Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Have I Done Now?

I need to start listening to my mother when she gently suggests that perhaps I should lay off the RumChata while writing.

Listening to one's mother is always a good idea, but it is also the name of the national phenomenon taking Mother's Day by storm:

I will be auditioning for "Listen to Your Mother" in a few weeks with a piece I wrote after way too many glasses of RumChata.  

You know those little angels and devils who sit on your shoulder, whispering what the "right" and "wrong" decisions are? 

My good angel died from alcohol poisoning.

All I got left is Beelzebub telling me to hit the "send" button.

Full story HERE in Chicago Parent.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When Your Past Smells Like Grease & Gravy

You guys must have figured that I'd go and order business cards ten minutes after scoring the big monthly gig with Chicago Parent*, right?  After waiting nearly 40 years to call myself a professional writer, I had to make it official.  I wanted it in writing.

For the record, here is but a sampling of the titles I endured along the way:
  • Old Country Buffet: Bus Boy (nobody cared that I had boobies).
  • Chuck E. Cheese:  Serving Staff/Costumed Idiot.  Kids kicked me every day, as though big giant rats do not have feelings or nerve endings.    
  • Denny's: Waitress.  I actually met a lot of nice truck drivers here.  Truck drivers are very good tippers by the way. 
  • Eastern Illinois University Food Service:  Line Server (but I eventually was promoted to payroll clerk because the large German woman who ran the joint loved me.  Like loved-me/loved-me).  
  • School District 140: Substitute Teacher.  This job reminded me how much I don't enjoy working with children.  
  • Sakura Bank: Accounts Receivable Department.  Once a week, the Japanese managers asked that I dress up as Godzilla and take pictures with the staff.  It was kind of like being back at Chuck E. Cheese but without tokens.
Yup.  I certainly paid my dues.  I paid them in smelly aprons and in polyester pants.  I paid them in rotten kids and in hours of wiping boogary balls from the play pit.  I paid them in public humiliation and in sore shins. 

All to get here:

The New January Re-Launch of the Magazine

Page 34!  Click HERE to read what I wrote.

Totally worth it.


*Chicago Parent is a free publication circulated throughout the Chicagoland area.  Paid paper subscriptions are available by emailing:

Electronic versions can also be accessed at iTunes and Kindle through the newsstand.  I will also link to any articles made available on here on my blog.  

Monday, January 28, 2013


I am not exactly known for being a musical daredevil or trend-setter.

While I may have attended the occasional concert of some cool indie rock band, it was only because my cool indie rock friends dragged me along as their designated driver.

Left to my own devices, I prefer Journey and REO Speedwagon. I also love every single 80s hair band, Neil Diamond, and Donny Osmond.

I make no apologies. There are no reasonable explanations. I am a dork.  Ask my husband.  He'll tell you. 

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that my new favorite song was not only written AFTER 1992, but the band who sings it is actually nominated for a zillion Grammy Awards.  I may be the last person to know about this band, but I am a fan.

I haven't watched the Grammys in years due to my inability to identify a single nominee or performer anymore.  I am my parents.  They adored Johnny Mathis and Barry Manilow.  Are you seeing a theme yet?

The song, "Carry On" (click to hear) is performed by the band Fun. There is something marvelously new and old about the group.  And for the first time in a long time, I will be watching the Grammys and cheering for a favorite.  

During these long winter months, it becomes important for me to find my anthem.  Carry On is the perfect choice.  Instead of "sinking like a stone," the boys and I blasted every song from the album over the weekend.  We were even inspired to whip out this 1,000 piece puzzle:

Because when you're falling apart, sometimes the right song can really put all the pieces back in place.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mrs. O'Leary's Cow Strikes Again

Kudos to all working (and now-frozen) Chicago firefighters for their Tuesday night handling of this bad boy:

With temperatures hovering around 10 degrees that evening, I think all first responders should be issued an electric blanket and fuzzy slippers to help warm them up.    

And perhaps some beer.

For the icy "after" photos, see Chicago Tribune story HERE.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


When I was bumped from appearing on Anderson Cooper last year, I'll admit I was disappointed.  But I understood.  National politics and global uprisings were the big stories of the moment.

