Confessions of a Reader.

I love to read. I could spend hours at a bookstore and I am at the library at least twice a month. I haven’t read all of the classics. Who and what defines a classic, anyway? I’ve never read any Jane Austen but I keep meaning to and not because of the movies. Well, maybe because of the movies. I swooned over Wuthering Heights in college and trudged through Dickens but in the end it was a far, far better place that I went.

One of my favorite parts about reading is when I can say to someone “Have you read this? You should read this. Here, let me tell you what this story is about and then you can decide if you want to read this.” I am that person at the shops, at work, sitting next to you at a dinner party who says “That reminds me of an interesting book I just read…” but not in annoying or pedantic way. I don’t apologize for quoting memorable lines and I think that everyone should have at least one favorite book. Mine is To Kill A Mockingbird. I don’t care if you think that’s cliché. I read it when I was 15 and I have been enchanted by it ever since. Hey Boo.

I think that being able to tell a story about what you’ve learned is a little bit like being a very good teacher; you tell just enough to spark an interest or a question or a provocative thought and then you let the person find out on her own what she really thinks. To that end, here is a summary of one of my other favorite books:

Pilot crashes in the desert and has hallucinatory trip about meeting a boy prince who fell in love, protected his love, got lonely, traveled away far and wide to cure loneliness, was amused and disturbed by adults, realized that the love you have for something is what makes it unique, said a couple of things that people always say now and died in a pseudo-messianic way that made the pilot wonder if roses are even ever worth it.

Have you read this? You should.

No, Millennials are Not.

I recently read the latest in a long line of articles about Millennials in the workforce. The problem with most articles on Millennials in the workforce is that 99% of them are written by their parents.

They want what most parents want for their children; they want them to succeed. They want them to be happy. They want them to look with their eyes and not with their mouths and think, goddamnit, before they speak.

Unfortunately that last bit, that’s the part that’s a little fuzzy. Because somehow “eyes open, mouth shut” seems to be a piece of advice aimed at anyone BUT Millennials in the workplace. Say what?  

To paraphrase every article ever written on this topic: you don’t know anything about technology because you weren’t coding and texting in utero, you’re not very efficient because you only focus on one task at a time and Millennials are going to rule the world so you’d better give them everything they want and let them be in charge or you might get left behind when everyone goes to colonize Mars.

Now, I don't disagree that the workforce is changing, the way we learn is changing and what we learn is changing, I think it’s a new dawn, a new day and a new life and we should all be feeling pretty good right now. But instructing me to hand the car keys over to my 12-year old brother and telling me he will be fine driving because he knows how to use the radio makes no sense. There is no common sense anywhere near that idea. It’s as if common sense stood up, tilted its head at you and noped right out of the room when you said that.

Where did it go, I wonder? I do believe it went in search of the oft-forgotten, tragically overlooked, apathetic, lackadaisical latchkey generation. GenX. You know, the ones managing your kids. And common sense is not at all sure why you seem to keep saying we should lower our expectations around things like critical thinking and analysis and spelling. Common sense is puzzled with the “Aw shucks we don’t know the internet like YOU do, Millennials!” attitudes. In fact, common sense feels like quoting Marcus Aurelius at you, reminding you to “Never esteem anything as of advantage to thee that shall make thee break thy word or lose thy self-respect.” Because every time you suggest we give out quarterly attendance awards, you are very much in danger of the latter.  But mostly common sense just wants to make sure GenX isn’t buying what you seem to be selling.

You know, GenX. The ones who who are actually quietly taking power now. The ones who earned it.

Let’s face it: Millennials are the siblings we could never convince our mothers to leave at the store because we didn’t want them at home. But please. Stop telling us we need to let them drive the car when they don’t even have their license, Lisa. Start telling them they need to fasten their seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

11.4.13 Dear.....


I know, I haven’t written in a while. Wretched of me, isn’t it? I have the best of intentions each morning to write at night. I don’t know why, because as far as I can tell, the night likes to gather all my creativity in a glass and then sing song "no no, it's just at the bottom, have a sip, you'll see!" and before you know it, I've decided that I'm going to start churning my own butter like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Still, everything's better with butter.

In fact, I had an entire letter beautifully composed and flowing with mad lib-ian poetry in mind but then, scotch. Sadly, you’ve not ever warned me of the effects of scotch. Why didn't you warn me? The letter went nowhere except the sofa of my mind as my mind rested on the sofa. It is now lost forever in the sloshy synapses of Balvenie-soaked brains. Since when do I drink scotch, you ask? I don't even know. But I do think that if I ever Scotch Guard my sofa, it's going to be a big man in a kilt who bellows things like "Aye, ye canna si' there, lassie. You're a wee bit topply with the drink." He may or may not take my sofa, but he’ll never take my freedom.

And so I leave you with this thought: No matter how hard ants work or how disciplined they may be, they do not understand their place in the world because they are not afraid of feet.

