Friday, February 29, 2008

Movies once so seem so...unprofound

Okay so now that I'm feeling better, my blog posts should get better soon as well, but until then, I'm drawing on not-so-exciting things to share with you all. Please hold judgement as I would be more entertaining if I could.

Now, since I've been watching much more television than normal lately, I've started a notice a trend: Daytime television sucks (unless you watch soap operas)

So to bide my time, I've started reading more and taking comfort while ill in old movies that I enjoyed so much as a teenager. An example of this is Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and Christian Slater. The movie, released in 1991, was at the height of Christian Slater mania, which me and my friends were all caught up in.

Anyhow, when the movie was released, it was like a teenage girl's dream. Heroes, villains, true love, it was enough to make any teenage girl go crazy (maybe not as much for Kevin Costner but still.) And who remembers that "power ballad" by Bryan Adams from the movie? Who didn't dance to that at their prom or homecoming that year? Now, as I watch this movie nearly 17 years later...I've come to realize that the movie is...bad. You can tell now that dialogue was not the first thing on the producers minds and when the dialogue is not campy or badly written, it's lacking some seriously plot holes. And imagine 1991 "special effects," not exactly what it is today.

Even some of my old favorite movies, like Sixteen Candles and Goonies seem a bit...campy. How could I have been so enamored by these flicks? I'm sure some will take serious offense to me talking "smack" about these films, but admit there is some element to truth in it.

No matter what, I will still watch these movies when it's on cable, but part of me will be groaning and rolling my eyes.

Now it's time to go back to Dancing with Wolves. Apparently RCN cable is in a Costner phase this month.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Acting my age and lessons from Tyra

Since I've been sick, my daily adventures have been non-existent so blog topics have been a bit dry or donated from friends for me to showcase here once I have rested enough to sit up for a bit.

Before we get to tonight's “lesson from Tyra,” I have noticed as I get older that I become more of a baby when I get sick. I like to think it's because my parents doted me on me a lot while I was younger to make sure that I was comfortable, etc. This is not a bad thing, in fact given how sickly I was as a kid and teenager, it made it a lot easier to handle, but now that I live on my own, I find myself acting like a bigger child, especially in the throws of congestion and madness.

For example, I'm ashamed to say that I've done a few of the following things as an adult while being sick:

-- Cried like a baby out of extreme frustration by myself and on the phone to others. Normally I can keep it together pretty well, but the emotions manifest themselves in tears…beyond my control

-- Whimpered on the phone to my dad saying, "I don't feel good! What are you going to do to make this better?"

-- Given the pharmacist "Bambi" eyes to help speed up the process of filling my prescription

-- Shared stories with the elderly women at Jewel-Osco, who are also filling prescriptions, about "aches and pains" in my back, knees, etc. They understand me

-- Dramatically tossed tissues on the floor, hoping they'll magically pick themselves up, only to find that I have to still do that later

-- Mentally willed soup to make itself, only to find out that it doesn't

I'm not proud of these things but I resolve to try and scratch a few of them off the list this year...or next. It'll be part of my 5-year plan.

TV Commentary:
So tonight while resting, America's Next Top Model was on and I cannot resist learning from Tyra how I should stand so that I look more "model" and not so "hoey." Those are lessons that you cannot learn anywhere else.

It's sad that this is the show's 10th cycle and I have watched it slowly slide down the taste and stereotype scale.

ANTM now focuses solely on going for the “shock” value and not for actual quality, if that was ever a goal for the show. Whether it is product placement or a larger budget that has caused this demise, now it’s all about having “those” girls on the show for ratings. On ANTM there is always one girl who has a kid and misses him/her too much, the girl who was abused by her family or an ex-boyfriend or the bumpkin who is just amazed by the bright lights and big city. These women are on there to keep it “real” for us and generate sympathy but when I know what to expect, how am I supposed to feel for these girls? If anything, I just turn it into a game, guessing when each one will cry first and how often. It’s sad, but I still watch it almost every week, so I guess I’m just perpetuating the stereotype.

Plus next week on ANTM is the makeover show, and I l-o-v-e when the girls cry about getting their hair cut off or cut short. It’s enjoyable and fun to laugh along with.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Romper Room? Not on my watch

So this is the first time today that I've moved from the couch or my room, where I've laid out like a beached whale waiting for the tide to come in. The ongoing weather in Chicago, sucks, being sick for weeks on end, sucks more. Fortunately I'm on stronger antibiotics, which will kill whatever I have so long as it's bacterial (fingers crossed) but that means my plans for Friday and Saturday night will be much less fun (darn.)

Anyhow, what brightened my day today, outside of brownies to settle my stomach, is a link from Cassie, who directed me to a blog called Dress A Day. I stand in awe of this woman and Cassie because both are very creative and have a knack for patternmaking and sewing. I won't tell you how my last sewing "adventure" turned out. In fact, I think the last time I used a sewing needle for anything productive was when I had to dig out a splinter from my finger. It hurt and the needle was dead to me after then.

Moving along, there was a particular post on the blog about short-shorts rompers from Old Navy, which are part of its recent "Safari craze" trend. Looking at her critique of this cotton nightmare, it made me think only one thing - who would wear this in Chicago? Maybe it's appropriate if you're going to hunt wild game in Millennium or Oz Park, but somehow, I think the only game you'll catch is going to require a tetnis shot.

Chicago is trendy, but somehow I don't see women, outside of maybe some tourists, strapping on an adult "onesie" to rock the Viagra Triangle for brunch. Hot pants, buttons and a tie belt, oh my! Plus, only the skinny, long-legged women could fully pull this off whereas if I wore it, it would look like a smoldering marsh mellow. So unless there is a flap or two that I don't know about, this is not practical for public restrooms and trust me, you'll get tired of taking most of your clothes off just for that reason. Plus, Cassie told me that she saw these in the stores yesterday and they come in multiple colors! Just remember to stay away from bright colors as it might attract animals.

I feel the tide coming in, it's time to retire again for a nap and the couch.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Secret Shames of Single Women

I find no shame in being single so please don't be misled by tonight's post. What I mean by "secret shame" is, activities or quirks that women have and do in private, that is often only socially acceptable if you are single and live on your own. Get your head out of the gutter too! It can be as small as eating cereal for dinner - on a nightly basis - or enjoying a bit of "naked" time while reading.

