Tag Archives: personal life

Well, That Was Quick

2 Jun

While folding a load of laundry today, I discovered this:

A sad moment, considering that I’d just written about them, but maybe this guy couldn’t handle the pressures of fame, the pressure of living up to the dream of being the ultimate sock in the drawer–that sole sock that knew the history of my feet better than I did.

But I have at least one other pair just like this–and it’s continuing with the dream of eternal sock longevity.

[Hopefully my grandiose dreams won’t result in another follow-up post next week with another sad picture of holey socks. I’d take that as a sure sign.]

Waiting for the ‘Wear it Out’

26 May


There comes a point in time when something that’s potentially embarrassing becomes an exciting challenge, and I’ve hit that point with these socks.

I’ve had these socks for a long time–probably a good 12 to 15 years, although time is relative because there were many years that I avoided wearing them in favor of other socks. They’re pretty thick, so they were too hot in the summer; because they’re anklets, they were often too cold in winter. Now that they’re fairly threadbare on bottom, they’re just about right.

The Boy saw me put them on one day and kindly suggested that I retire them. He’s one to talk, as Old Stripey still takes up space in his closet. Old Stripey is a short-sleeved button-down white dress shirt with bluish and reddish vertical stripes. It’s at least 20 years old, though I think I’m being kind with that number. The Boy doesn’t wear short-sleeved dress shirts–if it’s a short-sleeved button-down, it’s a Hawaiian shirt.

Why is it so beloved that it has a name? Well, we live in New England in an apartment with closets that any HGTV-home-searching couple would reject in an instant, so space is at a premium. We don’t really have the room to house clothes that we don’t really wear.

I was cleaning out one day, and since I’d never seen him wear this shirt, I thought maybe he’d want to donate it.

“Not Old Stripey!”

“What?! This shirt has a name? And you think it still fits?”

Gauntlet thrown, he squeezed into Old Stripey, and by some miracle, no seams ripped or buttons popped off.

“See! It fits! We’re keeping Old Stripey!”

OK, we’re keeping Old Stripey. He’s been hanging out with us ever since. Never worn, but the proof of fit still happens on a regular basis.

Needless to say, based on Old Stripey, I can keep my socks for a while longer. Sure, I don’t really need to keep this particular pair–my sock drawer is full of socks that are in much better condition. Why keep these?

Well, one day I put them on thinking that my heel would poke through immediately, and that didn’t happen. Then I thought for sure the threadbare area would rip in the wash. That didn’t happen either. Now the question is, how strong is this amazing thread?

So far, they’ve lasted the entire winter, with no signs of ripping. I wear them at least once a week–more if I do laundry more often–so they’re getting regular use. Can they go the entire summer? Can they make it to 2018? Looks be damned, that’s a challenge I want to try.

Unless I make a bargain with Old Stripey.





Postcard from The Region

27 Mar

With the title of today’s post, one might think I’m in a no man’s zone or some sort of apocalyptic area of the world, but really, I’m in Northwest Indiana.

Then again, with all of the news about Indiana’s esteemed governor promoting discrimination, that might be an apt description of this place.

Having grown up in this area of the world, I was used to it being called the Calumet Region, but when I got to college downstate, I quickly learned that I was a Region Rat from “The Region.” Region Rats were different, they weren’t from the rest of Indiana, which is true. Chicago radio, television and politics. Central time. Many more professional sports teams. The steel industry and oil refineries. Fewer farms. When I was in college, most of the state didn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, so I constantly had to remember whether my 10:00PM was their 10:00PM, because I could (and should) phone home after then, since that’s when long distance prices went down.

Needless to say, being the “and Northwest Indiana” part of “Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana” (a phrase heard in many a commercial) also meant that we really didn’t belong to Chicago either. We were good enough for cheap gas and cigarettes, but come Sunday, you stay in Illinois to buy booze (when I first moved to Chicago, the concept of buying liquor on Sundays was amazing….though by the time I moved to Massachusetts, I found it constraining to make me wait until midday to buy it).

It’s kind of funny to come back to The Region every now and then. It’s familiar, but every time I’m back, there’s something different about the place–usually a new strip mall and more traffic. And the longer I’m away, the less I’ve ever belonged. When you’re talking about no longer belonging to a place that also doesn’t belong, it’s a strange, strange feeling.

