Sunday, July 30, 2017

Well, look at this!

I admit it: at the run-up to the All Star break, I was confused and sad about the Cubs' performance. They weren't playing like World Champions. They weren't even playing .500 ball, and I was worried they wouldn't even make the play-offs.

HA! My guys are now 8 games over .500 and have roared into first place!

A friend of mine, a Chicagoan who moved to DC, teased me on Facebook for the "it's OK, we'll always have 2016" attitude I displayed before the break. Shame on me! I should have greater faith in Joe, Bryzzo, Lester and Lackey.

Sunday Stealing

 Music, Music, Music.

1: A song you like with a color in the title "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?

2: A song you like with a number in the title "The One After 909" from the Let It Be CD. One of the first songs Paul and John wrote together, one of the last they performed live together.
3: A song that reminds you of summertime "Somebody's Baby" by Jackson Browne

4: A song that needs to be played LOUD "Stoney End" by Barbra Streisand. When "the fury of the broken thunder comes," I want to hear the fury!

5: A song that makes you want to dance "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire
6: A song to drive to Sorry, but I don't drive

7: A song about drugs or alcohol "Wasting away again in Margaritaville ..."

8: A song that makes you happy OK, since I'm thinking of Buffett, "Fins to the left, fins to the right, and you're the only girl in town ..."

9: A song that makes you sad "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt
10: A song that you never get tired of "Tears Dry on Their Own" by Amy Winehouse

11: A song from your preteen years "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" by Cher

 12: One of your favorite 80’s songs "Starting Over" by John Lennon

 13: One of your favorite classical songs I got nothin'

  14: A song that you would sing a duet with someone on karaoke Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" because there is very little actual singing involved

15: A song from the year that you were born "Jailhouse Rock" was #1 while my mom was pregnant. I think it explains by affinity for Elvis.

 16: A song that makes you think about life "The Way We Were." How accurate are our memories? Does it matter? Would we do it again, if we knew how it would end?

 17: A song that you think everybody should listen to "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" by Sinatra. Frank shows us that pain is a great equalizer. He knows how you feel.

Just three young lads, about to change the world
18: A song by a band you wish were still together "She Loves You." Because if the Beatles were still together, John and George would still be alive.

19: A song by an artist no longer living "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." Yeah, it's a goofy song. But George Michael sounds so energetic and hopeful. It's poignant to think of where his life would take him.

20: A song that breaks your heart "Touch Me in the Morning" by Diana Ross

 21: A song by an artist with a voice that you love "Kentucky Rain" by Elvis

Saturday, July 29, 2017

I felt like I knew her

Today was a slow and unique today, unfolding in its own way and at its own pace.

I wandered over to the high school and volunteered to sort books for the upcoming library book sale. I attend the sale every year, but I never worked it before. It was overwhelming! Boxes and boxes and bag after bag of books! Some were so esoteric I couldn't believe anyone would devote themselves to researching, writing and then publishing them (mathematics as taught in Victorian classrooms, for example). The variety in some boxes was a little surprising -- the same household donated both Danielle Steele romances and scholarly studies of the Royal Canadian Navy's role in WWII.

But one Mariano's bag of books made me feel like I knew the donor. Seeing what she read and how she packed the books gave me an insight into her. She's precise -- all the books were packed into the bag so you could easily read the spines, She's a heavy smoker -- the books reeked, but she probably didn't notice. She once had a cat -- one of the books was a cat care book published way back in the 1950s. She loves mysteries -- especially Evanovich and Grafton. And she has a bad back -- there were books about coping with back and neck distress.

In exchange for my efforts, I got to take any paperback I wanted for 25¢. I chose a very well-worn Agatha Christie called A Murder Is Announced. This edition was published in 1991. On 6/8/95, the Charlestown Branch Library marked it as "discard or destroy." I'm glad someone rescued it, but how did it travel the 1000 miles from Massachusetts to Chicagoland? I wish Miss Marple could solve the mystery of the book itself for me, as well as the contents.

Then I had a lovely, leisurely lunch at the newish (opened in April) restaurant that opened a few blocks from the high school. It was quiet and cool, and the pulled pork sandwich was delicious. I didn't really want the side salad, but I must eat like a grown up. I had a summer mule, and it always makes me happy to find new ways to enjoy vodka.

