Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kicking myself

At 7:00 PM last Thursday, it was about 45 degrees on the Chicago lake front, with a blustery 10 mph wind blowing constantly off of of Lake Michigan.  It was decidedly Not Spring-like weather.  And yet, there I was voluntarily standing outside, because I had signed up for a Spring Soccer league.

At one moment, as I watched the ball sail out of bounds, wearing three layers of clothing and losing feeling in my fingers I pondered - what the blunt am I doing out here?

Soccer has been one of my most favorite things about Chicago.  What a random happenstance crazypants turn of events.  I go on exactly one social sports league website and answer exactly one ad looking for girls to play on a co-ed team.  Then 4 years later - I ended up with stronger calves, some awesome friends, a few crazy stories, a couple badass injuries and Boyfriend.  The roads life takes...

Soccer has not been all excuses not to go to the gym and finding cohabitation buddies and other wonderful things.  It has been frustrating for so many reasons - leagues that are run by, I am pretty sure, those same Nigerian guys who e-mail you about all the money they have for you, terrible referees (although no one ever says that people are good or fair referees - they are always terrible and always bad at their jobs.  I now kind of pity referees...but seriously the ones that do recreational soccer are really bad) and getting all busted up.

As I get older I become more and more aware of my own mortality - and more interest in prolonging this one little life I was given.  And, I really hate it when things are inconvienent. This tends to mean avoiding situations that might kill me or hurt me in such a way that I am unable to function to my normal standard.  And yet - I play soccer where I end up with jacked up (possibly fractured) feet and toes, unnaturally large bruises, undiagnosed concussions, and just a general feeling of abuse.

Its been a little bit my own fault - I play defense, and happily because it means less running, and I am nothing if not a chubchub who hates to run.  However, this does mean that I tend to find myself doing battle against people who play midfield and forward. For the most part, these people tend to be dudes who outweigh me by at least 80 lbs.  This means that when we both go for a live ball, there is a very real chance that we are going to collide at full speed.  And when a Honda Civic collides with an 18-wheeler, it is not very pretty for the Civic.

So I get knocked down (...and I get up again).  And I have loved it (but...)  I took almost a year off when I hurt my foot and then I would take time off because other things would pop up on my schedule and its gotten to the point where I've only played two sessions in the past year or so.  Which I think has killed the magic.  Maybe it was just this season - which was arguable the coldest Spring season on record (I think we only had one game where it was warmer than 50 degrees) or maybe its the boys who take it too seriously and yell and push or maybe its my constant fear of getting seriously hurt.

Or maybe its that I've already "accomplished" the social part of the equation.  And let's be real, the $80 every 6 weeks that I have been shelling out over the past 4 years has been totally worth it to meet Boyfriend who, despite what you think about fate and whatnot, I probably-definately never would have met otherwise.

I don't know if this is my retirment blog (sorry to overshadow you, Jim Tressel) or if I'll keep playing until I break my leg or get pregnant (and the way things are going, I am way more likely to get a leg sweep than a baby).  All I know is I want mother nature to get her act together (seriously, a monster fog?  In May?) and a good referee.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Big girl words

At my current job, I spend about 97% of my time writing.  Its a constant stream of words.  They are not the all-time-time words I normally use like, "for cereal" and "totes" and "outie 5000" and "incharge marge" they are those really fancy grown up words that mean the same thing but don't like a 12 year old girl and a stoner got together and wrote a dictionary ("kind regards," "facilitate," "complimenting," "to be sure" etc etc).

And then on the other side of that - I am also writing in the absurd because my job is, ever so slightly, the most absurd thing in the universe.  So my fancy pants grown up language gets juxtaposed with these words that most people don't ever find an excuse to use (especially in their work life).

So I write proposals - and I find myself using these stupid words over and over again.  Facilitate is the worst.  I know that it is a good word as it completely accurately describes what we are doing but it also just sounds so fancy and weird.  And boring.  Conference calls get facilitated, and board meetings, and meetings where you have graphs on foam core.  The things we do get taught and they get bribed and tricked and coerced and bamboozeled.  Although, I guess perhaps its the same with the board meetings and what not.

