Archive for category Open Letters to…

An open letter to people- and pet-loving drivers

Do you really think people need a reminder? Yeah, you’re right. They do.

I’m picturing a dog vs cat battle for affection at your house. Or in your passenger seat.

Dear RKNRL 56,
’56 is a ways back now, even in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame …

You even have a personalized license plate, and it’s still just NEVER ENOUGH for you!

Dear PDF IT,
Ooh! I know, you made your fortune creating that program that turns any file into a pdf attachment.

Just keep going north and stop when the ground turns white.

Who doesn’t love cow moovies?

Dear BIGUY5,
There are two readings here, but I’ll stick with you’re a big guy.

Dear IB NIU 86,
Is your name on a building at NIU? With that kind of devotion, I’d guess you’re a big donor in DeKalb.

Dear REC CRE8,
Well you sure are one creative recreation professional. No one believe you?!? Just show ‘em your ride!



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The latest open letter to the vanity plate drivers of Chicagoland

Dear FLN GR8,
Your license plate’s a liar when you’re sick.

Dear NAB BUM 1,
Go, cops, go! Nab ‘em!

Dear DA ONLY 1,
And proud of it, 2.

Follow me (and my six kids) to the soccer field … (I’ve got the good snacks.)

Tattoo, kazoo, and Taz the Tazmanian Devil, too?

Where’s your buddy, Fitch? It’s just not the same without him.

Dear JEDI 34,
May the force be with you, Walter Payton.

Dear CU BY BY,
Just wait ‘til next year, Cubby Bear. Because this year? You’re out of the playoffs for sure. So see you! Bye bye!

Dear 1 GO BLU,
Your license plate’s from Illinois, but your message says your heart’s in Michigan. “Hail to the victors …”

I thought it was “Superbad” … just sayin’

May the force be with you … and your marinade!

This is the Lieutenant of High Heels, reporting for duty!

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A wintry open letter to … the vanity plate drivers of Chicagoland

Dear My ROSE 1,
Is your first name Derrick? It should be.

Dear FLAGS 99,
Sheldon, the guy from “The Big Bang Theory,” would have a field day with you. And your 99 flags.

Is a big bid offer what allowed you to buy this car?

I’m a little surprised I’m behind you … But any run is a good run!

Dear MKY ERS 8,
You, and the eight members of your Mickey Mouse-loving family, belong in Florida, not Illinois.

For some reason, your license plate made me think of Snooki, not of Snow White’s dwarfs. Take some Allegra already.

Dear FUZZIE 1,
There are conventions for people like you. And they always manage to make strange news.


Dear HVN BND 3,
I wrote down your license plate and can’t remember why. Oh, wait! You think you’re “heaven bound,” that must be it! I’m glad to be following you, even if only for one traffic light!

Sounds like you’re single and proud of it – more power to ya!

Dear FML BUG 4,
Today, I saw a gray Volkswagon bug convertible long after my friend, who slug-bugged me when I was least expecting it. FML.

Dear SEEYA35,
Wouldn’t wanna be ya … Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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Another open letter to … the vanity plate drivers of Chicagoland

Dear WHY DO 55,

Cops, speeding tickets, safety, gas mileage, inspiring road rage in anyone who wants to go faster – you know, there’s plenty of reasons!


What, you got some Beach Boys blasting in there? This is Chicago. Keep dreaming.


But how couldn’t you be “HIPP”? You drive a mustard-yellow Volkswagon bus. That’s totally hip. And hippie.

Dear IM PAT 1,

Do you really need to remind yourself of that every time you get in the car? Now everyone else knows, too.

Dear XL DOGS 2,

Please, please, please don’t let them jump on me. Or on IM PAT 1.

Dear WZNT ME 8,

It wasn’t Shaggy, either. It was nobody.


Somehow, the overtness of your license plate makes me think you might be a scammer.


Well I’m living the dream! So top that.


Open car door, insert foot. Also, TMI.

Dear KULAID 2,

Cool. Just don’t drink it and drive.

