Friday, February 29, 2008

“Pull forward!”

waiving his arms, the security guard, while looking the opposite direction, summoned the car to enter the parking garage underneath the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Building on Wacker Drive.

As I approached the Merc building this morning, a BMW was pulling up and the driver flashed some sort of badge, which, I guess, gave him clearance to enter the garage.

I have watched this scene for years – ever since 9/11 - when security was “beefed” up around Chicago giving us all a laughable sense of security within our buildings.

High-tech, wicked security.

I am sure if any bad guys were scouting locations to sabotage – witnessing that tight security at the Merc would send them scurrying away.

Just why do buildings have these dumb checkpoints?

For example - right after 9/11 - I was visiting friends who worked in D.C. and security was on high alert everywhere, but especially around the Capital – no parking, no standing, no anything – but I needed to run into the National Air & Space Museum to purchase some souvenirs for my kids.

So, my girlfriend dropped her husband and me at the curb and we walked inside to head to the gift shop. Dale walked in first, wearing his heavy winter parka and was allowed to pass the security checkpoint, but I was purse had to be searched.

They needed to make sure that I didn’t have anything that would breach security in my little purse – but Dale was allowed to walk past in his BIG, OVERSIZED, HUGE-POCKETED, DOWN winter coat.

That security was insanely, incredibly tight.

So, back to my question -

"Just why do buildings have these dumb checkpoints?"

My guess is that it gives hardworking, upper-level-IQ people gainful employment.

for our enjoyment

Thursday, February 28, 2008

“Hi. This is Jim Adams and…”

“you can reach me at 312-555-1212.”

By the time his business call was over - I knew his name, his cell phone number, where he was going on an upcoming business trip and that he has relatives on Sanibel Island in Florida.

So much for keeping things private and confidential.

Many years ago a commuting friend and I were on a morning train – when this over-the-top, so-full-of-himself-he-almost-exploded, lawyer starts making phone calls.


“Yes, this is lawyer so&so – you can reach me at…” and he proceeded to give out his business phone number.

We were very irritated by this ever-so-not-humble asshole’s phone calls all the way into the city.

So irritated that my friend got “even” with this barrister.

After hearing this idiot’s business phone number 15 times – we wrote it down for future usage.

And use it he did – the “anonymous” call to the barrister's office went something like this.......

“Hello, Mr. so&so’s office.”

“Yes, Hello. Is Mr. so&so available?”

“May I ask who is calling?”

“Well, maybe you could just help me – you see Attorney so&so has ordered something and it wasn’t clear as to if he wanted it shipped to his home address or his office address.”

“What is that you are trying to ship?”

“Uhhh, well, I guess it would be okay for me to say – I am trying to send the inflatable woman doll he has ordered.”

There was a pause and then she said “Hold on. I will get Mr. so&so.”

At which point my friend hung up.

Note to those who love to blab in public……everyone else also has ears.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I won! I won! I won!

I am pretty sure she knew we were racing.

I tried to get around her on the Adams Street bridge several times – using all of my usual tricks that I have learned over the years – a cough, which didn’t wake her up to the fact I was on her left side and wanting to pass;

I followed that up with a rustling of the bag I was carrying – which got her to move ever so slightly to her right – allowing me to be about even with her and that is when the race started.

I kicked my pace up a notch trying to pass the self-appointed “Queen of the Bridge” and suddenly she put it into overdrive.

“Oh, no you don’t, Queenie!”

I fell into a full blown walking-sprint - never glancing her way – but my side vision let me know that we were neck-and-neck.

By the time we hit the lip of the bridge where it edges to the sidewalk – I was triumphantly a full chest ahead.

Dressing in layers, especially wearing my padded cami, really benefited me in several ways today - all while just trying to stay warm during this Chicago winter.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Photo just into my email...

that depicts how most of us Chicagoan's are feeling at the moment...

“Good thing we have Chicago amnesia!”

Was what one of the women in the elevator up to our floor said this morning.

“What is that?” I inquired.

“Our summers are so great we forget every year about winter!”

Isn’t that the truth.

That truth is allowing me to forge on during a day like today.

It is in the knowing that in some untold months - Chicago will be blessed with crystal blue, fluffy clouded skies; the warmth of our summer sun; views of white-capped waves lapping onto North Ave. Beach; its deep-heated-sounds as it comes alive again; and the sweet smell of summer in the City.

currently shitty

Monday, February 25, 2008

“Boy, are you nosey!”

is this morning’s sidewalk snippet.

