"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Monday, August 27, 2012


Two passionate politicos...who knew?
So on Saturday my fortune cookie advised me that a cheerful letter or message was on its way to me.

I was skeptical.

But by late Sunday afternoon, the cookie's prediction manifested itself by way of an AWESOME phone call from my son. And I am still smiling! And oh, so cheerful!

I mean, what life-long-political-activist Mom wouldn't be thrilled to discover that the reason she hadn't heard from her one-and-only college sophomore Sonny Boy all day  is because -- drum roll please -- he was busy canvassing for President Barack Obama!

"You're what?" I  asked, thinking I may have had a bad connection between his cell phone and my land line and hadn't heard correctly.

"I'm canvassing for Obama downtown," Daniel said.

As in downtown Iowa City.


My only child, a young liberal after my own heart!

"So, like what exactly are you doing?" I asked, barely able to contain my excitement.

Registering Obama supporters to vote, he replied.

President Barack Obama in Iowa  City
Not an easy thing to do, approaching people you don't know, inquiring about their political affiliation... and when an Obama supporter, making sure they are registered and ready to vote Nov. 6. If not a Obama supporter, a friendly tip of the hat and a "good afternoon". 

And oh, such an important, necessary job in the midst of such a heated, neck-and-neck presidential campaign! GOTV! Get Out The Vote!

Canvassing, making phone calls, registering voters, volunteering your time any way you can on behalf of a political candidate you wholeheartedly believe in is probably the best way for a young American to get their political feet wet.

I was absolutely giddy at the news!  My son, the growing political activist! A chip off the ol'  MOMocrat block! 

Makes me proud to think Daniel is realizing, as I did at about the same age, that democracy is not a spectator sport!

I was equally as thrilled when last spring he stood in line for hours to get tickets to President Obama's speech on campus. And he was up at the crack of dawn to make sure he got a good seat.

Could he have inherited my passion for politics? Was he deeply inspired by my whirlwind weekend bus trip to Washington, D.C., several years ago where I joined thousands of other concerned Americans protesting the Iraq war?

Had he actually listened to my stories over the years about canvassing the Chicago suburbs in support of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the early 80s?

Just me, RFK, Jr., and a couple other CAFO protesters...
Or were the seeds of political activism planted when Daniel was but nine years old and I, his mother the diehard investigative newspaper reporter/political protester, returned fired up after covering the annual hog summit at the famous Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA, where Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had, during his opening speech, referenced my in-depth article on the environmental dangers related to large-scale/corporate-owned Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)?

Following Kennedy's speech, I asked him for his autograph for Daniel. And he quickly scribbled, as if from one political activist to another, perhaps foreseeing my young son following in my footsteps: "To Daniel...See You At the Barricades."

OK, so more than likely it was the cute co-ed from down the dorm hall who invited Daniel to get involved with Obama campaign that inspired him most...but that's beside the point.

The important thing is, he is involved in the political process, passionate about doing what he can to help re-elect our president.  Alas, my work here on earth is done!

One child born to carry on, to carry on!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


There is nothing like a rainy Saturday afternoon for writing.

I love lighting my big peach candle, curling up on my day bed in my attic writing room, opening up my laptop and writing for hours...

Soaking in the stillness -- save for the soft, hypnotic drumming of raindrops on the roof  -- I stare out my  window occasionally, allowing myself to feel the shower of emotions with which my soul is instantly drenched.

I am at once filled with contentment, urgency, sadness, excitement, anticipation, regret, hunger, nourishment, loneliness, love...its the assuring coziness of a rainy day in my doll house-like writing room that calms me in the midst of such a perfect emotional storm.

Granted, I have a million other things I should be doing other than reflecting and writing.

Dishes. Laundry. Dusting. Vacuuming. Groceries.

But as my awesome high school friend, Jordan ( I now call her JDog), with whom I have the honor of working on Saturday mornings, recently reminded me...YOLO.

You Only Live Once

YupYup. Gotta do what you love.

Long story short, I decided that there will always be time for housework. Gotta make the most of a rainy day. Especially after a long summer's drought.

Must. Keep. Writing.

Hence, here I sit, curled up on my day bed, alone in my cozy attic doll house, putting cyber pen to blank blog post.

I pause, inhaling the fresh scent of my big peach candle, looking out at the rain, and listening carefully for whatever insight the raindrops may have to offer.

Settle down. It will  make sense. Eventually. Trust. Let go a little.  Breathing room. Sometimes, all you can do is let it rain. 

And the rain just keeps coming.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Back in the KI days...
Once upon a time, as a 16-year-old ride operator at Kings Island Amusement Park near Cincinnati, I could run and leap effortlessly to the top of the Giant Slide, amazingly akin to a young gazelle.

