Saturday, November 29, 2008

Notable Quotables..."Vanishing Acts"

With the extra holiday time off, and eight hour drive to Akron, I was able to finish "Vanishing Acts" by Jodi Piccoult. She's one of my favorite authors... so obviously I highly recommend it to everyone. Here's a few Notable Quotables from the book...

"Memories aren't stored in the heart or the head or even the soul, if you ask me, but in the spaces between any given two people."

"If it had been easy for Romeo to get Juliet, nobody would have cared. Same goes for Cyrano and Don Quixote and Gatsby and their respective paramours. What captures the imagination is watching men throw themselves at a brick wall over and over again, and wondering if this is the time that they won't be able to get back up. For everyone who adores a happy ending, there's someone else who cannot help but rubberneck at the accident on the side of the road."

"We make messes of our lives, but every now and then, we manage to do something that's exactly right. The challenge is figuring out which is which."

"If I learned anything from this trial it's that the only way someone can leave you is if you let them. And I'm not doing that... It may look like that today, or tomorrow, or even a month from now, but one day you're going to wake up and see this whole time you've been gone, you've only been headed back to where you started. And I'll be there, waiting. It's not like I'm letting you go. I'm just trusting you enough to come back."

"What if it turns out that a life isn't defined by who you belong to or where you came from, by what you wished for or whom you've lost, but instead by the moments you spend getting from each of these places to the next?"
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Let the Parties Begin...

Holidays in Chicago: A whole month of reasons to party...

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Most of the turkey and leftovers have been eaten. You have both buyers remorse and/or shouldn't-have-eaten-that-last-piece-of-pie remorse. And you're currently hungover or drunk. Congrats... the holiday season can officially begin.
I love this time of year. If I were a teacher or a child of the 50s or 60s, I'm sure I would've owned and embraced a Christmas sweater with bows and bells - and not reserved it only for the Ugly Sweater parties and bar crawls.

There is no question that we love to celebrate in Chicago... and the holidays are no exception. We celebrate sweatpants and fanny packs in October, we embrace Neil Diamond and all his achievements in July... and I even have friends who make an event of walking home from work on a random Friday in August. So when it comes to the winter holidays, it's no surprise that the whole month of December is one blow-out party after the other.

This year I clearly got excited in anticipation of the Yuletide cheer and ordered a real Christmas tree from the church down the street. While I didn't think about the three flights of stairs or the lack of guy friends close enough to enlist as tree carriers, I did think about how a live tree meant another reason for a party (tree trimming!). Also, at the end of the season, I don't have to find a place in our storage room to fit a six foot tree. In my mind... it was a completely practical purchase.

In preparation for my tannebaum decorating soiree, today, on Black Friday, my whole family - mom, dad and brother - packed into the sedan and made our way to Wal-Mart in my hometown of Akron, Ohio. If you knew my family, you would realize this is definitely a rarity. I wasn't as surprised about my mom, but seeing my brother and dad in a retail store - let alone Wal-Mart- on Black Friday - was like finding a four leaf clover in a ten-mile field.

Although we expected the worst as we walked into America's #1 discount superstore, we were actually surprised to see empty aisles and clear lines. I took advantage of the Friday lull and stocked up on discounted lights, ornaments and a state-of-the-art tree stand (let's see how this puppy performs when faced with a crazy calico cat). I can only hope that getting the tree into my apartment will be this easy.

When I get back to Chicago on Sunday, I'll be ready to start the celebrating -- and not to mention armed with cheer and accessories that will allow me to do that in style. So break out the champagne, dust off the ornaments, organize your Macy's coupons, hang the mistletoe and find your sparkles. It's only four weeks... eight weekend nights (i didn't actually calculate that... so give or take a few days). And after December, snow will just be snow, and cold seems even colder. Credit card bills will be paid... and we'll need to start worrying about taxes again. So before we need to make plans for a February 'Hoff Appreciation Day, take advantage of having a real reason to celebrate...
Cheers to the holidays!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snaps for the Snapshot...

Woohoo!!! Happy Thanksgiving!! (Click on the Life tab)
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Dried Up Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning: The best excuse not to spend hours running up and down three flights of stairs doing laundry. 

I'm a big fan of dry cleaning. Like nail salons in the city, a dry cleaner is guaranteed to be within a block of your apartment. Given the competition, this means they practically pay you to hand them a pile of wrinkled, cat-haired-covered clothes to transform back into the perfection in which you bought them. 

My former cleaner of choice literally charged $1 per item. Any item. From coats to work shirts to bridesmaid dresses. This all seemed too good to be true... and turns out, it was. 