I turn around to see why Keith is following me.

Okay, Keith wasn’t following me - somebody else was actually being accused of being “nosey”.

I like to think that I am naturally “curious”.

“Nosey” puts a bad image in my mind…

Growing up we had Mrs. McNamara – she was the neighborhood busybody – who knew everything about everybody - sometimes even before they knew it themselves.

She was a short, round woman with a large mole on her chin that sported a hair twisting out of the middle of it (honestly, like a witch) and in her yard were large trees that gave off an odd odor - we called them "Stink Trees" - so when I think of a nosey person - or a busybody – I don’t get a warm/fuzzy feeling.

But I do recognize that every neighborhood has one - maybe I am the one in my hood.

You had one growing up – who was it?

I gotta know....

being curious and all.


Friday, February 22, 2008

“Mark. He was the big Italian guy….

He was in the wedding also.”

“I don’t remember him.” was her friend’s response to her while they walked behind me paralleling the Chicago River this morning.

Poor Mark, fat, Italian groomsman and not memorable.

Weddings can lead to very memorable times. Some of which are known-at-the-time memories and some are not-ever-known or, at the least, not-known-until-years-later memories.

Last year I had a “not-known-until-years-later” wedding memory told to me.

A very long time ago I attended a wedding of a good friend, she married a Chicago cop - without giving away too much insider “cop wedding” information – it was way fun.

Nothing says F-U-N until you have been to a Chicago cop’s wedding.

I wore a red dress – with red high heels – my blonde hair was much longer and the “laugh lines” on my face were not as pronounced.

I also weighed a little less and worked out a lot more.

This friend told me last year that in her circle of friends I have been known as that “woman in the red dress” ever since.

Unbeknownst to me after all these years I am memorable from that wedding.

That made me smile – ever increasing those well deserved lines.

Great ol’ times.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

“Obama and McCain are going to be….

our choices.” was part of a lengthy discussion the couple next to me on the train down here this morning was having.

The discussion lasted most of the ride in, except for when we bended into Union Station and the whole train got quiet as people looked out the windows and saw the lake effect snow that was blowing sideways, but I digress.

I wasn’t raised in a very politically minded family. That isn’t to say that on rare occasion's politics/politicians weren’t vehemently discussed around the kitchen table by my father and his father, beers in hand, fists pounding, voices raised talking about that Son-of-a-Bitch that did such-and-such,the corruption and let us not forget the communists.

I did mention corruption, right?

Is it possible to be in a political office and not be corrupted on some level?

No way.


(Sorry, I will leave the immigration issue for a later blog.)

In my circle of family and friends, I have asked countless times for help in finding a car for one of my kids; a connection for employment; leads for photography jobs, colleges, etc. The list goes on and on.

I will always help out family/friends in need and vice-versa.

So when your circle of friends becomes people of power, influence and wealth – where/how do you draw the line?

Do you put a monetary value on every “favor”?

Do you only except favors valued under $100; $1,000; $10,000?

I know that if I were to run for a political office on a platform of morality and the “back to the basics” of faith, family, finances and friends that I believe so strongly in - I would be very hard-pressed to not fall into the black abyss of corruption.

“Oh, no thank you, I could not possibly accept this case of Entenmanns’ chocolate donuts on behalf of your company.”

“Thanks, but no thanks, I must decline your offer of introducing my photographer son to the editor of Life magazine.”

“A new car – no, no, please - my 2000 VW Golf with the masking tape on the broken window and 100,000+ miles on it is just fine.”

"Well…maybe one box of donuts – they are our favorites."

"Just an introduction - there wouldn't be any harm in that."

"My car really isn’t running that great and when the window falls into the door again and it is freezing cold out..

and I do have my image to maintain."

It’s insane.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I have two words for this Winter...

Un Believable!

This weather sucks.

Big time.

This morning with a wind chill well below ZERO - my mile long walk to work from Union was incredible.

Besides dealing with the cold and having my usual H-O-double T – Top Model Winter Style look going on……I must of also been shielded with Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility.

I cannot recall a time in recent past when walking my morning route that I have been body-checked, cut in front of, nearly run over, smoke blown on - more times than today.

