Saturday, August 30, 2008


I have a confession to make; the Olympics bore me. While the rest of the nation was glued to the TV set a few weeks ago I only glanced at it on occasion. The gymnasts were pretty, the volleyball girls in the sand were silly, and yes, Michael Phelps can sure swim but none of it really holds my interest. (By the way, was anyone else repelled by Michael Phelps when he does that frat-boy victory yell and screams like Tom Cruise in "Top Gun"?)

But give me a good old fashioned political convention and I am in my glory. I watched nearly all the coverage of the Democratic convention and not just that CNN crap where the announcers keep talking over the speeches but the boring as dust, unfiltered coverage that PBS brought us. I was rapt from the first to the last speech every night. This week I'll be watching too. Not as raptly but I'll be there to see Sarah Pallin try to explain why we should vote for a woman who can barely keep her trailer in order.

It's all good fun, entertaining, and more importantly--important.

I'm a bit of a political junkie I guess. I majored in poli sci in college and I like to follow the political scene especially in an election year. Jeff says he doesn't know why I don't get involved in politics but I know why; while it is great fun to watch and study I would not want to be inside of it all and see the ugliness. You know, I'm a sausage lover and all but....I'm not sure why people make this leap anyway--does anyone tell the lover of Broadway musicals they should audition? Do I suggest that because he loves college football he should go volunteer to schlepp water to the players? No. Let me watch and talk and keep my distance.

I also like to talk politics but it isn't easy to find people to do that with around here. For some reason, they take the old adage "It isn't polite to discuss politics and religion" quite seriously. This is a mystery to me. It's not that way where I grew up in Michigan. There we are regularly impolite and discussed politics fairly openly and frequently.

I don't know why things would be so different here. I'm quite sure in this town just 15 miles from Chicago (also known as "the machine" as in political machine and "the windy city" not because of the gusts that come off of Lake Michigan but because of the hot air our politicians blow) that most of the people here are a phone call away from the mayor or a legislator. But they are NOT interested in talking about it.

Even on the Fourth of July I could not stir up one single comment when I deliberately tried to be provocative by wearing my Barack Obama t-shirt to a barbecue. Not ONE!

I can't even figure out why we're told it's not polite.

Is it because we might disagree? That's silly; it's like telling Cubs and Sox fans it's not polite to discuss baseball or stay-at-home moms and full-time working moms not to discuss child rearing.

Is it because people don't care? I find that hard to believe. Only a very naive or ignorant person believes that who's in the White House doesn't directly affect his or her life (federal income taxes, Roe v. Wade, declaring war, you get the idea) and the people I hang with are not naive or ignorant.

At any rate, I say, the heck with that old adage about not discussing politics. If I'm in the room, bring it. I don't care if you're an Obama mama or a McCain fan or even a nutty Ralph Nader supporter, just come informed and come talk to me.

Now more than ever, with us poised to elect either our first African-American president or our first female vice-president, this is an election to get excited about, to find out more about, and yes you polite North Shore ladies, to talk about.

To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, if you don't have anything political to say, don't sit by me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


If you're at all interested, you can check out the interview some nice folks over at did of me at

This is a website that offers a free template for writing and archiving the story of your life. Their goal is modest--they hope to one day have the story of every man, woman, and child on their website. Check it out. Maybe you'd like to add your life story.



Friday, August 22, 2008


It's back to school this week in Glenview and as I drive Grace to Junior High I wait behind a school bus that has stopped to pick up a young child. The mother and father are both there as it is the first day of school and I guess the first day of kindergarten judging by how wistful mom looks and anxious dad is. Dad places his hands on the child's shoulders as if he could hold him back from getting on that bus and maybe keep him a moment longer in the preschool world. I know what the parents are thinking. How quickly it went! Wasn't it just yesterday they were in the hospital with that newborn wondering how on earth they were going to take care of this new wondrous creature? Finally, the parents kiss him goodbye and reluctantly let go as he boards the bus with confidence. The bus pulls away and I'm not sure there's a more forlorn sight than that of the parents left behind.

I glance at Grace sitting next to me. Goodness, she's nearly a full-grown woman. She wears her new skinny jeans and has a new hairstyle with bangs that hang in her eyes and make me offer to trim them nearly daily. How did this happen? Wasn't it just a few days ago that she was in her new denim skirt, the one she picked out with Jeff on that special shopping trip in the city as they prepared for her first day of school?

Back at home Lilly is ready to head out to her elementary school. She has a backpack shaped like an alligator and wears her bike helmet without being reminded. She waves and pulls away from me, happy to meet her friend and ride to school. How could this have happened? Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that I told Atticus and Grace that they were going to have a new baby brother or sister?

As I turn to go back in the house I see my neighbor, Ralph, come out of his house. He's an attorney who works in the city and takes the train every morning. He and his wife Gundy are now the senior members of our block at the age of 70. He sees Lilly riding down the street and he stops and watches her for a moment longer than I expect him to. His face grows dark with something that looks like grief and I know what he is thinking. How could Lillly be riding her bike to school already? Wasn't it just a while ago that Kurt, his 50-year-old son used to ride his bike down this same street to that same elementary school?

