Category Archives: Chicago

Hank the Tank.

In January, I got a new day job, so I went a little crazy and bought a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It’s a 2010 and kind of beat up, but it’s been my dream car ever since I can remember and I just went for it. It’s a lot of Jeep for a “little” girl, but I was sure I could handle it. We named him Hank the Tank. I know that you are supposed to refer to your car as a girl but I think that’s sexist. Mine is a guy and he is a beast. My husband and the kids even got me the Cubbie tire cover. Bucket list item,√.

Unfortunately, I obtained him in January, the night before my husband was diagnosed with Covid and we were in quarantine, so I didn’t drive it for the first three weeks. Hank and I had a rocky start, also because the windows didn’t work and I have yet to fix a broken blinker, but still we seemed to get along ok. I couldn’t wait for summer and to take the hard top off…whip around Lake County feeling the breeze in my hair….

Did you know there is a “Jeep wave”? I didn’t know. I had some wave at me when I first started driving and I just chalked it up a bunch of really friendly people in my town. Then my good friend, who is a Jeep owner, asked me, “So you know about the Jeep wave…”

Ooooohhhhhhhhh!

OK. Aha….got it.

It’s a thing.

I was pretty excited about it. I felt like I was in a cool, new club. The next 3-4 times I drove, I did not see one Jeep. But I was on the lookout and I was going to be ready.

At last it was time. I saw one coming my way…My hands got a little sweaty and my stomach dropped.

And then it happened…They did it! They have me the wave!

They were like:

The I was like:

NERD ALERT.

I’ve chillaxed now and I think I’ve got it down. I also got “ducked”. There is something cute with squeaky ducks and I bought a whole bag of them from Target but I need to Google to figure out what to do with them. Again, nerd alert.

Truth be told, my dirty little vehicle secret….I’m so lucky and I am so grateful…I’ve been wanting a Jeep for so long, but now that I have it…well, meh.

it’s hard to get in and out of it. I almost have to take a running leap and dive in. It’s not very Rheumatoid Arthritis-friendly. I totally need one of those shelf things. Also, another problem with being so short; I have to do circus-like trapeze artist calisthenics to climb up the Jeep to put the soft top down myself. Forget about putting it back on when I’m alone. I actually have to get number one and/or my husband to help me. We are always battling with Car Tetris in the driveway, so it’s not even possible to just leave it off and park in the garage. It’s a work in progress. Someday soon I hope to make some real actual progress.

I can definitely see me pawning it off to one of the kids in a year or two. If I just had a car with a little button I could push and the top would go up and down. Up…and down….If only…

Added to my new bucket list.

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Now what.

Day 6.

I need to put one of my new iTags on my actual purpose, cause I’m having trouble finding it.

I’m not even a week in with my 365 blogapalooza commitment and I’m already dreading writing about my One Big Thing today. It’s depressing.

I’m flailing. I’m in a funk. I’m blue. I’m lying here trying to find my damn solace. I’m feeling it’s somewhere along the lines of pulling up my big girl pants, getting over my bad self, making a list of things I need to get done and just freaking doing them.

But from the minute I woke up this morning, I’m finding it really easy to be sad. Sad about being sick, sad about my dad, sad about number one going back to college, sad about the sinking ship that is my music career, sad about the Rizzo, sad about not having a job.

Maybe I should just give myself a day to BE. I’ve been doing such a bang-up job for the last seven months wearing myself thin, not taking care of myself and treating myself badly, that it’s become a hard habit to break.

Welp, there you go. This is why I love writing. I just spoon fed myself my answer and found my literal purpose for the day. I’m going to give myself a hug, lay on my hammock, go out to lunch with my parents, enjoy my family. I can continue to wallow tomorrow. Today’s mission: Sunday funday.

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Egads, DMV. You’re a Wreck!

Day 5:

Omg. That was an adventure.

Things effected by Covid that are ok, but still not quite right: movie theaters, music concerts, some shopping experiences and the freaking DMV. It’s never been a walk in the park, it’s always usually a total PITA, but now it’s kind of a mess.

We had two reasons to go to one of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.

1.) New Driver’s License

Number 2 sadly, because, genetics…lost his wallet last week with his license, debit card, and some special un-needed but sentimental keepsakes. Some of those things include his Great America pass since he was nine, an old school ID, his social security card….YOWZA. Ok, that one was needed. Insert super big face palm. I feel like we need to report that or something.

And he also lost $100 in cash; hard-earned tips from the restaurant where he works. The day he lost it, he spent three stressed and upsetting hours retracing his steps, talking to all the management he could at the three places he went, searched his car multiple times, left his phone number everywhere. It’s gone. A bummer of a life lesson.