I know how lucky I am to be getting to write my proposals instead of the financial/engineering/whatever ones that would make me claw my eyes out with a spoon.  I use the same words but for ultimately a better purpose, which, I guess, is what makes it okay.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Attack of the future phone

On the same day that we went and stuffed our faces at Girl and the Goat, I also, finally, got my grubby mitts on an iphone 4.

This moment had been a long time coming.  I wanted an iphone the minute they came out however many years ago.  But when i went to go out and be a big girl and get my own phone plan, the told me how much it was going to cost per month.  So I slinked back to my crappy LG phone and figured it was only a matter of time before Verizon jumped aboard this Apple-licious crazy train.

That's the thing about time though - it can move so slowly.  And then when it came out for Verizon we had to have the epic battle of, "We waited so long, why not just wait for the iphone 5 to come out??"

My patience, while epic, could not wait past Dad getting a new droid.  I thought we were in the crappy phone club together, Dad. So once he was out of the club it was only a matter of time before I followed him.

And its been about two weeks now and they've been two of the happiest weeks of my life.  Boyfriend thinks he has found some sort of magical key to my happiness.  A new cellphone, apparently, does the trick.

The one major downside?  I cannot fathom ever reading another book ever again.  Why would I read a book when I have the whole world in a convienent palm-sized device?  I figure I give myself one more week of playing, but then I need to start limiting the angry birds and the words with friends so that I can spend some time with words on pages.

But then the future phone chimes and beeps and tweets and sings and I find myself digging in my bag for it wanting to know why its making noise.  Its like a really adorable, smart, useful baby full of clever applications.

Anyway - there are many reasons I've been a blogging failure lately, and this is totally one of them.  Future phone for life.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book 10, 10.1, 10.2 - If I Were in Charge of the World and Tamora Pierce books

That was an excessively long title, but I need to catch up a little on these.

 (image via)

I read If I Were in Charge of the World two months ago.  It took about an hour.  But it was a delightful hour.  Kids poetry is so unassuming and I don't really have to guess at the meanings or read between any of the lines.  Adult poetry sometimes takes more trouble than its worth - kids poems are like a glass of Sprite.  Clean and refreshing and with some bubbles.

Buy a kid you know a copy of this poetry book.  Read all the poems together and then write poems.  Go.  Do it now.  You will be surprised at how inspired you are.  No seriously, I'll wait.

The reading of Pippi and of this have really reinforced my determination to get at least one or two kids who hate reading to come around to it at some point in the next...ever.  I don't know how I'm going to do it - but I'll figure it out.  You can't hate reading.  You just can't.

Also, in the dropping off of letters that my Mom did, she also left behind some books.  Per my request, as I thought that my bookshelves were not looking overstuffed enough.  Some of the books she left behind were a sampling of Tamora Pierce offerings.  So of course, rather than read something new - I immediately had to read Lioness Rampant and Wild Magic in quick secession.

 (image via)
(image via)

I cannot remember the last time I read either of these books all the way through so I had some new thoughts on them.

One - Dang.  There is a lot of sex.  I am all for girls being heroes and getting their swerve on but, Dang.  And while I would never call someone who had sex with exactly three people a slut, for some reason when I read this book I am lead to believe that she is a little bit of a ho (fo' sho'). 

Also this book is for kids - I guess maybe there is the hope that 12 year old girls won't understand what, "sharing a bedroll," means, but kids are way smarter than we give them credit for.  Or maybe Ms. Pierce just wants girls to know that its okay to get Biz-ay - as long as you wear a charm around your neck that will keep you from getting from pregnant, because we all know those are 100% affective.

Boyfriend kept trying to read over my shoulder as I was reading so that he could make fun of me (he sneaked a peek at the back cover and was full of judgement).  When I refused to let him read it he would invite ridiculous text for the book that was, embarrassingly, not that far off from the actual.

These books are super ridiculous and yet, I love them.  I totally dig 'em and I am a big fan of Tamora Pierce as you can tell from this lovely sepia tone photograph.

Fun fact, right before this picture was taken, my good friend McKim was very mad at me because I had just dropped the F-bomb in a children's book store and McKim doesn't really approve of that sort of behavior.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

letters of letters

My wonderful Mother came for a visit a few weeks ago and deposited the first (of what I am sure will be many) piles of childhood in my apartment.

