Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I'm Grateful For

Waking up next to the love of my life,
Choosing to snooze for just a few more minutes
So that I can feel his loving arms around me
For just a little while longer…

My morning cup of coffee, sipped slowly
As I sink into our comfy “womb-like” recliner…

Feeling strong as I lift weights
And listen to the funny comments
Of the silly morning WGN-news anchors.

My morning walk to work,
Listening to beautiful music
As I cross the bridge over the sparkling Chicago River.

Resolving an inquiry from a concerned donor,
And receiving a lovely voice mail from the person
Expressing her gratitude for my help.

The smiles on the faces
Of my hardworking temporary staff.

My walk home from work,
Listening to uplifting music
As I look up at the Sears Tower
And the twinkling lights of Chicago.

Walking through the door to my home,
Seeing the smile upon my husband’s face
As we kiss and reunite
At the end of a long day.

My occasional exercise sessions with Buck,
Which feel more like fun chat sessions
Than working out.

A delicious grilled-cheese sandwich,
Dipped into a steaming bowl of tomato soup.

Pondering, smiling, or laughing
At the entertaining blogs
Of my incredible blog buddies.

Spending time with family,
Phone calls, e-mails or visits
That make me feel so loved.

Wonderful spiritual conversations
With my best girlfriend Diane.

Long walks with my love
Through our multi-dimensional city
Exploring new neighborhoods
That we’ve never seen before.

Cuddling up next to my husband
As we laugh at both British and American sitcoms.

Letting my hubby take the remote
And falling asleep on the couch
To the sounds of the evening sportscast.

Waking up to the sound,
“Honey, it’s time to go to bed.”

Feeling his arms around me
As I drift into restful sleep…

And dream wonderful dreams
That could never compare
To the incredible beauty in my life.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that today, you feel yourself surrounded with beauty and love.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Maria wrote today about finding a mouse in her home.

Apparently, Maria does not like mice.

I, on the other hand, think that mice are cute. I even think tiny rats are cute (I do draw the line at big city dumpster rats). Just ask Iwanski—when we’re waiting for a train in the subway, one of my favorite things to do is to look for little subway rats darting under the rails. They’re just so damn cute!

I think my love of all-things-rodent stems from the fact that Iwanski and I, in our pre-cat days, had a hamster. I mean, after all, what are hamsters but furry mice with short, stubby tails?

Our hamster’s name back then was Cosmo. And we loved our little Cosmo.

Even though we had barely any disposable income in those days, we made sure that Cosmo was well-taken care of. She didn’t just have a hamster cage—she had a hamster mansion. We seriously probably spent about $300 on a bunch of cages and several feet of tubing for her wandering pleasure. She was one spoiled hamster. But she rewarded us by entertaining us as we watched her run in her wheel or carry food through all those tubes, from one end of her mansion to the other. I just found her really interesting to watch.

One of those cages was an open-air cage with white bars, like a little miniature zoo cage. Cosmo hung out in that cage the most often, and she quickly realized that if she started biting on the bars of the cage, we would let her out to climb all over us and over pretty much anything else in the room. She LOVED that (as evidenced by her biting on those bars every time we were in the room). And in her little hamster way, I think she even kinda liked us.

One night, long after Iwanski and I had gone to bed and were fast asleep, I suddenly felt the tickle of tiny rodent feet on my chest. I sprung up and screamed “Cosmo’s out of her cage!” (Funny how I instantly knew it was her—I didn’t even question that it might be a mouse.) Of course, my jumping up and screaming scared the hell out of our little friend, and she quickly disappeared from the room.

And thus began the search through our house (which, at that time, was a large 3-bedroom apartment). We split up and searched separate sides of the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of her in some tight little space, like behind the couch. But we had no luck. I was starting to worry that we were going to step on her, or that somehow she’d get hurt before we could find her.

Finally, Iwanski yelled from the kitchen, “I found her!” And there she was. Hmm, we found her in the one room in the house with a few tiny food crumbs on the floor. What a surprise.

He carried her back to her cage, and we both watched her climb back through the tubes, to the little room where she kept most of her treasured food.

And we continued to watch her, fascinated as she began emptying her newly-found treasures from her cheek pouches. There was a little peanut fragment, then a piece of a potato chip—and then, interestingly enough, a little piece of foil and a tiny piece of shiny blue paper.

“Why did she pick those up?” I asked, surprised.

Iwanski responded that he had read that hamsters liked shiny things. Hmmm, not unlike some humans! I found that very fascinating.

Finally, when she had finished emptying her cheeks, we went back to bed. My dreams that night were full of cute little creatures.

Cosmo was my first pet, and without really realizing it, I had grown kind-of attached to her. So when she got sick, and eventually died, I was surprised at how sad I was. She was just such a cute little thing.

Iwanski and I put her lifeless little body in a small cardboard box and filled it with all of her favorite nuts and seeds—especially peanuts in the shell. (She really loved peanuts in the shell.) Then we took her to the lake near our home, placed the box among the rocks, and said goodbye to our little friend.

Now, whenever someone says they don’t like rodents, I think about Cosmo and how much fun she was to watch, and to hold as she climbed all over me.

