Friday, March 29, 2013


I checked Eric Clapton off my "Live Music Bucket List" Wednesday night.  


Effortless talent oozes out of Clapton and to see him play a guitar was worth the price of admission - but I never got the goosebumps I was hoping for and the concert ended way before I was ready for it to.

Still, he's Eric Clapton - so despite a lame crowd that sat down most of the time, (with the exception of the wasted guy across the aisle from me and the woman in the tasseled jacket jumping around like a lunatic), I still got to dance to "Lay Down Sally," hear "Wonderful Tonight," and watch him shred the blues.

And that is very, very good.


Happy Good Friday.  Happy Weekend. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

nerd alert.

I like to think I'm a pretty cool person most of the time, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that I do a lot of nerdy things.  I mean, I have a blog, for goodness sake. Geek!

I've recently invited two new things into my life that are so nerdy (even for me), I feel the need to confess.

#1: Podcasts


I have all but given up on listening to music in my car in exchange for listening to podcasts on my new fancy iPhone.  I'm almost guaranteed that no one will want me to drive them anywhere anymore. 

Apparently I'm not the only one - when I mentioned to several friends I've rediscovered talk radio, they were quick to give me suggestions on ones to download -- Clark Howard, Freakonomics, Dave Ramsey, Alec Baldwin's "Here's the Thing," just to name a few. A couple of Saturdays ago, I cleaned my entire house listening to Baldwin interview Lena Dunham, Lorne Michaels, Judd Apatow and Brian Williams.

So. Nerdy.

I've always loved NPR's "This American Life," but almost never remember to listen when it comes on locally, so now I've subscribed to its podcasts so I can get each episode right on my phone.   

The hour-long broadcasts are always entertaining - but a two-part series the show did recently stuck with me and I feel compelled to tell you about it. 

For five months - reporters embedded inside Harper High School on Chicago's south side.  The historically violent school is filled with gang members and had 29 of its current and former students shot last year.

As the host Ira Glass points out, if that amount of violence happened anywhere else in America, it would make national news.  Gun violence at Harper, however, is expected, and no one seems to know what to do about it.  

I was completely riveted - and captivated - by the characters in this broadcast.  I cut phone conversations short and looked for reasons to drive places so I could listen to it and when it was over (and at moments during), I cried.

If you have a couple hours, I promise you will not be disappointed.  There's no agenda - just excellent storytelling about a reality that exists that is completely different from my own.  Here are the links to both parts:

If/when you listen, I'd love to know your thoughts on the program.  And if you love any podcasts that you think I should download, let me know that too - I'm always looking!

#2: My New Quilt


In addition to being a huge nerd, I'm also a borderline hoarder.

Parting with mementos from my life has always been difficult, if not impossible, for me, which is fine when it's ticket stubs or birthday cards or photographs.  But my hoarding has also carried over into items not so easy to stash in a shoe box.  Things like clothes - especially t-shirts.

I've been collecting t-shirts since high school: from clubs I was in (seriously, 15 years ago and I still have them), places I've visited, races I've run, concerts I've been to, jobs I've had.  In college, every sorority and fraternity party I ever went to wasn't really legit unless I also had the shirt to go with it.

My t-shirt collection is, if only in quantity, impressive

My hoarding came to a head when I couldn't close the door to the dresser drawer all of my t-shirts were stuffed in, I knew I had to do something.  But I couldn't give them up.

Like a divine intervention, Living Social offered a deal late last year for Mominizer and I had no choice but to buy it and do what I swore I'd never do - I had my old t-shirts made into a quilt.  

It's a little tacky and a LOT dorky, I know.  I promise never to pull it out in mixed company and explain the significance of each shirt represented on the quilt, or worse, hang it on the wall like a shrine to fun times gone by.

But it's the best way I've been able to get rid of my t-shirts without actually getting rid of them at all . . .and it's also keeping me warm in these unseasonably cold temperatures.  Seriously, what's up with the weather? 

So far I haven't listened to podcasts while lying under my t-shirt quilt, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

How do you channel your inner nerd?

Monday, March 18, 2013

after the final rose.

Shaking off the fun of the weekend to dive head first into the demands of a new week is always difficult – that’s why most people, myself included, hate Mondays. But today it feels particularly trying because everybody’s favorite six-week game show that ends with a marriage proposal - The Bachelor - is now over.

I feel a little empty this Monday - knowing that my weekly dose of crazy won’t be on tonight to get the week started off with a bang.

My friends and I sent the insanity off in style, gathering last week at Trish’s house for my first ever Bachelor Finale party. This was an idea that was cooked up back in January when most of my girls’ dinner was occupied with discussions about the show.

We talked about fun it would be to watch the finale together and Trish agreed to host.

Then we took it several steps further – suggesting women at the party wear evening gowns and men wear suits.

“We should have drinking games!” someone proposed, drinking every time anyone on the show says, “for the right reasons,” or “strong connection.”

Trish said she'd present each person with a rose as they walked through her front door.


We all agreed to bring our beverages of choice, and an appetizer to share (though I suggested we not eat at all in honor of the contestants) to enjoy the end of this truly magical season together.