Noticing the air getting cooler each day, towards the end of September I dropped off my fall jacket. Almost two months later, four visits to the store, three aggrivating conversations with salespeople, two messages into the Claims department and one last follow-up call... THEY FOUND MY JACKET!

Apparently, it was sitting right next to said salesperson. Excellent. 

Even this crazy cleaner can't shake my dependence on dry cleaning... especially considering there's another option just one block down!

Dry on... dry on...

Question: Dry cleaning gone bad? Tell me about it... 

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Notable Quotables

Quote of the Day: To find the right words to describe a situation or to convey feelings is an art form; and one that myself and others in the communication/media biz try to perfect everyday. To celebrate that art, and to recognize those who truly achieve it (even if only for one/two sentences), I'd like to start a regular posting called, 'notable quotables.'
Today's quote:
"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities."
-Gloria Steinem, journalist and women's rights advocate
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Yep, that's about right...

The Orange Line: Confirmed as the friendliest/most elated train in the city. 

Just hours after posting my judgments (eh, observations) of Chicago's Transit Authority, I had quite possibly the weirdest experience ever in route to Midway.

I had just boarded the Orange line at Roosevelt when the train came to an abrupt stop. The familiar CTA voice recording assured us that we'd be moving momentarily and thanked us for our patience. 

Shortly after the announcement, I noticed an older women wildly laughing and pointing at something. As most of you know, crazy laughing is a common, daily occurance on the train or bus, so at first I didn't think much of this mayhem. This is why I invested in an Ipod. But as she continued, and I looked at her more closely, she didn't have the typical crazy eyes of people who clearly have gone off the edge. I wasn't the only one who noticed this, as most of the car decided to actually make an effort to see what she could possibly be laughing so hard about before 8:00 a.m.

Then we saw it... a man/woman dressed in a full Easter bunny/Mad hatter suit/costume, sitting outside on his porch (note that it was approximately 15 degrees this morning) with an older lady, drinking out of oversized tea cups. It was kind of like a strange recreation of the "Un-Birthday Party" in "Alice in Wonderland." I swear to god, this was not induced by narcotics of any sort.

The point is, as everyone began to notice this insanity, the crazy laughter became as contagious as lice in a second grade classroom... people from all walks of life were making eye contact and smiling at each other, acknowledging that they, too, see the life-size bunny outside the window... North Side, South side, visitors and Chicago natives united. For a mere second, we all had this weird comraderie and found something in the point where I was about to suggest we all go to breakfast and rehash this hilarious moment over coffee and scrambled eggs.  

Luckily, I did have a set destination in mind, so I didn't become the second weirdest thing people saw on the train this morning. It was proving, again, that the Orange line brings people together.... even, if just for a second.

Now that I'm at the airport, I have one last random, unrelated, observation... what's with people asking strangers to watch their bags in airports? Isn't it strangers that you're trying to avoid when it comes to your personal items that clearly you care too much about to check them? I would imagine everyone who's stolen something doesn't always appear as a thug.... Just saying. 

Happy Friday!
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

CTA Culture

CTA Culture: the personality that accompanies a certain bus or train route; undefined by maps and redefined by each season, time of day, bus schedule, etc.

Like the different neighborhoods of the city, each bus or train has a personality. Although I'm not sure it's as cut-and-dry as labeling an area like Old Town, Southport or Wrigleyville.

From my experiences, however, this is my take on the wheels of the windy city.
  • 134/143 - Saturated by the Lincoln Park newbies. Recent graduates, young professionals and students who have just moved to the city. Cell phone usage and roommate chatter early in the morning is abundant. Although it's crowded, standing is acceptable, because you're just thankful the bus stopped to pick you up.
  • 135/146/145 - Older Lakeview/Wrigleyville crowd. Although you get the occasional cell phone, it's usually more discussing inappropriate marital issues. Not as crowded, but have serious maintenance issues. At 8 a.m., nothing is worse than a bus breakdown when you have a window seat and are enjoying the last few pages of the RedEye. Shove it in your bag... you're clearly going to be standing on your orphan bus.
  • 8/36/22 - Usually the newest, most innovative buses with the most inconsistent schedules.
  • 151 - Complete tourist bus in the summer; avoid at all costs.
I'm pretty much a bus babe, but I do make my way to the El every once in awhile. And these are my thoughts...
  • Brown line - Kind of bohemian... for some reason I feel like I'm surrounded by artists every time I go Brown. I appreciate the artsy-type, so this is my top-pick. They are usually quite stylish and, for the most part, adhere to the social norms of train culture.
  • Red line - The opposite of "going green." Dirty is the nicest word that comes to my mind. As the busiest and most connected train, this one takes some beating. No one respects the red line. The red line is in serious need of some TLC (and millions of dollars in renovations and hourly scrub-downs)
  • Pink/Green line - Not sure I've ever been on either of these, but I would imagine they would take me to a suburb of some kind flourishing with strip malls and empty parking lots.
  • Orange - Is about as cheery as the Southwest flight attendants that about to sing to you on the plane in their pleated khaki shorts. For real. People are psyched for their free peanuts and checked luggage.
  • Blue - Although people should be cheery if they are headed out of town, this train is not exclusive to O'Hare. Every time I hear about a crime, it's always on the Blue line; therefor, it scares me. They also have a ton of construction and make you transfer off and get on a shuttle... complicated.