I really did love that little rodent.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Cool News

I just wanted to share the news that Iwanski’s new Chicago photo book is now for sale!

If you want to check it out (no pressure to buy, of course!), check it out on Iwanski's blog.

I'm very proud of him!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feline Public Enemy #1

Iwanski has a new enemy.

She is about a foot tall and weighs about 10 pounds, and her name is Autumn.

Yes, all of the sudden our cat Autumn has decided that she hates Iwanski. And it’s not even that she dislikes him all of the time; in fact, when he is lying down in bed or on the couch, she’ll jump up by him and purr and act all sweet, like she could never harm a fly.

But the minute he stands up or leans over her, she hisses at him something fierce, claws at him, and runs away.

We have no idea why this is.

Why would a cat suddenly hate a human who is nice to her, feeds her, and cleans her litterbox? (God, those cats are lucky!)

And before you start thinking that Iwanski is abusing our cat, just know that it’s so totally not true. The worst thing that Iwanski ever does to the cats is tell them that they’re stinky (which is often quite true).

So what happened then to make Autumn hate him so much?

Could she have had a dream that Iwanski started beatin’ on her?

Could she have imagined that Iwanski attacked her one day and threw out all her canned food?

Iwanski speculates that one day last week, when he sat down on the bed and accidentally almost sat on her, that really freaked her out.

But for a whole week? Do cats really have that long a memory? It seems to me that normally, all these cats remember is the word “hungry,” and what time dinner is. What could possibly have gotten into that cat?

I guess we’ll never know. For now, Iwanski just needs to watch his back, and make sure her claws are trimmed nice and short—because as he has recently discovered, those little switchblade claws can be pretty painful on bare feet in the middle of the night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Best Blog Buddies

Last night, we returned from a local pub to find a message from a certain Seattleite on our answering machine.

Lorraine and the Neighbor had decided, on the last night of Iwanskifest, to leave a very funny message involving two Iwanskifest carols. The first, “Oh Box Of Gout” was sung to the tune of “Oh Tannenbaum.” The second was actually a song about Miss Healthypants!—sung to the tune of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” Iwanski and I listened to them and laughed heartily.

And this was not the first time—Lorraine and her lovely family also left a message a week ago involving an Iwanskifest carol about Iwanski and his love of “all kinds of beer.” It was also really funny.

I just love Lorraine. I think anyone who has met her would agree that she is one of the most fun-loving, friendly people in the world. And she is just such a nice person. I feel lucky that we can call her our friend.

And to think, our friendship—not to mention Iwanskifest—all were made possible by this modern doohicky we call the internet. The internet has brought people together who might otherwise never have met—and I, for one, am grateful for it.

I have to admit, most of the reading that I do nowadays is the writing of my wonderful blog buddies, who never fail to make me smile, laugh, and most of all—think. I love that there are people out there who seem pretty similar to me, but all of whom lead unique, interesting lives.

And today, I’m very grateful for all of you (you know who you are). Thank you for making life so interesting!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What I Love About You

I wrote this poem for Iwanski on his birthday and just thought I'd share it.

What I Love About You

I love the Artist in you,
Who takes beautiful photographs,
Who writes funny and meaningful prose,
Who feels tortured and saddened at times,
And uplifted and energized at others.

I love the Humanist in you,
Who stops to listen to a homeless man’s story,
Who tips hardworking waitresses above and beyond,
Who risks life and limb to stop a woman from being mugged,
And who comforts and holds his wife when she is sad or afraid.

I love the Child in you,
Who loves to watch old Tom and Jerry episodes,
Who likes to eat Cookie Crisp and Peanut Butter Captain Crunch,
Who loves to watch old Popeye cartoons,
And who likes to eat milk and cookies at the end of a long day.

I love the Irishman in you,
Who loves a good glass of Guinness,
Who loves to watch Father Ted,
Who likes to watch Irish football,
And who loves to listen to sad and happy Irish songs.

I love the Country Hick in you,
Who loves to eat biscuits and gravy
And watch Hee Haw and the Wilburn Brothers,
Who loves to take a walk in the woods,
And dreams of playing guitar in a country music band.

I love the Urbanite in you,
Who loves to drink a forty
And listen to Ice Cube and KRS-One,
Who loves to walk the city’s streets
And wander down its back alleys.

I love the Comedian in you,
Who loves to make people laugh,
Who makes his wife laugh every day,
Who writes funny and silly blog entries,
Who brightens people’s lives with his great sense of humor.

But mostly, I love the Husband in you,
That loving person who is always there for me,
Who fills my life with happiness and love,
Who does so much to help me out,
Who will be a wonderful father someday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now...

After putting it off for years and years (yep, I can procrastinate with the best of ‘em!), I finally went to the eye doctor today.

I seriously didn’t realize how bad my eyes had gotten. It was so bad that when the eye doctor put up the first eye chart and asked me to read the smallest line I could see, I couldn’t read any of them! He even said, “Really? You can’t even read the top line?” Let me tell you, it’s really comforting when your optometrist acts surprised about how bad your eyes are. At that point I started to get a little worried.

