Saturday, June 28, 2008

Olympic glory & a blog-errific weekend

That's right, I held the torch and I didn't have to run.

On Thursday and Friday, my company was hosting a New Media Academic Summit at Northwestern and I was lucky enough to be chosen to live blog the two-day event. So while my fingers felt like they would fall off by Friday afternoon, one of the coolest parts of the entire Summit was being able to hold one of the official Beijing 2008 Olympic torches. One of the panelists ran with the torch and brought it in to show everyone and to take pictures. Below is me in full Olympic glory.

Once I was done living out my gold-medal dream, it was time to run home and prepare for Chicago Bloggerfest 2008 (unofficial title for this weekend's activities). It was also Pride weekend here so you can imagine in the Boystown/Lakeview neighborhood - where the first Bloggerfest event was being held - what the scene was like. And the blog-errific weekend didn't end on Friday night, we carried it through the entire weekend. 

Below is a full summary of all the fun we had. Seriously, the woman and men I met and hung out with this weekend are awesome and hilarious. Love them all.

Friday - Blogger's gone wild

Friday night, just about any Chicago bloggers (who were available) within driving, train and walking distance gathered at Sheffields for a night of beer and beergarden fun. It was a "who's who" of blogging: Deutlich, Maxie, Joy, Jenn, Jamie, Angela, Renee, Rachel, Kayleigh, Dan Mega, Princess Pointful, Peter, Angie, Veronica (Rachel's sister) and of course, yours truly. We literally took over a corner of Sheffields' beergarden but without name tags, getting the group together was a little challenging. No biggie. 

At the bar, Deutlich and Maxie recounted their trip from Virginia to Ohio to Chicago, which I give them a ton of credit for. I would not have been awake later than 10 p.m. after leaving my home at 4 a.m. that morning. But the rain held off and it was an awesome time of blog stories and laughter. These ladies (and guys) totally crack me up. Everyone had plenty to talk about and got along really well. It was awesome to meet so many people I already "know" from their blogs and find out even more things we have in common. And of course we consumed copious amounts of beer and shots (fortunately I excused myself from that). And Jenn even gave me an awesome card, full of drawings and everything! *Kisses*

Unfortunately, Sheffields' beergarden closes at midnight so we were kicked to the street and we ended up at Clarkes on Belmont (yes that's confusing) for drunk food. Renee was awesome and gave me a ride home and even though it was nearly 2 a.m., I didn't want to go to sleep! Hell no! It was time to download the Swell Season concert online that I went to a week ago and listen to the new Coldplay song I'm obsessed with. Finally, I forced myself to go to bed so I could get ready for Saturday's Cupcake Crawl goodness.

Saturday - Cupcakes and beyond

Since I don't drink beer all that often, I woke up Saturday with a killer headache, but that would not keep me from my cupcakes. Deutlich, Maxie, Jenn, Jamie, Angela and I met up again in Lincoln Park to embark on the first-annual bloggy cupcake crawl and we took our love for cupcakes and open minds to two places: Sweet Mandy B's and Swirlz.

Our first stop was Sweet Mandy B's, which was cute and adorable on the outside and smelled like bakery heaven on the inside. My cupcake was lovely as was my M&M cookie but seating was scarce and presentation was pretty simple. And for noon on a Saturday, the shop was hoppin' with people picking up cakes and sheets of cupcakes left and right. It was a great place but a little difficult to move around in.

Swirlz in Lakeview was our second stop and I have to admit, I was blown away by not only the selection and presentation of the cupcakes but also the service. It was like Nordstroms service but to the next level. Pam, who was the manager on duty Saturday, was just above and beyond nice to us, patient while we made our decisions and nice enough to let me take some pictures inside. She even gave us an additional cupcake to try because their vanilla flavor is known to be so good - and her recommendation was right-on. 

My red velvet cupcake was just incredible (and gorgeous) and Pam gave us free cupcakes cards for our next visit. I'll be back there in a red-hot second. Pam even gave us a gluten-free cupcake to try and compare with the traditional ones. 

In case you don't know, gluten-free products contain no wheat and seeing that I work in food & nutrition brands, I have heard about gluten-free products as a growing trend. I'm pleased to say that the gluten-free cupcake tasted no different than a traditional cupcake - I would not have even known the difference - and Pam told us that Swirlz works with nutritionists at the University of Chicago in developing their gluten-free products, which surprised me, but I think that is pretty cool. I very highly recommend checking this place out. And Swirlz's tag line is, "cupcakes make you happy" and they are so right.

(Lovely lady bloggers enjoying the nice weather and cupcakes!)

(So many wonderful choices)

(Cupcakes galore! - my red velvet one is right above this)

So once the cupcake crawl was over and we were all sugared-up, we moved on to downtown and the Taste of Chicago! Of course it was packed and hotter than h*ll on the pavement, but it was a good time. We walked around Buckingham Fountain and the Taste, where Jamie and I opted to try the fried cheese ravioli, which was incredible, and Jenn, Jamie and I opted to go with traditional hot dogs, Chicago and regular style. Can't mess with that. Both food choices were very good :)

(Maxie, Jenn and Angela at Buckingham Fountain)

And for some entertainment, I'll share a soundbite that Jamie, Jenn and I overheard while maneuvering through the horrible Taste crowd:

Unnamed Girl: So I didn't even know there was a state called Illinois. I thought the state was called Chicago, I mean it is the biggest city here.

I sh*t you not someone said that and we heard it. And yes, English is her first language. Gotta love the Taste, you see a little bit of everyone there, even a guy with a live snack (and not a small one) wrapped around him. That almost beast the iguana on the El.