I think most Chicagoan’s are at the point with this winter, that they are just getting thru it – however they can - and if that means taking out a smoking hott, top model apparel wearing, 40+ year-old broad on the way to their destination – then it is a done deal.

so numb I can’t feel.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Going to the doc....

my annual appointment is today. Going to see my good friend, Dr. Patrick Stiff.

Yes, Dilf, Dr. Loyola.

holy mola

Monday, February 18, 2008

A shiny penny, a rubber band, a broken-off heel…..

from a shoe and 827 (approx.) cigarette butts.

Over the weekend we had a warm up in the weather and that brought rain, so most of the snow that covered the sidewalks of Chicago for months is gone. This allows for less treacherous walking, but also exposes discarded items – some discarded accidentally and some discarded purposely.

This is about the purposely discarded items – most notably cigarette butts.

On January 1st of this year, Illinois joined the growing number of states that are smoke free. This law prohibits smoking in ALL public indoor places. It also requires that smokers stand at least 15 feet from the doorways/windows/ventilation intake of a public place.

Now MOST smokers are outside puffing away and then lavishly tossing their cigarette remains onto the ground.

How is that okay?

I understand the whole "smoking is an awful addiction" – "one of the worst to kick" – "as bad as heroin", yaddity, yaddity, yaddity….

I get that part.

But being a smoker turns you into an uncaring, littering fool?


Friday, February 15, 2008

“What about the farm kids…..

who were raised having to kill animals – sometimes with their bare hands?” Is how my 19 year old son responded to my statement that kids these days are ruled by violence because of the lack of boundaries growing up and the de-sensitivity to violence in all they see on television and the realistic, no consequence, just for fun, video games that they play.

We were driving to the train station this morning talking about the unspeakable tragedy that occurred at NIU in DeKalb yesterday.

Northern Illinois University is just 20 minutes down the road from us and many of my son’s friends attend there. So far no one that he knows was involved – directly.

My next question to him was “Why do YOU think it is so prevalent these days?”

“Because we are frustrated and feel powerless in the ability to change anything..." he responded.

“Give me a break – every generation, mine, my parents, my grandparents – we all felt that way in our late teen’s, early twenties – but we didn’t go on shooting rampages.”

“But it is different now.” he claims.

Yes, it is different now but I am not sure of exactly why.

The only thing at this point that I am sure of - is that yesterday a lone gunman performed the cowardly act of not only ending his own life…but ending the lives of many, young, beautiful adults, who were in the midst of trying to better themselves;

and to compound the tragedy and pay it forward –

he also ended the lives, as they had known them to be, of countless extended families – who now suffer for the rest of their lifetimes with "Knows-No-Boundaries" grief.

no relief

Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Sorry to hear about your Aunt…..

I hope you remember her in good times.” was overheard this Valentine morning as two friends were parting ways near the Sears Tower.

I walked along Wacker thinking about this romantic day, love and death.

This month marks the 7th year since my father passed away.

It still seems surreal.

Immediately after he passed, I experienced the punch-in-the-gut grief EVERY MINUTE for days; as that subsided I find that it was replaced with a tucked-away-sadness and an every-so-often longing for his voice, his smell, and his overall presence.

I can’t start to imagine how it has been for my Mom.

She married my father when she was the tender age of 16; and they grew up together (literally).

As we were all standing around his bed awaiting his passing…..we took turns saying our goodbyes out loud – when it came to my Mom’s turn – I believe this sums it all up:

“You were the best boyfriend I ever had.”

He was the only boyfriend she ever had.

The only man she has ever been with.

I read this morning about a local couple, Ida and Max, who will be celebrating their 75th year of marriage next month……

And I cried.

In the true sense of unselfish love - I applaud those few that can mark the almost-unattainable-goals of a life long commitment and undying love for each other.

my mother

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

“Why are you nice to me?”

Was what the homeless guy that I always use to pass on my way to Union at the end of the day once asked me.

My rule about giving to homeless people is – no money – but I will give small amounts of food – crackers, cookies, candy, whatever I have on that day in my bag.

This particular homeless dude was an alcohol steeped little man, about 5 ft. 2 at the most. He probably endeared himself to me because of the alcoholism that has haunted my family for generations, so I would give him something to eat whenever I saw him.

