Friday, July 28, 2006

Andy Polcyn

You know, I wasn't really going to write about this, but I just followed a link to and cried my way through Andy Polcyn's memorial - and felt like I did want to put it in here after all.

Andy was one of the best people I’ve ever known – and tragically, he passed away at the beginning of this month. Andy Polcyn was the best of everything. He was a hard worker, a self-made man and the president of his own company, Advance Environmental Associates. He was also incredibly smart – and a self-professed gadget freak. Andy always had the newest coolest phone and/or PDA or computer accessory. He was a great father, a good friend and a wonderful husband. I wish I had known him better, and appreciated the time I did know him more than I did at the time. He died way too soon – at only 59, which makes no sense. He was healthy and fit – an avid skier and boater. He was very active in his church and community. This sounds like such a generic blurb about any nice guy – but Andy really was more than that. He fit one hell of a lot of life into just 59 years.

Eight years ago, Susan Polcyn hired me to be her assistant at Facts & Comparisons and she and I became good friends. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that we lived just blocks from one another. So Jeremy and I also got to know her husband, Andy. Being together every day, Susan and I quickly developed a rapport that carried over into our personal lives, as did our husbands. When Jeremy was ready to become a small business owner, one of the first people he went to for advice was Andy. When there were problems with the environmental report, Andy didn’t wait for Jeremy to ask for help (which was ironic because Jeremy had actually called and left Andy a message asking for help – Andy just hadn’t listened to it yet) – he just came right over to read the report and advised Jeremy on how to handle the situation. He was an inspiration to both Jeremy and I.

For someone that I knew for such a relative short amount of time, I really miss Andy. And I miss the Susan that Susan was when she was with Andy. After nearly forty years of marriage, she still giggled when he flirted with her – which was often. (And those of you that know Susan – yes, she giggled).

Even if you never met Andy, please go to and read his memorial and then view the movie. Also, click on "tributes" and read the eulogy his sons, Tom and Bryan wrote. We should all be so lucky to have a father, husband or friend like Andy. I miss him.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Boobs, Booze and Bullshit

The second semi-annual meeting of the ladies of Boobs, Booze and Bullshit: Mary Beth, myself, Michelle, Sherri, Shaina, Katie, Shayla and Jill

For the last few years, my husband and a group of his friends have all gathered at his family farm in January for their annual “Freeze Out”. They go play in the snow and the ice, ride their four-wheelers, and drink around a big campfire; all while freezing their nuts off. Sounds like fun – if it were October. In January – not so much. It’s freaking COLD out there! Which is why it’s a guys weekend – the women in their lives aren’t at all interested in joining them. It’s the only “guys only” thing my husband does, so I don’t really care – I’m fine with it. For myself, I’ve never been interested in organizing a girls’ weekend or a girls’ night or anything like that. Simply put – if I think of something fun to do, I’m not going to choose the friends I want to invite by their genitalia.

That being said, last year before the Freeze Out, one of my girlfriends mentioned that if all the guys were going to be out of town anyway we ought to all get together and do something girlie that they wouldn’t enjoy anyway. And I decided she was right. So Boobs, Booze and Bullshit was born. If you know me, you know I love to plan a big party and I love to plan surprises. So I sent an invitation out to all the girls. See below:

The first night, we just hung out in the basement bar and drank and talked and had a good time. At 10 AM a stretch limo pulled up to pick us all up (in our hats, of course) and take us to Miss Aimee B’s Teahouse for brunch. Mimosas were served in the limo, and mimosas were served at the teahouse – and we were all in fine spirits by the end of the meal. The limo then took us to Steinberg Rink (the outdoor ice-skating rink in Forest Park), where we quickly learned that ice-skating was so much easier when we were 12! Then off to Café Eau for martinis and back to my house. We had pedicures and then dinner and then returned to my house for the pièce de résistance. I’d rented a full-scale karaoke machine and sound system and had it set up in my basement while we were gone during the day. It took a while, but eventually everyone was on the microphone and we were having a great time.

The first semi-annual meeting of Booze, Boobs and Bullshit in front of the limo.