Millennium Park was up next, where Angela and Deutlich convinced us to lay down on the ground in front of the Bean to take a picture of the group. The ground was hot and dirty but I think the picture turned out awesome so it was worth it :)

By now we're hot, sweaty and "pink" from the sun (yours truly included) so Jenn came up with the brilliant idea to rest out feet in the Park's "foot bath," which was like heaven. The cool water felt awesome on my feet and we all tossed in a penny with a non-boy-related wish. So after a luxurious foot bath rest, we were ready to break up for a bit before a full night of fun began.

I met up with the group again at  Giordano's for a lovely Chicago-style pizza, which hit the spot, and conversation that had me in stitches. Seriously, these ladies and Dan cracked me up and while we didn't solve world problems, there was more than enough laughter to go around. Unfortunately, Friday night and our Saturday-day activities left everyone a bit tired so our post-dinner plans changed and we hit the Union bar for a drink and then broke up to head home. Of course, Dan, Angela and I hung out for a while longer chatting at Belmont and enjoyed the view of drag queens parading around in the rain and talking over the incessant sound of car horns.

My only bad idea of the night was walking home at 2 a.m. in the rain with sketchy and lots of people out. Bad idea. Nothing happened but there were a few times I was a bit creeped out. 

So a big thanks to Maxie and Deutlich for making the trek out here to visit everyone. It was so cool to meet you and hang out with everyone. I miss you guys already! I had so much fun with everyone this weekend. Now I have to find something fun to do next Friday and Saturday nights! And more pictures are rolling in so I'll keep posting them, including some with me actually in them, as they come in.

Oh yeah, I'm going back to Wisconsin this weekend for the 4th of July so if anyone is in the southeastern Wisconsin area then, let me know and we can do a mini-meet up. As you can see, when bloggers get together, fun is always had.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Things that I'm grateful for

So tonight's post might seem kind of random but I've seen other blogs talk about this so I figured it was appropriate for me to do so as well.

I'm not always the nicest, happy-go-lucky person but that doesn't mean I don't know and recognize things that I am grateful for. So I've decided to list them below to prove yet again that I'm not a heartless b*tch - I'm just misunderstood :)

Things this Everyday Adventures girl is grateful for:
  • My friends
  • Parents who love me just as I am (good and bad)
  • A job that I like (the majority of the time)
  • Good health (knock on wood)
  • Full head of hair (even though it has some gray in it)
  • A full, nice set of teeth (yay braces!)
  • Being able to live and dress myself all on my own (most days)
  • Not having a huge student loan to pay off
  • Being able to "afford my life," even though some more money wouldn't hurt
  • My knitting group (I always look forward to 10 minutes of knitting, dinner and then an hour or more of gossip)
  • All ten fingers and toes (even though my center of balance isn't great)
  • Being able to successfully manage my way living in Chicago
  • Public transportation (CTA) even if it's not the most reliable (cabs are so expensive now)
  • Being able to look at life with a glass half-full attitude
  • Finding something new and beautiful every day (I know this sounds sappy but it's true)
  • Being able to laugh at just about anything
  • No credit card debt
  • Being brave enough to leave school in Wisconsin and chase a crazy dream to Minnesota to study
  • My blosse :) because honestly when I started this, I had no idea of anyone would read it but I'm glad you all do
So that's my list of the really important stuff. I opted to leave off some things that aren't as important as this, like clothes, handbags, etc. They're nice, but definitely not as meaningful. And this isn't a "final" list at all, I'm sure more things will be added to it as time goes on.

Anyone care to share what they're grateful for? It can be anything!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Class of 1998: Ten f*cking years later

Some of you may have seen my Tweets from about a week ago announcing (with a bittersweet tone) that Facebook recently invited me to my 10-year high school reunion. Well Facebook itself is not hosting it for me, but my high school, which has a group on Facebook (which I find odd that it exists there) notified me about the event. Actually, June 13 was the official 10-year anniversary date of me graduating high school and I going to work and it was pay day so it was doubly good.

So my 10-year high school reunion is set to be in Wisconsin in August, on a Saturday at a bar on the west side of town (which I find somewhat interesting yet fitting), and for $25 I can relive all the painful anxiety and low self-esteem emotions that made three of my four high schools years awful. Ah the memories, me with thick glasses, baggy clothes, braces, big boobs, long blonde hair, my ears fully pierced and making it through each day with one thought: "I can't wait to get the f*ck out of here and away from these people." 

I don't want to misrepresent this, but high school wasn't all painful. My senior year of high school was literally the best year ever. Had my first kiss, first real "boyfriend" and date, got contacts, started to not be afraid of my breasts and body and the biggest coup, I was a forensics, a.k.a. debate rock star. Medals, first-place trophies, recognition and jealousy from my teammates, including my former best friend. I drank that shit up like it was wine and I wanted bathe in it. Suddenly the chubby, petite girl got kind of better looking and was good at something, wha????

Oh the chance to see them all again, especially the guy I crushed on for all four years of high school, who conveniently lost his virginity to my former best friend on her couch because "they were feeling horny one night." Ah high school, misty water-color memories. Ironically, he went on to pursue "music" at college and illegal substances so I think I got the better end of that stick in the long run.

A lot of things have changed in ten years and thanks to Facebook, I've been able to follow many of my old classmates, many of which fall into one of three categories:
  • Drunk
  • Married
  • Unmarried with a kid (some with multiple kids)
Fortunately, I seem to fall in the outlier category from this: single, working and content. 

I'm not surprised that most of my old classmates ended up back in Wisconsin, living in the city we all grew up in. One old classmate, who recently friended me on Facebook, was so excited for me that I was living in the big city and said it was brave. BRAVE? Maybe to them it is, but to me, it's second nature. It's interesting to see how you grow up and away from the people you once held so close to you. Even relationships with family members have changed in that time. Some I've grown closer to and some I've drifted away from for better and worse.

