Thursday, May 29, 2014

TBIF: Don't take my word for it

I am 100% over the moon for this Reading Rainbow kickstarter.

I cannot remember a time in my life that I did not love books and reading. I am forever grateful for my parents who encouraged books to be a part of our lives, by making it a part of our entire family.

Now that we are older, books are still a part of our family. They get purchased as gift for someone, as an excuse to read them ourselves, then passed around the family. There are books that I got as gifts that have never actually spent anytime on my shelf (which is fine, I feel completely comfortable taking books of any number of shelves and never returning them - it all works out in the end).

I cannot imagine not having this relationship with books. I can't imagine a life not full to the brim of stories I have read and the comfort that comes with a book in my hand.  While I did not need Reading Rainbow's peer pressure to try books for the first time, it gave me security in knowing that this love I had for books was a great thing.  And I watched it joyously, just as I watched Seaseme Street, 3, 2, 1 Contact, and Ghostwriter (PBS did a damn good job raising kids in the 80's and early 90's. Thanks guys). I know there are kids out there who discovered reading through the show and for that I think the world is a much better place.

I am tickled pink that the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter has already blown itself out of the water because there are so many people, like me, who recognize the value of reading as a joy rather than a test-able subject in school. People who are nostalgic. People who love LeVar Burton (he is so very, very lovable). People who love a good coffee mug (I am way too excited about this mug).

I also know there are people who more skeptical about this whole thing. People who do not trust the internet, or celebrities, or crowd-sourced anything. And I completely understand and respect that.

To those people, I say, give your money that maybe would have gone to this to Open Books. My favorite literacy program in Chicago. Open Books give kids the joy of reading with bonus joy of writing included at no extra cost. They make living life better for kids in Chicago. The programs are focused on reading and writing as a thing to treasure rather than one more thing to worry about failing.  And if you feel like you are being scammed if you don't get anything in return for your donation - go down to the Open Books Bookstore and buy yourself something nice. All the money from the store goes back into their amazing Chi-city programs.

I feel like there are so few things left in this world that we can just enjoy without worrying about how its going to kill us (food, the water in Lake Michigan, hugging people) that reading should be something that is pushed for its capacity to make the world a better place.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On Birds and Words

I had truly no idea how hard the news of Maya Angelou dying would hit me. I guess I had never really considered it until I was faced with it - and it just hit me like a ton of sadness bricks.

How people managed to pick their one favorite Angelou quote boggled my mind. I could no sooner pick a favorite cupcake. Why would you limit yourself to just one?

I am grateful to my AP Lang and Comp teacher for introducing us to Phenomenal Woman. For telling all the boys to shut their yappers when they said it was stupid (oh weird, another theme to this terrible week) and for those of us who heard it, she encouraged us to listen as hard as we could.

So I want to take a moment and say Thank you to Maya Angelou for putting words together in a way that had the capacity to stop my heart and made me feel through every single pore.

Thank you for living your life and letting us share it. Thank you for inspiring so many writers and readers by being you and no one else.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I feel like we start the wait for Memorial Day Weekend the second week in November. Once the temperature dips, we know it's time to get our mama bear on and snuggle up in the cave until that sweet siren odor of grilling meat and sunblock calls us back to the world of the fun.

It is also the hardest three day weekend to jump back from - who wants to work on the Tuesday after Memorial Day when there is glorious sunshine that we just got to spend three whole days playing in? 

This year it was even worse because our long weekend started on Wednesday and the party did not stop until this morning when it cops-showed-up-beers-run-out-parents-come-home-eeerrrrkkk-on-the-record-player stopped and real life started again...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Friendly Ground

Today we are skipping town to go watch my baby sister 'Bear graduate from college. Obviously, this makes me incredibly old and I'm working through all my old-person emotions.

The best way to do this is with booze, obviously.

When I was ordering this balanced breakfast, I asked the bartender if I could take this back to my gate to enjoy while stealing the wireless from Boyfriend's phone.

"Of course, young lady, you can take this wherever you want. Welcome to the South Side of Chicago."