We had so much fun that weekend that we decided we need to do this again – and not just once a year during the Freeze Out – twice a year, January and July; but that it would be a girls’ weekend and it would be something the guys wouldn’t enjoy anyway. (It’s not fair to all go to a concert or Vegas or something the guys would all really enjoy and not include them only because they don’t have the right genitalia.)

So Jill volunteered to organize a weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks in July. Her hubbie’s aunt has a beautiful lakehouse in a cove not far from Osage Beach. So last weekend we all kissed the husbands and children good bye and headed to the Lake. What a wonderful weekend. We drank, we ate, we laughed, and then we drank some more. There were some tears, but not of the drama-filled variety. We spent the entire time sitting and talking, sometimes about serious things – and sometimes about silly things. And a lot about sex. Jill gave us all makeovers before we went out to dinner Saturday night – which was so much fun. And trust me – we looked hot. So it wasn’t unfair – it wasn’t a weekend the guys would have enjoyed. Eight girls getting facials and makeovers and then getting dressed up to go out to dinner – doesn’t sound like anything the guys would have been interested in, does it? And we spent the whole rest of the weekend sitting and talking, or laying on the rafts in the water and talking, or eating and talking. There were no speedboats, nothing competitive, we didn’t play poker or see who could shoot the most empty beer cans with one clip (not that I don’t enjoy all of those things as well) – it was just a big group of women talking and laughing for a weekend.

At the end of the weekend, we cleaned the house and packed the cars and prepared to leave. And we stood in a group at the end of the deck, not wanting to leave – not wanting to let the weekend end, starting different conversations so that we wouldn’t have to go our separate ways…

I love this group of women and I love that we’ve formed this bond. I met each and every one of them at a different point in my life and under different circumstances. I have a relationship with each of them that differs a bit from the next one. But we are able to spend time together like this and really enjoy one another. There’s no drama, there are no arguments. We have our differences – our politics, our ages, our circumstances, etc – but they don’t matter. We are wives, mothers, and daughters. Our jobs run the gamut – but each and every one of us is a busy and stressed out woman.

Michelle has volunteered to host our next BB&B at her home in January. And rumor has it we’re going roller skating! I can’t wait…

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Does this mean God doesn't want me to play golf?

I’ve been taking golf lessons this summer for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I’ve always wanted to play golf, but didn’t want to get out on the course and make a fool of myself by playing very poorly. And everyone I’ve known that plays golf well and was willing to try to teach me didn’t have the obstacles I have – big boobs. It’s really hard to develop a good swing with great big old boobs in your way.

And whether it’s fair or not, being able to play golf gives a person an advantage in corporate America. I didn’t really care much about the business aspect of golf at my previous job – there wasn’t much professional competition for me there and golf is not part of the corporate culture at my previous company (which is rather unusual). But now that I’m at Express Scripts, it’s a little different. They hold a charity golf tournament, there are a lot of execs here that play golf and I’ve had to turn down a few invites to play in our vendors’ golf tourneys since I started just three months ago.

So I decided it was time for me to learn to play golf. A friend sent me an article about women and golf in the business world yesterday. Two things in that article really struck me: “At night when I go to the driving range, it’s wall-to-wall men. When they’re on the driving range, they’re working on their careers. Men recognize it, but for some reason women don’t get it. They think it’s just a sport. It’s not. It’s business… Women that can’t golf, don’t. Men that can’t golf, do.”

And the most important reason to learn to play golf? What other sport can you play where someone drives right up to you to sell you beer right in the middle of the game? Beer and golf, they just go together like… beer and fishing; or beer and bowling; beer and pool. Okay, so maybe there are a few other sports…

So of course, once I started my lessons and decided I was going to stick with it – I had to go shopping! I bought these really cute clubs – they’re good, but they’re also really cute. They’re Square 2 Opal petite length ladies clubs. They’re a dark blue/teal color and the bag matches the clubs – of course. And I had to get golf shoes – so I got two pairs of very cute Nike golf shoes; leather oxford style black and white shoes and a similar leather and suede pair that are tan and white. And of course – you gotta have the clothes. So I have some nice shorts and tops to wear while I suck out on the golf course.

Anyway, the lessons have been going pretty well. My drive isn’t too bad (gotta do something about it always going to the right though – I know what the problem is, I’ve just gotta work on correcting it). My short game isn’t too bad either. But really all I need is a lot of practice.