Scotchy hugs,


How. About. A. Nice. Game. Of. Chess?

I think I may have discovered a potention. For those of you who don’t regularly make up words because you left your imagination under your pillow with your first tooth, a potention is a “potential invention.”  Also, you should know better. Imagination never goes under the pillow. It doesn’t care to be smushed.

Here is what happened: I got my rental car at the airport, had trouble trying to unlock the steering column, considered asking the guys in vests congregating 200 feet away, decided against it because I'm not sure how I feel about vests, glared at the steering wheel, wondered if I was stupid, swore quietly at the steering wheel for making me think that, glared at the steering wheel again and swore more loudly and got the car started. Sometimes you need to have strong words in your back pocket. You don’t always need to take them out, but it’s nice to know they are there, warming your back pocket.

My potention is not about vests nor is it about pocket-warming words. Is it still only powerful computers like the WOPR that work underground? What kind of help, may I ask, is a GPS system that starts only AFTER you've emerged from an underground parking like Batman? I'm confident I am not the only one who does that. If you are not humming a theme song or monologuing on who you are and what you are about to do as you emerge from the darkness of a parking garage and into the light then what is the point of driving?

So your phone is not a WOPR, nor do you call it Joshua (I’m still not sure why) and so now you don't have GPS until you pull on to the road directly into traffic. Which is a little late for GPS isn't it? My potention is a little area just outside the garage that is NOT the merge lane where you can pull over and start your stupid GPS so that you can quickly find the souless corporate park where you are supposed to spend your next 2 days and just as rapidly triangulate the location of the closest glass of wine.

Luckily in Orange County, as in Tokyo, people drift all the time, so shooting across 5 lanes of traffic in order to turn is no bigs. Still….potention, people. POtention.


Six Thoughts.

1. When I was in Ireland I noticed that museums are free to enter but cathedrals are not. costs nothing to educate your soul but money to save it.

2. If you throw up in someone’s car, you have to assume that all that flirting you did earlier won't do you any good.

3. My ninja blender is incredibly loud.

4. Sometimes I “discover” music only to be told I’ve been listening to it at boozy brunches for years. Anyway, what's music but background noise for bubbles, anyway?

5. I suspect that champagne bubbles trap time inside them and whisk it away, often on curls of smoke.

6. Sometimes it’s best to think forward, rather than straight. 



Who knew? Everyone, apparently.

I have discovered coconut oil.

Straight from the jar. How did I miss this?

It’s like when I was dance-cleaning my kitchen ( you don’t? Please) and I looked up and noticed there was grease above the stove. Well of course there is grease above the stove, I do USE the stove for things other than making mulled wine, but it’s like…it needs-to-be-cleaned grease. Whatever, don’t judge. Are you telling me you wipe down your walls every single time you cook? You don’t. Don’t Play. Don’t Kid, either, those guys were never good at cleaning.

What to do? Mr. Clean and his magic eraser were NO help at all. Maybe because the eraser didn’t choose me? This troubles me to no end. How to get rid of this? To the internets! Ok so…did everyone know the amazing power of vinegar except for me? I mean, besides the things it does to cucumbers and hot and sour soup? The cleaning part of it? How all you need is hot water and it’s like nature’s bleach? I mean, I literally changed the ethnicity of the vintage 1950’s lady who hangs out over my stove when I cleaned it. Whatever, you’re gross! Ok I know, gross. But still. Vinegar and water. And done!


This lady here.  

This lady here.  

My point is, a Trader Joe's recently opened up around me so I went to check it out. Now look, I don’t know from Trader Joe’s....I just know that the wonder that is TwoBuck Chuck and some kind of magical cookie-brownie hybrid cleverly packaged in plastic so that you can clearly see it in all of its organically harvested, conflict-free sugary goodness comes from there. So I went. I wandered. I found this coconut oil which apparently as everyone knows, is supposed to be very good for you. So I bought it. I’d read that you can eat it straight from the jar but....really? That stuff looks like Crisco. I’ve eaten Crisco straight from the bucket. Anyway, I ran out of spoons.  

So I guess I’ll have to go back. Are they always so happy there? I guess if I was surrounded by $3 wine and that sweet sweet coconut oil I would be. I think I’m going to need more spoons.




8.30.13 Dear.....


Yes, my gardening shoes are black patent leather wedges. It’s not like I bought them that way. I mean I did; as you know, I’m not a cobbler. I mean that I didn’t buy them just in order to garden, I wear them for “light gardening”.... you know what? You once showed up to shovel dirt in a big fancy hat so hold on, your phone is ringing. Pick up, it’s me. Hi, Kettle.

Anyway, thanks for clarifying that you'd like me to join your business activities, not your other activities. I'm happy to observe in a non-creepy way but really, we don't need to Three's Company any situation, especially because I'm more Mrs. Roper than anything and not everyone likes a caftan. By the way, people who do not like caftans are not to be trusted. Just like doughnuts.  

