Reading: So Far, So Indifferent Edition
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nothing like a hint of schadenfreude to make an insecure wealthy housewife feel better about herself.

Honesty Is the Best Policy
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Things That Are More Currently More Interesting To Me Than Unpacking:

- drinking white wine
- stalking people on Facebook
- re-writing a messy to-do list
- listening to everything I can find by LaRoux
- how this swimsuit is mysteriously flattering on my frame
- contemplating the future
- downloading cheesy rom-coms on iTunes (Leap Year, anyone?)
- avoiding the treadmill
- getting excited for my keratin treatment this Saturday

Miracle Grow
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Prepare yourself for proud photos of a first-time gardener. (You realize, dear readers, that someday when I am blessed with a child, the entire internet will run screaming away from their computers for fear of yet another baby photo barrage, right? I’m just keeping it real.)

One of the things that most enthralled me about my plan to move into my parents’ house was the possibility of having a container garden. Gardening doesn’t really run in my gene pool, but there are a couple green thumbs in the lines and I had a grand plan to channel them all into the best stairway garden that ever there was.

I didn’t get that. But I did get a LOVELY tomato plant that has begun to sprout tiny green tomato babies. See?

Reality sunk in at the onset, and I knew a plan needed to be hatched. I obtained a handful of highly-rated container gardening books (thanks, Amazon reader reviews!) and one book on organic gardening which made me feel like a boorish, 1st world idiot. Soon enough, that book was on the bottom of the stack next to my bed, and I was off to Wally World for a giant, $3.99 bag of Miracle Gro. Toxins bedamned…the organic stuff was honestly really overwhelming. Maybe next summer.

Would sir like some possibly toxic, definitely delicious basil and chives?

No? Are you more of the rosemary or greek oregano type?

Actually, if you have need of fresh rosemary or chives, email me because DAMN. Those two are threatening to take over the deck entirely. Even though my friend Jen so cleverly pointed out that I’m amassing the makings of a tasty brunch, a girl can only make so many baked potatoes and loaves of focaccia.

And that is to say nothing of the strange and wonderful experiment that has been the Strawberry Topsy Turvy hack – a la Sean:

In this giant cylinder is a bevy of yummy goodness: a handful of strawberry plants, a roma tomato plant, sweet bell peppers, jalapenos, cilantro, and german thyme (another herb I have absolutely NO CLUE how to use). Great planning, that last one. Why do I get the feeling I’m going to have to dry it out and save it for Thanksgiving dinner?

I estimate that I have spent approximately $175 on the garden – including one whoopsie bag of the wrong potting soil. To tell you the truth, I get more enjoyment from those ridiculous plants that I do actual food. And eventually, I’ll get to eat them! WRAP YOUR BRAIN AROUND THAT FOR A MOMENT.

I had no idea I would enjoy flexing my long-atrophied domestic muscles with this project. I’m so happy to have tried it! Brunch, anyone?

Lucky 7
Friday, June 25, 2010

My niece has turned 7, and as she came into being at the same time I was becoming an adult, I cannot help but measure my own life against hers. When I met Sean, she was nothing more than a protruding object of constant conversation – hidden from the world, and yet so incredibly visible to us all.

The day she was born, I was stuck downtown, working my way through the first round of auditions for a local professional dance/cheer team. In my first picture with her (taken shortly after I drove 9,000 mph to the suburbs in order to arrive before the close of hospital visiting hours), I am wearing a highly-engineered, highly visible bra on under my teeny tank and my fake eyelash/tarantula eyes are rimmed heavily in smokey lavender. It was wonderful and awkward and all omfg-i-hope-nobody-noticed-i-accidentally-got-glitter-on-the-baby.

Three months after she started walking, she turned 1. She spent a good portion of that party in the backyard, in her new Playskool swing-set, reluctant to make contact with the spiky, Kelly-green grass. I’ll never forget how stunned I was when I absentmindedly handed her to Sean for a minute while I walked away to talk to someone, and when I came back, he seemed totally at home, making her laugh and feeding her crackers. He was wearing an orange-ish plaid shirt and when I saw her tiny hands in his, I knew the birthday girl wasn’t the only one in the room that had a piece of my heart.

Fast forward several years – as life often does when we don’t pay meticulous attention to it – 2, 4 years and suddenly it’s all talk of electronic hamsters, iCarly, silly bands, and American Girls. There are brothers now. There are books, school, and opinions on clothing now (dear God, please help my sister. thank you). There are people who, in public, assume she is mine and I am secretly flattered because even though she is not mine, she is ours, and has some of the best parts of all of us.

And there is a tiny peanut lady baby curly girlie future heartbreaker who has a scream that could melt the paint off the walls, who enchants us with her bizarre, hilarious faces, and serves as the unofficial mascot of our extended family; bringing cheer and laughter to everyone she meets. Plus, she plays a mean air guitar.