Grocery shopping, nap, Cub game. It's all tied up at 1-1 in the top of the 9th. Gulp! If we win this game, we're in sole possession of first place, thank you very much! If we lose, we stay tied. (My, but it's hard to type with fingers crossed.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Saturday 9

--> Saturday 9: Angel (1998)... because Bev recommended it

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Sarah McLachlan wrote this song about someone she barely knew. She read the obit of Jonathan Melvoin, keyboard player for the Smashing Pumpkins, who died of a heroin overdose. What's the most recent news story that touched you deeply? This story on football players and CTE. I've never been a big football fan, but I'll never watch at all now, never again. These young men are like modern-day gladiators, destroying themselves for our entertainment. It's tragic.

2) Ms. McLachlan performed this in tribute to Linda McCartney at the 1999 Concert for Linda. She was expressing her hope that, in death, Linda found relief and peace after a long and painful battle with cancer. What do you think happens to us when we die? We go to heaven and enjoy eternal life. There's nothing in life that I'm surer of than that.

3) Daytime dramas General Hospital and As the World Turns used this song on-air after a major character died. Do you follow any "soap operas?" Not anymore. But in the olden days, I used to watch All My Children in the daytime and Dallas at night.
4) In 2007, Sarah donated her recording of this song to the ASPCA. Do you have a pet? If yes, how did you get it (shelter, pet store, etc.)? I share my home with two cats, both shelter rescues. Giving them a good home has been my pleasure and honor.

5) She admits she can't watch those ASPCA commercials, where her recording of "Angel" plays over sad photos of animals. Is there a TV commercial that really gets to you (in either a good or a bad way)? "Brad" is back! You know, The Liberty Mutual commercial where the girl in the cute denim jacket talks about the car she had for four years. She named it "Brad." She loved Brad. Then she totaled him. She and Brad had gone through everything together. Nothing could replace Brad. Then Liberty Mutual calls, and she breaks into her happy dance.

6) In 1994, Sarah was stalked by an obsessed fan. Tell us about a time you were really frightened. In retrospect, was your fear commensurate with the threat? I'm terrified every time I fly, and I flew twice this week, and in a small plane, at that! No, it's a baseless fear. It is never commensurate with the real danger.

7) Sarah was adopted by Jack and Dorice McLachlan. Though she has a friendly relationship with her birth mother, she always considered Dorice her mother and sees herself behaving with her son the way Dorice did with her. Is there anyone in your family that you feel you resemble, either physically or by behavior? I look and act an awful lot like my aunt. Fair skin, round face, firmly held opinions.

8) McLachlan is one of the founders of Lilith Fair, a summer concert series designed to showcase talented female performers. Do/did your summer plans include an outdoor concert? Nope. Though last week, I heard three different bands playing at different spots up and down MIchigan Avenue.

9) Random question: Which of these men would you most like to be seated with at dinner -- Clint Eastwood, Prince William or Jimmy Fallon? Well, I never have been able to stand Clint Eastwood since he made such a fool of himself, yelling at an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention. I like Jimmy Fallon, but only in small doses. So William, definitely William! I look forward to hearing stories about George and Charlotte and Lupo, the royal dog.

We liked each other!

Part of why I went up to Michigan was to meet my niece's new fella. I was a little nervous about it, because I was underwhelmed by her first boyfriend, Jason, and hated her second one, Michael (I referred to him as "a sanctimonious pain in the ass if ever there was one" in a post written upon our first meeting).

But Mark! I liked him. And he liked me. We're both liberals, we both like cats, we both love my niece. If he only he loved the Cubs ... but alas, he's just not into sports.

Both he and my niece had to work until after 8:00 on Wednesday night, so I swam in the Best Western's pool and then unwound and watched the Cubs beat the White Sox on the big flat-screen TV. Really, is there any better way to spend an evening?

Then we got together and bonded over appetizers and I feel so much better about my niece's life. She's got plans for a new job, beginning in 2018. Instead of food service -- she's now a restaurant manager -- she'd like to try customer solutions at a restaurant supply company. Her plan is to try as many different aspects of the hospitality industry as she can before she settles into one job. As one who let my career just unfold, I'm impressed by her self-awareness and forethought.

