Monthly Archives: September 2013

A Little Advil For What Ails Ya…

Cell phone pics 832I’m so depressed. Why, you ask? Aren’t you the one who has been drowning in ecstasy upon the realization that your offspring are out of the house?? Hmmm??? Wasn’t that you??? YES, YES that WAS me. I have recently extolled the thrill I get from the freedom to watch what I want to on TV…of utter quiet in the house…of not having to think about dinner EVERY NIGHT… yes…of being an Empty-Nester. I was absolutely gleeful in my post Cellll-A-Brate Good Times… ( as I eagerly anticipated a, finally, empty house. I, again, reveled in utter joy when I wrote about moving our baby girl into her college dorm – woo hoo!!! – in a recent post, I Feel Like A Woman…Well, Sort Of… (

Why so gloomy, then? Is it because the quiet house I so desperately longed for is actually TOO quiet? Or maybe the realization that my kids are really gone? And I’m stuck with my husband 24/7? Or, maybe I’m feeling like my role in life is over now. No more kids to raise. Well, the answer to all those questions is NOOOO. Are you CRAZY? It’s not any of those things (although I AM stuck with my husband, but I guess he’s stuck with me too, so…) No, the reason for my emotional bleakness is because it just hit me….I’m NOT alone. And I won’t be alone until a certain geriatric four-legged mass of smelly hair is finally out of my house. Too harsh?? Continue reading


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Is This A Trick Question?

confused-lookOne of the things I forgot to mention in my post from last week about my grueling 4 hours on Jury Duty was when we prospective jurors were being questioned. Each one was asked to individually answer this question: “Do you have a problem judging other people?” As the answers were slowly wending their way toward me, I kept scolding myself to just behave and act natural, because of course the answer that was just dying to be released from my lips was this: “OMG are you KIDDING me ? Judging people is one of my favorite things to do.” Looking back, maybe the fact that the State seemed happy with me, but the Defense excused me from serving isn’t such a mystery after all…

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Nature Would Be Better Without So Much Nature…

Funny insect images2For those readers who may have been worried sick about whether or not I would be able to continue my regular Saturday morning ritual, I thought I should  follow-up with a…ummm… a follow-up.  You’re welcome. As you might recall (I mean it was just seven days ago for goodness sake), my husband and I found ourselves in a terrifying nightmare as a cicada quietly alit on his shirt sleeve while we were minding our own business, enjoying the beautiful day. I tried, in a reasonable manner (although my husband vehemently disagrees on that point) to  gently warn him (again, my depiction of the event is in vigorous opposition to his) of the humongous beast on his arm. Okay, admittedly,  it did involve a lot of screaming and me violently trying to free myself of the seat belt into which I was “safely” strapped. The jury is still out on just how safe the situation was. I was successful, however, in smashing the prehistoric bug with my purse.

Anyway, long story short, we narrowly missed causing a multi-car collision on the road. I may have forgotten to mention that he was driving at the time. I also contend that, due to his response to my response, we narrowly avoided a date in divorce court. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, that these cicadas are evil and have absolutely no regard for the sanctity of marriage OR road safety.

Anyway…back to my follow-up. Today is Saturday and, yes, we made the bold decision to repeat our usual trip for coffee and saunter down the quaint streets of Geneva, IL. We, well…I…decided I was NOT going to let those creepy creatures win. And, while I did keep my eyeballs peeled for their stealthy presence, we managed to survive our daring experiment unscathed.  Well, pretty much. I did have a rather embarrassing confrontation with a bee…


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Horror, Valor…And Hope

Sept 11 plaque

I’ve seen many pictures honoring the brave men and women of 9/11, from the heroic first responders to the average citizens who immediately volunteered their services, but this one is probably my favorite. The other targets of the attacks are sometimes forgotten, but the stories of valor from the ordinary American citizens on those airplanes is truly astonishing and captures the American spirit. I’m proud to say I knew one of those civilians in New York that morning,  who rushed to offer his help where ever it was needed – an eighteen year old young man in his first year at NYU who witnessed the horror at the World Trade Center and, without hesitation, immediately organized fellow students to deliver water and any other need to the authorities. When news of his courageous actions reached home, we were so proud of him.  And, especially meaningful, is that his last name is Hope.  How fitting. We can never forget the tragic loss of innocent life on that horrible day.


