Friday, December 31, 2010

In Review

I had this dream that I would write 100 blogs this year.  Once every 3 or 4 days seemed like an obtainable goal.  But no dice.  I did write more this year than any year before - which feels like progress.

I want to write more.  That's a good thing to think of for 2011.

I have been thinking a lot about 2010 this morning (in the 20 minutes since I woke up) and I have come to the realization that this may have been the hardest year yet.  While all years have had their obstacles, it seems like 2010 was the first that really put me through the ringer.  But here's the thing - I don't want to dwell on the hard and the crappy and the sad - I want to focus on the wonderful and amazing:

I got to go to Hawaii.

And Italy.
And Paris.

And Nantucket.
AND New York.

My baby siblings both got it done - graduation wise.  My lovely T-bone got engaged. My dad got married. I re-met wonderful, local family.  It goes on and on.

And now I will clean my house in preparation for a few lovely people to come celebrate.

In 2011 I would like to:
-revisit the whole gym 5 times a week thing (I am hoping I can join a gym closer to where I live to make this much easier)
-write more  - a blog post every 3 days should be easy...
-read more - a book every two weeks.  With reviews on this blog!  Huzzah!

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

where's the outlet

It's time for another blog plug.

Many friendships are ones you discover for yourself.  You seek out people or perhaps they fall into your lap by sheer luck but you work at them and they take time.  However, there are also friends who you have the great fortune of being required to love through no fault of your own. They are cousins, or conveniently-timed born children of your parents' friends or some other fantastic twist of fate.

For me - I have discovered that my parents have excellent taste in godparents.  There is much back and forth on what the role of a godparent is to a child.  Is it simply to provide spiritual guidance? to be the guardian should both parents parish in some sort of flaming disaster? to be an extension of family when perhaps it is needed most?

My godparents (and I have the extreme good fortune to have three, two godmothers and a godfather) have all given me something quite different.  This blog is focused on Godmother 1.  Annie.

Annie was my Mom's college roommate.  Which was good news for her (my Mom) and for me - it turns out.

Annie faded in and out of my childhood in the form of real hand-written letters on the topics any 10 or 12 year old would pick (so Titanic, mostly).  She came to visit once, with Kevin - her beau.  They brought me a box of beads with ribbon for stringing them.  And a book about restoring a house.  They have always been quite good at presents that are both random and perfect.  Its a skill I have spent most of my adult life striving for.

Then while I was in college she came to visit New York.  It was the first time that I had seen her in probably about 8 years.  I was so scared that I wouldn't recognize her, but I did.  Of course.  She's Annie.

And then I moved to Chicago because Annie said I should, and at that crossroads of my life - I figured that she was as good as anyone to make my life decisions. 

And now I am in Chicago as permanently as I have ever been anywhere.  Annie and Kevin have been an integral part of that life.  From giving me food and shelter, to wisdom and opportunity.  They are without a doubt, the coolest people in the universe and all of my other friends who have had the chance to meet them have all agreed whole heartily.

Kevin, who I have only met because of Annie, has become just as important as she is.  They work as team.  To bring wonder and awesomeness into the world.

And now Kevin is embarking on an adventure that was certainly not planned, or asked for, but he is taking it on it with more grace and good humor than I could ever muster.  You should read about it here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Today I traveled by plane, train, subway, and car to my Mom's house in Maryland. I am so very, very happy to be here. There is a certain something about coming home for Christmas that fills me with such warmth and happiness. Nearly all of my most favorite Christmas memories are wrapped up in this house and with people from this town.


Now that I am all growed up I am starting my own Christmas traditions, and I am becoming a part of other peoples' celebrations and it is quite lovely to have my own things that I share with my chosen family rather than my given family.


I have a problem. Boyfriend and I decided last night before I left on my transportation journey that we would each open one present from each other. Just one. Chosen by the giver rather than the recipient. This was actually my idea and for the very practical reason that I had bought Boyfriend Charlie Brown Christmas on DVD and really wanted a chance to watch it before Christmas. So we opened our presents and watched Charlie Brown Christmas and then went to bed and merry early Christmas to all and to all a good night.


ALL DAY today - I have been craving the opportunity to open a Christmas present. While, at this point in my life, I much prefer to give than to receive presents, there is something about opening a box wrapped in shiny paper and discover a surprise, all for Me! that gets me so excited and deliriously happy. Even if I don't like the present, the act of opening it is enough to satisfy me. Normally on days that I open presents (Christmas is pretty much it, having decided that birthdays are far better suited for adventures) I get to open a whole bunch and get it all out of my system for the year. Hardly ever do I just open a single Christmas present, especially when I am fully aware that there are more out there for me.

Seriously, I feel like a addict. All day I have wanted a hit, a present hit. I have gotten to hang out with two of my favorite people, and even buy myself a little something to see if it would take the edge off and it did not work. There was still this little piece of me that wanted nothing more than to rip paper off of a box. Even if it was empty box. I just wanted that moment of euphoria.

And I am at least two days out from getting anything. It is going to be a long two days full of amazing times with gorgeous people that I love. And it could be worse, I could be sitting in my apartment in Chicago with an adorable Christmas trees and all these wrapped presents calling my name (sorry Boyfriend).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Lost and Found

A crazy story to make up for the lack of posts recently.

Last Christmas (I think), my baby sister, 'Bear gave me a friendship style bracelet in the colors of the Chicago Bears:
It lived in my jewelry box until the beginning of this football season when I put it on and vowed that I would wear it every day until the Bears won the Super Bowl (obviously this is not entirely accurate for a variety of reasons, but its a fun hyperbolic thing to say).

So I wear pretty much every day but I take it off to shower because there is something about wet embroidery floss that grosses me out.

On Saturday I had to be at work at 8 AM, which was already poor planning but add that to the fact that I did not get much sleep the night before and it was super snowy outside, I was running extra late, so I threw the bracelet in my bag and put it on on the bus.

I got to work, worked a whole day, went out a whole night, woke up the next morning went out and had a show, a rehearsal, a trip to costco and a Christmas tree excursion. At some point in the midst of all that I realized that my bracelet was gone.

I was super bummed, because while I do not expect the Bears to make the Super Bowl it was kind of nice to think that my bracelet had magic powers that was making them do so well. I figured the bracelet had fallen off at some point on Saturday and having been to about 10 different places and having taken my coat off at all of them I knew it was going to be quite impossible to track it down.

I resigned myself to the Bears not doing so well anymore (despite the win over Detroit) and went about devising a plan to tell my sister what had happened without feeling incredibly stupid and irresponsible.

On Monday morning after taking the company van to run an errand and bringing it back to park it, I had to brush some snow off of the ground to see if I was parked within the lines of the spot (our parking lot is never ever plowed which is particularly fun two or three days after a snow fall when everything is iced over) and low and behold what did I find??

My bracelet! It was right there on the little step up ledge next to the drivers seat completely frozen to the car. Here are some crazy things about this state of affairs:

1-I had not driven or even been near that car (or at least that part of the car) since 8 AM Saturday morning - over 48 hours before I found it.

2- That van traveled over 15 miles between the time I lost the bracelet and the time I found it. At least six or so of those miles were on the highway traveling well over 40 miles per hour.

3- The door handle on that door is broken (classy, I know) which means that I never use that door to get into the van, only out of...which means there are about three or four times I actually used that door AND

4- During none of those times was I taking a jacket or gloves on or off (the typical culprits of lost wrist accessories).

