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Melissa Isaacson

Oh say can we see?

Perusing the Internet between students Tuesday, I see this: “Christina Slammed over Performance.” And I think “But, of course.”

It was about Christina Aguilera flubbing a few lines in the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl on Sunday. Horrible woman that she is, Aguilera, singing one of the toughest songs there is to sing before about 111 million people, became the 110th million person to make a mistake.

Naturally, she had to apologize. Come on. Before she sang the last note, on-line chat rooms and twitter followers were already exchanging frantic messages as if they were the first to discover that the word “reaming” is not in the actual national anthem. In the days that followed, those who took notice gave way to those reaming her for it.

Major Malfunction

The AOL headline on Friday asked the question, “Do you remember where you were 25 years ago?” and it didn’t take a photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger to jog my memory.

There are some things you don’t forget.

The sky was so blue and the sun so bright that day that I remember being stunned by how cold it was. Not Chicago cold but literally freezing at 32 degrees; cold enough that the orange crops were dying and tourists were scurrying for sweatshirts to layer under their light jackets. I was in heaven at the excuse to wear a sweater for a change.

The gift that keeps giving

My husband wanted to get me a real birthday present this year, he really did. Because he gets nervous doing it on his own, he dangled all kinds of nice ideas. Jewelry even. I guess he still remembers how I reacted the year he got a new TV for our bedroom and tried to pass it off as a gift.

So he really tried. And what did I do?

I golf

I might complain that I’m sore from my two days of golf over the last week, but when you’re married to someone who has spent the last five days shoveling dirt, they win.

Yes, Rick is still sweating and digging a giant hole in our front yard – it’s like watching an old prison movie. Any time now, he tells me, he will locate the rest of the sprinkler pipe damaged by the people looking for the other damaged pipe. I don’t really understand and I don’t want to, but I do know I want to rent “Cool Hand Luke” tonight.

Happy Father’s Day, honey

I would have wished my husband a Happy Father’s Day this morning, but I couldn’t find him.

Rick always – and I mean, always – wakes up before I do, so having to hunt him down is not something with which I am unfamiliar.

I looked in the kitchen, where he normally empties the dishwasher, but he wasn’t there.

I looked in the laundry room, where he often passes time making up for a week of dirty clothes on Sunday mornings, but he wasn’t there.

Victory . . . . for me and the Blackhawks

Now that the Blackhawks’ season is over, I can share with you my most enduring memory of the playoffs. Because ESPN prohibits its employees from writing anything about sports for any other outlet, I trust my loyal following – you – will not let them know. I also trust that this blog is not big enough to be considered an “outlet.”
The day – last Wednesday, otherwise known as Game 6 — started out like any other. That is, I was running late.

Fine Dining

With the Stanley Cup Finals between the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers heating up and the series returning to Chicago tied at two games apiece, it’s only natural that as a reporter, my thoughts turn to one thing.
The pregame meal at the United Center.

Sleep problems and other disorders

A lot of people have been asking me why I have fallen off the blog map.
OK, maybe three people have asked but they have been rather persistent. I guess that award-winner on the splendor of Twinkies and other Hostess products two months ago was not enough for you people.
It’s not that I don’t love writing about mostly nothing. There is nothing more freeing for a reporter than to abandon all sense of responsibility and any hint of relevance when she sits down at her computer.
I guess this must be what people get out of tweeting and if I could hiccup in 35 words or less, I might like it. But I mean, really. How could I possibly do justice to the Ho-Ho with those limitations?
So I will now confide in you the real reason I have not blogged much lately.
I’m too tired.