So after six weeks of working on the basics and learning the rules and etiquette, we were ready to actually get out on the course and play our first game. Before we were supposed to meet at the course, I went to the driving range to warm up a little. It was about 97 degrees out, so after half an hour at the driving range I was plenty warm. We met at the clubhouse to start our scramble. As you can imagine, with five beginners, we’re moving pretty slowly. By the time we finish the first hole, the temp is starting to drop. We arrive at the second hole tee box and the wind is picking up a little. As the last person is teeing up, we suddenly hear a roar of wind and all turn to look north – and you can SEE a huge storm coming up on us. SHIT! So everybody runs for their golf carts and books it back to the clubhouse. Of course, golf carts go very slowly and it’s mostly uphill back to the clubhouse. This storm came up FAST. So as we’re heading back, there are tree limbs falling around us and we’re hearing loud sounds all around us (later found out it was trees and tree limbs falling). It was really scary – I honestly started thinking of all the things I’ve been through in my life I just know it’s not all going to end on a freaking golf course after my very first hole (and by the way, just for the record – I’m the one that sank the putt on our first hole)!

We get back to the clubhouse and go inside, they’ve already put everyone in the clubhouse in interior rooms – we were expecting to see Dorothy and Toto go flying by any second. The sky was that sickening dark yellow/green color. The power went out almost immediately and everyone was on their cell phones checking to see what was going on and where their loved ones were. I called Jeremy – and of course he’s standing in the backyard, watching it all. It was far too bad to even try to leave, but we did get free beer from the clubhouse. Still not worth it though!

It was a monster storm. There were traffic accidents all over the place, semis were blown over on the highways (I know of at least four). Part of the roof was torn off of Lambert International Airport and ended up on Highway 70. People in the airport were evacuated down to the baggage claim area. There were a few tornadoes spotted. The new stadium was full of fans – I heard it got a bit panicky in there since people weren’t really sure what to do or where to go to safety in the new stadium. There were 30 people injured at the stadium. The winds were so strong that a tractor on top of the tarp on the field was moved by the wind. As of this morning there are still 450,000 people without power in their homes. We were one of the lucky ones, we had power all night last night. I got to work to find out almost everyone else I work with didn’t have power last night and most of them still didn’t have power when they got up this morning – which means no AC, hard on kids, the elderly and pets. And due to the nature of the storm and the large number of homes without power, AmerenUE can’t even give people anticipated restoration times.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm just saying...

If you really want to do something, you'll do it. Period. It's not that tough a concept to figure out. If you want to do something, you'll make the appropriate arrangements, you'll do what needs to be done and you'll do it. If it's not that important to you or it's not something you want to do - you won't. It's that simple.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The new Ford commercials piss me off

Bill Ford must think this country is full of morons. Maybe it is.

Have you seen Ford's latest commercial? The one that features CEO Bill Ford and farmer and a corn field. Because obviously, if we see farmers harvesting corn in an ad it must mean it's a product that is good for the environment. (And by the way, the farmer is hoisting a bushel basket of corn into the back of his truck - do you seriously think farmers pick their corn by hand, put it in a basket and then load it in their truck to drive 'into town' to sell for use in ethanol???) The commercial is all about Ford's ethanol and hybrid vehicles, and how "green" Ford Motor Company is - which is great. I am all for alternative fuels and doing what we can to break our dependence on foreign oil. But Bill, do you seriously expect me to believe that Ford is "leading the way" to develop alternatives??? Ford??? The same company that created the marketing plan that began the SUV craze and sold more gas-guzzling Explorers, Expeditions and Excursions in the 90s than Beanie Babies?

You know, I'm not the most environmentally friendly person in the world. I had an Explorer, I loved it. I drove a gas guzzling sports car when I was a teenager, I loved it too. I've had plenty of cars that have not been environmentally-friendly. And I sure used more than my fair share of aerosol hairspray full of chloroflurocarbons in the 80s to have my own corner of the hole in the ozone layer named after me. But I'm not the one standing in my front yard yelling to all the world that I'm leading the way in ending pollution, and the country's dependence on foreign oil!