That said, I would pay to see some of these situations in which you find yourself. Good money. CASH money. You aren’t even sharing the same planet let alone the same moment as some of these people. I would wait in line, buy a cocktail and some candy and settle down in a big cushy chair to watch that show.  

Secondly, thanks for volunteering me to work your farmer's market stand. As long as it incorporates the more bearable aspects of being a farmer, I'll allow the appropriation of my self to sell your goods. I won't have anything to do with a farmer's tan but I WILL get up early (I know, it doesn't seem right, these words) and I WILL drink coffee in early morning-sun and I WILL talk to your customers while you make money. And then I'll use some of that money to buy a ticket to your next outing. Offensively charming or charm offensive? It's a fine line, you decide.

I think I'm in love with half of the people you meet, especially the 5-and-under crowd. I'm going to start inserting the "You haven't asked me what my favorite.... is." into all conversations after about one minute, no matter the topic. For example:

Person Who Is Not Me: "...ok so then we need to look at the implications of changing this to that and the expectations of how long that will take."

Me: "You didn't ask me who my favorite Muppet is. That's actually a hard question and I'm glad you brought it up. Though I, like most, have an affinity for the wild abandonment of Animal, I confess I most love Rolf because I had a Rolf-puppet when I was younger and I love a crooner. Also, that will take about 20 minutes."

PWINMe: "How did you even get a job here?"

I don’t even know how to answer that. Do people NOT have a favorite Muppet? It’s like not having a roller derby name at the ready (mine’s “Taiphoon”). You don’t know that Hell’s Belles is NOT going to call you to see if you can sub. You don’t.

And finally, Monopoly. You always bought Park Ave...well of course you did. I was just always trying to get free parking and stay out of jail. Which I think, is generally just a good life goal.



Shoeless in Tailand

The thing is, I like shoes. A lot. The ironic thing is that for someone with approximately 100 pairs of shoes, I love to be barefoot.

Wait, IS that ironic? Like, truly and in the correct sense of the word? There are so many skirmishes and disputes lately about what is and is not the correct usage of the word. All these grammar warriors with rage in their paper hearts launching dictionaries at the vocabulary infidels because of the improper use of words. Which, isn’t THAT ironic, improperly using words on those who improperly use words? That those who love words so much they would toss their dictionaries into harm’s way? Or is it just hypocrisy? Well I don’t even know anymore and now I’m going to be forced to do something I rarely do: logisticate. Logicafy. Use logic. God. If my dictionary hadn’t been requisitioned by the grammarian generals during the Ironic Spring last autumn, I’d know what to say.

If irony is the contrast between reality (what is) and appearance (what seems to be) then what is (I like to be barefoot) contrasts pointedly (but not shoe-wise, I don’t go for those) with what seems to be (I like shoes so much that I have 100 pairs and I wear them all).

It should be noted that I don’t like ALL shoes. I especially don’t like inappropriate footwear. I’m not talking about Italian leather pumps in the Colombian rainforest. How was Joan Wilder supposed to know that she’d have to trudge through the jungle in order to smoke weed with Jack Colton? I’m talking about truly inappropriate footwear, like sport sandals with suits.

Ok, I am not at all opposed to providing a platform to praise someone’s shoes and would love to work in a place where you get recognition for bringing a little sass in the form of footwear to the office. Zappos, are you hiring? DSW, I am a devoted member of your congregation. But really. Tevas have no place with a suit and neither do Keens. I’m not sorry and they don’t. These shoes should be worn if you have rocks under your feet doing that thing that people call “hiking” (which I don’t understand. If you want to get up a hill covered in rocks, why not take a Range Rover?) or perhaps a creek of some sorts or a canoe floor.

You should not be wearing them out and about. You should not be wearing them to the Jewel unless the Jewel has suddenly transformed its entire layout and the cheese aisle is in a creekbed and the wine section is at the top of a rocky hill. You should certainly not be wearing them with your suits and outfits thinking that now you are business casual. I don’t care what you say. The shoes don’t make your suit look casual. The shoes make you look stupid.

And don't even get me started on those 5-Finger things. One, that’s a dirty name and two, I bet they smell.

And finally, do not tell me not to judge your “Melanie-Griffith-9-5-thing” you’ve got going on when you wear sneakers with your skirts on your commute. First of all, those are two different movies. Secondly, you can’t “skate by” on 9-5 references with me. Finally, everyone needs commuting shoes and now I’m wondering if roller skates would be worth all the Tootie references. I suppose you'd have to take the good with the bad.

It's a Great Lake.

First of all, about SUPping. It IS harder than it looks. I mean, there you are, lolling on your towel, making sandcastles with your toes and contemplating opening a bar on the beach...but not like a big huge sweaty mess of a bar; an airy, breezy bar where you can have a nice refreshing drink that is NOT in a red plastic Solo cup because you will not, no matter what, ever serve drinks in red plastic Solo cups because THAT kind of drinking is reserved for your cooler on the beach when there is no bar available, so you can take those red plastic Solo cups right back to Phi Beta Bud, bud....when someone glides right past you, on the water. Right. On top. Of the water. And it looks so so easy. So easy. It’s just standing, right? And you’re like “I can stand. I like the water. I’m going to do that!” And so I did.

