Friday, October 31, 2008
Saw the following photo on People Magazine's website this morning, and thought to myself, "Geez. Does this guy look like he's regretting his marriage, or what?!"

Photo Credit: People Magazine

In other news, I realized something very important last night. Falling asleep with "Whatever You Like" by T.I. stuck in your head makes for an incredibly poor night of sleep. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, October 30, 2008
This evening, when I was innocently procrastinating vacuuming the condo, I noticed that a documentary on the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium would be airing later. I am a proud alumni of the University, so of course I tuned in...and it was FASCINATING. Seriously.

Did you know that...

- every single brick used to make the stadium came from nearby Danville

- the stadium was designed by the architectural firm Holabird & Roche who built just about every building that is visually associated with Chicago, and was at one time partnered by John Wellborn Root who was one of the the master architects of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition

- each of the 200 Doric columns built into the stadium bears the name of an UIUC alum who perished while fighting for the United States? (along with one Michigan alum and one University of Chicago alum - both done out of sportsmanship)

- On September 22, 1985, Memorial Stadium hosted the VERY FIRST Farm Aid concert? The show featured the likes of Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Jimmy Buffett, the Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Huey Lewis, and the list (quite literally) goes on...

- there have only been two football jerseys retired in the 100+ year history of UIUC Football - the first (#77) to Harold "Red" Grange, and the second (#50) to Dick Butkus - Grange would go on to be one of George Halas' first NFL recruits, and Butkus is one of the top 5 players (arguably) in NFL history

- Memorial Stadium was the site of the first live sports broadcast in American history

I could go on, but that would be boring to most of you, no?

I vividly remember one night during my junior year of college...early in the football season, and it was just turning chilly out. We (the dance team) were practicing on the field (a rare opportunity) and lost track of time. I guess the evening maintenance dude must have assumed we'd left, because in the middle of a high kick drill, all the lights went out. And by "all," I mean ALL OF THE DAMN LIGHTS EVEN THE EXIT LIGHTS OMFG WE'RE LOCKED INTO A PITCH BLACK 85,000 CAPACITY STADIUM WITH NO ROOF. HOLY SHIT, WHAT WAS THAT?! DID YOU JUST BRUSH MY ARM? GAHHHH WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE IMMEDIATELY. Let's just say that I didn't think a flashlight was a necessary addition to my practice bag. Eventually, we made our way out through an utility tunnel that led to a very tall chainlink fence that we scaled McGyver style.

But I digress. What I'm trying to say is that I feel an intrinsic connection to the stadium - it only takes an instant to close my eyes, and I can hear the full house and see all those arms waving back and forth, feel the cold and ridged bleachers, smell the turf and stinky players sweating into their polyester jerseys. I loved every minute of those games - I can recite the order in which the concession stands are placed in the first floor concourse, the tacky blue plywood and cracked concrete floors.

Whatever you feel for your own alma mater, I'm sure it's similar to what I'm lamely attempting to describe. I just found it so amazing to hear that the place I loved for some weird reasons is historically significant for so many other reasons. This film is a "must-watch" for any football fan and/or Illinois fan. For more information on this amazing structure (nerdy as it might be), click here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
"If I ever hear the word "hard-wired" used to describe anything other than an electrical system - the human brain, for instance - I'm going to scream."

(click picture to read full Newsweek article)

Blissed Out
Monday, October 27, 2008
Is it wrong that a weekend "away" in the suburbs would be the most relaxing I've possibly had all year?

I have spent most of 2008 stressed out by the city. While I am sure most urban dwellers feel this way from time to time, I really haven't been able to shake it. Essentially, I think my city days are numbered.

So you can imagine what motivated my decision to take a completely blank weekend (yesssss!) and spend it at my parent's house in the suburbs. I was able to run a couple really crucial pre-holiday errands, and park at the store! For free! Really! Also, I picked up some enormous honeycrisp apples to munch on (at Wal-Mart, of all places). But mostly I was able to hang out with my parents, which was great. We chatted about nothing much at all for hours, lazed around each morning with coffee and the paper, and laughed at the antics of my bizarre, not-quite-there dog.