This comes just months after a bunch of environmental groups publically criticized Ford for renegging on their own pledge made just nine months ago to build 250,000 hybrid-fueled vehicles by 2010. Interesting that this commercial starts airing just as gas prices have started rising again and everybody's talking about it. "While we can't control the price of fuel, we're innovating to reduce the need," Bill tells us. Oh really, Bill? Are you? How exactly does that fit in with the fact that Ford, like GM, has long raked in the bulk of it's North Amercian profits by selling large pickup trucks and SUVs, many of which carry very poor fuel-economy numbers? Or the fact that Ford's product portfolio remains among the worst-performers of the large players in the industry when it comes to average fuel economy? (John D. Stoll, Dow Jones Newswires)

Bill, isn't it just a tad hypocritical of your company - that wastes more oil and has the worst fuel economy numbers of any major American auto maker - to run ads like this?

I hope you're serious about Ford's dedication to be more green. I hope you really are going to make a difference. However, I really wish you'd be more honest about it and have a little more respect for the American public. Do you really think that showing me a commercial with farmers and corn in it that I'm going to believe the load of crap you're trying to get me to buy into? I'd have a lot more respect and a lot more interest in listening to you if you were more honest. Tell us that Ford has had a change of heart, that you recognize this company has been a part of the problem but you're ready to be a part of the solution. Don't put together a slick marketing game-plan and try to tell me it's raining while you piss on my shoes.

You know, I was impressed with you at one point, Mr. Ford. I read the Time magazine article about you back shortly after you became CEO of Ford. I was impressed. I heard what you had said before becoming CEO about your support of the environment. I thought it would be really interesting to see one of the "Big Three" headed by a vegetarian, guitar-strumming black belt in tae kwon do. Turns out maybe you're just another short-sighted auto executive with no real interest in the environment, our oil dependence or - most importantly - the truth.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dennis Quaid, The Big Easy

Dennis Quaid, The Big Easy - 1987

Two of my favorite things in the world - Dennis Quaid and New Orleans - what could be better?

Meg Ryan is a moron. Seriously - look at that man. How could she have possibly left Dennis Quaid? And for Russell Crowe??? Yuck.

I have been seriously enamored of Dennis since I first saw him in 1987's The Big Easy. I love that movie. J makes fun of me for it all the time. I have the movie on VHS, he got it for me on DVD, and I have the TiVO set to record it everytime it comes on. We just came home from dinner last night to find it on TV being recorded. Which put me in the mood to see it again, so I watched it tonight. (J made me change it last night so he could watch something else.) But he understands that Dennis Quaid is on my "list". Actually, he's probably five out of the ten spots on my "list"!

If you haven't seen it - go rent it. Or come on over - I'm happy to watch with you! It's set in New Orleans, one of my favorite places; it features great cajun music and Aaron Neville, one of my favorite singers; and it stars Dennis Quaid - what's not to love? Also in the movie are Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, and Ned Beatty. Quaid plays a slightly crooked NOPD detective who bumps heads with a high-strung prosecutor new to New Orleans, Ellen Barkin. It features one of the steamiest love scenes I've ever seen. Not graphic, not pornographic - just hot. Just the thought of Quaid asking "This? ...or this?" Sigh.

The movie may seem a little bit clunky, it's twenty years old, remember - it wasn't shot with CGI or anything of the sort. It's got a lot of stereotypes in it and it can be a little predictable - yet it's a steamy, stylish suspenseful movie that hasn't lost a thing in two decades. The zydeco music and the atmosphere of the movie bring New Orleans to life. It makes me yearn for jambalaya and crawfish étouffée, fried oyster po'boys and gumbo; zydeco on a washboard and BIG ASS BEER. Unfortunatley, some of that New Orleans is probably gone for good. Tipitina's and the French Quarter (both featured in the movie) are still around, but many of the other areas highlighted in the movie are gone for good.

The only thing that really bums me out is that there are no extras on the DVD. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If you decide to watch the movie after reading this - drop me a line, let me know what you thought.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Azar Automotive - est. June 23, 2006

Anybody need a good mechanic?

Don’t they look proud? They should!