I understand, she needs to get the ish out of her house and now that I am a full fledged grown up (who now has some room to spare ... too soon??) its time I took on the burden.  Boyfriend already had to do it  and he's like ages and ages (6 months) younger than me AND the youngest in his family, which means his parents are contractually obligated to love him more than my parents love me.

Unlike Boyfriend, who had boxes full of toys and awards and odds and ends - the theme of mine is: boxes of words.

There were some photos, a few fur coats (awesome, and practical but yet - not?  We'll discuss this in a later blog) but everything else was words.  Most of my notebooks from college, play bills and programs, phrases I had cut out of magazines (in that way that girls do that should be weird and creepy but since the letters are pink and sparkly...isn't) but mostly letters and cards.

 Back in my youth, I was an avid letter writer.  This was of course in the age before e-mails when a letter was really the only way to get information from one human to another (except for maybe the telephone...) - and I had a lot to say (about, if memory serves me correctly, nothing at all) so I wrote lots of letters.

I had the good fortune of knowing some really lovely people who were willing to write back and so there were exchanges that stretched years and all that remains of most of them is all the letters that were written to me and that are now sitting in a mess on the floor in my bedroom.

I am at a loss for what to do with these letters.  Most of them I would not actually miss if they were to disappear.  There are not any specific words that mean more than others.  There are some pieces of paper that are prettier and some with pop culture references (one friend of mine had a serious thing for Hanson) that are more delightful but most of the information shared, is not really information that I will need going forward in life.

But there is something that has kept me from throwing them out these past two weeks they have sat in a really impractical pile.  Maybe, nostalgia?  I've taken the opportunity during teeth brushing and avoiding house cleaning to sit in the midst of them and pull them randomly out of envelopes to read - and its been fun, but more than fun - its been really, really strange.

Its a weird sensation to be reading words that were either inspired by, or were inspiring words that I had written...and to have no idea what my words are.  Its like listening to someone who is talking on the phone and only hearing their words...but knowing that you are the person on the other end.

I've spent some minutes pondering what 10 year-old, or 14 year-old or 18 year-old me said.  Sometimes I  know exactly what it was but a lot of the time I am at a complete loss about how I would react to questions about boys or school or well, boys mostly.  Younger me was as clueless about boys as older me.  Its a little disconcerting to not have any clue how I thought about things.

Most people don't probably take the time to think about how they thought about things in the past.  And why would you?  We're a forward thinking species.  But to be aware of just how much you change in 10 or 15 years is kind of crazy.

I want an opportunity to read through all the letters and officially say goodbye to all those relationships.  I might even use it as an opportunity to get into contact with some of these people (many of whom I have not talked to for years) and see where life, after all these letters had lead them.  And say goodbye to this last relic of life before e-mail and future phones and always knowing what we've been thinking.

The notebooks from college will stay, but the sparkly cut out letters will go, because at this age, they are totally weird.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

kids books

"When Tommy and Annika and their father reached the gate they heard [Pippi] calling.  They stopped to listen.  The wind whistled through the trees so that they could just barely hear what she said.

"I'm going to be a pirate when I grow up," she cried.  "Are you?"

Confession - I had never read Pippi Longstocking until this year.  Its one of those essential books of youth that skipped me by (see also: Perks of Being a Wallflower).  I had never even really had a desire to read it but we were on the hunt for a chapter book to use for a reading program at my job and one of our tutors suggested it.

I will never truly understand people who don't find immense joy and satisfaction in reading a book.  I know these people are out there, and I totally understand that they are just as smart and successful as the rest of us, but I will never quite understand how their brains work.

Its been the most frustrating as I watch these kids, most of whom are all under the age of twelve, fight tooth and nail against reading.  I don't know how it gets such a bad rap.  If there was a way to make books cool to these kids - I would pay whatever the price to bring it to them because they need it.  These kids need books, they need ways to escape their life every now and then.  All kids do.

This paragraph (the last in the book) spoke to me - about why we need books so badly.  Why kids especially need books.  Because kids should get the opportunity to consider if they're going to be pirates when they grow up or not.  And if they decide that a life of pirating is not, in fact, for them - then that's cool - at least they've given it some thought.

Anyway - if you have any other ideas of fairly easy chapter books that you think could engage kids ages 6-12, please let me know.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Girls, Goats, Pigs, Faces

A week ago, at about this time - I was half way through (arguably) best meals of my life.

