It’s that time of year again! The time to capture those delightful lights. The weather in the center of the US has been incredibly mild so I have yet to see the lights in snow, but I can’t say I am complaining since it has given me the opportunity to take long walks on many nights to take in the sights.
When I was a kid, I celebrated Christmas week in the rural midwest with my maternal grandparents and family. Christmas Eve was spent diving in gifts and wrapping paper in my grandparents’ living room. Afterwards, I had the option of doing the dishes or going to church.
On Christmas Day, my family and I would drive three blocks (still kind of crazy that we took the car) to see my eccentric great-aunt and gentle great-uncle, “the engineer” with a hard g. He was from Sweden and had really pretty eyes but when he spoke, it sounded like svenska gibberish, and I had no idea what he was saying most of the time.
When we arrived to the house, cousin Muggsy, an obnoxious Boston Terrier, would eagerly greet us by slobbering all over our legs, biting holes in nylons and causing overall chaos until he was gently directed to the basement. Muggsy morphed into Muggsy 2 and the trilogy ended with naming her last dog Hercules. Hercules made the previous Boston Terriers look like stuffed animals.
There were tons of homemade cookies in the back of the house and my other great-aunt would squeal, “Would you like to have a coooookie?” and her sister would back it up with, “Have one of eaaaaaach!” But I digress.
These last 12 months have been one of many changes. All of them, positive; although I may not have known it at the time. One of them is that I can walk or ride my bike along Lake Michigan to get to work and start my day with a stunning view such as the one below.
Last week, my old chum from high school, Rich Cohen, sent me his latest article in the New York Times. It’s a fun read that makes you feel like you are in the car with him as he visits Read the rest of this entry
The Month of Lauren had some amazing moments and I thank everyone who thought of me on the big day. I am very lucky! The month also had two notable losses.
One of them was the untimely demise of a 53-year-old former colleague of mine. He was always very supportive of me, good-natured and funny. I haven’t seen him in four years but it seems like yesterday. “I’m on Team Lauren,” he would say as he greeted me with a big smile and exuded positivity.
The other loss was my guitar teacher’s 82-year-old mom who was in the hospital for quite a few weeks before dying a few days after Mother’s Day. I had never met her but opted to show support by attending her memorial and get a mental snapshot of the person who had brought this encouraging and witty wordsmith, my guitar teacher, into the world.
15 years ago, I bought a third floor, triple exposure, walk-up condo in the heart of a college town. It offered a daily workout with the stairs and amazing treetop views but there was no outside space, among other things.
Flashback to the night before the move to the condo:
My brother is a Mensch. He flew into “help me move”. When he offered his services, he thought he was helping me “settle in” my new condo. He was wrong.
The afternoon before, he arrived at my apartment to survey the situation. I assured him that I was in good shape.
Bro: “Where are the boxes?”
Bro gets on phone: “Dad, she hasn’t packed anything, there are no boxes!”
My dad, his then-girlfriend and my brother scoured the neighboring towns for crates and packing vessels to enable safe transport of my belongings. I just pointed and they packed. Really!
A few days after getting organized in the second bedroom of my new place, I saw a massive object on the floor. I thought it was a mangled car tire. It wasn’t. It was a condo warming present from my brother and the perfect gift for one without an outside space. Read the rest of this entry
Holy cow! Three years of blog magic. It’s here. I never thought I would be ranting and raving for over 4,380 days – wait, isn’t that 12 years? Sorry, work on the brain, I was multiplying by 12 all day. 1,095 days…much better.
I have been neglecting my blog lately – actually all four of them…will get back on track. I haven’t done a free write in forever and it’s therapy for me so nobody really wins when I don’t write.
I have made some great blog friends over the years and I have enjoyed learning from them and getting their positive feedback – thanks for encouragement! For awhile I was trying to do the post-a-day thing and realized that was not practical. It was nice to have a topic given to me but it seemed forced.