Donned in a cheery blue-and-white polka dotted dress with matching bloomers and a pair of bright white Keds, I could also hop from lane to lane seemingly at the speed of light, swooping young children up in my arms out of harm's way if need be, delicately darting between a dozen or more other park patrons as they flew down the slick fiberglass hills on their itchy burlap rugs.

Those of us assigned to work on the Giant Slide were tagged Sexy Slide Girls, or SSGs.

We were young, lithe and lovely.
One Sexy Slide Girl

Fast forward 40 years, then, to Sunday when five of my friends and I  -- no longer young or lithe, but still lovely -- rode the Giant Slide at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

A patron now, not a ride operator -- donned in pair of brooding black capris, black shirt and scuffed off-white gym shoes --  I grasped my itchy burlap rug in my right hand, my left hand clutching the railing as I huffed and puffed up the gazillion metal steps to the top of the slide. I felt amazingly akin to the old and rather massive 1,500 pound boar sprawled in a giant slothlike heap on the floor of his stall over in the livestock building.

Finally high atop the slide, the gruff ride operator (she never would have made it at Kings Island) hailed me and my friends over to the far end. She hurriedly grabbed our burlap rugs and threw them down next to each other, edges overlapping, and instructed us to sit down quickly. We wanted to go down the slide all at the same time, so we locked our arms.

From left: Leesa, Karla, Me, Diane and Vick
More like The Golden Girls than Sexy Slide Girls, we moaned and groaned our way down into sitting position on our burlap, locked arms, and with one big push from the ride operator, off  we flew down the Giant Slide!

It was a magic burlap carpet ride! I felt like a kid again! Adrenaline rushing,  hair blowing back in the breeze...


Oh, the screaming! The yelling!  The laughing! The sounds of our collective long-ago youth echoing across the fairgrounds!

We held on to each other for dear life as we zoomed toward the bottom of the slide. It looked like my friend Vicki might flip over!


And a grand time was had by all!
Seconds later at the bottom of the slide, our burlap rugs came to an abrupt halt and we were laughing so hard we were just about in tears, trying to catch our breath and collect ourselves as we struggled to stand up.

OMG! Too much fun at the Iowa State Fair!  Thanks, Ladies!  I needed that!

Sunday, August 19, 2012



I crave it.

It's my verbal drug of choice.

Just something about the spoken exchange of thoughts, opinions and feelings that guarantees a lift in in my spirit! A spring in my step! A song in my heart!

Never been to Ireland nor kissed the Blarney Stone, which, legend has it, gives one the gift of gab. But goodness knows, I love to talk. On the phone. At the table. At my desk. In the grocery aisle. On the street corner.

I yearn to socialize, schmooze, chat and, if necessary, am not opposed to a little tete-a-tete now and then.

Lately, it seems, I've found myself caught up in a type of convo known as crossfire --  a lively and heated interchange of ideas and opinions --  on Facebook regarding the upcoming presidential election. Yikes.

(All in good fun, Mittens, all in good fun.)

For me, it's all about the connection. Making it memorable. Seizing the moment at hand, touching the heart of another person through words, sentences, exclamations, declarations. 

They say that conversation is feminine, while debate is masculine. Which may explain to some degree the occasional breakdown in communication in a male-female relationship. But lucky the woman who finds herself in the company of an ardent male conversationalist!

Worst conversation?  The dangling conversation...but a great song by the same name by Simon and Garfunkel.

Now, for some folks, the art of conversation is a lost art, a neglected pleasure. But never fear, the Internet is full of suggested questions, i.e. conversation starters, to assist you.  So next time you are at a loss for words as you are trying to get to know someone, try a couple of these questions on for size:

  • What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
  • If you could live in any home on a television series, what would it be?
  • What's the longest you've gone without sleep?
  • What's your favorite Barry Manilow song?
  • Who's your favorite Muppet?
  • What's the habit you're proudest of breaking?
  • What's your favorite Web site?
  • What's your favorite school supply?
  • Who's your favorite TV attorney?
  • What was your most recent trip of more than 50 miles?
  • What's the best bargain you've ever found at a garage sale or thrift store?
  • Where were you on September 11, 2001?
  • What's your favorite tree?
  • What's the most interesting biography you've read?
  • What do you order when you eat Chinese food? 
  • Sunday, August 12, 2012


    Banner adventurous weekend for this ol' gal.

    Not sure what's gotten into me...

    Maybe it's the whole "like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives" philosophy that haunts me.

    Or maybe it was the welcomed drop in temperature, and the early-fall like morning air went straight to my head.

