Lonely Mommy – Friday December 24th

As you may have already guessed, it is impossible to skip Christmas. It was hard making the decision to leave town, even though we had our families’ blessing. Everyone’s understanding, intellectual side supported us, but I think all of our hearts ached at what we were missing. I think it was impossible for us all not to think about what this Christmas could have been like.


It’s cold and dark in Chicago. We live in a new apartment with all of Tommy Jr’s things tucked away. We have a completely new routine with Tom G in school. Our baby seems so far away. Sometimes I find myself laying on the couch, staring at the ceiling thinking about Sylvia Plath putting her head in the oven or something equally macabre. I’ll wonder why I’m so painfully depressed. I will actually forget that my heart was crushed, smooshed, maimed, torn apart but the death of my son. Even now it’s just held together by Scotch tape and Elmer’s Glue. It looks like shit.


Tom’s sweet laughter and magnificent mustache kept my spirits high for the better part of the day. But in the evening I missed my mom’s call and when I tried to call her back she didn’t answer. My family was already at my cousin’s warm house, full of my relatives and laughter and cookies. I couldn’t bare the thought of what I was missing. Of what we had missed as a family. I feel oppressed by the emptiness of my arms. The quiet of our apartment is deafening. This isn’t the life I thought I’d have, and Christmas is a stark reminder of our childless life.


It took me all day to cry. When the tears finally came I was relieved. I need to be able to cry just because I miss Tommy, and because I’m so disappointed, and because I’m so lonely. Living without my son mean accepting a life that it inherently, irreparably lonely, even when I’m surrounded by friends and loved ones and dear Tom G.


Dearest Tommy Jr,


I hope you are living on another plane of existence, surrounded by fun presents and cool Christmas lights and a big tree and lots of yummy baby treats. I pray that you can’t feel my heartache, but that you get to be a happy, light-hearted boy. I miss you so much it feels like I’m full of cement or sawdust or wood chips. I feel like I’ll never be whole without you my love. You are my heart, my little ghost, my Christmas, my everything. I’m sorry we’re not together. I wish I was laughing with you and dressing you up in funny outfits. But I think about you all day long, and I think about the time we had together. You always will be my boy.


I love you so much baby.



Cough Cough – Thursday December 23rd

I haven’t written anything this week because I’m sick, and nothing is more boring then reading about someone’s illness. It’s not like people want to take time out of their day to read about my sore throat, my chills, my waves of vertigo, or my body aches. I mean surely you all have better things to do and read about.


On the other hand, I don’t have much else going on other than the crushing depression of a babyless Christmas. So please enjoy this short tale about me being sick:


After a long pleading conversation with my husband I was given his blessing to buy more NyQuil. It was banned from our home two years ago after a chronic cough turned into a NyQuil love affair. NyQuil puts one to sleep with gentle cooling menthol kisses, it soothes sore throats and relieves body aches. It is a generous lover. So, I was excited to stock back up.


I burst into Walgreens and bee-lined to the cough and cold section. I was confronted by two rows of NyQuil. In my advanced age I have become menu-illiterate, and I’m finding myself to now be shelf-illiterate as well. I no longer have the mental capacity to read through all the options I’m presented with, so I usually just choose the first thing my eyes settle on. This explains why I ordered Spaghetti and meat balls with meat sauce at a restaurant last week, event though I hate meat sauce. I just saw Spaghetti something and pointed to it. So you can only imagine the panic that seized me when I realized I would have to carefully read 20 possible options for NyQuil. I was resentful that I didn’t live in Russia circa 1986, where aisle upon aisle of supermarkets were totally bare. If any food or products were on the shelves, there certainly couldn’t have been more than one kind of bread, one kind of maxi-pad, one kind of bran cereal.


A cough formed in my throat, reminding me to stay the course. My eyes scanned and ignored the bottles covered in bright yellow labels- that was obviously the DayQuil. I ignored the Walgreens brand NyQuil (nice try Walgreens) and the two packs (one bottle NyQuile, one bottle DayQuil). Using the process of elimination to forgo having to study the label, I grasped a bottle of NyQuil on the bottom shelf and marched up to the counter to pay for it.


At home Tom brought me the little cup full of my old friend. I drank greedily and basked in the cooling menthol as it soothed my cough. But two hours later I was wide awake. Hm. I went in the bathroom to have another little tiny half-dose, and looked at the label for the fist time:


NyQuil: Less Drowsy Formula.