Hostess is the Mostest

My friend Jerry always comes through for me when I have a raging case of blogger’s block. Like today, for example, he didn’t even know he was helping me when he e-mailed to tell me, in a way only he could, that finding my blog again, after my sabbatical-length break, was like eating a Suzy Q years after stopping cold turkey.I took this as the supreme compliment that it was intended to be, mostly because I too used to worship at the Hostess temple.My mother would be somewhat embarrassed, I think, if she was alive to read this, as I imagine most mothers who were in their maternal prime in the 50s and 60s would be. And my husband’s mother and grandmother would be absolutely horrified as I don’t believe either ever allowed store-bought sweets into their homes (which explains a few things about Rick).My brothers, however, tell me that my mother had no problem bringing Twinkies into our house, though she herself was never actually seen eating one (or any meal, for that matter) and I can’t imagine she ever did sneak a bite as she possessed a much more sophisticated sweet tooth.In fact, my mother can be credited with elevating the Twinkie to somewhat higher standards by freezing them, a precursor, we think, to freezing Milky Ways and Three Muskateers, the thought being that anything tastes better and is more fun to eat when it is cold and also involves the risk of breaking a tooth.Twinkies, as I remember all Hostess products, were best consumed right after school, when a giant sugar rush was necessary and a nice companion to anything on TV from Clutch Cargo to Leave it to Beaver reruns to Gilligan’s Island to Dark Shadows. My husband Rick, a mere baby born two years after me in 1963, watched reruns of “Get Smart” and thought they were original episodes. My brothers, White Sox fans by birth, would even watch the last few innings of a Cubs game accompanied by a Twinkie and a milk chaser.Of course, the best Hostess product ever made was the Hostess cupcake. Even if you didn’t care for devil’s food, like me, the frosting-like cap on top, peeled off and placed to the side to be savored and saved for later, was well worth getting through the rest.But the real delicacy of all Hostess products has always been the vanilla crème center. No one, to my knowledge, including the brightest scientific minds in the country, has ever determined the exact makeup of the vanilla crème and it really misses the point to even wonder about it.My friend Bari is the only known person to actually hate what she called the gooshz in the middle and so, whenever possible, she would let me have it, never an easy proposition. In my mother’s brilliant freezing technique, you would peel away the sponge cake and be left with a vanilla cremesicle.

Tiger’s sorry statement

I’m not pretending I’m not curious about what Tiger Woods will say in his big press conference, Friday. A statement of this magnitude, after all, needed to be announced two days in advance and I’m guessing that wasn’t done to make sure they had enough time to get extra bagels and coffee. So, yes, I’ll want to hear it.

My new friend

Went for a massage today. I like to say that, kind of casually, as if it’s part of my weekly routine. Not that it wouldn’t be a part of my weekly routine if I had a little more disposable income and had not inherited my mother’s guilt complex.Whenever my mother tasted something or experienced something or was given something really extraordinary, she’d say, “That’s too good,” suggesting she was not deserving of anything as decadent as a piece of Godiva chocolate.That’s how I feel about massages.They are just too good.I went today because I have been more stiff and sore than usual and because my husband was starting to pressure me about using the gift card to a local spa he gave me two Mother Day’s ago. Rick hates gift cards.

Hellllloooo . . . ?

Anyone still out there?Re-entering cyberspace, I think, might be more challenging than entering it the first time. Technically though, I never really left, going from the  Chicago Tribune to my blog, which kept me sane after being laid off from the Tribune, to ESPNChicago.com, which saved me.

I began my blog in the weepy hours after being pushed out by the Tribune last April and kept writing as I stopped crying and started to see the hope and humor again, through my first months with ESPN. And then I stopped.I still do not know exactly why I stopped. But I am flattered by the handful of you not including those directly related to me, who noticed. I hope you find me again. And though I can’t promise anything, I hope not to take a three-and-half month break again.

Sweetness

I am sitting in the Soldier Field press box right now, not afraid to admit I’m looking forward to the halftime tribute to Walter Payton more than the Bears playing the Cleveland Browns.Today is the 10-year anniversary of Payton’s death from liver disease at 45, and I am filled with memories.

Sharon

Her name was Sharon. Few of us know her last name or each other’s for that matter, but that has never been important.

We meet most mornings dressed for combat, little or no makeup, hair uncombed in my case, and that’s why I love it there so much. It’s the neighborhood “Y” and if your shorts are too long or your outfit outdated, no one cares.

Few of us are close friends, we don’t call each other on a regular basis and it’s little more than a wave if we see each at the grocery store in town. And I’ve always kind of liked that too, in an anti-social sort of way. We come together for an hour each morning and then we scatter, no heavy conversations, no commitments.

Flus, Balloons and Homecoming Breakfast

Blogs pause, but life rarely does.
How to catch up?

Homecoming dances and choir concerts, soccer tournaments and family visits, lots of work, a good thing. Balloon Boy, a bad thing. An evil germ this week that had me searching a website on “Common Cold vs. Swine Flu – How to Tell the Difference.”

