What a Bunch of Turkeys
Friday, November 28, 2008
So, umm, yeah...I never really addressed Thanksgiving this week - no ramp up, no hoopla. I used to think Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday (because really, mashed potatoes for breakfast the next day is ten kinds of awesome), but now I think I'm a bit sour on it. This year was just a little too crazy for my liking -- by the time I was finished with my meal, I felt a tangible urge to get away from the table. So I started in on loading the dishwasher, and handwashing the miscellaneous array of casserole and presentation dishes scattered about.

45 minutes later, my hands were cracked and pruny. I'm weird - I realize this.

This morning, I went Black Friday shopping for the first time in my life. It was a kind of therapy because I am averse to crowds, and I have almost instant rage at people who dawdle unnecessarily in community spaces - sidewalks, crosswalks, hallways, etc. So my sister and our mother (and I) hit up the local KOHL'S. It wasn't bad, actually. Now I can say that I've done it, and not feel obliged to repeat the activity next year. Fun as it was...well, next year, I think I'll sleep.

Other highlights of the past two days:
- seeing my father stand on his very first snowboard
- spending time with family and friends
- laughing my a** off during a social experiment in which I walk directly behind my sister for as long as possible
- going on a nature hike with my niece and nephew
- the beautiful, sunny, brisk winter weather

Hope you all had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

If It Ain't Broke...
Monday, November 24, 2008
This is not a story that will appeal to any of my male readers. I'm just putting that out there now.

Gee, I guess it was a couple months ago now, I went to get my hair cut. It had been quite awhile since my last cut and the ends were not looking so hot. Also it was coming up on colder, drier weather and I was itching to get bangs again. So I went into my lovely and talented stylist, and asked for this haircut:

Cute, right? It's a good length to pull back, and cute when curly AND straight. The bangs are shaggy enough, and shouldn't look too severe.

Lo and behold, I was massively, painfully, obviously wrong. I came home looking like the love child of Bernadette Peters and Art Garfunkel, circa 1985. May I present you with a visual image? Here you go:

It was really bad. The saddest part was knowing that I had gotten exactly what I had asked for. The hairdresser maybe could have stepped in and said something, but it would have been subjective at best, and I probably wouldn't have listened. I was intent on doing something radical, as per usual. What I *should* have done was asked for a trim and left the rest of it the HELL ALONE. But NO, Smarty Pants McGee here (points angrily to self) had to go and mess with a good thing. Awesome.

Nearly 8 weeks later, my hair is finally growing out to a respectable, workable cut. In a few weeks, I can stop doing the pompadour-inspired-a-la-Gwen-Stefani bang pullback and get the bangs reshaped, turning what was blunt into something angled and less severe looking. Gone will be my Rockabilly wig of a scalp. Until then, here's what I'm sporting to pass the time...

Straight, at my friend Adrienne's wedding:

aaaaand curly, at my friend Jen's wedding:


and YES, that is the same dress and sweater combo. Had I saved my haircut money, I could have bought a new outfit! But I didn't!

And that's why I'll be in a smart, polished ponytail until approximately March 15th. End of story.

This made CNN's homepage? Really? WHY?

Was it a theft? A prank? A roundabout effort to bring some holiday cheer to the police?

Thursday, November 20, 2008
There is literally nothing of note going on in my life, and since I'm not one of those bloggers that can create a witty, insightful post out of life's tinier moments, I think I'll just take the damn weekend off.

During that time, I'm sure I'll be busy doing all/some of the following:
- worrying about money
- scratching my insect bites
- eating leftover, velveeta-based dip
- vacuuming/laundry
- wondering where the hell that random, painful bruise on my left-hand ring finger came from, and whether ot not it's an implicit portent of my future
- cuddling with a warm, snuggly dog while wearing sweatpants

What can I say? Sometimes a girl just needs a brain break. See you on Monday.

Random Thoughts for a Wednesday
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
- When I wrote this post last night, someone was actively reading my site from the Hampton Inn in Bellevue/Seattle, WA. Hello, pacific Northwesterner! I am watching you (but not in a creepy way)! SiteMeter is my new crack.

- I take an enormous chewable calcium/vitamin D supplement before bed every night, as I'm doing my pre-bed internet surfing. I wonder...does this make me OLD because I take a multi-vitamin, or YOUNG because I'm online nearly all the time? Or do the two cancel one another out?

- I have no idea what to wear to Sean's company holiday party. HALP! I broke my trusty party dress at the wedding this past weekend. No, I don't know how. Me thinks a fashion show and reader vote might be in order next week.

- Facebook cracks me up. Call it what you will - that shit is entertaining.

- I have been intermittently thirsty for the last two weeks. I have no idea why this is, but I've had more water in the past month or so than I had all throughout college. Instead of making me feel hydrated and refreshed, I mostly just feel bloated.

- I am dreadfully behind on NOT ONLY my annual holiday card photo, but also my holiday shopping. I blame this situation on my complete and total lack of free cash for things other than bills and groceries.

- Googling images of "sand flea bite" and "fire ant sting" bring up some pretty unpleasant images. Just so you know.

