Archive for April, 2008

Earthshattering News


I forgot to tell mention that I felt the Illinois earthquake last week.

As you know, I went to bed at 1:30 Friday morning, after having a couple glasses of wine. Usually when this happens, I wake up sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. completely parched.

So at 4:37 a.m., I was not surprised to find myself awake. I did find it odd that my bed was vibrating a little (like a truck driving on a bridge made of wood slats). And in my haze, the only thing that made sense was that the motor in the ceiling fan was going nuts. So I got up, turned off the fan, got a glass of water and returned to bed — to find that it wasn’t shaking any more.

Obviously my assessment of the ceiling fan was correct — so I thought.

You can imagine my surprise when I turned on the morning news to learn that I’d experienced an earthquake. Who knew my first (and hopefully only) one would be in Chicago?


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A Big Sissy Weekend

Well, not really a big Sissy weekend. I’d label it more as “rock star.”

It started Thursday night with wine and cheese with a friend (until 1:30 a.m., egads!), then sushi with friends on Friday night. Then cubs game at noon on Saturday (with laundry and a workout that morning), then a dueling piano bar after the game — where many country tunes were played in honor of my home state.

(I fondly remembered when I took Mom and Colleen to the piano bar “Howl at the Moon” on Mom’s birthday a couple years ago. She sat petrified in the front row, hoping they wouldn’t call her on stage to be serenaded by a raunchy song. Ultimately they let her off the hook and sang “Under the Boardwalk” as her birthday treat.)

As if that weren’t enough excitement for one weekend, tonight I met a friend for dinner at the much-talked-about new restaurant Sepia. Excellent. Lots of bacon — how could they possibly go wrong?

We then had tickets to a show at the House of Blues (starting at 9:30–my bedtime), for a singer I’d never heard of named Schuyler Fisk. Chris had originally invited me to the show because the artist is a singer/songwriter/acoustic guitar player, and she thought it would be right up my alley.

She was right. The music was excellent, and Schuyler really played to the crowd.

Right before the concert started, Chris told me Schuyler was Sissy Spacek’s daughter. A few minutes later I spotted a woman with a messy blond bun about 10 feet to my left chugging a Corona. Sure enough! It was Sissy. She beamed during the whole set and even sang along.

Finally I’ve seen a star. (Bill Rancic just doesn’t count.)

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Interview with Mr. Farmer

You’re listening to FM 90.3, GALN, Galloping Public Radio. This is Inquiring Minds, and I’m your host, Nelly.

Today we’re here with the talk of the town — a man who is the source of much speculation — Mr. Farmer.

Nelly: Tell us, Farmer, how did you get your pseudonym?

Farmer: You gave it to me.

Nelly: Where are you from?

Farmer: North suburbs of Chicago.

Nelly: What is your occupation?

Farmer: I engineer and sell commercial HVAC systems.

Nelly:  In other words you figure out how to blow hot air?

Farmer: Only when you pull my finger. It’s a gift.

Nelly: Do you have any pets?

Farmer: Not anymore.

Nelly: Did you eat them?

Farmer: (Blank stare)

Nelly: How many plaid shirts do you have?

Farmer: At least a dozen.

Nelly: How many pairs of jeans do you have that you DIDN’T purchase at Cabelas or Wal-Mart?

Farmer: Four. I prefer Kohl’s.

Nelly: What occupation other than your current one would you like to try?

Farmer: I’d like to create a company that sells residential ground source heat pumps.

Nelly: What is your avatar for me on your phone?

Farmer: Mud flap girl.

Nelly: Clearly she looks nothing like me. Her hair is much too long. Uh, which painting did you like best today at the Art Institute?

Farmer: Gas Station by Edward Hopper.

Gas Station

Nelly: What did you eat for lunch?

Farmer: A pulled pork sandwich on a Cuban roll at The Gage.

Nelly: What’s the most exciting thing that happened to you this weekend?

Farmer: That’s tough. I took the bus for the first time using my new CTA card. And I have my own personal parking space a block from your house, thanks to you.

Nelly: What song are you currently learning to play on guitar?

Farmer: Bad Moon Rising. I’ll serenade you soon.

Nelly: If you had to pick a structure for your back yard, would you choose a tent or a shed?

Farmer: Shed. But only if it had a cement floor.

Nelly: You have a hair in your nose.

Farmer: Thank you.

Nelly: When will this baseball game be over?

Farmer: We can watch something else.

Nelly: My hero.

There you have it folks, the scoop on Mr. Farmer.

Do you have burning questions for Mr. Farmer? Simply post a comment, rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time.

Next week on Inquiring Minds, we’ll explore the psyche of my cat, Nette. ‘Til next time, this is Nelly. Bringing you the news you want to know.  

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New Cabs

In the past week, I found myself jumping not into yellow boat-sized Lincolns, but rather zippy little Priuses. Yes, hybrids have hit the world of taxis.

Both drivers had gotten them in the past month, and they said they were getting about 40 MPG rather than 15. Not bad.

I tried driving a Prius — once. Well, actually, I never got the thing started because it thought I was stealing it. Perhaps it was because I took out the “key” that I wasn’t supposed to ever remove — instead of just pushing the “on” button on the dash.

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Preoccupied with occupations and occupants

As my cab skimmed along the thin layer of rain coating Lake Shore Drive this evening, with me sitting freshly shorn in the back seat sporting a new blond bob, I became preoccupied with how the word “occupation” came to mean “job”. And how I am generally preoccupied with my occupation.

Certainly my days are completely filled with my job. But plenty of other things occupy my time. Like watching American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor. Like playing guitar.

I think I will officially change my occupation to “bricoleur”. (A French term for a person who engages in bricolage, meaning someone who invents his or her own strategies for using existing materials in a creative, resourceful, and original way.)  Or maybe “peregrinator” — meaning one who goes from place to place.

(Maybe there’s a term for one who recevies millions of e-mails and has to clean out just enough of them daily to stay ahead of the storage limit on one’s inbox?)

Now I am occupying my bed, still preoccupied with my occupation. Sort of. My mind is wandering back to a nickname my brother gave to me: Occupant.

When I was 8, all of my animals had names. They were Rascal, Pancakes, Rusty and Bandit. (On Donner, on Blizten.) By the time I reached high school, my animals had much less “warm fuzzy” names. One of them was simply named “Occupant.”

For whatever reason, Brother DIY decided to start calling me “Occupant.”

“Dinner’s ready, Occupant.”

“Hurry up, Occupant.”

Wasn’t he sweet?


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