Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's really going to happen

Happy New Years er'body.

(those are pomegranate seeds. More fun additions to my champagne in 2012)

The army

I am obsessed.

Bus driver

One of my favorite Chicago things is taking public transit home at the end of the night.

Not only do trains run pretty late (and some are 24 hrs - even buses) but the ride only costs you a penny (or it's free because sober bus drivers don't want to deal with drunk girls trying to find pennies in their drunk purses).

When feasible - its about 100% more awesome than a cab for the continuation-of-the-party atmosphere, the fiscally responsibility of it (starting the new year right!) and because it means that you don't have a drunk Frat guy standing in front of your cab refusing to move until you get out and give it to him.

I even brought some flats in my bag to ensure that this is the first-best bus ride of 2012.
Curling my hair is one of the many things I will start doing and then half way through, remember that I hate more than anything and isn't really worth it.

This also applies to making salsa.

All the cheese

In the past year, I have discovered that Brie is my absolute favorite food. 

Its impractical for a lactose-intolerant lady such as myself to have cheese as her go-to meal of choice, but I have discovered that if I eat other things in conjunction with the brie - the yummy ache feeling is less and the awesomeness is more.

So here are my favorite ways to prepare brie.

1- Brie and Caramelized Onion Bake.  Noble Pig hardly ever lets me down, but she does occasionally require me to alter her recipes.  I don't know if she lives at a high altitude or has some sort of space-jet oven and range, but the cooking times are never quite right for me.

This is pretty amazing and WAY easier than I thought it would be.  Presentation-wise, everyone is always impressed (something about wrapping something in puff pastry makes people think that you are a kitchen wizard...False).

The onions take way longer to caramelize than she says - and if you are using a standard size brie wheel, you only need about half an onion worth.  Watch the onions to make sure they don't burn. Make sure you unfold the puff pastry while its still cold (if it gets to room temperature its impossible to work with). Let it cool for at least 10 - 15 minutes to prevent a gooey, ugly disaster (that will be delicious but less visually impressive).

2 - BBQ Brie with Raspberries. The best grill discovery of the year! Invest in some of those cedar planks, this will not work without them. And you can use them for other fun things (although chances are you will just make this three or four times).  This is one those things where they say to simmer the sauce to make it get thick but then takes forever, and you call your mom and she tells you to turn the heat up high and that will make it sauce-y much faster.  Also, the sauce does not to be cooked on brie the grill (too messy!), just put it on when you're done with the grilling.

3 - Bite-sized Baked Brie.  I made this as one of the apps. for Christmas dinner this year and literally they were gone in less than 10 minutes.  I turned around to get the bacon-wrapped-dates out of the oven and poof.  Gone.  They are also incredibly, tediously labor-intensive. It would help to do them in stations with someone else, but I was all alone, incredibly hungover and reevaluating all of my life choices when I made them.  But the product was worth it.  I used raspberry jam instead of cherry (because I really don't like cherry and I already knew raspberry + brie = crazy delicious).  You need WAY less brie and jam in each little tart than you think you do. Make sure you grease whatever you cook them on (even if its parchment/wax paper). I made one less cut of the dough than she did and just did a fold over and it worked fine.

4 - Kahlua-Pecan-Brown Sugar Baked Brie. This is not really an appetizer.  Its actually kind of a dessert.  Or a PERFECT brunch pot luck item. Noble Pig is teh ish. The whole simmering bit with the sauce has again never worked for me.  I cook it on high for awhile and then turn it off. And then its perfect. I keep the pecans whole for aesthetic reasons.  This is the easiest thing on this list and it is so rich and fantastic. 

Here's the thing.  Putting just a wedge of brie on a plate with some crackers, is pretty much always going to satisfy...but if you are interested in taking your cheese-eating to the next level, her's how to do it.

Its happening

Guys.  I will write 150 blogs this year.  EVEN if that means I will be writing blogs until midnight tonight.  I have to accomplish something this year.

Despite the fact that I was gainfully employed for 12 months, maintained a healthy, lovely relationship with Boyfriend, discovered new things, kept in touch with old friends,  and left the country - I will not feel like its been a good year until I complete just one of these stupid goals.

I hate resolutions.


Two Things.

1- Hugh Grant dancing to the Pointer Sisters is probably my favorite minute of film...ever. I seriously cannot think of a single minute of a movie that makes me happier.

2 - When Laura Linney leaves the hot Brazilian for her crazy brother, I get SO.MAD. I love my brother (a LOT), but he better understand how the dice would fall if this was happening in our lives.

In 2012

I saw this on the North Ave bridge a few weeks ago and now its my New Years Resolution.  I don't quite know what it means to me just yet, but any time I think about it, it makes me feel a little better about everything.

No Old Home

This is where our last (and favorite) apartment used to be. They kicked us out because they said they were going to tear it down and then, 8 months later, they made good on that promise.  
I have never had a home stop existing before.  Every house and apartment I have ever had still stands, to this day.  And there is a comfort to that - to the memories continuing to exist in the walls and the strange spots on the floor. 

Even though we only lived here for a year - it was just as important as any other year.  We spent summer nights on the porch becoming even better friends with some of the best people we know, we cried about scary accidents and lost grandmothers, we cooked old meals and discovered new favorites.  We lamented the ugliest effing clock abandoned on the wall by the owners.  We laughed over and then embraced the brightest blue bathroom in the world.

I ride by this place every day on the train on the way to work and at one point the only piece of our old apartment you could see was that bright blue wall, exposed for the whole world. A piece of our history for everyone.

Nap > Treadmill

Here are some reasons I don't go to the gym:

I have been at work from 9 AM until 7:30 PM.  I have put out 4 - 5 metaphorical fires, run up and down the stairs and drank three bottles of water to keep from passing out.

Its the one night of the week when I don't have rehearsals/a social engagement/late meetings/a work crisis and I just want to go home and sit on my couch for once in my life.

I haven't eaten since noon, its 6:30.  I am about to pass out from hunger.  I have to make the choice between going to the gym with a disturbingly growly stomach or eating dinner as soon as possible (guess which one always wins?!)

I have to start laundry (like, out of underwear, need to start laundry) and if I don't go home and do it now - it won't be done until like 2 or 3 in the morning because our dryer sucks.

I went to the gym yesterday and my legs feel all wobbly and weird.

...while I understand that these are all excuses, they seem so legit in my mind. So in 2012, I am going to figure out a way to make working out happen without all the excuses AND without going in the morning (fate worse than death).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Book 20 - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

So apparently, my brother, Buttmunch, called Boyfriend seeking Christmas present advice for me. All Boyfriend could apparently come up with was that I liked books by, "that gay guy who you guys listen to when you drive around."
  Image (via)
 This is actually a fairly accurate description of David Sedaris and Buttmunch was able to break the code and come through with this book which I had never read (despite the fact that its been out for Years).  And I got though it in less than 48 hours.

This book would be described as a delightful romp through the animal kingdom.  I bet you didn't know that animals talk and think like us, but they do.  They make bad choices and date people their parents don't like.  They are really sarcastic, judgement and just a little bit racist.

Its exactly the book you need when you are sick of humans and need a reminder that if you were a member of the animal kingdom, it would probably be just as bad.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

99 blog problems

As I come ever so much closer to not meeting my goal of writing 150 blogs in 365 days I have realized a few things that I hope to work on in the coming year.

Take more pictures.  I am bad at this.  All the best blogs are covered in photos.  And the bloggers take photos of mundane things that help the story.  They take pictures of food and shoes and artsy-half-shots of peoples faces.  More photos.  Then I need less words!  Brilliant.