Some points of interest: I’ve had Facebook fallout from not knowing how to direct someone to the canned salmon, crabby opticians making my glasses look crooked for important events, constantly doing alumni outreach for my various events, and climbed the Willis (nee Sears) Tower two times with some intense Insanity workouts mixed in. I have the coolest photo Read the rest of this entry
Tomorrow, I take on the beast known as the WIllis Tower. It’s 2,109 steps, 103 floors and 1,353 feet above the ground. Whenever people hear that I am doing Skyrise Chicago 2013, they picture me scaling the building like Spiderman or should I say Spider-Dan ala Dan Goodwin. Whatever happened to that guy who donned a Spiderman outfit and had suction cups for hands in the early 80s? But I digress.
My fundraising efforts have paid off (get it) and I’m delighted to say that the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will see an impressive increase from Team Support Lauren over last year. I’m giddy with gratitude! My Facebook family has really stepped it up (oops, another pun) as well as the inner circle of people I can overload with spirited “give me your money” emails, who are really good-natured about it and supportive.
My training efforts had me climbing up and down a bunch of stairs at an outside venue with Lake Michigan as the backdrop. On the weekends, I shared the stairs with fellow exercise enthusiasts. I saw one guy who was probably in his 70s. He was taking two steps at a time and jumping up them. I was impressed.
I also saw a quartet of pre-teen boys jumping off the high stone walls at the top of the stadium. It was like a cut scene from the early 80s movie, “The Outsiders” – with their younger siblings, of course. Whatever happened to C. Thomas Howell? Again I digress.
At one point, one of the boys declared that they should take their bikes down the stairs to the stage and ride in circles. The grandma who was overseeing this scene didn’t think it was such a good idea. I heard this loud thump after thump as the frame of the ring leader’s bike got smashed with each step and the rims got trashed! He wasn’t carrying it down the stairs, he was almost pushing it down the stairs. Toward the bottom of the stadium, it was as if the bike had morphed into a dying horse as it spouted its last cough before its final collapse, teetering to the side.
The wheels were no longer round but misshapen like Read the rest of this entry
A frequent adventure during my childhood was visiting this big mansion – this house was huge by our family’s standards. It was the biggest house where we actually knew the people who lived there. The mom and dad who lived inside with their three sons became fixtures in our lives.
The two dads played tennis together on a regular basis. Our families spent many holidays together, often camping and cross-country skiing.
Upon arrival at the mansion, the two fathers would disappear into a room and watch football while I hung out with the two mothers (who would be besties for life) in the kitchen. We nibbled on onion dip and potato chips as I held my doll. The mother with the long black hair tied into a single braid in back would smile at me as she shook her head: Read the rest of this entry
Years ago, in the early 1990s, I had a deep water phobia so I took three cruises in a year-in-a-half. For the first cruise, I went with my two best friends from college. One evening, we went exploring and came across a dancing contest. The movie, Dirty Dancing, was all the rage back then.
People looked at me and I was typecast. (like the time I was cast at the “little old woman” as a four-year-old because of the glasses ). But this time I was thrown on stage because I looked like Jennifer Gray.
While I loved the movie, I could not dance. This was a dancing contest so I had major concerns.
I was pushed onto stage with Heinz from Switzerland. A blond-haired blue-eyed John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever in the making.
His sexy accent and Read the rest of this entry
I grew up on a bustling block in the north shore of Chicago. The location offered many conveniences such as being within three blocks of all of my schools until I entered high school (but I still walked there, too). Very few footsteps led me to a plethora of tennis courts, a massive playfield, lagoon and bike path that ended at a floral paradise and I was within blocks of the many offerings of downtown.
However, what I remember most of my childhood on that convenient street was the cocoon of camaraderie, fun, and safety. One could hear the symphonic sounds of summertime and see a string of smiles!
There were tons of kids on that street. We would play “Kick the Can” until the parents would start calling our names to go in, sibling by sibling. We’d have block parties. We’d jump in swimming pools made of plastic that were less than a foot deep and thought we had it made.
We could hear the bouncing of a basketball before it took aim and swooshed through the net. The woosh of the wiffle ball as it soared across a yard. Neighbors would just play in one’s yard even if the homeowner wasn’t there. We could hear the smacking sound of the tennis ball hitting the garages and the groan as another tennis ball made its way into the gutter, resulting from an overeager groundstroke.
Getting Read the rest of this entry