Of a fairly tightly-knit nuclear family, I am the one who lives the furthest away. I am the youngest. I am the odd man out on occasion, which is cool by me - after all, I've chosen to live my life this way. Resultingly, I get wrapped up in the pace of the city, and forget that I really don't see my family *that* often.

It's so nice to be able to shut my city life down for a short time, and experience the other side of the equation - laughter, wind through the trees, eating lunch in my pajamas, and trying to keep the dog from eating fallen leaves. I feel totally revitalized, and ready to tackle a busy November!

Thursday, October 23, 2008
I am reeeeally sorry. I normally don't pee in public...

When Words are More than "Just Words"
I found a link to the following video on YouTube, courtesy of one of the readers of Cool Mom, and was stunned by some of the information. It seems a, convenient and political, that it came from a Greek/sorority organization, I think it makes an excellent point. Or, you know, 15 excellent points. Make sure to play the music - it definitely adds something to the clip.

As for me, well, I am absolutely guilty of "fat talk." My life, my choices, and resultingly, my body have changed a lot in the past 1-2 years and no one has been more critical of those changes than ME. The only person who can resolve my own body issues is ME. The solution lies within ME.

I may have missed the official week, but here I am, taking my pledge not to talk down to myself. Or others. It's not much, but awareness is always a step in the right direction.

I'm a Real Pro at Being a Con
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Good thing about today:
I woke up early, had time to check my email AND sip a cup of freshly brewed coffee before jumping on the eL and arriving at the office ON TIME. (miracle)

Bad thing about today:
The only reason I woke up early is because the dog threw up next to my head IN MY BED, twice, at 6:30am.

Heavenly Day
Monday, October 20, 2008
In an uncharacteristic fit of optimism, Chicago resident Jamie, aged 29, decided today that Monday was not going to get her down. Instead of grousing and swearing up and down that no eye cream was sufficient for her undereye baggage, she will instead look to the bright side of life and eschew her extra 32 oz. of fountain Diet Coke. Progress thus far includes: deep breaths of cool, morning air, the playing of a newly created "good mood" iPod playlist at her desk, and trying to greet everyone with a smile and not her usual (inadvertantly) harried-looking, furrowed brow stare.

Plans of future happiness include finishing all her undone laundry, finally(!) putting away the last of the camping gear, watching television in fleece pants with a warm pup at her feet, and maybe a late night homemade decaf mocha. There are also allegedly plans to play Patty Griffin tunes and perhaps read part of a new book. She doesn't promise all of these things "checklist-style" because she feels this only increases her general stress level.

Just an update. Next up on your afternoon news? Hell may have frozen over. But newly optimistic Jamie insists that it will only help boost ice skate sales! Really!

Lucknow? Not So Much for That Guy.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Police arrested the woman late Thursday after receiving calls from frightened witnesses who reported a blood-soaked woman holding a severed head was walking through the village.

Damn You, PMS
Friday, October 17, 2008
Sitting in slippers on the couch, drinking white wine, alternating between The Notebook and Under the Tuscan Sun, I realized that I am not (as I previously thought) invincible to that pesky monthly beast, PMS.

I once thought that since I didn't *realize* that I was going through PMS, I didn't actually go through it. (see also: Complete and Total Denial)

Say what you will, but I was seriously depressed at one point (before I started drinking the wine) about how sad I thought it was that the folks on the Honey Bunches of Oats commercials never actually "rolled" through my town. Seriously. I love Honey Bunches of Oats. I would like some free cereal, please. GIVE ME THE CEREAL, DAMMIT.

Stupid hormones.

Thursday, October 16, 2008
Eden is my hero. Anyone who can write like she does deserves some sort of medal. Or at least a really bitchin' bottle of wine.

I feel like Jackson is getting more beautiful every day while I'm slowly withering into some sort of early-Renaissance crone. Come on over and bring your own cauldron! We'll bob for heretics.

Faceplant is More Like It
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I have spouted off in recent months about Facebook and my personal thoughts on it. I have a Facebook page, but I'm terribly strict about who I "let in" as I feel it's still my perogative to act as a bouncer for my online identity.

That said, I am absolutely not above doing a little photo album sleuthing. It is so interesting to me what people have been up to lately! Having even a small amount of access to Facebook allows me to see children, homes, lifestyle events, friends, etc. The amount of information some people have put on their FB profiles is terrifying to me...and resultingly, my photo collection is minimal.