Make a date. I have found I write best around 10 PM, on the couch in my jammies.  Unfortunately, I have found I am also very good at trolling facebook around this time.  I need to just make myself write every day.  With any luck the habit will help.

Write about my feelings.  While this blog is mildly entertaining (sort of?) it lacks any sort of actual depth.  And I think I either need to get way funnier, or start talking about feelings... I'll take some time to figure out which is best.

And so that's that.  I'll follow these rules and magically there will be more blog, right?! Right.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

there's no place

I've been home for about 36 hours now.  Mostly I have shopped and done regular work.

And thought about what the word home means.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Play well with others

I get irrationally angry about a lot of random things but the WORST is adults who don't follow rules and this is so evident when traveling. People who don't put their liquids in bags, try to carry on three bags, sneaking on the plane before your time, not putting one piece of carry on luggage under the seat in front of you, not turning off electronics (...Alec Baldwin) and seriously, the list goes on.

I know that most of these rules are completely asinine but they are still the rules - and you thinking that you are (for some bizarre made-up reason) above them, makes the entire process take longer for the rest of us.

When you refuse to do that liquids-in-bags jam you hold up the TSA agent as you yell at her (for doing her job??) and EVERYONE ELSE in the security line when she has to rescan your neosporin and jock itch cream (one has to assume you have an itchy crotch from being a dick). Follow the rules and you save all of us 5-7 minutes.

Here's the thing- flying is probably the worst thing ever, the drinks cost too much, we're all sitting way too close to one another and inevitably, we will probably arrive worse for wear (and an hour late). But if we can just all agree that none of us are special (unless we have paid an airline to say we are special, and that only counts for like 20%) and we will all just do what we can to make the experience less miserable for each other. If we could just agree to not be dicks, flying would suck that much less.

The end.


Just in case there is any confusion - that is a dog, in an elf costume, not on a leash - waiting at the gate with me. Oh, the humanity.

In the line

This blog post coming to you from the security line at Midway airport where we are all just trying to getthroughthis. The woman behind me is traveling with a cat that clearly has not been tranquilized into blissful, happy, not-meowing appropriate kitty traveling state. Everyone is mostly silent, 6 am being a little early for waiting-in-line carols. But most importantly - I am going to save the day on my flight by being the one person not using the overhead bin. It wasn't my choice but I had to check my bag and so now I am a one bag, under the seat, lady.

Merry traveling. Let's all get through this without cutting in line.

Edited to add - the holidays aren't complete without the TSA official who calls you little lady and then says "Spank You." Merry Holidays from the US Government. Your tax dollars at work.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

noodle memories

I wish I had the energy to make lasagna. But the fact of the matter is, I got home at 5:30 and still haven't taken off my scarf or moved much further than the couch. Its been a long weekend, and pictures of my very first lasagna (made a few months ago) will have to suffice.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Not dead (yet)

I didn't post yesterday - I was way too busy suffering from a hangover, eating my birthweight in sandwiches, catching up with old roommates-turned-friends an sleeping on the couch while Boyfriend put up our tree. I am not dead though, I promise.

Here is a picture of Zoo Lights, one of my favorite Chicago-Christmas traditions.

...just kidding. Here is some empty space while I try to figure out to upload pictures from my iPhone to blogger.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Probably Dying*

For the past few days, I have been experiencing this bizarre sensation - every two hours or so, the outside of my right thigh will warm up, like I've put a heating pad on it, or there is a vent next to me that has just turned on.  It sticks around for a minute or so and then it goes away.

The first few times I thought it was a vent near my seat, or something in my bag (which, when over that shoulder tends to hit that part of my leg) overheating (?? - clearly this was not something I really put that much thought into) - but then I noticed it happening even when I was just sitting and (duh) there was nothing in my bag. 

So what do I do?

Look on the internet.  Of course.

This has been even more impractical because it seems that there is this population of people who get this and no one seems to know what makes it happen, but they post like three times about how its happening and they don't know what's causing it and they're going to see some specialists...and then they stop posting.  They never come back to tell us what the eff is going on.

To me - this means they all died.  The answer cannot possibly be that people are demanding of free medical advice on the internet, but when they don't receive it they just go see someone but then never come back to give the rest of us overly-warm-on-the-right-side Folks an idea of what is happening.

People have speculated totally obvious things that would fit (B12 deficiency, stress, anxiety, pinched nerve, back problems) but also super terrifying things that I do not want to think about (MS, blood clots) and so now I am left feeling even more freaked out and terrified that I was before I googled my symptoms.

Mostly its one of those things I am having trouble ignoring.  It isn't like a pain in my back that goes away with some advil (I refuse to put any drugs in my system due to the blood clot piece) and it isn't like a runny nose that you just, you know, deal with - its this overwhelming sense of warmth - like my thigh is on a beach in Jamaica while the rest of me is here.

So anyway, if I post one or two more times and then you never hear from me again - I'm probably dead because my right leg is in the tropics and I am here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

168 hours (or 604,800 seconds)

7 days until I go home.  Real home.  Real, smelly, falling apart, over flowing with memories and comfort (heh) home.

That thought alone will get me through until next Wednesday.  I will battle my demons because I know on the other side is true victory in the form of cheap sales tax and a decent crab cake.

Right coast, here I come.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes, and... Maybe later

My relationship with the improv world in Chicago is tenuous at best.  It boils down to the fact that I don't have the capacity (financial or otherwise) to hang out and get drunk until all hours during the week (or even on the weekend).

So I've always been on the outskirts.  Most people have no idea who I am, despite the fact that I know them.  They occasionally learn my name, we'll have an evening of exchanging life stories and declaring ourselves "good friends," and then the next time I see them - I am a stranger.

This is not me saying they are bad people, because (for the most part) they are not.  I hardly ever take that extra step to be all, "hey, remember that amazing night we shared full of PBR and comedy bits?"  I am sure if I jogged their memories, they would be perfectly nice - but I am too shy.

At any rate - the holidays are really the only times I am ever a member of the improv social scene, because the drinks are cheaper and I care less about other obligations that require me to function at early hours. And also because it's Christmas. And if you can't make friends with people who will not remember your name the next day at Christmas, when can you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book 19 - The Cookbook Collector

Two books. 20 days. I can do this.  I might even finish the stack of New Yorkers while I am at it.  Believe in your dreams, guys.  Or my dreams anyway.

I did not do this book justice.  This book deserves a bubble bath, with candles and a nice bottle of wine.  Instead it got dirty, dirty train cars as I gulped it on commutes.

Image (via)
I probably will never read it again, but I loved every second of reading it. It had the occasional moments of Jane Austen-esque squeals and great moments of page-turning anticipation.

It also had some serious, serious eye rolling.  I think it only took four or five pages before there was a Chez Panisse reference.  Of course.  And the deus ex machina at the end (that I was seriously waiting for because Miss Goodman wrote herself into a serious corner with a few of the relationships in this book) was well done, but kind of frustrating because it just seemed too easy.

Also, I pretty much glossed over all of the IPO business.  I think I saw VC six or seven times before I took the time to figure out it meant venture capitalist.  I also glossed over most of the religious gobble-de-gook, it bothers me when people try to push a religious agenda on me while I am reading their novels, even when its subtle and unoffensive.  I read novels to get away from agendas.  Stop ruining everything.