Those shelves along the wall are all penny candy!
We spent the whole next day together in Holland, Michigan, where Mark grew up. A French bistro,  an Irish pub, lots of shopping in little stores, including one filled to the brim with old-school penny candies. Stops at a couple bookstores to indulge me -- even though I've promised myself not to buy books anymore for a while.

It was good to get away, it was good to spend time with them. Now I have Saturday and Sunday to spend, just chilling.

A new look at a familiar place

I usually fly American Airlines. I like the way they handle check in and I know my way around their concourse at O'Hare.

This week, however, I flew United. My niece lives in Michigan and United is the only airline that flies the ORD-MKG route. And so I took in some new sites as I made my way to Gate F2.

It made me a little sad that no one but me seemed impressed by her. Everyone just seemed so eager to get where they're going that they didn't look up to admire the lady craning her neck heavenward.

I want to learn from this. I must try to stay more in the moment and see what wonders I can discover.


Today would have been JBKO's 88th birthday.

I found a Facebook group of people just as enduringly fascinated by her as I am. According to posts, John Jr. reminisced about celebrating with his mother, saying she wasn't big on gifts but, every year, she always wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, rocky road ice cream, and a glass of wine. He said that after she died, he continued to have the chocolate cake and rocky road and would silently toast her with a glass of wine.

It's also been said that, if she really liked you, she would make you a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on your birthday.

Happy birthday, Jackie. I wish I'd known you well enough to share a piece of cake.

Happy Reminder

Every year I take the August Happiness Challenge. Here's a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

You're invited to join me. Visit me with a link to your daily August happy, and I'll come read it. I've found that experiencing other peoples' everyday pleasures is a great mood lifter.

It helps if your August Happiness Challenge posts are marked with an icon. Just something that means "happy" to you. Here's a pair of my past happys.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Drinking, again

Henry, my dearest friend from Key West, called me Monday night. It was the first time we'd spoken since the tearful call on July 4, when we talked about the death of his friend, Ted.

He was not unhappy on Monday, just conversational. And, I suspect, a little lonely. His husband, Reg, was tending bar and wouldn't be home until after 2:00 AM, after Henry had gone to bed.

And he was drinking. He loves his white wine.

He was eager to hear all about my colonoscopy -- he worries about me and I love him for that. We talked about how their lives will change in August, when Reg gives up bartending for bookkeeping after 42 years of food/beverage service. Then he switched to life in Trump's America.

Oh, good goobies! His crazy partisanship kicked in at the same moment as the wine.

"All Republicans" ...

•  Want war, because it's good for their rich friends
•  Oppose healthcare, because Obamacare is bad for their rich friends
•  Hate minorities

Oh, for shit's sake!

As a Christian, I get upset when I hear Conservatives act as though they have exclusive province over faith and insist that, as a Liberal, I cannot possibly be religious. It turns me off to their arguments. Why wouldn't patriotic Conservatives of conscience get similarly upset when they hear themselves portrayed in a cartoonish manner?

Henry kept returning to his same, familiar bogeymen: Trump and Dick Cheney. I told him I could not say anything good about either of those men, and no one can make me, but they do not represent "all Republicans." As a matter of fact, I imagine Cheney finds Trump appalling, and vice versa.

I could have brought up Bernie Sanders. In the run up to the 2016 election, Henry was adamant that Sen. Sanders was damaging Clinton and the patriotic thing for him to do would be to get out of the way. "He can't win!" was Reg's refrain, noting "no one trusts him."

No, dear Henry, none of your friends trust him. I've listened to many a lathered up Sanders supporter complain that Hillary is the "tool of the oligarchy" and she couldn't be trusted, either. Sigh.

So naturally, I busted him for his silliness. I mentioned that the bloodiest war of our lifetime,  Vietnam, was escalated by the same President who signed the landmark 1964 civil rights legislation. If LBJ both "wanted war" and "loved minorities," was he a Republican or a Democrat?

Nothing is this simple. Nothing is this black and white. No one -- OK, except Trump and Cheney -- is simply bad. Or exclusively good.

