Friday, May 28, 2010

Calling All Foresters: LFC Needs YOU!

If you're a regular reader of Little Merry Sunshine, you know what a fan I am of my alma mater, Lake Forest College. This morning, I had the pleasure of reaching out to some of my fellow Foresters and asking them to support the College's Annual Fund before the fiscal year ends on Monday.

Because so many of LMS's readers are Foresters, I thought I'd share my email with all of you. If you've already given to the College already this year, maybe you'll consider making one more gift. If you haven't given to the Annual Fund this year, please make a donation. No matter the size, every gift makes a huge difference. And while you're on the Gateway making your donation, please don't forget to hit the Brag Button and brag about it on Facebook.
Dear Forester Friends,

I’m writing to you today in my capacity as an Alumni Board member. As you may know, the end of the College’s fiscal year is upon us, and now more than ever, Lake Forest College needs our support.

With the state of the economy, the College, just like many of us, is enduring tough times. More than ever before, students are needing more financial aid. The College has responded to this need proactively and is doing all that it can to help every student, so that no one needs to give up on their dream of a college education because of a lack of funds. Obviously, faculty and staff need to be paid and it costs money to maintain the status quo of the College.

When I think back on my days at the College, I know they wouldn’t have been possible without the generous financial aid package the College gave me. I also think about the opportunities the College gave me to study off-campus and the relationships I developed over 20 years ago that are still some of the most long-lasting and important friendships I have. The lessons I learned at Lake Forest have made me a better person and greatly influenced my belief that to whom much is given, much is expected. It’s why I always give to Lake Forest College. I want to make sure that for generations to come, every student who wishes to attend Lake Forest can do so and have the same incredible experiences I had.

We each have our own unique Forester stories and I know we can each point to specific ways in which the College helped shape our lives. Maybe you met your spouse at the College. Maybe you can point to a specific incident that changed some of your fundamental beliefs. Maybe you had a campus job or internship that blossomed into a career. Maybe your roommate freshman year is still your best friend today. Maybe a certain professor believed in you in a way no one else ever had. Whatever your Forester stories, they are yours and they helped make you who you are today.

It’s my hope that when you think about your own Forester stories, you will remember just how much was made possible because of the College and want to help today’s students create their own Forester stories.

Any gift you can make to the Annual Fund before the fiscal year ends at midnight Monday, May 31st will make a huge difference. Gifts can be made online at or you can mail a check to:
Derek Lambert
Associate Director of Annual Giving
Lake Forest College
555 North Sheridan Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045
Thank you in advance for your gift to the College and helping today’s students achieve their dreams.

With Forester Pride

Jessica Gardner ‘93
Co-Chair, Alumni Relations Committee, Alumni Board

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

For Lee DeWyze, It's Truly A Beautiful Day

I have to admit, I am not an American Idol fan. I have not watched it ever. Well, until a couple of weeks ago, when I went over to the dark side and turned it on. Why? Because of Lee DeWyze, the 24-year old from Mt. Prospect (he attended Forest View in Arlington Heights, so he's got ties here too). Ya, I'm embarrassed, but that's another issue.

So he won. And I'm pretty excited.

Tonight's AI (see, how cool I am now???) featured old folks music (aka 80s music) including Poison (and Bret Michaels!), Chicago, Joe Cocker, and Janet Jackson, who sang her hit Nasty Boys, complete with leather-clad half-naked men (in leather chokers!) and as a 38-year-old woman, I have a whole new appreciation for her hit.

Here's Bret Michaels and Poison . . .

Here's Janet Jackson, well, Miss Jackson to a certain segment of my readership (you know who you are). Watch the whole video.

Lee's single is going to be a cover of the fantastic U2 song Beautiful Day, which you can watch below. As everyone knows, a man with a guitar who can sing makes my knees weak.

Popeater has the whole song here.

Actually, it was a big day for Arlington Heights and Mt. Prospect. Jonathan Spector (who attended St. Viator) was also named to the U.S. World Cup team today.

So congratulations Lee and Jonathan! Way to put Arlington Heights and Mt. Prospect on the map!

Here's one more Lee DeWyze song. Hallelujah from his Top 3 performance. One of my all-time favorite songs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bizarre Facebook Ads

You know those ads in the sidebar on Facebook that everyone ignores? Well, okay, I ignore them. Not once have I ever clicked on one of them, partly because they never apply to me (so much for their targetted advertising), but more because I never click on banner ads for anything.

