Ok about this for a first day until my best friend Gary, who claims he is "out of shape" informed me that he can easily run the same distance in under 42 minutes. Um....

So yesterday I went out after work, thinking that it's best to simulate actual race day conditions - weather, roads, etc. My plan was to run from my place to the intersection of Lincoln/Ashland/Belmont and back - about 4 1/3 miles in total. I was able to run for more continuous periods without stopping, which shows my lung capacity is already building. But alas, my final time was a still sorry 50 minutes - only slightly ahead of my pace from last Saturday.

I would have returned home feeling completly dejected, but I was buoyed by the new sites I encountered as I ran down Ravenswood toward Addison, a part of the street I have never explored before. I was jogging and bopping out to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," when I saw something rad out of the corner of my eye. Samurai training! Or what I thought was samurai training, but actually turned out to be aikido. But samurai training! Swords, ponytails and everything! This is the place:

Really, how awesome is that? I decided to take it as some sort of sign. I WILL be a running warrior and must not give up, even if I can hardly move a muscle in my body this morning. Maybe I will take up fencing as my next project. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Illinois Primaries

It's Election Day in Illinois. Or rather, today we vote in the Democratic, Republican or Green party primaries to choose candidates for the November races. In 2010, the citizens of this State have to choose replacements for some very important positions: Governor, Senator and Cook County Board President, among others. The State and County are facing a profound fiscal crisis, due in part to the incompetence of our elected leaders for the last couple decades.

I woke up early to vote for change before work this morning, and I hope my fellow citizens follow suit, even if, admittedly, the current candidates are not exactly an exciting lot. Need it be said that I went for the Democratic ballot?

I definitely felt underwhelmed as I exited my polling place, even if proud to have done my civic duty. Be that as it may, the following results should come by day's end: Pat Quinn a lame duck Governor (I struggled mightily with this, but ultimately went with Hynes, the current Comptroller), Stroger out (anybody will do - KK and Rosebud for Cook County Board President!), and a Democratic replacement candidate will be selected for the mercifully retirning Roland Burris.

I don't love it, but I went with Alexi Giannoulias on the last one. I voted for inexperience here, somewhat deliberately. I have had my fill of Illinois "machine" politicians, and will gladly give someone outside the establishment a chance. How could they make things worse, I argue to myself? Definitely no future Obamas in this lot.

Oscar nominations were released today, though I have yet to peruse them. A busy news day all around. Enjoy it!