How I managed to lose this bracelet in just the right spot AND it managed to freeze there almost immediately, I do not know, but I do know that it is a sign...maybe. We'll see how the rest of the season goes - and if it it goes well than it it is totally a sign, if it doesn't go well, than it is probably just a bracelet.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Done and Done (part 6).

So I guess I've reached my sixth year slump. This year did not even really ever feel like a challenge. At no point did I think, "oh man, I might not finish." I did think a couple times, "this story is terrible, I do not really want to be writing it anymore." And even when I only had three days left and 15,000 words still to write it was just a matter of buckling down and spewing out words words words, words that I no longer cared about.

But I did it. And I feel pretty good - but I mean, after six years, I feel like there is no real question about it. It would be more shocking if I failed.

Anyway - I decided about two days ago that this is now too easy for me - so A- I already have my idea for next year (and I wrote it on my computer in a sticky note, so lets just hope I do not delete it between now and then and B- next year the goal is to actually write 1,667 words a day. Naturally, this probably will not work, because there are days when I simply cannot write, but if I can write 1500 words in 30 minutes (as I did this morning to finish on time) then I should be able to write 1,667 on most days.

The best excerpt came from Monday (the 29th) night as I was trying to finish but could not keep my eyes open -

“You have seen waiting for guffman, right?”
“Is it a movie or like a t v show or what exactly? What are we looking at here.”
“It is a movie?”
“What kind?”
“Um, you know a standard American movie where I get a manilia envelope from someone and it does not have porn or anthrax in it.
You win some you loss some.

I have no memory of writing these words (obviously), they were quite a hilarious surprise to wake up to on Tuesday. I do not know quite where this train of thought was going, but I figured it was probably no where good and promptly changed subjects.

Anyway -

Thank you to Boyfriend, and Hazel for being quite snuggly

My yoga ball for being a lovely change from the couch

Season six of the West Wing for being not as terrible as I remember.

My boss who still, despite the fact that I have a real job now, does not care if I take the day off to write.

My very nice cousins for feeding me full of Thanksgiving food and giving me the oompf I needed to cross that 30,000 word bridge.

And Courtney - for always being there with encouragement and lies when I needed them.

See you next year, same time, same place.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

nom nom nom

Normally when I add things to my genius side bar - I do it on the sly. I assume that people, after reading all of the blather that comes out of my mouth/keyboard they will totally trust that I know what I am talking about in terms of amazing web content (and I totally do - all of those people are awesome).

Anyway - recently while wasting time on facebook I discovered a shared link by a friend of mine in Seattle (hi Beanstalk!) - it was for what looked like the most delicious sandwich on the planet. I haven't tried it yet, but I am just waiting for a moment when I am not writing a novel and its not Christmas season and all the other excuses I can make right now - to make this...and enjoy the crap out of it.

This website, Noble Pig is my new internet porn. Food porn. It makes me hungry and it makes me want to cook. As someone who spent most of her childhood avoiding cooking it seems strange to now want it so bad - to crave the challenge and the satisfaction you get from making something and then eating it and knowing it is delicious.

Happy Thanksgiving. Real posts in December (maybe). Eat good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

funny lady

"It's freeing to fail and realize you didn't die" - Tina Fey

I was in an improv class a year or so ago and my teacher (who, not to toot anyone's horn or anything, is kind of a big deal) told me that if I just stopped fucking worrying so much I could be like Tina Fey. That I had it in me. It was the most amazing compliment I have ever received (so of course I immediately came up with all these excuses about why it wasn't true or that he misspoke or something along those lines).

It has stuck with me, and reminded me that I have potential. But I am a huge worrier. And maybe it'll get better over time, maybe it won't. But I love this video for a lot of reasons. And if Tina Fey ever wants to shoot the shit over fantasy football or why kids on leashes are always the ones who kick puppies or kinds of cake...I would be totally down.

This is not a real blog post...I have a backlog of them in my noggin. But its been a busy few weeks and now I'm attempting (and kind of failing) to Nano (yes, that's right - its a verb now) so all writing over 140 words that doesn't pay me a salary has been put on hold.

Back soon!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the future

Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 26, which, to me seems quite old. I mean, not very old, because I know a lot of very amazing people who are 26 (and older!) but I sometimes I feel like I'm still 12 or 13 and 26 seems so far in the distance. 26 is an Adult. with a House. and a Career (and maybe even a Husband and Baby) but mostly it just seemed that by 26 I would know everything that I needed to know.

Naturally this is not the case. In fact, I sometimes think I was more confident about what I Knew when I was young (and if you can imagine, more bitter and jaded than I am today). When I was young I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life and how I was going to do it and now, I just try to remember to wear pants because the rest is just too overwhelming.

Tonight we went to dinner for a pre-birthday celebration and had delicious sushi with a glass of wine. Then our fortune cookies came (because apparently you get fortune cookies at all Asian restaurants now). And I opened my fortune cookie.

Nothing. No fortune (thankfully, there was no paper, had there been just a blank piece of paper I probably would have burst into tears).

I held up my fortune cookie in shock. The night before my birthday and no hint no premonition nothing to help me figure it Out.

It was pretty much the world saying, "Welp, you're 26 now. You're on your own."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Musings on my walk home

If I ran the country:

- WIC/Link/Food stamps would only be redeemable at Organic Groceries, Farmer's Markets and CSAs. And also for the ingredients to make things (like yeast, flour, eggs etc). Naturally this would mean that you would need to get more money on your link card but that's fine because its going to farmers.

- 70% of the cost of every gallon of gas would be a tax. And the money from that tax would go towards funding public transportation, trains and bicycles.

- No one under the age of 14 gets a cellphone. Because I say so.

- For every prescription of viagra (or viagra-like pill) that they cover, the insurance company must also cover the cost of HIV medication for someone who cannot afford it and/or give money to rape crisis and counseling centers. I'm not above diplomacy and bipartisanship.

-All restaurants have two options - have a way of telling you exactly where all of the ingredients they use come from or putting warning labels on their food describing what sort of antibiotics/crazy business is in their food.

These are just a few things that I would change. You don't have to agree with them, but then again you also don't have to vote for me.

In other news - this essay made me want to buy Steven Thrasher a nice steak dinner. And then call him the next morning to see if he wants to get coffee or something.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Land of Laziness

So on Friday morning I was a proud card-carrying resident of the state of Maryland, despite the fact that I have not actually spent more than 3 consecutive weeks in Maryland in almost 8 years. But Friday afternoon, I took the deepest plunge of my life and procured myself an Illinois driver's license.

I am now a resident (and voter) in the state of Illinois. This fact fills me with a whole bucket of emotions - Depressed, and kind of excited, and a little nostalgic with a dash of underwhelmed.

I was fiercely proud of my Maryland license. For silly reasons, sure - but it tied me to the place that I think of as home. It also made me a little different and gave me a conversation starter. And it meant that somehow, someway in my little mixed up brain - I didn't live in the midwest, really. I was just kind of here on an expedition - exploring untapped resources and building a pile of experiences to write a book on how I went to the midwest and still came out okay.

(Obviously - this is not to say that there is anything not okay with the Midwest. I live here, my friends live here, my boyfriend is from here, I really do love the midwest, but...well...its an east coast thing).

But now its for keeps (sort of) - this is my proclamation of really doing this - of becoming a grown-up (sort of) and going out on my own. And it ties me to something that has nothing to do with my family, which is kind of exciting in a sad, bittersweet sort of way.