These items are not things to be embarrassed by. They are the signs of a bring a liberated, single, city woman who is comfortable in her own skin and with who she is. These "shames" only help you to be a stronger woman, person and friend. Embrace your "shames" as I do!

So what are some of my secret shames as a single city woman?

-- Shoe fashion shows. Sometimes I love to try on my high heels and just prance around my apartment in pajamas, enjoying the shoes in a multitude of lights and mirror angles. You feel like you're going out to a party or club in these attractive, yet painful contraptions, but you're not, you're in the comfort of your own home!

-- Eating food directly from the container. It really tastes better this way - and it's good for the environment as I have fewer dishes to wash. High recommendations go to sorbet and hummus out of the container.

-- Wearing nice jewelry while doing mundane tasks, such as dishes or vacuuming. Just because I don't have anywhere to wear them out to, why should my graduation gift- diamond earrings sit in the box all the time?

-- Watching "manly" shows for no apparently attractive reason. I watch American Chopper on TLC. I don't know why I do or why I like it so much, but my outward excuse is that it's art, but in the form of a chopper. Yes I've never been on a motorcycle too but that is besides the point.

-- New Friday-night rituals. Mine involve the latest People magazine Puzzler and a Pepsi. After a long week at work, I frequently forgo the Friday night party, opting to treat for dinner and some quiet. I always rush home and open my apartment mailbox, looking for my new People issue, which has an unsolved Puzzler for me to work on. Trust me, it's not the New York Times crossword puzzle but it makes me feel smart, and keep the brain sharp. And because I love non-diet soda, I limit myself to only having one on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It's cheesy I know, but it keeps the sugar content in line.

So do you all have any secret shames? Feel free to post them and use a fake name if necessary. Even if you're married, feel free to put them out there. Hey, your husband isn't around all the time ;)

Oscars appendix:
So I re-watched portions of the Oscars from last night and I have two more "favorite moments" to add:

-- Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill fight over who is more like Halle Berry, especially Jonah's comments about his "Halle Berry hands." Hil-ar-ious. Bring them on more!

-- Diablo Cody's acceptance speech. While I was not a fan of her massive tattoo or the leopard dress, watching her emotion on stage, especially thanking her family for loving her just as she is, that was really nice to watch. Good for her and her tattoo :)

Oscar letdown? That would have to be two of the three Best Songs from Enchanted. Kristin Chenoworth sang "That's How You Know" horribly and buzzkilled that entire song. I like that song and would have preferred if Amy Adams would have done it instead. Also, the song "So Close" tried to have a McDreamy look-alike to dance with the Adam look-alike, but his face was so long that I thought Jay Leno was actually on stage, and 30 years younger too. Disappointing!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar mania!

Last night was the pop culture Super Bowl and I overindulged in wine, food and biting criticism. Fortunately I had comfortable clothes on so I could "let loose." This post is a little late, mostly because I was tipsy and tired when I got home at 11:30 p.m. last night. Yes, this is not another late night for me, but I had to work today!

You all know who won so let's cut to my "list:"

Best dressed:
-- Female: Tie between Heidi Klum and Laura Linney. Both had a great color dress and jewelry. Understated but still they both stood out. And Laura Linney looked so excited when the duo from “Once” won for Best Song. That made her stock rise too. There are several "honorable mentions" as well so comment if you would like that list too.
-- Male: George Clooney. What can I say, the man is a classic...and hot.

Worst dressed:
-- Female: Marion Cotillard. Loved the hair and makeup and her emotional speech, but her dress with the fins was more “Little Mermaid” than Oscar winner. Plus the detail around her chest was beyond unflattering. Actually I do need to add Rebecca Lewis in there too. The necklace and the bow shoulders are also horrible.
-- Male: Tie between Ryan Seacrest and Daniel Day-Lewis, but Seacrest is the worst of the two. The brown/black combo is a good one, unless you kill it like they did. Ryan’s jacket and shirt during the pre-show was just awful. There are no other words than awful.

Biggest surprises:
-- Tilda Swinton’s and Marion Cotillard’s wins. Yep I didn’t pick them.

Not-so-big surprises:
-- Javier Bardem, Daniel Day Lewis and Cohen brothers for director. No surprise at all.

Best trend:
--Red! Great shades of red worn by stars of all ages and done in an age-appropriate manner, minus Anne Hathaway, who needed to tear the flowers off her chest.

Favorite moments:
-- Jon Stewart bringing back out one half of the Best Song duo to actually say an acceptance speech. Really, that was very sweet.

-- Montages – yes there were too many, but it was nice to see a “list” of all the Best Picture, Actor, Actress and Supporting winners up to this point. Nice nostalgic walk down the aisle.

-- "Once" Best Song performance. Powerful and sweet. Makes me want to rent the movie again.

That’s my list for this year. Big surprises (as always) but overall, I’m just glad there was some kind of ceremony. The Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday were also enjoyable, especially the Philip Seymour Hoffman/Rainn Wilson fight and Rainn’s audition tapes for Juno. Hilarious!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

All-day adventure

There are so many things to post about that happened today, but I'm going to take the lazy way out because it's 11:51 p.m. on Saturday night and I can barely keep my eyes open (sad I know.) I blame this "older adult" behavior on the fact that my cough from my nasty cold last week has returned and I am wiped out again. Fingers crossed that the meds can still help since the doctor can't/won't.

Today I left my apartment at 11:07 a.m. and returned about 11:30 p.m. And during this period of time, I productively packed in the following adventures: hair cut/color (yay!), trip to the Art Institute during "February Free Days," dinner, movie, drink and then home. Fortunately, I was not alone in these ventures as Liz and Anne were with me and had a good girl "freight," aka "friend date."

The oddest sight of the day had to be the impromptu fireworks that were shot off near the Michigan Avenue bridge around 6:30 p.m. A lot of people on the street stopped to watch this as a) there is nothing big going on in town this weekend, b) the three of us crossed that bridge just about 10 minutes before and no crowd was gathered to watch fireworks and c) there were a lot of fireworks and they were set off very low to the ground. Now I'm checking the Trib online to see what's up. But the crowd response was very unnerving.

So tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year, Oscar day, and Liz, Anne and I will again be celebrating this most wonderful day. I have pictures from the Art Institute that I will post shortly (yes you can take photos in the museum) of all the nice things we saw there today. The photography exhibit in particular was very intriguing/disturbing. Remind me to share. Until then, the heated mattress pad calls for me!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Resume/cover letter nightmare and a "mate"

To me, having confidence in yourself is a great thing, as long as it doesn't turn into arrogance. I try to be outwardly confident in my professional and personal life, but I never morph into becoming arrogant about my abilities, except in sports, because I will crush you and make you cry all the way home from my wicked trash talking.

Anyhow, what brings up this topic today is an e-mail from a friend who posted an internship ad on Craigslist and from which he received this unique response from a candidate who has a name similar to Dwight on the Office. I absolutely love The Office, which is why I also feel compelled to share this story. This intern candidate either intentionally wrote his resume and cover letter to mock the Dwight character or thought that this kind of resume/cover letter would actually work! Both options are horrifying and I promise what you are going to read below is literally copied from the documents.

Below are "highlights" from the resume and cover letter:
  • "I have three middle names: Sterling, David, and Freeman. My favorite food is chili on rice. When I was 6 years old, I discovered at a Denny's that I could say the alphabet backwards. I was grounded for being a 'sass-mouth' during the entire 8 th grade. Orienteering, backpacking, and skiing are my three favorite activities and they keep me anchored while afloat in the chaotic sea of life."
  • "I currently reside in [state removed], however I have friends in [city removed] with whom I will be living and eagerly await my finding employment. Be it e-mail, phone, or carrier pigeon, I look forward to hearing from you. "
  • Cover letter is signed "Indubitably," which does not mean "sincerely."
  • "Objective: In short, material for the memoirs."
  • Current employer: Baskin Robbins
  • "Skills: Wit, ingenuity, sense of humor; strong work ethic, commitment; amateur wordsmith; geniality; athletic ability (skiing, mountaineering, soccer, baseball, biking) Computer proficiency in MS Office Applications, Adobe Indesign, Photoshop."

There are no words to explain the shock from all of us who received this. Again, I hope this was a joke because I'm tempted to write this guy and ask him, WTF? He even italicized Facebook in his cover letter. Wow.

So after a long, short week of work, I took some quality time to stroll down Michigan Avenue, do some window shopping and "trying on" of items, while trying to maintain some self-control. Mentally though, I got awesome stuff and spent a fortune. In reality, I have items on hold, many of which I'll change my mind on tonight. So the plastic is safe again.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The songs that you hear in your head

First off, those are not bad things to hear. I have my iPod in my ears most of the time that I'm outside and I feel like I'm living my life to a great soundtrack. With the occasion of breaking out into song and bad dancing.

Because many of my high school and college friends have emerged from the woodwork on Facebook, I am reminded of a topic that was often a popular one amongst my friends in college - theme songs. And not television theme songs, but your own personal theme song that you feel best describes you and your personality. Ideally, it would play whenever you walked into a room to announce your presence (much like on WWE wrestling but smoke and fireworks with that music is optional.)

So what is your personal theme song? Please share the artist's name and song title, but if you're embarrassed, feel free to just put a music genre.

I rotate between two theme songs, "Big Pimpin'" and "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," both by Jay-Z. Maybe it's because I was a gangster rapper in my previous life, pimped out with bling, Cristal and 22's on my car. (Further evidence why I was a gangster rapper in a past life will come another time - sorry KMo.) In fact, one of my secret shames is that whenever I debut the Uggs for the upcoming fall/winter season, I also play a theme song for them, which is "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra. Can't mess with a classic. Anyhow, I'm anxious to hear your responses.

Talking to yourself is healthy - unless it's in public
I talk to myself - I openly admit it, except I don't do it in public because that makes me look crazy. But in the comfort of my apartment, I will have rhetorical dialogues with myself about anything and everything. Fortunately me and inner monologue me get along, which is important to note! Maybe this is a sign that I need a pet to so that those dialogues are out in the open.

Anyhow, last night on the 146, which I nearly froze waiting for, there was a woman in a monster fur coat and more monsterous fur hat that was apparently arguing with herself on the bus. She was frantically shaking her head and looking angrily at the woman next to her (who she didn't know) and giving her the "stink eye." After doing this for a few minutes, she would give her a half-smile and shake her head, looking still pissed. Part of me wondered what she was arguing with herself about, but if I learned anything from waiting with Emily at the Miami airport security line, don't ask. Just don't.

Final note
Oh yeah! I'm going to see The Police with Elvis Costello in Milwaukee in July. While I don't remember The Police as a full band (in my memory Sting has always been a solo artist) but I do love the song Message in a Bottle and I cannot wait to rock out to that song with my wine cooler along the Lake. Hey it's Wisconsin, a little Bartels & James full of ice and crop tops it totally acceptable there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oscars, Google Maps and Reasons not to get married, oh my!

As referenced in a previous post, I was sorely disappointed in the Golden Globes this year. My first award-season with HD and I was denied being able to criticize celebrities. Very disappointing.

But today is not only "hump day," it's when I really started to get excited for the Oscars, because it's only a few days away! People criticize how "self congratulatory" awards are, but for some of us living in the tundra of the Midwest right now, it's an escape to glamorous Hollywood with couture dresses and insane jewelry that we could only hope to wear one day. I like daydreaming that it's me walking down the red carpet, getting mind-numbing questions from Ryan Seacrest and looking altogether fabulous. Jon Stewart is crashing to get ready for the big event, and I am beyond excited that he's back and hosting. Now if only Stephen Colbert would make an carpet perhaps?

Liz, Anne and I have started our Oscar plans, which will no doubt include food, wine, dessert and biting criticism. I cannot wait.

Big Brother on Google Maps?
Today Ryan shared with me a creepy, yet fascinating new feature on Google Maps. If you type in an address, the site now gives you a "street view" option, which provides a literal snapshot of the street, including the buildings, cars and people on them. It's not done in real-time (so far all of the images are in spring/summer) but it's fun to play with. I mapped my apartment and my parents house, which was the creepiest of all. The cars were on the street and the garage door was open. I would have had a stronger, "holy cow!" reaction if one of them was out there when the image was taken. Check it out!