And thinking about this reunion has prompted me to start taking a trip down memory lane, looking at pictures of me and seeing how dramatically different I am now from the timid, insecure and scared girl I was before. Heck if I look dramatically different from a picture that's two years old and posted outside my work cube, imagine what has changed in 10 years? Some of the funniest memories I recounted while looking back include smoking my first cigarette outside the mall with a friend of mine, thinking we were so "bad ass" and how I smoked cloves at the bowling alley "lying" that it was from someone else. And who could forget sipping a screwdriver from someone's thermos, again thinking I was "bad to the bone."

But as I look back at the girl who was 18, miserable and at a huge crossroads in her life, personally and emotionally, I look back at her and the 28-year-old me would tell her this if I could:

You will be okay and all this confusion and insecurity will work itself out. Be strong and don't let the bumps you're about to go through and the heartache you'll encounter break your spirit. You are strong and you will make it through. 

And I can imagine the 18-year-old me would look at me (timidly), initially say nothing and then say something like, "well I'm glad it works out, sort of, but damn you're kind of mean." Grow up girl.

So yeah, what the hell, I'll pay $25 to see some people I used to crush on and feel insecure around. I have a feeling it'll be more of a self-esteem boost and "life choices" affirmation than anything else. Woo hoo! Class of 1998!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Who has two thumbs and sucks at flirting? This girl!

You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I suck at flirting. Let's take Saturday night as another shining example of this point.

Scene: Unnamed Lakeview bar and grill, me entering to pick up a carry-out order. Dressed in an Old Navy tank top (with a small smoothie stain I discovered later), bra strap exposed, looking very warm and flustered from the heat and wearing a cotton skirt with little make up on. I go up to the bar to pick up my order and two nice-looking guys are sitting at the bar as well. Non-spoken descriptions are below in italics.

Guy 1 (the blonde-haired guy): Looks at me, gives me a warm smile, which I return. Hi there.
Me: Hi
Guy 2 (the dark-haired guy): Also looks at me and smiles while Guy 1 continues to throw looks my way. Hey there.
Me: Hi
Bartender: Okay here's your order. He tells me the amount and I hand over my credit card, Guy 1 and 2 are still smiling at me, which I continue to smile back.
Me: Thanks, turns to Guy 1 and 2, have a good night giving them my patented "look"
Guy 1: You too, I leave but can feel someone watching me as I go. Tempted to turn around and give one final look and smile but do not.

End scene

Okay so that might not have exactly been me flirting and of course there is the likely possibility the guys were just being polite and watched me walk away out of horror for my outfit choice. Either way, the entire way home I'm kicking myself in the a** for not saying more to them or really anything. These guys were cute! But as I walk home, cursing, I realize I can't go back because they've seen me with a carry-out order so if I go back I'll be a) psycho for going back to ask about some asinine thing with my food or b) obvious that I would like them to ask me to stay for a drink or offer to join them. What is my problem?

And yet again I have solidified the fact that I suck at flirting, mostly because I still have a hard time believing a guy would want to flirt with me. I really not trying to be self-deprecating here but I'm totally serious! I am awful when it comes to guys because I have no idea what to say to them or my snippy, sarcastic humor ends up scaring them away or putting me in the "friend" category almost immediately. I'm the buddy, the wing(wo)man. Guys talk to me to get to one of my friends. It's so true.

Here's another solid example of my poor flirting skills. Right after college, I was living in Wisconsin and could not find a decent job to save my life. So one night, I go out with my friend for her birthday and I end up hammered and making out with her boyfriend's friend at her apartment. While this guy and I are fooling around, he whispers to me, "what do you want?" And I sh*t you not, this is my drunken answer, "a job." Really, I'll let that sink in for a moment because that is what I said without even thinking. And his response? "I can't give that to you." And thus the fooling around was done not long after that comment.

This guy would have done anything I asked him to with his mouth or hands or both, resulting in my toes curling and likely being rendered speechless and my answer to him is, "a job." In actuality, I wanted him to do something with his hands or mouth to take my mind off not having a job, but apparently I could not communicate in the heat of the moment. My friend could not stop laughing when I told her that. It was embarrassing. 

Once after a night out in Chicago, I had a guy offer to take the bus home with me, even though the El would drop him off closer to his house, and my comment to him was, "why would you do that?" My friend Sarah, who was trying to set me up with this guy (who is now engaged to someone else), looked at me like, "Jess do you seriously not see why he would do that?" And my answer was yes.

So next weekend when we're out, my goal is to turn off the inner monologue long enough to give flirting a real try without sounding like a moron. And I'm actively recruiting for my own wing(wo)man so let me know if you're interested in applying. References are appreciated.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Swell Season & Blogger event!

Big post tonight, my randomness from last night is g-o-n-e, for now.

Tuesday night Anne and I went to the lovely Chicago Theater for the second of three sold-out concerts with the Swell Season a.k.a. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the indie movie "Once." Oh they also won the Oscar last year from Best Original Song.

Glen is already a star with the band the Frames (which I had not heard of before the concert) but after watching the movie and hearing the Oscar-winning song "Falling Softly" (video below), it moved me to tears so I had to see them live. And last night at their final show, Barack Obama was in the audience, how cool is that? 

The opening act was a super cute, super nervous guy from Kentucky (whose name I didn't catch) who commented that the Chicago Theater crowd was easily "36x larger" than any audience he has ever played before. Random guys were handing out samples of his upcoming CD (from Jewel plastic bags) after he finished playing, but I couldn't grab one in time. Shoot. But I can download the entire concert from a Web site for only $5.95! They gave us cards about it as we were leaving so I'm totally going back to save it to my computer.

It's been a long time since I've been to the lovely Chicago Theater and the sound inside was insanely awesome, the acoustics were amazing. So while we were regulated to the rafter seats, it was still a fun time with beautiful music. I highly recommend checking out the movie and the Swell Season tour if you can. I would definitely see them again.

