Overheard on Vacation

November 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )


Traveling over the last week or so provided me an opportunity to publicly people watch/listen, which happens to be one of my favorite pastimes.  Here are a few gems from while I was away:

  • Guy sitting next to me on the train out to O’Hare, on his cell:  “Yeah, uh, my name is (whatever his name was) and I’m afraid I’m to going to be late for my flight.  It boards at 6:05.” This was at roughly 5:45 and we were at least 15 minutes from the airport.  I felt for this kid but didn’t think he was going to make it.  For his sake, I hope he did.
  • Young boy running through the airport: “No, I’M BOBA FETT!”
  • Woman #1 walking by in New Orleans:  “Well, he does have all those grandchildren.”
  • Woman #2 walking with Woman #1:  “You know why, right?  His stupid son became a Mormon and had six kids!”
  • Store proprietor in New Orleans (in the interest of full disclosure, it was an occult store):  “I’ve seen more of it than any white woman ever should.  I tell you, Santeria is the one thing in this world I’m actually scared of.  You have no idea what you’re getting into with that shit.”
  • My 85 year old grandfather, as I was leaving for the airport:  “Make sure you Facebook me when you get in so I know you made it safely.”

Facebook is officially weird to me now.

I wish I could’ve spent more time just sitting outside in the French Quarter with an adult beverage and catching snippets of conversation as they went by, but alas I didn’t have all day.  Perhaps next year.  In the meantime, I’ll keep my ears open for more gems and when I find them I’ll do my best to pass them along to you.

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The TSA Way

November 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

When I flew down to Louisiana for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, I was treated to my first experience with the new TSA security measures.  I had been under the impression that people only had to go through the new full-body scanning machine (or, alternatively, through the extreme full-body pat down) if they were randomly chosen from the line.  So you can imagine my surprise when I showed up at O’Hare Airport and was immediately directed to one of these:

It was exactly like this

See the little squares on the ground?  You have to put your feet in those while holding your hands up over your head.  If there’s a better way to make a perfectly innocent traveler feel instantly like a criminal, I certainly don’t know what it is.

The x-rays that the box takes are sent to some anonymous room where strangers checked me out to make sure I wasn’t harboring explosives in my underwear.  Since I had forgotten my explosives at home that morning, I was allowed on through and ushered into the craziness that leads to the O’Hare terminals.  The entire process didn’t take near as long as I was afraid it would, but I was concerned people would be pitching a fit over the security x-ray, which I didn’t really see happening.  If I had had unlimited time I might have questioned it’s Constitutional validity but I didn’t feel like getting arrested and/or thrown out of the airport at 6:30am.

Look, Ma, no hands!I should say that I’m torn as to how I really feel about these new safety measures.  I understand why they’re in place and that it’s being done to make flying a safer experience for everyone involved.  I like arriving at my destination fully intact so I appreciate things being as thorough and safe as they can be.  However, I don’t like being told that my only options for flying include an x-ray (the radiological safety of which is still being questioned) that will showcase every nook and cranny of my body to unknown persons or a pat down that seriously borders on molestation.  I’m not a shy person and I probably look a little better nude than many of the other people that walk through these boxes but it made me uncomfortable nonetheless.  And I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before similar measures are put into place for using all modes of public transit, such as trains and buses.  That is not something I’m anxious to see.

In the end, it’s not like the new scanner caused me any physical pain.  I know others have had rather unpleasant experiences with these new measures and I hate to hear that but I was lucky enough to get in and get out with minimal issue.  In fact, it took me less than an hour from the time I walked out of my front door to the time I was waiting at my gate with breakfast in hand.  I’m thankful I was able to travel down South and I’m even more thankful that planes didn’t encounter any terrorist activity over the Holiday.  However, I still feel like someone in those dark rooms of the TSA owes me a drink.