But what it does allow me to do, ultimately, is wonder. I'm talking about the good ol' "woulda coulda shoulda" kinds of introspection. What would I have done if I hadn't gone there? Should I have left that job? If I hadn't moved away, would I still be happy? Should I have settled down early and had those 2-3 children I swore I was going to have before the age of 30? What if? What now?

Sometimes it's all a little too much. I'm thrilled to see all the wonderful developments in my friends' lives - beautiful babies, weddings, coming outs, new jobs, new haircuts, you name it. They deserve all the happiness in the world! But it also makes me wonder if I haven't somehow let it all pass me by.

It's the classic single girl curse, really - don't go thinking I'm fishing for compliments. I love my life, I love to travel, I have a loving and supportive family, I have a good job that I enjoy, an intelligent, funny, committed BF and the list goes on. But when other people move past me (developmentally speaking), there's a part of me that winces and wonders if I haven't missed the boat.

And I wonder if people see my Facebook profile - which represents a mere FRACTION of my actual life - and judge me for the part of my life that I make public. It is completely arrogant to think that anyone spends enough time thinking about me to even register judgmental thoughts. Yet, it still crosses my mind on occasion.

Sometimes, I think it would be easier to pull my profile, pull this blog, and just leave everyone wondering what became of me. It would definitely have been easier to write this post, then delete it - as if to ignore these thoughts, and not publish the words that no single women are supposed to admit. But instead, I'm going to hit that stupid orange button and throw caution to the wind.

Because life doesn't always turn out the way you think it will. People don't always act the way you think they should. Nature takes its course whether or not you feel you made the right decision. Because regrets are pointless.

Monday, October 13, 2008
But like a growing number of well-off families, they have decided to remain in Manhattan, even though it means squeezing into a one-bedroom rental in the West Village. It costs them $3,995 a month, an amount that would allow them to rent a four-bedroom house in a suburb like Short Hills, N.J.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for pared-down, simple living. But nothing about *any* big city could tempt me to rent indefinitely for THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS when perfectly spacious, not McMansion-y homes are available for reasonable purchase prices less than 10 miles away. I don't get it. I'm just not urban enough, I suppose. Maybe in my next life.

Life Lessons
Friday, October 10, 2008
Early this morning, I received a piece of sobering news from a friend of mine. It was serious, and it's not mine to share, so please don't ask. All I can say is that every person who has their health and any degree of happiness is blessed indeed. I've been so ranty these past couple weeks here, that I have been neglecting what is really important.

So I fished through some old photo boxes, and came up with some important life lessons that I'd like to share with you. Click on any of the photos below to see the entire Flickr set.

Memphis, TNLife Lesson: When you get the opportunity to pose for a picture with a professional wrestler (and your other option at this particular party is to suck the heads off freshly boiled crawfish) you take the photo.

Downers Grove, ILLife Lesson: When you are 6 years old, there is no better playmate than the family pup.

Naperville, ILLife Lesson: When possible, forego the tightly waisted shimmer tights and opt for extra hair gel instead.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, October 09, 2008
McCain displayed little of Hope's valor. Although he would soon regale The New York Times with tales of the heroism of the brave enlisted men who "stayed to help the pilots fight the fire," McCain took no part in dousing the flames himself. After going belowdecks and briefly helping sailors who were frantically trying to unload bombs from an elevator to the flight deck, McCain retreated to the safety of the "ready room," where off-duty pilots spent their noncombat hours talking trash and playing poker. There, McCain watched the conflagration unfold on the room's closed-circuit television — bearing distant witness to the valiant self-sacrifice of others who died trying to save the ship, pushing jets into the sea to keep their bombs from exploding on deck...

The fire blazed late into the night. The following morning, while oxygen-masked rescue workers toiled to recover bodies from the lower decks, McCain was making fast friends with R.W. "Johnny" Apple of The New York Times, who had arrived by helicopter to cover the deadliest Naval calamity since the Second World War. The son of admiralty surviving a near-death experience certainly made for good copy, and McCain colorfully recounted how he had saved his skin. But when Apple and other reporters left the ship, the story took an even stranger turn: McCain left with them. As the heroic crew of the Forrestal mourned its fallen brothers and the broken ship limped toward the Philippines for repairs, McCain zipped off to Saigon for what he recalls as "some welcome R&R."