Taking off for Air One!

I love many things, one of which is shoes made in Italy. Another thing I love is meeting bloggers, especially local ones so tonight, I was invited to nearly combine these loves by attending a blogger event for Air One airlines at Gioco's in the South Loop. And joining me were three lovely Chicago bloggers, Jenn, Joy and Angela. Great company.

Air One is an Italian airline who is starting US routes to Milan this month, but only from Chicago and Boston, so to celebrate the new flights, they hosted a blogger event to mingle and learn more about Italian culture. I do have to disclose that Air One is a client at my company, but I was officially "off the clock" when I attended and I don't work in the department that organized the event.

Marco from Air One talked for a bit about airline and then shared with us some differences in English and Italian cultures. How do Italians spot tourists? Drinking espresso after 10:30 a.m. and/or wearing shorts. I did hear about the "shorts red flag" from friends overseas so I trust him on that one. And they said chef Phil Stefani is creating the flight's menu. Sounds good to me. Air One was even doing a drawing for a free round-trip flight from Chicago to Milan. Fingers crossed that this girl gets chosen (please, please, momma needs a new pair of Italian leather shoes or a Prada bag). Plus it's a partner with Lufthansa and speaking from experience, that is a good airline. German!

We enjoyed some lovely wine (which we couldn't remember the names of so Jenn and I ordered them by numbers 1, 2 and 3) and the food was great too, or as Joy would say as the waiter's approached, "kay." It's tough to pick a favorite from all the nummy options but I would have to say that the fried meatballs and the pesto/mushroom and margarita pizza were the big winners. Plus we got some free SWAG before leaving, which included a new flash drive. Score. That will make a lovely addition for my Lulu. Check out some pictures below.

Four lovely Chicago bloggers

Marco introducing us to Air One (above)

Q&A about how to spot American tourists (below)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All the randomness fit for print

I normally get all of my genius ideas on the elliptical trainer, probably because it's the only time I can actually focus and clear my brain. The voices in my brain are very high maintenance during the rest of the day.

So because I've been super busy at work again and working later, I haven't had the energy or time to go to the gym and come up with genius ideas to write about, so tonight, this post is stuffed with all the "randomness fit for print!"

Random #1: Am I losing my mind?

I think my brain is starting to short out because lately I've been crazy forgetful about things. Today I totally forgot about a meeting and showed up like 10 minutes late with people asking me what happened. I never forget stuff like that, what is wrong with me? I had the Outlook reminders going and everything.

Recently I've almost nearly burned down my apartment twice by forgetting that the stove is on. I finally remember that my place is running the risk of burning to the ground when the smoke alarm is near going off and my food is no longer edible. Right now I consider myself lucky if I leave the house with my purse, keys, Chicago Card and a full set of clothes on. I actually now keep a small deodorant and toothbrush at my desk because I fear I'll forget it so I'll be covered. 

Maybe it's time for herbs or something to combat this. Or maybe I'm getting dementia a bit early in life. Or maybe my crazy lists are my actual method to avoid madness.

Random #2: The "Pretty Lady" Bus 

Note: this random scene actually happened on a Monday but is being shared with you all on a Wednesday 

Scene: Morning, me waiting for the bus, trying to shake off the already early case of the "Mondays." A short, express bus arrives, half-full, I begin to try and step on the bus when I'm stopped by the driver. Note: comments will be put in italics)

Bus driver: I'm only picking up ladies today, pretty ladies (no one steps on the bus, unsure if he's serious or how to respond)

Me: Are you kidding? 

Bus driver: Nope, pretty ladies only (nods happily and smiles)

Me: How do you define pretty? That's kind of subjective 

Bus driver: (scans the women waiting) Pretty ladies only

Me: You can't do that, this is a public service, my taxes pay for this, I need to go to work

Bus driver: (still scanning the women waiting and begins pointing) You, you, you and you (pointing at me) can board

Me: Woo hoo! This is a great policy!

(Later at another stop and more pretty ladies boarding the bus, a guy jumps on the bus)

Bus driver: I said pretty ladies only! (The man looks rather shocked and refuses to deboard. A stare-off continues)

Me: He's not kidding (the stare-off continues and the guy scans his card, making it clear he's not leaving)

Bus driver: I'm just kidding, it's all good buddy (he's not kidding, we continue to work in awkward silence)

Random #3 Picture time!

In my recent post about why I would not make a good mother, I reference my Yoda Amanda's daughter Ada. Well at Yoda's recent birthday party, I was able to hold this little slobbery angel before she got too fussy and Amanda captured it with her camera. The adorable, precious result is below. 

Should I be worried that her e-mail to our friends with this image was titled, "Jess does have a heart....awe?"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Peer Pressure - do it, do it, do it, do it

I am a sucker for peer pressure. I have trouble saying no to my friends and family, especially when they give me the "pretty please" look or tell me how important this party/movie/event/dinner/kegger is to them. I pretty much yield.

In college, I got in trouble for minorly defacing property because my friend asked me to go to a frat's keg party. I originally declined because I had plans with my eventual boyfriend, but all she had to say was, "Jess we'll go for 10 minutes, 10 minutes and we'll leave after that." Yeah right. Four hours later we were both drunk on Boones Farm and busted by the rival keg house for defacing school property were permanent markers. Oops.

Fortunately, the college peer pressure I caved in to did not involve a beer bong or something that would end up on YouTube, but even in my late 20s, peer pressure is still there and I still cave to it, but this time it's a bit more expensive (but no longer requires getting school officials or the police involved.)