Dear FIRST D8,

Aww, did you make out in your car at the end? How adorably high school!


Ooh, a fill-in-the-blank license plate! But only words starting with vowels can fit. Life’s an … adventure, live it up! Life’s an … opportunity, not an obligation (got that one from a book of motivational quotes from my high school basketball coach.) Life’s an … amazing journey. Enough said.


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Dear moms, Thanks for doing anything for us

You always seemed to love the little crafts we’d make at school, so with Mother’s Day coming up, we figured it’s time to create another one.

Close your eyes for a second, and pretend you’ve just been handed a piece of paper with your child’s answer to a writing prompt that asks something like “what do moms do?”

This is supposed to hearken back to our younger years when we needed elementary school room-moms and Valentine’s cards for everyone in the class and “Boo-Boo Strips” for our cuts, but there’s no need to post this essay on the fridge. Just read, relax and enjoy. Because moms don’t get to do enough of that, we know. Because this is who moms are; this is what moms do:

Moms are people who will spend an extraordinary amount of time on anything they think will matter or have meaning to their children. If it’s an elf costume for the fourth-grade school play or a Grinch costume for the sophomore year sorority dance, moms will make it, even if sewing is not their favorite thing. Moms will make chocolate bundt cakes and special request birthday dinners, sometimes when it’s not even a birthday – just a day when the long-lost son or daughter will be home from college for the weekend.

If a project takes time, moms will plan ahead to conquer it little by little, wake up early, stay up late, or do whatever else it takes to finish the task and impress or surprise their children. Moms will sneak into the healthy lunches we’ve already packed, adding a bag of homemade cookies and a note with a smile. Moms are organizers, protectors, role models of hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice and optimism.

Moms do this out of love. They love us enough to want us to have everything – every comfort they had growing up, every advantage they didn’t have as children, everything we need to succeed – and not just things, but every moral, mental, social and spiritual support as well.

Moms let their own clothes grow decades old while they take us shopping for new shoes and outfits every school year. Moms neglect their favorite pizza toppings and let us order ours, or at least go halfsies. Moms almost always stay behind the scenes, taking none of the credit, when they’re basically the directors or producers of the stories of our lives, and should be listed prominently. In doing all this, they model unselfishness. It’s just how they operate.

Sure, moms want texts when we get to our friends houses or touch down at our vacation destinations, and moms ask us questions before we’re ready to answer, like when will you find your next apartment or will your bosses ever give you a raise? And no mom is perfect, each has technology she can’t figure out, or songs she doesn’t understand or quirks of ours she doesn’t quite accept.

But she’s a mom – far beyond just the obvious and biologically imposed definition of a woman who’s given birth to an offspring – she’s someone who made the conscious choice to teach, to support, to love, to dedicate herself to a family she will create and to those who come after her.

For all this and more, moms deserve our constant respect, honor, admiration and love. More than that, they deserve recognition every day – recognition we can give by striving, with all our hearts and all our minds and all our actions, to be more like them.

Happy Mother’s Day to the best examples of love and selflessness we could ever ask for, our moms.


Twenty-something Times

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An open letter to … Friends across the country

Dear faraway friends,

First of all, we miss you.

We probably don’t tell you this. We’re busy in our own lives, and in some cases, we’d feel embarrassed to admit it. But we miss you all the same.

We miss the fun and lighthearted times we shared in high school – the dirty-joke-a-thons on bus rides to marching band competitions; the surreptitious sneaking of a song with the F-word into the soccer game warm-up tape; the wandering, white-knuckle drives down the local “haunted” road. We really do miss all that.

We especially miss the crazy times in college – the midnight snowball raids at the wrong guy’s window; the first stumbling experiences with frat parties, apartment parties and the dumps of campus bars that let 19-year-olds in; and the thrill of witnessing big football and basketball victories together in a throng of jumping, screaming students just itching for a reason to drink in celebration. Hard not to miss times like these.

We won’t lie here, in this snail-mail style letter to you at your new home states away. We won’t tell you we miss the stress of three finals in two days; that one time when all four of us were locked out of our apartment at the same time; or the insane number of jerks we all managed to meet junior year.