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Giving Thanks – Day Five

November 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

It’s easy to be thankful for this final post topic today because of a phone call I had earlier this afternoon.  My cat is currently being cat-sat by a vet tech at the animal hospital I’ve been taking her to, and today the tech was nice enough to take Catsby back in for some more testing of her insulin levels.  Well, I spoke with our vet a few hours ago and she said that my diabetic kitty is doing much better and we can probably lower her insulin dosage.  Actually, she also said that she wants to monitor her blood

I'm thankful I'm not quite a Cat Lady...yet...

sugar tomorrow so we can make sure Catsby’s not in full-on remission (which would be great, but I’m not getting my hopes up too much…I’ll just be glad if we can get her regulated).  So, things are on the up and up for my little furry friend and I’m so, so happy to report that.  I can only hope she continues to get better and better!

It’s amazing how a pet can become a part of the family, especially when the family consists of yourself and some plants.  I remember how terrified I was when she was so sick and to this day I don’t know how people handle the worry of having children.  I’m thankful I have an animal companion who is so important to me that I can’t imagine life without her.

Since the is the last day in my Thanksgiving-themed week, I suppose I should round-up everything else I may have forgotten.  You’ll have to excuse me if some of these are repeats from what I wrote this time last year but if I’m still thankful for it then I figured it was worth mentioning again.  Here goes:

books, words and things like book club; cakes, pies, cookies and dessert food in general; Led Zeppelin; my green sweater that I’ve had for five years; wine; the internet and my cell phone plan; cheese; my slippers; the feeling I get when I stretch out like a starfish in my bed after a long day and of course, my great looks and sparkling personality.

Last year, I mentioned that I was thankful for the free living room couches and queen sized bed I have…upon further review, I realized that wasn’t all.  My TV, TV stand, bookcase, DVD case, DVD player, bedroom dresser and dining room set have all been handed down to me by various fantastic friends (and I promise, it doesn’t look like a mismatched hobo lair).  So, I’m thankful for the furnishings of my apartment as well.

Clearly, I have plenty to be thankful for.  I hope you’re able to count your blessings as well because no matter how bad you’ve got it, someone out there has it worse.  Now I’m going to continue my deep-fried Southern Thanksgiving over the weekend and try my best not to get permanently lost in a food coma.  See ya’ll Monday!

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Giving Thanks – Day Four

November 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I have an awesome family.  Excuse me while I brag.

My mom is one of six children, most of whom have children of their own.  I have seven cousins on her side and I’m pretty close with all of them.  We grew up together, enjoying time with Zelda, the Mario Brothers and Barbie.  We played hide and seek in the dark basement and explored the woods whenever we could.  We still enjoy each others company now but it usually involves an adult beverage or two instead of a video game console…although sometimes the gaming gets back in there too.  My mom’s brothers and sisters are also pretty great and their parents, my grandparents, are two of my favorite people. We’re all still pretty close and with the exception of myself and one aunt, everyone still lives within about an hour of one another.  I know that if I ever needed anything, my family would have my back.  They might make fun of me for being a vegetarian hippie but I know their heart is in the right place.  Oh, and my mom?  Well if you’ve read enough of this blog you know I think she’s pretty much the raddest mom ever.  My sister is pretty great too…at least, most of the time.

Yeah, they pretty much rule

Currently, I’m spending some quality time with the paternal, more Southern side of my family.  My dad has one brother and one sister and I have three cousins from my aunt.  One cousin has an 8-year-old boy, so I’ve been playing football for two days.  I don’t get to see this side of my family but once a year (you guessed it, at Thanksgiving) and so we try to make the most of it while we can.  Luckily, my cousins are all around my age and there’s a little local bar that allows us to catch up in the most appropriate way.  My grandparents on this side are pretty great as well but due to the geographic nature of our relationship, I simply don’t know them as well as I would like.  No matter, we’re all able to sit around a fire pit and tell stories all night long anyway.  I always value the time I get down here because it is so limited – plus, the cooking pretty much beats anything I can whip up in my own kitchen.  In fact, as soon as I finish this here post I’m hitting the kitchen to help begin the big Thanksgiving Day Meal prep.  I might not eat turkey but I load up on casseroles, potatoes, pies and anything else lying around.  And I’ve got my sweatpants set out so I’m officially ready.