Happy Birthday, Bri Bri.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I attempted yet another sip of my martini, but I quickly came to the conclusion that, birthday or no birthday, I was just a wine and beer kind of gal. Sukey saw me wincing and said, "Hang in there, baby. It's worth it for the olive. And like I said, take bigger sips. They go down easier." I noticed that Sukey had just polished off her second double martini, so when she wasn't looking, I dumped the rest of mine into her glass. She was right about one thing, though - the olive was just about the best-tasting olive I have ever had.

And Just Like That, My Faith in Humanity/Fate is Once Again Restored
I have this friend, Jen, who is the definition of the word "trooper." (and I don't mean the kind that pulls you over on the interstate for speeding) She's taken on more in the last 12-18 months than most people her age take on in their entire young life - including starting her own business (gulp) and dealing with all the stress and heartbreak that came along with a devastating medical diagnosis for her mother (double, triple gulp). It's enough to make anyone fall apart - and she has thrived. I have always admired her personal strength and ability to stubbornly refuse to give in to certain things.

As it turns out, the universe has smiled on her family as well - the LIVESTRONG organization has recently announced her parents as the winners of the "Lance in France" contest and I have to say, it could not have happened to a nicer bunch of people. Is this not the coolest thing EVER?! It's just so exciting - I'm grinning from ear to ear like a complete idiot.

I'm not a huge believer in certain things like destiny, but I believe that fate, for the most part, favors the good people in the world. And even better? THE UNIVERSE JUST PROVED ME RIGHT.

Boo yah.

Monday, June 21, 2010
It is an unusual Monday - sushi and a movie with close friends - we have set aside our precious time, our only gift to each other. We are the kind of friends to whom you would donate blood, the friends that unconsciously use "we" when referring to the group, the ones that remind you that you're not, in fact, crazy but perhaps just misunderstood? The friends who cry with you because they are as frustrated/disappointed/angry as you are, and do so because they simply cannot help it.

Dinner was tasty. The movie was a total letdown, as expected, but nonethless an escape and well-timed for a dour, difficult Monday, when all parties are in need of a mindless diversion. When did our personal lives become so burdened, so busy, so quickly? Where is 2004, in which we were all single, poor, happy, and didn't know any better? I want to go back there sometime, if only to laugh at my own bad decisions and remember how good bad liquor tastes when it's (a) not yours, and (b) mixed with something fruity. My past is the only place where I can truly remember the allure of a bright red Solo cup and some innocent flirtations with a light-eyed man in an army green cable-knit sweater and khaki cargo pants.

Now, years later, as I sit alone with the heat-lightning as my evening's entertainment, I think heavily of what it means to be an adult. Is it a mortgage? A marriage? A child? None or all of these things? How self-indulgent of me to ask when the answer should probably be clear as day, and yet it is not. Where are we going, anyhow? We take trains to where we need to be. We hire taxi cabs to drive us to unknown places. We take gambles with our time, our feelings, our lives. We spend time with one another because we cannot leave a conversation well enough alone, and because we know the dialogue could not be dicussed with anyone less worthy.

The rain comes down tonight with a force I can see - walls of water, pushing and slapping against the concrete fortress outside my window. The window expands outside the silhouette of the building and I cannot help but imagine that if the structure somehow failed rightthisveryminute, the bay section of the living room would drop and I would meet an untimely, unappealing end. Am I the only one who considers these worst-case scenarios? Either way, I think I safe for now.

The streets shine with moisture, yet my high-rise windows are inexplicably dry. Somehow the rain drives straight down onto the empty thoroughfare and all of a sudden, I want to give everyone I see an umbrella, just in case. I think about strangers often, I buy McDonald's giftcards for homeless people - I worry. I am alone a lot, it's a life I've chosen and it suits me. For now. Someday I'll look back and be able to appreciate this quiet time, this empty time, because then I will have something physical with which to fill it.

Until then, there is just me, and I am more than enough.

Why Reinvent The Wheel?
Friday, June 18, 2010
It's Friday and I am tired. Therefore, what else could be more timely than a good ol' fashioned internet meme? YAY! Heh. This one is via AM who stole is from Zoot who stole it from someone else, and so on. I love the internet.

30 Questions:

1. It’s 2AM and you are not home. You are more than likely:

2. What’s the last thing you spent more than $100 on?
a handbag - Kate Spade Sample Sale FTW

3. What do your bank checks look like?
umm, they're conservative and green and plain. no characters. no weirdness. it's a check, not a skin for my facebook page. PUT AWAY THE DISNEY CHECKS, PEOPLE, PLEASE.