But when we go through new tough times – work deadlines that creep up out of nowhere; the stress of absolutely having to find a new place to live by the end of our current lease; and the pressure of big decisions about careers and relationships – that’s when we miss you the most.

We miss the times when you were there to help us through the mind-numbing amount of work staring us in the face, or the intricate complexity of the most pressing decisions weighing on our minds. We miss those long talks in the hallway when one roommate was asleep, and especially, we miss the warm-fuzzy feelings of friendship, motivation and comfort you gave us simply by your presence.

We miss all that and more – we miss you.

We know this isn’t going to change. You live in Nashville or Denver or Duluth or Detroit or Columbus or a Navy base somewhere between Los Angeles and San Diego, and we live, well, here.

Our lives are continuing to take us in different directions. We knew they would. We have goals and dreams and that magic ability to chase them no matter the twists and turns.

We’re not asking you to come home, at least not simply for our sake. We’re not asking for anything, really.

We already get the occasional text, Facebook post, email or phone call, and we love that. We love the updates about your adventures, and we love hearing your smiling self “speaking” through your word choice, text abbreviations and placement of smiley faces. It’s as close to the real you as we can get, without planning a vacation to the west coast, the mountains, the south or Minne-SO-ta.

So before we get all emotional here, it’s time to bring this letter to a close the same way we opened it.

Dear faraway friends, we love you, as only true friends can, and we miss you — no matter the distance.

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Dear Twenty-somethings, it’s Not All About You

I learned a new texting abbreviation at my sister’s graduation over the weekend, but I doubt it’s one I’ll ever use in a text.

NAAY: Not All About You.

The speaker at a nursing pinning ceremony who introduced the audience to the made-up term said it applies especially to graduates like my sister, nurses who care for patients with the type of medical expertise few others have and the type of compassion few others show.

Nurses have to go into work each day and remember it’s not all about them – it’s about the patient and making sure that person’s health-related needs are met.

But even the rest of us who don’t have the medical chops or caring nature to be nurses can benefit from internalizing the idea of NAAY.

Because in life, no matter how old we are, it really is not all about us.

I remember seeing this type of message early in my college days, in the “About Me” section of the Facebook profile of a person I came to truly admire.

Maybe it was sarcasm or a bit of irony, an attempt to rebel against a text field that asks the profile-holder to be even more selfish than usual by purposefully writing all about themselves. Maybe it was a self-awareness not many 18-year-olds have. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Because the end result was the same. Here was someone who understood it’s not all about you, and helped me on the path to understanding it, too.

Twenty-somethings seem to get a particularly bad rap in this regard, especially those of us who are childless and/or single. The world often overgeneralizes about “Millennials” assuming we’re selfish kids who think society owes us a fun and stress-free job, great money, chances to travel the world and party often, plenty of awards and prizes, the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner of our dreams, gourmet food and designer everything.

That’s wrong, wrong, wrong – but harder to disprove when too many of us are self-focused and haven’t yet learned it’s not all about us. Myself included.

Of course there are plenty of us who have moved past this all-about-me type of selfishness, people who spend their time coaching special needs basketball teams, mentoring at-risk kids or starting nonprofits designed to help women learn to love themselves. These unselfish twenty-somethings give us all a good name and deserve our sincere respect and thanks.

But there are also plenty of us who are just as self-focused as the “entitled Millennial” stereotype, but not in flashy ways. Overburdened by the demands of our jobs, social and family lives and household chores, many of us are thinking only about what we need to get through the day – how to fit in a workout, two or more hours of driving, 12 hours of work and maybe a few minutes of picking clothes and packing a lunch and watching a Bulls game … all without collapsing.

These types of twenty-somethings also need an “it’s not all about you” reminder.

Because no matter how busy we are, it’s not. Because no matter who we are, NAAY stands true: it’s Not All About You.

So on second thought, maybe I will use NAAY in a text some day. Because I, for one, need constant reminders that it’s really not all about me.

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