My heart bubbled with Chicago pride. We booze when we want (8:30 a.m. on a Wednesday), where we want (the gate because airport bars are sad) and how we want (it was only 40 cents extra to get Kettle One. Hell. Yes).

As I reflect back on my college graduation which was EIGHT YEARS AGO OMG. I am so grateful for the opportunities I had and the choices I made that led me to such a great town.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Are we at 10 truisms yet?

I think we wait until the last possible second to pack, not because we want to, but because it has been so long - we don't know of any other way to do it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mary Kay Vox Box review

Guys. I owe you some words about Mary Kay. Influenster was nice enough to send me the Mary Kay Glam Vox Box so I could realize a couple things.

One. The lighting in my bathroom is ferociously terrible.

Two. I make weird faces. 

Three. This lip gloss is On. Point. It goes on a little too glossy for my personal taste, but it lasts with a nice every day red that seems to work with everything.

Four. Gel eyeliner is so scary, but so FUN. Right eye over there is made up to the nines with the Lash Love Mascara, Gel Eyeliner, and Cream eye color (in apricot twist). So fun!

Five. There are so many more goodies in this box that I am going to be tweeting about like whoa. 

In conclusion - Mary Kay is not make-up for old ladies. Mary Kay is make up for all ladies who like really great quality make up at a decent price. Plus anything I can buy while wearing sweat pants is pretty great. Call your local Mary Kay lady (trust me, you have one) and get on this business.  And some day I will learn how to not look totally awkwardsauce in pictures.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Face Off.

Influenster sent along the super amazing Mary Kay Glam VoxBox and I've been loving playing with all the goodies that came in the box.

I owe the universe a blog about how amazing all these things are (because they are - the cream eyeliner, omg). But right now, I kind of hate my face. I know that it is the one that I am always going to have so it is time to start loving it, but right now? not so much.

So have a good weekend. On Monday I will put my game face (heh) face on and tell you all about how Mary Kay is not just for old ladies any more. Until then, recognize that everyone has an ugly day (or few days) some times even when they are on the internet.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TBIF: No words

One of my favorite silly obsessions is words that do not have a direct English translation. There is even one I am considering getting tattooed on my body for forever because I love it so much.

Of course, the internet took one of my favorite things and made it even better by adding pictures.

Anjana Iyer's Found in Translation series. Its hard to pick a favorite, but this one spoke to me.

God bless the Norwegians for knowing how important this is and being able to label it. I'm super excited that she still has 50-some days left. I cannot wait to see the rest of the words.

Maptia did a similar series based on the book Through the Language Glass (which is now at the top of my to-read list).

Happy words!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Little Bee

So Grandipants got a little more social media buzz than normal today and it is giving me all the anxiety.

I like to pretend that no one reads this because it makes me far less nervous about creating quality content. However when I am so rudely accosted with praise and encouragement and tweets from random authors (as in like, actual people who have written books, which I guess I now have to read #awkward) I start to get panicky.

Because eventually, some day I will be forced to deal with the fact that I should be trying harder in this virtual space. That I can probably do better if I were to try just that much harder. It all comes back to figuring out what I am trying to say. What is my message?

Not sure guys. But for those of you who are reading - thanks. I appreciate it when you say nice things. And even if you just occasionally think them, I am grateful. It is nice to know that people enjoy this - whatever it is. And just know, I am thinking and trying and considering how to make it better for you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Train Talk.

My love for public transit is strong and everlasting. Despite the requisite transition to Ventra (which was so lame), the overcrowded red line and the vanishing Damen bus, I love it until the day I die.

However, I am never, ever interested in engaging in conversation with strangers on public transit. The train is for sitting quietly. The bus is also for sitting quietly. Its for books and music in headphones and playing on your phone.  If you happen to be on the train with people you know, then some idle chatter is fine. If you run into someone you know, then a catch up session is fine too (if only because it makes excellent eavesdropping fodder for those of us around you). 

I do not ever want to talk with you on the train. I do not care if the train stops, or is crowded, or if it is raining. The exceptions to this rule are if there is something so insane, so crazyballs that it needs to be addressed to ensure that neither party is dreaming it up. 