    Whatever it was, something mysteriously caused me to toss my usual "always approach life with extra caution" mindset aside more than a couple of  times:

    Inherited a Droid and went toe-to-toe with modern cellular technology. Yup. Spent three hours at the Verizon store in Carroll familiarizing myself with the ins and outs of a touch screen. I'd like to personally thank Diane Kohorst for being so patient and answering all my questions and calming my nerves, helping me to remain brave and stay the course when I was ready to run back to my "old school" non-smart phone after a whopping five minutes.

    Diane chuckled when I said I might have to spend the night there before I'd get the hang of it, but I was serious. Anyone who has had to teach me anything new, from a drill team routine in high school to how to process a waybill at work, knows I sometimes bristle and freak out if I don't catch on immediately. But I dug deep and was determined, faced my fear of failure, and Eureka!  I've got apps! WooHoo!

    Brave New World!

    Hopped on the back of a friend's motorcycle and rode, sans helmet, six blocks to the hardware store.  OK, so "hopped" is a bit of a stretch...more like "hobbled less than gracefully".  But  yeah, I rode on a motorcycle! For a whole six blocks! I know... I can't believe it either. I hate motorcycles. But when my good buddy Dell Petty pulled up to the corner as I was starting to hoof it down to Hardware Hank, asked me where I was headed and did I want a lift, I just blurted out, "Sure!" Yikes-a-roni! It was kinda fun!

    Demanded a working massage chair at the nail salon during my mani-pedi. Well, actually, I asked politely if I could please have a different massage chair because the one they put me in would not start, and that was like the third visit there where I'd gotten a bum chair. The first two times I never said  a thing.  But dang, the massage chair is half the fun of the mani-pedi experience if you ask me (especially the last chair on the left...yummy!)

    Now, I am not the kind of person who demands much of anything or makes a fuss if customer service is less than perfect. I don't send my food back at a restaurant if they give me beans instead of peas, or if the rice is a tish cold. If I get charged twice for a bar of soap at the grocery store, so be it. I utter not a peep. But by golly, I wanted a full-functioning masssage chair Saturday (especially after spending three grueling hours at Verizon) while my fake fingernails soaked off in a small plastic bowl of acetone and the callouses on my feet were scraped. So I spoke up! And I got my favorite yummy massage chair to boot! Yay!

    Got my hair cut Sunday at  the SmartStyle Family Hair Salon at the Carroll Wal-Mart . There I was, pushing my cart toward the exit, and I suddenly got the urge to get my hair cut. In the blink of an eye I decided what the heck, I'd trust a stylist I absolutely do not know nor was she recommended (which is usually a pre-requisite for me, seeing as I quake at the thought of a bad hair day).  Her name, by the way, is Rhianna, and she is excellent!  I love my new haircut!

    I also love the fact that Rhianna asked me if I had young children starting school soon. My eyes popped open wide.  Me? Young children? You really think I look like I could have children who are young? Wow! Bless your heart! Thank you!

    Granted, I sounded way too Sally-Field-at-the-'84-Oscars-Best-Actress-acceptance-speech incredulous ("You like me!  You really like me!"), but it really did make my day.

    When I told Rhianna that actually I have a 19-year-old son who just left for his sophomore year at Iowa, she looked shocked.  Might have been my horrible split ends. Anyway, she was so sweet, I bought a bottle of leave-in conditioner for an extra $10 and told her I'd be back.

    Only got a little nauseous and teary when said college sophomore son left for Iowa City Friday night. And maybe that's the reason for my uncharacteristic chutzpah the rest of the weekend.

    Round 2 of the Empty Nest and I am so OK with it. I know Daniel is where he needs to be, where he is happiest and most creative. I know he is blooming where he is planted.

    Hence, perhaps my soul is signaling in mysterious ways that it's time for me to bloom - once more -- before I'm planted...six feet under.

    Life is not a dress rehearsal, folks. And at 55, time is of the essence. Must make the most of it.


    Carpe Diem!

    Saturday, August 04, 2012


    Moments after I lament that I do not think it will ever rain again in Iowa...voila!


    OK, a sprinkle. Followed by a tish heavier sprinkle. Suppose you could call it a shower. Followed by a light wind gust.

    I tear downstairs, out the front door, face upward, eyes wide open, giddily awash in the early Saturday morning rain drops, pajamas and all.

    For a second, I think I hear a rumble of  thunder in the distance. Bring it!

    "Mom, you look like a crazy lady! Come in the house!" my 19-year-old son pleads from the safe, dry confines of our front porch.

    "I am a crazy lady!" I reply, laughing out loud, letting the momentarily-wild wind tousle my crumpled bed-head hair.

    Rainy Saturdays!  My favorite! Maybe we do bring the rain. Still.

    I run barefoot across the hard, drought-dried lawn, now wondrously soft and wet. 

    Rain! Glorious rain!

    A cool breeze!  Goosebumps! A slight shiver! YES!

    Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly.