That being said - it was a delight.  It made me really hungry.  And it made me want to spend time researching old books (and buy a beautiful house on the West Coast).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Not so barefoot

Tonight, while I stood in someone else's kitchen, negotiating with someone else's stove, doing the complicated ballet of "where can I put this?" - some things dawned on me.

I think understand why my Mom likes the kitchen (maybe?). There is a sense of control and confidence not found in other parts of the party. I may not know how to talk or listen to you- but I know how to be successful at this - at cooking for you and making you appreciate my company through a different kind of dialogue.

I understand why you cook - because it helps you not eat. Had I not been manning pizza making central - I would have been eating. I cooked five pizzas and ate 2.5 slices (way below my normal average). Cooking keeps my hands busy so I am not stuffing food in my mouth.

The sense of accomplishment from cooking for friends is one that, probably for the rest of my life - I will cherish above all others. There is something about feeding the ones you love- its inexplicable and wonderful. I so rarely feel proud of myself - that even when it is something silly (like putting toppings on crust & putting it in the oven) I relish in completely.

I should have learned sooner, picked up quicker, listened better when the secrets were emparted to me but alas, such is youth.

Also? I shouldn't wait to write blogs until my phone is almost dead- as it means I have to finish them the next morning...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Plan into the new year

And a sigh of relief falls over the crowd.

For the first time in my mid-20's, I have New Year's Eve plans more than 24 hours before the clock strikes midnight.  And they are with people I love.  And they do not require a cover fee of anything more than brie and a bottle of wine.

I already like 2012 way better than 2011.

Friday, December 09, 2011

red squiggly line (of death)

Spelling is my ultimate nemesis (as I have discussed many, many times), but seriously - there are a few words that are now part of my vocabulary that Microsoft Word hasn't bothered learning yet.  Maybe this means they aren't actual Engligh language words - but I use them constantly, so they are words (I am just making up verbs here.  Bomb. Watchmenow)

This means that I will write an email/proposal/letter and I will get that little red line of failure and I throw my hands up in protest (although, I finally added many words to the Microsoft word dictionary, my computer still doesn't recognize them.

Its an epic battle and it keeps me nice and enraged when I am still at work at 8 PM.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Black and White and...

File this under jobs I would probably take in a heart beat:

Apparently being a Panda Census taker is hard. Because they are hard to spot in the wild. But when you do spot one, its a Panda. And you're hanging out with it. So I feel like its worth it.

Butterstick, back when he was a baby and lived in DC.

 Here's One.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

home bones

It's happening.  I get this feeling as soon as a trip backs to Maryland looms ever so closely on the horizon.  Like the minutes before a sunrise.  I want to be back home so much it aches in my rib cage.

And its never practical or normal.  Its stalking craigslist for apartments, finding jobs and picking new favorite sushi places.  Its thinking about seeing my friends without an excuse and getting to see my cousins so much that I don't notice they're growing.

The feelings will pass, because I most assuredly do not want to live in my Mother's house (which is the truth of life over Christmas vacation) and I am fairly certain that having jobs that make you frustrated is not something relegated to the central time zone but right now, it aches.

And so I fill this ache - with cupcakes, ginger bread lattes and waffle fries so that when I finally get home, I will probably be 2,000 pounds.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Fail week

So far this week: I learned about this. And then yesterday, this happened.

Harry is my cousins' grandfather (on the other side). This cuts really, really deep. And reminds me of all the reasons I want to be closer to home.

The 4600 Block of Broadway is about 3 blocks from my office and 2 blocks from where a whole bunch of kids in my program live. I love Uptown with my whole heart, but I could use less stories that sound like this (and this).

So far I give this week a D-

Monday, December 05, 2011

That guy

I love Chicago because it is a big city full of food, things to buy, and strangers.  I don't care too much about my appearance, but I especially love that when I go to the grocery store in my sweatpants and last night's make-up, I am not going to run into anyone who is going to judge me about it.  Living my life surrounded by strangers is oddly freeing and while this may sound strange, it feels the opposite of isolating.  Rather, everyone is my friend, or a person who's opinion I don't car about.

However, despite this city full of millions of people, there is this one guy I run into at least twice a year. 

Let's be real.  My Chicago is much smaller than the city itself.  My life is concentrated on the north-east side, and so its not as big as I make it seem, but there are a lot of people in this part of the city.

At any rate, in January of 2007, I took two sessions of improv classes with this guy named Aaron.  He was a perfectly nice guy, but he stopped coming to classes, sadly, and so he kind of faded from my memory.  Until I saw him at a restaurant at some point in 2008.  He was a waiter (though not mine) and we caught up for a few minutes, said good-bye and I did not give it another thought.

Well, lather, rinse, repeat this situation 2 - 3 more times a year for the past 3 years.  Its at restaurants where he is working or in the busy streets on late nights or, as happened last night, on a bus in a neighborhood we've never run into each in before.

Last night we did not talk though.  I saw him, and I am pretty sure he saw me, but neither of us made that first move, that first second of eye contact and engagement in conversation.  Maybe we were both tired or had other things on our minds or maybe we just done with the acquaintanceship that we have not done too much to nurture, despite the world tossing us together time and time again.

At any rate, it never fails to delight me that I see him so frequently without any warning or planning.  There are people that I make plans with in Chicago that I manage to see less than I see him.  It gives me a chance to remember that no matter how big a city I live in, the world is so small.

Friday, December 02, 2011

all month long

To finish just ONE of my blog resolutions from 2011, I have to write a blog (pretty much) every single day of this month. 

Holy crap.

This would, under normal circumstances, be a daunting task, but it is Christmas which means I (like so many) have

Anyway, this is one post.

It is accompanied by a picture.

I had a rehearsal with some of the most amazing improvisers in Chicago on Tuesday and it was marvelous.  These folks (and our show) are just the Best.

Anyway we  were in some random studio space and this was on one wall with some complementary business on the opposite wall.  How whimsical and lovely.  I want it. On this crazy Friday morning, I think it would be exactly what I need.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Thursday's Best Internet Finds! Spending all the dollars edition

My friends are not all really talented writers, they are also amazing creators.

And since it is the season of buying and gifting - why don't you step away from the Target and support some lil businesses that are truly lovely.

Two of my friends make some of the most gorgeous jewelry and they are pretty much as different as guacamole and cupcakes (but both as delicious).

xx The Purple Dahlia xx
Old Roommate J. started making shiny things when we were living together.  One of her first creations for the masses was a necklace she made for me called the Chloe.  It was modeled on a necklace that Mary Lynn Rajskub rocked (hard) on 24 (yes, that's a picture of it).  It was so gorgeous and apparently it helped J. realize that she could probably start making all the dollars by selling them (rather than just giving them to her roommates).  But when my apartment got broken into, she made me these gorgeous earrings (seriously?? I have the greatest friends) that occasionally catch the light from the window and make rainbows all over my wall and I squeal with glee. Anyway, now she makes gorgeous sparkly things for rurl and if you live in the Dallas area she will do a jewelry party with you (including food - which, if I know J. probably includes cupcakes and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls.  Win.)

Things I love?  This Bracelet. and These Earrings. (omg, that Blue!)

Albina Tritina
SBM is one of the stunning ladies I occasionally am lucky enough to share a stage with for some Funny Funny Make-em-ups. Last year for my birthday she made me this jaw dropping necklace that I wore on the most special of occasions.  And then this year?  She made me another one - also just for looking really fancy.  Every time I wear it people compliment it.  The last time I wore it, 2 compliments in 30 seconds.  No joke. If Very Unique was a thing. This jewelry would be it (in the best way possible).  AND Her Etsy page does not do her stuff justice.  She has a billion things that are stunning, go there and then ask if you can see the back room.