Accurate in a Creepy Way
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
So I took this quiz the other day (saw it over at SAJ's site)...and it was only two questions. And also terribly accurate. I'm not sure if this is the Old Hollywood actress with whom I would readily associate myself, but I'll be damned if the description isn't SPOT ON.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Bette!


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Weekend Getaway
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Earlier this evening, I returned home from a trip to Florida to find snow flying in the air. We Chicagoans have had a really good run of it this year - a long summer, with an uncommon warmth extending into late October. But that is now over, and I all I have to warm my heart (if not my hands and face) are the memories of a very special weekend. (click on any photo to be carried over to my Flickr page)


On Saturday, one of my very best friends from high school celebrated her wedding in Florida. Jennifer left Illinois after high school to chase her dreams of equine greatness in the south, and promptly decided to stay there. After spending time there, I can see why - she's made an amazing life for herself with a fine, intelligent man who became her husband. Mark is originally from South Africa, which put a really unique and interesting spin on the event - particularly the food. As it turns out, his family is just as friendly and gracious as hers and it is not at all surprising that they are so well suited for one another.


We might not get down to Florida as often as we would like to, and she keeps busy and can only come up north on a rare occasion, so it was such a great way to have been able to spend some time. The celebration lasted late into the evening and culminated in some rather unfortunate gastrointestinal fireworks by yours truly. (I would later find out that I was not the only one similarly afflicted. Stupid chardonnay.) Maybe next time we travel to visit Jen and Mark, I will be able to keep my amazing catering down. It's good to have goals in life, yes?

Bright and Beachy

I will continue to post bits and bobs of information from the trip throughout the week - mostly to keep myself mentally warm and pretend I am still there - but for now, I'll leave you with my favorite photo from the trip:


Congratulations to a dear friend, who deserves nothing but the best. Next time, please remind me to drink beer.

Friday, November 14, 2008
Earlier today, my friend Adrienne found something worse than the SAW poster. Thank GOD for that, too, because I really need to get that thing off the landing page.

I don't give an eff if they feel like thousands of fluffy Persian kittens cuddling at your legs. They look like dried vomit chunks on a log made out of pink diarrhea.

Nicely said, DListed.

Cue the Spinal Shivers
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
This won't come as a surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but I am not a fan of scary movies. The last time I was truly scared by a horror movie (Poltergeist III, if you must know) it stayed with me for months. MONTHS. I was ten years old at the time. I still have nightmares about it. I spent all of junior high freaking out about parking garages and looking into mirrors at night.

So you'll have to forgive me if I get a little mental around anything "SAW" related. If I think too much about the trailers or the advertisements, my imagination runs away with me and suddenly I'm afraid to exit the subway at night. Like this movie billboard in my neighborhood:

Seriously? Someone wearing someone ELSE'S FACE as a mask? It's so incredibly hideous! I can't think about it too much - not even what the process must have been like to shoot that photo - because the devil is in the details. (shiver) Maybe next time I'll walk around the block the other way so I don't have to see it. Ugh. I'm nauseous just thinking about it.

Your shoes are not filled with bees
I checked.
So why not
leave them on?
Oh. I guess
you’re right
I did not
for sharks


Kissing you is sort of
like kissing
banana slug.
Well I’m sorry!
But it is.
Come here,
my beloved

Giving Back: Chicago Version
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As we all know, Chicago is a big city with big problems. Fortunately, its people also have big hearts. If you feel so inclined, please consider giving your time to one of the very worthy organizations below.

Be An Elf
Technically, this is nationwide, but because it's available in Chicago I'm putting it up today. How great would it be to answer a child's letter to Santa, then actually provide the items needed and give them to that family for Christmas? You could be someone's Christmas miracle, LITERALLY. Awesome.
Greater Chicago Food Depository
This is a first-class organization that feeds hundreds of thousands of needy people each year. I think my first good deed for 2009 will be to volunteer at one of their soup kitchens...I used to do it in high school with my church group and it shocked me how grateful a person can be for a hot, balanced meal. Sometimes, that is really all it takes. The food depository also maintains a comprehensive list of sister agencies here. I defy you to find one that isn't close to home.

The CARA Program
The CARA Program works to assist homeless and at-risk populations with critical support services, job placement, and comprehensive life skills training. They function primarily on financial donations, but you can also contact them to donate gently used professional clothing and automobiles, or give of your time and particular skills. I think about this charity every time I see a homeless person bundled up against the Chicago winter - how would their life be different with a little help? Maybe you are the person who can help change their situation. You never know...

I'm not judging a standard gift- believe me, there's a pair of equestrian boots at Nordstrom that currently sit atop my Christmas wish list...but the need remains whether or not I have italian leather around my calves. Please consider giving some of your time to a worthy organization in your area, or even donating online in lieu of a standard holiday gift.

to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow
Monday, November 10, 2008
So I have been thinking lately about the upcoming holidays. I try really hard to find the perfect gift for people around this time of year (as opposed to a birthday, or anniversary, for instance). Watching someone open your gift and realizing that it is something they will truly use/enjoy/cherish is a priceless moment, and oh so fleeting.