    Breathe, Annie. Breathe.


    Reaching for something in the distance
    So close you can almost taste it
    Release your inhibitions
    Feel the rain on your skin

    No one else can feel it for you
    Only you can let it in
    No one else, no one else
    Can speak the words on your lips

    Drench yourself in words unspoken
    Live your life with arms wide open
    Today is where your book begins
    The rest is still unwritten...

    Friday, August 03, 2012


    Wanted to share this awesome video, directed and filmed by my son, Daniel, and this beautiful song by my friend Chad Elliott...

    Happy Friday!

    Thursday, August 02, 2012


    OK, so we never danced to Love Shack. But our teams -- T.S. Squad and Ann's Team -- placed in the top four during the Trivia Night contest at Madeira Inn.

    The tips of my recently highlighted blonde hair may have turned green after swimming, but I got a nice tan.

    And I did not smuggle home jars of Frisch's Tartar Sauce and packets of Skyline Chili mix in my carry-on, but I managed to dine at both of my fave Cincy eateries TWICE while I was there...yummy!

    Yes, my Cincy vacay was wonderful! Thanks to all who have inquired  since my return last Tuesday!

    The best part of the trip, of course, was seeing the ol' gang-o-mine...though, sadly, everyone's lives busy and hectic as they are, I did not get to see everyone I hoped to see. And in all honesty, I don't zip around on vacay quite as fast or quite as energetically as I used to, and I spent a good share of my time just letting the stress of the work-a-day world  and the past few frenzied years of my life ooze out of my pores.

    I steeled myself for my return to reality, even had a day to adjust to the real world before I returned to work. Nevertheless, I still fell into a giant vat of post vacay blues the second day back. Felt like I never left. But isn't that always the way for anyone after several days of R and R?

    "Golly, it's so good to be back after 10 days of vacation!" said no one, ever.

    In fact, I have done some research, and because post-vacay blues are a universal malady, there are plenty-o-tips and ideas for dealing with them. Caught an article on Web MD that likens going on vacation to a trip into space, and I quote:

    "The nerve-wracking blastoff takes place only after weeks of careful planning. Then a few days of serenity and peace are followed by a harrowing re-entry. The old routine may feel like the force of gravity after days of weightlessness -- a familiar burden that suddenly feels harder to bear."

    Spot-on, Web MD!

    A harrowing re-entry indeed.

    So for those of you about to embark on a long-awaited vacation, I thought I'd share some of  my own post-vacay survival tips.  I call them Annie's Post-Vacay Blues Survival Clues.

    Yes, if you must return from vacay:

    1. Return on Tuesday of pay week. Take Wednesday off to adjust (i.e., whine), go back to work on Thursday and find your paycheck waiting for you when you return from lunch! WooHoo! And if Friday happens to be Ice Cream Day, and your supervisors are dishing up bowls of it on your morning break, even better.  Sugar always helps soften the blow of having to be back at the ol' grind.

    2. Put your pics on Facebook right away. Relive the fun! Now, I didn't do this because I still have Daniel's senior year pics taking up most of the room on my camera card (yes, he's starting his sophomore year of college in a few days...still hard to let go), and I still haven't figured out how to transfer just the few vacay pics I did take to my Mac. And no, I don't have a Smart Phone. But just do what I say, not as I haven't done, and you will keep those post-vacay blues at bay...somewhat.

    3. Pretend you are still lounging around your friend's pool, the beach, or whatever random body of water you visited on vacay.  Grab your lawn chair, a bottle of suntan lotion, a tall glass of iced green tea (with peach) and head out to your Iowa-drought-scorched front yard to catch some sweat-drenched rays in the searing 100-degrees-plus heat. Pay no attention to the dead, brown, what-used-to-be-your-lush-green-lawn crunching beneath your flip flops. I'd say turn on the sprinkler or fill a small plastic baby pool with water, but we're supposed to be conserving the H2O...oh, hell, just spritz yourself with the green tea -- a couple of flicks to the face, and you'll be rejuvenated. I know I was. Mental imagery is key here. Best of luck.

    4. Cry. Yup. If the first three suggestions don't make you feel better about your vacation coming to an end, just lay down on your bed, bury your head in your pillow, and bawl like a baby. For at least an hour.  Rail at the cat. When your friends text  how is it being back after vacay? immediately text back SUCKS! Yes, just wallow in self-pity till you can wallow no more. Then dry your eyes, hug your cat, text an apology to your friends for being so dour, and then throw on the big girl/big boy pants and face reality.


    Like an annoying summer cold, it generally takes me about a week to come to grips with reality after my Cincy vacay. And I've been back just a little over a week.  Followed some of my own advice. And look at me! 

    I'm fine!

    Really. I'm fine.

    Just fine.