Monthly Archives: November 2011

Take This Job And Shove It

What was your worst job?  I have a couple that come to mind immediately.  When I was thirteen years old, I got my first job (hear that, kids???) as a hat check girl in a neighborhood restaurant/banquet hall on the South Side of Chicago.  I lied about my age, saying I was fifteen.  I was  just this dumb kid who didn’t know anything, which made it way too easy to be completely taken advantage of.  My hourly pay was a whopping $1.25, but the icing on the cake was that I was allowed to keep ten percent of my tips (and sometimes I had to share that measley amount with another girl, if two of us were working).  That’s right – ten percent of MY TIPS.  This was back in the seventies when the average tip was twenty five cents, so we’re not talking retirement money, but that’s not the point.  My dad was furious when he found out that, at the end of each night, I was expected to bring my little tip bowl into the office for the manager to divvy up (1 for me, 9 for them).  Since this restaurant was in my neighborhood, the guests were often friends of my parents and they would slip a dollar into the bowl for me.  My father told me that when they did that, it was because they thought that money was going to me, not management.  I learned at a very early age the art of pocketing my tips.

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Things We’re Really Thankful For (But Won’t Admit To)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I boldly take on the topic of things we are truly thankful for, but rarely admit to in public.  Yes, I will be speaking for all of us.  Don’t try to pretend that you don’t secretly harbor these thoughts.  Your facade of PBS viewing superiority is about to to be revealed.  Don’t fight it.  Embrace your true feelings.  Welcome the liberation.

That said, speaking on behalf of all of you, I am thankful for

…elastic waist bands


…caller ID


…teachers who get the difference between an elective class and a core class

…the Forever Lazy (don’t have one, yet, but think it’s prettttty awesome)

…people who don’t roll their eyes when they’re behind you in line at the store and your credit card gets declined

…Egyptian Cotton- fragranced linen spray

…Press-On Nails

…store-bought rotissiere chicken

…short masses (you Catholics know what I’m talkin’ about)

…The Real Housewives of Orange County, Beverly Hills and sometimes New York

…Quentin Tarantino movies


…White Castle crave case

…generic brands

…Stephen King books

… and, finally, I am thankful that the Iowa Hawkeye football season has, mercifully, come to an end.

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Thanksgiving – A Day To Savor

As the hours of another Thanksgiving Day wind down, I’m reminded of all the things I am thankful for in my life.  I know, I know, everyone can recite the usual litany in their sleep, but, indulge me as I wear my heart on my sleeve.  

 I am thankful for…the gift of my parents, the greatest people I’ve ever known…who taught me to always search for the glimmer of light, even in the darkest of nights…the fact that they lived long enough to know me as an adult…the mercifully quick and painless death of my father, even though its unexpected nature felt like a sucker-punch…the profound journey I was blessed to take with my mother as she showed me how to live life to the very end with humor, while suffering from the scourge of cancer…my sister-in-law, who has humbled us all by her amazing recovery from a debilitating stroke and her powerful testament to the human spirit and for never giving up hope…my Catholic faith…my husband, who insisted on  Catholic education for our kids, even as it squashed any hope of retirement…my kids, the best thing I ever did…my husband’s parents, who have been the model of generosity to me and my family throughout the years…my sister-in-law and brother-in -law, whose hospitality today was endless…”The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” cartoon…and, finally, the fact that I didn’t have to cook a turkey or clean the house today.

I’m sure there are scores of other things for which I am thankful that I neglected to include in my list, but these thoughts were just off the top of my head as we returned home with full bellies and immediately changed into our comfy sweats.  Oh, one more thing:  I’m really thankful for these sweats.

So, have I become a “softie”?  Maybe a little today, but, don’t worry, it won’t last long.  I’m already getting completely grossed out by the disgusting bodily noises, followed by howls of laughter coming from the next room.  Reality has returned with a vengeance.

