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.

She's pint-sized and amazing.