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Thanks, But No Thanks…

jury duty picI had jury duty this week. Of course, I was a little put out about it. I feel like I get called frequently, but that’s what everyone says. Maybe it just seems that way. Anyway, as a potential juror, you’re instructed to call a number the weekend prior to your assigned date and listen to a recorded message which lets you know, according to the panel number you’re assigned, if you are needed to show up to the courthouse on Monday morning.  If you are told you are not needed to go to the courthouse on Monday morning, you must call back Monday evening and check if you’re needed on Tuesday morning. Etc, etc… Since the nature of my job is to see appointed patients, I cannot simply call the office on Monday morning and say,”Sorry, I can’t come in today. Looks like you’ll have to reschedule my day. I’ll let you know what tomorrow looks like…tomorrow.” Common courtesy dictates that advance notice is given to change appointments, some of which have been in the schedule for several months.

So, in an, admittedly lame attempt to get advance information, I called the courthouse last week and spoke with a real person asking if there was any way she might know if I would be needed to serve, so I would know whether to have our poor receptionist call and reschedule people (although, in truth, I have to believe that a lot of people must be relieved when the dentist office says, “Hope you’re not too disappointed, but we can’t see you next week.”)  And, I have to say, it was a very nice woman I spoke with who apologetically responded that she could not say with any degree of certainty whether I would be needed or not. She said it looked like I would probably have to at least show up on Monday. At that time, I could explain my situation, in which I might then be placed on a one-day trial. So, feeling like I had no other choice, I went ahead and rescheduled my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. I left Wednesday afternoon booked because I figured I’d most likely be free to work by then, and if not, would simply reschedule that, as well. I couldn’t stomach blocking out my whole week. Since I am not salaried, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

Sunday night rolled along and I made my call, only to be told that I did not have to show up the next day. Well, that was a bust. Too late to call people back. That would really be awful for the patients to first be told,no we can’t see you and then  get a call saying, oh wait, yes we can. So, I had an unexpected day off and tried to be productive. You know…writing blogs and stuff. On Monday night, I made my obligatory call and was told to show up bright and early Tuesday morning. Entering the courthouse, I walked through the  metal detector behind a group that seemed to b e together: two women and a young man of about twenty. Honestly, I’m being kind describing him as a young man. While his age and gender would surely agree with that portrayal, the truth is the kid looked like kind of sad sack. He was short and quite overweight and donned a large cubic zirconia stud in his lobe, which appeared a bit silly. He had the appearance of someone who desperately wanted to fit in…somewhere. After going through security, we were met with a friendly woman directing jurors to follow the hallway to the right. The boy in front of me said in such a sad, pathetic voice, “I wish I was here for jury duty” which the woman returned with a kind smile. Well that sure gave me a little perspective on my plight. As least I was on the right side of the law.

After several hours of waiting, being sworn in, and answering a myriad of questions by the State’s Attorneys, I was accepted for jury duty. Then the defense attorney asked me about three questions, returned to her table and said to the judge, “Your Honor, the defense would like to thank and excuse Juror #77.” What??? That was me. What did I say?? I thought for sure I would be selected. I knew what the case would be. It sounded like it would be a quick and possibly interesting trial. I felt so…so rejected.  Self-consciously, I picked up my purse and walked over to the Baliff who told me to return to the Jury Commission Room – the place where my oddessy began. Upon entering the jury Commission Room, I was directed to the dining room where I was treated to a rather tasty lunch. Eating the sandwich and chips seemed to soothe my hurt feelings.