4. Where did the shirt you are currently wearing come from?
I'm wearing two shirts - one from Kohl's (black tank) and the other is a cashmere-blend cardigan from Anne Taylor

5. Name something that will be on your Christmas wish list:
a genetic screening (complete edition) from 23andMe

6. What color is your toothbrush?

7. Name something you collect and tell us about it.
Do shoes count? No, seriously, I don't currently collect anything.

8. Last restaurant you ate at. Who were you with? How was it?
Nordstrom Cafe, Michigan Avenue/Northbridge Mall. I was alone. I ordered the Shrimp/Sweet Corn/Arugula salad. It was PHENOMENAL. How can anything with cheesy polenta croutons be bad?!

9. Who was the last person you bought a birthday card for?
My newly-97-year-old grandmother.

10. What is your worst bad habit?
Drinking waaaay too much diet coke. Also, being overly sarcastic for no reason whatsoever.

11. Name a magazine to which you subscribe?
Weight Watchers Magazine. Bon Appetit. Popular Mechanics.

12. Your favorite pizza toppings?

13. Whose number were you looking up the last time you used a phone book?
the local Lowe's store

14. Other than family, who is the person that you love most?
Sean, obv. Also, my 4 best friends.

15. What is the last thing you cooked?
Hmm, I haven't cooked in awhile. Does fruit salad count?

16. Name something you wouldn’t want to buy used?

17. Which shoe do you put on first?
Usually the left.

18. What is the last thing you remember losing?
Other than my mind? Umm, that would be my car keys.

19. What is the ugliest piece of furniture in your house?
I cannot answer this for fear of insulting my mother (whatever. it's totally the dining room table, chairs, and armoire - ICK)

20. Last thing you bought and ended up returning?
A whit silk ruffle-edged tank top from Banana Republic.

21. What perfume/cologne do you wear? If none, why?
I wear many - right now, it's primarily Cherie Miss Dior by Dior. If I'm lazy, I use a rollerball of Viva la Juicy by Juicy Couture.

22. Your favorite board game?
Trivial Pursuit.

23. What was the last board game you played?
I don't remember the name, but it was absolutely hilarious.

24. Where did your vehicle come from?
CarMax - Aurora, IL

25. If a movie was made about your life what would the theme song be?
This is a tough one, I couldn't say.

26. You’re sad, who can cheer you up easily?
My dog.

27. What was the color of the bridesmaid dresses of the last wedding you went to?

28. What house cleaning chore do you hate to do the most?
Putting away the newly-cleaned laundry.

29. What is your favorite way to eat chicken?
Buffalo wings! Ranch, never bleu cheese. Ever.

30. It is your birthday. You hope the cake is?
Yellow cake w/chocolate frosting. Or spice cake with cream cheese frosting. I also hope the cake is edible - that's always a good start.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When I came to the door, the undertaker glanced at the stump of finger. People generally do, but rarely with that professional gaze that notes: Left hand, second finger, first and second phalanx, yes, we could fix that with a wax prosthetic, a slender one, with a light Caucasian flesh tone, and we could use Kryolan foundation to cover the join, and we could fold the right hand over the left in the coffin, and Bob would be your mother's brother, madam.

I was thinking, Clever undertaker. If only I were dead, you could make a whole woman of me.


What is an adventure? That depends on where you are starting from. Little girls in your country, they hide in the gap between the washing machine and the refrigerator and they make believe they are in the jungle, with green snakes and monkeys all around them. Me and my sister, we used to hide in a gap in the jungle, with green snakes and monkeys all around us, and make believe that we had a washing machine and a refrigerator. You live in a world of machines and you dream of things with beating hearts. We dream of machines, because we see where beating hearts have left us.

Things I Don't Understand
Monday, June 14, 2010
1. Herve Leger bandage dresses

2. why people like martinis - they taste like hairspray

3. people with denim shorts cut so short the pockets are visible/hanging down

4. security personnel on Segways

5. Federal tax code(s)

6. the appeal of David Letterman

7. why I can never seem to find re-runs of Roseanne on TV anymore

8. the official rules of tennis

9. people who think tea is a suitable substitute for coffee

10. anything written by Umberto Eco

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It is a function of shunning that it must eliminate the shunned completely. It feels like a murder, and is baffling because there is no grave; no hymns were sung to ease my going or to beg for God's blessing on my soul. Shunning is as precise as a scalpel, an absolute excision, leaving, miraculously, not a trace of a scar on the community body. The scarring is left for the girl, an intense, debilitating wound that weeps for the rest of her life. It's quite a price to pay for having scared sex on a beach on a foggy Labor Day night.