Then he mumbled something about having to go “from a 2.25 to a 3.5” (whatever the hell that means), and I had to ask. “Is that really bad? How high up does it go?” And he replied, “Oh, it goes up to 15” (or some number that made me feel really relieved). Thank God! I wasn’t going blind, after all.

So I purchased some new contacts. And since my old glasses were purchased in 1987 (or sometime around then), I also got new glasses. I had told Buck that I would try to find some cool “Tina Fey” glasses—and although the ones I found didn’t exactly make me look like Tina Fey, I still really like them. They have slightly pink frames—which my girly-girl side LOVES. Hooray!

I’ll have to wait about a week for my new glasses and 1-800-contacts to arrive, but tonight I got to put in a trial pair of my new, stronger contacts…and all of the sudden, the world is so bright and clear! I can now see signs from afar that I couldn’t see before—and now I can once again spot crazy homeless people from a couple of blocks away. This is a good thing!

So overall, it was a good experience. Except for one thing—can someone please explain to me why it costs almost $500 for an eye exam and a pair of glasses? Even with my health insurance discount, it still cost $350! What the heck do people without health insurance do? Not to mention people with no money!

Man, I hope our new President can help with this. I mean, I don’t expect him to solve every problem, but can we please make sure that Americans don’t have to walk around squinting all the time? Is that too much to ask of one of the richest countries in the world?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Iwanski!

Today is Iwanski’s birthday, and I just have to say, he really is the best husband and friend a girl could ever ask for.

Here are a few of the reasons why I love him:

Every day, he makes me smile and laugh at least a dozen times.

When I’m sad, he is a wonderful listener and knows just what to say to make me feel better.

He helps so much around the house, and also outside the house.

He is kind to those in need and does not hesitate to help when someone needs him.

He is a wonderful writer and photographer.

He is patient and loving and so much fun to be around.

He is the one person that I can spend every moment with, and never get tired of.

How did I get so lucky?

I guess God just smiled down on me. And all I can say is, thank you, God!

And thank you, honey—you have brought so much joy into my life.

Happy Birthday! I love you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy Days

Have I mentioned that I’m so so glad that I live in the same city as our new President-Elect?

It really is great to be a Chicagoan at this moment in history. The city’s banners proclaim “Congratulations, Chicago’s Own Barack Obama”—and I get all giddy when I see that.

Of course, I’ve always loved being a Chicagoan.

I remember when Iwanski and I decided to move here, and I wasn’t sure what it would be like to live in such a big city—let alone live right in downtown! But right now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Chicago has such an electricity to it—it’s an “aliveness” that gives you energy and hope. And yet, there is a “homey-ness,” too—a friendliness that makes you feel like it’s okay to have a chat with a perfect stranger. It makes me feel exhilarated as I walk down the street and across the Lake Street bridge to work…and it makes me feel comforted to know that if I slipped and fell on some ice in the winter, a random stranger (or two) would stop to see if I was okay. I just know this is true.

I’ve been to other big cities, but I just haven’t quite felt that sense of friendliness that I have in Chicago.

Of course, just like anywhere, there are people in Chicago who are selfish, mean, or even violent.

But I have to say that it’s very rare that I come across those people. Most Chicagoans that I’ve met have an easy, friendly way about them that is comforting to my soul.

And now, our President-Elect is from this city. And so far, from what I’ve seen, he seems pretty friendly, too. He really seems like a man of the people.

And we Chicagoans are still celebrating. Even though we are slowly getting back to our normal non-election-obsessed lives, we still have that ecstatic thought once in a while that from our very own city came the man who will be the next leader of our country.

And that’s pretty damn good.

One more thing—I feel compelled to share with you Iwanski's newest photo set. I think it captures this moment in Chicago very beautifully.

Happy days are here again…

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

More Cause for Celebration

Iwanski had even more cause for celebration today.

Check it out.

Freakin' Sweet, Dude!

President Barack Obama.


Yes, it was a historic day in America—and today, I feel really proud and happy—not only to be an American, but also to be a Chicagoan. You can just feel the electricity in the air here in Chi-town, even still today. On our late afternoon walk, Iwanski and I saw many people walking around downtown, still sporting Obama buttons and t-shirts.

Also, we really tried to buy a Chicago Sun-Times or a Tribune today, but they were sold out everywhere. Finally, around 5 PM, we saw a guy selling Sun-Times on a street corner. A crowd had gathered around him, and we even heard a guy say to a friend “Oh, he’s selling Sun-Times? Go ahead without me—I need to buy one of these—I’ll catch the next train.”

I swear, I have never seen newspapers so high in demand here in Chicago. But the Sun-Times in particular had a really awesome cover today. Check it out.

So yes, of course we bought a paper. What a great souvenir of this historic day!

I hope and pray that President Obama will lead our country in a much better direction.

But for today, I am just celebrating. America, ya’ done good.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Day--Hooray!

I. am. so. excited.

Can you tell??

Tomorrow is a historic day in America—so be sure to get out there and vote!

If you need any more reasons why you should get out and vote, check out Iwanski’s blog.

I can’t remember ever being this excited—it’s like Christmas, New Year’s, and the Fourth of July, all wrapped into one day.