Checking my voice mail, I learned that the receptionist at my office was frantically trying to reach me, saying, “We don’t know where you are.” How was that possible? It was clearly written on the schedule that I would not be there on Mon, Tues or Wed morning because of jury duty. In her panic, she went ahead and cancelled my afternoon patients. All but the last one at 4:00. I think that’s when I screamed, “Are you KIDDING me???” What the heck? Thank goodness I had a state-provided and paid for lunch to soften my mood. And actually, the joke’s on them, because not only did I get a yummy lunch at their expense without having the burden of sitting on a jury, I’m gonna get ten dollars for my time, to boot. I just hope that check doesn’t bounce like the last time I had jury duty…


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They’re Heeeerrrre…Invasion Of The Cicadas

cicada2I suppose I should text my son, Mike, to warn him about this post before it gets published. I wouldn’t want him to accidentally to read it without notice. Because, I’m pretty sure he reads my stuff. He says he does, anyway. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Mike has an almost debilitating fear of winged creatures. In order to fully comprehend the crippling panic he experiences upon being confronted on the street, along the magnificent lakefront of Chicago, or even on the page of a blog, I would direct you to a prior post, published 5/25/2012: Survival Of The Fittest…Or Why I’m An Indoorsy Person (

Anyway, this most recent encounter with a horrid member of the animal planet happened just last Saturday. The day started out as most of our Saturdays do, with a stop at Caribou Coffee and a leisurely stroll down Third Street in Geneva, IL. My husband and I have been enjoying this ritual for several years now, the last couple years with our youngest daughter, Mary Kate along for the company. She has since left the security of home and Saturday morning coffees to begin a new chapter in her life at college. But, enough of her… This story is about me and the near-death experience I, ummm…experienced.

So, after a relaxing saunter down Third Street, we headed a little further south to a Farmer’s Market to say hello to our neighbor and friend who sells great hot sauce and salsa ( Next stop was to pick up a few items at Fresh Market for some scrumptious dinners we had planned. When does this story get scary, you ask? In about two inches… Upon starting the car to head home, I notice something absolutely gigantic on my husband’s sleeve. It was just below the shoulder and took up the majority of his short sleeve. At first, I tried to make some sense out of it. What was it? Was there some sort of label or patch on his sleeve that I hadn’t noticed before? While my brain was feverishly at work, the car pulled into traffic and it was then that I understood. We had stumbled into the midst of some sort of Sci-Fi alien creature invasion. I tried to gently warn my husband that there was an enormous beast on his arm without startling him, but it came out sounding something like: “AAAHHHHHH”  Well, something like that, anyway. Managing to avoid a collision on the road, he frantically brushed it off his arm. And that’s when things got really ugly. This prehistoric creature FLEW across the car towards ME and landed on my ARM REST. I hope you’re noticing all the capitalized letters, because I really mean them. Safely strapped in with my seat belt (I may never wear one again), I managed to practically jump into the driver’s seat which wasn’t easy, let me tell you. But adrenaline is an impressive thing.  My eyeballs must have looked like two golf balls attached to my face as I quickly took action slamming my purse on top of the freak. I pressed with all my might, not letting go until the we were safely home & the car door opened. Logic dictated that this thing had to be crushed and beyond any possibility of retaliation, but my gut said otherwise. Fortunately, logic won.

What was this thing that had so terrified me and was almost the cause of a multi-car crash and also possibly a divorce? A CICADA. That’s right. One of those disgusting things that comes to life every few years to terrify we peace-loving people. My heart is still racing just writing about it. I hope this awful incident doesn’t make us re-think our weekly Saturday ritual. Mary Kate made us promise that after she left, we would continue to go for coffee while listening to The Swing Shift on WDCB radio. We have to…for her sake. Otherwise, the cicadas win.