Here’s the second thing about SUP: you will fall. Rewind. Llaf lliw ouy. If you do it in Lake Michigan, you will fall. Let’s not forget that this is not an “ok” lake. This is a Great Lake. It has tides and undertows and smelt. The smelt is not what makes you fall, but there they are anyway. It has waves. Even when it doesn’t have waves, it has waves. You know that you can’t see the other side of Lake Michigan, right? You can’t. Sometimes on a very clear day  you can see Chicago from the Indiana side and you realize what “Great” means in terms of a lake.

It's really big. 

It's really big. 

Anyway, you might hear people say that you’ll never fall, that it’s so easy, you will never touch the water. And I say to those people that you can stay on Pepaw Lake or Easy Water Bay if you want to. I’m a Great Lakes girl and I’ll learn to walk on water there. Also, why would you not want to touch the water? Why are you standing on top of the water if you don’t want to actually get into it at some point?

So there I am, standing on the beach, staring at this board, suddenly a little doubtful that this is going to work because....that board is big. It’s a big, 11-foot board and it looks unwieldy and the sky is overcast and it feels like it might be cold and I have to be told which way is front and how to use a paddle and that my arm is a fulcrum and is that even safe? A fulcrum? That just doesn't sound right. I look out at the water, look down at the board...look out at the water again. I’m doing this.

Drag the board into the water (which is in fact, not cold. Not to me, anyway) and kneel on it. Paddle. Kneel up. Paddle. Tsk, this is easy-peasy. Now, stand. Place your paddle across your board and put your hands down and push yourself up. Standing! And then promptly fall off.

And I’ll tell you what: once you fall for the first time, you’re not scared to fall again. You come up spluttering and (if you’re me) laughing and you never stop. Not for at least a whole 90 minutes. So you try again, and again. And again. And you eventually will experience, if only for a brief moment, the pure pleasure of standing on top of the water. You smile. You shout. You promptly fall over because you got cocky. And then you scramble back up on that board because you were walking on water and you want that again.

Your body adjusts to being on top of a moving surface by rocking with the waves. Your mind adjusts to the fact that you are standing on top of a moving surface by clearing everything out of it. You maybe aren’t so great at turning, but when you’re standing on top of the water, alone on the lake, staring at the skyline....well who wants to turn away from that? You look reluctantly at the shore. You know the shore. You’ve been to the shore. The shore ain’t got nothing on this. But hey there are some little waves closer to the beach and you are going to surf those things like Blair Underwood. I mean, Laird Hamilton. I mean, neither, because you fell off again.

You’ll come in exhausted, knowing you will be sore tomorrow. By the way, you have no idea how sore you will be tomorrow. You’ll be really sore. You’ll also be amazed that you accomplished what you did. I mean, those were some spectacular falls. But you also stood on top of the water. This time it was you gliding over the surface.``

And now you know, about SUPping. It takes a bit of time to get used to. Which you, with your 4G coverage and instant downloads, need to get used to. What’s it like to learn something brand-new, do you remember? It takes time. It IS harder than it looks. But it’s not as hard as you think it is.

California Daydreaming.

Sometimes the day wakes up, stretches and is like “Yeah, no. It’s not happening today.” And when you wake up and realize that this day just is not going to work for you, you know that you aren’t going to work for it, either. But still maybe you have to go to work (UGH, first-world problems!) and by mid-morning you are asking co-workers for baby powder because this day is a RASH on your SOUL and you’re wondering what your dogs are doing and how you can have their lives.

Little did you know that the Baywatch team has been waiting in their red swimsuits on the sidelines of your mind, ready to save you from this day. Because you started thinking about what would happen if you turned the corner at work and found a shirtless David Hasselhoff drunk in the corner eating a cheeseburger. Would you be like “Sigh, life in the office...” or would you be like “God, not again, why is he always in my AREA?!” OR, what if you turned a corner and you got bowled over by David Hasselhoff in red shorts running to save someone from a paper cut or from putting the wrong toner in the printer? And then you see HR running after him, all “NO SHOES! NO SHOES! DETENTION!!!”

And when you try to get your lunch out of the fridge and collapse under the weight of falling frozen lean cuisines, David Hasselhoff comes running with that big board and rolls you on to it, shouting for people to help clear the lasagna and give you space and also noting that the taquitos are past their expiration date, which is DANGEROUS. That’s two rescues in one.

The best would be when the whole Baywatch team has to break up a gang fight within IT: the sys admins vs. the helpdesk.....sys admins circling their desktops, helpdeskers glaring over their laptops. The Baywatch team breaks in and tries to get everyone out in the sun. IT responds by locking their email accounts.