Mommy bloggers from Chicago aren't supposed to aim that high anyway.   Drinking coffee with "The Silver Fox" was just not in the cards.

Yet when a very nice producer from the Steve Harvey show contacted me about appearing on Steve's new daytime program, I felt for sure this time, things would work out.  After all, Steve Harvey is also the host of Family Feud.

I LOVE Family Feud.

I grew up watching Family Feud at my grandfather's (Papa's) knee. By the time I was nine, I was practically a Family Feud savant. I could rattle off all the top answers in seconds. Even Papa began shushing me so he could figure out the answers without my help.

Papa passed away nearly thirty years ago.  I felt this was some kind of sign from the great beyond.  Papa wanted me to hang out with the host of Family Feud.  It was a circle-of-life thing for sure.

As dates and scheduling were sorted out, we already had gotten further than I did with Anderson's ambiguous producer, "Yeah, yeah, we'll fly you out to New York next week sometime...we'll call you."  Plus, Steve Harvey tapes the show in Chicago, the city of my heart and soul. 

But I got bumped.  Again.

This time was different, though.  Instead of a cold, heartless email from a New York producer saying something like "Please destroy this email, and should WE ever want to deal with YOU again, someone will contact you," Steve's producer CALLED.   On the phone.  Like they used to in the 1950s before texting.


I told her this felt like Anderson Cooper all over again, and she was really funny and reassuring. 

Whether or not I ever make it to the big Steve Harvey show remains to be seen.  But the fact that there are well-mannered professionals still in media who don't treat people like expendable plastic bags warmed my heart. It gave me hope even, and pulled me right out of my full-blown seasonal affective disorder rut.

I have begun thinking about those folks who DO garner all the media attention, and I've come up with a plan.

I'm going to admit to doping while blogging.

The story has legs, no?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crocodile Tears

Did you know that crocodiles will eat just about anything?

I promise this will make sense if you visit my latest in Chicago Parent.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Visit "A Bench With a View" for Special Epic Mom Coupon & Book Review

I am not going to lie here.

I love Betty.

Love love love Betty.

Betty writes over at A Bench with a View.  She writes some spiritual stuff, she writes some funny stuff, and she writes stuff about her corgi Koda.

I didn't even know what a corgi was until I started reading Betty.

Betty was kind enough to do a review of Epic Mom on her blog.  To thank her and anyone who visits her site, there is a special $5 off coupon code in the COMMENTS section (but be sure to use the CreateSpace link and NOT the Amazon link). 

Betty is better that cream cheese, bacon, and Bailey's put together.

So pay her a visit.  Use the coupon.  Follow her.

You won't regret it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Home Inappropriate Home

I have been forbidden to reveal names and distinguishing attributes of the participants of a recent 1980s-themed high school prom night party.

I offered these local moms and dads money, amnesty, and fame.  The photos were satirical, hilarious, and extremely clever. Each attendee worked hard to display unique elements of the Joan Collins/Ronald Reagan era.

Despite my pleas, the revelers all insisted that they simply enjoyed making each other laugh.  They never really intended to shine a public spotlight on their mullets, jean jackets, and big hair.

Obviously they do not blog. 

But they should.

Anyway, after much negotiating and bargaining, I was finally able to secure the approval to share one rare photo.

A certain female party-goer arrived in her fabulous 1980s prom dress sporting a very obvious faux baby bump.

Several hours later, this was discovered in the bathroom:

Before moving to my neighborhood from downtown, people often told me I had an inappropriate sense of humor and that I really should keep more things to myself.

And then I found my home...

...amongst people who put fake babies in the potty.

When tragedy and strife abound, there is always someone here who can make you laugh.  And if they can't make you laugh, they sure as hell will buy you a drink.

Vive la Beverly!

Friday, January 18, 2013

All Washed Up

After last Saturday's evening at the laundromat, I am happy to announce the old dryer is back up and running.   While keeping three crabby kids in line for four hours was quite the challenge,  the "inspirational" signs posted all over the walls left me quite disconcerted.