Marriage? Maybe not
So tonight I'm watching "Rich Bride, Poor Bride" on We television and I was actually taken aback at what I saw. First off, this nightmare bride, whose fiance was Asian, decided they wanted an Asian theme for their wedding but just decided to blend Chinese, Japanese cultures, etc. together because why not? Plus she had the "princess mentality," which had to inclue a tiara (gawdy and $550+) and cupcake dress (too puffy.) Then the final nail in the coffin had to be when her outside wedding setting threatened to put the sun in her guests face, so when the wedding planner informed her of this, she said that she "didn't care" and that they would have to "deal with it." Interesting. What's worse is that her husband and mother enable her to be like this, similar to "Supernanny" and "My Super Sweet 16." I shouldn't judge, but their eventual divorce (because that is inevitable) should be rather eventful. I would watch that too, along with the moment that her husband grows a pair of balls and tells her to f*ck off.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Put your clothes back on

Tasteful photography is very subjective. For years, I thought Helmut Newton's images of women were derogatory and degrading, until I read his obit in the New York Times and someone finally explained his rationale, which made my opinion on his work change (somewhat.) Annie Lebowitz and Mario Testino do amazing work in Vantiy Fair, which is why I have kept a subscription to that magazine for so long, and covet the book "Vanity Fair's Hollywood." This might not be the best example of "iconic images" but recently that word has come up again in relation to Bert Sterns final photoshoot of Marilyn Monroe, which Lindsay Lohan apparently felt the need to "recreate" for the latest issue of New York Magazine.

I am not a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, although I do see the iconic beauty and sex appeal that she may have had during her heyday. While looking at the photographs from the magazine (which are not work-appropriate at all), I was actually almost disgusted at Lohan's embodiment of this sex symbol. First off, photographers should have covered the tramp stamp on Lohan's right rear-cheek. Not classy at all. And looking at these images, it doesn't have the same allure as Marilyn's original photos, especially because of Lindsay's personal lifed drama and Britney-esque attraction from photographers. Personally, New York Magazine could have done better and should have left well enough alone. I don't need to see Lindsay naked and wish now that I missed out on it. But her mother has endorsed it and what a "voice of reason" she is.

Purse update
My Yahoo e-mail notified me today that 1154 Lill has released a new weekender bag, named Paula, which retails for $200. I have not been a fan of recent Lill releases, but there is something cute about this one. Good size and it looks to have good durability, minus the fact that it's still just cloth. With my klutzy skills, I will spill soda or coffee on it and thus have a ruined, $200 bag. Plus, the last time I was in the store for the VIP event, one of the associates asked me honestly how I felt about another bag, which normally would have been my taste. I gave them my honest opinion and they seemed to appreciate it, which I think says a lot of any store who is trying to attract and maintain customers. Now we'll just have to see if I get any more VIP invites based on that comment :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Plucking - the final frontier?

I'm a late bloomer in the simple, torturous things that many women my age have been doing for years – including eyebrow plucking. While I prefer the Brooke Shields, circa 1970s eyebrows (easier maintenance), a few weeks ago I opted to take Liz's referral for an eyebrow wax at Nordstroms and “womanscaped” my brows. In the city, I guess $20 for a 5 minute wax is reasonable, but to me, that seems a bit extreme...until now.

Today while enjoying President's Day off of work, I dug out my compact tweezers and tried to pluck my eyebrows, so that I could hold off going back in to Nordstroms Spa for another few weeks. Unfortunately, the tweezers and the eyebrow stubs won. Referring back to old, previously ignored Instyle issues on this topic, I began to try plucking my eyebrows, however, the little bugger hairs were putting up a fight. One, two, three pulls and nothing although considerably more pain than when my "girl" does it. After about 20 minutes of wresting, curse words and two sets of lighting, I gave up and put the tweezers in the medicine cabinet. You won today eyebrows, but you will not win the war. And yes, I'm calling Nordstroms tomorrow for "brow touch up."

On an unrelated note, I watched the movie Becoming Jane today, and could not help but vary between being confused at the dialogue and swooning over the romance of 19th Century love. I have never read Austen, although Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet is one of my favorite movies, but it has to be the looks between the main characters, so young and in love that makes me swoon. Between the looks and the overture music that heightens the emotion, you can’t help but fall in love yourself. Maybe that contributes to my unrealistic expectations of relationships, but it’s fun, even though I usually have zero idea what they’re saying.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tidbits: YouTube link, weather

So it's Sunday in Chicago and today's weather rotated between rain, sun and no rain and it will be probably snowing later tonight.

Luckily, I have about four magazines to plow through, including Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue (my favorite,) so I have things to keep me busy, but recently the movie Music & Lyrics has been on Showtime so that has been distracting me.

While I have nothing interesting to share today, I refer you to the music video "Pop Goes My Heart," from the movie, which features Hugh Grant and Scott Porter (aka Jason Street from Friday Night Lights) in one of the best Wham, 80s music video satires. It cracks me up every time I see it. Now it's time to try and get through my Netflix picks for the weekend and eventually dust my horribly dirty apartment. So much to do!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

To Andersonville and back!

It's 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday and sadly, I'm ready for bed. But I fully blame that on all the fresh air that I got today and the fact that I'm still getting over a nasty cold.

I give my brother full credit for getting up at 8 a.m. this morning to feed the meter, only to be pleasently rewarded with a meter-free spot on my street. Yay! After a hearty meal at Ann Sather's on Broadway with Liz, we pilgrimaged to Avenue Tavern to pick up their Save-the-Date cards from Anne, which look amazing! Mine will be prominently displayed on my fridge, even though the date is penned in my calendar and circled several times.