"Oh my god, is that a freaking BIRD on the train?" (this is my favorite worst story still)

Beyond that, no talking. When you talk to me, I assume you are trying to steal my stuff, hit on me, or are perhaps an unhinged lunatic. 

This, of course, says more about me than it does about you. It says that I spent my prime commuting years in a city full of unhinged lunatics hitting on me and trying to steal my stuff on the train. It says that I am not trying to make friends. My transplant status means I continue to lack the folksy midwest standards you all were born with. 

Of course, I am completely #sorryIamnotsorry because seriously, if I wanted to make friends, I would hang out at Mad River until girls sat me down and told me they had talked it over and told me they wanted to be my friend. Or, I would go to Girl Scout sleep away camp. Either way, on the train I just want to get from place to place and perhaps do a little reading or facebook stalking and that is totally normal.

Think of the train as just a giant car that we are all in separately. Feel good about yourself for not destroying the planet, but don't feel the need to tell me all about it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Be Happy 2014. Failure to Unlaunch (and some sunshine)

It feels like the month of April took approximately 100 years. Perhaps because it is already Mid-May, despite the fact that I feel like it is still May 2nd.

April was my first collosal failure in the Be Happy challenge. I told myself I would unplug, disconnect, turn off and focus on what is in front of me. I lasted about 10 days before I found myself putting facebook back on my phone - simply because it is a habit. A bad habit I cannot break. On the bus, waiting for people in a bar, waiting for a meeting to start Facebook makes me feel like I am connected.  I know I am not, but it fills the waiting minutes better than most things.

And once I reinstalled it, it was only a matter of days before my phone was back out even after people had arrived in these places where I had made the excuse of, "I was waiting." I check it without thinking. I check it like I check the time, like I crack my nuckles or stand my with my leg in passe (true story, standing like this is the best and most comfortable for my hip alignment).

And I think perhaps, I could have forced myself to stay away, if it didn't seem like everyone else is always on their phones. We as a civilization (with some notable exceptions) are just on.our.phones. And it is so much harder to stop with the crystal meth when your friends are basically Badger and Skinny Pete.

That being said, its not an entire failure. I have seen this clip a couple times, but every time it resonates with me. I am so terrified of that empty sad inside part of me (I think because I am pretty in touch with it and hyper aware of its existance). But it has to, eventually be okay.


I know May is half over, so it seems silly to set a goal for this month, but it has worked out really well that this has been/will continue to be pretty amazing. So I am putting into place one of my goals for the whole summer.

It has been the winter of falling sadness for the past three million years (guys, I am not 100% sure if I know how years work) and now it is finally gorgeous outside almost all the time.

For example, it is 8:23 pm as I write this and I am on my porch. It is literally the perfect temperature outside. There was a threat of rain, but all its done is take the edge off the humitity from earlier and make it basically perfect evening weather.

After spending so many months depressed as all get out about the state of weather affairs in Chicago, I refuse to take this amazing business for granted. So there will be late night writing (and reading and talking) sessions on the porch, and walks through the neighborhood, and lunches in the park. May is the month of creating good outdoor summer habits to hold onto until September forces them away. 

Friday, May 09, 2014

TBIF on Friday = Friday Finds, full of flowers

Last night I fell asleep before I could get my act together to write this blog, but I was too excited to skip a day and/or skip telling the 4.7 people who read this blog about this amazing company.

My favorite go-to lady for whiskey drinks and romantic entanglement stories, KK, shared this on the fassse-boouuk.

Flowers for Dreams

As someone who has ordered several bouquets and received two (#humblebrag) in the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time being disgusted by the ticketmaster-esque gouging by florists.

Not anymore, mi amigo.

Flowers for Dreams has a flat rate system. Something says $35, you pay $35 (+tax because #chicago). Its a game changer, folks. Not only that, but a portion of however much you spend on flowers goes to their monthly charity partner, so you can feel good about buying flowers for someone because 1- You're being nice to a single person and 2- You're being nice to humanity. Extra double bonus points.