And now you’re disturbing people more than usual because you just can’t stop laughing at the idea of a slap fight between IT and Finance, with Finance wielding balance sheets as its weapon of choice and IT brandishing crazy code no human should understand.

So now this day that decided not to work for you worked for you after all, only in a different way. A Baywatch way. And that makes you toss your hair and walk off into the sunset...mostly because it’s time to go and also because you should probably slip out before someone asks you why there are so many cheeseburger wrappers on the floor.


Excuse me, there is a penis in my soup.

I once told some Japanese women that I ate penis soup.

Their giggles told me that of course, I was completely mistaken. I hadn’t eaten penis soup at all. What I ate was just a mere vowel away from wang slang, but  I had only been in Japan for a few weeks and didn’t know my Godzilla from my Mothra.  In fact, I knew hardly any Japanese at all, except for what I had picked up in Toyota commercials and The Karate Kid (“Toyota” and “Karate”). The first words I learned when I arrived in Japan were “strawberry, “beer,” and “bar”; food, drink, and a place to get food and drink. So clever!

One of the things I love about learning a new language is the mistakes. All the really spectacular, hilarious, amazingly embarrassing mistakes. But you know what? At a certain point, you're like "Who cares? I'll never see these people again! Don't tell me how to live my life! I'm going to keep making mistakes and have fun with it!" 

Of course, then you realize that when you call someone at work a pear-dog, the odds that you will see that person again AND that you will henceforth be known as "Peardog" are quite high.

And then you shrug, realize mistakes are expected and necessary and bond with your co-workers by inventing fruit-animal nicknames for everyone.  Because seriously,  when you accept the fact that you will make mistakes, you’ll be a lot more willing to try something new. 

Don’t believe me? To recap: I told two lovely, middle-aged ladies that I ate penis soup. And wanted to eat it again.

 Laugh it off. You really can’t punish yourself too much. After all, it’s just soup.

 Note to self:
“Chanko Nabe” is a delicious, one-pot soup famously eaten by sumo wrestlers in training and can be found  in almost any nabe restuaurant. “Chinko Nabe” is not. But it’s really, really funny when you tell people you ate it.


Rosemary is a Slutty Herb.

Here’s the thing about summer in Chicago: I just want to do everything outside. No matter how hot it is. If you can even imagine waiting on a train platform for 20 minutes when it’s 20 degrees, you can understand wanting to spend every single second of a Chicago summer outside. I like to play in the dirt. I like to plant things and garden and I really like to hang out in my yard. Sometimes other people do, too. One of my friends visited recently and when she got back to the East Coast she messaged me to say, “By the way, I really miss your yard. I tried sitting in mine the other day with a glass of wine and it wasn't the same. It was just meh. So I drank in my kitchen instead.” I love her.

Another friend has tried to convince me to turn my postage stamp of a lawn into an “edible yard.” I said, “A what? I don’t eat grass. Drink your juice, Shelby.” Her name isn't even "Shelby." Which is not actually to say that my garden is not at all edible. That is also not meant to sound naughty, but it does. I’m going to tell you about my herbs.

First, rosemary.  All tall and welcoming, reminding you of her presence when you brush up against her, all “Hi, I’m Rosemary, wouldn’t you like to put me on some chicken? Maybe a nice pork tenderloin? Perhaps some potatoes.....?” And that proud roseMary keeps on growin’ well into October. Super hardy and totally delicious, rosemary is the sluttiest of all herbs. It will go with almost anything.

Next, basil. You can be a little fussy, basil, especially when it’s hot. You get all wilty, like a Southern woman with the vapors. A nice cold drink of something and within minutes you’re back on your feet. Just like a Southern woman with the vapors. I will never forget when I went to a concert in the park and you were in a limoncello lemonade that rivalled the broadway songs on stage for my attention. And that is HARD to do. You were cleverly disguised as an ordinary bottle of lemonade but I knew better. And soon enough, so did everyone else.

Now, dill. Dill, dill, dill. Why, dill? Why. Why do you half-heartedly grow? Why do you mock me with your spindly stalks that could barely flavor a teaspoon of cream cheese for my lox and bagel and then turn brown minutes later? Why aren’t you trying? You break my heart, dill. You’re a weed, for god’s sake. Act like one. Act like....

Mint. Talk about a weed. It does make its presence known. Brush your hand over it, and mint lets you know it’s there. Here’s what I love: after a rainstorm or a watering, mint-flavored air creeps in through the windows and swirls all around you. “Make a mojito!!” mint cries. “Toss me in some fruit!” mint begs. Mint just wants to be loved. That’s why it grows that you don’t forget it. Ever. We’ll talk about the psychological neediness and neuroses of this weed another day. Right now I’m going to introduce it to my friends Vodka and Lemonade. That's what I call "adult fun."

I'm a Ninja.

I am. Not in the traditional, black-silk-pajama-wearing, breaking-into-high-security-mansions, art-stealing way. I'm a ninja of the mind. Ok, of my mind. 