The ad below caught my eye tonight.
Nursing School Online

Too busy to go back to school? You can graduate from school online. Finish your degree at your own pace. ClassesUSA.

I have to be honest. This ad simply frightens me. It's not that I'm a snob and think the only acceptable way to get an education is to sit in classes in some ivy-covered building. I don't think that. In fact, I think that it's great that there are so many options for people to further their education these days and have even taken advantage of online classes myself.

What scares the living daylights out of me is the picture in the ad. I don't know about you, but I don't want to wake up in a hospital with that guy standing over me ready to give me a shot of anything. Maybe it's just me, but that face doesn't scream "I've got a warm and fuzzy bedside manner."

Do you think?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Who's Brad Meltzer's Hero Today?

Brad Meltzer and me at The Book of Fate book tour, September 2006.


HeadlineNewsmakers - Jessica Gardner Honored as Hero (Sorry, it wouldn't allow me to embed the video. Linking was the best I could do.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Even Now Nana Continues to Surprise Me

I've never really been certain that Nana was proud of me, even though she always said she was. Growing up, all she wanted was for me to be a teacher. Although she'd been awarded a full college scholarship, Nana didn't go to college because she felt it was more important to go to work and help her family survive during the Depression. My mom's generation was the first in her family to go to college and all the women studied to become teachers, including my mom. Being was a teacher was the acceptable profession for a woman and most of my female cousins in my generation became teachers.

There's nothing wrong with being a teacher. In fact, I think it's one of the most noble and important professions in the world, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. My lifelong dream was to be a lawyer.

My dream of becoming a lawyer was the subject of many debates and tense conversations as I moved through high school and college. It intensified when I graduated without a job (it was 1993 and almost no one had a job upon graduation). Even after I was securely settled in Washington, DC and was studying for the LSAT, she would still encourage me to become a teacher.

Not only didn't I become a teacher, but I changed my mind and didn't become a lawyer either. Plus, she never saw me get married and give her great-grandchildren. I truly believed I'd failed in her eyes . . . until today.

As I was going through her things this afternoon, I came across two items that brought tears to my eyes. I found a clear plastic page protector filled with memorabilia - ticket stubs, Congressional passes, the playbill from "The Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theatre, brochures from Monticello, Mt. Vernon, and the White House, and the program from Christmas Eve services at the National Cathedral - from her visit to DC over Christmas 1995. That trip was one of my happiest memories of Nana. I had planned the whole trip to the minute and then had a wrench thrown in my plans when the Government shut down during a budet crisis, but we still had a great time, even without the highly anticipated trip to watch Congress in action. A few minutes later, I found an envelope from me with the Hogan & Hartson logo and address on it. Inside was a whole bunch of return address labels she'd cut off of letters I sent her from Hogan. My eyes welled up with tears and I was speechless.

It turns out I was wrong. Finding these items that aren't worth anything monetarily meant the world to me. I now know definitively that she was proud of me. Better late than never.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Lifetime of Dreams

As I go through the process of cleaning out Nana's house, I look around at all the stuff that's accumulated during her almost 93 years and I think about the meaning of it all. On one level, it's all stuff. Some of it has some financial worth, but most of it can only be valued in sentiment. But on another level, all the stuff she's collected represents her lifetime of dreams. Dreams not only for herself, but also for her children and grandchildren.

I've looked through old photo albums and scrapbooks and seen her pride in my mom's and uncle's accomplishments. I've read through the letters she sent to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson after my grandfather died in 1961 attempting to get a mistake about my grandfather's VA benefits (and subsequent benefits for Nana) corrected. I've read letters she wrote to my mom and uncle later in life telling them of her unconditional love and letters she wrote to Dave and me telling us how proud she was of our accomplishments and her hopes for us. I've flipped through the well-worn pages of her Bible knowing that she turned to it nightly for comfort, inspiration, and life's answers. I've found boxes of my baby clothes (many of which she made)she carefully preserved in hopes my daughter would wear them someday. I found the blanket that kept me warm in my crib when I first came home from the hospital (and initially tossed it in the charity box, but then got sentimental and saved it). I've walked through her childhood in Mississippi with her sisters through pictures and diaries. The house itself is the culmination of a lifelong dream. She built it in 1969 from her life savings. The stories I've heard say she would come over after work once the frame was built and hang sheets where she wanted the internal walls to be located. There probably weren't too many other women who were designing and building their own homes. I've held the dress she wore to my parents' wedding in 1970 in awe of just how exquisite it was. She was so proud to walk her daughter down the aisle. I found a silk sari a friend had custom made for Nana in Fiji. Mom didn't even know of its existence. I also found half a dozen quilts Nana hand sewed and felt the care, hope and love she sewed into each stitch.