Also, in case you were confused, their bouquets are gorgeous. You have some capacity to select the flowers you want (although, they're flowers - if people get bitchy about getting the "wrong kind," they don't deserve them) but their limited selection is why they are priced so reasonably. Also now you don't have to pretend like you know something about flowers.

Now for the sad news - they are a Chi-town (and surrounding areas) exclusive. You may only have this if you have ridden the struggle bus through Chibera and now want to live a Spring/Summer chock-full of flowers and delight.

Is it wrong that I want to buy myself flowers all the time now? It is for a good cause, right? Also, Friendly reminder if your mom lives in the 606-area you should buy her some good-for-the-world flowers.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Three Books. One Shame.

As I mentioned on Monday, I managed to coast through three books in the past couple weeks.  Two of which I flew through, the other one that took me ages and ages, partly because I kept reading other things because I didn't want it to end.

(turns out kindles make for bad blog photos, that kindle screen says How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Rank About Being Sick in America).

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay takes some patience at the beginning. You have to want it. Keep reading and you will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to go on this journey and you will be sad.

How We Do Harm confirms the fact that everything in America is the worst particularly in terms of Healthcare. Not only are we being scammed by health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, but also apparently doctors. So that's a new thing to be worried about.

A Long Way Gone has been on our bookshelf for years and I finally opened it and then read it in about three days. If you're looking a direct punch to the gut and some real rude perspective, give this guy a whirl. Yikes. You will be #firstworldprobz-all over the place.

So after three brutally emotional sadbadnot-glad books in a row I needed a palate cleanser and luckily there was one on the shelf.

Guys, first things first - this book is terrible.

You know how you have that friend who name drops like, as much as humanly possible (note: I might be that friend sometimes. I am working on it)? This book is just "how many Nantucket-y things can I mention on one page?" I love it but I hate that I love it.

Also, its got that Dan Brown device where you feel like a genius because you solve everything fifteen pages before the characters do. How does someone write people that stupid?

And it is Salacious. What you may not know about me is that I a giant blushing prude. All kissing makes me uncomfortable anything more scandalous and I am sure that everyone on the train knows that people are totally naked in this book. I just want to die.

It's gotten away from the "Reginald's quivering member" themes and now is just absurdest mystery. But, I can't stop. I will read this whole book and then if someone wants to get boozey with me and talk about the overarching themes and Elin Hilderbrand's place in the cannon of post-modern feminist literature, I am in.

Sometimes after a flavorful, huge, delicious meal you just want some month-old Easter candy.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Summer of Strawberry. Part just after the beginning

Guys. I am here to tell you that I am cuh-rushing this take-care-of-a-strawberry thing despite the fact that it is not quite actually summer.

Look at that luscious green monster. So healthy and well-watered. I am so excited that things seem to be going really well in the growing leaves department.

And look! Everything I have read says that flowers = eventual edible bites.  So I am just going to sit here until these guys expecto-patronum themselves into things I can dip in chocolate.

Sadly, there is a bit of sadness. In a terrible wind/other plant lid/fate accident one of the little guys did not make it. We will miss you little guy. We will especially miss the fact that there is no way to replant anything in your place.

Monday, May 05, 2014

A week away

So. I took a week off from blogging. I was tired and pulled away from everything that wasn't totally necessary. It was a week of saying no mostly, instead of yes.

Instead of blogging here are some things I did:

-smelled flowers (I was gifted not one, but TWO bouquets last week. Twice as many as I have ever received in ever. I love having fresh flowers around. It is quite addicting).
-ate things that were so delicious. Mostly this.
-slept on the couch too much.
-wrote thank you notes.
-went to the zoo.
-finished three books (almost. let's just say 2.75).
-did some lunges and squats.
-regretted most lunges and all squats.
-forgot to wash my hair.
-encouraged people.
-considered the future.
-planned a party.
-drank a mint julep.
-stole a gold-painted horse.

Real life (and blogging) starts again tomorrow.

She's pint-sized and amazing.