I wanted to write about it before today, but life got busy.  This is actually ideal for you, because instead of every single thought I was thinking that night (and believe me, there were a whole bunch) you're only getting the ones I've retained for the past 7 days.  Think of it as a greatest hits album.

Anyway, prepared to be starving at the end of this...

Boyfriend and I acquired (through sheer luck and the fact that I spend about 100% of my waking hours on Facebook) a good friend's Girl and the Goat reservation for Monday at 8:30.  This is epic.  Especially because we only waited three weeks (not 5 months) to go.

So the yelp page said the dress was casual, which for Boyfriend and I means "trying way too hard."  It was all the cool kids were and we were totally pretending like we fit in even a little bit. Its good to date someone you would have been friends with in high school in situations like this.

Once we got seated our waiter came over and explained that everything was served "family style" which is how they get away with charging reasonable prices for plates...you end up needing about 5 of them for two people.  Anyway - so we picked what we wanted to eat and then announced these decisions to the waiter, to which he responded,

"Uh, that's an awful lot of meat, are you sure you don't want to switch out for a veggie dish or some fish or something?"

I think he was genuinely trying to be helpful and keep us from eating ourselves sick, but seriously? Who goes to one of the fanciest restaurants they are ever going to go to and orders asparagus?  And we could have gotten fish, but then we would have had to lose a meat dish and we weren't willing to make any exceptions at this point.

Anyway - he left before he could judge our carnivorous habits more and we waited (and drank wine).

The food:

Course 1 - Bread.  It was some sort of foccacia situation with two spreads.  One sun dried tomato and one chive yogurt one.  They were more the consistency of a sauce than a spread.  But it was good.  Separately, together, whatever.  Awesome sauce Indeed.

Course 2 - Fried Oysters with egg salad and capers.  I cannot remember the last time I ate an oyster (if ever) and Boyfriend for sure had never had the pleasure.  This was probably a terrible first oyster as it was amazing and fried and perfect and the next time he has a (raw) oyster - he is going to be sad.  Oh man, who thought oysters and egg salad would go so well together?  (Stephanie Izard, that's who).

Course 3 - Confit Goat Belly, Bourbon butter, lobster and crab and fennel.  I think one of most amazing things I've learned in my dabbles as a foodie is - don't get scared off by words.  Two things I have eaten that sound horrible but taste delicious? - veal heart and goat belly.  Its just meat, tasty, tasty meat.  And what makes meat better?  Crab and lobster meat.  I remember picking up a bite of lobster and realizing that this may be as close as I ever get to pure, unadulterated happiness.

Course 4 - Chick Peas Fritters with more veggies and some cheese.  Our one "vegetable" for the evening.  Fried and delightful.  Probably the most boring part of the meal, and even so, it was a taste I had never experienced and I would chose to eat it over pretty much anything else on any given night.

Course 5 - Sugo, [pasta], rosemary and gooseberries.  We both had a brief panic when we saw it on the menu, as it was a totally unfamiliar term.  When we asked our server what it was (while trying also to look exactly like we knew what we were talking about) he said some things we couldn't really hear (its kind of noisy in there) and so we said "Oh yeah, of course, we'll have that".  What he should have said is, "Rachel, this taste exactly like the most delicious parts of your childhood."  Did Nonna make Sugo?  I have no idea but this tasted exactly how I imagine all of Nonna's cooking did.  It was perfect.  I did not want it to end.  I wish I could just walk around with a bowl of it hanging from my neck and like, the longest noodle that I can just munch on whenever I am feeling like it.

Course 6 - (this just in: We are fatties) wood oven roasted Pig Face.  PIG FACE (and a sunny side egg, tamarid, cilantro and potato stix).  Apparently there are some cultures where eating a pig's Face is totally normal (this was made apparent by some of my friends complete "over it" attitude when I told them about it).  Well, in the 1990's upper-middle class suburban to rustic country culture of my life - pigs face was never on the menu, which is sad because that is one delicious face.  Its devastating that I've had to go 26 years before I even got to try it (although, there are probably like 5 or 6 people out there who have gone even longer).  With the sunny side egg and the potatoes, it was amazing.  It was interesting because it was served in the exact same style (with egg and potatoes) as the veal heart from Otom last year.  I am not sure why chefs serve unfamiliar meats in a style akin to something you would find at a Denny's, but I am not complaining.