Sidenote: I just can’t relate with a human who would find a wallet in a parking lot and not try to do the right thing. It makes me so sad. I hope they get a flat tire, they ruin their favorite shirt in the laundry and a bird poops on their head.

2.) Driver’s Permit

Number three needed her drivers permit. She finished the class part weeks ago and was scared she was going to forget everything. Which I get. But dammmnnnn it’s hard to get an appointment. You have to wait weeks. It’s such a clogged drain that they have given people who have an expired license a six month extension. The best option for us with a busy schedule was just to suck it up and go.

The first time we tried to get her permit was a disaster. It was about three weeks ago. I had to take a half day off of work, which was hard in itself, and I was not having a good tummy day. I was trying my best to smile and be excited for her, but inside, it felt like there was a tiny, little angry person living in my intestines, repeatedly stabbing them with big fork.

A lot of my stomach issues are stress-related, so this wasn’t helping. I raced home from work and grabbed all the essential documents needed: social security card, a bill with her name on it, her driver’s school paperwork, a copy of her birth certificate. Let me repeat that, a COPY of her birth certificate. That’s what the school told me. A CO-PY. Or maybe they didn’t say that. Maybe it’s just…me. We all know it’s most probably just me.

The facility wasn’t close. We make the trek out to Schaumburg and got there at about 1:30pm. We pull in:

That scenario, for me in particular, was like an irritable bowel horror movie.

We waited in line and soon we were not the last people; we were giddy. She was so excited to get this…I was a little teary that I was already at this milestone with my baby. I had also already quietly made a plan that if I needed leave the line to run inside to the bathroom, I would do it very stealthily and with conviction. But so far, so good.

There was an older gentleman busker playing mediocre violin, but I was feeling jovial and supportive, so I gave #3 twenty bucks to go toss it in his guitar case. I told her to do it dramatically so everyone could see. I thought we would start a tip trend when everyone saw us do that. Crickets. Come on, humanity!

Finally, an hour and a half in; we were about 30 feet from the front door. An employee was checking people’s documents to prep everyone who was about to enter. I handed him everything, while I made what I thought were witty, funny and adorable side comments about our line wait. Number 3 nudged me a little, rolled her eyes almost out of her head and pretended that she didn’t know me. Then the man said, “I‘m sorry but this is a copy of her birth certificate. We need the real thing.”

What?” I said?

This is a copy of her birth certificate. Do you have an original with the stamp on it?” When he said that, I started to get a little dizzy, I couldn’t seem to find any air and his voice was warped like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Number 3 was shocked and looked at me like a just ran over a baby bunny.

I was horrified, She was horrified. But…I…you see…I ….was digging in a dark closet, trying to grab things out of our file cabinet…it’s looked like a birth certificate, it felt like a birth certificate, it smelled like a birth certificate…I was going to throw up. My sweet daughter. I’m not sure what embarrassed her more, the fact that we had to leave in front of everyone or the very obvious crying of her very distraught mother. What a SHIT. SHOW.

Pivot, heal, relax, re-group, re-charge.

Three weeks later, we tried again. I grabbed number 2 to kill two birds….This time we got up at 6am, headed out to Waukegan, whipped through Dunkin’ and pulled in…

OK, ok, ok, OK. It wasn’t that bad. The weather wasn’t horrible and we actually kind of had fun. In true Moran fashion, we made lots of new besties around us, with people we will absolutely never see again. Number 3 was so nervous for her test, so we pulled up an online practice test and she was asking me for all the correct answers. Dear Lord…the wrong parent took her. Number 2 wasn’t much help either…who can remember these little things?

We made it to the hot spot; the entrance door (past the scene of that last crime), so I felt victorious. You can’t see it because of the glare, but right in the doorway behind the glass, the security guy had this huge Uzi megaphone thingie and it was right near me when I was waiting there and it took every little strength in my body not to pick it up and yell “BREAKER BREAKER ONE_NINE!”

Number 3 said, “MOM, NO.” She knows me.

Inside, the employees were wonderful. Kind, helpful and sweet, we went through both processes painlessly. It’s not their fault that China created Covid and now we have long DMV lines. #2 and I had to go outside and wait for #3 to take her test and when she came out smiling, we knew she passed. Easy peasy.-ish. We were home by 10:00am!

And…this is the best.

“Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby…No Sir, I Don’t Mean Maybe!!”
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Say It Ain’t So, Rizzo.

Day four.

Ernie Banks.

Billy Buck.

Ivan DeJesus.

Andre Dawson.

Rick Sutcliffe.

Sammy Sosa. (Pre-cork)

Ryno.

Javy.