I know I’m extremely lucky to have grown up so close with so much of my family and the older I get, the more I realize how rare having such great relatives can be.  I hate hearing stories of crappy family situations and it just makes me want to adopt those people who have to deal with that and introduce them to the wonderful craziness I get to enjoy.  So if you’re one of those who wishes you could spend your holidays elsewhere, let me know and I’ll drag you along with me next time.  You can eat my portion of the turkey.

On a side note, if you’re interested in the real history behind today’s holiday, check out this post I wrote from last year.  It’s not very pretty but it is fairly factual.

If you just want to laugh, check out awkwardfamilyphotos.com.  I thought of using one of those pics in today’s post but there were just too many to choose from, so if you want to take a look before you slip into a food coma, be my guest.

Now it’s time to help the host get the table set.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Giving Thanks – Day Three

November 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Let freedom ring!  I’m grateful for my independence every single day of the year.  I know there are many things that this country could stand to fix but you have to admit, relatively speaking we’ve got it pretty good.  There are women (and men, yes, but possessing two x chromosomes tends to make me relate to other females a little more) in other parts of the world who can’t even dream about leading a life where they are self-sufficient; a life where they are able to live alone in relative comfort and express their opinions, religious and political beliefs and even sexual preferences to anyone who will listen.  And here I am, doing that every day, in both the real world and this here blog.

By the way, I’m aware that in many other parts of the world I wouldn’t even have access to such a thing as a blog; I’m also aware that some of the things I’ve written about here could actually get me killed in other countries.  It’s chilling to think about but it’s the truth.

Sometimes when I sit in my apartment, enjoying a nice glass of wine after a fulfilling day’s work and/or play, I think of those women.  I think of the places where a girl as young as 10 is forced to marry and begin bearing children and of the places where surviving genital mutilation proves that you’re a woman.  I think of places where rape is used as a way to intimidate and control women who are already completely powerless.  I wish there was more I could do to help these women and I know that, but for chance, our roles could have been reversed.  So I feel like I owe it to them to fully appreciate my freedoms every chance I get.

If you know me at all, you know I have a bit of an independent streak.  I’ve been working since I was 14 and every car I’ve owned I’ve paid for myself.  I continue to take care of myself now and am proud of and thankful for the things I’ve accomplished on my own.  I graduated from a university, have traveled all over the world, get paid to write and now get to hang out at the Field Museum as a pseudo-employee.  I’m realistic enough to know that I couldn’t have done most (any?) of these things without the support and mentorship of my friends and family but when it boils right down to it, I get shit done on my own.  And I’m thankful that I live in a place that allows me to do so.

Also, on a slightly unrelated note, I’m thankful that I live in a place that allows me to travel so freely.  I know that the new TSA security measures cause us to think about our rights as flying passengers and trust me, I’ve got opinions on that.  In fact, walking through the new body scanners just this morning provided inspiration for a future blog post.  But the reality is that I can wake up in Chicago and be in the deep South before dinnertime, which is not something I would be able to do without flying.  I only get to see my southern family once a year and as you can imagine, every moment counts.  So I’m thankful I have the ability to get myself where I need to go and I’m even more thankful that I can do it on my own!

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Giving Thanks – Day Two

November 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Something that I try to give thanks for each and every day is my health.  I’m not going to get too much into the health care debate here because that will likely just embitter and enrage me but I will say that I’m thankful for not being a sickly person.  Especially since I currently don’t have health insurance.

