I was recently blown away by an example of giving, in the form of paying it forward. It started with the concept of saying “thanks” and then moved on to “giving,” which makes it the perfect tale for this time of year.
I’ve played music as long as I can remember. I was drawn to the family piano, messing around on it until my Mom began teaching me how to play...read more
So how are you doing after last week? Let’s see, we had the threat of nuclear war, tiki-torch-wielding Nazis marching in the World’s Worst Luau, and we ended with a deadly race riot. By noon on Saturday, I had to take off my bra and have a good cry.
I also had to bake cakes for a birthday party I was attending that evening, so I was baking while I cried....read more
There is not much in my life that is quiet. Certainly not my home, with young kids and a barky dog. Certainly not when I leave my loud home to go to work, in a loud symphony orchestra. And I’m not exactly what you would call a quiet person. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I love and crave silence. Since it’s not built into my life naturally, I...read more
I just had a career milestone I would like to share with you all. Recently, I made my violin debut at the Skanky Oar. I performed there as part of a trio, with a man named John on keyboards, and well, I never really did catch the name of the guy on guitar and vocals. How do you get to the Skanky Oar you ask? The answer is not “practice,...read more
We’re home this year for spring break because I had a couple of shows and my husband has some work stuff he needs to be local for, which puts me in a nostalgic mood for Spring Breaks Past. Like the one where we spent a week with Tom Cruise. No, really. We did.
I had stumbled on a tiny island I had never heard of, off the coast of Florida...read more
Last week, we got our Daylight Savings-tired selves out of bed super early, braved the snow and cold weather and went to pay our friend Peter Roskam a surprise visit at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center, where he was having a private meeting. Three friends and I had been planning this for a few weeks, mainly by text, sometimes over margaritas. And guess what? Our plans worked: a couple of...read more
February sucks. February in Chicago sucks even more. February in Chicago under a newly installed regime that has you worried about an impending nuclear war with Australia sucks the most. I need a distraction from politics, even just for ten minutes, and I’m guessing you do, too.
Last night, for example, I asked my husband to pour me a big glass of Eff You Trump. He knew exactly what I...read more
Trump’s first week in the Oval Office was purposefully provocative, attention-seeking, destructive, sloppy and chaotic. And he took us all with him on his crazy-ass ride through the Thunderdome. Normally, I am not an anxious person. I am not much of a worrier. I don’t forecast disasters where there are none. I am not overly dramatic or histrionic. Well let me tell you, last week I was all those things....read more
My Mom’s birthday is tomorrow, the fourth birthday of hers since she passed away. Each year it does get easier, but it still stings mightily. The thing that has changed is that now I am ready for it and expecting it.
Her birthday comes six days before Christmas so all this grief has been tied up in the holidays for a while now. Because of that, I don’t look...read more
So we had a very interesting Thanksgiving this year. My oldest had to have an emergency appendectomy on the Tuesday before the holiday. His surgery went very well, but the recovery has been very hard. He really couldn’t get off of the couch and he was in considerable pain and had high fevers that we were having to fight with only Tylenol, since he has a severe drug allergy to...read more
I don’t have much to say about this election. Well, that’s not true exactly. I have so much to say-- so many, many, many things to say-- that it all goes around and around in circles and cancels everything out and in the end, there’s nothing left but a huge, heavy sigh. And some tears, compulsive chocolate-eating, swearing, quiet rage, uncertainty and exhaustion.
I haven’t felt like writing because it...read more
All women know someone like Donald Trump. We’ve encountered him on the playground, where he bullied us; we went to high school with him, where he snapped our bra; he was that date-rapey dudebro in college that ranked you with a number based on your looks at his frat parties; he was your colleague that you had to make nice with but who constantly talked over you during meetings and...read more
I was looking for something good to read, so I did what I always do and asked my friend Deanne for suggestions. Deanne is a crazy bookworm like I am. It was one of the things we bonded over when we met in graduate school: in our first music class together, she turned to me and asked, “read any good books lately?”
I had just finished one I really enjoyed...read more
Hearing the news that Phyllis Schlafly has passed away at the age of 92 brings up a bizarre memory that is burned into my brain. When I was in college, I was a member of a student committee that brought speakers to our University for presentations and debates. It was our job to book, promote and then host them on campus.
We were hosting a reenactment of the Roe V....read more
Every year, my husband asks me what I want to do for Mother’s Day. Usually, I grab Mother’s Day with both hands and I don’t let go: I stretch it out for a long whole weekend, turning it into a 3-4 day Bacchanalian affair.
This year when he asked me, I told him I wanted to go and sit in a cave. He laughed, but I was serious.
Not a...read more
With Donald Drumpf looking like he’ll nab the Republican Presidential Nomination, I’d like to address this essay to the non-racist, non-homophobic, non-bigoted Republicans that are out there. You know who you are: you usually refer to yourself as a “fiscal conservative” and self-identify as a very reasonable, middle-of-the-road, socially progressive kind of person.
Well, I have some bad news for you: the party that you align yourself with is none...read more
The whole Disney World experience reminds me of the process of taking the family photo for Christmas cards: the end result is beautiful-- full of pleasant, smiling faces and brushed hair. But what you don’t see are the fifty unusable pictures of closed eyes, slouching shoulders, pouting faces. Nor can you hear the parents shouting, “If I have to tell you to stand up straight one more time, I’m telling...read more
My husband and I had previously avoided Disney World like the plague. Neither of us had ever been there as children so we had no attachment to the place. I come from a family of horrible snobs (who are about as much fun at parties as you would imagine) who looked down on such bourgeoisie, mainstream vacation destinations as Disney World. Plus, it was really expensive for a family of...read more
It’s so freaking cold out, with a sub-zero windchill, that the kids have had indoor recess for the past two days and are acting exactly how you would expect them to act. Even the dog has cabin fever, because although he loves the cold and the snow, it hurts my face too badly to stay outside with him for long; he is reduced to chasing the kids around the house...read more
We did it! We drove from Chicago to Plains, Georgia to attend Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School! There is so much to say about the trip but I’ll write about just the Sunday School part first. The rest of it (like the 15-hour non-stop drive each way, the haunted hotel, the utter joy of traveling long distances in confined spaces with children, the town and people of Plains) I’ll save for...read more
“Honey, I have a strange proposal that I promise is not as weird as it initially sounds, just hear me out.”