I felt like I had drank half a gallon of milk before feeling a rotten chunk of spoilt slide down my throat. What kind of pervert would invent a “Less Drowsy Formula” let alone place it next to the regular NyQuil? The evil geniuses at NyQuil must know that most people buying their product are doing so because they’re sick, and might not be hyper-aware of every nuance of packaging (let alone people like me who supper from label-illiteracy!). I screamed:




Tom and Ramona came into the bathroom to see what the commotion was about. Ramona got bored halfway through my rant and walked back out. Tom, who has the difficult job of having to deal with my frequent mini-melt-downs and temper tantrums, tried to explain that perhaps people felt too drowsy from normal NyQuil, and felt a less drowsy version helped them wake up easier in the morning.


I let myself be comforted, knowing that the closest Walgreens was already closed, and being slightly too cheap to throw the bottle away. Tom tucked me into bed and I was asleep before the lights were off. I guess less drowsy is still drowsy enough for me. But I’m still going to write a strongly worded letter to congress voicing my outrage that we Americans have way too many choices as consumers and puts us at a major disadvantage. Imagine yourself in a supermarket trying to stock up on supplies before the asteroid hits: Soy Milk? Vanilla Soy Milk? Vanilla Light Soy Milk? I’d be urinating in my bran flakes when the end finally came just to avoid the added torture of having to make another decision. Actually I guess I could use tap water too, for my last bowl of cereal before the asteroid hits. Yea, that’d be better than urine for sure.

In My Day- Friday December 17th

You don’t even know how good you have it. When we were your age we had to get directions to drive places. We had to ask people we didn’t even know- people in gas stations, toll booths- how to help us if we got lost. We didn’t have navigation systems on our phones, or in our cars, we didn’t even have Mapquest until I was in college!


We had to wait in line at the super market with nothing to do but stand there. No talking on the phone, no playing solitaire or checking Facebook. Just stand there and wait. It was torture. We had to wait with nothing to do on the train and on the bus- unless we were clever enough to bring a book or a magazine or our Discman. But even then we had to stuff our purses with books and magazines and Discmen. A Discman is a portable CD player. It’s like an MP3 player, but much bigger and heavier and required a constant diet of AA batteries. Early versions of Discmen would skip if you didn’t hold them steady and horizontally.


Our emails were all on a computer, and we had to go to that computer to check the emails. To be on the internet we needed a wire plugged into the computer and into the wall. To stay in touch with old friends, or out-of-town friends, we had to call them from a phone plugged into the wall. The phone didn’t do anything but make calls.


It was a difficult life. It was slow and quiet and full of solitude if you needed it. Wait, actually, it was pretty sweet. Except I love my iPod and would be dead without my iPhone.

The In-Flight Voice-Tuesday December 14th

I went to LA last week for work. I flew on Southwest airlines, which I consider to be the finest of the crappy airlines. (Spirit Is the crappiest, in my experience. In fact, on the Spirit flight I took there were no less than 50 crackers ground into the floor. Children were encouraged to run screaming up and down the aisles by their exhausted parents and ignored by the glassy-eyed flight attendants. The headphones featured a jagged edge that cut my ear, causing me to panic about the blood poisoning I was definitely going to get from the recycled-from-an-Indonesian-garbage-dump complimentary headphones.) Paying an extra $10 to ensure my place in the “A” group, I found myself a primo aisle seat towards the front of the plane.


While I waited for my fellow passengers to get settled and prepare for take off, I relaxed into the din of the plane. Babies murmured, people bumped into armrests and excused themselves, suitcase were shoved into overhead compartments. But above it all I heard a Voice.




I leaned back into my seat and turned my head slightly to see the owner of the Voice. I woman in her early 20′s sat in the middle row, two aisles behind me. She was aiming the Voice at the woman next to her, who looked a little worried.




I couldn’t hear her seatmate’s response, because she spoke in a normal tone of voice. The owner behind the Voice spoke like she was in a summer stock performance of Death of a Salesman and needed to project and enunciate to save the performance. I took my book out of my bag and tried to read.




I peeked again at the Voice’s seatmate. She was now wild-eyed with terror, her forehead flecked with sweat, writhing in her seat as if she could escape the wall of sound that trapped her in 14C. I tried to make eye-contact with her, hoping to offer her some solace in knowing that she was not alone- we were all being tortured by the Voice.


I tried to doze off and dreamed about people chasing me through canyons, shouting at me about their step-mother. I jerked awake in time to hear the Voice say “I’M GLAD CHRISTMAS IS COMING UP THOUGH SO AT LEAST I CAN ACTUALLY POINT TO HER GIFTS AND MY GIFTS AND FORCE MY FATHER TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SHE GETS MORE”


Indeed, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Allowing one’s family the opportunity to fight over who gets a bigger pile of crap, and how that crap-pile translates into love?


She talked the whole flight. It was impossible to tune her out, but my brain took pity on my and blacked out the other details on her monologue. I couldn’t help but wonder why her seatmate didn’t press the button for the flight attendant, and ask for a newspaper that she could roll up and use to hit the Voice over the head repeatedly.