Also - now I have to vote in Chicago. Which is kind of cool - to get to vote in an actual polling place and for people who make decisions that affect me. Naturally, voting in Chicago is kind of like voting for the Prom Queen, I am not a hundred percent sure it actually counts for anything and if maybe the people in charge just pick their favorite. But especially since my ward is a mess and whoever is my alderman gets to decide if my building gets torn down to make a hospital - and also Chicago is a hot, poor mess right now - I am kind of excited to at least feel like I am part of the change.

Although, while Maryland almost always goes blue in elections, my county is extra-red so there was something to be said for having a vote that felt like it counted more. Also, my love for Barbara Mikulski knows no bounds and I'm sad I can't be involved in keeping her tush in the senate.

Anyway - this weekend brought a new Rachel to the field, one who likes identical to her license picture and has an ID that bouncers are familiar with so they no longer spend 20 minutes scrutinizing and judging. A Rachel who lives where she says she lives. For the time being.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No thank you, Mr. Roboto

So, part of my job is to facilitate the acquiring of visas for international trainees. This is an incredibly tedious process that I am 100% learning as I go. So far I am 3 for 3 for visa procurement (one was for one of our students going abroad). So I feel good about it. Its really awesome to give these young folks (one of whom is my age) an opportunity to come here, train with us and allow us to get our cultural-exchange jam on.

Also awesome? I get presents!! Both of the trainees have brought me very beautiful things that I refuse to share - but some stuff, namely food, has been made for sharing.

Our Argentinian friend brought us dulce de leche sauce that we put on everything and could never quite figure out if we should keep it in the fridge or out (the instructions were in Spanish).

Our newest trainee comes from Japan. And she brought us a Japanese smorgasbord of treats. We've been enjoying them for weeks now and they're about to be gone - so I took pictures to remember them by and I have reviews (having tried them all) in case you ever find yourself forced to eat Japanese snacks - at least you can have a heads up.

These guys are basically giant cheese doodles. Same consistency and almost the same taste. Apparently there are two different flavors but I really only got "cheese" from them. They taste fine but take about 20 minutes to chew and once you're done it feels like you have been rubbing your tongue on sandpaper.

When I was little, and we would go to my Great-Grandmother's house in Connecticut, during cocktail hour she would have these little white bowls full of unrecognizable crunchy bits. This stuff is almost an exact replica of what I remember that tasting like. Its most people's (in the office) favorite...but to me it just tastes like a not-quite-right memory. Again - its the aftertaste that gets me, like I've been gnawing on the head of a hammer.

These are my favorite. I think this is one of the first times that a food has looked identical to how it looks on the front of the package. The cracker (or sen, if you're using context clues) has this not-quite-natural shimmer, like a light layer of mod-podge or shellac had been applied before the cheese and the almond. They had the most mild aftertaste (kind of like chewing notebook paper). The cheese is quite good - though it does not taste like any other cheese I have ever experienced.

This was the last package we opened for the very simple reason that we had no idea what was inside. They looked like cookies but if you poked them (scientifically) they felt like they might be gummy in consistency. Also you're supposed to eat them with a bowl of green liquid (tea? soup? urine? who knows...). Curiosity finally got the better of us and we opened it up.

There are actually two different varieties of the item at the top. One is a more round version but they are essentially the same thing. I took of the top one and expected it to have the consistency of a gummy but the taste of a cookie. Instead it had the consistency of a very dry crumbly biscuit and the taste of sugary baking powder. However, it wasn't terrible. So I went ahead and tried the chocolate variety. This one scared my boss the most because it had little dots on the top and she equates unidentified dots on Japanese food to automatically be fish eggs. Which, I feel, is valid for someone who is A- a vegetarian and B- not particularly accustomed to eating Japanese food.

I had a bite of it and it had the same consistency as the first one with added dash of chocolate saran wrap. It was all well and good until about a minute after I stopped chewing, because that is when, out of nowhere - a fish crawled into my mouth and DIED. Seriously - there is no word for the disgusting essence that radiated off of my tongue and permeated to each nook and cranny of my mouth. I drank an entire bottle of water before remembering (duh) fish LOVE water and it only made it worse, so then I had a piece of good ole American (Trader Joe's) dark chocolate with almonds.

And yet - to this day (that was Tuesday) there is still something not quite right about my mouth. I've managed to solider through and the flank steak and peanut-butter-chocolate pie I ate last night did wonders...but I refuse to try the two other options as I don't even know what to make of them, everything else, except the giant cheese doodles, came in a clear wrapper which leads me to believe that these things are hiding something.

- I hope this blog did not offend anyone, I am not saying that these foods are gross or inedible. I am just describing my experiences (and opinions) about them. I leave you to find your own Japanese trainee and draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I, as you may have discovered from reading anything I've written, suffer from hyper-paranoia and crushingly low self-esteem.  This is never more evident than when I am planning a party.

When I was a kid, birthdays were easy.  You invited your eight best friends and they all came unless there was some sort of horrible girl scout camping trip scheduling snafu.  No one did not come to your birthday party when invited.  Looking back on this, it may be that all of my friends in grade school had parents who raised them right and made them RSVP yes even if they didn't want to go - but I was blissfully optimistic when I was young.  

In middle school things got dicier but it wasn't until my sweet 16 that I was worried about attendance at a party in my honor.  Luckily, lots of people came and I had a great time but there were moments of abject fear that no one was going to show up and the Braddock Heights Community Room was going to be barren wasteland of uneaten pizza and my tears.

In college I didn't really throw birthday parties for myself.  My 21st birthday had a moment where I thought no one was going to ever show up and considered just drinking myself into oblivion and becoming a homeless, drunk bum on the spot.  But people showed (eventually) and it ended up being one of my most favorite birthdays.  

And since moving to Chicago, for some reason, it was expected that I would throw myself a birthday party every year (with the exception of the first year when I could count the people I knew on one hand - that is a birthday story for another year).  And every year I have dealt with the fear that no one will come to my birthday party.  

It starts right around the two week prior mark where evite/facebook invites have gone out and only two or three people have responded.  So I invite about 30 more people, most of whom I am not actually friends with, in the hopes that they will all say yes and then more people will think that this is going to be a fun party and decide to come.  Then the paranoia hits its peak the day before the party when people start backing out like dump trucks in narrow alleys.  Parents are in town, or there is a rehearsal or they are getting their hair did.  I realize that no one loves me and I should give up now.

Has this ever been the case?  No...of course not.  My birthdays may have their fair share of drunk tears, but I always have fun.  But that doesn't make the fear go away.  

This year I am not having a party.  Instead I am having a benefit.  The organization I work for is having its annual gala the friday before my birthday.  Last year (my first year with the organization) there was no gala, so this is my first one.  And I am TERRIFIED.  The gala was not my idea and my hand is not really even in the planning of it, but since my whole life is wrapped up in this place, if this gala fails - it will ruin my birthday.

I have no idea if its going to fail - or succeed.  I've never done this before...but right now, three weeks out, its not looking good.  And every day I check the mail - and the picture does not get any brighter.  Again, this maybe normal, but it feels like it could be a birthday gone wrong that could turn me into a homeless, drunk bum.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

a couple words

It has come to my attention that I am terrible at putting up pictures on this business. While words are nice - I feel like pictures take the game up a notch. Also, I have 8,800 pictures on my computer which means that every time I open iphoto everything comes to a screeching halt for 4 or 5 minutes as it loads. Its time to share the wealth.