While it was sad that they had to go, I was glad to have some quiet again :) Liz and I spent a nice time reading in silence while trying to stay awake until Ryan called and offered us both a fun Saturday night offer - a trip to Andersonville for dinner at the famous HopLeaf tavern. A nice walk and a trip to the Berwyn Red Line stop and we were there...along with half of northern Chicago. With a 1.5 hour wait for dinner, we opted for Trappist beer (Ryan) and bad Pinot Grigio that tasted like old cheese (me) and then some Japanese food at Hata Mamsu across the street. Now, I'm still readying myself for bed while enjoying Ciao Bella. I love it, and how ironic is it that the enabler is now the victim of her own doing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome to the go home

Tourists in Chicago are like death and taxes...all are inevitable. Normally, tourists clog up the streets and stores in summer (when the American Girl cult is heavily recruiting new members) and the holidays (when tourists buy items they can get at home but with the cache of saying they bought in...Chicago.)

I bring this up because tonight by brother, Andy, and future sister-in-law, Jessi, came to the city to see Rent at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. It's always fun to see a visitor's response to how we city-dwellers live day-to-day. Walking for longer than two blocks? Really? Why are we rushing to get on and off the bus? Why are people weaving around us on the sidewalk?

Tonight, they both arrived early into the city while I was stuck downtown leaving work. And because I was feeling better, the universe started screwing with me by making my 146 bus stall ten times on the way up to Lakeview. 1-0 times, including once on the corner of Michigan and Wacker. Fortunately, once we eventually made it on LSD, we were cruising, thank goodness. So we met for dinner at Angelina Ristorante, where I joined them during their meal (thanks to the bus) and the waiter proceeded to not ask me the entire time we were there if I wanted anything to eat or drink. My brother had to ask the waiter to fill an empty and unused glass at their table with water and he offered it to me to drink! So according to the restaurant's Web site, it's "committed to offering a quality dining experience..." but apparently that did not apply to our table.

The thing I love about spending time with my Andy is that he is the "male version of me," according to my friend Anne and Jessi. We speak the same language and can even finish thoughts without fully verbalizing them. At dinner, he and I went into our own language about movies and quotes from random television shows that we both like, while poor Jessi sat there, looking at us, saying, "I'm so confused."

So now it's time to watch last night's "Lost," because Andy is apparently chomping at the bit to talk to someone about it, so why not his doppelganger?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day, aka Thursday to single people

So I can't be all that bitter and jaded today, even though my head feels like it will actually explode from congestion and I had to sleep on the couch last night because I could barely breathe. Honestly, I really would like to nap at my desk, but I don't think some people would be okay with that. But I'm glad I did come in todaybecause despite feeling crappy, my dad, aka my Valentine, sent flowers to me at work, which match nicely with my Tory Burch pink patent flats. It was sweet, I did appreciate it and I yes, I did gush just a little bit. So now let's move on to things that are much more entertaining.

Oh no you didn't:
I can't acurately say what the best way is to ask someone to be in your wedding, especially because I didn't even make the first cut in my brother's. Fortunately, that has changed. Anyhow, a friend came up to me yesterday and shared something so entertaining that it immediately fell into today's "blog-worthy" file.

My friend, who will remain nameless, received an e-mail from another friend, who recently got engaged. Before this recent e-mail, it was already widely speculated that this friend would be a bridesmaid in the upcoming wedding, but the bride had not yet called or come over to ask her to be a part of her special day. If she did, squealing and joy would commence and they would fawn over bridal magazines together, discussing A-line versus halter and center pieces. Instead, my friend received a mass e-mail from the bride, to her and four other women, announcing that she has found her wedding dress at 50-90 percent off and that she would like these women to accompany her to try the dress because these five women were such a special part of her life.

The next line in the e-mail was of particular interest, "And for that reason........I am officially asking each one of you if you would be bridesmaids in my wedding! I have NOT chosen a maid-of-honor yet, I will decide that soon and let her know....but for now I wanted to ask all of you to be in the wedding!"

My response to this, outside of laughter is, WTF? If I were asked by a close friend of mine to be a bridesmaid and incur this upcoming cost (because this person has very expensive taste) through a mass e-mail I would be insulted, especially if the bride lives in the same city as me (which this one does) and she decided against picking up the phone to call and ask me this, or even stopping over (which is much easier to do if you're unemployed, which is person is.) And the line about not having chosen a maid of honor? WTF again?? Now I'm supposed to be grateful and flattered that you thought of me, but now I get to wait for another e-mail from you to see if I won the wedding lottery? Is this Wedding Survivor? Forget it, I'm voting myself off the island, I'll notify you of my departure through e-mail later today.

I don't deny it, I'm a hugger. I was not raised in a hugging household but I love giving people hugs (even awkward ones sometimes) because it's like a smile, but with someone's arms wrapped around you. I have two friends who don't like hugging, so I have to forceably do it to them sometimes. One obliges but the other is a bit tougher to crack. She did grasp my arm forceably before Christmas to say goodbye before she left town and that was the most affectionate gesture between us that she has initiated. It's a start.

I comment on this topic today because last night, one of my non-hugging friends made a funny comment when we discussed how non-huggers handle strange people touching them (aka at the doctor's office.) During our discussion on the differences between these two things, one of the non-huggers finally commented, "I don't like hugging, but procedural touching is okay."

This brought about a ton of laughter, but I'm glad it's been clarified for us. From now on, I'll dress as a doctor and charge her a $17 hug co-pay. That should count as "procedural touching."

Love all around:
Finally on this Valentine's Day post, I share with you comments from an e-mail I got from local matchmaking service Eight at Eight, in which its "Dating Diva" tells me why it's okay that I'm single today. (Thanks, I'm glad you are validating my choice.)

The e-mail says reminds me that, "being single is a wonderful time to explore who you are. It gives you the opportunity to date lots of people and time to reflect on what you're looking for. " (My parents tell me that too - just before they mention

"May the coming days bring you lots of kisses." (Nice closing, but let's be realistic. Would I need your services if I was expecting kisses coming up?)

Flowers from my Valentine:

Dream man: Must love dead animal

So another article from the New York Times caught my attention today - about dietary differences in relationships.

I find this funny because a few of my friends, including my best guy friend, claim that I have "to high of standards." Excuse me? If asking that a guy has : a good job (that's legal), goals, an education and that he is financially stable constitutes as having "too high of standards," give me a cat and a spinster label right now.