Things I love?  This Necklace and This Necklace (asymmetrical? so hot right now).

And if jewelry isn't your thing -

Maggie's Stained Glass
My friend C-sea's mom hand-makes stained glass.  Just the thought of taking on something so challenging boggles my mind, but she does it and they are fantastic (guys, I am running out of adjectives in this post, but I mean no hyperbole, all of the everything I am talking about here is amazeballs).  For Christmas she has little angels and Christmas trees but there are also amazing all the time things for your naked window or door or really anywhere that gets light.  (Mantle? Bookshelf? the possibilities are endless!)

Things I love? This Flower and This Star (not for sale, but you should probably call her immediately and ask her to make you one special)

Seriously.  This year is the year of shopping small.  It was going to be the year of handmade presents, but I have already thrown in the towel on that one. I am excited to visit my local craft fairs and buy all the things off of the Etsy (but carefully...if Regretsy has taught me anything it's that you need to seriously investigate before you buy...still totally worth it). 

I probably will not sleep in a park anytime soon, but I think this is just as meaningful a way to make your voice heard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Seven.

 This old coworker of mine used to run marathons all the time.  It had gotten to the point where she did not even train for them.  She would just wake up on marathon morning and run 26.2 miles and then go get herself a beer.

NaNoWriMo has become my marathon without the calorie burning.  Any time I mentioned that I was writing a novel people would exclaim how impressed they were and I felt like it was undeserved, because it did not feel like work.

I have done this so much that it is just muscle memory and blind faith.

Except I almost did not make it this year.  Because I made a plan and that was a stupid.

Many of my friends require some sort of structure before the go out on this journey.  I gave it a go with the structure and then 20,000 words in I realized I hated it, but I could not go anywhere else.  In years past I have just let the story lead and I've followed behind madly tying and trying to catch up to my thoughts.

Having a plan made me feel trapped and suffocated and it was almost my downfall.  Like if you tried to run a marathon in different shoes.  Terrible idea.  And it made me think that it was going to be much easier than years past.  "With a plan," I pondered, "it'll all be worked out and I'll just need to write.

Wrong.  Again.

Also, mid month (when I get most of my writing done) my boss decided to leave on an impromptu trip to Africa which made my "real work" load much heavier, and Boyfriend and I both came down with weird stomach things (for me) made everything painful and terrible (not a particularly productive mood).

I found some really useless ways to procrastinate this year.  Including trying to make videos of my cat playing with a hair tie.  Except she refused to cooperate, so they are just videos of her looking at me confused.  No. seriously.

At any rate, its all done once again.

All the thanks go out to:

McKim. If someone is going to drag your ass to the finish line, it should probably be someone with pluck and spunk and who is so far ahead of you it makes it seem like you're never going to get there.  Thanks for being the holy trinity, McKim.

The folded out couch bed. I spent most of thanksgiving break there.  I do not regret it.

Boyfriend. For food and yelling (both of which sustained me through the last few thousand words).

Kathy P. I needed a writing buddy and she was totally up to the task.  It was such a game changer to have someone sit with me in the cafe and be writing too.  We maybe would have gotten more done if had not spent quite so much time catching up, but even still - it was a productive day with delicious coffee drinks.

T-Bone. For giving me all the excuses I needed to put off the beginning.  Good procrastination takes work, people.

Prosciutto and mozzarella on English muffins. Yes, please.

Weird chocolate-y Chex mix boyfriend made.  I have eaten at least 4 pounds of the stuff and it still looks like the bag is half full.  Clearly there are some dark powers at work here.

Guys.  Next year? 1,667 words every day.  I mean it.  Will some one please hold me to this?

Monday, November 28, 2011

list > work

Sometimes, instead of working, I just make a mental list of all the other things I would rather be doing with my time. 

I know this is a bad sign, or perhaps just a sign of being normal.

Making the list is just so much easier than doing all the work.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book 18 - The Book Thief

Guys - if I can make it to 21 books this year (half my original goal) than I will give myself a solid pat on the back. It is hard to maintain a New Yorker subscription and deal with the ever present temptation of an iphone while trying to read all the books.

Anyway - this was probably not the book to finish reading on the morning after Thanksgiving, alone on my couch with a stabbing pain in my belly potentially caused by a (self-diagnosed) swollen lymph node. Oh the tears, they did fall.  It was not quite as ridiculous as Little Bee, but I guess what did I expect from a book about the Holocaust?

Image (via)

The schtick of this book is that Death is the narrator, which I will give bonus points for, as it is both clever and very appropriate for the subject matter - even though I found it to be kind of a tedious bit after awhile.

The characters in this book are so wonderful and they are that way because this duder, Mr. Zusak, has a way with the descriptors, let me tell you. I love the little phrases that so accurately depict things.  It makes me want to study people and write about them.

There are a lot of design decisions that were made that I could have lived without, but there's a part in the middle that involves pictures that I want.  I want framed prints of it in my house (if that wasn't so morbid and strange). They are all so simple and just perfect.

Image (via)
Books about the Holocaust will always be devastatingly sad, because, like a book about the Titanic, you kind of have some idea where its going. But this book was just as much about being a girl who truly loves books as it was about horrible things happening.

It was strange, if you asked me if I liked it while I was reading, I would have probably just shrugged and said, "meh," but it kept me reading.  I don't know if its that I did not want it to end, due to my premonitions of what would happen, or if it really had just gotten under my skin and taken hold of me.

Now that its over, I cannot imagine reading it again, but I know that eventually would want to just revisit the pictures and descriptions of all these people who make it what it is.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

No, thank you

When I take a moment to think about everything I should be giving thanks for - I get incredibly ferklempt.

I would never even dream of saying that everything is perfect, in fact things are decidedly imperfect, and flawed and terrible in many parts of my life.  But when I look at the whole picture - it is pretty good.

Sometimes, the picture looks like this.

I wasn't kidding when I said before that there is something inexplicably fun about sleeping on the fold out couch.  Possibly because I never had one until a few years ago?  And so it always meant that I was on some sort of adventure.

At any rate, Boyfriend agreed that we could have a weekend-long slumber party in the living room. And so we have had just that.  And while I've been busy cooking and cleaning today, Hazel has been making excellent use of it. And I look over at, when I am about to just throw all the foods away and start over, and I remember that this is a day to spend some time thinking about all the little things.

Little things like new books, and slippers, and living room sleepovers, and adorable animals, and flannel blankets, and knowing that the love that surrounds you is as big as the universe and there is future out there full of question marks and adventure.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I don't have it

I have lived in Chicago for 5 years now, which means it is currently in 3rd place in the "places I have lived the longest" competition (behind Middletown, and DC).  If I make it another 2 years, it will move up to second place, which will be quite the impressive feat, if you ask me.

Not only have I lived here for 5 years, I have funtioned here for those years.  I've worked, and lived and paid taxes here for one whole hand's worth of time.

It is amazing, when I sit down and think about it.  I really, really, really in my wildest dreams did not imagine myself living and thriving out in the Midwest.  It stuns me but also leaves me with a sense of pride.  I did it.  I made me into the me I am out here, all by myself.  The girl who drove out here with her Mom is has become a whole person, much more confidenent about where she fits in the world.  And she has sensible clothes, and can cook and always pays her bills on time (well, mostly). 