My first word/photo essay is entitled "Photos of me with famous people."

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. Its framed next to my bed, which if Mr. Sedaris ever knew would either delight him or terrify the shit out of him. Its one of the only pictures of us all together as either my Mom or I tend to be behind the camera, but some nice lady took this for us. Apparently David Sedaris doesn't like to have his picture taken so this is a pretty rare find. He looks so content? confused? angry? I have no idea - we almost look photoshopped behind him- which would kind of brilliant of him - to sell this image and you can just put your own family behind him. Also we all look very young in this picture - it is about five years old, but those are 5 clutch face-changing years.

What is super unfortunate is I look like a pile of awkward garbage in this picture. This was poor planning on my part. This picture never should have happened. I had an English class and wasn't feeling well. But Miss D said two little words - Christopher Meloni. And I was there. With my pigtails and my raggedy tee-shirt and my make up - oh wait no, not so much that last one. This night was also the night that brings you this little number...

Back when this picture was taken four long years ago - I was a senior in college, young and full of dreams and bad skin and the ability to understand the physics of how to take a good picture. And this guy was just finishing a show called Light on the Piazza which I had loved in that way that you are pretty sure you should love something but are mostly just distracted that the lead male is supposed to be Italian and does not even resemble a pasta noodle he is so un-Italian looking. Anyway - at this point I was madly in love with him, having seen the show and since he wasn't actually a celebrity yet - he was incredibly nice and chatty. And now he's all famous and I still kind of look that weird, but am better at being pictures (sort of).

Okay - this picture almost doesn't count for a few reasons - 1) Vanilla Ice isn't really a celebrity any more, and 2) you can't actually see my face, just my enormous cobra-esque mouth that has the capacity to swallow you hole. The fact that I went to a bar just to see Vanilla Ice shows just how desperate I was for human interaction when I moved here. The fact that my coworker invited me out - I would have probably gone and seen MC Hammer (actually - that's 100% true - I would go see MC Hammer by myself).

Again - why must I look atrocious in every celebrity picture? This is going to really hurt down the road...when we get to later pictures. Ryan Shaw doesn't really count because he did not blow up like Matthew Morrison. Bummer - but we like him anyway.

And then next three all happened in one day too - you can tell because I'm wearing the same clothes. Also - I look *almost* okay

McKim looks gorgeous in these pictures - she is flipping radiant. I look like I need some sun, and may or may not have to pee. I get so excited when I meet celebrities I care about (...or I just make terrible faces) that I forget how to look like a normal person. But its nice to have pictures to remind me of meeting a bunch of strangers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

with only two eyes

This weekend, with the exception of working for few hours in the morning on Saturday and doing a show on Sunday, I spent all my weekend time asleep or watching football (occasionally I slept and watched football at the same time). I ate some bad-for-me foods (with a few carrots and strawberries thrown in for good measure). I spent time with some of my favorite people. I cheered and booed but mostly laughed. I sat on four different couches in three different apartments wearing the colors of two different teams. I reveled in the fact that while there was work to be done, it could be done later, or tomorrow or some day. I could not even pretend that I was worried about the fact that my house is a mess and I have no clean clothes.

I enjoyed my weekend and my football (despite a less than perfect ending to one game...)

and it. was. glorious.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

cat got it

I am speechless.

Literally, my voice which has been on its way out for a few days (naturally being replaced with a huge sinus headache, drippy nose and general yucky feelings) is now completely gone.

I helped kick its ass out the door - with six hours of yelling in a gymnasium over 25 18-year olds and then a two hour meet and greet where I think I scared more kids than necessary (I mean, if a normal looking youngish adult started talking to you and she sounded like an 80 year old 6-pack-a-day smoker, and you were like seven, wouldn't you be confused?) and now its gone for a while.

Me not talking is pretty rough for me...but also for everyone around me. I discovered today as I tried to function that most of my day is dedicated to talking to people. Some of it can be done via e-mail, but a lot requires actual phone calls or meetings or just talking. So much talking.

So tomorrow I am taking a vocal rest day. One can only hope that the 20 or so voicemails that will have stacked up can wait until Monday.

On the flipside though - Its kind of nice not talking. Its oddly freeing and wonderful to just not make conversation when I don't want to (and even when I do). As someone who really (really) loves talking - its kind of nice to just...not.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

so nice

I recently had a very nice boy purchase a ticket for each of us to fly to New York City next month to celebrate the fact that I'm a year older. Even though it doesn't really matter because the next few years are kind of a hazy blur of attempting to get your crap together before you turn the big three-oh.

I am over the moon to be spending a significant amount of time in my favorite place. Last Christmas, C-Sea and I spent exactly 24 hours with Annie-Belle, walking around, shopping, and being cold. We also saw some of my most favorite people, ate some food and just enjoyed being in New York, which - I could do for hours. I could just enjoy New York for days. And so I plan to.

Here is a list of a few of the things I really want to do.

Please note - some of them may seem super touristy and there is a very good reason for that. Boyfriend has Never been to New York (he says he has, I say that everyone knows a layover in the airport doesn't count). So there are some things that you just can't skip (despite the fact that I will probably kind of want to).

New High Line Park on 8th Ave
Delicious BBQ from Brother Jimmy's
A huge, amazing Jackson Hole burger
Fat, Black Pussycat for a mind eraser and some cartoon network
Juniors Cheesecake (from Actual Juniors)
Central Park mostly the statue of the characters from Alice in Wonderland
The new playground at the South Street Seaport
Hot and Crusty for breakfast, or a solid midday snack
The Statue of Liberty, preferably the cheapest way possible (Staten Island Ferry)
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Times Square for the very briefest of seconds.
A visit to my first apartment (and college)
some playtime in AnnieBelle's hood (its adorable despite its lack of proximity to anything)
Belgian Bar for some pomme frites and a classy beer
A bacon egg and cheese sammich from a street vendor
Dylan's Candy Bar (mmm. clodhoppers)
A 4 AM slice of New York pizza
Chelsea Market (mostly for a fatwich brownie)
And possibly, if we're feeling super classy - an Opera

Its slightly embarrassing that a vast majority of this list is food-related. But at least there is some activity in there to burn off the calories. And naturally I want to see some of the tens of people who still live in New York who remind me of when I was nineteen and dumb and full of confusion and promise. And I cannot wait to introduce Boyfriend to the place that shaped me and helped me grow and start on that journey to figure myself out - which I think is a lovely thing to revisit the week before my birthday.

What else should I do??

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Nantucket. Part 3 - Clothing

I'm not quite sure why its acceptable to dress like a pansy-ass douche waffle on Nantucket...but it is.

My normal apparel is only a microscopic step above hobo's pajamas. I wear the same jeans for weeks on end, and have piles of "casual tee-shirts" and "fancy tee-shirts" in my dresser. I only wear dresses when I feel morally obligated (read: someone is about to spend a lot of money to feed/entertain me).

But for some reason when I get to Nantucket I feel the need to look Good. Not necessarily fancy - but like I put some legitimate thought into my wardrobe. Naturally, because I am an idiot - to me, "thought" means "things with labels that make them sound expensive." So I mostly wear the eight or so pieces of "designer" clothes I own and then wear them again...because its a small island, but not that small, no one will notice.

Here's the thing, even if some one does notice I am wearing the same Ralph Lauren (outlet) dress I wore on Wednesday, I can tell them they look like a clown, because chances are? they totally do.

