Thursday, December 21, 2006


This holiday season I’d like to share with you a few of my not-so-closely-guarded secrets to happiness. They’re not all that earth-shattering, but they do make sense. At least to me they do.

1.) Stay regular – constipation is a sure way to have a bad day. Gotta keep the pipes clean. I recommend a weekly cup of senna tea to flush out the exhaust and keep the engine running smoothly.

2.) Make time for yourself EVERY DAY. Even if it’s just a half hour right before bed (wink), make sure you’ve got a little time every day to do the things you enjoy. Read, do a crossword puzzle, take a bath, watch your favorite television program, go for a jog. Whatever it is you enjoy, set aside time for it and stick to the plan. Tell people “no” if you have to. You can’t very well be expected to please everyone else in your life if you can’t make yourself happy first. That's why clowns are so miserable. Didn't you know?

3.) Hang out with people you like. There are a lot of people in this world. Find the ones you get along with…the ones whose company you enjoy. The ones who make you laugh. The ones you feel comfortable with. These are your friends. Friends are like medicine when you’re sick, and multi-vitamins when you’re not.

4.) Love the people you don’t like. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m serious. Life’s too short to spend any time at all pissed off at people – especially people you know aren’t going to change. We all know people who spend their lives questioning the intentions and cursing the actions of others. What a miserably unconstructive way to spend the day! We’ve all got our faults, so accepting one another for the horrible creatures we are makes all the petty bullshit that much more bearable. Trust me. If something or someone rubs you the wrong way, the healthiest thing you can do is shrug it off. As a beloved, pot-smoking college roommate of mine used to say, “Acknowledge…and move on.” It’s a philosophy on life that’s as simple to remember as it is hard to live by.

5.) Accomplish something. Few things give us that sense of self-worth as when we actually FINISH something we started. It doesn’t have to be your life’s masterpiece. It just has to be something you started. Read a book someone recommends, even if it’s not something you’d normally read. Make that trip you’ve been promising someone you’d make (that’s what I’m doing next week!). Make a doctor’s appointment. Shave your head once and for all. Try sushi. Make up your mind to do something and do it. You'll feel sweet.

Enjoy your holidays - we'll be in touch soon...



Just a friendly reminder that it's okay to pass on second helpings.

Eat well this holiday season...just not too well.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I got back from my trip to San Francisco last week in one piece to find that I could not say the same for my car.

I’d parked it on a side street outside of Geri’s place prior to leaving town on business, and while I was gone, some assclown clipped the rear driver-side quarter panel pretty good and drove off.

Was there a note? Please. Is there ever a note? Of course not. Who would leave a note unless they’d been caught red-handed?

Official estimates place the damage somewhere in the neighborhood of $1700. The good news is that I pay insurance for these types of things. The bad news is that I like to keep my insurance premiums low each month, which means a higher deductible – in this case $1,000. That’s out-of-pocket cost to me before the insurance company will even think about getting their checkbook out.

There’s never a good time for something like this to happen, but the holidays have got to be the worst time. In addition to the normal hustle and bustle of the season, the gift buying and wrapping, shopping, unbearably cold weather and unbearably slow traffic, now I have to deal with a fucking hole in the rear end of my car. A hole that, I discovered almost immediately, had been left by one of the neighbors – a maroon van always parks on the same street.

Needless to say, I marched right down to the police station to let them know I’d been the victim of a hit-and-run accident. I filled out a police report and asked them what I needed to do. I did not like what I heard next.

The way I understand it, as explained by the friendly folks at Belmont and Western (Precinct 19), is that anybody can drive around the city hitting anybody they want to and unless someone actually SEES it happen, it didn't really happen. Never mind all of the circumstantial evidence, physical evidence, and common sense evidence. Such as? Let’s see here. The van was witnessed as parked right behind my car on the morning the accident happened. That same afternoon it was parked on the other side of the street, and a huge gash bearing the van's paint color suddenly appeared on my car, which had not moved one inch. Further, the gash was the exact same size and shape as a hinge on the side of the van, which now appears to bear the same silver paint color that is missing from MY car! I didn’t have to call Matlock for help on this one.

But because no one actually SAW it happen, the police said they couldn’t do anything about it – a policy perhaps best summed up as “complete and utter bullshit.” They could do something about it if they wanted to. They could come inspect the damage and confront the driver of the maroon van. If they put just 15 minutes into investigating it, they’d be able to help “serve and protect” the interests of the people they say they serve and protect.

The fact is, they don’t WANT to help me, because they have more important things to be taking care of, like securing the perimeter of the Dunkin Donuts on Ashland and Wellington, and handing out parking citations to the absent-minded, but otherwise law-abiding, folks who don’t put enough change in the meters on Southport.

But I’m not that easily put off. We’re talking about $1000 here. That’s a lot of kick ass Christmas gifts for the people I love.

So I sat down and wrote a letter to the owner of the van – a letter I plan to leave on the windshield of his broken down piece of crap vehicle the next time I spy it riding curbside on west Oakdale. The letter even includes photographs of the damage, as well as the number of the police report I filed implicating his van in a hit-and-run accident.

I close the letter with my phone number and an appeal for him to call me with his insurance information so I don't have to pursue criminal charges. The idea is to let him know that *I* know he hit me…and hope better sense prevails (if not the fear of prosecution).

So we'll see what happens. He could just ignore it or call me up and tell me to fuck off, in which case I'm no worse off than I am now. Or he might just play ball and I'll have saved myself a grand.

Here’s the letter and some photos for your files. I’ll keep you posted on this friendly neighborhood quarrel as it unfolds.


December 20, 2006

Re: Illinois license plate #1122136

Dear Neighbor,

This vehicle was recently identified as having been involved in a hit-and-run accident at the west end of the 1900 block of west Oakdale.

On Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, the vehicle was parked on the north side of the west-bound, one-way street behind a silver sedan. Preliminary forensic evidence, including photographs, paint samples, and other metrics have revealed that the silver vehicle incurred damage between the daylight hours of 9:30 am and 3pm, and that the damage was sustained by this vehicle as it was moved into or out of a parallel parked space.

This letter has been drafted as a courtesy to let the owner of this vehicle know that a police report has been filed with the Chicago Police Department (RD# HM-774156) and an investigation into this incident will be forthcoming.

As you may be aware, hit-and-run offenses are felonies that can carry substantial penalties. Since a note was not recovered from the crime scene, you are encouraged to call me at [312.NUMBER] regarding this accident to prevent criminal charges from being filed.

We believe this is a matter best settled by insurance companies, and your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.


Neighborhood Watch