It wasn't because I don't enjoy a good inspirational saying now and then, but I do ask that those sign people use the correct versions of their/they're/there, you're/your, and it's/its.  Didn't anyone watch Schoolhouse Rock as a kid?  It was all I could do to not whip out my magic Sharpie and correct each one by hand. That magic Sharpie lives in my purse and lies in wait at all times for just such grammar emergencies to occur.  I was actually ready to pull it out when I noticed the laundry maven giving me the stink eye. 

She was a big woman. 

Sometimes, you just have to pick your battles.

I am not above making the occasional grammar mistake, but if you're going to post such things for lost and laundered souls to stare at in-between wash cycles, the sh*t had better be right.

End of rant.

I may pop in next week with trusty Sharpie for one last attempt to right this wrong. There's a slighter laundry maven who works Tuesdays.  I think I could take her.

What I wouldn't do in the name of grammar, syntax, and the Queen's English.  I am practically Professor Higgins.

Does anybody even know who Professor Higgins is anymore?

I am so old.

But I'm old with dry laundry.  Woot-woot!

Joey was upset that I would not spend $200 in quarters to win a $1 stuffed animal.  He is holding a toy drill, and threatened to use it to to break in and "free his duckie."  My own little Michael Collins.

Jack thought the laundromat was the neatest place in the world, and wondered why we didn't go there every day. I think he is going to love college.

You know Dan.  He may be preparing for a career with the FBI based on his staunch refusal have his picture taken.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Les Miserables & Me

I know enough about Les Miserables to tell you that the original Eponine was snubbed at the 10th Anniversary Concert and one of those goofy Jonas brothers nearly ruined the 25th Anniversary Concert.

So find out what happens when I decide to give the  new movie the old college try.  I brought some newbies.  Read the full story here at Chicago Parent.

I can't post about Les Mis without a link to the song I blast throughout my house the day before the start of the school year:

One Day More!!

Please cut me some slack.  I spent 5 hours at the laundromat this weekend.  With three kids.  And $200 in quarters. 

I really want an 8 load washing machine for my birthday.

There's something fitting about seeing Les Miserables the same week my dryer broke.  You just don't understand human misery and suffering until that happens.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sinfully Funny

(Disclaimer: I was given full approval by a certain 2nd grade repentant to share his list of  confessed sins during his First Reconciliation this weekend.  He figures that since he received full absolution from the priest, there is no shame.  Jack is also the only child always looking to "make the blog."  For the record, the inclusion of "bad thoughts" came about when Jack was fishing for a list of venial sins and an explanation of "impure thoughts."  I told him it meant that he wished he had another kid's toy...or something along those lines....):


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Post of Desperation

I was so honored when Mary Deering from the Evergreen Park Library offered to host my very first book-signing for Epic Mom coming up on February 6th.  It felt so swanky and high-brow.

Let's forget for a second that I am neither swanky or high-brow.

I had visions of  wearing my least-stained JC Penney sweater and greeting 10, maybe 12, readers who really liked the book.  This was going to be great!

Then I got nervous.

What if nobody came? 

What if it's just me?

I'd be left eating all those fabulous Jewel cookies.  By myself.

I needed to go the extra mile to make this event worthwhile.  I needed to provide an enticement to get 3, maybe 4, people through those front doors.

I called my sister-in-law Missy and begged:

You know I can't bake, Missy!  But you?  You are like the most incredible pastry chef EVER.  Please, please, please.  I'll give you ANYTHING.  Just whip up some of those really good cookies you made last Christmas and I promise to never make fun of you again for being from the northside.  People might not come for the book, but EVERYONE likes cookies.   

Missy agreed.

So if you were waffling on whether you would attend, know this:

There will be cookies.  Good ones.  I promise.


You don't have to buy a book.  You don't have to listen to my presentation.  You can just walk in, grab a cookie and go.  Like an Academy Awards' Night Seat-Filler.

Just promise me you'll think about it, okay?

Thanks, mom.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Snow White Was Not the Brightest Bulb in the Marquee

Forget being a gullible Disney princess.

I strive for bad-ass.

I'm practically the Evil Queen.

With my own talking mirror:

My mirror this morning: "Marianne, Marianne on the ground, any plans for taking all this Christmas sh*t down?"

