Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Recently, I have been obsessed with watching the 2009 Iditarod coverage on VS.. (As it turns out, the enhanced cable package that includes the Speed Channel also includes a plethora of other testosterone-fueled programming - who knew?) I caught a clip as I was channel surfing a couple weeks ago, and stuck around for a couple minutes because they were doing an in-depth piece on the dogs as athletes.

Yes, all you non-pet people, I realize how deeply uncool that statement makes me sound.

With the full 2009 VS. coverage now viewed, here are a few adjectives I would use to describe the Iditarod competitors:
- ballsy
- insane
- cunning
- intelligent
- insane
- dedicated
- cold
- insane

Did I mention insane? This "last great race" is truly something to behold. I loved hearing the backstory about the mushers, and seeing the relationship between the mushers and their pack of working dogs. Past and current champions run the gamut of personality, from sly to funny, and everything in between. let's just say that I have a new respect for sled-dog racing. 1100 miles of sub-arctic exposure is something I cannot imagine voluntarily enduring.

And so a new "dream vacation" gets added to my bucket list - go to Alaska to witness the start of the Iditarod (in Anchorage), spend a week or so seeing the sights (parks, coastline, etc.), and then be there to witness the finish of the race (in Nome). I think that would be so exciting!

Snow Day
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Oh, Chicago. You surprise us every year with one last, late snow - and today, we got it.

Thanks for taking it easy on us this year.

Random Thoughts for The Weekend
Friday, March 27, 2009
1. Running is boring - seriously! But did you know that if you run really fast, it actually goes by quicker? I KNOW! (slaps forehead) So now all I have to do is learn how to run really fast so that I can move on to something more interesting, like yoga or dance. Any suggestions?

2. There are two kinds of shoes you will never see me wear - Vans and Espadrilles. They have GOT to be the ugliest shoes known to man (with perhaps an exception for those massively-soled Doc Marten huaraches that we all wore in high school). Seriously - just look at these:

Are those not hideous? I will never understand the popularity of either of these.

3. This morning, I spritzed on Hugo Boss for Women and was instantly transported to Urbana-Champaign, circa 1997, in my mind. Strange, how a scent can do that. But instead of tossing on a backless tank top and black bar pants and hitting the bars, I donned a sensible sweater and went to work instead. Strange, how maturity can do that.

4. It's time to grow my hair long again. I can just feel it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009
Oh man. For those of you that don't live in Chicago, here's some background: our fair mayor recently outsourced all city parking meters to a company called LAZ parking. The new rates are not surprising, but LAZ's inability to hold up their end of the bargain has been almost entertaining. There are broken meters EVERYWHERE. My neighborhood, like all the others, has been hit by increased parking - but I have yet to see any overt vandalism. Now I'm tempted to keep a roll of pennies in my glovebox at all times.

After more than 20 years here I’m done, just done,” says Chicago Tom. “Our condo is for sale and when it does, we’re outta here. In one last act of defiance, my wife is going to drive our car and intentionally get a red light ticket with photo/video - we’ll have the plates disguised. When the video/photo is viewed, they’ll see my bare ass pressed against the back window accompanied a couple middle fingers. We’ll then drive out of town for the last time.

Hehe. For more information, click here.

Free (Range) to Be You and Me
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"How much is too much?" It's a question everyone grapples with from time to time - and it affects nearly every segment of our lives - from spending to saving, clothing, self-expression, real estate, easter candy consumption...the list could continue on and on. But where do we draw the line on things like parental supervision?

Lenore Skenazy, a blogger/writer, has a very interesting blog that monitors this very topic. Ever since I got my first opportunity to babysit my niece and nephew overnight, I have been thinking alot about children. I don't involve myself in the mommy wars online because I don't have kids, therefore, my input is not only irrelevant, but also unappreciated. But spending uninterrupted time with them has me thinking about my own skills and values as a parent - even if it's just a temporary parent.

Spending real-life time with my sister's children forces certain issues to the front of my mind. Raising a child must be an unending series of difficult questions and paralyzing decisions. There is SO MUCH judgment in the world - parents are simultaneously canonized and vilified for every decision they make, and if they choose to live any part of their lives online, the risks of pissing people off is even greater.

I appreciate Lenore's take on childrearing very much - I grew up in a reasonably restrictive, but fun, environment - and while I don't share her more extreme values/choices, I can absolutely see the logic behind them. As a parent, I can only imagine one might be torn between raising a child the safest way possible and raising a child the way we were raised. You know, back when the school bus didn't have seatbelts, and an evening game of hide-and-go-seek with the kids in the neighborhood was perfectly alright. After all, everyone has a different and valid definition of what is "normal."