As most of our friends and family already know, Jeremy and Mike (friend and business partner) are now small business owners. It’s been a long hard road with a lot of starts and stops. But, as we all knew it eventually would, it all worked out in the end. I’m very happy for both of them and extremely proud. But also – I’m pretty damned happy for Mary Beth and myself. Now life can get back to some semblance of normality! Everyone is gainfully employed and the guys are back in good spirits. Mostly.

Many people have asked how this all came about, so a little background for those who don’t know and haven’t heard the ongoing saga as it unfolded… About a year and a half ago, Jeremy and Mike decided to buy an auto repair shop. They found one in Overland that was for sale and everything seemed to go very well. Both of them secured their share of the downpayment financing and were ready to move forward. On the very day that they were to sign a contract with the owner, the owner sold to someone else for cash in hand. It was awful. It happened just 45 minutes before I was due at our bank to close on our equity loan. (Side note: the two yahoos that bought it out from under us had already purchased another shop in the area and didn't want the competition. They're already out of business. So there. Assholes.)

And frankly, it just went downhill from there. In the last year and a half we’ve all learned much more than we ever wanted to know about SBA loans, letters of intent, contracts, and all kinds of other such exciting things. Seriously, buying a business makes buying a house look like going to Target for a new pair of socks! The guys looked at several shops in the St. Louis area – from south city to north county to St. Charles, I feel like we’ve looked at every freaking auto repair shop around! We came very close to purchasing another shop last winter. We had a signed contract, we had bank approval for the full purchase amount and we were ready to go. That seller backed out on us as well.

And for a while there, it looked like this deal was going to fall apart. However, the purchase was split up into two separate deals – the purchase of the business and the purchase of the real estate. So the purchase of the real estate will happen later (hopefully not TOO much later), after the Missouri Department of Natural Resources decides they’re satisfied with the contamination level of the ground.

The weekend after they closed we went to work on the shop. The office was pretty dirty – so MB and I spent a lot of time cleaning off the layer of grime that was on everything. We reorganized, we cleaned, we made plans, etc…

A lot of friends and family members showed up to help that first weekend and we really appreciate their well-wishes and all their help. Jay (Jeremy’s dad) bought a light to fix one of his truck lights Saturday morning and was really proud to be their first customer. We framed his two dollars and they’re now hanging on the wall of the office.

The guys have a lot of plans for the shop, fresh paint jobs both inside and out, landscaping, upgrading some of the office equipment, and all kinds of other things. But the important thing now is that they’re in business, they’re busy, and they’re doing very well so far. So if you need a mechanic, don't hesitate to call:

(the corner of Page and North & South)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Why blog? And - Jeremy stole my drill!

Why blog? Why am I going to blog?

According to Wired magazine, blogging is changing the media world and could... foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture. So, yeah. But that's not why I'm starting a blog. It's just because. Because I want to. Because it'll be an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family all over the country - and it's much cooler than an annual Christmas newsletter.

Plus, as you all know, I honestly feel that everyone is entitled to my opinion. But you knew that.

I'm thinking sometimes I'll blog about a specific topic, sometimes I'll just ramble about what's going on in my life, and sometimes I'll rant about something that's really pissing me off (I'll try to keep that at a minimum - but I'm not making any promises).

So I'll start with my weekend, which I had scheduled to the hour and was to be a very productive two days.

Jeremy (my husband) went out of town this weekend. I love my husband - I love him very much. That's why I married him. That's why my wedding was my "Big Fat *bleep*ing Jewish Wedding" - because I love him (some of you will get that, and I'm not explaining it to those that don't). However, after six and a half years together it's nice to spend a little time apart now and again. And I relish my occasional weekend with the house to myself.

As I usually do when I have the house to myself, I had a slew of projects I wanted to accomplish. Shockingly enough, Jeremy's not ever interested in spending a weekend reorganizing the house, redecorating, deep cleaning or anything along those lines. So I was up bright and early Saturday morning with my list of errands and projects:

Clear out shelving unit in back office and get rid of shelving unit. Check. Relocated linens to empty dresser downstairs. Check. Get rid of Jeremy's old armoire from bedroom. Check. Vacuum yucky carpet under the two discarded pieces of furniture. Check. Okay - now we're really rolling - time to leave the house. Pick up bridesmaid's dress. Check. Pick up new litter matt. Check. Hit Target and shop for a vanity table to put in the spot vacated by the old armoire. Check. Holy crap - $200 for a stupid desk-thingy with almost no storage and a stupid-looking matching stool??? I think not. I can do better than that. Buy closet organization components to create a vanity for myself (it'll be more work, but I'll save a ton of money and it'll be exactly what I want). Check. Buy cute new shoes. Okay - that one wasn't really on my list, they were on sale and it's virtually impossible for me to not buy new shoes when in any retail environment. Grab some fast food lunch and head home to eat and get back to work. Check.