I hope I got him leave the wine in the refrigerator and open his ears and his heart -- his huge and loving heart -- to listening instead of demonizing.

I hope that by advising him, I encouraged myself to do the same.

And if not, well, Henry ended the call by telling me how much he loves me. To borrow from The Lads, you know that can't be bad.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Around the House
Bedroom: what’s your sleep schedule? I don't really have one. And I should. I have a terrible habit of dozing off on my sofa after work, and then I wake up after midnight and can't get back to sleep. BAD GAL!
Kitchen: favorite comfort food? Lately I've been eating a lot of graham crackers.
Washroom: showers or baths? bubbles? bath bombs? Usually showers, but I have bubble bath on hand for those days when I want to enjoy a nice, long soak.
Closet: sum up your style in a few words. Jeans, t-shirts and pullovers.

Parlor: favorite party or board game? Scrabble.
Living room: what do you like to do with your family? Just catch up. We don't get together as a clan very often.
Dining room: favorite special occasion food? Prime rib.
Garden: favorite tree? flower? I love carnations. I know they're often dismissed as "filler flowers," but I think they're great. Such sturdy, colorful flowers.
Attic: what’s one thing you have a sentimental attachment to and you will never throw away? I treasure a ceramic cable car that belonged to my favorite grandpa.
Library: favorite book genre? I bounce between mysteries and biographies.
Office: if you could have any job in the world, what would it be? I'd like to be a pet sitter. Wouldn't it be great to be paid for being a crazy cat lady?
Guest room: have you been to a sleepover? if so, when was your first? do you like them? Lots of sleep overs when I was in junior high. I don't recall my first. But yes, they were great fun.
Foyer: do you like small gatherings, large parties, or one-on-one meetings? I like small gatherings.
Pantry: favorite meal to make? I love slapping a salmon filet onto my George Foreman grill. While it's sizzling, I make myself a salad. Then I tell myself what a healthy eater I am.
Laundry: favorite and least favorite chore? I have no favorite chores. Though I am good at laundry. Here's a tip -- go to a beauty supply store and buy a bottle of clarifying shampoo. It's great for removing food stains, grass and blood.
Garage: favorite mode of transportation? favorite car? I enjoy riding the rails. I'm a big fan of Amtrak.
Panic room: what was the most nerve-wracking experience you’ve had? I'm terrified every time I get on a plane (which I'm doing next week).
Powder room: do you wear makeup? if so, what one item can’t you live without? what’s your favorite look? I wear makeup, but I spend more time on my skin care regimen. As I get older, my goal is to wear less makeup. I think once we pass a certain age, it ages rather than enhances us.

Not Clicking

Saturday was a weird day.

It started with me going to the post office to take my mail off "hold." You see, I actually didn't lose my keys -- I just misplaced them when I was stoned -- so I can access my mailbox, after all.

Then I got my hair cut. Afterwards, my nephew and I got together for lunch. It was fine, but we never seemed to be on the same wave length, like we usually are. I got no real sense of how he was doing, and nothing that we discussed seemed to mutually spark our enthusiasm, like it usually does.

When I got home -- before 5:00 -- I fell asleep, even though the Cubs were playing the Cardinals!

Now, of course, I'm wide awake. It's 2:30 AM and I'm wide awake!

I think that Fentanyl messed me up more than I thought. Proving once again what I've known all along -- I'd be a failure as a drug addict.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Don't Stop (1977)... because Country Dew recommended Fleetwood Mac

1) Since we're not supposed to stop thinking about tomorrow, let's talk about it: What are your plans for Sunday? Nothing on tap right now except grocery shopping. I had an intense Thursday (prep for colonoscopy) and Friday (colonoscopy) and Saturday I've got a lot of running around to do. Sunday I'm happy to take it easy.
2) Fleetwood Mac was formed 50 years ago in London. Fifty years is considered a "golden anniversary." Do you wear more silver or gold? Silver.

3) This song is from Rumours, which has sold 40 million copies. Is it in your collection? Nope. Though I believe all my friends did. It was crazy popular.