And then - there was the ends of a bottle of wine to be dealt with, dessert to be discussed, but ultimately rejected (we were pretty full) and then a bus ride home to reveal in the amazingness of food. 

As I grow up, I think one my favorite things is indulging in a delicious, absurd meal for no real reason at all.  There was no anniversary, no birthday, no greeting cards necessary - just the food, the company, the girl and the goat.

Mmm.  Goat.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

run for your little red lives

Just in case you were curious.  This is what a 4 AM breakfast looks like when you're me...

A path of strawberry destruction.

Kids from my program were on a morning news show this morning - so I went along to help out, it was brutal - much like the massacre of this strawberries.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

lunge your face

Dear Rachel,

Hey Fatty!  Remember when you made a New Year's Reservation to work out more?  How's that going?  PS- walking to the kitchen for a left over Reese's Easter Egg and then eating it and a cadbury caramel egg doesn't count.


Okay but seriously.  This is a problem.  I have been to the gym about three times in the past month (that is a very generous estimate) and now that Boyfriend's office is no longer on the way to the train, I have no excuse to walk anywhere.  On a really rough day in the office I get some stair climbing in, but those tend to also be the days I eat four or five two-bit "all butter" cinnamon rolls.  Rendering all fake attempts at exercise null and void.

Bikram is a blog post that must be written because my thoughts on it are too pretentious for just my own mind.

But things are turning around for every one's favorite couch potato.  One of the best ladies this side of Ohio is starting a personal training business and she's taken on me as one of her first clients!  I've only met with her once, but if that half-session was any indication, this is going to be insane.

The session itself was actually really fun in a torturous sort of way.  I am not quite sure how anyone can be that gd cheerful about squats and yet, there she was - a ray of pulse, pulse sunshine.  I knew it was a work out, but its hard to be sad when others are so happy.

The next day was a different matter.  Despite taking a bath to sooth my poor muscles and some advil - I was in so much pain that I was pretty sure the next logical step was double amputation.  There was nothing about life that wasn't painful.  I'm sure it didn't help that I spent the next two days adventuring with my mom and then working with kids.  But seriously - it was ridiculous

At one point on Friday, as one of the kids in my program decided to make a run for it (as they are wont to do since I spend my time torturing them with books and free food), I finally had to call out for him to stop and I explained, "seriously, I cannot chase you anymore."

This moment of honesty and pathetic-ness stopped him in his tracks.  He realized I was not kidding and came back.

I'm pretty much all back to normal now and super stoked for my next torture session.  2 of these monsters a week, plus a gym workout?  Doubtful, but maybe, just maybe I'll put the Peeps down and get  serious.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the number one

Here is one of the things I ponder as I am panicking about parts of my real life:

How much of my e-mail goes to a complete stranger?

My email address is MyfirstnameMylastname1 (at) my not at all the most popular domain on the planet (dot) computers.  Or is it communications?  Whatever.

This is super annoying because obviously I really wanted MyfirstnameMylastname (at) blah blah blah but it was already taken.  Which is Weird because according to some other stupid website there are only like three people in the world with my name (this is probably not true but it makes my point better) - how did one of them get to it first?  What a jerk for being more tech savvy than me.

And I had a few other options I could have used but I got the crazy idea in my brain that the best idea was to just stick a 1 on the end and continue in my bitterness.

Obviously, I now know that this was a dumb idea.  Why?  Because sometimes its hard for people to comprehend what I mean when I say, "my email address is Myfirstname Mylastname and the number one at..." I do not know any other way to say it.  And yet, it trips people up constantly.  Maybe its because I spell my name out for them (you will spell it wrong the first time...it's cool, but you will) and so they are in the spelling zone so that when I say, "the number one" they mentally go, "okay. t-h-e-n-u, oh wait what? eff this."

And then there are those who read it or just hear me say it without writing it down who forget the crucial one and so the email never gets to me.  Instead it goes to someone else with my name (who has like, zero google hits, btdubs) and she get all the cool free things and awesome potential adventures.  Or whatever I'm missing.