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Explain Yourself

Explain Yourself

Back in 1967, a little movie came out in late December. It starred some guy named Dustin. Maybe you’ve heard of it…just a little movie called THE GRADUATE. There’s a particular scene from that movie that keeps coming to my mind. Remember Benjamin’s graduation party? Where his parents’ friends pressure him for answers about his plans for the future? To some people, this scene may seem a little unrealistic. I mean OBVIOUSLY people don’t really act that way towards college students. However, that scene is actually kind of relatable for me. I like to think that I understand Benjamin’s frustration. The questions they’re asking him are just less blatant ways of saying, “Explain yourself!” As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently studying music at The University of Iowa, specifically percussion performance. I’ve been playing music since I was three years old. Growing up, I did just about every camp, private lesson, competition, show, band, choir, and jam session that a kid could do (thanks Mom and Dad!). I’m a certified band geek. So naturally, I decided to continue my musical journey in college. A decision that makes perfect sense to me, but maybe not so much to other people. And I can’t really blame them.  Not many people know what a music degree can do for you. I also mentioned in my last post that I’m stupid, but I’d like to make sure everyone understands that I said that as a joke. I’m not actually stupid. There are just some things that I’m not very good at – that’s the way most people are. Here’s the thing – math and science literally make no sense to me. Trying to teach math to me is like trying to get a cardboard cut-out to talk. It just ain’t gonna happen. Subjects like english and history have always come naturally to me. And music. But when your high school relentlessly encourages math and science on you at every turn and basically sweeps the music program under the rug, it’s kind of hard to figure out where someone like me fits in. A lot of people from my high school went through school mainly focused on math, science, and other AP courses of that nature. Maybe they did the school musical, maybe they were in marching band or choir. But they pretty much focused on the subjects that would eventually land them a secure job with a nice paycheck. I guess it was the other way around for me – my main focus has always been music, and I studied a little math and science. The only AP class I took in high school was music theory. It appears I’m preparing myself for multiple jobs that usually don’t have impressive paychecks. There are a lot of people in the world who see that and simply cannot make sense of it. Why would I prepare myself for a job that isn’t secure and doesn’t pay well? How can someone even make a living with a music degree? And this thought process inevitably leads to the dreaded question:”Well what are you gonna do with THAT degree?”

I’ve heard this question or some variation of it more times than I can count on my fingers (and toes). And every time I hear it, I just think of Benjamin trying to answer questions about his future. Because when someone asks me a question like that, they’re not just curious – they want an explanation, dammit! Explain yourself! And the truth is that I can’t really explain it. My goals in life are not confined to a paycheck. A few weeks ago, an older fella (and by older, I mean forty-something) was asking me about my major. And, word for word, this is what he said:

“Well yeah I know you’re studying music, but, are you actually gonna DO something? I mean, you can’t make a living by playing music.”

In his mind, playing music isn’t actually doing something. It’s not a contribution to society. And he’s not alone. There are a whole lot of people who think the same thing. If I don’t have a business model or some smarty-pants math equation to back it up, I might as well just be a bum. I shook it off because I’ve heard that reaction countless times, but it actually is pretty insulting to me. You wanna know what I’m gonna do with my degree? Here, I’ll tell you:

I’m going to be happy for the rest of my life.

Music isn’t just something that I’m interested in. It’s not just something that I’m really good at. It’s not just something that makes me happy. It’s not even just something that I care deeply about. Simply put, music is a calling. Believe me, there have been times when I wanted to do anything but music. There have been times when I’ve flubbed rehearsals or auditions. My audition at Indiana University was a colossal flub. If music was something I was only interested in, I would’ve quit back in high school. I’ve never been able to get away from music because I’ve always been called back. Music is a calling.

I was in the Hawkeye Marching Band my sophomore year. The Hawkeye Drumline (HDL is what the cool people call it) does a 10-15 minute show of its own before the game. One time after an HDL show, some lady who was probably like 105 years old came up to me and said, “I just love watching the drums. It makes me so happy!” And that’s why this all makes sense to me.

I don’t just play music for myself. As much as I truly enjoy playing for myself, that’s not what I’ve been called to do. I play music because it makes people happy. I do what I do because this world would be a sad, sad place without music. I play music because my parents told me that I have a gift I can share. I play music because I would be tremendously miserable doing anything else. As Paul Simon puts it, “Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.” I love music with all my heart and soul. So the next time someone sarcastically asks me, “What are you gonna do with THAT degree?” I’ll just say, “I’m gonna be happy for the rest of my life.”


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