The kind of peer pressure I am referring to is the social shopping peer pressure. The kind where you go out with your parents and friend, not intending to spend money (like me this weekend) and come back with three bags from Pottery Barn and one from Banana Republic. To be fair, everything was 30-50 percent off (minus a bracelet) but still. My friend Ryan calls me the "enabler" because any time he sees something he likes, I tend to say, "you should buy that," and he usually will, after he nicely curses at me for reinforcing what his head is telling him, which is that he should really buy that DVD/CD/shirt/man-bag/etc.

In the hall of fame though is my stepmom, who is the ultimate in peer pressure selling. When I called her to convince me not to buy a Kate Spade messenger bag (on sale again), her line was, "well Jess you can always return it." And like a moth to the flame, I bought it and still have that (and use it). Watching her work her magic on others, I know when she's close to convincing them because she will actually take their purse or other shopping bags to hold so that they can go up and buy what they've been contemplating. Genius.

My friends Liz and Sarah are also close seconds to her, although Sarah is a bit more aggressive in her peer pressure selling technique. She's made me spend much more money than necessary on things by saying the standard girl-influential lines, "they look great on you," "that [shirt/skirt/etc] makes you look so thin," and the ultimate line that I've used (with success) on my friends, "[insert name] you deserve it." You're totally right, I do.

So my message for the kids today is this: peer pressure is okay (in the social shopping sense) as long as you know your limits. If I have buyers remorse or second thoughts, I have zero problem with returning items I've bought, or re-arranging my budget for this pay period so that I can have it. Be smart and shop and enjoy your post-shopping trip with a fashion show of all your new stuff. Love it.

Oh and the line, "we'll go for 10 minutes" doesn't always work anymore on me for parties. Sometimes I'm literally tracking time on my cell phone while for others, 10 minutes becomes several hours, without permanent markers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What I want to be when I grow up...again

I've been a kick-a** communications professional (at least that's what I think I am) for the last three years, but I couldn't help but wonder what I would do if I didn't enjoy my job?

Realistically, 20-something men and women will change jobs multiple times in their lives and even change careers at least two or three times. So if I need to start thinking about a second career, what should I be considering?

A woman I used to work with teased me that I would would do a great job in one of the following professions (should I choose to make a career change):
  • Guidance counselor

  • Game show host (maybe the phrase "no whammies, no whammies" is in my future)

  • Stand-up comedienne

I admit, I did have to laugh at the guidance counselor recommendation. When I asked why she chose that profession for me, she thought for a second and said, "you'd keep it real with the kids, tell them when their dreams are too big or aren't realistic." She might have a point there. But as a child whose parents have worked in education, I don't think the school system is for me, although I would love to have the summer off. I've seen how tough it is for teachers and I don't think I have that level of patience in me.

So then I thought about stand-up comedy. I think I'm pretty funny and entertaining but I don't think that's the right more for me either. I have this horrible prophecy about turning out like Kathy Griffin, given that I love pop culture and swear like a trucker. Don't get me wrong, I love her, but I don't want to become her. And since my original choices of being a doctor, Solid Gold dancer and international supermodel didn't pan out, I need to be a bit more realistic with my choices.

Before I moved to Chicago, I had just about given up on my current profession after a bad string of jobs in Wisconsin. My current company was my last chance at making it in the communications field. If it didn't work out there, I was moving back to Wisconsin and flipping to a coin to decide if I should go to law school or nursing school (I think the latter would have won). Fortunately, I came to Chicago for a three month internship and am still here over three years later and things are actually going pretty well so I'll stick it out, but it never hurts to have options :)

Any comments from my blosse about career options that I can add to the list? Someone mentioned "personal shopper" to me, which is nearly perfect because I love to shop and spend other people's money. So that's another one to add to my list of possible careers.

Note: I just wanted to clarify that I'm not thinking of leaving my job, I like my job but always like to hear interesting ideas of what else I could do if my current career doesn't work out long term :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Am I mother-material?

Most of my non-blog friends know that I am not exactly child-friendly even though I recently admitted that I did want to have kids, contrary to popular belief. In my 100 things about me meme (where I admitted I wanted kids), I also mentioned that I hate inattentive parenting. But overall, I'm just not sure I'm mother-material.

I've been known to take candy from children, be unsympathetic when they cry and hiss at them when they're being obnoxious. I even have an old issue of the Redeye at my desk with the cover title, "No Way Baby!" And once while babysitting, a kid told me she didn't want to do chores because "she doesn't like to work," so I dragged her and her sister outside in the cool weather anyhow (with jackets on) to pick up sticks at 10 cents an hour. They earned their 40 cents that day, and I made sure to stick around to supervise and point out areas they were slacking in collecting them. 

This sounds mean, I know, but I bring this up because I found out my college roommate from Minnesota is pregnant and it was quite a shock to my system. Outside of my knitting Yoda Amanda, this is my second friend having a kid and it's a lot to take in, so couple this with my brother getting married, and I'm reaching for the paper bag. At 28, I don't so much hear the biological clock ticking, but I almost want to tap it to see if there's even one in there, or if the batteries died awhile ago.

Should I choose to have kids (which will first require a mate), it'll be a bit more difficult for me anyhow because of an ovarian cyst I had in college. I don't like to talk about it very much because it went from "well it doesn't look cancerous" to "we need to take you into surgery now." So I'm sure that experience just seeded in my head that I wouldn't want to have kids anyhow because I'm one fallopian-tube deficient.

So why don't I think I'm mother-material? That list is pretty simple: 
  • I'm selfish (I really am, I like doing what I want, when I want)
  • I can barely take care of myself (what I constitute as dinner would horrify some)
  • I'm not the most patient and tolerant person (I have a short temper about things)
  • I don't know how to relate to kids (why can't they watch the Colbert Report with me and understand the jokes??)
All good reasons why I would not make a good mom. But this weekend while at Yoda Amanda's birthday party, I saw her nearly 6-month-old daughter Ada and all it took was this look.....