Question: If all of Chicago ran on one train or bus, which one would you choose? And why?

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Something about Southwest...

Southwest Airlines: A Chicagoans SUV; the CTA of the skies...

In preparation for my trip tomorrow to Kansas City, I signed on to exactly 24 hours (to the minute) prior to my flight to get my boarding pass.

How then, am I still 46th in line?? I have a new respect for the 45 other people in this world who clearly click faster than me...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grilled Cheese, Please

Grilled Cheese:  The scrumptious combination of two of my greatest loves... carbs and cheese...which plummeted down the list of items I could easily cook on the stove from scratch without a fire, stomach-wrenching disease or just immense disappointment. 

I used to consider grilled cheese as part of my golden five staple go-to dinners along with canned soup, pasta, salad-in-a-bag and, the trusted and loved, take-out. I'm considering adding in PB&J as a more reliant alternative.

I'm not one to boast about my cooking skills... but I can usually make one mean grilled cheese. Clearly I was getting over confident tonight as I mixed both shredded and sliced cheeses in my most valiant effort to just "wing it" with what I had in the refrigerator. With my first flip of the sandwich, cheese was everywhere, sizzling, burning and creating a weird, uneven cheesy cluster on only one side of the sandwich. 

There was no fire or burnt sandwich, but more chaos than necessary did ensue on a grilled cheese than ever before in my apartment. Enough to write a blog about it... while I'm actually trying to promote, and not detract people, from reading my random thoughts.

Read my blog... and I promise to grill you a golden brown grilled cheese with evenly-distributed melted cheese. Except my friend, Lauren, who's afraid of melted cheese. I will promise to never post a picture of melted cheese again.

Question: Worst cooking disaster... what is your grilled cheese? What did you think you mastered and then failed miserably? (Q... is this a good time to plug the Jennie-O Oven Ready turkey?? Let's test the powers of TruCast...)
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Woes...

Winter in Chicago: The closest comparison I have for purgatory; an eight-to-ten month waiting period until you can walk out of your apartment without five pounds of extra clothes and warming accessories.

I've never been one to embrace the chills of winter. Some Midwesterners get excited to break out the sweaters, to see their breath when they walk outside or to have an excuse to drink hot chocolate and snuggle up with a good book or significant other.

I, however, am one of the only people I know in Chicago who, up until this past August, refused to buy an air conditioner because I wanted to take advantage of all the fresh air and heat that summer naturally brought to my apartment. I enjoy ignoring the treadmills at the gym and running home from work or doing Saturday or Sunday runs by the lake. I'm not afraid of humidity, sweat, mosquitos and love to watch summer storms unfold from my cubicle and even wear my rain boots, when necessary.

I mean... how happy are we in that picture/J.Crew ad?! Really happy...

Tears came to my eyes this morning when I finally had to admit it was no longer summer, or even fall. I traded in my trench coat for the heavier, and brighter, tweed jacket accompanied with the obligatory hat, gloves and scarf. Even its cheery pink color and funny J-Lo-charmed label couldn't turn my frown upside down.

Listening to Avril's "Keep Holding On," I trudged to the bus stop. Her strong Canadian roots and punk-rock attitude gave me courage and vindication to stand at the bus stop as the wind tried to take the best of me and keep me from entering the now packed and over-heated 134 express bus.
I think it's worse knowing that it's not even technically winter. It's like getting a cramp the night before a big race... and just imagining how much pain your going to be in when you're running for hours and hours the next day.