Seriously - if you told a normal, self-respecting grown up that they could spend $150 on a pair of pants. But not just ANY pants. Seersucker pants. But not just ANY seersucker pants. Seersucker pants with Lobsters on them. My hope is that grown-up would punch you in the jaw and spend their money on something more respectable like some cupcakes or a laser disc player.

But when you google "seersucker lobster pants" the FIRST link that pops up is for Murray's Toggery. THE clothing store of Nantucket. Hand to God. (pic from The Complex) Murray's also happens to be the original home of the Nantucket Reds (go home J. Crew, you bunch of posers).

Nantucket Reds is super exclusive - by which I mean, ever man (and most ladies) on the island owns a pair. And I'm just curious...has no one gone up to even one of them and said, "Did you know you are wearing pink pants?"

Seriously, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with pink pants, but I feel like many of these SUV-driving homophobes might have some issues if someone called their pants pink.

But? They are. (Thanks, Boston Not Common for the pic).

And even though it sounds like I am making fun of these clothes (which I kind of am) - I too find them all totally acceptable on Nantucket and I don't know why. I see men in Reds in New York (or worse, Chicago) and I laugh silently and shun them. There is a place for these things (see also - madras anything, and those quilted slipper things that old ladies wear out in public - even though they are obviously slippers) and that place is on Nantucket.

Do I occasionally lust for a Nantucket Red tastefully short skirt? Do I spend more time than is really necessary in the Lilly Pulitzer store? Am I damn proud of my Vineyard Vines bag? Of Course.

Would I ever buy any of these things full price? Never... I'm not quite that Nantucket. Also, its a slippery slope before you start looking like a clown.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

right here friend Anniebelle put the question out there. Where were you?

Luckily - I already covered this in a post - long, long ago (and yes, that is my very first blog...when you really have nothing to do some day you can read my spazoid, self-involved ramblings from freshman and sophomore year of college, its pretty humiliating for me, and for you for caring that much).

But as I read Annie's post I realized that this day, while always a day of remembrance, and of thanks for the people who devote themselves to making my life safe and blissfully naive, it is also a day of reflection.

Sometimes I think of September 11, 2010 as a mile marker in my life. Every year I take a moment (or two) to think about how I live my life and where I am going.

Naturally, I am a person who cannot conceive of a moment beyond next Thursday (despite what my planner, and flight schedule will tell you) so its somewhat impossible for me to make choices about what my life is going to look like next year (with the exception of I would like to be skinnier next year, that's about all I can come up with) but I can make sure, once a year to look at my life and see that I'm still doing good, trying hard and continuing to help make other peoples lives better.

This post is a little small orbit for today - but I think what I mean to say is - perhaps we should all take this day to think about how we live our lives, and if we're truly trying to make the world a better place for others, or even one person...and then try harder for the next year.

Can we all do that together?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

not quite a rose

So in general, I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of girl. I really like laughing and smiling (it happens to be my favorite as well), but recently - or more specifically, as I've gotten older, the happy, sunshine days are starting to be outweighed by days are more of the gray, foggy variety.

Naturally, I'm not stupid/selfish enough to think that I am the only person who feels this way, but it was kind of wonderful to see/hear/read this post by one of my pants-down favorite stranger-bloggers, Melissa. When you read her stuff, it seems like she totally has her business together and has quite possibly one of the best lives this side of Fijian loafer (that's someone who just lives in Fiji and doesn't do anything, in case that's something you've never heard of - which of course you have - because its not like I just made it up).

But she gets anxious and upset for no reason too, which is nice to hear. Not because I want other people to feel this kind of weight, but that even people with super awesome lives (instead of just regular lives, like me) have these problems too.

Naturally, she took it a step further and gave it an adorable name. Which I will now spend my morning, while doing database entry and feeling overwhelmed, doing as well.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

like a fish

So I am trying to be a bike person (this despite some scary business earlier this summer).

It is a HARD transition, people. First of all, there is the abject fear. See above. Stories like that and the tens of others that I've heard. They have put the fear of something in me. While this should scare the crap of me (and it does) - it has also made me an incredibly careful bike rider.

I get all panicky when making left hand turns and occasionally just bail, getting off the bike and cross at the crosswalk. Lame.

Also, I wear a helmet. All the time. Like the lamest kid on the block. I would do it even if I didn't know people who broke their falls with their faces.

I get really stressed out when there is a bus anywhere within 2 blocks of me, and in those instances where I get squeezed between a big truck that is driving and a big truck that is parked I basically hyperventilate and pedal as slowly as I can while still staying upright.

All in all, I don't bike that much. I get to and from work, most days, on the bike which is only about 1.4 miles (roundtrip). And occasionally I'll go down to iO or maybe to the gym (the one on Pine Grove not the one on North).

But I hate to go anywhere too far (in case I get sleepy or it gets dark - haven't conquered that fear yet) or where I'm going to be away from the bike for too long.

I LOVE my bike (an amazing hand-me-down from Maimees) and the idea that it might get stolen or messed up stressed me out to the maximum. If I have to keep it outside for more than like half an hour (or even when I get to keep it inside but out of my sight line) I am terrified that someone else will figure out a way to get through the two locks and steal it from me.

Anyway - its a slow start, especially deciding to start at the end of the summer was kind of a bone-head decision. And also the past three days it has been so windy that I literally have worried that it will take nothing but mother nature to make faceplant into the asphalt.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thoughts on Nantucket - Part 2 - Bread

These thoughts are taking much longer than I wanted. Work is taking up far too much of my blogging time.

Food on Nantucket is obviously delicious, because, for some reason, all food tastes better on vacation. And on Nantucket my family is blessed to have unlimited opportunities to eat on the front porch of Granny's house. The front porch overlooks the Atlantic ocean and is right on a public walkway - its basically an opportunity to make complete strangers incredibly jealous (my favorite kind of opportunity).

Anyway - the BEST part of Nantucket is eating your breakfast on the porch. Preferably after 10 AM to get the full hedonistic feeling.

When you are a kid - Nantucket is the only place your mom lets you eat sugary cereal. So you spend HOURS in the cereal aisle at the Safeway trying to find the best/worst most sugary disgusting you can find. This is not an easy task, until you're 12 and too cool to look and just get Reese's Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch (which were always the best anyway). And that's what you eat.

Once you get to be a grown up - the only really acceptable breakfast is portuguese bread toasted with your choice of toppings. You can add fruit if you like, or juice or a cup of coffee - but the toast is the most important part. There are people in the world who think that portuguese bread tastes just like regular bread. They are obviously idiots who do not understand the finer things in life.

Again with the either or - there is Something Natural's portuguese bread and then there is Bake Shop portuguese bread. And you have a favorite. If you know what you're doing you have a favorite. Sure, you'll suffer through the other bakery if you absolutely must, but if someone really loved you - they'd have your preferred bread at the house.

And this is the kind of thing that can divide families. Example - Granny is a Something Natural kind of lady. Mom is a Bake Shop gal as am I. This makes things complicated - when I go with Mom, I am assured to have Bake Shop bread because apparently once you get to a certain age (mid-30's?) you can demand bakery products. At my young age - I am at the mercy of the matriarch of the house. But I suffer quietly.

Naturally toast is totally different from other bread needs - I would eat either as the outer perimeters of a sandwich. And they both have their bonus points. Bake Shop - Short bread cookies. They come in these huge squares and you break them off. Oh man... perfect boat food. Something Natural - oatmeal biscuits. Don't question it. Just accept it.