Wiig'ing Out
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Did you know that I love Kristen Wiig of Saturday Night Live? Well, I do. I believe very strongly that she is one of the funniest women alive, and here are two reasons why - enjoy!

(Note: I tried to find a clip online of her skit with Brian Williams about the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes check presentation, which NEVER FAILS to make me laugh...but alas, I could not find one.)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I came upon this video on Tyler's tumblr page.

I think Keith Olbermann is kind of a jerk sometimes and he comes across as being far more aggressive than is necessary to make a point. His overly passionate delivery aside, some of the perspective he shares here is dead on and explains much of why I find Sarah Palin's VP nomination (and John McCain's fervent, almost blind support of her) so unsettling.

The stupid code isn't working in Blogger to embed the video, so click here to see the goods.

Real World V. Road Trip - Battle Almond
Monday, October 06, 2008
Last Friday, I stepped away from the office to run to Walgreen's for road trip snacks. Never mind that we were only going 75 miles to the state park - there were treats to be procured. $12 later, I had 100-Calorie Twix bars, one can of original (NOW TRANS FAT FREE!!!!!!!) Pringles, and a 1-lb. value bag of Wasabi-Soy Sauce Almonds.

Not surprisingly, the Pringles were either consumed (for breakfast, natch) or burned up in a fit of campfire curiosity. The Twix bars barely got opened, and the almonds turned out to be surprisingly tasty! Like this morning, when I counted out my exact serving of leftover almonds to eat with my breakfast apple (28 almonds, if you were wondering)...then proceeded to scratch my eye.

Just in case you were wondering what happened next, here it is in mathematical format:

So, ahem. I guess they're not the perfect food, but if you're not a complete idiot like me, they are pretty yummy. Wash your hands, kids.

Best of Blogs: Weekend Edition
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Hallo! We are camping this weekend! I am feeling rather annoyed at even myself about all the ranty on this site. I need to either keep my political drama to mah DAMN SELF or start a political blog. I think it will be called "McCain Brain Gives Me a Headache."

In other news, it's been a bang-up week for the blogging world - below are some excerpts from some of my favorite writers. Go now, read. You like.

After everything we'd been through, though, I was fine with having a boy; I was fine with having a toddler up to two years old; I was fine with any child, basically -- we just want to be parents, after all, and suddenly the issue of buying overalls instead of dresses seemed inconsequential. Everything else fell away, and I felt completely open to whatever child was meant to be ours.

I dated another girl named Melody. I knew this wouldn’t end up well. What if she wanted to name our kids Octave, Chorus, and G-flat?


Already horrified, Adam continued reading on to next week (Week 19), and the conversation went something like this:

“You’re baby’s about the size of an …oh my God. A … a MANGO DIPPED IN GREASY CHEESE.”

“It says that? Greasy cheese?”

“I don’t think I want to read this book anymore.”

Hot air balloons? Aren’t they gentle and drifty-like? Aren’t you only in the air for an hour or so? I mean, for Pete’s sake, you’re riding in a giant woven BASKET, like you’re a friggin’ EASTER EGG or something. And don’t all the major companies we checked out have 72-point type on their websites proclaiming how “BALLOONING IS FOR EVERYONE!” Except! This is a LIE! BALLOONING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Specifically, ballooning is not for pregnant women, even pregnant women who are at the point in pregnancy where there aren’t even two lines on a stick, apparently. Ballooning? Is not even for people who might SUSPECT they are pregnant. Thus, our plans have officially been Cancelled.

Add it to the List!
Friday, October 03, 2008
Pet Peeve o' the Day:
People who walk into revolving doors and expect others to push the door for them. This especially irritates me with men. I don't know why, but it does! It's that sense of entitlement - like they're too good, or too busy, or too WHATEVER to push their damn selves through the revolving door. The door has four compartments - it's like logistical teamwork, so why don't we all just do our part to keep the door moving, hmm?