You would think that this girl, who has now become, dare I say it, an adult? out here, hundreds of miles from the places she used to call home would be smart and functional.

You would be wrong.

Because for the god-forsaken life of me, I cannot.  Cannot. CANNOT. remember that everything that exists on the East Coast, exists an hour later than it does here in the Windy City.

Seriously?  Its a time zone. It's been the same all 5 years.  One would assume I would have figured it out by now. I would be able to remember that when it is 9 PM here, it is actually 10 PM there and so no longer a socially acceptable time to call people over the age of 30.

One would think I would remember that the Daily Show comes on at 10, not 11, like it did before.

But nope. I can't. I cannot fathom that I am living a life in the past.  9 PM already happened in Maryland.  It was crazy!! but now its over and everyone is going to bed.  Stop calling us.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

feel it in my bones

I am super, super lazy right now.  It comes with being overwhelmed at work, and the beginning stages of hibernation (why is my bed so warm/the world so cold).  I have two or three blogs that I should edit and post (but haven't), a Novel to write, and lots, and lots of actual work to do.

I need some inspiration... but more importantly, I need facebook to disappear.

In other news, my cat sits way too close to the television.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There's a fire

Things that make my Life -

Watching a bunch of Uptown kids, who are normally way too cool for school, go crazy dancing to Adele's Rolling in the Deep and then demanding it get played on repeat.

When I leave this job, there is a lot that I will not miss, but there are piles upon piles of things I cannot imagine living without.  The weekly Thursday dance party is one of them.

Also, I am still not totally convinced that the lyrics aren't, "the stars in your love remind me of us..."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Always a problem

I am the.worst bridesmaid.

Well, that may be an exaggeration.  After three* weddings I have discovered my role and its not so much bridesmaid as court jester.  Girls bring me on because everyone can use a good laugh when they're stressed out, and we all know that the best laughs always come from watching someone else act like an idiot.

Anyway, I feel like there is some market value in what I do.  I am seriously considering hiring myself out as the "funny" bridesmaid.  I am the one who can't put on her own make up, needs to be reminded that she can't touch her hair and always forgets to buy my shoes until the very last second.

Also, I am going to ruin some of those pictures you paid all that money for.  Don't believe me?  Here are some examples.  These are supposed to be some samples of the standard, "now let's get a nice, cute picture of the bride with each of her 'maids.  Now stand close shoulder-to-shoulder, look at the camera and smile."  You know that old tune right?

Not this girl.

Photo (via)

Okay, this one isn't too bad. It almost looks like I am supposed to do that.  Except all the other bridesmaids followed directions.  Beans looks like she is planning on being in the OG version of this picture and clearly, I am not okay with this.

Image (via)
Tierra is just as much of a dbag as I am about all this wedding business, so she jumped right on this bandwagon. But if you look at all the other ones (with the normal bridesmaids), she is smiling like a champ. I give the brides the opportunities to get out the crazy.  Speaking of crazy...
Image (via)

Seriously, Cindy-loo and I were not even trying to follow the rules.  The photographer clearly blamed these shenanigans all on me and insisted I be on the outer edge of every shot taken from then on as punishment. 

There are very few words to describe how much I love these girls and while I hope they aren't all too mad at me for being a photo ruiner, I hope that having someone to laugh at (and maybe with?) on what I have to assume is a pretty stressful day is worthwhile.

How can you not appreciate the girl who inspires a picture like this -

Image (via)
Yeah, get all that crazy out now before the Honeymoon...

*Technically I've been in 5 weddings, but at Aunt Bluh-Bluh's I wasn't old enough to be the gd asshole I am today, and at Big Cuz's there are no pictures on the internet, because I am pretty sure the internet did not exist.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Silly face

Oh facebook, you are so bad at some things.

Just because we have six friends in common, does not mean I want to be friends with Boyfriend's ex-girlfriend.

I may be confident and without a chip on my shoulder, except not so much with the confident thing.

Either way, solve the problem, Facebook.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book 17 - The Fish Can Sing

So, if there was even an outside chance of me fulfilling my resolution - it is now gone, because it took me 3 weeks to get through this one, which means I now have a stack of New Yorkers to get through before I even crack another cover.

It's cool though.  If any book was going to be my downfall, I am glad it was this one.

Image (via)

Do you guys remember when I went to IcelandDo ya, do ya? It was awesome

And this book? Was like a little piece of Iceland that I got to carry around with me for a few weeks.

Let me be real with you, this book was by far the most challenging thing I've read in a while. I can't quite put my finger on why it was so hard to get through, except to say (and I kind of want to punch myself for saying this) - it was very Icelandic.

The whole time we were there, and the whole time I was reading this book I was struck with this sensation of feeling like I didn't really understand everything that was happening.  We would walk down the streets and go into stores and buy food and watch for whales, but the whole time I just felt like there was this bigger narrative that I wasn't really aware of.

This book gives you a peek into the secrets I wasn't let in on.  These people who have lived this life that looked the same for hundreds of years, whose moral fiber is wrapped up in fish, and flowers and being good to others.

When we were at the National Museum of Iceland, there was this little exhibit about how Icelandic people used to reuse everything and darn their socks.  Nothing was ever thrown away until it disintegrated.  This culture of value (rather than waste) lasted right up until the Americanization of the place, and the of course, their economy went in the pooper (coincidence? doubtful.). This book encapsulates that mentality and expands upon it.

Also the story is just so. strange. and awesome. I don't even think I do it justice when I try to explain it - its just that, "so strange and awesome," just like Iceland.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday's Best Internet Finds! Sassy Laaaay-dee edition

Listen, there's a big wide world of internet out there and I am here to tell you which girls make it their pool boy.

Love Your Awesome
Steph was one of my first baby-sitting monsters.  We used to get out a big silver bowl and put all the food in the house in it.  Then we would eat three bites and her mom would throw it away the next morning.  We were the biggest food wasters, but it was all so they would think I was the best baby-sitter ever.  Anywho - now she is all grow'd up, living a glorious post-college existence in New York and writing about being grade-A awesomesauce.

Kathy writes a travel blog, and Chelsea writes a "style" blog, and they both are so crazy funny and eloquent about their chosen themes, I wish they would write more (this is a hint, girls).

And of course, most of the ladies blogrolled on the left are the best ladies you'll ever find taking up the internet tubes with their musings on puppies, race relations, and having hairy legs while getting a pedicure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

More goats.

Thoughts on Girl and the Goat (round two):

Yes to goat empanadas (but also still yes to goat belly & lobster).  Meh to cod cheeks.

When you order more than 2 plates per person, the last plate or two can be overwhelming.  Maybe only 2 plates per person, no matter how excited you are.

Dessert is an epic gamble. Go for it. You may discovered that foie gras infused marshmallow fluff is one of the best things ever. Ever.

Oh pig face, you are still so salty and perfect.

I, apparently cannot eat escargot and fennel combined.  This is a devastating discovery but one that only took one bit to figure out.

I can eat shiitake mushroom, which is exciting.  Especially when they are paired with butternut squash in a fennel potato rice crepe.

Pan fried shishito peppers are the most delicious game of Russian Roulette ever.

If I could marry grilled baby octopus, I would, but I would probably still fool around with ham frittes (which, are actually pomme frittes - something I accept but am still confused by).

Your second experience at the most amazing place on earth (suck it, Disneyworld) will never be as life-changing as your first.  As the second time you do anything it just becomes something real, not like a crazy game of make-believe.  That being said, I would not turn up my nose at a third time (if only because one day I'll work up the nerve to steal a menu). 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Visits with T-bone.