The fact that there is an epic battle over who makes the best bread is (of course) ridiculous. But, I think thats part of the fun. As if all you have to worry about when you're there is if you have the right brand of bread.

Also if you're out of Reese's Puff cereal. That is the kind of catastrophe from which the only escape is a trip to the dreaded Stop and Shop.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thoughts on Nantucket. Part 1 - Transportation

So I am on Nantucket for a woefully brief time this Summer, and I've been looking at it with a more critical eye. Not for any particular reason, but just to help me understand the Why of "Why I love it so much."

First off, for my first thought - let me start with I had very romantic ideas about posting one of these a day for the 5 days that I was here, but then I remembered I am on vacation, and that just seemed a lot like work to me. So I have just been brain writing this week and I'm hoping to get them all out and in the world by sometime next week.

What I've discovered about Nantucket is it is an island of paradoxes, of "this or that's" of "what kind of people are you?" It permeates every part of your stay. For most people who only go once or twice - it probably doesn't register, but once you can no longer count the visits on both hands you realize just how picky/a jerk you are.

Getting to Nantucket is no easy feat. That's the problem with an island 30 miles out in the Atlantic.

When I was a kid, and when my Mom was a kid (which is as far back as this train goes) we were slow boat ferry people. It is about an eight hour drive from the D.C. area to Hyannis and depending on a variety of factors (age of children, boat reservation, traffic, sanity etc) this drive can take one to two days. If you're on the two-day side of things, then you stay in a hotel in Hyannis. Its almost always a Days Inn, and on very rare occasions it has a pool. Sometimes your bike gets stolen. Every now and then you get a cheeseburger or a doughnut.

We are Steamship Authority people. This used to be the only game in town, but then the Hyline showed up with its fancy seats from this decade and its speediness, but my family are staunch supporters of the Steamship Authority. When we were kids, and my Great-Grandmother was alive, we used to take our car over, because otherwise we would be stranded, but even once we stopped driving and walked on the boat - the first choice was the slow boat from the Steamship Authority.

The slow boat takes at least two hours (if not 2 and a half?) depending on the weather its a bumpy and monotonous ride, but it is the beginning of vacation. In fact, I've already waxed poetic about it.

Occasionally the fast boat becomes a necessity and it is fancy pants...but not the same.

Since moving out to Chicago, my only realistic option has been to fly over (normally on JetBlue - which I have a very tumultuous relationship with - because its almost affordable). This has been, for the most part, incredibly stressful what with tornadoes in Brooklyn, lost pilots and (of course) fog. Fog makes flying into Nantucket the most inexact annoying science every and leaves me longing for the days when I could get there by boat - as it should be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ya ya ya (part 2)

And now for the rousing conclusion to the most amazing YA novels according to Persnickety Snark.

51- Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli

52- Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones

53- The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper

54- Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

55- Saving Francesca - Melina Marchetta

56- Second Helpings - Megan McCafferty

57- Dreamland - Sarah Dessen

58- Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer. WHEW! That was a long dry spell right there. Eclipse I don't like for all the reasons I don't like Twilight. That being said - I read them and I got through them without needing to actually throw the book across the wall, but man - do I hate most of those characters.

59- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn, David Levithan. I don't think I knew this was a book - but I am curious as I had no desire to see the movie.

60- Fire - Kristin Cashore. I have heard these are okay, but there has been a huge outpouring of fantasy/sci-fi output in the past few years, and I can't really keep track.

61- The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier. I honestly had never heard of this book - but reading the Amazon blurb makes me want to read it really badly. I'll be looking for it at used book stores.

62- Weetzie Bat - Francesca Lia Block

63- The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank. This is kind of like a freebie. What YA book list isn't going to have this? Of course its amazing and a life altering read, but I think I was far more moved by Night by Elie Wiesel. Two totally different stories, yes, but its a personal preference.

64- Looking for Alibrandi - Melina Marchetta

65- How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

66- City of Glass - Cassandra Clare

67- Keeping the Moon - Sarah Dessen

68- Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer. Is this the last book? I think so - which means its my least favorite. As I get further and further down this list I am starting to call shenanigans a little bit because there are a bunch of books that I think are missing and that I would happily replace all of these Twilight books with. That's the problem with living in a democracy I guess.

69- Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging - Louise Rennison

70- If I Stay - Gayle Forman. This sounds good. Like The Lovely Bones but better.

71- The King of Attolia - Megan Whalen Turner

72- Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

73- Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast - Robin McKinley

74- The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley. Back-to-back books is pretty cool.

75- Feed - M.T. Anderson

76- The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants - Ann Brashares. I love me some pants. I've only probably gotten through like half of one of these books before having to put it down and focus on something else. But I am a big fan of the pants.

77- Go Ask Alice - Anonymous. This book scared the CRAP out of me. If drug awareness classes in high school were just reading this book and no lecturing, I probably would have tried way fewer drugs. Forget D.a.r.e. (do we still do that)? And make all kids (especially girls) read this.

78- Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr

79- Lord of the Flies - William Golding. This is a 9th grade staple I'm pretty sure. I liked it much more than A Separate Peace anyway - if I'm going to read a book about boys going through adolescence - I would much rather it be set in the jungle.

80- Someone Like You - Sarah Dessen. Finally! Ms. Dessen is the IT girl on this list and this is the only book of her's I've read. I was forced to read it because I did not bring enough reading material to Europe so Bear and I had to trade books and she got Lahiri's The Namesake and I was stuck with this (and a book that was even worse). This is easily my least favorite kind of young adult fiction. Its the equivalent of Chick lit for teens and it is okay sometimes, but it doesn't really require much brain power. Its the Baby-Sitters Club of this generation and if any of Dessen's other books are this melodramatic I am going to have to pass, even though she is totally at the popular girl's lunch table.

81- The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

82- Jacob Have I Loved - Katherine Paterson. I think? I read this, but I am not totally remembering what went down. The wikipedia blurb sounds very familiar, but it did not resonate like other books from my childhood.

83- The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

84- Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

85- Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead

86- The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi. This is one of my go-to bedtime books when I am at my Mom's house. It's so good and very comforting.

87- An Abundance of Katherines - John Green

88- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon. Is this really billed as a YA book? Because I think everyone should read it. Everyone in the whole world. My contact with autism was very limited before I had read this book and I think that as I have met more children with autism it has helped me understand how their brains work (naturally, all children are different and this is obviously a very specialized case, but it is so interesting). If you ever plan to talk to or see a child - read it.

89- A Ring of Endless Light - Madeleine L'Engle. Really? This is the L'Engle book that people picked?? I have not read it, but I have read a whole bunch of her books and the fact that I don't think I've even heard about this makes me think maybe it wasn't the best choice. The blurb makes it sound interesting enough but it is no Wrinkle in Time.

90- Glass Houses - Rachel Caine. Eeee-Nough with the Vampires. Sheesh.

91- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party - M.T. Anderson

92- Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech. Did I read this? I feel like I was supposed to at one point or another, but I can't remember. Twelve was a long time ago.

93- Whale Talk - Chris Crutcher

94- Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles

95- Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols

96- The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks

97- Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver

98. Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

99- The Pigman - Paul Zindel

100. The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley

So the second half of this list, over all was way anticlimactic for me (probably should have thought of that before I started this dumb little project, Dur). But I think what amazes me are not necessarily the books that are included, but the books that are excluded. I wonder if maybe it's because I am approximately 1,000-years old. But the books that helped shaped my young adult years are nowhere to be found on this list. Books like:

Calico Captive

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Wise Child (and Juniper)

Island of the Blue Dolphins

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (and Black Hearts in Battersea)

The Giver

...there are more but those are the first ones to come to mind, the books that I remember in their entirety and that made we want to write.