Which is why, when I couldn't get into my yard because my gate was inexplicably broken as if after having worked perfectly well all weekend it decided it was French and therefore to go on strike, I decided I could scale fences. Like a NINJA.

The thing is, I don’t like to be kept from things I want to do. And the other day I really REALLY wanted to sit in my yard. Have you seen my yard?

It includes contemplative dogs enjoying lavender.  

It includes contemplative dogs enjoying lavender.  

It was nice, it was warm, it was know what, the why doesn’t matter. The point is, my gate was as broken as the European financial system and I couldn’t get in, no matter how many times I stamped my feet and pushed on the door and rattled the handle and yelled at the fence and tantrumed in the early evening. Same with the banks.

For a second I considered just going back inside and waiting a while before trying again. You know, the “turn it off and then turn it back on” method I use on everything from my laptop to the blender. I mean, this always works: my laptop always goes back on, the blender always makes me a margarita. 1 + 1 = 2. But I knew.

I was going to have to climb over that fence and open that wretched gate from the inside. Just a like a ninja.

No big whip, right? It’s only like a 6-foot fence. Which by the way, you cannot vault yourself over by just standing on a kitchen chair. Lesson 1, learned.

Sitting outside my gate on the aforementioned kitchen chair, ignoring the people walking by wondering why I was sitting on a kitchen chair in the middle of the sidewalk, I of course realized I needed a ladder. And it turns out, someone to hold it because it turns out I had to stand almost at the very top of the ladder to swing myself up and over, one leg on the ladder, one leg dangling over the fence, balanced on my hands in a bizarre fence-beam routine, and then lower myself down (thereby shocking every gym teacher I've ever had since I never could do a chin up) onto an outdoor storage cabinet before dismounting onto the patio. Lessons 2-6 learned in quick succession.

Lesson 7 is that a victory dismount pose is less effective when your friend can’t see it because she is on the other side of a traitorously locked gate.

Lesson 8 is that the evening is a little bit lovelier and the wine tastes a little bit better when you have to work a little bit harder to get it. So go get it.


I saw something, so now I'm saying something.

No, no, no, take your time, mister. I'll wait here, in the awkward small space at the top of the steps on a moving train, while you leisurely search your bag for whatever device it is you need right this very now. You’re right, standing back to let me pass and then going back to get your smartcrutch would be too...what’s the word I’m looking for? I should get out my thesaurus, since I’ve clearly got the time to search. You’re obviously not going anywhere. Not 3 inches to the right, not 5 inches back. You stay in your bubble of convenience, where everything is you and you are everything and I’ll look for a synonym for “aware.”

Would it be considerate if you moved out of the way so that I could pass? I mean, even just turned yourself so that you weren’t filling up the entire space with all your everything you so that I could slide past? Sure, but you don't have time for that. I can see from your suit that you think you're really important.

You didn’t even notice when the lady across the aisle on the other side of the train said loudly "There's a seat down there!” and pointed to it and then when I nodded and smiled and said “Yes...” she said, even louder, “OH, you’re waiting." And I smiled and nodded again and said, just as loudly, “Yes. I’m waiting.” Not a hair on your gelled analyst buzzcut moved.

And then you snapped your bag shut because you still couldn’t find what you were looking for and sat down. And then noisily sighed and glared at me. Like it’s my fault you are in a U2 song? I am in a bright pink dress on a gray rainy morning. There is nothing to do but smile at me.

You know, I too wish I had a driver that would take me where I need to go, when I want to go and doesn’t mind when I stand in the driveway with the door open for five minutes while I rifle through the bits in my bag that get me through the morning. But I have to let the train take the strain, my friend. And so do you.

So pay attention. If you are in such a hurry to get on the train, push your way through the door and charge up the stairs, then follow through and make a big dramatic production of collapsing into your seat with a huge sigh of relief. Maybe even shout “I win!” because we all know you want to. Be an adult and finish the game. 


June 25, 2013. Dear.....


I really cannot stop thinking about adult fun and the things that should be added to that list. Like, what about timeshares? No, really. As an investment, not a way to get a free brunch or a trip on the roller coaster at New York, New York.

Or how about buying linens. Coupled with the added satisfaction of washing said linens and then going to bed in warm clean linens? I about content.

How do you get through the day without these thoughts constantly popping into your head? The other day I was out in my yard (endless possibilities for adult fun) and suddenly, the following popped into my head in rapid succession:  

Lawn care
Drinking a beer after a day of lawn care
Paying someone (like teenagers) to do your lawn care
Patio schematics
Hiring a contractor
That moment you realize that you can pay someone else to do it….and you already have

See how fun that is? Especially that last one. Anyway, speaking of food, if I had a dinner party, you'd cater it, right? Don't worry, Jesus is still on the B-list because like I said, I don't want this to turn into a whole "My birthday's on Christmas and I always lose out on the presents" thing. He's done that before and the other guests feel obligated to comfort Him because even though gold and frankincense and myrrh are pretty nice gifts and last a long time, He you know, died for everyone. Anyway, It's just awkward. Like, GOD what a martyr.