T-bone has been here since last Wednesday.  It hasn't been the happiest trip but through all the tough stuff we have had our share of fun.

Its always interesting to me to see how the definition of fun evolves as we get older.  Four years ago, fun would have included multiple hammer-drunk nights in succession, followed by a bout of bad choices and more fried food than any human needs in a lifetime.  T would have cooked, I would have coerced her into buying expensive clothes she didn't need but looked good in, and we would have spent too much time talking to strangers. We slept late and ignored the life that was happening outside of our bubble of somewhat-controlled insanity. 

Now the fun is quieter and a little bit easier on our livers.  A night out ends at 2 AM, not 6. There's more dancing and reminiscing, less chatting up strangers.  More delicious food than over-served booze.  There's still all the eating, but now an inexplicable want of vegetables that our younger years lacked.  The men in our life stay around (occasionally to our chagrin).  Money is spent smartly rather than delightfully impractically. Life can no longer stop for a visit, rather it is readjusted to allow for as much time as possible spent in remembrance of a life free of responsibilities.

Despite all that.  Sunday breakfast still occasionally happens at 12, and it still, sometimes, looks like this:
 Brunch at The Southern. Complete with a free tasting of Bourbon & v. necessary coffee.
They taste better when mixed, imho.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Saturday Sleeping v. Dreaming

One of my least favorite things about my life right now, is that I have been robbed of having a normal weekend.  Its not any one's fault, I just have a job that has taken my Saturday mornings hostage.  And a standing rehearsal that bogarts my Sunday AMs.

The Saturdays are what really make me sad- I have spent my whole working life trying to avoid working on Saturdays yet, except for the two years I spent being slowly and painfully driven crazy, I have always, always punched the time clock on Saturday and/or Sunday. 

Yesterday though, I remembered why I work on Saturdays - because even though getting up at 7:30 on Saturdays is easily one of the most frustrating things in my life- and as the temperature drops, it gets harder and harder to pull myself out of my nice, warm, boyfriend-filled bed. Saturdays are what remind me why I work where I do.

Saturdays aren't spent in the office, or in front of the computer - they're spent watching kids discover how much they can achieve - they are for being inspired, and chest-burstingly proud.   They're for talking to parents and solving the simple problems now, before they become big problems.  They're for strategizing and laughing and talking about books we've read.

They're for trying my own hand at some of the fun sometimes and eating cookies.

It doesn't look like Saturday mornings at work are going away any time soon - but I wrote this to remind me that its worth it. 

As I watch kids careen across the floor on unicycles for the first time.  As one of the kids excitedly asks me to post the video of his double front on facebook for all to see. As the moms tell me how great they think I am. Its worth it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween pixels

I took a few pictures of the holiday and then gussied them up on my phone.  I am pretty obsessed with the pixlromatic app.  It takes my lame photos and makes them interesting looking.

I should be out being in my 20's but instead I am in, wearing jammies, watching  Mad Men, drinking spiked apple cider and waiting for Boyfriend to get up again so he can get me a mini Mounds bar. 

Next year I shall be social, this year I just took pictures.

I spotted this sweet headband on my extra-long Halloween-edition bus ride home.  It was pretty much the only thing that kept me from getting up and screaming that everyone just needed to shut up and ride the bus like grown ups.

 My unused Halloween costume.  I brought it to work just in case I was expected to be wearing one (this is the first year that Halloween has been on a program day since I've been working there and since I'm the boss, I didn't have anyone to ask about the rules, so I figured I would call and audible).  I was going to be a Chicago Bear.  Geddit??

One of the sweet tutors at our program brought goodie bags for everyone!  I love treats! The best part was when one of the kids asked what was in it, she says, "Sugar.  You'll love it."

I am kind of in love with this.  Before our party on Saturday, Boyfriend covered our entire house in fake cobwebs including the top of our bed frame.  It's been fun to wake up to Halloween, and since we're grown-ups we don't have to take it down until Christmas.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Halloween ranks, for me, up with New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day - as holidays that never live up to the hype. 

This year, instead barhopping or going to a whole bunch of parties full of strangers, and then spending all the dollars on cab rides - I made the party come to me. 

I threw a party, billing it as the lamest, mellow-est party in the city - and told people that only half-hearted costume attempts were acceptable.  Taking the pressure off the holiday made it so much better.  Despite some minor hostess meltdowns, the party was a major success - thanks some tarot cards and delicious food.

As I grow older, I have developed quite a sense of pride in my ability to feed people successfully.  I will never live up to my Mother's reputation, but like Peyton trying to impress Archie - I am going to keep trying.

Luckily, I live with someone who is also up to the challenge, and doesn't work on Saturday mornings.  So we were able to serve quite the menu.

His contributions -
Zombie Eyes - green olives, stuffed with pimento and grated cheddar cheese, wrapped in puff pastry (not phyllo dough, as he so sadly learned the hard way).

Hot dog mummies - pigs in blankets - but the dough is sliced thinly and each piece is added individually (to make bandages rather than blankets) and sprinkled with cheddar cheese

Meatloaf rats - meatloaf in roundish shapes with cheddar cheese in the middle (notice a trend?) - with eyes made of peas, ears made of carrot slices and a tail made out of uncooked pasta.  It was adorable, and delicious.

My contributions -

I received a pizza stone for my birthday (thanks Hazel!) and really wanted to take it for a spin.  My Mom has been making pizza for my entire existence and she has always made it look so.easy.  Its not quite as simple as I thought it was, but this was definitely a good learning experience. 

My crust was nice and soft, but needs to be spread out a little more (after spending my whole life making and eating rectangular homemade pizzas, I now am living a circular life and it is going to be a hard adjustment).  Also, it took a pizza and a half to learn that you actually need to make dents in the dough so that you don't have pizza sauce dripping every where.

I am not sharing my sauce recipe, because its too embarrassingly easy. But the recipes other wise were-

Red sauce with green peppers and onions.  - Well, the onions need less time because they got burnt on the ends.  Whoops. Also, I think a few minutes being sauteed in a pan before being put on the pizza (rather than being put on raw) probably wouldn't hurt anything.  Easy-mozzarella-cheesey.

Red sauce with prosciutto, goat cheese and arugula - this was most certainly received the best.  I put on the red sauce and some moz and cooked it for about 6 minutes, and then put on the prosciutto and goat cheese and cooked it for three more.  Once I took it out of the oven I threw some arugula on it and then it was gone. I cannot wait to make this again.

No sauce (I just brushed the crust with olive oil) with mozzarella, feta, marinate artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. Well, sun dried tomatoes can only cook for about a minute before they burn (these were dried, out of a bag, rather than marinated), so that was frustrating to discover, but otherwise this was quite good.  It was not actually as salty as I was anticipating.  It could have used more cheese (can't everything?) - especially on top, as without the sauce holding down the fort, the toppings were pretty out of control.  This was the least well received, but it also came out last, and I think by that point, people were out of room in the pizza compartment of their stomachs. 

On top of this - our friends brought some amazing dips, a game-changing cobbler situation, some caramel apples, and wonderful company.  While there is a part of me that will always want to do an elaborate costume and have a wild and crazy Halloween adventure - I am finding as I grow older, that the quiet, delicious celebration is just as good.

It's messy and crazy, but I would not have it any other way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Birthday thoughts

In my old age, I have decided that getting presents makes me really anxious because I hate pretty much everything and I am really not good at hiding the fact that I hate everything.

