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.

She's pint-sized and amazing.