I usually don't like watching television with large groups - I'm ADD and it's hard for me to focus on what's happening when people are talking or cracking jokes around me. Indeed, it was hard for me to pay attention to watching the Bachelor Finale, but watching this show with my friends was like watching television with a live Twitter feed.

The commentary was impeccable.

photo (1)

From the awkward meeting of the parents (and admiration of Sean's dad's use of pastels in his wardrobe) and speculation on who the mysterious letter was from, we talked (and joked) about it all.

My friend Donald admitted he was only watching The Bachelor as part of his research for the return of the salacious series Bachelor Pad this summer.

I call(ed) bullshit on that, but the Bachelor Pad is trash television at his finest, so I let it slide.

We agreed that Lindsey's tattoos ("Is that an anchor on her foot? Is it a rosebush?") and Catherine's nose ring seemed unfitting for Sean, the born-again beefy virgin.

We all chose sides. Well, some of us (hand raised) had already been told by someone that Catherine was going to win, so I didn't participate in that conversation. But I did like her the best – mainly because she did NOT wear a wedding gown on the first episode.

We argued about whether or not Catherine was attractive. Several of us, myself included, said, without a doubt, YES. She's a hottie.

Kyle pointed out, "She looks like Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years!"

Mark, who already stated his admiration and allegiance for Team Lindsey, said we were crazy. Not only is she not hot, she's unattractive.

"If she walked into my office," he said confidently, "I wouldn't give her a second look."

To which his wife Trish fired back, "Mark, I've been to your office and yes you would give her a second look."

The other guys suckered into attending our party didn’t seem to have terribly strong feelings about Catherine's attractiveness, but since they each work side by side with men every day at a paving company, a utility company and a pipe company, they easily abandoned Mark and agreed regardless of her hot factor, if Catherine walked into their offices, they would, in fact, take a look.


Sometimes the conversations were deeper.

Do you really think it’s possible to be in love with two people at the same time?

Scott immediately shouted, "Yes," to which his wife Maribeth said, "Thanks, honey."

But I have to agree with him – when falling in love is the only thing to do, no work, no responsibilities except deciding what cocktail to order and what bikini to wear in (insert tropical and exotic locale here), I think I could fall in love with many people, multiple times, all at the same time, again and again.

I might not decide to actually marry them, but I’m weird like that I guess.

I was the only one who actually followed through on our plans to wear evening gowns for our Final Rose party, which was borderline embarrassing, but also won me the "First Impression Rose."

I was elated.

The fun for now is over – we’ll have to wait until Des makes her debut as the Bachelorette or until the best show of the summer Bachelor Pad comes back on the scene.

Till then, we’ll only have Sean’s appearances on Dancing with the Stars to aid us as we ruminate on whether or not he is, indeed a fame whore, as suggested by many and whether this relationship is truly made to last.

Or as Maribeth still insists (even on Saturday, almost a full week later), whether or not, “Sean completely knows Catherine is way cooler than he is, but it’s Lindsey who actually loves him!!!!”

Seriously, she said that.

Monday, March 11, 2013


After screwing up nearly every single picture at her baby shower, imagine my shock when my friend Momo asked me if I would take pictures at her daughter Sullivan's first birthday party.  I'm truly not sure what she was thinking, but before she came to her senses, I enthusiastically said yes and then immediately started practicing my skills, taking pictures of random things around my house.

When Saturday rolled around, I was ready.  I was like the birthday paparazzi.


Absolutely no one was safe.


I may have appeared borderline creepy, taking rapid-fire pictures of all the kids, most of whom I don't know and whose parents I didn't know either, but I'm happy to report I think my photography class finally paid off. 


It certainly didn't hurt that Sullivan is one of the most beautiful, most relaxed babies I've ever met.  She happily got passed from one family member and friend to the next without a care in the world.  She made it easy for me.


Happy Birthday little one.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Last weekend I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA)'s annual convention, a gathering of high school journalists from across the south.

I know what you're thinking - it's the same thing that I thought when they asked me. 

Why me/you?  Couldn't they get anyone better?

Well, apparently not.  But also, my high school journalism teacher runs the organization.  She invited me to teach at the conference two years ago and I've been doing so ever since.  This year, she asked if I would kick things off with a 20 minute speech.

I was completely flattered, but also completely freaked out, having not spoken in a setting like this in years, if ever.  I knew I would not have a problem speaking for 20 minutes.  But finding something meaningful to say - that would be the challenge.

I associate keynote speakers with Chris Farley's character on Saturday Night Live who, "Lived in a van...down by the river!!" or with people who have achieved great things in their career.


I have had certainly had some career highlights - but I truly hope I haven't already reached my peak. 

After Googling "Keynote Speeches" (I really did), I decided to keep it generic (with the thinking that not all of the kids who are on the yearbook staff necessarily want to be journalists) and light (make as much fun of myself as possible) and practical (give them advice that they apply to their lives right now.)

I also decided to be completely honest - and tell them what I felt - that I'm not nearly qualified to give them advice about anything.

I called my presentation - "What I've Learned So Far," and it focused on some of the best advice I've received over the years.