An entire website inviting me to analyze my every symptom? I mean, what could be better? My family wouldn’t do it with me, which annoyed me greatly; my husband Rick’s response to my every sickness from runny nose to coma, “You’re fine.” But it would be fun for me, give me something to do to distract me from my suffering.

Writing blog, two points

First week on Weight Watchers, lost 3.9 pounds and I’m thinking very seriously of applying to be their spokeswoman.

I mean, if Jared can do it for Subway . . .

I am not a diet person, I mean, other than being born female which naturally predisposes me toward such things. In my first 40 or so years of living, I was unfamiliar with all the various dieting options and never considered altering my normal dietary regimen, which encouraged regular servings of ice cream and the occasional Twinkie and Double Stuf Oreo.

Upon further review . . .

Finished my class. Caught up with Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech. Taped the Emmy’s, which I’ll never watch. Joining Weight Watchers tomorrow (are you required to tell them that you plan to stick around only until your pants aren’t so uncomfortable? Is there a special membership plan for this?)

Of course, now I need to carve out an extra 10 to 12 hours a week for the new season of “Dancing with the Stars,” which could be a problem, but I can fast forward through at least eight of those hours, so I think I’m OK.

It’s Bears season, let the neurosis begin

It’s the first day of the NFL season, I’m in Green Bay for the Bears’ opener, and I am thinking of my dad.

It is nearly 80 degrees today, which would have made him very happy. I can’t remember ever going to a Bears game with my father when it was warmer than 34.  And that was in September.

If you drew up a list of the top three things my father hated, the cold would have ranked somewhere between getting wet with his clothes on and Nazi Germany. That said, he loved the Bears and was a season-ticket holder for over 40 years.

Photographically-challenged

For homework in my Visual Storytelling class this weekend, I had to shoot and edit a 30-second video sequence. Took me, oh, about 15 hours.

I know my husband Rick is reading this right now and going, “Uh, excuse me, it took you 15 hours?”

OK, so he helped. But I should point out that it still took 15 hours.

It is my belief that every family has at least one person (him) who knows how to handle all the photo- and video-taking duties (but is frankly a little overconfident). And there is one person (me) who is not allowed to go near the camera or video recorder.

18 kids? 19? Who’s counting?

I’d like to go on record as saying I love the Duggar’s.

I don’t think it will surprise anyone who has ever met me or read me that I have, on more than one occasion, tuned into their documentary TV series, “18 Kids and Counting” and like it. And every time they have a new baby, which occurs more often than I clean out my refrigerator, I eagerly read all about it and try to anticipate the baby’s name.

Full course

If I didn’t think I would lose all credibility as a responsible parent, I might have rousted my children from their beds last night and asked them to help me with my homework.

As it was, I seriously considered it.

I am a student again. For three days now, 12 hours in all, and I can say with certainty that I don’t remember ever concentrating so hard when I was an actual college student. I also don’t remember ever being so hungry in school.

One e-mail, one connection

I had to look up her picture in our high school yearbook.
I remembered her name but had to remind myself what she looked like. I don’t think we were ever in the same classes, though maybe in grade school.

Not that I wasn’t happy to hear from her.
Since my 30th high school reunion, mostly through the power of Facebook, I had been in touch with several former classmates, some I had seen at the reunion, some who weren’t able to make it.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

Most of what I pretend to know in life can be traced to a sitcom. If it isn’t Seinfeld, it’s Mary Tyler Moore. If it isn’t Sex in the City, it’s The Brady Bunch.

That’s probably why, when my daughter came home from her first day of high school today and listened wistfully to her brother talking about his first day in junior high, I thought of the Brady Bunch episode when Marcia pretended she was sick on her first day of high school.

My sad friend Jerry

I realize it seems like an awfully suspicious coincidence that the Cubs disappeared at about the same time my blog did last week, but I can assure you one has nothing to do with the other.

I can say this because while I grew up in the northern suburbs surrounded by Cubs fans, I was, by birth, a White Sox fan and therefore have never been privy to that particular brand of angst.

Family fall time

Fall is a strange and harrowing time for me.

My birthday is in fall, but I’ve never had a problem with my birthday except that one moment of panic I had when I turned 27 and couldn’t remember how old I was until I did the math.
Football season is in the fall, which, given that I live in Chicago might explain this feeling of impending doom I have been experiencing lately. But then the Bears are full of hope, what with their new quarterback and everything, so that doesn’t really explain it.

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