Bryant.

ANTHONY RIZZO.

The Chicago cubs organization just ripped the heart out of the Cubbies.

I grew up sitting in the 11th row behind the visitor’s dugout. Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8. It used to be the 10th row, but they added another row and we moved with it. My dad first got the tickets in 1971. Near the end, I could hardly get to a game because of kids and life. The last few years, my dad’s health prevented him from being able to maneuver through the crowds to get to the seats.

I remember entering the park as a girl, running behind him, looking up at the back of his head, reaching out to grab his shirt, while he masterfully serpentined between the crowds of people. He would turn back and smile his golden smile to me to make sure I was keeping up. We’d stop just for a quick second to get a scorecard and he’d get a beer (Later on, one for me too). We loved our seats. We had all the chances to move aisles closer to the field, but we loved being able to just jump over and fall into ours. Easy in, easy out. Perfect for raising a hand to buy a Home Run Hot Dogs and Budweisers.

In my early 20’s, while I was attending my fourth and last college, I rented an apartment on Broadway one block south of Addison. It was kind of a dump and it was next to The Jewel and that SUCKED during Christmas season because those damn Salvation Army bells would ring all the freaking time. But I was so close to Wrigley. My dad was a commodities trader at the Board of Trade and he was off work at 1:30pm. On game days, he would sneak out a bit early and hop in a cab. I would ride my bike, walk or rollerblade over to the park and meet him at The Cubby Bear. We bought the peanuts outside because they tasted better. He’d hand me my ticket and we’d start the mad dash. Even going to the games as an adult, I still felt the rush…I still always wanted to reach out and grab his shirt. Sitting there watching the game was our catch-up time, it was relaxing and it just felt like home.

Twinning with Sutcliffe.

Sometimes I would take the train in with my mom and we would go Cubbie nuts. My mom is still a die-heart fan, too. She was raised a Sox fan, but we don’t hold that against her. (So was my husband and his family is not happy.) We really had the best of times through the years. Our favorite thing to do after the game was to go to the Wild Hare and get our reggae on…so many laughs. Those were the party party days. We were always meeting new people and chatting up our “seat neighbors.” Some we knew for over 30 years. They saw us grow up. They saw us bring all of our babies there for the first time. They saw the last days of dad being there.

My kids were raised in the red, white and blue. They didn’t know anything else. They all went to the the park as babies and they all had their personal Cubbie adventures. Being a Cubs fan has been a big part of who they are today.

Every opening day, my brother and I would trade off going with Dad. Some days were filled with freezing rain, some were sunny and beautiful, but they were always perfect. The timeline of the day, the routine, the songs, the stretch, it was all so comforting like a bug warm hug. I will cherish those days forever.

Of course, I fell in love all the time. My first boyfriend was Billy Buckner. He was a dashing hero to me. My dad is the kinda guy who knew everyone and somehow he finagled us having an official “Donaldson Day” at Wrigley. We were able to go on the field, lay against the Ivy, see the locker rooms. I sat in the dugout on Ivan Dejesus’ lap. Hell yes, I did. Oh, and this happened.

My dad did this Randy Huntley fantasy baseball camp and it was pretty darn cool. He was able to play alongside Ryno, Durham, Jody Davis, Fergie, Lee Smith…It was a total dream come true for him and it was cool to watch. Years later, my brother did the same….

Years later, my brother did a cool thing for my dad. Let’s the face it. THE.COOLEST. THING. Jim Donaldson day.

As we got older and started our families, it was harder to see my brother and his family. He and his wife lived a block away from the park on Sheffield and could hear the crack of the bats through his open windows. Wow. He was able to still go to the games all the time and I know that was another dream for him fulfilled. It was always fun to go to the games with him and catch up….always a beautiful bonding experience with him at the park.

I did marry a sox fan, as I mentioned before, but I would like to formally thank the Cubs for helping me woo him. Wrigley with my family was a great way to get him to marry me. We have flirted there many times at the park over the years.

And oh my word, THE FOOD. If you go old school, there is nothing like a Home Run hot dog from a park vendor…mustard only. Second place for me is a dog from inside with grilled onions. Great link HERE for the park food. We loved going to the Club before the games, during a rain storm or when it was just too damn HOT.

The Club

The Friendly Confines have changed. First it was cool things like the statues…Captain Morgan expansion was interesting…they fancied up the bleachers…Gallagher Park was a cool addition. Then they started to replace the premiere seating. Finally, they were ready to upgrade our box. And they changed the ticket prices to obviously separate the wheat from the chaff. They tripled them. Insert middle finger here.