Full story here in today's Chicago Parent.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Sheriff In Town

Bailey's and I are so over.

I have this wonderful niece, Ellie. She is a 21 year old college student in the process of getting her Master's in accounting. Ellie is very smart, and I trust her opinion on all kinds of things. Namely technology and liquor.

College students are really good at technology and liquor.

So when Ellie poured me a glass of this on Christmas Eve, I felt confident I would not be led astray:

Holy Great God of Thunder.  RumChata is like French Toast in a fancy white bottle.  Creamy, cinnamon-y heaven.
Needless to say, I had to get some of my own.
I went to FOUR stores.  FOUR.
They were sold out everywhere.
It was like trying to buy a Cabbage Patch Kid circa 1983.
Finally, I found the last remaining bottle hidden behind a Pina Colada mix at a Dominick's off 143rd & Bell. 
With a lot of writing on the docket for last night, I poured myself a glass for inspiration.
And then another.
And finally, a third.
I giddily submitted my pieces to various people, blogs, and editors feeling quite confident that I was in fact the funniest person ever to have lived.
This morning?
Crap crap crap.  
I think I wrote about my unholy fear of carwashes in one essay, and in another piece, I used the word "penis" 145 times.
RumChata, ladies and gentlemen.
My new muse.
Let's give her a nice, warm welcome, shall we?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Someone I Adore

As part of the blogging world, it is natural to seek out writers who are a bit like yourself.  My favorites tend to lean towards the irreverent, absurd, and funny.

And then there are certain posts that make me run like hell.  I call them the "String-'em-up-by-their-toes" posts.    A sampling:

Dear World:

The other day, a stranger/family member/total idiot said something very insensitive about me/my child/my life choices.  I think this person should cease to exist or take a year-long class on how to be better human being.


Someone Who Has Never Said Anything Stupid in Her Entire Life

Then the comments from the angry brigade come rolling in:

"I would have hit her in the nose!"

"Did you call the police?"

"You should think about contacting her boss and report on what a colossal, insensitive, self-serving cad she is!"

These posts always make me sad and a little scared.  Mostly because I say the wrong things at all the wrong times.  I try not to.  But sometimes I just get flustered and nervous by an unexpected admission, and my mouth outflanks my brain. I really don't want the world to string me up by my toes because I suffer from the worst case of foot-in-mouth disease EVER.

Needless to say, I shy away from bloggers whom I know I would offend due to my inability to read from the sanctioned script.

And then I found Kat over at No Holding Back.  Kat blogs about motherhood and shares her experience on losing a child to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. 

Now anyone who has ever met me is shaking her head furiously and muttering "no, Marianne, NO." A mother who has faced one of the most horrendous things possible certainly does not need my kind of stupidity in her life, right?

Yet Kat also is one of those amazing people who can step away from her own pain and realize that the world is filled with crazy, nervous, stupid people.  And she doesn't force anyone to go to sensitivity training. She doesn't devote her blog to calling them out.  She simply tells her story and sometimes, stupid crazy people actually learn.  We learn from her wonderful writing and experiences, and not from a lecture and a dozen comments from the world of pitch-fork carrying angry bloggers.

I love Kat.  I think everyone should check her out.  Particularly this post, aptly named Awkward.

Thank you, Kat, for educating in a way that doesn't make me feel like the biggest dum-dum ever.  You are a gem.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Bill Cosby New Year

The shift in defining New Year's Eve as a day of drunken revelry to one involving Target discount shopping has been gradual.

Yet here we are.

I am not afraid to admit that I prefer 2013 life over all the drama and mayhem of the stiletto-wearing parties I attended at the end of last century. 

I can't believe I'm able to use "the end of last century" in describing my life.

But now?

This is happiness:

Everything here was 70% off.  It was like $5.00 total out the door.  Warning: keep a close eye on your cart.  People are pilfering.

In case you're confused by my admission, I thought I'd perhaps elaborate by sharing the beauty of my new Huxtable sweater ornament collection:

I had this vest.  In 1987.

And I think I got this one for my dad in 1988.
The boy I loved in 3rd grade had this sweater.  He works in musical theatre now.

May all your days be filled with low-drama and fabulous sweaters.

Happy New Year!