But! There are some things I really like about birthdays:

-taking advantage of free things (both coldstone and chik-fil-a give you free dessert!)
-getting mail.  Sometimes this is presents, but just getting cards is quite enough for me.
-sleeping late because I want to.
-dressing up for no real reason at all
-having an excuse to talk to people I don't normally get to talk to
-buying nice things for myself (yes. I would rather spend my own money than have people buy them for me).

**I am still working on other birthday memories (I got sick last week and started making excuses) I can't decide if I am going to post them this year or next year.

Also, the amount of birthday love one gets on the facebook is overwhelming.  What a lovely tool for making people feel good about themselves one day of the year.  Thanks Marky Z!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Little bit about love.

So.  A few months ago, I had one of the hardest decisions of my life (based on past experiences you can figure out how much hyperbole has been sprinkled on that statement).  Luckily, it was kind of made for me.

Two of the most amazing, smartest, prettiest, sassiest ladies I know (Cindy-loo and KChu) are getting married to two of the luckiest guys in the known universe (AndyP and Howie Howardson, respectively).  And it just so happens they picked the exact same day to celebrate.  But of course, they couldn't get married in the same room.  Noooo, that would be "weird." So I had to make the epic choice of which one do I love more.  Well, not actually.  Cindy-loo very sweetly (and for reasons that still I don't quite understand because I am terrible at this particular job) asked me to rep for her in front of Greek Jesus. 

I so rarely get a chance to hang out with Greek Jesus, that I said yes.  And a bridesmaid was made.

So Cindy-loo and AndyP. get my presence at their wedding. 

KChu, and Howie Howardson get this, a blog about them. (and honestly, I don't know which is the fuzzier end of that lollipop).

KChu & Howie Howardson,

There is some thing crazy special, and the most fun of your 20's life, about getting a front row ticket to watching real, true, forever love happen. 

Its pretty rare to know, and be friends, with two single people, and then watch overtime as they evolve to be a couple. Still two awesome people, but two people who have high-fived and decided that they're going to take on this big, bad world together. 

I feel like so many of my friends started dating strangers (we like to call the interlopers) who only through their dating of one of the finest people in the world, have I gotten to be friends with.  But KChu and Howie were both great people with solid stamps of approval before the first awkward attempt at hand holding ever went down.

This was Howie Howardson getting real, real sauced at 9:30 AM watching Badger Football.  Maybe flirting with a waitress, maybe yelling at the televisions, but always there, surrounded by at least 6 female friends and occasionally a dude or two.  And we all waited for the girl who would walk through the doors of that stupid, stupid bar and be good enough for Howie - and his pile of lady friends.

Well, what do you know?  She was already there.  Maybe it took a few more months for her to become part of the circle but she was a brilliant, occasionally overserved but always responsible, fast friend.  She went to college on the East Coast (unlike everyoneelseintheuniverse who had gone to school out in these parts) but she was still from Wisconsin in all the best ways.  East coast brains with a midwest heart?  Ain't no shame in KChu's game.

There they each were. Through the yelling and the confetti and the gallons of Miller Lite being spilled every where.  They managed to spot all the right things about each other.  And while the rest of us were contemplating what the secret ingredient in the tater tots was, and where Naulty had lost her credit card, they were in those very baby stages of becoming a team.

Then there was the time line of drama.  Drawn on text messages and serious bathroom talks, on book club conversations and the bottom of the shot glass.  The good and the bad and the "what happened last night?" We were spectators and occasional coaches, whether they liked it or not.

While they were weathering each other, they were also forced to weather us - Statler and Waldorf times six, but much higher pitched. Us girls with too much time on our hands were there for the commentary, but also to occasionally steal focus with all our own silly, silly hearts. 

And then you survived!  You survived those years with an Apple Holler and a Mars Cheese Castle between you.  Even though it had to have been tough, we all secretly knew that this was the test, this was your journey through the Hidden Temple, and if you made it through you would be together for life (and also possibly win a trip to Space Camp).

KChu & Howie Howardson, I don't know if you can really comprehend how much we all love you.  You are both incredibly smart, and perhaps with your powers combined you can understand how much we (me, and all your other loud, drunk friends) have loved watching you guys find each other and start this life together.

Thanks for letting us come on the journey with you.  Thanks for being awesome while single and while dating.  Thanks for both being able to (individually) hold your own at a late-night Baby Atlas dance party. Thanks for being two of the best listeners in the history of people-having-ears.

I have been told that every bar in the world can only produce one couple.  While people will meet in bars and inevitably make bad choices with each other, each bar can only produce one real, amazing, forever couple.  I am so happy that Redmond's got you guys.  And as a celebration of that, let's never go back.

I love you both so much. I'm sorry I can't be there to be embarrassing on the dance floor.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Best Birthday Stories - The one with the dress

When I moved to New York, I thought I was very, very grown-up.  I didn't cry when my Mom left, and even though I had no idea what to do with myself, I pretended like I did.  I faked it - and inevitable, I made it.  I moved in late August, at the tender age of 17.  Its not every day you turn 18 in a brand new adventure, so I decided to make the most of it.

On my Actual Birthday - at 1 AM, I was in a diner on the Upper East Side, with D-$, my roommate.  She had been at a failed attempt at an American Idol audition (back when that was something you did) and had just come back.  I had been writing my first ever college midterm papers (I wasted no time perfecting my procrastination) and we decided to get food (oh college).

ANYWAY - We get to the diner and look up on the tv, and what do I see?  The name of my hometown, flashing on the TV.  I convince the surly, Eastern European woman to turn up the volume and find out that the police had caught the two snipers who had been shooting in the DC area (remember that?) - so Happy Birthday to me.

We go home, sleep for three hours and then do whatever 18 year old spends her whole life dreaming of - stood outside of the Today show like a couple of tourist idiots and made a sign using notebook paper, a crayola marker and some chewed gum.

It totally worked, y'all.  I spent the 6:05 AM minute of my 18th birthday getting a hug from the weather-guy-who-isn't-Al-Roker.

As if that wasn't the most amazing thing - a few hours later (after turning in aforementioned paper) my Mom, Big Cuz, and Aunt Bluh- Bluh rolled up/down from Maryland/Nantucket respectively. 

Since I didn't have any friends yet, my family was sweet enough to come celebrate with me.  My mom drove 4 hours to bring me my favorite food and quality time with my favorite older cousin.  And my aunt came down from her island sanctuary to spend a crazy weekend in noisy, smell, dirty New York. 

Not only did they come to visit, they also brought presents (as if their presence wasn't enough).  For my birthday my Cousin Peter had invited me to come with him to see Aida at Lincoln Center.  And I was desperately in need of the appropriate attire.  My grandmother (in one of the best Birthday maneuvers of my grown up life) sent up five dresses and I got to pick two (Oh! The luxury!)

I ended up picking a funky black and brown patterned one with bell sleeves and a wide skirt (which is what I actually wore the night of the opera) and my very. first. Little Black Dress.  It was simple, and flattering and didn't need to be dry cleaned.  When I wore it, I felt like such.a.grown.up.

After my family left, I cried for the first and only time from true homesickness (rather than homesickness mixed with heartbreak, or school/job woes).  To have a family that loved me enough to drive all this way and celebrate with me.  How could I spend my life so far away from all that? 

That was the last birthday I spent with my family until I turned 23 - when my Dad was in Chicago and took me out to delicious tapas.  And since then, I haven't been lucky enough to have any family close by to help me celebrate.  Luckily I have this amazing pile of friends to make me feel embarrassingly loved, but I miss my family sometimes too.