At any rate, I’m here to celebrate my annual college girls’ weekend, where a couple of buddies from college and I hang out for the weekend and don’t do much of anything beyond talking, eating and drinking. We have a nice rental house to enjoy, and I’m looking forward to our traditional marvelous weekend of being lazy. Though we’re somewhat separated by geography (I’m in Massachusetts; they’re in different parts of Indiana), being with them is one of the places where I do belong.

Back in Composting Business!

25 Mar

Boston’s had a record amount of snow this year, but I have to be honest: I’m surprised at how nicely it’s melting. I completely expected everything to flood, but the snow’s receding at a good pace. Granted, we still have a three-foot pile of snow in our driveway, but today I discovered that we can now access the composter.

This is a big milestone in the “spring is here” timeline.

Our composter has been trapped behind all of the snow that was in our driveway over the winter. The pile’s now down to about three feet tall, and today I wondered whether or not I could traverse it and get to the composter behind it. The composter itself is somewhat precariously balanced on the side of a somewhat steep drop, so we had no idea how buried it had gotten and when we’d actually be able to start composting again.

We’ve kind of been composting over the last few months. That is, we’d filled our kitchen composting bucket and let it sit there. Sometimes we’d try to shove in a little more, but we never emptied it anywhere. Note that last bit for later. Lately, we’ve just been putting compostable food in the trash compactor, which we really don’t like. Granted, we don’t get all fancy with the composting–no worms or anything (that we put in ourselves). We just tend to dump all of the fruit and veg into the bin and then eventually find out there’s soil in the bottom. Then we spend a lot of time patting ourselves on the back and saying, “We got soil! It worked! Did you see it?!” It certainly beats throwing the stuff in the garbage and makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something, even though we didn’t really do anything at all.

Anyway, when I discovered I could traverse the snow hill, I saw that everything around the composter had melted, and it was completely accessible. Time for dumping out our kitchen bin and starting again!


As I noted before, I hadn’t emptied the kitchen bin in probably two months, and I noted it had gotten pretty heavy. Still, I carried it gingerly over Snow Hill and got it safely to the compost bin without spilling it. This, my friends, is the amazing part of the entire task, as I’m pretty prone to spilling things, especially gross things, all over the place. Imagine my surprise when I opened the kitchen bin and saw that science had taken place and that a lot of veg inside had liquefied.


I’m not sure if you can really see it, but those fuzzy peppers are really sitting in a soup of former spinach and lettuce, tomatoes and who knows what all else. Why I didn’t think to try to strain this in the sink, I don’t know. More amazing is that I managed to pour this slop into the composter without getting it all over me too.

Now we’re ready to go again. I’ve got the kitchen bin soaking in the sink–I realize people say that compost doesn’t smell, but it does. It’s got this earthy aroma, which isn’t all that appealing to me, though thankfully it doesn’t stink to high heaven. We’re back in business, baby. Let the soil making commence!

Season 7: Let’s Get Started!

16 Mar

In March 2009, I naively became a roller derby official. I had been a fan of the Windy City Rollers, but my league had moved to a more expensive venue and my freelancing lifestyle couldn’t necessarily keep up with the higher ticket prices. Then one of Windy City’s e-mail blasts mentioned they were looking for volunteer officials–no skating necessary, and you could get into the bouts for free.

That e-mail changed my life. While I’ve never been able to watch a roller derby bout the same way, I have found my niche in officiating. I love the sport, and I love ensuring that a game will be fair. Officiating roller derby has taken me around the world, introduced me to so many interesting people and given me so many opportunities. I’ve gotten the chance to make an impact by doing committee work with the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Officiating has also helped me grow a few layers of skin, which is essential to have when you’re in the business of dealing with a lot of rejection.

At any rate, my seventh season kicked off this past weekend when I went up to Maine to keep score for a game between Maine vs. Worcester. I’m pretty sure Maine won–though I tend not to remember details like that. I more remember the fact that I need to work on increasing my ability to remain focused throughout an entire half and review some of the finer details in scorekeeping paperwork before I do this role again next weekend. I also need to have a little better awareness of where my score reporting arm is in relation to something like the scoreboard projector. A lot of little things, but I haven’t done a lot of scorekeeping and am really hoping to become much better in that role this year.