I would not classify myself as a "foodie," primarly because I use a microwave regularly and still consider boxed mac and cheese an okay meal (on occassion.) So to no surprise, I do not have dietary restrictions, such as being a vegetarian or worse, a vegan. A collageue became a vegan for Lent and I was fascinated by her meals and how she survived on a daily basis with these kind of limitations of what she could eat. I love meat and a good, dead animal once in a while. Don't ask me to ever give up my filet at the Palm or Smith & Wollensky's because I won't. And I would date someone who was a vegetarian or gluten-free, as long as they don't judge me for my dietary choices. From what people have told me about relationship, it's all about compromise.

While food may be a perfect way to express to someone how much you love them, perhaps that isn't the "deal breaker" for me. I wouldn't break up with someone specifically because they don't eat bread or meat, although we would have to cook separately and reconnect at the table (or in front of the TV.) I read this article, laughing and judging these men and women for being so picky, but then, upon further reflection, I doubt I would behave differently, although I would like to think that I wouldn't leave someone for this reason. Smoking or multiple tattoos though and I'm out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Matchmaker, product review and gym follow up

Today I was nearly set up by my renter’s insurance agent. I don’t know if it’s a sign that this guy could be my soulmate or if I have become more pathetic and desperate than I thought. My stepmom has been trying to marry me off for years and now my insurance agent not only renewed my policy, but tried to offer me a date as a signing bonus. The question is, will that lower my premium?

While discussing my policy and a claim that I might have to file, she inquired about my age and location. I told her my age (which I won’t repeat here) and that I live in Chicago, and she immediately commented that her nephew, who works for Levy Restaurants, also is my age and works in Chicago. After an awkward pause she said, “he’s single too!” I laughed it off but then, my single-woman mind snapped and said to itself, hey maybe he wants to get a coffee?! The fact that my mind went there, shows that I’ve moved to Mach 2 on the desperation level. It has to be the holiday that does this to me and the inevitable parade of flowers that will come through my office in 48 hours. The thought of that parade makes me want to get a bottle of Chardonnay, cigarette and sing drunkingly along to “Love Stinks,” while giving happy, in love couples the finger.

I enjoy being single and find no shame in it, but I won’t lie, this time of year is tough. Fortunately my default Valentine, a.k.a. dad, will acknowledge me somehow. And that’s better than nothing. I might even have to treat myself to this adorable scarf to match the black outfit I will wear on Thursday to show that I don’t “care” that I won’t get flowers and a loving note from a boyfriend and that I might really be dead inside.

Check this out:
Today I stumbled upon a hilarious funny blog from striking WGA writer, Ken Levine. I recommend checking out the list of thing he'll miss from the strike, including "incessent honking," which he felt was like "driving in Mexico City." There are also funny bits from his recent trip to visit his daughter at Northwestern and the snow that blanketed Chicago.

Burt's Bees Lip Balm review:
I have been a Chapstick-loyal consumer for years. The sweet smell of strawberry Chapstick was always, always with me, in pocket, purse or clutch. But an old article in the RedEye commented that Chapstick loyalists, like me, should try the Burt's Bees lip balm, calling it a more "mature" and "adult" choice.

I never associated Chapstick itself with "youth," but I figured, what the heck. So today was Burt's Bees balms' inaugural run on my lips and so far I feel mixed. The packaging calls it "Soothing. Cooling. Refreshing" and it definitely lives up to that, but my lips just don’t feel so…moisturized. My lips have a tingly, cool feeling, but I would not go so far to call it "refreshing" just yet. Perhaps in summer, when it's hot outside (compared to now), I'll feel more "refreshed" when using it, but for now, they haven’t been voted off Lip Balm Island.

Gym follow up:
I forgot to mention in yesterday's post about gym personalities the "high self-esteem" girl or guy at the gym. This is the person who wears inappropriately small amounts of gym clothes and should not do so. This could be because the clothes don't fit or support his/her body type, etc. A colleague of mine frequently comments about this personality at our gym because she is subjected to seeing a "high self esteem" girl at the gym at 7 a.m. "rocking" the elliptical with her butt cheeks hanging out. No one wants to see that at 7 a.m., or even at 5:30 p.m. when I get there.

My motto: high self esteem is a great thing, but sometimes you need to just be realistic. There is a difference between those things.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gym observations and Reader question

I've been a loyal gym member in Chicago for about 2.5 years and it seems like every time I go, I see something new that intrigues me.

On a daily basis, I see one or more of the following "gym types," which usually cause me some form of amusement:

-- "Cutie" - dresses in matchy, matchy outfits that barely have seen a sweat. Spends more time primping in front of the mirror to make sure her workout waist band lays perfectly over her toned stomach.

-- "Sniffer" - works out 2 times a day, listens to very loud techno music that everyone can hear out of his headphones and who makes a loud "sniffing" noise when he's done with a set or rep

-- "Man Child" - older guy who dresses like he's 20 and says "dude" a lot in his sentences. Usually enjoys bragging about his job and "connections."

-- "Hogger" - hogs multiple machines at the gym at one time and will not let you work in, even though that is simple gym common courtesy

Recently, I've started noticing while changing clothes before and after the gym how many women work out without underwear on. Call me a prude, but ew. I cannot even imagine how uncomfortable that would be, especially running the risk of chaffing while on the elliptical or the track or just how unsanitary it is! And what about your posture while working out on some of the machines? I use a machine that puts my knees at a 90 degree angle, so surely without underwear on, you have more to potentially expose. I do not understand this, but come on ladies, even granny underwear has be a little more comfortable than nothing. And there's no judgment in the ladies locker room, trust me!

Reader question:
While in Miami, some dinner guests and I joked about "signing bonuses," particularly of the extravagant kind. After some thought, we all went around and talked about the kind of extravagant of signing bonus we would like...and honestly, I was not surprised by some of the answers I heard.

My answer: Chanel, quilted bag *sighs dreamily*

What you about you, my blog readers? If you could pick one thing, anything, that would be given to you as a signing bonus at a job, what would it be? I'm curious :)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stop the insanity!

Due to the frigid Chicago temperature and wind chill today, I decided to spend more time researching my impending new laptop purchase and I'm beyond excited about it. I've had hand-me-down laptops since college, which was fine, but now, I'm ready to get a real computer of my very own! I've all but settled on what model it will be, and hopefully next weekend, the rest of my questions will be answered so I'm ready to buy...once I finalize my available financing.