But I'd totally let you plan the whole menu (that's VERY fun) and I'd go to store with you (because financial nonchalance while grocery shopping is also very much adult fun) AND maybe we'd even take a cab home, just because it's raining (do I have to say how fun that is? It is. Cabs just because are always fun).

Anyway, you let me know. I'm going to sit down, weigh the pros and cons of mobile service providers and watch my credit score go up.   



Party in a garage.

I love to talk about food. Most of the time and especially when I’m on vacation, I’m either talking about what I'm eating, talking about what I’ve eaten or talking about what I’m going to eat next …while I’m eating now. People always talk about food. Even when they don’t want to talk about it, especially that particular dish they most definitely do NOT want to talk about, they talk about it.

Everybody’s got their favorites. And of course there are regional specialties. Sweet tea. Cheesesteaks. Lobster rolls. And the biggest mother of them all: pizza. Oh, pizza. New York-style, Chicago-style, Naples-style; pies and thin crust and deep dish; square versus round and arguments over why circles are cut into squares (it’s to create the little tiny triangles that you eat while you are contemplating which piece you want, obviously). The smile and nod that ends it all when I eat because it doesn’t matter. Pizza.

But then there are the standards. The stuff everyone eats. The stuff we are shocked to learn that others don’t, or haven’t.

One of my friends from California is always blah blah blahing about tri tip (which I have NEVER heard of because in Chicago we eat prime rib and filet and STEAK, not tips of whatever. What’s the point of a tip? It doesn’t sound at all like it would stand up to a baked potato. And if there’s anything you want your meat to do, it’s to hold its own next to a baked potato).

HOWEVER. It does sound delicious. Here’s what I think she might have said once or a hundred times about it: I think it’s got a secret rub (naughty!) and some lime? Maybe it’s grilled? I’m sure it’s marinated for at least as long as it takes to finish a bottle of bubbly. So, like 30 minutes? Then you eat it, outside, on your patio, in December. Yeah, she is not above bragging about the California sun during a Chicago winter.

And did you know that they do NOT have mostacholi in NYC? This was confirmed by my friend who grew up here, in Chicago, and now lives there, in New York City. She discovered this when she went to the grocery store. She found penne. She found rigatoni. She found no mostacholi. How New Yorkers ever celebrated Baptisms, Communions, Graduations, or Birthdays, I’ll never know. If you aren’t eating baked mostacholi from a giant aluminum pan on a buffet, then you aren’t celebrating anything.

I’ll break it down: growing up, parties were all family and neighbors. Probably a couple of  strangers too, because one guy knew a guy who knew that guy who fixed the pipe at Mrs. Wojaliczak’s across the street. And if you were from the South Side, those parties would have all been in a garage, because that's where all the parties were.

Not a dirty garage full of dust and two by fours and bushel baskets with some sad, lonely apples left over from apple-picking. No no no. A garage, clean and swept, two by fours stacked neatly in the corner, bushel baskets hanging on the wall, refrigerator shining and full of food. Yes, the second refrigerator. Don’t tell me you didn’t have a second refrigerator in your garage. Maybe in your basement. Unless you had neither a basement nor a garage (which means you lived on a boat, in an apartment, or in Hooverville, like the extras in Annie), you had a second refrigerator.

Here’s the party: mostacholi, fried chicken, wet beefs and a giant garbage can full of ice and pop and beer and you have to reach in all the way up to your elbow to get anything. Cream soda is always left over by the end. Who wants cream soda? 12 year olds hopped up on sugar and sun, that's who.

So, you have big long tables and metal folding chairs that either pinch your fingers when you are wiggling in a sugar-induced frenzy to get more cake or stick to your legs as you reach over to grab another piece of fried chicken (probably cold, which is even better).

You have adults standing and sitting and laughing, vodka tonics carefully tended and beers balancing equilibrium during horseshoes.  

You have kids running in and out, all slamming doors and shrieks, obeying the made-up rules of made-up games, their shouts punctuated by the louder (but only occasional) “stop running or you’ll slip and fall and crack your head open!”  

In short, you have the perfect South Side party. Apparently they don’t party in garages in California. I think it’s because of the earthquakes. Enjoy your sun, you who live on a fault line!! I'll be over here, shoving mostacholi into my mouth and wondering if there is anything besides cream soda left.


June 10, 2013. Dear.....


People don’t really “stop by” anymore, do they? Like, “I was in the neighborhood, thought I’d say hello....” ...we just don’t, do we? Here is the best thing: when friends stop by on a Sunday afternoon and really do intend to just say hello and then a bottle of Veuve, 2 bottles of Sauvignon, a bourbon for those who don’t do bubbles (don’t ask), and one firepit later, it’s suddenly 10:30 on a school night and you are accidentally tipsy.  