I tend not to write or talk much about officiating unless I’m with my people. If you look at pictures of sports, officials tend to be the blurs in the background, and I kind of like it that way. I’m not really sure how fascinating it is to share the fact that I wrap a stopwatch cord around my pinkie finger when there is no Lead Jammer and I have to call off the jam. I can see you yawning already. However, at some point I’ll probably geek out about some of the sports psychology and leadership books I’m currently reading, and I will send postcards from my adventures. I’m excited to see where it takes me this year.

On the Loose!

10 Mar

[Part 1 in a collector’s series]

My day out yesterday was so incredibly exciting that I can’t quite contain it to just one post. I know it sounds crazy, but doing errands was fun. That’s very telling, since driving around Boston can suck the life out of you the second you pull out of the driveway, but yesterday wasn’t so bad.

The first order of business–and my reason for having the car–was to visit the doctor. My left shoulder’s been hurting me since our massive kitchen cleaning earlier this year. Ibuprofen and keeping it in motion wasn’t helping, so to the doctor I went. Further prove I am not Cinderella: Spending hours scrubbing the kitchen floor does not get me a fairy godmother and a trip to the ball; it gets me a doctor who diagnoses a shoulder sprain and a trip to physical therapy.

The doctor’s office means two things:


wpid-img_20150309_102919193.jpg I get a blood pressure reading. Not to toot my own horn, but I have amazing blood pressure. It’s the one thing I’ve got on the Boy. I know it’s a weird thing to get hung up on, but he’s a foot taller than me and so he’s inherently better than me in many different ways. He’s faster, his stride is longer, he can reach the top shelf, etc. It can be frustrating, particularly if he has to walk quickly to get anywhere because that always means I end up jogging. I know I look like a doofus having to trot just to keep up. Lucky for me, one plus side of being short is that my heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood throughout my long body. This happens to be something the Boy worries about, so when I can get an accurate reading, I make sure to tell him. It’s just reminder that hey, you might claim that you’re helping me with my vertical leap when you’re holding something just a little too high over my head to reach, but I’m cool about it. Cool as a low-blood-pressure cucumber.

At any rate, I clocked in at 90/70, which might be one of my best readings ever. Usually my systolic pressure is around 100. Today that’s got me thinking about unusually low blood pressure, but the nurse told me I was fine.


no1officialExtra reading time. I know the doctor makes every attempt to stay on schedule, but Monday mornings have to be pretty crazy since there are likely patients who need to sneak in due to something that happened to them over the weekend. If I have a book with me (and I do have a stack of them at home), I’m cool. I’m currently reading an interesting book on the psychology of officiating. Even though the copyright date on it is 1990, the information is still useful because the basic concepts don’t change. Officials have always needed good communication, focus and confidence, so while yes, we learn new things about the brain all of the time, the older information is still helpful (not to mention the fact that aren’t all that many books specifically dedicated to sports officiating psychology, so to not have to extrapolate information and apply it to my personal needs is nice).

The other great thing about an older copyright date is that you tend to get illustrations like this one. Hey, photos can be expensive, and you need to spice up a non-fiction book somehow. I look at this and think, “I do feel good about staying in shape!” Granted, you probably wouldn’t see me running down the street wearing a “#1 Official” tank top, but this official and I are pretty simpatico.

And thus ends the first hour or so of my day out–there’s more excitement to come, as I wonder while I wander through Target, have an amazing sandwich and have a high school moment! Tune in tomorrow for more!

Badge of…?

16 Jul


I earned this sprained ankle over the weekend. It’s my first big roller derby injury. Exciting, right? I’m not sure. In the roller derby community, you see a lot of pictures of x-rays and really bad bruises. It’s part of the sport–almost like a badge of honor–and you can pretty much expect to get an injury at some point in your derby career.

As a non-skating official, I thought I was fairly impervious to injury. Oh, my calves get tight from standing a lot…..and there was a little incident last fall when a referee skated over my toes, but I didn’t expect anything worse than that.