4) It was written by keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie. She was born Christine Perfect, a name that earned her a fair share of teasing when she was a school girl. Do you recall being teased in school? What about? My last name. For some reason, neither of my sisters got ribbed for it. As fate would have it, they both got married, and got new last names. I'm the one who ended up saddled with this sucker for life.

5) Before Fleetwood Mac, she was in a band called Chicken Shack. If you were to order out for a chicken dinner, which restaurant would you turn to? NOT George's! George's is a local coffee shop that serves a little of everything. Last Friday, I impulsively stopped by on the way home from work to treat myself to an early dinner. Fried chicken was the special. I was so happy because I hadn't enjoyed fried chicken in ages. I still haven't. (The rice pudding dessert that was included in the price was good though.)

6) Before she could pay all her bills with her music, she supported herself as a window dresser for a London department store. Do you enjoy walking along, just window shopping? Or do you consider "looking with no intention to buy" a waste of time? I always give in and buy something. I have no will power.

7) When she found herself making big money, one of the first things Christine bought was a pair of matching Mercedes for herself and then-husband John McVie. If you were handed a check for $1 million, what's the first thing you would do with the money? Take it to an accountant. I want to know if it's pre-tax or after-tax. Sorry to give such an earthbound, boring answer, but I read that the IRS takes 36% of every lottery winner's payday. And then the state get its cut. So before I start spending, I want to know how much I have to spend.
8) The other girl in Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, founded the Soldier's Angel Foundation. She believes in the healing power of music, and so she's proud to provide wounded soldiers with iPods already loaded with music. When you listen to music from your phone, MP3 player or iPod, do you use ear buds or headphones? Headphones. I just cannot wear buds.
9) Random question: Let's pretend your high school reunion is coming up. Which classmate are you more curious about: the one who was your first date, or the one who was too cool to give you the time of day? To be completely honest, I'm not curious about any of my classmates. BUT since I gave such a joyless answer to #7, I'll try to get in the spirit of the question. The hunk who ignored me. I hope he's still all studly. (But I also hope he shaved off that skinny mustache. It was de rigueur for hot guys back in the day, but today it would make him look like an aging porn star.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

"Everybody must get stoned ..."

So today, I was under Fentanyl and it made me stupid. Really stupid.

While I was still sober and completely cognizant, I was admitted by a young man I found officious, literal, and insensitive to my panic. I firmly believe that a certain level of sensitivity is integral to that job, and he was lacking.

When I awoke in recovery, the tech who'd attended me during the procedure was the first one to speak to me. She was very sweet and cheerful, telling me to relax and stay still and sip the apple juice she brought. A bit later, the young man who admitted me came to check on me. I remembered instantly how much I disliked him.

"Can you get up?" he asked.

"I don't know. 'Spose so," I replied, sipping my apple juice. I thought my reply was the funniest fucking thing ever, especially after I saw the confused look on his face. "OH? Are you asking me to TRY to get up?"

Oh, Gal! Noel Coward had nothing on you!

Then I was sure I'd lost my house keys. I checked my purse. The little locker where I'd stored my clothes. I gave my name and phone number to the hospital's lost and found. I looked under Kathy's car in the parking lot and then under the seat in her car.

I used the spare key I have hidden in THE SECRET PLACE and got into my apartment. Then I called a locksmith to get a spare key for my mailbox. The locksmith took pity on me and promised to be over here "first thing in the morning."

Then I found my key ring. In my pocket.

Who would've thought?

Turns out LaLiz and I have something in common after all: Hemorrhoids.

Really. Up until I read the report on my colonoscopy, I didn't believe that the creature shown here and I had anything in common. Yet in the wonderful book, Furious Love, recurring hemorrhoids bedeviled her mightily. I find this oddly comforting.

Other results from today's procedure:

•  Diverticulosis, without perforation or bleeding.
•  Random biopsies, taken from colon, will determine if colitis is the lingering result of last year's c diff.
•  NOTHING that indicated malignancy.

While the prep* was terrible, the procedure itself went well. I just have to eat more veggies, move more and drink more water. Losing weight would be good, too.

Kathy was awesome today. She isn't always, but today she was. She went above and beyond. Sitting with me while I waited in my hospital gown, prone on the gurney, waiting to be rolled in. Then she was there when I was done, with my paperwork and a Paul at 75 magazine as my reward for being such a good patient.