There is not one thing not to like about this scenario. If this scenario were grammar, it would be the past perfect. And when you are in the middle of said scenario, it’s the present perfect. And since you’re always open to droppers-in and stoppers-by-to-say-hello, it’s the future perfect. I should have been an English teacher. My students would have been the best grammarians.


I have a recipe idea for you: amazeballs. I don’t know what’s in them, but I think they’d pair nicely with wittycakes. I’ll even help you make them. That’s an empty offer, but I mean it. Anyway, like you say “Empty, heartfelt boozy offers are the best.” It’s the thought that counts. Unfortunately, when the thoughts are boozy, the counting often goes like this: “one, two, three, sip, sip, seven, four, this cheese is amazing, look at my new shoes!” You really shouldn’t put my thoughts in charge of the drinks. As a detailed foodie nerd you should know this.

I have more examples of “adult fun” to add to the list from before:

Catching up on NPR
Revising Monopoly rules to include bridge loans, liens and for-sale-by-owners

Subscribing to word-of-the-day emails

Discussing capital gains

Arguing over which bourbon/scotch/whiskey is best

Arguing over bourbon/scotch/whiskey 

That last one actually is fun. I’m sure there are more. I’m sure I should write a book about these. I’ll put my thoughts in charge of this project....they’ll like the last two and probably take them out for an all-night brainstorm. My poor brain. Stormed, by brown liquors. Some things have all the fun.



Actual Postcards from Tailand.

I actually do receive lots of postcards in Tailand. I have a friend who might be me if I were a he. We drink lots of wine and gurrrrl in judgement. We like manners. We tell people if they don't have nice things to say, they should come sit by us. We laugh so loudly we get shushed (like, church isn't funny?).  He asks after my shoe collection. Anyway my me-he likes postcards. And me-me does to. And since I'm the luckiest me in the world, he sends them to me.

Like this one, from Myanmar.

Like this one, from Myanmar.

And this one, from the Philippines.

And this one, from the Philippines.

And these, from...I don't know, a bunch of other places in Asia.

And these, from...I don't know, a bunch of other places in Asia.

Then he told me he found the perfect card for me in the bread aisle of his grocery store. What he's doing in the bread aisle in a Hong Kong grocery store I don't know, because you don't usually find the booze there. Anyway he was there and there it was. And he told me it was made for me (he said, "It was made for YOU!") and that I had better love it best of all and more than any other piece of mail I'd ever received from him. And so I said, "I promise to love this one best of all." Which is just what my mother said when I was born. Sorry, sisters.

Never fear a bold shoe, that's what I say.

Never fear a bold shoe, that's what I say.

Especially when it's on top of your wine.

Especially when it's on top of your wine.

Jesus is on the B-list.

I would like to have a dinner party and I would like to invite...hmmmm. Who would I invite? First I’d invite Jesus because if I ran out of wine, I have tons of water. We should note that running out of wine is both highly improbable and highly probable. I like to drink it, so I have lots of it....because I like to drink it, so I might run out of it. Ergo, Jesus. Unless it turns out that the whole Bible thing was just a story and when I take Jesus to the sink and turn on the tap, He just looks at me with his big Jesus eyes like “what’s THIS?!” taps in Jerusalem. In which case I’d be like “Are you for real, JC?!” Great, still no wine.

So, Jesus is on the maybe list until I can investigate further. Of course, I could invite Nancy Drew to the party. She’s probably a teetotaler, so no worries about having to get her any wine. She’d investigate this Jesus story. She’d give it a clever name, like “Nancy Drew and The Case Of the Missing Wine” and she’d ask lots of questions. I don’t have a bell tower or a grandfather clock or even a roadster,  but I bet I could keep her busy with a vintage watch or a monocle or something.

She’d certainly be interested in talking to Gregory Peck because a) he’s dead and b) he’s a dreamboat. Also, he’s Atticus Finch. He can sit next to Chopin, who will be talking to Beverly Cleary and/or Judy Blume. I might invite them both but I’m afraid they will dominate the conversation with Tales of a Fourth Grade Ramona Quimby Deenie Margaret Ellen Tebbits Tiger Eyes mashup. I’ll have to set some ground rules for them otherwise Chopin will be so bored....

I wonder.....if Jesus is on the list, should I add Buddha too? And then shouldn't I also invite Mohammed and Confucius and that Zoorastrian guy? Martin Luther might get upset if he’s not on the list and try to nail something to my door, like The 95 Rules of Dinner Party Etiquette and I’d have to invite him and Emily Post in because manners dictate that a good hostess makes everyone feel comfortable. I could invite an Episcopalian because they’re like Catholic-lite and will balance the crowd, but I will not have a Calvinist to this party. I don’t have any wooden chairs and they’ll just get upset by Kali, who would have to arrive in all her chaotic glory (which would probably please Dali to no end) and now this party has got a definite religious theme (which would not sit well at all with the Galileo).

So, Jesus is definitely on the B-list for this one.