Once he was yelling incoherently to anybody and nobody. That day I had bought him two candy bars and when I stopped in front of him and dropped them next to his side – he started cursing at me that he didn’t want anything! I told him “I don’t care if you eat those or trade them up for something else….but I am not taking them back!” and I continued on my walk.

So the next time I saw him, he was a bit sober, and that is when he said “Why are you nice to me?”

I stopped, turned to him and said “Because you are one of God’s creatures.”

In hindsight I probably meant to say “creations”……..

Let me just say he took the whole “creatures” thing a little badly.

I tried for about 10 seconds to explain to him what I meant and then thought that I might be better off fleeing from his crescendoing rampage about me calling him a creature.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your regular program is interrupted.....

due to a certain teenage girl being sick; and a certain mom staying home to deal with her.

Send us cheer.

oh dear

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Hey, there is a nickel!"

I say to my two commuting buddies as we reach the top of the escalator in the midst of the morning crowd coming out of Union Station. I start to instinctively reach down for it and suddenly my love of life took over…..

Over the course of these years working downtown, I have found a fair amount of money on the sidewalks, streets, and inside of buildings.

Too many to count of pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters;

$10 on the ground next to a high end car in the East Bank parking area;

At one of my work buildings - 20 North Clark – it use to have a bank in the lobby - I found a $50 bill on its floor and I turned it into the teller.

She said "Why did you do that?"

I replied "Because maybe the person who lost it will come back for it."

I stood there for a couple of seconds thinking and then said "If they don't come back - do I get it?"

"No, it goes into a special fund" she skillfully replied.

All during lunch that day I kept thinking about what I could have bought with that money and how the teller was going to spend it when it ended up in the special "Teller's Wallet Fund!"

I think that everyone has found money at some point, but how many have found a large bill(s) - $50 or $100?

And I do mean “found” as in somebody “lost” it – not “found” as in “I found it in her purse.”

or worse

Friday, February 8, 2008

N. C. D.

As the powers that be would have it, my “No Complaining Day” has been, let’s just say, extremely difficult so far.

So as not to complain about anything – I will just be stating the following facts as to how my day has been going:

On the way to the train station, on its own accord, the passenger side window of my car fell down into the door - leaving me toasty COLD on this lovely Chicago winter morning.

My commuter train, after I would say at least 60+ years of operation in this Chicago climate, was late getting into the city because of “switching” problems…..possibly the surprising-to-the-train-company each year, "frozen" switches, which they haven’t been able to improve on.

Once getting into this beautiful city, while walking to work, I was splashed with road grunge by a passing cab.

Upon entering my office I was met by an attorney who needed me to transcribe, off of the phone, a long (1 ½ pages single spaced), rambling, mumbling, low-toned voicemail from a man, who to test my no complaining day to its limits, spoke these words “I know this is a very, very long message….” at which point I thought he was wrapping it up, but he then went on for another several minutes of mindless, I like to hear myself talk, yackity, yacking.

Again, I am just stating the facts.

And this is the final fact as of right now....

this has been a very trying, on my last nerve, kind of day of “No Complaining.”


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Borrowing a quote from Drew Carey….

“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that – it’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”

A majority of the snippets that I overhear, especially on my walk back to Union at the end of the day, are complaints, bitchings, groanings, cursings that all have to do with people’s jobs. I usually don’t blog about these because as a rule I find them defeating.

Wasn’t there a time when people were happy to be able to support themselves and their families? Jobs were scarce and if you had one at all - you were THANKFUL!!

Now Susan I know for a fact that you have had some big issues at your place of employment and have griped about it.

Yup, you are correct! I could bitch and complain EVERYDAY about something or other that hadn’t gone the way that I thought it should of……but I don’t.

But you could!

But I don’t.

Well maybe all these people you are overhearing are only doing the “once or twice a year, something really devastating happened to them at work” type of complaining.

Maybe. But I vote Not.

As a society we complain way too much – some would say it is “human nature” to complain. Some would say it is a seasonal thing (Cowboy) – especially in the throws of a Chicago winter– that we get grumpy and tend to complain more.

I say let's try and mix it up for a day – just for one day – DO NOT complain about anything at all.

Zilch. Nothing. Nada. Shutty. Zip it!

Wouldn’t that be nice?

My “no complaining” day starts tomorrow, being today is shot because I am complaining about complaining.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Nope...when he got married he was 28.

Is today’s overheard sidewalk snippet from my morning walk to work, which, as usual, got me recalling....