There are parts of life that are not fun and games. I'm sure all loving parents wants the opportunity to make their child(ren) happy and balanced - to avoid the things that we all find so unpleasant about "real life." On the other hand, there's something to be said for giving a child the room to do things we all try so intently to avoid: flunking an exam, hurting someone's feelings, saying the wrong thing, getting lost while driving somewhere, making mistakes, etc. There are things I have learned about real life the hard way - by experiencing them! I am a more complete person because of this.

I *absolutely* understand why parents would tend towards helicoptering (I literally lost the breath in my chest a little when my sister said my niece would be coming home on a school bus. She is only 5, after all. Every maternal instinct in my body flew up into my throat), but smothering a child under the guise of "protecting them?" That argument simply doesn't hold water. At least, not in my world.

If you were raised by a parent who was able to let you do your own thing, you might find the following articles interesting.

Raw Cookie Dough: Death on a Spoon?

Walking to Soccer Unattended Ends in 911 Call

Stunted by Safety?

I know this is a much-debated issue online (and in real life), so have at it in the comments if you want - but play nice, kiddies. Or I'll get all helicopter on your asses and pull the comments in order to reinforce a fake but harmonious existence in which everything is sunshine and daisies, and where no one ever disagrees.

My Dogs are Barkin' (hardee har)
Monday, March 23, 2009
I'm running a half-marathon in August. I realize I have said this a couple times here on my little blog/blob/navel-gazing online journal. I keep repeating it as to prevent my own denial that it's actually happening, like FOR REAL, OMFG.

Officially, I signed up for the race as a challenge to myself. I need to know that I am capable of doing something completely out of my comfort zone, and running for an extended period of time pretty much fits the bill.

Unofficially, I thought someone deserving could benefit from my participation, so I signed up to be part of the PAWS Chicago Marathon/Half-Marathon Race Team. Every dollar we raise goes to help PAWS keep dogs and cats off the streets of Chicago (and other towns). They are Chicago's largest no-kill shelter, and the work they do is unparalleled.

I made a promise that I would help raise at least $600 by the time this event rolls around. If you are so inclined, please donate whatever you can to help these animals that cannot help themselves. Email me at parallelfirst_at_gmail_dot_com and I'll send you the link for my race HQ website - they'll provide you with a receipt for tax purposes. Thanks to those of you that have already contributed!

Yesterday, Sean helped me through a 3.5 mile run/walk, and I won't lie - it was a struggle. I seem to be lacking in the "push yourself" department, and running does not come easily to me. When I don't want to think about the shooting pain in my right calf, I just think about my dog, and what might have happened had he never been found running willy-nilly along a midwestern highway. I can never replace him, and I owe so much to the people who rescued him and made it possible for me to adopt him. Sure, he's a real turd every now and then, but he's mine and I am his. Doc is not a PAWS dog, but is still a symbol/product of the tireless work that all shelters perform. Please help me in assisting PAWS with their efforts.

I will reward your donations will stories of my development - complete with an in-depth report on products with "glide" in the name (ick), medical updates on anything and everything that can go wrong with my body, and great pictures of me with the reddest face you've ever seen on a living human being. Good times.

I guarantee that some state lawmaker will publicly oppose this movement in an effort to save the pageant industry.

Current Texas law requires parent permission slips for children up to 18 and that adults go with their children if they are under 16. Children under 13 can also tan if they get permission from a doctor.

Friday Fun: Ye Olde Irish Puzzle
Friday, March 20, 2009
This past Monday, I woke up really, really, ridiculously late for work - as in 25 minutes before I am due to be present and seated at my desk, ready for the day. Thanks to a large cup of coffee, an outfit already chosen and laid out, and the quickest pooping dog this side of the Mississippi, I was able to jump in a cab and only show up 5 minutes late.

The cab turned out to be as disheveled as I was - it displayed all the classic signs that a taxi might display after a weekend of Eire-fueled debauchery - complete with a flashing shamrock ring (still flashing behind it's Corona logo) left discarded on the ridged rubber floormat. When I was done throwing my makeup on my face, I dropped my eyeliner and when I went to pick it up, found a map.

Then Nicholas Cage showed up and told me I had been selected as part of a super secret government squad that operated completely off-grid and spent their days and nights solving the most cryptic of all cartographical relics. The cab turned into a submarine, jumped into the (now) very green river, and I was whisked away, never to be seen again - what would my family think upon my mysterious disappearance?!

...umm...(crickets)...Or not. Let's just pretend Nicholas Cage was there, and move on, shall we?