So, in order to get over cramp before we start the race, I've listed out a few perks to this maddening and frustrating Chicago weather sent from Old Man Winter:
  • The first big snow... and how perfect everything looks under the city lights before it turns into that brown slush concoction of tar, dirt, dog pee and salt
  • Michigan Ave holiday lights and Christmas trees EVERYWHERE
  • The Christmahanakwanza Bar Crawl
  • The office holiday parties
  • Birthdays!!! And birthday parties...
  • Book club
  • Vacation days....Sanibel girls' weekend...spontaneous weekend trips AWAY from Chicago
  • St. Patrick's Day... South Side Irish Parade, dying the river green, green beer, Irish boys
  • Sunday Fundays
  • Weekends completely devoted to Hollywood Video and all the movies they have to offer
  • Getting reacquainted with the couch and DVR
  • Having another excuse to visit my fav dive bar -Galway Bay- to play darts and sit next to the fireplace with beer, free popcorn and friends
  • Corporate snow day e-mails... "if you feel that it's in your best interest to leave..."
  • Finally getting serious with my cat Moxie's lose-three-pounds workout/diet plan
  • Bring It On-athons
  • Facebook stalking
  • YouTube searches
  • Longer blog entries?
I'm feeling a little better... you? Going to look through my summer pictures, sniff suntan lotion and give myself paraffin treatments so my skin doesn't crack.

Stay warm!


Question of the day: What are you looking forward to this winter?

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Monday, November 17, 2008

A book about the Big #2...

Poop: Apparently the next biggest thing since blogging...

This morning, TimeOut Chicago brought to my attention that an author recently took on the big #2 in a new book entitled, "The Big Necessity." Even the title makes me giggle like a second grader.

Check out the review below...

I couldn't help but Google a couple others for those who are interested....

And the classic, "Everyone Poops.."

Time for lunch!
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday: an excuse for 20-something Chicagoans to continue partying, even though it's Sunday... and they should be doing something, anything more responsible. Occurances increase as the good weather decrease. Other excuses include: Bears games, bar crawls, birthdays, anniversaries, boredom, etc.

After spending a productive Saturday catching up on 8 hours of DVR, creating a blog and picking up my dry cleaning, I felt that I had earned a Sunday Funday. 

Given that I'm currently single and don't really follow sports of any kind, I really don't have a reason to partake in this weekly ritual many Chicagoans claim as their own. 

Recently, Sundays are reserved for my domestic duties - laundry, groceries, cleaning, and, of course, Lifetime Original Movies. Sometimes there's even the added bonus of playing fetch with my cat, Moxie. Clearly, my Sundays are thirsty for excitement... of any kind.

Determined to experience this SF phenomenon and to not become a cliche cat lady, my friend Erin and I dialed up about 30 of our closest friends in an effort to become Bears fans for the day. After convincing a whopping two other people to join (don't judge), we traveled to a Wrigleyville-fave, Central, and spent the afternoon drinking $3 Coors Light and eating pizza. 

We continuously cheersed our genius idea... and vowed to continue this tradition until it stopped snowing (a commitment sure to last until at least June).

A few key learnings of the day:
  • Turns out coming "fashionably late" does not really apply to sports... especially when you think the game begins at 1 p.m. CST and it's actually EST
  • You are joining a very male-dominated bar/activity -at your own will- and do run the risk of a dozen boys sitting next to you who clearly just played a game of touch football and decided it was unnecessary to shower prior to grabbing a drink at a not-so-near bar
  • If the aforementioned event does occur, this will force you to grab the check asap and seek fresh air whenever/wherever available
  • 7 p.m. is an excellent curfew for Sunday Funday... although not quite early enough to attend church... note to self to go earlier next week
Alas, tomorrow is Monday... and everyone knows that there's no such thing as Funday Monday... you can't even try. So I'll pack up my workout clothes, go to bed early and look forward to next weekend... and in the meantime, vow to be responsible -- at least for a few days.

Sunday Funday Girl
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The First Sip

A sip: 1) to drink a little at a time; take small tastes of
2) to take in, absorb

Every city has its highlights and its quirks, and most importantly, every city has a personality. Is the personality defined by the people or the city? That's up for discussion.

One thing is certain: Webster and his dictionary could never define a city's personality in a matter of a few sentences. You may be able to Google "Chicago" and learn about the history or collect data on the number of neighborhoods, people or political issues, but to truly understand Chicago, you need to become a Chicagoan - bright red license and all.

You need to trade in your car keys for a CTA pass. You need to stand at the bus stop or the El tracks in the dead of winter, with 25 mph winds, as the snow is whipping at you on all sides -- and still be excited about the weekend. You need to spend Tuesdays at North Avenue beach with your best friends playing volleyball teams who insist on wearing speedos or rec specs as their uniforms. You need to experience Toro Sushi and all the amazing rolls Mitch has to offer. You need to buy the old lady cart and continuously promote it as the best purchase of your life. And you need to accept that unless you're a trader or have won the Illinois lottery, you probably won't be able to afford to buy even a one-bedroom apartment until you're at least 30.

The point is, I've created this blog in attempt to define Chicago as I see it; to give Chicagoans, future Chicagoans or just far-away friends small sips of my everyday thoughts and occurances in the Second City. 

So come back often, take it in, absorb (respond) and enjoy!

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My Peeps


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