Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For Dear Neil

I got word today that Neil, an old friend of mine, had passed away. He was 56...and had been on vacation with his family.

I am extremely sad -- for me, for his friends, for his family. And his passing brings up alot of memories and questions in my life, especially in view of how my life is now. Neil was one of my major "should I have zigged when I ended up zagging?".

He was one of the funniest human beings on the face of the planet. He was also kind, generous, gentle..and did I mention funny? I never dated a human being in my life that made me laugh more than he did. And I'm not waxing poetic because he's not here anymore. Ask anyone who knew him and they would tell you. There was no one funnier who did not get paid for their talent.

One time, for Lent, he sent me an envelope with a piece of dryer fuzz. The note said, "So what are you doing for Lint?" That was it. That was Neil.

We met when he was a writer at the Trib and I was a college age assistant in the sports department. Because many of the high school and college finals come in late on Friday and Saturday, he was in charge, many times, of "babysiting" the people like me who took results over the phone and turned them into basic stats for the paper. We ended up being good friends and then began dating.

He ended up getting an offer from another paper in another state and it made it hard for both of us. He wanted me to marry him and go with him. I was in college, unsure of what I wanted, and felt our relationship wasn't at the stage we should be talking marriage. And I was too frightened to move 1000 miles away and end up in a broken relationship. I was just afraid. Afraid. So he ended up moving and we wrote and talked continually. But as things happen, long distance romances just don't work. When he'd come to visit, it was hard because I was unsure of myself, scared of my feelings, scared of his. I knew he loved me and loved me completely. Many times I think I should have taken a chance and gone with him. Many times, I think I was right to stay here to nurse my parents until their deaths, have the children that I do. Even go through the pain of divorce from WAM.

Neil did several amazing things for me some of which I had forgotten. I forgot to remember how special he told me I was, how beautiful, how funny, how loving. And in typical Neil style, he had a friend named Bill, who had moved to Chicago with his wife who was from Delaware. Well, Bill's wife didn't know a soul. Was miserable and wanted to go back to what she knew. When Neil called her one time to see how she was, she told him she was miserable. He told her he could fix that.

He called me and asked me to call her. I did. We talked for 3 hours and went to see "Ordinary People" and have a couple beers. That was longer ago than I want to admit to. And she and I lost contact a bit with our lives going in crazy directions, but she emailed me to tell me about Neil. And we talked a long time and realized how much we missed each other and all the incredible laughs we had.

My dear Neil....I miss you. I'll remember the things you told me. I thank you for bringing Bill and his family into my life....and I thank you again for helping me renew the friendship I have with Dona.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Seven Words...

I grew up on George Carlin and I always admired his wit, his quick humor...the way he looked at things. He was probably one of the first smart-asses I ever saw. Smart asses who made you think. As such, he is of course, my hero.

I had to take time to remember him in my own way. So here, for the first time, Lara Lampoon's George Carlin's "The Seven Words You Can Not Say on Television".

Now there are alot of words you can not say on television. I remember the aghast gasps in the 1970's when "All in the Family" introduced us to the sound of a toilet flushing in the background and the word "pregnant". Before that, it simply wasn't done. Times have changed, but as Carlin's 7 words have remained a staple of the "you STILL can't say these words on television", the words I will submit to you have consistently been Kingpins of the Female No-Fly Buzzword Zone since the beginnings of organized speech.

I present to you: the Seven Words You Can Not Say to a Woman...and Survive.

1. Weight
2. Teenagers
3. Libido
4. Sleep
5. Money
6. Menopause
7. Housework

Even READING these words raised the hairs on your necks, didn't it??

I don't believe I need to explain the meaning of any of these words to a fellow female over a certain age. They are already trying to shake off seeing the list in print and may even be washing their eyes out.

For those of you who don't quite "get" the list, well, if you're a woman, I can tell you that eventually, you will. If you are a man, I am gifting you some practical advice that will more than likely save you over and over.

Don't ever say anything even remotely associated with these words to ANY woman, even if you suspect she wouldn't understand. I guarantee you, if you don't practice not saying them now, they could potentially spill out at the most unopportune moment and put your life at risk. Trust me. I work for doctors.

So go forth, ye fellow humans, armed with this knowledge...for knowledge is power. George would be proud.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Welcome Home

Is there anything nicer than coming home to a clean, organized, lovely kitchen? Doesn't it just beg for you to sit down with a nice cup of tea, maybe browse the mail, perhaps start a light supper of pasta with fresh basil and mozzarella? Perhaps with a glass of a delightful pinot noir? Hmmmm. Welcome home, honey.

My point? I have no idea what that would feel like. I just happened to take a look at my kitchen cabinets and noticed peanut butter (Sean), blue food coloring (Erin), and dribbles of chocolate syrup (either one) on the doors. Don't ask me why. And for some reason, an ant colony has taken over my kitchen counter plant. I CAN NOT kill the plant. CAN NOT. It's been in my family for like 25 years and refuses to die no matter how not-green my family thumbs are. The cats have knocked over their food dishes and Mena has started this "thing" of dipping over the water bowl. I don't know. It's hot...maybe she's trying to bathe. I just don't know. I simply don't know how this shit happens.

I clean. I dust and wax and polish and shine and vacuum and organize and swish and swirl and throw crap out (usually when the moon is full, Pluto is in the House of Saturn and Jupiter's spot is a lovely shade of burgundy). BUT, even when NO ONE IS HOME, it gets totally wrecked. Yes, Mena digs dirty socks out of the laundry basket and carries them all over the house like they are her kittens. Sure, Hurricane Erin strikes. Sure, sometimes the laundry piles up, the recycling poureth over, I have ring around the tub and sage brush rolling down the hallway. AND no, I don't always get to the dinner dishes, but for heaven's sake...peanut butter, blue food coloring and chocolate syrup?

How long has it been there? What if it's been there for like YEARS and I never noticed it? OMG -- I'm NOT June Cleaver!

It's been a terrible truth I've struggled not to face. But there it is. Out in the open. I believe I'm a disorganized clutterbug who does not pay attention to anything related to housework. I had company over the weekend, and Erin and I cleaned up (sorta) after they left. When Sam came over, I was fairly proud that there was even a path thru the livingroom. I told him that we had cleaned up after the company left....that the livingroom had been the housing unit for the visiting kids. He said, and I quote, "This is clean??"

He should have seen it BEFORE I spent 2 hours digging out.

With this recent realization of my affliction and my poor attempts at problem solving, I have now spent just as much money on books about home organization as I have on books about dieting.

But I'm trying to kick the habit. (It has been noted that if I spent my time organizing and cleaning as opposed to reading books about organizing and cleaning, that I'd not be in the mess I'm currently in....). I'm going to LOVE my mess. I'm going to embrace the Slob Factor that has been passed down from me to my children.

And I'm gonna start making those cats earn their keep by doing at least a couple loads of laundry a week.