The map was obviously the remnant of some poor bar-crawler, and had a muddy shoe print on the back. I saved it anyway, and scanned it when I realized I could never figure out all of the "stops" marked.

So here's a puzzle for you Chicagoans out there - I'm almost positive that #3 is Ginger Man tavern, and that I can see #6 in my head, but can't remember the name. Here is where you come in, readers! Fill in the blanks, please.

I'm off to tell Nicholas Cage that he needs to stop the hair plug action, STAT. Wish me luck.

Some Thoughts in Passing
Thursday, March 19, 2009
1. I love CARGO's Blu-Ray blush. Yes, it's makeup designed to be of a quality high enough to translate to HD filming. It is just the right color for me, it is buildable, and lasts all day long. I don't plan on being filmed in HD any time soon, but I do plan on using this blush forever and ever. Amen.

2. Sometimes doing laundry makes me feel like Wonder Woman.

3. If the hand I use to operate my computer's mouse is constantly cold, does that mean my desk is too high? Sometimes I have to sit on it to warm it up, because I start to lose feeling. Perhaps this is a symptom of carpal tunnel? All I know is that my right hand is freezing cold, all day long.

4. This morning, I saw a homeless man approach another man while walking - I'm guessing the man was on his way to work (laptop backpack and Starbucks in hand? CHECK). Instead of ignoring the homeless guy, backpack guy stopped to pull his earbud out of his ear, switched his coffee to his left hand, and the two shook hands. They walked and talked for about a block, and there were smiles. No money or food was exchanged - just conversation. It was a reminder for me that, clearly, something is still right in the world.

5. In less than two weeks, I will be in Florida with family for a mini-vacation. Yippee! I can't wait.

Obviously It's Over Now...Because You're a Self-Righteous Pig!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Oh, Weezer. I wish I could quit you. But like oversized Fair Isle sweaters and leg warmers, you just keep coming back into my life. How do you explain lyrics like this? Are you singing this with irony, or are you really just a douchebag who wants to date the equivalent of an inflatable doll? Moreover, WHY IS THIS SONG SO CATCHY?!

My girl's got a big mouth
With which she blabbers a lot
She laughs at most everything
Whether it's funny or not
And if you see her
Tell her it's over now

I want a girl who will laugh for no one else
When I'm away she puts her makeup on the shelf
When I'm away she never leaves the house
I want a girl who laughs for no one else

My girl's got eyeballs
In the back of her head
She looks around and around
You know it makes me sad to see her like that
Please don't believe her - she says that for anyone
And if you see her
Tell her it's a hey hey hey hey

I want a girl who will laugh for no one else
When I'm away she puts her makeup on the shelf
When I'm away she never leaves the house
I want a girl who laughs for no one else

And if you see her
Tell her it's over now

And if you see her
Tell her it's over now

And if you watch her go (watch her go)
Watch her, watch her, watch her, watch her!

I want a girl who will laugh for no one else
When I'm away she puts her makeup on the shelf
When I'm away she never leaves the house
I want a girl who laughs for no one else, no one else

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
All I can do is try to be a positive role model for women of my generation and, I hope, help show that no matter what industry you are in, what size you are has nothing to do with your worth.

Running Update: 3/15/09
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Umm, yeah. That half marathon thing I signed up for? The dogs had better appreciate the effort. Because this afternoon, I made the transition from treadmill to city sidewalk and it wasn't pretty. I'm fairly certain I lost a lung somewhere on the Roosevelt Avenue bridge. I'd go back for it, but I'm too tired.

Normally, this is when I would quit and have myself a nice glass of wine. But I can't because I went and told everyone I know about the damn half marathon, and now I have to be accountable (both to my friends, and the fundraising minimum for the PAWS group). Stupid accountability.

It's one thing to say "If Oprah can run a marathon, the least I can do is half that..." but it's another thing to actually put foot to pavement. I have a really long way to go in this training, and all I have to say is this: if it doesn't start getting easier soon, I'm going to lose my DAMN MIND.

In Which I Smile Hopefully to Myself
Friday, March 13, 2009
I think today is going to be a really good day. I haven't had this feeling in a long time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The official buyer is Nadya's father, Ed Doud.

God Bless and help those children - ALL of them.

As for her, well...don't get me started. Even blogging about this is infuriating, because it calls attention to her. She makes me so, so angry. The documented, clinical complexities of her mental state are not an excuse for her recent campaign of unapologetic greed in the name of her innocent family. She is what is wrong with medicinal ethics, the mortgage industry, and the American media - all wrapped up in one gigantic package of ANGRY. There, I said it.