Sure, it's just stuff, but it all represents a life well lived. She may not have been rich in a financial sense, but she lived life on her terms with love and a never-ending faith in everyone and achieved most, if not all, of her dreams. That makes her wealthy in my book. I hope that when I pass away, whomever is charged with dividing up my personal belongings can say that about me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Next Favorite Book: Heroes for My Son

It's no secret that I love Brad Meltzer books (and Brad himself) and that I plug them and him every opportunity I have. Well, it's time for Brad's new book to hit the shelves.

Heroes for my Son is Brad's first non-fiction book and contains "52 real-life heroes. 52 stories. 52 reminders that anything is possible." "Since the day my first son was born, I've been writing this book for him. It's a collection of heroes throughout history. Some are famous (Jim Henson, Rosa Parks, Mr. Rogers). Some you've never heard of. The result is this book - a gift to my sons. As I share it with them, I hope you'll share it with the heroes in your life." (both quotes from the promotional postcard for Heroes for My Son).

See the story behind the book below.

I'll be at my local bookstore on Tuesday getting my copy of Heroes for My Son. I'll probably have it read before I close my eyes. I can't wait. The world needs more heroes and I think Brad is a hero for reminding us that there is a hero in each of us.
Go buy Heroes for My Son. You'll love it. Trust me. And buy a copy for your favorite hero.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To the Class of 2010: Eat Popovers & Wear Sunscreen

Seventeen years ago today, I graduated from Lake Forest College. Honestly, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember that my whole room was packed, except for just the clothes I needed that day. I'd sold my loft a few days earlier and had been sleeping on the floor. I was out too late the night before and had failed to iron my gown, which meant I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off looking for my iron. It was a beautiful sunny day in the Enchanted Forest and my entire family came for it. Mom, Dad, Dave, Nana, Uncle Jeff and my cousin Alan. Of course, Alan had to be there. It was his fault He's the reason I went to Lake Forest, after all. Back then, Commencement was held on the lawn between North Hall Hotchkiss Hall, Johnson Science Center, and Young Hall and we all lined up between Harlan and Blackstone, which meant a short commute from my my room in Blackstone. Someone had the bright idea to bring a bottle of wine (maybe champagne?) that got passed up and down the line until the bottle was empty.

Finally, the moment came and we made our way through the gauntlet of professors. I think that's when it really hit me that I was done with college and the summer ahead of me wouldn't end with my friends and I all reuniting on campus. I was truly about to venture out on my own as I was moving to Washington DC just a couple of weeks later. I hadn't lived anywhere but the Chicago Area since I was four and had only been to DC twice - a short trip with my eighth grade class and a week over Spring Break during my senior year of college - but DC was my dream.

After Commencement, I simply wanted to hightail it off campus. I couldn't wait to be out of there. My friends Emily, Heather and their families were coming to my house for a small gathering. It seemed appropriate since Heather had spent the last four Easters with me. As much as I was going to miss my friends, I didn't want to face it and got out as quickly as possible.

Commencement is a time for reflection, but it's also a time to share advice for how to survive in the real world. Some Commencement speakers are memorable; others not. Our Commencement speaker was Bill Kurtis, who used to anchor the news on the Chicago CBS affiliate, WBBM and later CBS News anchor. Now you know him for his documentaries on A&E and the AT&T commercials. I'll be honest, I have no idea what he spoke about, although I'm certain he was great

In honor of today's Commencement at Lake Forest (which is now held at Ravinia and has wonderful speakers), I share with you two of the best graduation speeches I've ever heard. Tune in next month for the best graduation speaker I've ever heard.

In 1977, Theodor Geisel (aka Dr Seuss) gave what I believe to be one of the shortest Commencement speeches in history at Lake Forest College. Read the entertaining story of how it came to be here. Below is the original poem he wrote just for the occasion. It's still priceless advice 33 years later.

My Uncle Terwilliger on
the Art of Eating Popovers

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them
with a penetrating stare…
Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
“To eat these things,”
said my uncle,
“you must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid…
you must spit out the air!”

as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
that’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.
—Dr. Seuss

In 1997, Chicago Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich wrote a column titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young," about what she'd say if she were giving a Commencement speech. That column quickly went viral and urban legend even said Kurt Vonnegut gave the "speech" at MIT in 1999. Shortly after that, Baz Luhrmann produced it as a hit single you probably know as "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)." Just like Dr. Seuss, Mary Schmich gives timeless advice.