Most of the books I just listed are at least 20 or 30 years old, but so are many of the books on the top 100 - I think that maybe it has a lot to do with the influence of my Mother, who gave me the books that shaped her childhood with the belief that they would also affect mine. And she was right.

There are some other nit-picky things I have with picking one book over another of a particular author (seriously, Alanna: The First Adventure is probably the most boring book in all of the Tortall books. Wild Magic is SO better...).

I hope that the reason the books that made this list made the list because a lot of the voters/nominators are young adults right now, and these are the books that excite them. I would hope that librarians/teachers/parents have not given up on the books of their generation for vampires and mopey girls.

Anyway - I am jazzed about Persnickety Snark and can't wait to read more of their stuff. I hope that if they do this poll next year, it can be a return to more vintage stuff.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ya ya ya (part 1) which first of all, has the most amazing blog name ever, did a badass list of the best Young Adult novels ever. So sweet life. So here is my take on it, because I, no joke, majored in young adult literature (or...creative writing, but I read a lot of books geared towards 13 year-olds).

Here is the first half because I'm only at book 50 and its 11:04 at night and I need to pack.

Anyway - here we go:

1 - The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins. While I don't necessarily know if this would be at the top of my all-time list, I am pretty obsessed with this book. I read it in about 5 hours. It is so gripping and suspenseful, and since its YA - you're fairly confident there is going to be a "happy" ending, but its a little dicey sometimes. I audibly gasped while reading this book. I am so jazzed for Mockingjay to come out tomorrow

2- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling. Well, DUH. This book was so amazing the first time I read it, and it has not ever disappointed, even in four or five rereads. The first one only scratches the surface of the potential these books had, and the rest do not disappoint.

3- To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee. I read this book as an assignment in 10th grade and was obviously, totally drawn to Scout, because I was once a curious little girl who asked questions, but recently I've read a lot of stuff about how that book, that seems so racially sensitive is actually incredibly racist. Which is a fairly valid point, and makes me want to read it again.

4- Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

5- Northern Lights - Philip Pullman. This is known as The Golden Compass in America and also known as one of my personal top 5 books in the world. I don't like the other 2 books in the series nearly as much, but that didn't stop me from writing my thesis on The Amber Spyglass because it gave me an opportunity to use The Golden Compass as a source.

6- The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen

7- The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. Its on my to-read list.

8- The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton. I think this is one of those books that I was supposed to read in high school or maybe even middle school but I never did. From what I know about it, I'm okay with that.

9- Twilight - Stephenie Meyer. I get the big whoop about these books. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I get it. Steph got the formula so right, its kind of amazing. I personally, found my eyes rolling like every third or fourth sentence and really - I could write a whole blog on why these books make me so angry but what it boils down to is - Bella is such a whiny, pathetic girl...and she has horrible taste in men, even for a 15 year old.

10- This Lullaby - Sarah Dessen

11- Looking for Alaska - John Green

12- Just Listen - Sarah Dessen

13- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling. I find it super interesting that the first and last books of this series are the top two on the list. But I also totally agree with it. When I reread this book earlier this year, there were moments when I had to shut the book because I felt terrified and I Already Knew What happened (also its Fiction). So amazing. The last 10 pages make me grouchy but they are to be expected, I was better than the alternative.

14- Little Women- Louisa May Alcott. Of course. Please. I just realized I don't own it, or maybe its at my Mom's house? I feel like I need a copy for when I have the flu and its cold and rainy.

15- City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

16- On the Jellicoe Road- Melina Marchetta

17- The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger. I know this is heresy to some people, but I only got through the first 25 pages of this before I gave up on it. I hate Holden Caufield. So hard. Ugh. Maybe if I had tried to read it in high school or college I would have *gotten* it. But at the age of 24, there were US Weekly's that held my attention for longer.

18- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling. Oh Sirius Black. I heart you.

19- The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky. How did I not read this book yet? Its going to the top of the list. Well, near the top.

20- Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen

21- Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

22- Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead

23- Graceling - Kristin Cashore

24- Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher

25- Sloppy Firsts - Megan McCafferty

26- The Lord of the Rings- J.R.R. Tolkien - yeah, I know, I should read this or at least see the movie, but I am afraid its possible the moment has passed.

27- Alanna: The First Adventure - Tamora Pierce. First of all, these books are WAY more scandalous than I think a 13-year old is ready for. I mean, there is a substantial amount of boning in this book and she's what, 17 year and goes on birth control?! However, its all very chaste and totally enjoyable and wonderful and I think the fact that she gets around sends a message about confidence to girls which I support more than Miss Bella Swann.

28- Ender's Game- Orson Scott Card

29- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price - J.K. Rowling. Delores Umbridge might be the best written/most awful/awesome character I've ever read.

30- Uglies- Scott Westerfeld. I got this for C-bomb a few years ago and never managed to steal it back to read. Bear has it too. No excuses for this one.

31- A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray

32- Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden

33- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E. Lockhart

34- Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen. Wow, is this really YA? Awesome. Same as Little Women, I need a copy for a day when I want to be on the couch for 6-8 hours.

35- The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin

36- Paper Towns - John Green

37- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling. Cedric Diggory...mmm.

38- Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins. Oh man, again - I read this book in what felt like seconds. I left work early because it was just sitting in my bookbag and I knew I wasn't going to actually get any work done until I finished it. Katniss, again, an awesome strong female protagonist that will use men to her advantage but doesn't need them to get up in the morning.

39- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith. Again, I am so sad I haven't read this...I feel like a failure sometimes.

40- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian - Sherman Alexie

41- Lock and Key - Sarah Dessen

42- The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman. For real people, I wrote my undergraduate thesis on this book and I got an A. I love this trilogy but I won't ever see the movies because of the whole taking out the anti-religion piece. It would be like making "Paradise Lost" a romantic comedy. This book gets really slow towards the end, but the world she discovers in this book is so magical and wonderful.

43- Evernight - Claudia Gray

44- Sabriel - Garth Nix

45- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling. Is this the first one where Harry makes out with a girl? That is always so uncomfortable for me.

46- Beautiful Creatures- Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

47- Forever - Judy Blume

48- I Captured the Castle - Dodie Smith. The most perfect vacation book ever. This book will always remind me of Nantucket, because that's the first porch I read it on, but it deserves others. The girl who narrates is so wonderful and secretly who I spent my whole childhood (and most of adulthood) wanting to be.

49- Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine. I don't think I knew this was a book. But okay. I did not see the movie because of my aversion to Anne Hathaway, but I've heard its better than I expect...I am not holding my breath.

50- The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot. Again - Anne Hathaway makes me itchy. And I could never read these books without thinking of her.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

fail the bees

So you may have noticed two spelling errors in the last two posts - if not, congratulations, we are much more cosmically linked than I knew before.

Anyway, they were very subtly pointed out to me, which I am cool with - I can take some constructive criticism, but there was a part of me that, after reading the e-mail was like,"Meh? What do I care?" which is pretty pathetic, because I should care about things like proper word spelling, but the fact of the matter is, unless you're going to pay me to care by hiring me to write for you or If I think you might give me a job, I will spellcheck a cover letter from time to time, (this got me though the time I put "roll" instead of "role." Ugh! I will never live that down).