A couple years ago, I noticed that as I was entering a revolving door, someone else was entering on the opposite side. She clearly had no intentions of pushing, so I didn't do anything. I just stood there, like a jerk. She glared at me...I cocked my head to the side and gave her a shrug-like look that said, "Oh I'll stand here ALL DAY LADY, JUST TRY ME." So when she started pushing, I reciprocated.


Wrap it Up
I don't know what I would do without CNN's Fact Check feature online. It really gives me a lot of perspective on all the hot air these politicians are releasing into our already fragile political atmosphere.

Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend that all of you give a rat's arse about what I think...but this is my blog, and I have to get this out. YES, Sarah Palin was more impressive and far more focused than I thought she would be. So kudos to her. But did you notice that her attacks were no more barbed than to reference statements made by the opposing campaign? She used VERY few numerical statistics to back up her assertions. Something that is also bugging me is that she gave NO SPECIFICS WHATSOEVER. NONE. She just spat out a litany of overly rehearsed talking points - one after the other with the word "Maverick" thrown in there a jillion times. It was like Rudy Giuliani talking about 9.11 only MORE ANNOYING.

It bugs me that all the pundits are saying how well she did, but none that I have read/heard have mentioned her complete and utter lack of background knowledge. It was as if a former Bush aide was brought in with a debate preparation manual, sat down with Palin, and only made it halfway through. Am I the only one who finds this slightly disturbing? She really could have driven home a lot of her statements with facts, but instead chose to talk about soccer games, hockey moms, and Joe Six Pack. Oh, and the winking. PLEASE GOD MAKE HER STOP WINKING.

I think she's an accomplished woman, I really do. But I think she is in WAY over her head, and I think (should the McCain/Palin ticket win the general election) that her current tactics aren't going to win over any foreign heads of state. I don't wink during staff meetings at work, because it's NOT PROFESSIONAL. ALL CAPS. I just don't think she has what it takes.

Rant over.

Two Palin Mispronunciations Causing Me to Turn Off the Vice Presidential Debate
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Alternate Title: Georgia Bush Rolls Into St. Louis

Backup Alternate Title: In Which I Realize a Large Glass of Chardonnay Will Be Necessary in Order for me to Watch This Debate and Not Throw Loose Household Items at Sarah Palin's Head on my Television Screen

1. Nuclear pronounced MULTIPLE TIMES "nuke-yu-lur"
2. Kim Jong Il pronounced "Kim Chung Il" (I mean, c'mon, the little guy is clearly a whackjob, but his name's not that hard to say)

Other observations (live blogging style)
- I don't think Joe Biden's teeth are real. I'm just sayin'.
- Sarah Palin's hair looks gorgeous. Really pretty braid in back, seriously! I love it!
- I would Governor Palin to stop saying that she respects Joe Biden. That's nice and all, but this isn't a beauty pageant. Once is enough. OKTHXBAI

postscript: GAH JFKSJF IAOJFWPEAFKDJ AFLKDJSFA!!!!!! SHE KEEPS SAYING NUCULER! My brain is seriously leaking out of my ears.

Comfort Food
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
It's that time of year again. The time where my flannel-lined pants come out of storage, pumpkin bars are made regularly, and I start getting my hair caught in the zipper of my fleece jacket. Also? It's a time for comfort food. Last night, around 9pm, I decided that I needed to make chicken-n-rice casserole. Which I ate at midnight, while watching Oprah.

It occurred to me mid-bite that there was absolutely nothing special about the dish - the recipe originates on the back of a soup can, for crying out loud. But there is no denying that I'm just drawn to it. It's a comfort food for me. Other favorite comfort foods include:
- pot roast with carrots and potatoes
- blue box mac with hot dog pennies in it
- oatmeal
- popcorn
- crock-pot chili
- cheesy potato casserole
- warm muffins of any kind
- nachos from La Bamba (shut up)
- pasta salad w/salami and cheese chunks
- homemade cafe au lait in my striped mug
- baked beans

To me, there is (literally) no better feeling than the moment in which I can sit quietly and cross-legged, with a bowl of comfort food and just watch the wind blow across the lawn. It's one of the things I miss most about the house that I grew up in...that sense of serenity inside, while the chilly world continues outside. It's one of the things I greatly dislike about living in the city (no view, no lawn, etc.). Ah, well. Someday.

What are YOUR favorite comfort foods? Maybe I should add to my list. Suggest away!