The cold weather also allowed me to catch up on the news. The thought of the writers strike ending makes me beyond happy, fingers are crossed that it can be wrapped up this week! I could still get at least four episodes of the Office and Ugly Betty in before May!

The other story that caught my attention today is in the New York Times about a "stroller ban" in a Brooklyn bar. I can definitely understand why parents were so worked up about it, but honestly, I have zero problem with this. This should surprise no one, especially given my stroller encounters downtown in the summer and on the bus. The article also mentions a blog that advocates on the rights of childless adults. I should join that! It's just genius.

I have a bad feeling as well that a cold is coming on again. Time to spray down my apartment with Lysol bring out the cough drops and keep my doctor's number handy. I'm not making the same mistake that I did last time, which was wait to go in to see her until I'm beyond miserable and sick. Learned that lesson the hard way!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

More tidbits!

Pet Peeve #402
Another drawback to living in an apartment in the city is restaurant flyers shoved under your door. I don't know who does it, but please stop! Since I moved to Lakeview, my current and previous apartment in the neighborhood have been unwilling victims of the Duck Walk menu attack. The culprit strikes very infrequently, but he/she always hits my apartment at the wrong time. Case in point, when I came home at 10 p.m. from an exhausting trip to Miami this week. I open the door to find a menu innocently put under my door again and it set me off. I kicked it into the hallway and refused to pick it up in protest. I know this is childish - but I refused to waste the energy to pick it up and recycle it. Today, when Ryan and I got back from errands and I told him the Duck Walk menu story, he thought I was totally insane and promptly kicked it from the hallway into my apartment before I could stop him (see photo below).

As of 5:40 p.m. tonight, it's still in my hallway and I have no plans to pick it up. If I pick up that menu, Duck Walk wins. I'm tempted to post a sign on my door telling whomever is putting this under my door to not waste their time, because regardless of how many they give me, I will not eat there...ever. Don't force your cheap restaurant on me, play hard to get!

Dreaming of a Macbook
Now that my tax return is in, I'm dreaming and drooling over a new Mac laptop to replace the POS one I'm typing on now. Because I've used "hand me down" laptops for the last five years, I had no idea how expensive they are! Now I really need that stimulus check. Come to me!

Recommending today....
Hit the Coach store today to check out scarves for my Carryall and the new signature lip gloss. Highly recommend the Hibiscus color, super cute. And cute packaging, which is always a plus!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tidbit Friday: Celeb sightings, pet peeves, Miami follow up

Okay now that I've gotten some sleep and "perked" up a bit, time to give you the lowdown on Miami, and all the noteable, adventure-some points from my trip.

Celebrity Sightings
In the Miami airport yesterday, Emily and I saw Laura Prepon, from the TV shows October Road and that 70s Show, waiting for a flight to Aruba. Yes, she's very tall and I'm sure she's much cuter when she is all made up. But it was exciting.

Pet Peeve #401
Along with inattentive parenting and visibly stained clothing, mispronounced words is another huge pet peeve for me. I won't lie, I have trouble pronouncing the word "ambulance" properly (speech impediment as a child), but it drives me insane when other people do it.

Examples are below:

-- Library - pronounced "lie-barry" by a guy back in Wisconsin. It took every ounce of my strength not to correct him, or ask him to stop using it.

-- Computer - pronounced "computie" by a tech guy in Miami. The first time he said it, it caught my attention and I thought it was a joke, but nope, apparently, he "don't know nothing about computies."

Conceirge quirks
On Wednesday night, I had some additional work to do back in my Miami hotel room late at night in preparation for Thursday. This required the use of a scissors, which I did not have, so I called down to the conceirge at the hotel to see if they could run a pair up. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: "Hi I'm wondering if you have a pair of scissors that I could borrow tonight for some work I'm doing?"

Conceirge: "What? What you need?"

Me: "Scissors, a pair of scissors please"

Conceirge: "What's that?"

Me: "You don't know what scissors are?" (shocked)

Concerige: "No" (laughs)

Me: "Should I call the front desk and see if they know what scissors are?"

Conceirge: "Yes, good idea"

The front desk fortunately did know what scissors are and a pair of them did arrive in my room. However, the front desk did pass me back to the conceirge, who magically knew what I was talking about. Awesome.

View from my hotel room

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I'm beyond exhausted as I write this, but I'm finally home in Chicago. I won't lie, I miss the perpetual sunshine and 85 degree weather, but in the end, I always enjoy coming home. The last two days have been insane. Fortunately, the plane from Miami was delayed by 15 minutes and we had a very productive flight home, taking off at our rescheduled time, arriving on time, efficient landing, very pleased. While in Miami security though, Emily made new friends, particularly a guy who works as a ward at a New York state psychiatric facility. He was harmless, until he mentioned that one of his "patients" is not allowed to have pens or pencils with her because she could stab someone in the head with them. Good to know. The conversation ceased after that.

My bag also arrived in a timely manner at the baggage claim (very exciting), but the cab stop line was literally 50 people long. So rather than freeze in a light coat outside for god knows how long, we jump on the Blue Line to Irving Park to catch a cab. An attractive pilot sitting near us on the El was a nice distraction, but the real winner had to be a man sitting 10 people down from us, who looked like a vampire - until I realized he didn't have his front four or five teeth! Quite a picture to see Emily and I dressed respectively in Lacoste and Nordstroms/Banana Republic with this company. I even have a picture of us near a palm tree that I will post tomorrow.

Okay I'm off to finish unpacking and then go right to bed, after peeling my contacts out of my eyes adn wiping the "plane" smell off me. Night.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Welcome to Miami!

I'm blogging live tonight from Miami - yes the Everyday Adventures girl has hit the road! Unfortunately it's for work and not fun, but I might be able to squeak some of the latter in the next few days. With the impending snow storm in Chicago, I was more than anxious to get on the plane and in the air, just so I knew we would get out of town. Fortunately, we did leave, but we were 45 minutes late in departure because of a connection flight from Manchester, England. Apparently 45 people from that connection were also headed to Miami, so our flight had to wait for them to clear security and customs. When we did finally take off, I was getting twitchy from sitting so long.