And I couldn't wait to hold her and hug her and kiss her soft cheeks until she cried for me to stop. So maybe I'm not mother-material now, at a selfish 28, but I know I can't resist a look like the one above anytime. Maybe next year I'll be a bit more mature.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dating "deal breakers"

My friend Sarah once told me that I have "too high of standards" with guys. Personally, I disagree.

My core standards with guys are actually pretty common (I think):
  • Has a job that isn't illegal

  • Has job aspirations or goals

  • Is financially-stable

Are these really too high of standards? I don't think so!

But then as friends and I started talking about dating, the subject of "dating deal breakers" came up.

Dating deal breakers are basically traits or quirks of a potential mate that bother you enough that they would cause you to break off the relationship, if necessary. Much like my list above, I thought about the things that really are important to me for any guy I would date and consider marrying.

Sadly, there were several things on that list...but again some of them are traits that I would hope none of my friends would want in a spouse or boyfriend. Some of these deal breakers might be catty but here they are.

Jess' deal breakers:

  • Smoking - I hate it. I'm sorry but the guy would have to quit if he really wants to date me and I would have to clean down his entire house so the smell is gone. Hate it.

  • Multiple tattoos - I don't mind one or two tattoos but if we're talking about "sleeves" or something scratched on his neck or across his stomach (a la "Thug Life"), no thank you.

  • Shorter than me - I am a petite woman, 5' 3" to be exact, so after much thought, I really don't think I can date someone my height or shorter. I love tall guys and honestly, if the guy is my height, he's probably underage, so I can't have him anyhow :)

  • Lack of physical health - This is not meant to be catty but I work out, I'm active and I try to watch what I eat. I don't want a guy who will make me feel bad about myself for not eating organic foods, etc. but I want a guy who also takes care of himself physically. I want tickets to the gun show!

  • No sense of humor - I love to laugh and I'm told I have a good sense of humor myself so someone who can make me laugh (which doesn't take much) and who enjoys laughing is important too.

  • Doesn't verbally abuse me - I can't imagine someone who likes being told awful things about themself, like being fat, ugly, etc. so I don't want that either!
So that's my list and to be fair, it's included these quirks for a long time so it's not like I've been adding things on over the years, this is a standard list for me.

Maybe this is why I'm single ;) But the core standards still apply. Last thing I need is to be featured on COPS for my boyfriend selling drugs out of my apartment. That "night vision" light is also unflattering on my skin. Never a good thing.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekend recap: Vodka flights and more Meme-ing

I hate the humidity, I really do. My straight hair does too because it curls in a Carol Brady-way. So without further ado, here we go!

To beat the heat on Friday, friends of mine and I met up at Tavern on the Park for a few drinks – because alcohol cools you down (not really). Fortunately the bar wasn’t too packed so my friend Mike and I asked about getting a table so we could all actually engage in conversation. The host (without saying a word) just shakes his head when we ask about a table so as we’re about to settle at the bar, another hostess comes up to us and says that us our table was ready. Ah….okay! We were mistaken for another party and got a HUGE booth at the end of the bar, complete with a leather, covered table. Leather – awesome.

Once we were all assembled and caught up on Mike’s new job, my brother’s wedding and anything else of interest to all of us, Ryan proposed a bold idea…Russian Tea Time, near the Art Institute. I’m not a big fan of Russian food – at all – but fortunately we weren’t going there for eating. We were going for its famous vodka flights :) Yes, I opted to “make my own flight,” complete with three, one-ounce, ice-cold shots of Russian vodka in Horseradish, Coriander and Chocolate. And I’ll tell you, three of those shots later – you’re ready to bark at the moon, which I all but did. At $13/flight, it’s kind of pricey but damn that Horseradish vodka was good, especially when you can cleanse your vodka palate with dill pickles!

Musical Meme

Last week, Kay tagged me for a music-themed meme so you all will be subjected again to finding out more things about me :) Fortunately, this time you will spared from hearing about more embarrassing things from my past.

And away we go….

MEME Rules:

1. Put your iTunes/ music player on shuffle

2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer


After you’ve answered all of the questions, tag 5 other people and then let them know they’ve been tagged to do the meme themselves!


“Hey Ya!” Outkast


"Bubbly" Colbie Caillet


"Everything is Everything" Lauren Hill


"All Good Things (Come to an End) Nelly Furtado


"Trouble" Pink


"Heat of the Moment" Asia


"Far Away" Nickelback


"Live and Let Die" Guns N' Roses


"I Am A Rock" Simon and Garfunkel

WHAT IS 2+2?

"Naughty Girl" Beyonce


"Jerk it Out" Caesar's Palace


"Accidentally in Love" Counting Crows


"Gimme More" Britney Spears


"Holiday" Green Day


"Hips Don't Lie" Shakira


"Where is the Love" Black Eyed Peas


"Wheel in the Sky" Journey (My note: Hell's yes we're dancing to Journey - woo hoo!)


"It's Not Right" Whitney Houston


"L.O.V.E" Ashlee Simpson


"1234" Feist


"Can't Stop" Ozomatli


"Somewhere Only We Know" Keane

Okay this was an awesome iPod shuffle that I just had. Hilarious. Yes, I have Asia on my iPod and I love Journey. I have a very random taste in music.

Next victims? Rachel, Tipp, Kristen, Angie and Erin. Tag, you’re it!

So what did everyone else do this weekend?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday tidbits: Fun video and a note to my blosse

First off, thank you everyone for the sweet comments - minus the fat and materialistic one - to yesterday's post about 100 (un)interesting things about me.

It was great to see that I'm not alone in my freakish and girly tendencies. And I want to say a big thanks to Rachel for trying to lure my mean-intentioned commenter out in the open. You tell 'em! (Also Rebecca came up with the "blosse" term, which stands for "blog posse" - genius).