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young
Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune
June 1, 1997

Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt. Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

To the Lake Forest College Class of 2010, welcome to the Forester Alumni Family and the Real World. It's really a pretty cool place to be. I promise. My only real advice to you is to remember your roots and those who went before you and made your experiences at LFC possible. It's your job to do the same for future generations of Foresters. And write letters. Facebook, emails, text messages, smoke signals, and whatever other 21st century ways you communicate are awesome. I use them too, but they are fleeting while a letter is forever. I still have the most special letters I have received throughout the years and keep them in a folder I call "Love Letters." They aren't all love letters in the sense that they are romantic declarations of undying love for me (some are), but they are love letters in the sense that they lift me up and I turn to them frequently for inspiration. Finally, hold your Forester friends close. Seventeen years later, all the people in my inner circle are Foresters. I wouldn't have it any other way. Foresters are Forever Friends.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother of the Decade Announced!

Here's a hint . . . it went to my mom.

Click here to watch the video. No, I don't know why it can't be embedded, but it can't. (Mom: I know you only read LMS via email, but REALLY click the link or visit LMS to click the link and watch the video.)

Seriously, my mom more than deserved this award. Her patience and love know no bounds. She was a great role model and always gives of herself selflessly. I'm very proud to be her daughter.

Now watch the video.

My mom and me at my baptism, September 12, 1971 (her 23rd birthday).

Feel Good Story of the Day: The Legend of Toby Williams

You know how I love happy news and uplifting stories. As graduation season gets into full-swing, we will surely find a plethora of stories about students overcoming incredible odds and obstacles to reach their goals and provide an exceptional life for them and their families through education. What I love most about these stories is that they prove there's nothing that can't be accomplished through hard work and never-ending determination and focus.

Today's story is about Toby Williams, master's degree candidate at Northeastern Illinois University with cerebral palsy.

The Legend of Toby Williams
by Kara Spak, Chicago Sun-Times, May 6, 2010

Toby Williams knows what people think when they see him in his wheelchair, hear his slow speech, notice how his eyes don't move together.

"It's there, it's always there, it will continue to be there," he said of assumptions that he is less capable because he has cerebral palsy. "I expect it."

But he doesn't accept it.

"I enjoy proving people wrong," he said.

On Saturday, the 30-year-old Englewood man once again will prove himself when he accepts a master's degree in communications, media and theater from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been enrolled as a student there for 13 years.

"I enjoyed meeting the challenge," he said. "It might take me a couple of years, but eventually I'll beat the challenge."

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that manifests in infancy or early childhood. His brain is unable to control his muscles.

For his first 20 years, he went to therapy -- physical, speech, occupational -- for hours after school. He underwent three surgeries.

In 1997, as a senior at Spaulding School, a Chicago Public School for students with disabilities, he was recruited to Northeastern as part of a grant program to help disabled students move to college-level classes. He started there weeks after high school graduation.

"He liked it, and in the fall he came back for the term," said Victoria Amey-Flippin, director of Northeastern's accessibility center.

He returned semester after semester. For 13 years, Williams has been a campus legend, eating in the cafeteria, working as a graduate assistant for Amey-Flippin and studying for a bachelor's degree, which he received in 2004, and now his master's degree.

His typical day starts when a wheelchair-accessible van takes him about 20 miles to campus from his South Side home, dropping him off at 9 a.m. He often stays on campus until 8 p.m.

He can't control his hands enough to take notes, so he records classes on a tape recorder. He types 30-page papers with his index fingers. His other fingers "don't work right," he said.

He receives extra time for tests, which he takes in the accessibility center where he works. He answers the same questions as the other students, but an employee types the answers for him. Though he gets extra time for the tests, he must complete classes in the same time frame as other students, so he often didn't take a full course load during a semester.

"He has a tremendous memory," said Cody Sweet, who taught Williams voice and diction courses in 2003 and 2004. "He has to take all the verbiage into his brain and he has to organize it, put it in little pigeonholes in his brain."

Thanks to an outgoing personality and his long tenure at the school, he's known by students and faculty throughout the Northwest Side campus. While he said he's ready to move on, those who are used to seeing him day after day are not quite as sure.