Ask Questions. Listen. (And also, Shut. Up.)

Asking questions about everything and never taking things for face value is what makes me a good journalist.  Depending on who you ask, that quality is also what makes me a super annoying person.

I don't think, "why" was my first word, but it has quickly grown to be my favorite word. 

I'd say I've learned the most in my life, about life, by asking lots of questions and listening to other people, while never forgetting to listen to the voice inside your head that tells you, "It's time to move on," or "Don't give up," or "Put the shirt down and walk away from this expensive store."

None of the questions you ask are worth a damn if you don't listen to the answers, which requires, much to my chagrin, shutting the (bleep) up. 

embrace mistakes 2

Embrace Your Mistakes.
After telling all 450 eager students to shut up - which I thought they would think was funny but did not - I then told them that I wished that there life would be full of making mistakes.  I was on my way to becoming the meanest keynote speaker ever.  

I said that I believe it's only when we fail that we really learn about ourselves and allow ourselves to change for the better.  

I told them about some of my own embarrassing screw ups - including trying out to be an All-Star Dancer and getting a soccer mom hair cut at age 17 - I learned I'll never make it as a soloist and long hair is probably beset for me.

Playing it safe and doing the same thing in the same way means we may never be embarrassed or hurt or disappointed, but it also means we'll never fully realize our true potential.   

If you're not making mistakes, you're not doing anything, so hurry up and start making them.


Decide What to Be and Go Be It.

I heard this quote/lyric at an Avett Brothers concert and in an effort to appear hip and cool in front of the teenagers, I completely ripped it off during my speech.  I think it worked. 

I actually do happen to love everything about this quote, so it wasn't completely disingenuous.   

The concept is so simple - the only thing keeping us from what we want is our ability to decide and define what it is and the stamina/determination/skills/talent to go after it.

Yet it's so not simple at the same time - especially for someone like me who struggles with even the tiniest of decisions.  Sometimes knowing that the possibilities are endless feels overwhelming instead of empowering and often leaves me terrified, wondering, "What if I make the wrong choice?"

As I told them - and as I need to constantly remind myself - the best thing about deciding what you want to be is that it doesn't have to be a one-time decision.  As long as you're staying true to yourself and your beliefs and making intelligent and informed decisions (asking questions and making mistakes), there is no limit to how many times you can change your mind.


Side bar - I also had to fill them in on my own brutally honest advice that I made up myself and will
This phrase will likely be the title of my book so don't try to steal it -

"Nobody cares about you as much as you care about you."

I know, I know.  I'm the meanest keynote speaker ever.

But it's true - parents (mine included) pump their kids up so much that when they leave the nest they have a false sense of their worth.  I remember being shocked when I left the bubble of my hometown that jobs and opportunities weren't getting thrown at me at rapid fire speed.  I was bewildered and confused that not everyone thought I was awesome as my parents did.  I had to learn - quickly - that it's up to me to be my biggest motivator and #1 cheerleader and strongest promoter. 

On the flip side, believing that your existence and actions are under constant scrutiny is exhausting - so let it go!  Make mistakes - no one really cares about them as much as you think they do and not at all as much as you do.

Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to worry too much about you.

"It's not about who you know - it's about who knows you." 

I cannot take credit for this quote whatsoever, but it's my favorite of all time, courtesy my first manager at CNN, Jason.

"People always think it's all about who you know around here," he said on my first or second day of work.

I nodded.  That sounded reasonable.

"But it's not," he said. "It's not about who you know - it's about who knows you."

Far too often, he said, people get so focused on meeting people and looking outward for opportunities, that they forget to do well the job they were hired to do.

Be awesome today, everyday, right now in the job and the life you're in and good opportunities will happen for you - and so will the recommendations from others who will see your potential. 


Despite a severe case of dry mouth that led to a few stumbles and stutters, the speech was a success and I had so much fun connecting with eager journalism students who will likely be gunning for my job sooner than I care to think about.  Their excitement reinvigorated me in my own job and made me think that it's time I start living some of the advice I've been giving.

I also love that in researching for my keynote address, I had an opportunity to talk to other people about the best advice they've been given.

What's yours?  Are you living it?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

happy birthday to one of my faves.

My friend Marlena just made my morning when she told me that according to Esquire magazine, today is the 20th anniversary of the cult film, Dazed and Confused. 

Part of me felt like crying - how can something that reminds me of high school be 20-years old?! Time flies when you're having fun, I guess.

But most of me was instantly nostalgic, remembering all of the stars who appeared in the movie (Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey to name a few), the amazing fashion (I've always been bohemian at heart) and all the hilarious quotes that came from it.

Some of my favorites:

"Alright, alright, alright."

"Fry you freshman piggies! Fry!"

"The older you get, the more rules they are going to try and get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin', man. L-I-V-I-N."

"It'd be a whole lot cooler if you did."

"I'm only here to do two things, drink some beer and kick some ass. Looks like we're almost out of beer."

And my most favorite, for obvious reasons: "I loooooove those redheads."

I like to believe that it's actually Matthew McConaughey saying it to me personally. 

What are your memories of this movie?  Did you love it as much me?