I find that’s always a great way to start a conversation with my husband and really grab his attention. My proposal? That we load our four kids into the car over Thanksgiving break and drive from Chicago to Plains, Georgia to hear Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School.
My husband’s response...read more
Orbert Davis reprises his symphonic jazz work, first performed at the Havana International Jazz Festival in December 2014, in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre on November 13, 2015. Featured guest artists will include student musicians from Cuba's national conservatory of the arts, the Universidad de las Artes (ISA), who will join Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP) for the occasion. Orbert and members of CJP were rehearsing with the students of...read more
I’m going to sit here in my rocking chair on my front porch and take a break from churning butter and cross-stitching to tell my children all about Halloween back when I was a kid-- or as they call it, The Olden Days.
“When I was your age…nobody ordered their Halloween costumes online! We didn’t even have an online to order from! So we made ‘em! Out of stuff we found...read more
Another mass shooting but I am loathe to mention this most recent one by name, since if I leave the specifics out of it, this essay will remain relevant for a very long time. At least until the next mass shooting happens and the one after that, and the one after that. For there will be a next one, without fail, if we don’t make changes.
In regard to this latest massacre,...read more
Oh, how I love writing! Especially when I have something funny I want to write about. Or something poignant! Or something deep, or gross or funny or…anything, really. I just love writing!
Except, when I don’t.
Like right now.
I don’t feel like writing for the same reason I don’t always feel like exercising or eating healthy or doing laundry or cleaning up the damn playroom: because I just don't wanna and I’d...read more
Back to School: I hate it. I hate the end of summer. I hate the start of school. Am I the only one who hates it? I don’t want school to start! My husband doesn’t believe me. Or rather, he believes that’s what I believe, but he thinks I don’t know what I really want. “Trust me: school starting is a good thing.”
But, ugh! The return of homework, the packing of...read more
Ever since I started writing this blog, people have been asking, “when do you find the time to write?” I don’t have a great answer for them; somehow I just find the time. It’s never the “perfect time,” mind you. It’s any little bit I can steal from any little place.
When one of my very physically fit friends recently asked me this, I replied, ”I don’t know. Probably the same...read more
My daughter just finished up a summer camp at our county’s animal control department, working with pets who are up for adoption. It seems she’s inherited my love for animals and is now trying to manipulate her Daddy into adopting kittens from the shelter by making him a magnet that says, very subtly, “No Body Loves Me. Will You? Cats.” Impressive, no?
My husband and I began dating when I was in graduate...read more
So have you tried the KonMari Method? I have. I still am. After having lunch with a friend who couldn’t stop gushing about it, I found the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing mysteriously downloaded onto my Kindle. Turns out I forgot it was in my e-library queue from a couple of months previously. Still, I took that as a sign from above...read more
Wow, that was a surprising response that I got from my last blog post about marching in the 4th of July parade with Moms Demand Action. It sure was written in a very different and more serious tone than my previous post, which was about the Dave Matthews Band's poop.
And now, three days later, I can’t believe I was ever hesitant to a.) Participate in the parade with Moms Demand Action;...read more
It was the Fourth of July in our little Mayberry town and for the first time in our ten years living here, I marched in the annual parade. I was with the group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.
These are not exactly radical ideas we're talking about—just common sense gun reforms—but I felt self-conscious putting my views out there on display, in public.
Now, why should I feel that way? I...read more
This story is horrible. It is disgusting and also, juvenile and sophomoric. If you have any self-preservation or would like to continue to hold me in high-regard (if you ever did), please stop reading now.
Still with me? Ah, you're my kind of people.
I saw this news story a couple of weeks ago about a Sweet 16 birthday party being held in someone's backyard. Apparently, planes flying overhead emptied their lavatories and...read more
Yesterday we went to our community pool for the first super hot day of the summer. It was jam-packed; teeming with kids, parents and lifeguards. It was so crowded, there was a line, 45 minutes long, of people waiting to get in. It was filled to capacity, so they instituted their “one leaves, one enters” policy, which sounds very Hunger Games, doesn’t it?
We got there right before that madness. I brought...read more
Wow, Serena, sister! You are making us all look bad with your magnificence.
Not that I would ever dare compare myself to you; first of all, I don’t play tennis. Well, I used to play in the city, actually, and I really liked it. My husband got me lessons at the tennis club downtown and we’d play when he got home from work. It was super fun, except…we’re both super competitive. And...read more
Oh, the shame! I was walking past my kids' room last night and on the bedroom door, there hung a note. It was addressed to our Tooth Fairy, that truant little bitch.
If you can't decipher kids' scrawl, here it is spellchecked, for your reading pleasure:
Dear Tooth Fairy,
Please come get my tooth. I have been waiting for 4 days.
First of all, speaking on behalf of beleaguered Tooth Fairies everywhere, I...read more
It'll be easy, they said.
Firsts are tough. I'm going to make this one as easy as possible. My first blog post after what was not my first glass of wine of the evening. Thank you to my friends for setting this up. Thank you for yelling at me to write. Thank you to my youngest child who wrote her name on the bathroom wall, on my most favorite wallpaper that...read more