And - that little black dress?  The one I kept, but didn't wear to the Opera?  It still hangs in my closet. I wore it last Thursday to an event.  And about a month before that to an important meeting. And maybe two weeks before that, out to dinner.  It's gotten a little smaller - but it still reminds me of my family,  goes through the wash like a champ and comes out making me feel just as grown up as it did 8 years ago. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday's Best Internet Finds! Traveling Edition.

Guys.  It's almost Friday.  Woot.

Here are some things from the internet to keep you going until 2 or 3 PM tomorrow when you check out on the week and spend the rest of your work day on Facebook and devising plans to sneak out early.

I am beyond excited to know both of these amazing woman personally.  They are both smart, funny and look really good in a LBD.  Not only that - they are both on incredible journeys that reading about leaves me seething with jealousy.

Meegan and I worked together as Smart Homies at MSI. And she let me buy her copy of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim for super cheap after my Mom took mine.  Right now she is at a Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica helping injured sloths and having a Grade-A adventure.  She is also taking videos. Read (and watch, for all of you with lazy eyes) about all of the amazing things she is doing Here

Holly was one of my favorite students while I taught dance (since it was over 10 years ago, I am allowed to have retrospective favorites).  She just graduated from college (those years went by fast!) and is now on a trip to Cambodia! She is working with children (perhaps in an orphanage?) and posts some insanely adorable pictures. I get so excited to see kids I have worked with grow up to be amazing young adults. Holly's super cute photos and descriptions of her adventures can be found Here!

Sadly, both of their adventures are much too short - but bookmark them and read while you can.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Giving you space

Listen everyone - we've talked about spelling and if you were around back when I was in high school/early college years, we perhaps talked about my struggles with "paragraphs that aren't so long you want to stab yourself in the eye," but here is something that I am having some real problems with - 

I cannot remember that there is only one space after a sentence-ending period now. I am finding it nearly impossible to finish a sentence and then only hit the space bar once before starting the next one.  My brain can only compute hitting it twice.

We've had a computer since I was in elementary school. I recently passed the point where I have been using a computer (and so, by association, putting two spaces at the end of a sentence) for more than 50% of my life, and when you consider that I didn't actual have fine motor skills for the first couple years, its an even bigger divide.

I understand that there are also people out there who have a much more impressive percentage of how much of their lives they've had a computer, but for the most part they are 16 and cannot be trusted. And I understand that there are people who are my age who have acclimated just fine.  But really, its a challenge to change a subconscious action.  Can you imagine if they just moved the "J" key over to where the quotation mark key is? There would be an outrage.  They would take to the streets!  QWERY 4 LYFE!

So, this blog is an apology for the fact that when you read this blog, you may notice that sometimes there are two spaces and some times there is just one after a sentence is over. I ask that you try not to hate me too much for my complete disregard of what is the Correct thing to do.

I will have you know that in any sort of professional writing, I am willing to go that extra mile and remove all the extraneous space betwixt my sentences. Also, I spell check like its my job (which, sometimes, it is) which is how I know I spelled sentence wrong, and differently ever single time I wrote it in the first draft of this blog.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book 16 - Feed

So.  I just realized I am supposed to read 26 books in 11 weeks. Survey says?  Not possible.  As far as resolutions go this year - I did not do so well.  Typical.

Anyway - I am still reading books and New Yorkers, but mostly watching television.  And now?  Having nightmares.

Books very rarely affect me outside of when I am reading them.  Exceptions?  The Historian and The Kiss - which made me so fully depressed in every moment of my life that I literally had to stop everything and finish reading it so I could be put out of my misery. 

Anyway, Feed is yet another book that messed with me outside of book-reading time.

image (via)

First things, first. I got this book from one of the parents at my program. The glee this brings me is nearly indescribable. I love book recommendations and I really love when they come from places and people you wouldn't expect. This particular parent is lovely, but I don't know how much she knows about what I read.  Truth be told - I will probably read a book recommended by an acquaintance before a friend.  If only because they are so much more rare, that I am more curious about what their recommendation says about me/them/our relationship.  Double bonus points for when you actually let me borrow your copy of the book (how do you know I am going to give it back?  That's trust).

Anyway. In theory - Feed is kind of brilliant. It combines two incredibly trendy topics (blogs and zombies) and explores them in a really thought-provoking-about-the-future kind of way.

The flaws?  Well, the language is colloquial at best.  And here's the thing - I love informal writing. In case you have just been clicking on this page and not actually reading anything, colloquialisms are my bread and butter.  However, in book form, it doesn't really work for me.  Its hard to read sarcasm without kind of rolling my eyes.  I think it, more than subject matter, is what makes a book for teenagers rather than spanning all age groups.  And Feed drops the F-bomb like its trying to impress its older brothers.  I found it somewhat tedious.

And, I love my brother like, a fair amount.  We are pretty cool. However, there was something really creepy about the relationship between the siblings in this book.  Maybe it was the chasing zombies bit.  There is no way my brother and I would chase zombies together.  We would be on the couch crossing our fingers that those zombies might be in the kitchen making us a sandwich.

The other thing is I really, really Hated the way the book ended.  Without dropping a major spoiler fart on this blog - I really feel like she made the wrong choice - especially in terms of making it a trilogy.  I am not going to say this guarantees that I am not going to read the next one, because that kind of hyperbole always kicks me in the ass (see - leggings) but I feel like I lost a fair amount of interest.  Feel free to get a spoiler-iffic discussion going in the comments regarding this if you'd like.

All that being said, this was an entertaining read. As I discovered while reading this book, I am way more interested in medically-created zombies over religious/extraterrestrial/unexplained zombies.  Also, as a card-carrying, check-cashing (back in the day) member of the print press and a hopeless romantic about the future of blogging I really love how these things got tied together.  Also, I loved the character of Buffy - and the idea of a "fictional."  How nice to give people who fill the internet with fan fiction, deviantart, Emo-y Live Journal poetry a place to call home and a sense of ownership and ranking-system value (and I am not saying what they do now isn't valuable, it is just hard sometimes to wade through the painful stuff and find the things that are good). 

But its truly the isolationist themes that got to me.  As I went to a football game, and traveled on public transit and spent hours and hours at a company retreat trying to figure out how I can get more kids into classes that are already at 20 or 30 people.  I tried to imagine a world where you didn't do all these things - where, in fact, you avoided them.

I am not going to lie - it freaked me out.  As a person who craves big city anonymity over the suburbs (which, according to this book, is what the universal norm will be after the zombies come) this is more terrifying than the actual zombies.  In every minute where I was surrounded by complete strangers, I felt my breath catching - what happens when there is a panic?  What will I do?  Fun fact - the only thing I could ever think to do was, "find an exit strategy." I would be the worst real-person-turned-hero Ever.

The whole, "Whoops, how did we get zombies?" plot actually made sense, and felt so stomach-wrenching plausible.   And as we wrangle with the media leaving out pieces of the story, and flat-out not covering things (the #occupywallstreet movement comes to mind).  I got all panicky.  It reminded me of the story my Mom told me about the first time she read, The Handmaid's Tale, and then she went to the bank and her ATM card didn't work.  An awful sense of foreboding terror.

Is there anything but an awful sense of foreboding terror?  Like is there a whimsical sense of your impending doom?  Perhaps to one of those emo poets?

She's pint-sized and amazing.