In my 100 things, I did forget to mention my paper mache rabbit/cat Bubbles and the whole "dancing on the bar" incident in college, but that's for another time. Also, at Maxie's suggestion, I will one day blog about the cat fight I got into on a double date, that is a good one.

So because it's Friday, and it's still f*cking hot in Chicago, I have to share the video treat that my cube-neighbor Laura shared with all of us at work today. Honestly, this is exactly how I feel some days (including this week) at the office. This is my first time embedding video so let's hope this works!

Happy Friday everyone! Lots of love out in the blosse-sphere.

Office Worker Goes Absolutely Insane - Watch more free videos

Thursday, June 5, 2008

100 (un)interesting things about me - brace yourself

On Monday Rachel decided to play hardball and tag me for a meme where I have to list 100 things about myself. To be honest, it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be and I came up with my 100 things pretty quick. Considering the week I've had so far, this could be a good thing. Shows the brain is still sharp.

This might be more information than you ever wanted to know about me but fortunately it’s not too much in the TMI category.

So without further ado, let’s pull the curtain back on my sick and twisted mind and see what I dug out. 

  1. My porn name is Kala 122
  2. In military time, I was born at 23:23
  3. I am not a cat person
  4. I want a dog
  5. I used to have blonde hair and red hair
  6. I’m jealous of my stepbrothers
  7. I want to wander around Europe aimlessly
  8. I slept on the floor of a train station in Germany once
  9. My first kiss was at 18
  10. First time I was drunk was at 19
  11. I went to Graceland on Spring Break in college
  12. I met Bill Clinton at a Disney Store in SF
  13. I’ve thrown up in a cab – twice
  14. I’ve been to a taping of Conan O’Brien, Letterman and the Daily Show in NY
  15. I got to see the Olympic torch run through Times Square
  16. I had my picture taken with Bucky Badger at a wedding
  17. I love college football
  18. I went to the U of Minn. but really wanted to go to Madison
  19. I have seen the Eiffel Tower
  20. I made out with a guy once after drinking a bottle of wine and forgot his name
  21. I’ve been carried home drunk my girlfriends twice
  22. I cannot play fooseball
  23. I love playing tennis
  24. My first real boyfriend was in college
  25. I’ve only been in love once
  26. My parents named me after I was delivered and they “looked at me”
  27. My middle name is Mary, so is my mom’s
  28. I’m horribly insecure
  29. I wore glasses until my senior year of high school
  30. I was in forensics in high school
  31. I never went to prom
  32. I had braces for 4 years
  33. I decided to lose weight after waking up drunk on my bathroom floor two years ago
  34. I tried to “smoke a bowl” a few times, unsuccessfully
  35. I met my first boyfriend at a debate event
  36. The first compliment I ever got was “you’re the most intelligent woman I know”
  37. I worry that if something happens to my dad, I’ll be alone
  38. I’m a homebody
  39. I want to get married
  40. I want to have kids (contrary to popular belief)
  41. I struggle with depression on and off
  42. I love television
  43. I’m cheap
  44. I fear ending up poor
  45. I love purses
  46. I used to look like a boy (before the boobs came in)
  47. I like naked time
  48. I tried internet dating but didn’t get any “bites”
  49. I dated a guy who “felt up” my house
  50. I dated another guy who worked with my dad (oops)
  51. I’ve made out with my girlfriends for money
  52. I tried to eat a guy’s Birkenstock once
  53. I stayed up until 6 a.m. to take the Madrid Metro back to my hotel
  54. I speak German and French
  55. I love to laugh
  56. I pierced my ears four times, thinking it would prove I'm a "rebel"
  57. I wish I would have met my late grandmothers
  58. I used to play clarinet and violin
  59. I was on the TODAY show
  60. I got in a catfight once on a double date
  61. I’ve been in a fist fight
  62. I love going to the movies
  63. I eat coffee cake in the dark
  64. I used to wear baggy clothes because I was embarrassed by my body
  65. I work out 3-4 days a week and I’m still not totally happy with my body
  66. I love to shop
  67. I want to run the Chicago marathon one day
  68. I don’t know if I believe in true love
  69. I’ve told several friends they’re making a mistake by dating certain guys
  70. I watched my friend get beaten by her boyfriend
  71. I used to wear L.A. Gear shoes
  72. The first movie I saw was E.T.
  73. The first concert I went to was Bon Jovi
  74. I have bent toes
  75. I love when someone mentions me on their blog (unless it’s negative)
  76. I crave acceptance by my peers
  77. I might actually be “dead inside”
  78. I hate inattentive parenting
  79. I hate being too hot in the summer
  80. I have bad circulation in my feet and hands
  81. I didn’t have hair until I was 2 years old
  82. My hair was white/blonde when I was a baby
  83. My first car was a Plymouth Lazer
  84. I loved my Honda Civic
  85. I love driving
  86. I hate flying
  87. Everyone calls me Jess
  88. As a kid, I fell off my sled and took off all the skin on one side of my face
  89. I read a lot of magazines, and have a lot delivered to my house
  90. I get a nervous eye tick when I’m stressed out
  91. I have had a root canal (it sucks)
  92. I weight train to work out my stress/anger
  93. I have anger management issues
  94. I wanted to be a doctor and a dancer on Solid Gold
  95. I have OCD, mildly
  96. I’m anal retentive and a perfectionist
  97. I want my blog to grow and grow and grow
  98. I like to iron clothes
  99. I compulsively check my purse for my house keys
  100. I like to have show fashion shows in my apartment 
Ta da!! I can't believe I did it, and I had to cut things from the list. Scary. I hope someone finds this amusing at least.

I haven't decided who will suffer this fate next, but trust, me I'll find you.