I think this was an example of what Elizabeth Edwards tried to teach me in her book, Saving Graces. Sometimes I need to allow myself to lean on people. By revealing myself as not the always strong one, I help strengthen our relationship.

*Though not as bad as the prep was last time I had a colonoscopy, in 2009. Who knows? Perhaps in 10 years, when I'm due for another colonoscopy, it'll be even a bit better yet.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Where are my Cubs?

In less than an hour, I begin the "prep" for my colonoscopy. I do not want to do this. I know it is going to be unpleasant.

If only I could watch the Cubs! But alas, they have a day off.

So I'm left to worry ... about my colonoscopy, about John McCain's brain cancer, about OJ Simpson gaining parole.

I'm such a baby. But I admit, I'm very unhappy right now and my mind is racing. My guys could distract me. But my guys are nowhere to be found.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Kennedy and Nixon, by Chris Matthews. As I watch a new President demonize the press and get bogged down in scandal, I get a horrible sense of deja tragedy. I'm working through the foreboding by reading about Nixon. 

Kennedy and Nixon explores "the rivalry that shaped Postwar America." Chris Matthews begins by introducing us to Jack and Dick, two WWII Naval Officers who entered Congress at the same time and were quite friendly, until circumstance and ambition pulled them apart. As they gained national stature, the difference in their appeal became obvious. One's strength was his charisma, the other's was his very ordinariness. To slightly paraphrase Matthews in this highly readable book, "Americans viewed Kennedy as their shining hero. They recognized Nixon as the face that stared back at them in the bathroom mirror."

2. What did you recently finish reading? Exposed by Lisa Scottoline is one of those books I liked ... except when I didn't.  (This was an ARC from Amazon.)
Exposed highlights the evolving relationship between Bennie and Mary, the two central characters of the Scottoline's popular "Rosato" series. My favorite scenes were the ones that had the two women putting their heads together to solve the case. "Teamwork makes the dream work," Bennie says.
Still at times it really annoyed me. Mary's family and the gang from South Philly, mostly Italian immigrants, are cartoonish. I know they're supposed to seem colorful, with their broken English and loud voices and cute nicknames, but it wears thin fast and soon becomes a condescending distraction. And there's a major plot point that really doesn't bear up under close scrutiny. It feels especially sloppy for an author of Scottoline's profile because it involves health care coverage, and that's something that the entire country seems to becoming more knowledgeable about. Where are her editors? (I won't say more to avoid spoilers.)

3.  What will you read next? I've got Sue Grafton's X, a Kinsey Milhone mystery I've yet to crack open.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing:  Firsts

First Job: Babysitting

First Real Job: Secretary

First Favorite Politician: JFK

First Car: Impala

First Record/CD: "Annette" backed with "Hey, Cubby Boy." It was a thick yellow 45 rpm by Jimmy Dodd of the Mousketeers, recorded before I was born. I don't know how I got it. Maybe it came with the record player, which looked like this.

First Sport Played: Tag or kickball.

First Concert: Bobby Sherman at The Auditorium Theater in Chicago

First Foreign Country Visited: Canada

First Favorite TV Show: Batman

First Favorite Actor: Michael Landon

First Favorite Actress: Marlo Thomas

First Girlfriend/Boyfriend: Tommy from across the street. We were going to get married and get a dog. And we would keep her on a leash, not let her run away or get hit by a car. We were in pre-school, and seemed to believe two people had to be married to own a dog.

First Encounter with a Famous Person: When I was about 10, I saw Hawks' star Stan Mikita doing his Christmas shopping in Oak Brook, Illinois.

First Brush With Death: I know my mother was very upset when I told her how I "fixed" the broken plug by prying the broken prong out of the socket with a pen. I got a stern talking to about electricity.

First House/Condo Owned: This one

First Film Seen: Mary Poppins

First Favorite Recording Artist: The Lads from Liverpool

First Favorite Radio Station: The Big 89, WLS

First Book I Remember Reading: Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire.

First Meme You Answered on Your Blog: Here's the first Thursday Thirteen I ever did, 9 years ago.