Yo Peeps
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Growing up, I was the kid in school that brought ridiculously detailed projects in when only a simple diorama was required. Yes, that was/is me. The annoying one with the laser pointer, an easel, and a pre-Powerpoint display made of foamcore board. (And enormous glasses, but one could have assumed that cliche to be true)

So it stands to reason that every year about this time, I get excited to see what happens in the Washington Post's Annual Peeps Contest. This is the sort of thing that I would totally partake in, if I had the time and the idea of Peeps didn't gross me out so much. I am strictly anti-Peep. Don't try and convert me - it won't work.

For a hilarious look into the submissions from 2008, click here.

I can't wait to see what people come up with in 2009!

What Constitutes the Perfect Weekend, Anyway?
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Lately, I have been taking specific pleasure in my weekends. I have no idea why this is, but I can tell you that it's been a long time since I had that "holy cow, wasn't I just at work like five minutes ago?" feeling on a Monday morning.

Maybe it's getting errands run, vacuuming, or cooking - maybe it's the consistency of knowing that Sunday/race days bring buffalo chicken dip and chips? This weekend, I...

- wandered the library looking for sewing and home decor books
- marveled as
Jonna and her husband welcomed Baby Girl S into the world (courtesy of Twitter accounts - for all three of them. Oh yes. The baby has a Twitter account. She's a genius already.
- had a massive coronary when a clap of thunder
louder than any I've ever heard (no exaggeration) ripped through the skies yesterday afternoon
- ate the Bombalina platter and enjoyed some Pinot Noir with Sean at Maggiano's
- planned out the craziness that will be my life from oh...NOW until August 3rd. I signed up to run the
Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon out of some mysterious urge to do something ridiculous-and-totally-out-of-character (at least for me) before I turn 30.
- cursed the wet weather as my hair curled up into a fake-looking Shirley Temple wig
- mainly wore things made of jersey (Capezio drawstring lounge pants, represent!)
- booked a trip to Florida in early April - so far, the vacation itinerary involves (a) spending time with my niece and nephew, (b) hitting the pool, (c) golfing? maybe?, and (d) NOTHING ELSE IF I DON'T WANT TO. This trip is, as one might suspect, going to be all kinds of awesome.

Maybe these semi-mundane weekends are more entertaining to me because of the horrible economy. After all, it is difficult to splurge on anything crazy without a massive amount of guilt, and let's be honest - splurging in this financial environment is just not a smart idea. So I'm doing my best to find pleasure and satisfaction in the simpler, reading, spending time with loved ones. We'll see how long it lasts before I feel the need to purchase an unnecessary handbag. Hehe.

Reading (see also: dying of laughter)
Thursday, March 05, 2009
SHOUTING. INTO THE HALLWAY. Not “where IS the bigger speculum,” or “could someone bring me the bigger speculum.” DO THEY MAKE A BIGGER SPECULUM. Does it even EXIST. There is a MEDICAL ANOMALY LYING ON MY TABLE, EVERYBODY, and I CANNOT FIND HER CERVIX.

I would like to take this moment to announce that while I don't exactly *enjoy* my annual visit to the lady parts doctor, I don't dread it either. There's really no point in hating it - it has to be done, so get over it, right?

If I were Emily, however, I would not only dread, I would blatantly avoid. Poor thing! All of my female readers need to immediately go over there, and commiserate.

Window Shopping
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
It's almost spring, but I've been afflicted by the springtime itchies early this year. Now that we're not (completely) covered in snow, I am beginning to feel like walking around and browsing stores again - the brick & mortar kind, that is. Here are a couple things I want to get this year...

The Spy Lens

Photo: Photojojo

I mean, c'mon - how cool would it be to be able to take photos of people in true candid fashion? It's not deceptive, it's photojournalism. Right? I could wander around Chicago all day experimenting with something like this.

This amazing bag for use as a work tote/sometime laptop bag

Photo: Ebags

I love this b/c it makes a great laptop bag (if need be), the drop length on the handles is just right, and is structured enough to be the perfect, slide-under-the-seat-in-front-of-you carry on. I hate that cordovan color, and would probably get this in husk.

This book

Photo: HarperCollins

My dog has always has trouble with his skin, but recently, it has been getting worse. He's on a specific food for another condition, but I suspect that certain types of human grade food would solve his issues completely. Well, not his mental issues, but that's part of his charm.

Origins Spring Fever for the dog days of summer

Photo: Origins

I have been hearing about this cult favorite for years, and think the notes sound perfect for a steamy, Chicago summer. And let's face it: anything that can lift my mood when it's 95 degrees out with 40% humidity is worth a couple bucks, in my opinion.