In the late 1970’s I was engaged to a rock –n- roll drummer – he and I had dated all thru high school, we graduated, I got a ring, we set a date, secured the church, reception hall and while waiting for the big day....I got a phone call from a mutual friend, he wanted me to know that my fiancĂ© had a girlfriend.


A fiancé and a GIRLFRIEND?

Now that wasn’t going to work.

Seems he had met Teri while playing a gig. She was cute, petite, bubbly, had a huge set of knockers, and she put out - ALOT.....the deal was sealed.

I was devastated.

I moved out of my parent’s home, got my first apartment with a good friend and I focused on my job.

A scant two weeks after moving out, I started dating a guy that turned out to be my future husband and within 6 months, from start-to-finish, we were married.

During the time prior to my wedding, a wise aunt of mine told me – “Sues DO NOT get married until you are in your mid-to-late twenties. You change a lot during that time period and who you are now in your early twenties – will not necessarily be who you are in your mid-to-late twenties. Your ideals change. Your wants and needs change. In essence you mature.”

She tried to pass on her lived out wisdom to me.

I didn’t listen and boy-oh-boy, was she right.

I did change. A lot.

He changed too – he got even more selfish.

The cutesy “let me play wife and take care of most everything – all the while working full time” role wore thin real fast. By my mid-to-late-twenties I was desperately in need of something different – I was miserable in my marriage – so we did what those around us were doing....we had a couple of kids.

Now that was thinking!

I not only had myself, my husband, our house and a job to take care of – I now had two small children that looked to me for their every breath and care.

Let’s suffice it to say I finally got some courage after 20 years of abuse (slow learner) and filed.

So my Aunt’s sage words were right on, but I was too starry eyed in love to listen. I wonder if the guy they were talking about had a wise aunt? If so, at least he heeded her advice.

paid the price

Monday, February 4, 2008

“I was raised in poverty in Nigeria….”

I have seen her get on the train countless times. Over laden with a backpack and assorted bags, glasses falling down her nose, a stocking cap on most winter days, all combined making her look much older than her years. She usually comes up top, near where I sit and regardless of how crowded it is, she makes her way thru to the last possible seat – even if it means the little “love seat” at the very end, where anybody who has commuted for any length of time, knows is just for one person and their bags.

For some time I have judged her harshly – due to her sense of entitlement of the last possible seat - even if that entailed making 20 people move and undo their settled commuting areas. Not a glaring at, making comments to some around me, type of judging, but that quiet, deep formed from childhood, glancing judgment.

Did I mention she is black?

Raised in the 60’s it was ingrained in me that people were to be judged by the color of their skin and to some degree that is still deep inside of me.

So this morning when my regular commuting buddy didn’t show up – I settled into the loveseat up top and pulled out my assorted things – MP3, coffee, local paper and I got ready for a nice quiet ride into the city. At the train’s second stop the upstairs became quite full and I was relieved that there would be no more people jostling their way thru, so I could just get down to the business of commuting.

I looked up and saw her excusing herself thru everyone’s space, knowing that the only possible seat available for her was with me - on the loveseat.

She spoke softly to me in accented English, excusing herself and stating that her hands were so cold from distributing pamphlets at the train station for a candidate that she is supporting for President. She went on to say that she almost didn’t make the train – but was glad she did and that she found a seat.

My prejudices started to melt away. She is an American. Her brother and she were born here to Nigerian parents, whose marriage, like many, crumbled when she was very young. Her Nigerian grandmother came to the states and took her, her brother and their Mom back to Nigeria and helped raise them. She shared with me how her grandmother instilled in them that faith, family and education were the most important things in life.

They were raised in poverty, without many of the essentials that we could ever imagine living without. She was thankful though that they had shelter, food, each other and she and her brother were able to attend, because of many sacrifices, a Christian school. After they completed high school the family moved back to the United States, settled in Aurora, and they graduated from colleges, all the while their Mom continued to work and they made due.

She told me rich, faith-filled stories on our commute down this morning. How God has been so good to her and her family and she encouraged me to continue to pray for my immediate and extended family and that we too will be so richly blessed.

The train was pulling into Union when she gently asked me if it would be okay if she gave me her email address – so that we could continue our conversations.

As of this morning I have a new friend and she is black.

And I am already richly blessed by her tender spirit and beautiful smiling face.