So now, where I grew up, there are a bunch of corporate people who are in town to drink $20 IPAs and don’t give a shit about the Cubbies. Stay classy, Rickett’s.

And…because they Yankees could afford it and the Rickett’s clearly need more money, we just lost our Golden Child. I’m grateful for the years we had him. He was a bright shiny light with a giving soul. He was not only a phenomenal player, but a funny, charming, philanthropic Chicago lover. Rizzo is cancer survivor, a hero to so many of us, a complete inspiration. He helped make IT happen. I am so grateful we had him for so long. I wish him and Emily the best.

BREAKING NEWS:

I just heard Javy traded to the Mets and Kimbrel to the freaking Sox.

I’m out. (Kicks a can, stomps off.)

MORE BREAKING NEWS:

(Runs back in….)

BRYANT TO THE GIANTS?

(Light can on fire, punches wall, stomps off. )

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Tack Your Map.

Yesterday, I woke up to a text whistle.

My eyes were still trying to focus, failing miserably to recall the details of the very weird dream I just had about going back to college…I was doing the groggy, obligatory reach-over for my glasses and my phone.

A very upset dear friend sent me a text. “…Did you hear about Sammy?…”

No. No no no no no no no. Not Sam. Samsamsamsamsamsam.

What is that thing? What is that thing our minds do at times like this when memories, clips, moments, feelings…they all attack our brains and our heads and our faces…flying at you like a colorful tornado…recollections of the past floating around. You close your eyes and you try to grab ahold of one to steady it for second, and it moves and then you open your eyes. Poof. There they go. You try really hard and they come back again and you struggle to remember them in a not-fuzzy way. For me: a laugh, a look, a rehearsal, a tipsy walk down the street, a striped shirt, a giggle-filled stage kiss, a hi and a hug, a deep talk in a dark bar…reminiscences all chaotic, all fighting, bumping into each other, these memories belligerent and clawing to be seen and competing to be remembered in my mind, just as they were in that memory Polaroid…those memory Polaroids…snapshots of those times, that small moment of many; many and not enough tiny moments that make up the time when I had Sam in my life.

He was just a friend. Not a past lover. Not someone I even truly knew anymore. But my heart aches just the same. Crying for his family, bawling for his loved ones. Then my inner dialogue goes Tasmanian Devil…we do this to ourselves….I’m yelling at me in my car yesterday morning, fists gripping my steering wheel, “Why in the hell didn’t I talk to him anymore?!”

Stop, breathe. Hug ourselves. It’s in this moment that we need to tell us that we are ok because life. simply. moves. It just keeps moving. That time I had with him was there and then life moves so fast…onto the next show, the new circle of pals, the new job, the new husband, the kids, the more kids, the more jobs, the more life. The journey takes us; the road winds and we drive farther on The Map of Life. But it is on that Map that you mark those special tack pins. You take them and stick them in all the locations that you really lived and loved, because you want to remember that time and that spot and those people. They meant so much to you that you saved them for later. You do that, so when you go back to The Map and look at all the beautiful places you have been, you remember what a great journey we are on so far…And Sam, my friends, was definitely a tack.

I love Facebook. I fucking hate Facebook. But most importantly, I NEED Facebook. Not just to promote my music career, but I need Facebook so I can look back on all my connected tacks. I go on my feed page so I can laugh at a ridiculous cow meme that was posted by an old theater professor, or admire a neighbor’s summer garden or feel happy for the old middle school friend who found great love, or I can even just send a virtual hug to a long-distant cousin who just needs a freaking hug. It’s not the same. It’s not in person, it’s virtual, but it’s the best I can do right now and I MEAN it. It’s me saying to everyone, “I am busy on my path, but I am still so glad that you were on one of mine.”

Sam was just this stunning human. Strikingly good-looking, yes, but that wasn’t even the best part. First and foremost, he was a deep and true listener for all. When you spoke to Sam, he concentrated on your words with his warm puddly eyes and his beautifully enormous heart. All of this greatness was surrounded by a unique and rare talent for performing. I have a funny Polaroid in my head that reminds me I had a little crush on Sam. I was playing Chris Hargensen and he was my Billy in a hilarious Chicago musical called “sCarrie the Musical”. We were the mean kids and made out a lot. Which wasn’t horrible. We had this rather rated-R musical number where I had to sing to him while I was performing….well…let’s just say, that the entire cast could barely get through it every time because we were all laughing so hard. Best of times.

I don’t know how we lost Sam. What I pray for is that he didn’t feel one ounce of pain. What I wish for is that his legacy will live on for all days, by the people who loved him. What I know is that all of it is a complete tragedy.

Pray for his family. Hug everyone you can. Love everyone you love. Go hang your Map.

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