Anyway - I hope she is enjoying all of the best things that I am imagining exist for her but not me (Bears tickets, for sure.  And probably a job interview or two).  She probably has like the awesome version of my life.  I hope she's grateful.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Teaching awesome.

I just want to take this hot second and give major props to all the teachers out there.

Here is what I have learned in my few, short years on this Earth.  Kids are hard to deal with.  As are adults.  Humans, in general, are kind of tedious.  Luckily, most of us only have to deal with other adults (until we drop the proverbial ball and make wee spawn of our own) on a day-to-day basis.

Can you imagine having to deal with all nonsense adults deliver every day AND whatever cockamamy business kids are dishing out?

And, in the effort of full disclosure, allow me to mention the fact that I Really, Really like kids (in the least creepy way possible).  I enjoy hanging out with kids (again, uncreepy) and have, since I was a kid, found myself working with them in a variety of ways.

"Oh!  You're so good with kids.  You should be a teacher."
"Oh!  You're so good on the toilet; you should be a plumber."

I've only ever taught kids in awesome capacities.  I teach them specific awesomeness and leave the regular learning to the true badass teachers out there.

I had this revelation a few days ago as I was walking to work, where I spend more time than I truly thought possible, negotiating, pleading, convincing, speaking sternly, bribing, and losing my mind with kids.  And there are only kids in the building 6 hours a Week.  And I feel like I spend all my time dealing with them.  And then I thought - holy crap, teachers spend All.Day.Every.Day with kids - fighting the epic battles of education with their bare hands and bared souls.

It is so amazing the work that teachers do.  The completely thankless task of getting kids to learn things despite their kicking and screaming.  And, lets be real, there are some sweet teaching gigs out there but - they are few and far between and the more I see the inner workings of the school systems, the more I think that a sweet teaching gig is quite the golden ticket.  Most of the people I know who are teachers, teach kids who have gotten it in their brains that they have something better to do?  As if you shouldn't be incredibly grateful that instead of spending all day in a field or a coal mine somewhere, you get to learn how the world works and all of the awesome potential you have as an educated part of it.

Again, as I am reading this I am trying to make sure I don't make any one too mad- I am not trying to dig on kids, there are kids out there who totally get it.  Who love learning.  Who drink in books and geometry proofs with a spoon.  I know.  I know some of those kids.  And they're totally awesome and man, do I hope they get to be in charge someday.

But there is a part of me who wants the other kids to be in charge too.  The kids who struggle and fight every single day.  Those are the kids who need amazing teachers to paint a picture of the world, even if it is one color at a time.

So thank you, to all the awesome teachers I know.  You are amazing.  And I figured I would wait until the Monday after teacher appreciation week, to let you know how much I mean it.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


In the midst of being a zombie with lists - I also became a person with a plane ticket to Iceland.


It won an epic Facebook comment battle to be my June vacation of choice (maybe some other time, Costa Rica).

I am incredibly excited (we leave in 49 short days!) and also incredibly overwhelmed by how little I know about the next stamp in my passport.  There are some things I do know:

1- It will be daylight 22 hours a day while I'm there.  As someone who prefers total darkness when she sleeps - this is going to be an interesting experience for my circadian rhythms.  But it also means that we will get so much more done.  So many travels I've had - you feel the need to stop looking at things once it becomes dark outside.  It makes sense (seeing how hard it is to look at things without light).   But here, we could essentially be taking touristy photographs all day long.

2 - Apparently Iceland is one of the safest places in the world.  The cops don't carry guns, everyone hitchhikes and people leave their doors unlocked (okay maybe not that last one, but...yeah) after recent events, this will be a hard thing to truly swallow as real, but I am still excited to be in a place where people are truly trusting.

3 - Geysers, Volcanoes, Glaciers, Lagoons, Fissures, Fjords, and the place where the earth's plates are splitting.  My brain is going to explode from all the geographical buzz words.  Having never experienced any of these things - I am so stoked to learn about all the amazing things the Earth has going for it. 

Planning an Iceland trip, getting all my actual work done and being unzombafied means that blogs might take a back seat.  They'll still exist, but they won't be the diamonds and sapphires of wit and wisdom you are so accustomed to.  More the precious gemstones you purchase in the fancy locked case at Claire's. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Tug tug

I moved to Chicago in an October, which means I was here for almost an entire year before I got to experience a Chicago summer.  Its amazing I got through it, because Chicago winter is the worst, but Chicago summer makes it all worth it.