So by the time I get home it's early afternoon and I haven't yet run out of steam, but I'm glad to be done with the errand-running portion of my day. Now I can take a quick break to eat lunch and get to work putting together my custom-designed vanity. After lunch (have you tried the new Snack Wrap at McDonald's? Not bad...), I was ready to get back to work:

Clean newly discovered cat pee soaked carpet under the old litter mat. No check. Change of plan - cut out newly discovered cat pee soaked carpet under the old litter mat. Check. (We're getting new carpet in there anyway and it was beyond help.) Put new (nonabsorbant) litter mat over cut out carpet and replace litter box. Check. Try on cute new shoes and walk around house in said shoes practicing my runway walk/sashay. Check. Lug all three boxes of assembly-required furniture into bedroom. Check. Empty boxes of all the pieces and organize the hardware in large pan. Check. Prepare to build, gather necessary tools. Check. Wait a minute, uncheck that. Where's my drill? I know it was right here. The drill that I bought last time Jeremy went out of town and I bought an assembly-required new dresser because I can never find Jeremy's tools. Where is it? I'll call Jeremy - he might know where it is...


"Hi, babe - sorry to interrupt you guys, but do you know where my drill is? The one I bought to put together the dresser last time you went to the farm?"

"Uh... yeah. I have it. I brought it here with me."


"You still there?"

"Jeremy, that's my drill. The whole reason I bought that drill was because I can't ever find your crap and I wanted one of my own so I'd always know where it was."

"I'm sorry - I couldn't find mine. I didn't know you were going to need it. I have all the other tools too."

I was pissed. I mean, really pissed - here I was on a roll, getting things accomplished, on schedule, everything's going perfectly and now I have no tools. Couldn't even find a single screwdriver or hammer in the house. Grrrr. However, Jeremy did then tell me that they were doing battle with big red wasps at the farm and he'd been chased, attacked and stung twice. One sting was on top of his right ear. he said he looked like Mr. Potato Head with one big ear and one tiny ear. It was very swollen and very painful. I felt better then.

So off to the hardware store, gotta buy a new drill. Bought a new cordless drill (cheap one) and a can of very obnoxious pink spraypaint that adheres to plastic. It will be clear from now on which tools are mine and which ones are not. Headed home.

So now I'm ready to put my furniture together. Took the new drill out of the package and... ARGH!!! You have to charge the stupid battery pack for five to seven hours before you use it for the first time. Now I remember - that's why I bought a corded drill last time. I am NOT going back to hardware store again. I searched the house again and found Jeremy's Leatherman - it has both phillips-head and flat-head screwdriver attachments. So I used those two attachments to put together my entire custom-designed vanity manually. Which took about two hours longer than it would have with a drill - no, with my drill that was at the farm. Sigh. I wasn't able to completely finish my vanity, and it took longer than I'd scheduled - so by this point it was 9:30.

So there I stand, hands on hips, my weekend, my schedule and my bedroom in shambles. Clearly it was time for a new checklist.

Vodka. Check. Olive juice. Three olives, handstuffed with blue cheese. Check. Ahhhh - now it's all better.

Also - I made a new discovery this weekend that I'll share with you all. Go-Go Chocolate Martini in a box - found them at Schnuck's. I love martinis and I prefer a dirty vodka martini, straight up with extra olives. But chocolate martinis in a box? Had to try it. Not bad. My own espresso martinis are better, but this really wasn't bad for a premixed drink in a box. I'll have 'em again. They come in three other varieties of Martini and there's also a margarita one too. Probably others, but I stopped when I found the chocolate one!

And finally - Jeremy showed me the pictures they took of him after he was attacked by the killer wasps. He was right, he did look like Mr. Potato Head. (Notice how much bigger his right ear is than the left one!)