Damn it's hot in Chicago.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

When parents should(not) call their kids at work

My job isn't always high-stress but when it is, that is the exact moment that my parents call me at my desk to chit-chat. Believe it or not, I try to be polite when I tell them that I can't talk but somehow when I actually say that, it never seems to come out as nice as it sounded in my head.

I feel so bad about this too because I love my dad and I love it when he calls just to hear my voice, but he always (unknowingly) calls at the wrong time. For example, he calls when I'm neck-deep in billing worksheets or I have a serious deadline due to my VP or someone is yelling at me in the background. He'll innocently call on his lunch break to ask how my day is and what I did the previous evening. But because of his ill-timing, I end up barking into the phone, "dad I can't talk right now, can you just e-mail me or call me later?" And it's then that he sighs and says, "okay sweetheart," but I can tell he was just looking to catch up. It kills me every time this happens, like it did today.

I asked a few women in my office about this and they all groaned and agreed that they get calls like this to from their moms or dads. A few women in my office have even told their parents that they don't have a phone at work to avoid them calling at an inopportune time.

"You shouldn't give our your work number to family...ever," one woman said to me, but I think it's okay to share it, as long as both sides have an understanding of when to use it.

Examples of when it's okay to call your child at work:
  • You've been in a serious accident and/or are going to the hospital

  • Someone we know has died or another family member was in a serious accident

  • You're coming into town unexpectedly and I'm getting a free dinner and ride home from work

  • You've put money in my bank account because you love me

  • You won the lottery and are buying me a condo

  • The house has burned down

These are all acceptable situations to call me at my desk.

My dad, god love him, is also guilty of leaving a 5-minute voicemail message in the mornings on his way to work. This message is left on my work phone, which I check when I get in. But no matter how many times I've told him that I don't have time to listen to a 5-minute message and that I delete it after minute 1.5, he still leaves it. A couple of times I've gotten busted for not listening to the entire thing because he'll ask me questions later in the message (i.e. dinner locations when I come home for a visit) and I obviously don't respond (because I didn't hear them). When he mentions it later to me, I end up fibbing and saying the message cut out.

So am I an awful child? Maybe/maybe not. But I'd like to think that on the whole, my positive daughter traits outweigh the negatives.

Follow up from yesterday's "fashion flaw" post

Thanks everyone for the great feedback to yesterday's post, I'm so glad that I'm not alone in this thinking. Phew. I promise that if I bump into any of you on the street and you happen to commit any of those flaws that I won't judge you at all.

I do have to say though, I really hate the ill-fitting sandals thing though. I have big feet so I can't judge others, but seriously, shoes that fit are a great thing. No toes hanging over or heels half-off the shoe. Ick. I am an offender at not keeping up on a pedicure though so even I'm not exempt. I need to take my own advice.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Two parter: Letter to my fair skin and summer self-esteem

A letter to my fair skin:

Dear Jess' skin -
Hi, how are you? You've been looking pretty good lately, clear and soft from this new body lotion I know you were trying. Keep it up!

Unfortunately, I'm writing today because you're killing my soul. I know, that might have been harsh but seriously, you are. It's summer and Sunday you really dropped the ball when I went for my walk and was enjoying my Bobtail outside with Chicago magazine. I was only out for like, two hours at the most, and you burn like a little b*tch? What's up with that?

Now I know you're upset that I only put the sunscreen on my face, but you know how sensitive that skin is and how I feel about a sunburned face so really that shouldn't be a surprise. If you decided to let my shoulders and back-of-the-neck get burned to get back at me, that's not cool.

I know you don't like it when dad and just about everyone else teases you about being so pale and not enjoying tanning, but we need to stick together on this. So if you were retaliating, I want you to know that you caught my attention and made me mad. I'm listening to you so let's schedule a time to talk about how we're going to get through the rest of the season because the weather appears to be staying nice.

Have your people call my people for lunch.

H&K, Me

Summer self-esteem

As you might have gathered from the above post, the weather was really nice here this weekend and thus, I got sunburned because I'm so fair skinned. Seriously, the sun hates me.

But that's not what I want to focus on, now that it's nice out, I need to address a serious issue in the city and my neighborhood - summer self-esteem. This is a big issue when the weather gets nice here because everyone is out and not in the most appropriate clothing for public.  Whatever you wear at home is totally fine, especially if you live alone because you don't have to worry about anyone else seeing you. I get it, it's hot, you need to cool off, no biggie. 

Self-esteem is a great thing but sometimes you need to rein it in a bit because it's just a bit too out of control. I amend this rule come August when it's so ungodly hot that you do whatever you have to do to stay cool. So judgement will lapse then.

But when you're in public, there are a few things to keep in mind for your fellow (wo)man on the sidewalk.

Below is a list of common summer fashion offenses:
  • Badly fitting sandals - hint: if your heel is hanging off the back of the shoe, it doesn't fit
  • Inappropriate cleavage - I know it's fun and here to stay, but don't let it all "hang out." Trust me, I'll try to throw food in there
  • Too much bra-exposure - this goes back to the cleavage point, I know you wear a bra, you don't have to prove it or show it to me. I'm not that kind of girl
  • Lack of bra - the flip side to the above. I know it's warm but I don't need to see you flopping around like a fish
  • CWI's - They shouldn't be showing in summer or any other season. Tape 'em down or make sure your bra has a good lining
  • Smoldering sausage - form-fitting clothes are okay, especially for curvy girls in summer (because flouncy tops suck) but you shouldn't be muffin-topping out of that outfit. It just might not fit anymore, it's sad but you have to let it go
  • Short-shorts and bra tops - This infraction comes in if you're not a) bone-thin or b) size 0. Sometimes you just can't wear certain styles, it's not your fault. Blame your parents and their genes. And yes, people are staring at you
So those are some summer fashion-infractions. If I'm missing anything, please let me know so I can add it to the list with proper attribution.