I loved my first Chicago Summer.  I don't remember very much of it, but I do remember spending a lot of time lusting after the boats in Belmont Harbor.

"Next Summer, I am going to make a friend with a boat." was my declaration.  Its a pretty ridiculous request, but not completely without merit.  There are a lot of boats in Chicago and they all seem to have owners.  Surely I would meet one who liked me enough to let me ride around and drink on his boat.

We are standing on the precipice of my fifth summer in Chicago and I have yet to make a boat friend.  I'm starting to get frustrated.  Much like my green river fears - I am terrified that I am going to leave Chicago never having had a friend who I share similar interests with and makes good conversation and also happens to own a boat on the Lake of Michigan.

There are many girls who feel like the conversation piece is not really necessary and while I can sympathize with the unspeakable urge for boating, it seems almost like very mild form of prostitution to not at least pretend like you want to talk to this person.

I know people who know people who own boats, but its not the kind of relationship where I can just wake up on a sunny Saturday morning and know my plans without even getting out of bed (honestly - if I knew someone with a boat I would probably never do anything else during the Summer).  Making these connections essentially useless, except for giving me a taste of the good life and then leaving me a cracked out junkie, crying for more.

I find the lake to be pretty gross and unappetizing as a swimming location (this is my East Coast snobbery coming out.  Give me the Atlantic or give me death, people) but for some reason the bacteria can't affect you if you enter the water from a water slide or even just a dive off the back of someone's pontoon.  I don't know how it works, but I'm sure there is some science to back it up. 

It's also really just my WASPy nature.  I am meant to be on the bow, decked out in seersucker and a souvenir captain's hat while drinking a Rolling Rock (pony bottle sized) and discussing the finer points of Bon Iver's new album.  Don't hate the player, hate the genetic game, my friends.

Just like all four years previously, as I've watched the boats creep back into their little boat nooks, I've begun scheming just how this is going to be my year to make all my nautical dreams come true.

I cannot make a personal ad not sound creepy (mid-20's girl ISO someone with boat to quote 30 Rock, talk about the New Yorker and drink local beer with...on your aforementioned boat), there are not-so-nice names for girls who sit around the harbor waiting for an invitation, and at this point, I don't really have the bikini body or the shameless self-promotion for that, and I've tried asking all my current friends, but they're all the same friends I had this time last year.  I should win bonus points for being a good and loyal friend, despite the fact that they have nothing to offer me from Memorial Day - Labor Day.

I'm left being nice to everyone I meet and trying to find something to talk about, just on the off chance that after we discuss our shared enjoyment of Margaret Atwood books they'll say, "Hey, do you want to come on my boat sometime?"

I find that this increasingly happy and friendly makes me almost completely blend in with my Midwestern surroundings.  And then I figured it all.  These people are only so nice, because they're just hoping someone will invite them out on their boat.

Well played, Midwest, well played.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Musings on Being Burgled

This is not a fun post to write and for the past four days, I've avoided writing it.  I kept telling myself it was far too cliche to blog about getting robbed but I keep writing it in my head.  The sentences are swirling and they won't leave me alone until I put them out on the internets (stupid sentences).

My life has become just a series of lists.  A list of lists.  Of things that were taken of value, of things that were taken but are worthless, of things that weren't and should of been, of things that weren't and could of been.  The past few days I have not really felt like a person, but rather just a zombie with things.  Or rather, without things.  Without a little camera, without a rolling suitcase, without a TV, without laptops, without nearly every piece of jewelry I've ever owned.

Its not so much the things, its the memories that they inspire.  My heart is broken that I won't be able to wear my big pink ring for T-bone's wedding.  The rings we bought to cement our love, and because we could.  Because we were young and stupid and we could do whatever we wanted.  The ring that means just that. The cuff bracelet from South Africa.  The ruby slipper from Granny, which every one thought looked like a letter from the Hebrew alphabet, that reminded me I was never far from home.  I'm even going to miss all the stupid lightship basket jewelry.  While I never wore it - just seeing it hanging there reminded me of my favorite placeThe bears bracelet.  The bracelet from when Boyfriend got mugged in Jamaica.  My gorgeous Murano glass ring and new Turquoise necklace - things that barely had a chance to become memories.  