Miscellany: Bad Poetry
Friday, June 11, 2010
On one hand
the crowds are here and growing
in desperation i will
scour and scrape the depths of my desk
for nourishment to keep
from going outside into the fray
kashi bar + smoked almonds = lunch

on the other hand it is friday
the end of a strange and
wonderful week
in which legends were fixed in our minds
and during which
i coughed and coughed seemingly without end
screw you, lungs

to delete the voice mails
ignore the inbox
pause for a moment, quiet the mind
may take herculean effort
but somehow i think i'll manage
from my sun-spotted seat on the screen porch
where the dog is cuddly and i am blessed

In Which I Out Myself as a Giant Bitch
Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recent Chicago sports news is going crazy today with the Blackhawks Stanley Cup celebrations - and they should! This is very, very exciting stuff and while I cannot claim to be a huge hockey fan, I know history making, "I was there when..." moments when I see them. The game last night was amazing to watch. It was fast-paced, interesting, and let's face it: regardless of the outcome, close games are always more thrilling. But my excitement pretty much ends there, as tomorrow's celebratory parade will sloppily and loudly conclude on the front door of my office. No, really, it will *literally* be on our property.

I have an open hatred for events downtown (and on a Friday! argh) that make it virtually impossible to get anywhere, for anything. (NOTE TO SELF: pack a damn lunch, because you won't be able to leave the building). And every location will be crawling with tourists and superfans. This has happened before (see: Oprah & the Black Eyed Peas) and it was as if I was working in the middle of a rock concert. I just can't get behind it. I cannot. I would sooner stick red hot pokers in my eyeballs. There's something about the wall-to-wall people and chaos that keeps me from enjoying something that should be (and for many, will be) good, clean fun. Sad, but true.

Maybe I could work from home? Probably not.

Signing off,
Whinypants McKilljoy

p.s. Seriously though, congratulations Blackhawks! Your success and top-notch sportsmanship brings honor and excitement to our city, and we love you.

Photo Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune

Reading: Other Blogs Edition
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Well it's no wonder this guy is such a great dad.

Sometimes the content of your character shows not through what you accomplish, but how you act...

Regarding Steak Nachos
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
I think we can all agree that a plate of nachos is one of the most comforting sights known to man...or maybe that's just my take on comfort food, as I regularly dump my emotions into a burrito when another person might turn to something more traditional like chocolate, ice cream, or french fries. Ah well, each to their own.

Is there really anything better than getting to the bottom of a plate of nachos, and realizing the very last one is (a) yours (if you are sharing, which is clearly foolish), and (b) the best nacho on the entire platter? Perfectly stacked with an equal amount of each individual topping? Is that not just the most thrilling moment of the entire binge?!

No? Just me, then? (coughs) Carry on, then.

What I Have Been Doing OTHER Than Updating This Blog
Monday, June 07, 2010
1. Feeling like death warmed over. A scratchy, swollen throat from last week (not strep! i hate you, universe! JUST GIVE ME SOME MEDS, DAMNIT) turned into a full day of dry, painful, lung-shaking hacking (Saturday = Wasted) which promptly turned into a sore, exhausted Sunday. Which, OF COURSE, means that today has been full of random, phlegmy coughing fits that produce the foulest of bodily contents...with a side order of mystery sneezes. You know, the kind of sneeze that rocks your entire torso and releases only God knows what?! Yeah. Somebody please pass the tissues.

2. Throwing my mother a surprise 65th birthday party. Everything went off without a hitch, and she was thrilled! Happy Birthday, Sally Field! (I don't have any photos of the surprise b/c I was the ruse, so if pictures do exist, I'm probably standing behind her making some inane or otherwise unforgettable-for-the-wrong-reason face)

3. Spending time with my niece and nephews at the Adidas Soldier Field 10-Mile. My BIL ran it, so I went downtown early to help my sister wrangle her offspring across town and back. The weather that day was incredible - just pushing 80 and sunny. We had a great time eating hot dogs for breakfast, and inadvertantly, repeatedly getting in the Governor's way. My nephew celebrated his daddy's great finish by hitting the bar:

He can stand up! BABYPROOFING TIME. Also, apparently time to hide...the Bailey's? Yuck.

4. Putting off a badly-needed haircut.

5. Experimenting with the Topsy Turvy strawberry planter. For those of you that are connected to me on Facebook, you know I've been something of a homesteader these past couple of months (I use that term very lightly, obviously).

I was having trouble with my strawberry plants, so Sean (ever the thoughtful, engineering-curious BF) came home from work one week with a Topsy Turvy in his suitcase. Not only did we transfer my strawberry plants to it, but added German Thyme, Cilantro, Sweet Basil, Jalapeno Peppers, Sweet Peppers, and a roma tomato plant. Nothing has died yet, so I'm officially declaring it a victory.

6. Fast-tracking a new tenant into my condo downtown, simultaneously clearing the place of all my residual furniture (the last lease was furnished), most of which now sits in the garage, awaiting our annual garage sale. As always, I cannot recommend USA Moving enough. Love them.

7. Trying to watch what I'm eating. Right now, I mostly just watch it as it makes its way into my mouth, but I'm paying attention! The first step to any problem is identifying the problem! Somebody pass the oreos!