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That Really Grinds My Gears

Just about every Saturday morning finds my husband (who has sworn me to absolute secrecy as to his identity, so for those of you who know me, you, too are sworn) and me leisurely walking down Third Street in downtown Geneva, IL with a cup of Caribou coffee.  We look forward to these strolls as a nice way to welcome the weekend.  But, we’ve noticed a particular habit of many people that has my husband fuming.  Here’s the situation:  when you’re walking on a sidewalk, and are approached by others walking towards you, the natural (or so we thought) thing to do is for each party to move aside, as needed.  So, why is it, then, that we are the ONLY ones who EVER make the move, often ending up on the grass while the oncoming traffic completely monopolizes the walkway?   Hmmmmm?????? 

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Oh Where For Art Thou (Residing) Kirk Ferentz?

For the last couple of years now, my husband and I have been on a mission to locate the home of Kirk Ferentz.  Who, you might ask, is Kirk Ferentz?  If so, then you obviously do not now, nor haven’t in recent years, had a child attending the University of Iowa.  Kirk Ferentz is the dreamy (my words, not my husband’s) head football coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes.  And, if you’re wondering, no I am not one of those raving lunatic football fans who think that football and athletics in general trump all else in life. Truth is, I really don’t care about football.  Or basketball, or any other sport.  I don’t have anything against the games or the athletes involved.  I completely understand the excitement and fun surrounding a game and admire the incredible talent and dedication of the athletes.  I’m just really not all that interested in the actual game.  Having said that, my husband and I have traveled to Iowa City for almost every home game and are loyal fans of the Hawkeyes because the electricity in the air at a Big Ten football game is palpable and it’s a lot of fun being a part of that.  This year, we’ve had the added excitement of our son, Peter, playing in the drum line of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

But, aside from the game-time lunacy, we have become slightly fanatical about a different aspect of the aura of Hawkeye football – learning more about our fearless leader, Kirk.  Mainly, where does this guy live?  Are we stalkers?  If so, then we’re not very good ones, because we still are completely in the dark as to where he “hangs his hat”, as my dad used to say.  His income is public knowledge, so based on that, we figure he must live in palatial luxury.  And, while we haven’t searched the entire Iowa City limits, we have yet to locate any area that fits what we envision.  But, we’ve just recently come up with the rather surprising possiblity that he may live in a modest home in a regular neighborhood.   After the terrible news regarding the football staff at Penn State came out, Joe Paterno was seen peeking out from behind a draped window of his house, which was extremely modest and certainly not the kind of house we ever pictured our Kirk living in. 

We looked at each other and almost in unison said, “Could it be we’ve been combing through the wrong neighborhoods all this time?”  Maybe he does live in the house with the big Hawkeye mailbox or the one with the wooden silouettes of the gardeners bent over.  Or maybe the one with the sign that reads “Back door friends are the best”.  Hmmm…it was something to consider.  We decided we needed to completely revamp our game plan on our next trip out.  Of course, the reality is that we know we will never learn the location of his home, but it’s a lot of fun trying!   Our new hobby has our kids  a little nervous, though.  Of course, our oldest son, Mike, responds as he seems to be doing with rather disturbing frequency, when he learns of questionable behavior by his parents, with his usual concerned voice that what we’re doing might be illegal.   He’s becoming a bit of a broken record.  I think they’re just worried that one night they’ll be the ones peeking out from behind drawn curtains when the Iowa City police nab us.  Hey, at least we have common interests and enjoy doing things together.  And after 26 years of marriage, that’s pretty good.

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Much Needed Parenting Advice

 The following is an email I recieved and would like to share with you.


Some Belated Parental Advice to Protesters

Marybeth Hicks
Call it an occupational hazard, but I can’t look at the Occupy Wall Street protesters without thinking, “Who parented these people?”

As a culture columnist, I’ve commented on the social and political ramifications of the “movement” – now known as “OWS” – whose fairyland agenda can be summarized by one of their placards: “Everything for everybody.”

Thanks to their pipe-dream platform, it’s clear there are people with serious designs on “transformational” change in America who are using the protesters like bedsprings in a brothel.

Yet it’s not my role as a commentator that prompts my parenting question, but rather the fact that I’m the mother of four teens and young adults. There are some crucial life lessons that the protesters’ moms clearly have not passed along. Continue reading

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