Friday, May 23, 2008

Moms ♥ Cubs Games

Last Thursday, three of my girlfriends and I snuck off to an afternoon Cubs game. We rearranged carpools and called in favors for after school play dates for our kids. Feeling as giddy as teenagers cutting class, we stuffed cash and lipstick into our back pockets, shoved baseball caps on our heads, and caught the “EL” into the city. Once on the train, packed with like-minded Cubs fans, we grinned at each other. We’d successfully made our escape.

The weather was gray and chilly, but it was warm and toasty within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field ‘cause the Cubs were up and the Padres never got on the board. Winning Cubs fans are happy Cubs fans and Lisa, Suzanne, Cheryl and I were no exception. Especially after we’d chugged down a couple of the big Bud Lights we bought from the beer vendor.

We weren’t up to speed on the nuances of the game but the guys sitting behind us – Desmond, Tom and Tommy - were happy to educate us. “ This may be the last time you’ll ever see Greg Maddux pitch at Wrigley Field,” Desmond informed us, as Tom passed around his nachos. They were nice. Everyone around us was nice - and almost entirely male. We four gals found ourselves getting a lot more attention than we were used to on an average weekday afternoon.

And it wasn’t because we were looking all that hot. We sported sweatshirts and fleece, sneakers and scarves. One of us (okay, it was me) wore long underwear. But who cared? It was two-thirty in the afternoon and the Cubbies were ahead and the good will and camaraderie flowed through the stands along with the Budweiser. When we stood to sing “Take Me out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch, I knew there was no better place in the world for a forty-something suburban mom to be.

The beer buzz wore off on the train ride home, when we had to switch seats to avoid being barfed on by a drunken high school girl who really was playing hooky. We shook our heads with maternal concern. As the train lurched north, reality began to seep in. There was dinner to make and homework to supervise and bedtimes to enforce.

But still, we’d had our afternoon in the (figurative) sun. And now, a week later, what Lisa, Suzanne, Cheryl and I want to know is this – anyone got Cubs tickets?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Privacy Alert - Your Secrets Aren’t Safe With Me

Over the years, my hometown has produced some big celebrities: Charlton Heston, Bill Murray, and Ann Margaret to name a few. Younger and hipper stars are actor Rainn Wilson of TV’s The Office, and rock band Fall Out Boy bassist, Pete Wentz. Wentz, 28, announced his engagement to pop singer Ashley Simpson a few weeks ago. This mildly interesting tidbit hit my radar in an unexpected way that made me realize how much my notion of privacy has changed.

My involvement came through a friend of a friend, like the game “Five Degrees of Separation.” My buddy Tammy* has a high school pal, Shelly*, who writes for People Magazine. Shelly was assigned a story on the hometown reaction to the Wentz/Simpson engagement. Tammy circulated Shelly’s email asking if anyone knew the Wentz family and would agree to be interviewed. While I've never met the Wentzs myself, I do have another friend, Jennifer*, who knows the family well. So, trying to be helpful to Tammy, I shot Jennifer an email.

My email went something like: “Hey Jen, I know you’re friends with the Wentzs – any interest in being interviewed for People Mag for local reactions on P & A’s engagement? Could be fun!”

Cause everybody wants to get into People - don’t they? Not so much. Jennifer made it clear that she would never consider violating the Wentzs’ privacy. Her tactful but firm reply made me think about what I’d really asked her to do.

Hmm, I guess I can see how you might not want to expose your friends to media scrutiny, especially when it’s about a personal matter like their son’s engagement. Real friends probably don’t exploit relationships for personal gain or to get their picture or name into a national magazine.

I felt kind of like a loser. Why hadn't I thought of that beforehand? 

It’s because I blog. Even though I’ve only been blogging for a few months, I’ve come to accept a loss of privacy as the norm. Friends have said, “I read your blog, you’re so brave.” Brave? I haven’t written anything all that revealing. Oh sure, I’ve discussed my fantasies, sex life, skin problems, parenting issues, and character flaws - but nothing personal.

I don’t have the clearest idea of what should be kept private anymore. With the prevalence of the Internet, this is an issue we all will have to negotiate. If your view of privacy has changed recently, please share your story.

And feel free to use a pseudonym.

*Names changed to make sure my friends don’t get mad at me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Forty-Four More

According to the National Vital Statistics Reports, the average life expectancy of a 44-year-old white woman in the United States is 38 years, meaning she is most likely to die at age 82. That means statistically, my life is more than half over. Say what? I admit, 82 sounds like a ripe old age, but it’s not nearly old enough for me. I, for one, am not going to accept the data - I refuse to conform to the mean. I really liked my first 44 years of life, so I’m ordering up 44 more.

How can I get an extra six years out of life? Forbes Magazine reports that there are ten things you can do to live longer: don’t oversleep, be optimistic, have more sex, get a pet, get a VAP test (whatever that is), be rich, don’t smoke, chill out, eat your antioxidants, and marry well.

Looking over the list, I feel pretty good about my chances. I actually sleep between six and seven hours a night, the recommended length. (Who knew that sleeping too much could actually be bad for you?) I’m an optimistic person, I have an adorable little West Highland terrier, and I don’t smoke. I’m happily married to the father of my children and while we’re not exactly rich, we’re doing okay. Other than freaking out about the fact that I only have 38 years left to live, I’m pretty chill. But there are a few areas where I can do better.

First of all, I’ve never heard of a VAP before. Apparently, it’s an advanced cholesterol test that detects heart disease much better than regular tests. It’s been a few years since I’ve had even a basic cholesterol test. If I want to live to see 88, I better make an appointment for a physical and get that VAP. I’m just glad I can wait a few more years before getting my first colonoscopy.

As for eating enough antioxidants, I’m falling short here too. Antioxidants, found in a variety of foods like blueberries, artichokes and beans, are great for cleansing the body of free radicals – the toxic molecules of oxygen that can damage and age our bodies. Antioxidants are like an inner fountain of youth. From now on, walnuts, kale and raspberries are going to be my foods of choice.

Finally, I’m going to step things up in the sex department. In addition to the obvious physical gratification, frequent sex has lots of other benefits – like stress reduction and better sleep – that can lower blood pressure and reduce risks of stroke and heart disease. Besides, this is a fun way to increase my life span. And it will benefit my husband too. As a 44-year-old white male, Liam can only expect to live another 34 years unless he takes action.

I just hope he’s interested in living longer too or else improving in this area is going to be a little tricky for me.