I do have to make a confession, I have been telling everyone that I am now, "a girl who does not own a single pair of earrings." which is delightfully hyperbolic but not entirely accurate.  They took my jewelry box and jewelry out of various little boxes on my dresser (I am a girl who loves little boxes, I take after all the women in my Mother's family that way) but they did not take my necklace tree (so I have like 10 necklaces to my name).  Just the earrings in the basin of it.  There were ones hanging from a branch of the tree that both managed to hold on through the terror.  So I have one pair of earrings.  The pearls my Big Cuz gave me when I was in her wedding.  I haven't worn them since.  Maybe I should start?  Meh, I don't really wear earrings anymore because my lobes are crazy sensitive.  It doesn't take away from the fact that I feel so strange not owning earrings or bracelets or rings (I now own exactly one of each). 

While I am a pretty big failure as a girl, I am quite proud of my jewelry collection.  Its weird to know that as of Wednesday I'm starting almost all over.  Its all just very weird.  To feel as though a part of my ladyhood - a superficial silly part to be sure is just kind of not there anymore.  Earrings.  Who knew how much I attached them to femininity.

I learned a lot about how my brain works.  First of all - I cry a lot when there is no one near by to calm me down.  In terms of fight or flight - I still maintain (though it has never been truly put to the test) that I am hands down a Flight, but with the caveat of post stress fortitude and determination.  Once I got home and knocked off the waterworks, I could not just sit and wait for things to happen.  I needed to be doing - even if that doing is going through all the dumpsters on my block hoping that the robbers had realized that the things in my jewelry box that they had taken were (to them) valueless, and had abandoned them not too far away.  There was some calmness in the dark alley by myself.  The moments that I felt like I was doing something, were far preferred to sitting and waiting for someone else to take action.

Also - let's be totally effing serious.  My cat is fine.  My stupid, noisy cat did not take this opportunity to escape in to the great big world.  And for that, I am beyond thankful.  I am curious how she handled these intruders.  She is not one to shy away from anyone, really.  She has learned that the click of the deadbolt means there is someone home to snuggle and feed her and so she tends to jump off whichever piece of furniture she's on and run to meet you.  Did she do that when they pried open the deadbolt with a crowbar (PS, we got a better deadbolt)?  Did she meow at them because she wanted food?  How does that not humanize you?  How does that not make you think twice? How far gone into the depths of ambivalence that a cat trying to show you affection doesn't stop to give you pause?

What about pictures?  I've always (and still do) wonder how seeing family pictures and scribbled notes on yellow post-its does not affect the need to steal.  Does it make them more angry perhaps?  "How dare these people have happiness and a television?  It is my right to have at least one of these things that belongs to them?

The truly scariest thing was seeing our bedroom torn apart in a quest for hidden treasure (which they did not manage to find - a fact that fills me with bittersweet joy).  I am not a modest girl by any means, and I used to pay people to do my laundry (this is not weird, btw, everyone in New York does it - its normal and awesome, like most of NYC).  But the thought of someone touching my clothes gave me this sensation of exposure and discomfort that I wasn't really expecting.  For the first day and almost a half I couldn't even go into our bedroom because the feeling kept returning.  

And there are silver linings to every cloud.  For years I have been begging Boyfriend to have a sleepover party with me in the living room.  We own two fold out couches and I had never slept on either of them.  I have often mentioned how much fun I think it would be to pull out one of the couches and get out the sleeping bags and fuzzy throws and watch TV and sleep in the living room All Night.  Why I want this, I cannot actually tell you - but I do.  And Boyfriend refused to oblige (why sleep on an uncomfortable fold out when your actual bed is about 60 feet away is his far-too-logical thinking).  But the night after it all happened, he gave in.  Neither of us got much sleep - with every noise jerking us both awake - but it was a small glimmer of happiness.  Also, we left it out of the rest of the week.  As Boyfriend quickly discovered how awesome it is to have a bed in the living room.

We're going to be okay.  They just took things.  They did not take how much we love each other, or the strength we find together to get through the bad things.  And they certainly did not take away my ability to write in really hokey cliches.  Thank goodness.

She's pint-sized and amazing.