"I find myself getting a little choked up," Amey-Flippin said. "It really did seem strange to go through the cafeteria and not see him up in the front."

Williams gradually has been spending less time on campus because of an internship at American Street Mortgage Co., where he works with a former classmate who specializes in mortgage loans for veterans. He is hoping to eventually obtain a state mortgage broker's license. "It's time to start working and make some money," he said.

He knows that even with a master's degree, he is entering the job market in a shaky economy. He remains undeterred.

"My mom always told me there will always be people who don't think you can do it," he said. "Don't listen to them. Focus on what you're trying to do, keep praying to God and focus. Eventually you'll get there."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Call Your Mother

Me, Mom, and Nana in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Circa 1975.

In case you have forgotten, Sunday is Mother's Day. In spite of what Glenn Beck says, Mother's Day is not a Hallmark Holiday. Mother's Day officially became a holiday on May 8, 1914 with the signature of President Woodrow Wilson and thanks to the hard work of many women throughout history.

Personally, I'll be chilling with my mom, which is what you should be doing too, if you can. If you can't be with your mom, you should at least call her. Why? Because she suffered through 27 hours of labor without drugs and your teenage years. That's why.

You should also reach out to anyone who was like a mom to you at any point in your life. Why? Because she cared about you. She probably loved you like her own and bandaged up your bloody knees a time or three. You ate dinner at her table more times than anyone can count and ran away to her house when life got tough at your house. That's why.

In our lives, Dave and I had our mom and Nana and Joan Green. Joan was always around after school and Dave especially hung out at the Green's house, but I always knew the door was open to me as well. The Green's were our second family. Even after we grew up and moved away, Dave sent her Mother's Day cards. When I moved back to Arlington Heights, I loved knowing Joan as an adult. She went from being that second mom to me to being my friend. Joan passed away 2 1/2 years ago and I still miss her. Just the other day, I was thinking I wanted to get her opinion about something and started to walk down the street before remembering I couldn't.

This is our first Mother's Day without Nana. Mom and I will be with her (in spirit) when we sit in her pew at church and I'll have a brand new box of Kleenex in my lap. I can't imagine being anywhere else. Trust me, she'll be with us the whole day. I can't tell you the rest of our plans because it's a surprise for Mom, but trust me, it's good.

Moms are our first heroes. They love us unconditionally and help us pick up the pieces when we fall. They cheer us on, even when we have no chance of coming in first. They teach us how to fight our own battles. They never let us give up. They give us wings even when they'd rather keep us little forever.

In honor of moms, watch this terrific video Brad Meltzer made about his mom. If you don't get misty eyed, you may have no soul. And remember, call your mom.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Universe Has A Way of Balancing Things Out

A few weeks ago, I was out with some friends at a bar. I had been chatting with a guy for about 20 minutes or so when the subject of our ages came up and he said he thought I was 28. Made. My. Night. Sure, it was a line, but I didn't care. It was a lovely compliment and I've enjoyed thinking he actually thought that for the last few weeks, even if he didn't.

Today, I was out shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin's wedding in June. As I was trying on dresses, I asked the saleswoman if a particular dress I was trying was appropriate for a wedding I was attending. She replied by asking if I was the Mother of the Bride. Once I caught my breath, I asked if she worked on commission.

Thanks Universe!

10 Years

Me, my friend Karen, and Karen's mom on my last day in DC. In the Press Room of the White House.

I kind of thought I would just skip today. Not skip it, skip it, but just not go there and think about the decision I made a decade ago that altered my life forever. But then I started to think about things I wish I'd said at various points in my life and that made me start to think about Washington. Yes, it's been kind of a melancholy week around here.

Ten years ago today, I left Washington, DC to return to Chicago.

I left my amazing, smart, funny, loyal, crazy friends and moved back to the Midwest. I remember crying all the way out of my cul-de-sac in Alexandria, VA, onto the Beltway, and all the way up I-70 through Maryland into Pennsylvania. At least the tears kept me awake (I had mono).

The bad news is that I haven't been back since the day I left. The good news is that thanks to Facebook, my friends and I stay in pretty close contact. So even though I'm not there for so many milestones, I still get to be part of it all from afar.

To my wonderful lifetime DC friends, I love and miss each of you. I'm so grateful you're all still in my life a decade later.

Kelly and me hanging out with our good friend Jimmy Smits at a 1997 Inaugural Ball.

I must get more of my DC pics scanned. I will make that my mission this year.