There are several people in my family who truly want for nothing - sure, they could use some new socks, or some such other utilitarian object, but I'm not one for wrapping up a 3-pack of Fruit-of-the-Loom and putting it under the tree. So in the recent past, I've donated money to a charitable cause in their name. I like to think it was just as appreciated as something material.

This year, I'm going to try and give of my time as well. After approximately 30 seconds of research (i.e. Google), I had a long list of possible tasks. Please consider joining me in doing something more than just hitting the mall this year.

National/Online Charities

Changing the Present
CTP is a wonderful website that matches your desired gift amount, or philanthropy type, to you. Last year, I donated here and, on behalf of my Aunt Judy, (a former Peace Corps Social Worker) helped pay for two African girls to attend school.

Easter Seals
Easter Seals is an amazing organization that helps disabled persons gain greater life independence. They also do Autism-specific work in some areas. You can donate, buy merchandise, or just give of your time.

Victory Junction Gang Camp for Kids
Victory Junction is a very special place for kids with serious illnesses and/or disabilities. Run by the Petty Foundation (of the NASCAR Petty family), Victory Junction is part of Hole-in-the-Wall Network originally founded by the late Paul Newman. Kids attend a themed, one-week camp with their families each summer - what this camp is doing is so special and amazing. I am determined to volunteer there at some point.

Stay tuned for opportunities in the Chicagoland area...coming tomorrow!

Housekeeping & Sweet Jams
Friday, November 07, 2008
Have I ever blogged about how much I HATE HATE HATE the Times New Roman family of fonts? HATE. WITH A FURY. Give me arial, give me Helvetica, hey - I'll even take Candara. But don't come at me with some lame-o, generic TNR, or I'll slap you.

Also? I am really loving music by Kenny Wayne Shepard and Jonny Lang today. It's a bluesy Friday, I guess.

No, I Don't Care that You All Think It's Nasty
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The McRib sandwich at McDonald's is back, bitches! YESSSSSS.

The part of me that knows how mass market hot dogs are made (and still voluntarily eats them) is rejoicing right now. To say that I am excited would be a understatement of significant proportions.

Reading, Watching, Thinking, Hoping
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
We know the battle ahead will be long. But always remember that, no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. And they will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks and months to come.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.

Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

Together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.

I realize there is a lot of cynicism out there. I realize that the Obama campaign has been fueled and masterminded and branded to the hilt - that many Americans are only too happy to fall into the easy lull of a decision that essentially been made for them = the attractive candidate, the easy candidate, the candidate who seems to be everywhere at every moment. But I am not so easily fooled. Here is a man, a mere human, who is preternaturally collected, calm, and most importantly, PROFESSIONAL and prepared to sooth the strain that has been placed on our country by erratic, slash-n-burn politics. To mend relationships that have been interrupted by belligerence, hypocrisy and lies. A man who didn't attempt a hail mary political "pass" or change of topic when the road became rocky.

I find it interesting that the transcript above, of Senator Obama's NH concession speech from January is just as applicable today as it was then. "That we are not as divided as our politics would suggest." Truer words were never spoken.

I am so thrilled to see our country moving in this new direction (and a little thrilled that everyone can calm down now about the election that wouldn't die) and I hope that we can all pave a new future for America while respecting those from our past who have made it possible. And most of all? Respecting one another in the process.

Here's to our shared future.

Here's to us.

Get out the Lead...and Vote
To me, voting is such an integral symbol and part of what being "American" means. I know people who, for some reason, choose NOT to exercise their right to vote. I don't understand it. Successful democracy requires accountability and participation.

This morning, I voted for me. For my country. For my unborn children. For the people who live in other countries that are not permitted to vote. For the hope that some day, democracy will be the rule and not the exception - especially in countries and cultures where it is desperately needed and an appropriate means to political stability.


If you can, please vote today. Take a book. Stand in line. Talk on the phone. Because it matters. Because one person (or 537 people) really can make a difference. YOU can make a difference.

The sign for my street

Have a great day, everyone - and for those of you in Chicago - stay safe tonight.

Further Evidence That I Need to Get a Life, already, GEEZ
Monday, November 03, 2008
Yesterday morning, while in the local Dominick's, I noticed that the larger size of Coffee Mate's Peppermint Mocha Creamer was IN STOCK and ON SALE. Should you try this product, be forewarned - you're going to want it all the time b/c it makes home-brewed coffee taste EXACTLY like a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha, only for about $100 less per cup.

Also, it's seasonal. And it's closest competitor, from International Delight isn't nearly as good, and has a truly unappetizing consistency akin to mucus.

That said, I must admit that I openly and audibly shrieked when I saw it. You would have seriously thought I was the flipping millionth shopper or something. I grabbed two, and texted a coworker who is similarly addicted to see if she wanted me to grab one for her. IT'S THAT GOOD, PEOPLE. And it's almost NEVER in stock. At least not in downtown Chicago.

It was the excitement of my day. What can I say? Sometimes it's the little things in life.

An Icon is Gone
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Rest in peace, Studs.