I wave at Ralph but he is lost in reverie and does not see me. I turn to go inside and get my coffee before the gravity of the moment can move me to tears.

And so it goes and so it goes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I drove to my class reunion with my best friend Lisa and her husband, Steve, who did not go to our high school. Steve asked casually if John M. would be at the reunion. John M. would be the boy from Lisa's past who still has the ability to make Lisa blush. You know the guy--we all have one or two. He's most often not a former boyfriend but much more intriguing--the biggest crush you ever had that was never reciprocated.

As we drove, Steve reminded me that they had run into John about ten years ago. Here, is the story, more or less as he told me:

"When Lisa was pregnant with Brendan her doctor told her she could keep up with most of her fitness activities as long as she wore a heart monitor. It seemed like no matter what she did, the monitor did not go off since she's in such good shape. We were living in Northville (our home town) then and one morning we went for a long, fast walk. Her heart monitor didn't go off of course, in fact she wasn't even out of breath.

Then we went around the corner and I could see two people walking towards us. All of a sudden I heard this beeping and I didn't know what it was. I finally realized it was Lisa's heart monitor. I was worried--nothing had set it off before. I looked over at her and saw she was frantically trying to rip the monitor off. 'Oh my God, are you okay?' I asked. She just kept trying to pull that monitor off."

Here Lisa takes up the story: "I knew it was John and his wife from way off. I had a crush on him all through high school. As soon as I saw him my heart monitor started beeping like a code blue. I also knew both he and his wife are phys ed teachers so they would totally know what was making the beeping sound. That's why I was trying to rip the monitor off, before they walked up and heard it going like mad."

So there it is, proof positive that those crushes in high school, even 20 years out, can make your heart race. We all laughed at the story and wondered just how awful high school (and the bar scene and yes, a class reunion) could be if we all wore heart monitors to let the world further know how much we liked someone. As if the blushing, sweating, and stammering weren't enough.

I loved hearing that story again and I loved knowing that in this life we are lucky enough to feel so passionately about someone that our heart monitor will beep. I'm happy to report that I am married to the one who set my (figurative) heart monitor off most frequently and loudly in my early 20's. In fact he still does.

I wish the same good fortune for you all.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Mikey Luckett at the 30th reunion. Is he snoozing?

Once upon a time I was a high-school student. Now, you may find this hard to believe since I am the glib, world-traveling, clever, and witty woman that I am today, but I was not the most popular girl in my high-school. I was not even friends with the most popular girl in my high-school. I don't even know who the most popular girl in our high-school was.

I was not exactly the biggest loser either, target of bullies or anything like that, but let's just say, I was in the band.

Which is why, my junior year, I had not really had many (did I say many? make that any) dates yet. When the fall Sadie Hawkins dance (girls ask boys) began to approach, I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns and change my sad fate. I would be brave and ask a boy to the dance myself.

I chose as my target, Mikey Luckett. Mikey was a good-looking guy I had known since first grade and since he was in the band and a friend of my brother's as well as a friend of mine I figured I had a decent shot at it.

I waited for the perfect opportunity which presented itself to me a week or two before the dance. We were all in the gym for a 24-hour volleyball marathon raising funds for--you guessed it--band camp. At about 3 in the morning, a group of us sat in a remote corner of the gym, our backs to the folded up bleachers chatting. Slowly, the group began to break up and eventually it was just Mikey and me. Perfect. We continued to talk, our backs to the bleachers, not making eye contact. I popped the question, "So, Mikey, would you like to go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me?" I asked tentatively. My question was met by silence. I waited a full minute and still nothing. Finally, I turned to see if he had heard me. He sat with his eyes closed, snoring softly. At first I thought he was actually asleep but slowly it dawned on me (I was not popular but I wasn't stupid)--even a narcoleptic doesn't fall asleep that fast--he was pretending to be asleep so he didn't have to answer me.

Now the funny thing is Mikey went on to be my brother's roommate in college and they keep in touch which means I run into Mikey every five or ten years which means I get to remind him of that story every five or ten years. He has the decency to look embarassed (though he never denies the story) and I think he may be regretful; not regretful that he never went out with me regretful that he had the misfortune to entangle his life with mine enough to have to run into me every few years.

We both attended the 30th class reunion last weekend and I looked forward to giving him shit about all of this yet again. I saw him as soon as I got near the bar. There weren't many people there yet and I was ready for a drink. No one offered to fetch me one so I decided to give Mikey the chance to make it up to me after all these years for feigning sleep. "Hey Mikey, would you like to get me a drink?" I asked, not so tentatively. Without looking up from the yearbook he was looking at he said in a perfect Beaver Cleaver Girls are Icky voice, "Now why would I want to do that?"

It is said that the definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing and expecting a different outcome. I am a lot of things but I am not insane, which is why, in ten years, when I ask Mikey Luckett to dance with me at the 40th class reunion and he pretends he is paralyzed from the waist down I will be embarrassed yet again but at least I won't be surprised.