So WHY? pray-tell does a writer think she can be so loosey-goosey with the spelling of words, particularly in her native language?

Because no one ever really told me that I had to worry about it.


In second grade - Mrs. Bierley told us that we were allowed to spell words how they sounded (or phonetically - as the grown-ups say it). And so I did. And that meant that words that are spelled much differently (ie - "bowls") than they sounded in my head, came out dead wrong, ("boules" for example). And while she always corrected my spelling, I never once was told that what I was doing was wrong.

Enter third grade where I had a teacher who, looking back on it, should not have been employed by the Frederick County public school system and is all that is wrong with tenure and teachers unions and all that. She was a hot mess. She had at least three kids under the age of three and so was only in the classroom half of the day (because that's an excuse to not do your job). The rest of the day we were shuttled around like boxcar children from one random room to the next.

Needless to say, our education was not at the top of any one's priority list.

In 3rd grade not much happens, which meant it was a pretty good year to get abandoned like a ginger at the prom but the one critical thing that happens, is you start in with the spelling tests. Because apparently before third grade everyone is way to ADHD to get in on some rote memorization.

Anyway - in third grade I started flunking spelling tests, not a lot, because 98% of the English language is common sense, and I'm not a total moron, but I was sliding by with 13 out of 20's most weeks, and because no one cared at all as long I wasn't burning the building down - I didn't really catch any flack for not knowing how to spell these words like tomorrow and surprise (both of which still take a few tries most days) so I never learned to care about spelling.

Which is pretty pathetic, I know...but it got to a point where my complete lack of spelling skills became a cute quirk in my personality. It was right up there with self deprecating humor and weirdly small feet. So now I make a concerted effort but really - thanks to a whole bunch of people not caring about me during that tender age of 8 - I could honestly care less when things are wrong.

And according to 7 year old Rachel, as long as it looks right when I sound it out- its right.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

two is really enough

For the past almost-three-weeks my boss has been away. This isn't new, she is quite the world traveler and has left me home alone before, although during past adventures in baby-sitting there has always been another adult around, maybe not in the office every day, but just a phone call and a short drive away.

This time however, I've been flying solo. People are checking emails and talking on skype fairly frequently so I don't feel abandoned, but there is still has been about 98% of alone time.

This means I should be getting TONS of work done, which is of course not true, because its hard to find motivation when you're flying solo and facebook will not leave you alone (grr...facebook).

But I am making progress all by myself...I am a good worker.

The point of this blog is not whether or not I am good employee - its what happens once I get home from work.

Rachel - "...and then I had a sandwich."

Boyfriend - laughter

Rachel - "What? What is so funny?"

Boyfriend - you just spoke for about 30 minutes straight and I just realized why. You haven't talked to anyone all day.

Once he brought up I started to realize it was totally true, I've been lucky enough to get food and drinks with people most nights the past few weeks and thinking back - I have not been able to shut up. Even more than normal. And I have even heard myself talking, and tried to make myself stop talking and start listening, and it still keeps coming out.

Its not really word vomit, per se - but its all the little anecdotes that I share with my boss every day. Its the this happened to me last night, this morning, five minutes ago. Without her, they get all stored up and then come out really fast all at once - kind of like, well - word vomit.


And this is why I am now confident in the fact that there is no way I could possibly live alone. I could, but I would probably explode. I need to talk to people. I am not sure if this is something I should feel bad about - or if its just something I should accept about myself.

And I mean, lets be real - I am also a listener, and happy to be... but once I've had a day, I need to analyze and discuss it to make sure that I'm okay with it.

And so now - my boss will be back soon, but of course it took nearly three weeks to realize what was happening, so the past two nights I've been able to warn people,

"I haven't had an actual conversation today - so I'm going to talk a lot about nothing at all."

According to most of my friends - this is nothing new.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the stuff

I've decided that 2010 is the year of being a writer.

I know, its a little late in the game to be deciding anything about 2010 - since its already almost over (essentially). But - I want to try harder for the rest of the year and see what comes of it.

And secretly, I've been trying for a while now. Forcing myself to attempt to write 30 blogs in 30 days (which, AnnieBelle, I want a rematch - even though I won last time) and boring the interweb universe with my insanely cliche anecdote about my trip to Europe... this is me trying.

I write at work too - I write to make people believe in our cause and our mission - for people to give us work and money...and for the most part it seems to be working.

And I'm editing old writing. Trying to make it real instead of just fun.

So anyway - Happy Monday everyone. Please bug the shit out of me if more than a couple days go by without a post, because I might forget that this is the year (or 5/12ths of a year) of being a writer.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lost it

there was a miserable, self deprecating post here that would have made people want to comment and tell me to cheer up. But instead now there is a picture of delicious Maryland Blue Crabs.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

by the cover

I have this impulse that is nearly uncontrollable -

When I see people on the train or in the gym or at the crosswalk holding a book that I've read - I desperately want to talk to them about it. It gets to the point where I have to physically turn my body and think about something else, so insistent is my desire to get their thoughts and opinions.

Well, whackjob, why don't you just join a book club??

I did! And I love book club, but for the most part the same 8 or 10 fabulous ladies have been in it for two or three years and so I almost already know what people are going to think about certain books...when you have strong opinions - they hardly ever change. And for real, sometimes these ladies surprise me with their thoughts and get me to look at things a different way, but mostly I'm ready for the page that they're going to be on (as it were).

Whereas - strangers? Oh man - I have No IDEA what that girl holding "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was thinking, she was only like 50 pages in (judging from where her index finger was in the pages) and I so.badly wanted to be like, "I know, its slow and boring now, but just give it some time..."

The most amazing moment of this was when I was on the bus reading "Team of Rivals" (for Book Club). I was pretty engrossed but aware enough to notice that an older gentleman with a long white beard and a badass old man hat had sat down next to me. I was curious to find out what he was reading and I find that no joke he was reading the SAME BOOK. We were both reading Team of Rivals, next to each other on the same number #2 bus. How does that even happen??

I had soooo many questions and queries about that book, and I was dying to ask him all of them but he looked engrossed and like he might be an old man of the grouchy variety so I didn't. I did hold the cover of my book up in a very obvious way as to say, "Hey! Hey! Look at me! We're not a wasted generation as a whole!" He either never noticed or didn't care. To this day I wished I had worked up the courage to find out how he felt about the book and its relevance to our current political climate, because I KNOW he would have had some crazy interesting answers.

Some people do not have my willpower - and I have been asked before by strangers how I like books that are in my hands. This is pretty much the only time I talk to strangers ever. Of course, most of the time once they ask I go into an overly long diatribe about how I'm having trouble relating to the main character, and how the parents are just caricatures and the writing style leaves something to be desired and the people will give me a minor stink eye. And then I realize they're looking for a, "its pretty good."

I wonder if other English major/bibliophiles have the same problem or is it just I'm weird with a poor sense of social decency.

Friday, August 06, 2010

two years ago...

Two years ago, today, I changed my clothes in the bathroom on the lower level of the Harold Washington Library.

I was coming from work, where I was required to wear jeans. And I didn't want to be wearing jeans for tonight (two years ago).

Because I wanted to look nice.

And the bus let me off downtown. On State and Van Buren.

And I didn't have time to go home.

So I went to the Library. And changed my clothes.

And then I left the library and felt slightly ridiculous about myself, but knowing it was worth it.

And that feeling?

Of absurdity that makes sense?

It hasn't gone away.

She's pint-sized and amazing.