After four years of being a non-skating official, I got skates this year and started to learn how to ref. Learning how to ref takes a while–you have to learn how to skate so well you don’t have to think about what your feet are doing, and you need to be able to see the action and make calls.

In learning how to skate, I’ve joined the skater training program in my league. I’ve graduated from no-contact practices to contact practices, and contact means taking a little extra risk. I came out on the losing side on Saturday, when I took a hit, fell and saw my ankle turn 90 degrees.

Now I’m off skates for a couple of weeks. I’m lucky it’s not worse than a minor sprain, but it still hurts. I missed skate practice tonight, both literally and figuratively. Still, I’ve survived an injury and perhaps have gone through a rite of passage, but not one that I’m necessarily pleased to wear as a badge of honor. I’d much rather be able to strap on my skates and get back on the track than pop ibuprofen, ice my ankle and keep it elevated. Perhaps it’s a way to deal with the frustration though. If anything, it’s a badge that reminds me to work hard on healing as quickly as possible.

Making Good

9 Jul

This year’s Stanley Cup finals led to a bit of a conundrum for me: Do I root for my old home team, the Blackhawks, or do I go with the new home team, the Bruins? That question was quickly answered when a couple of friends back in Chicago wanted to place a friendly wager on the series and I couldn’t resist. Did I feel guilty for betting against Chicago? Absolutely. And I’m certainly paying for my guilt now. 

For a while I thought I’d really win–it was an unbelievable series, and Boston had the whole “Boston Stronger” rally cry behind them. Game 3 was an especially good sign, when the B’s just walked all over the Hawks with a commanding 2-0 win. It seemed like the tide was turning and that Boston could pull it out. Long story short, they couldn’t, and now it’s time to settle up a couple of debts. 

I owe my college roommate a massage and then some sort of bonus gift for getting the number of games right. This could be wine or dinner or something of that nature. I’ll have to get creative here.

The other wager also involves a little creativity: I’m doing a “best of Boston” basket for an old work buddy I haven’t seen in a while (he was wagering Lou Malnati’s pizzas. I could not not take him up on that one). But what should I put in it? Dunkie’s K-cups, Marshmallow Fluff, NECCO wafers, and Cape Cod potato chips all seem to be no brainers. What other Massachusetts culinary delights can I include?

Rolling Through the Year

21 Apr

Yesterday I spent a little time updating the “Experience” portion of this website, and I noticed I hadn’t written a blog post in months. Months! Talk about a way to trigger some Calvinist guilt!

I spent a little time pondering about ways to rectify this situation. Because this is the place for my professional life, I don’t always know what to say beyond, “I’ve published this article!” or “I’m still working on that novel!” or “Another rejection?  That’s OK!!!!!” That gets a little boring (and like many writers, self-promotion is a little difficult for me).

I have been working though, which is nice. I’ve written a few more articles for HowStuffWorks.com and a trade publication for RegardingID. I’ve been pitching more ideas, which has kept me busy, but doesn’t necessarily give me any immediate bylines. Overall, the writing career is chugging along.

The other thing I’ve been focusing on is roller derby. I’m what they call a non-skating official for the Boston Derby Dames, a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. Roller derby has skating referees and these non-skating officials (NSOs) who keep track of everything–score, penalties, lineups, etc. If you go to a Boston bout, you will most likely see me in the center, tracking or wrangling penalties. It’s crazy and hectic and fun. I love being an NSO–I love the tracking, the organizational aspect of it, the stats. I get to be the harmonizing aspect in officiating, and that’s what keeps me jazzed.

I’ve taken a pretty big leadership role within Boston’s officiating team, and that’s held my attention a lot this year. We have a bout every month, and I have to coordinate with Head Refs on staffing, staff the NSO side, make sure NSOs are properly trained, and do some of the post-bout data entry. It’s work, but I love doing it. I love the sport, I’m with a great league, and I get to work with some great officials. It’s incredibly rewarding.

Last Saturday, we had a doubleheader, with one bout against Philadelphia, and the other being two of our home teams. From an officiating standpoint, things went well, so I’m still riding that derby high. Hopefully it will last up to our next bout (May 14!  Shriners Auditorium! Wilmington, MA! Get your tickets now because all of our bouts this year have sold out!) and throughout the season. Ah, derby!

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