It's an insanely warm 80 degrees here and so far my body isn't 100 percent sure how to adjust to that. I could really get used to it though. Hoping I'll be able to use the Kate Spade sunglasses tomorrow.

A highlight from today had to be dinner in the hotel's "Le Bar." Lobster quesadillas, which were good but heavy on the peppers and onions. The chipotle sauce was very good, solid kick in the knees good. While the lemonade was disappointing (Minute Maid from the can), the crème brulée for dessert was beyond good. A nice berry assortment on top was the perfect touch. I would definitely have that again. Thank goodness I hit the hotel gym for a bit tonight.

Below is a picture of my room, which took my "turndown service" virginity as well. Too bad that entire experience was almost as bad as a date I went on awhile ago. But the second time is always better.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Travel rituals

Big or small - we all have a travel ritual. It's the routine or pattern of one or more activity that we do before a long train, bus or plane trip. The ritual is calming and reassuring and makes the inevitable journey manageable.

As no shock to some, I have my own pre-plane ritual that helps me feel comfortable before a flight. As a kid, my dad, brother and I used to travel every summer and it was no problem to board a plane and head off into the sky. I don't think I need to explain now why I'm so uncomfortable with doing so, but it's all a mental "fake out" the evening before a trip. And now, given my "healthier" diet, I am very excited about the ritual that I will continue at O'Hare tomorrow.

Once I'm through security and my bags have been checked, my ritual goes in this order:
  • Browse through the magazines at the closest newsstand and the candy at the register but ultimately do not buy anything
  • Find the closest McDonald's for a very unhealthy meal of cheeseburger, fries and a soda
  • Sit near the gate with my food and eat, while watching television
  • Call my dad to catch up
  • Multiple checks to make sure I have my ticket, wallet, keys (even though I won't need them for a while) and hotel information
  • Call or text some friends to bother them during work or their free time
  • Once boarding begins, I hoard to the front of the crowd, in the hopes that my row will magically be called first (it's not)
  • Before boarding, call my dad again to tell him that I'm getting on the plane and that I love him
  • Board the plane and begin daydreaming about it already landing in my destination

Seeing this list actually written down, I realize that it looks totally neurotic or panicky, but it is what gets me on the plane every single time and has delivered me safely. So crazy, yes, but if you want me on that plane, you must indulge me.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I am officially a couch potato

Yes, for the second day in a row, I have done little but lay around, "clean" my apartment and watch a mind-numbing amount of TV. I did not make it to the gym today, but I did start to lay out clothes for my Miami trip this week and called the hotel to make sure I could use the gym, in case I'm motivated and have time Tuesday night.

I'm proud of my movie achievements this weekend: Painted Veil, Superman 3, Casino Royale, 2 Days in Paris, King of Kong: Fistfull of Quarters and several movies in my DVR as well. It's insanely lazy and unproductive, but I love it :)

My official choice of favorite Super Bowl commercial has to be: Pepsi's "head bobbing" ad, which appeared in the first part of the game. It reminded me of the "2 p.m. coma" that happens around the office and the hilarious Will Ferrell/Chris Katten SNL sketch from the 90s. Very funny.

Oh and it's snowing again...hard. Instead of 1-3" by tomorrow morning, the Tribune online has upgraded it to 3-5" - awesome! (said sarcastically)

Okay time to clean my bathroom sink and get the dishwasher going. I'm out of forks and spoons.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lazy Saturday

The best thing about a lazy Saturday on the couch? Deciding what movie you want to watch next! Rather than be productive, I opted for the couch, television and pajamas until 3:30 p.m.

The highlight of today had to be watching the RCN technician get stuck in the snow and then find out that his truck battery was dead. Since no one was readily available on the street for a jump, the technician stood in the street, holding his jumper cables up in the air, anxiously hoping that a passing car would help him. And when someone finally did, a cop pulls up behind the car and beeps for the car to keep going and not block traffic. Then, the cop himself doesn't stop to help this guy! Finally someone rescued Mr. RCN and the entertainment continued as I watched him try to accelerate himself out of the snow bank. That was a solid half-hour of fun right there!

Also, Liz and I hit up Halsted's Bar & Grill, where our service was barely worth the 12 percent tip we left him and my food was only so-so. Maybe next time we'll have better luck.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Happy 3rd Anniversary!

I'm pleased to share that today is my 3rd anniversary of living in Chicago. It seems so hard to believe that three years ago I walked off the 151 downtown ready to start my internship, excited and ready to take on the world! There is a lot that has happened in three years here, both professionally and personally, and looking back, I don't regret moving to the Windy City, even though I was scared out of my mind. Plus I found out that the third anniversary gift is "leather" so that might be my excuse to hit a store this weekend and get me something nice :)

So in celebration of my third year here, I've compiled a brief list of things that I've learned since I was "fresh off the bus."
  • You really can live in a closet-like space and survive without going crazy
  • Once you get a one-bedroom apartment, you never go back
  • The "city hum" at night really does get better
  • Homeless people are harmless, except for the one that follows you near Crate and Barrel
  • Groceries and everything costs at least 10 percent more in the city
  • You need to always leave at least 30-45 minutes before you need to get somewhere to allow for travel time
  • A car is not a necessity
  • Dating is not any easier in the big city and neither is making friends
  • Tourists are a nuisance in the summer and holiday time and you come to resent the people who drive down for just one day to clog up the sidewalks and drive you crazy
  • No matter what, the Michigan Avenue lighting and the St. Patrick's Day festivities never get old

And finally... eccentric people are everywhere, but with enough time, you find friends who you can connect with.

Winter Weather in Chicago

Alert: Woken by a snowblower this morning and rush to the window to see at least 6-7 inches of snow on the ground *crap!*

No office closing (figures) so I prepare to brave the harshly blowing snow. I have a puffy jacket, large hat, gloves, boots and a backpack and Kate Spade messenger bag. Time to mentally prepare for a horrible walk to the bus and a likely equally horrible commute in.

Will bring extra food in case we are stranded on Lake Shore. If you receive a text or call from me, send out the sled and dogs.