Just Thinking- Tuesday December 7th

I continue to defy the dictatorship of my refrigerator. “Fresh Produce” screams when I chuck a baggie of liquor store salami in the drawer. I am arrested and accused of subversion when I fill the egg compartment with condiments and cheese husks. I do not show up to testify- instead I send a letter through my lawyer that I don’t respect the jurisdiction of their court since I don’t recognize the arbitrary and oppressive government of the refrigerator. My ancestors fought wars to protect me against such organizational impositions. Crisper indeed! I reserve the right to fill that drawer with beers and limes.


In a bold political move I abstain from cleaning the refrigerator. It is helpless to retaliate as its innards fill with the noxious fumes of the birth of a micro-universe. I come home every night and smile smugly as I hear the refrigerator battle the pulsing, expanding colony of organisms. The post-food multiplies quickly and successive generations are stronger, wilier, more manipulative. What used to be the milk founds a fire-and-brimestone-style church and converts the Produce Drawer. I have to surrender my apartment to the on-going war between good and evil; dictator and guerilla rebels; refrigerator and mold (and exploded yogurt containers and rotten eggs, etc). When some one on the elevator jokes about the “Smelly 9th Floor” I laugh nervously and implicate the couple down the hall with an eye roll.


The war itself becomes oppressive. What began as an assertion of my rights- both as a human and an appliance user- now drags on as both sides recreate a culture of war.


In the end I buy a spray bottle of Kaboom- it is amazing! I decimated the post-food universe and regained control of the refrigerator in less than an hour. In 50 minutes the epic battle was just a memory- a mystery to the other residents of the 9th floor. But at that moment, the crumbs at the bottom of the toaster began to organize…

Above Ground- Monday December 6th

I couldn’t write that much last week because I was very very busy obsessing about running. I’m still obsessing, but decided to take a short break and take a crack at communicating again. Since the only thing I ever want to talk about now is running I’m at a loss as to how to make this interesting, but I’ll try.


Stupid Christmas is looming and having afar worse affect on me that I could have even imagined. “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments seem to be stalking me like the paparazzi, and even The Simpsons betrayed me by airing their Christmas special early. In fact, my business associate took me out for a fancy booze-fueled lunch on Saturday, which led us to the German Christmas Fair at the Daily Center (great fun), but proved to be overwhelming and ended with us clinging to each other and crying into our wine at the Atwood Cafe.


Not to worry though, Tom and I are planning a serious late-December adventure to ignore Christmas. Details are still being worked out, but I think it’ll involve Las Vegas.


Speaking of Tom, his finals are this week and next. He’s handling the stress better than I am. I had to eat several microwaveable pretzels and nachos cheese this weekend to calm myself down. He would leave at 9, come home around 8, and talk excitedly about legal matters until I begged him to stop. Apparently he is really enjoying himself.


Wow. Three non-running paragraphs! I’m impressed with myself! So, for those of you who thought they’d never be able to run unless they were being chased by the cops (under the age of 25) or a bear/goose/raccoon (over the oage of 25)- here’s the update:
Since reading Born To Run and buying my new shoes, I have run at least 2.5 miles every single day. It feels like I’m running toward something, and that’s got to be a good sign. Right?

It’s Not The Genius Grant But… Thusday December 2nd

At last I’m being recognized for my notable achievements in every significant field of endeavor. What a relief. For details, please read below:


Dear Heather,


It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion in the upcoming 2012 Edition of Who’s Who in America, which is scheduled for publication in September 2011.


Since 1899, when A.N. Marquis published the First Edition of Who’s Who in America, business people, researchers, educators, students and others have relied upon its accuracy and currency of information. As we look forward to the publication of our 66th Edition, the original Who’s Who in America continues to be recognized globally as the premier biographical data source pertaining to living Americans of notable achievement from every significant field of endeavor.


To be considered for inclusion in this prestigious publication, you need only provide the requested information by completing our secure and easy-to-use online Biographical Data Form by December 20, 2010.


The information you provide will be evaluated according to the selection standards Marquis Who’s Who has developed over 110 years as the world’s premier biographical publisher. If your data passes our initial screening, we will prepare your biography in Marquis Who’s Who format and send you a pre-publication proof for your verification and approval.


I congratulate you on the achievements that have brought your name to the attention of our editorial committee. We look forward to hearing from you.



Fred Marks


P.S. Inclusion of your biography in Who’s Who in America, of course, carries neither cost nor obligation to you of any kind. Our goal with each new edition is to have full representation of noteworthy and accomplished men and women across all fields and industries.


Please Note: If you are prompted to enter a V.I.P. Code when accessing our online data form, please enter the following: WA6669G.


To contact the Who’s Who in America Editorial Department with comments and/or questions, please send an e-mail to america@marquiswhoswho.com.


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