As someone who has had her fair share of random maladies, I really appreciate not being ill or otherwise unhealthy.  Just for fun, here are some of the weird health issues I’ve dealt with in my time:

  • Brown recluse bite when I was in kindergarten.  Part of my finger shriveled up and peeled off.
  • Black Tongue (woke up midway through my freshman year of high school with a painful, swollen, black tongue and I could not eat or drink – every doctor in the ER came to poke and prod it and no one ever figured out what the hell was going on.  Luckily it went away on its own, after three days).
  • Weird undiagnosable rashes (on my face and under my arm, also during my freshman year of high school…not like strange and obvious skin diseases matter to kids that age anyway, right?).
  • Planters Wart on the sole of my foot (again, during freshman year.  This was not a good time for me).
  • Allergic reaction in the eye from walking into a pine tree.
  • The strange red-eye-but-not-pink-eye thing I was dealing with most recently.

Clearly, I don’t have the best luck in the health department.  As my mom likes to say, if something strange

We can pick and choose from this, right?

is going to happen chances are it’ll happen to me. Anyway, even with the oddities I put up with in my body, I’m still surprisingly healthy and fit.

Yes, even for someone who doesn’t eat meat.

To be honest, the human body really freaks me out and just thinking of all the things than can and do go wrong with no warning makes me want to hide under my bed with my blankie until the end of my days.  This is also why I could never work in a hospital – I would constantly be convincing myself that I had the newest, rarest disease out there.  People don’t realize how important their health is until it’s too late and I try not to make that mistake.  I’m lucky enough to have better than perfect vision (even after my red eye incident) and pretty great hearing too (so great that I wake up roughly 9 times every night).  I’m pretty strong and could probably kick your ass.  I also haven’t had any serious or scary health issues…well, ever (knocking on wood now).  A good friend of mine had gallbladder surgery earlier this year and another friend of mine had a ruptured appendix he had to have taken out.  Sometimes I consider having those things preemptively removed, just so I never have to worry about it.  Maybe when I’m insured again.

Just this year, one of my grandmothers fought (and beat) breast cancer and a cousin of mine had a second kidney transplant.  Everyone is in great shape now and I’m thankful for that as well.  When I read stories of people who have sudden and unexpected illnesses, my heart goes out to them.  Perhaps one day we’ll join the rest of the industrialized nations out there and provide a health insurance plan that doesn’t bankrupt our citizens but until then, I will give thanks every day that my family, friends and I are as healthy as we are!

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The Five Days of Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I try to find something to be thankful for almost every day but this time of year always makes me think.  I understand how lucky I am just to have the opportunities and freedoms that I do and I figured I’d take this

Friendships should be celebrated, even if they don't make much sense

week to do a little countdown list of five things I’m always thankful for.  For instance, I’m thankful for my awesome friends!

I was able to spend my weekend with no fewer than seven old college classmates, all of whose company I sometimes I forget how much I enjoy.  I know some truly wonderful people here in the city and I’ve got others stationed all over the country who are near and dear to my heart.  It’s not always easy to maintain friendships over time and distance but somehow I’ve managed with more than a few old pals and I consider myself lucky that I’m still able to be a part of their lives.

My friends are also cool.  They do things like go to medical or graduate school, work horror movie conventions,  volunteer, sit on nonprofit committees, play beautiful music and read more interesting books than even I could hope to get through.  They’re also fun, smart, creative, fabulously good-looking and pretty much all of them are always there for me when I need them.

If you’re reading this blog then chances are I consider you a friend, so I’m thankful for you too.  I’ll take a little time today to send a hug in your general direction and maybe you could send a nice thought or two towards someone else who warms your heart.  And thank you for being a friend!

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November 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

After my marathon post yesterday, I’m going to take a bit of a break today.  I successfully completed my first full week of work on my own and I get to leave a little early this afternoon.  I also have an old friend in town all weekend, plans with other various college chums and my docent orientation at the Field Museum tomorrow.  Then two more days of work and I’m off to spend a week in Louisiana! Things are good.

Happy Weekend!


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Happy Blogiversary to Me!

November 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

It’s hard to believe it’s been exactly one year since my reemergence into the blogosphere but it’s true.  It all began with a blurb that I’ll go ahead and admit was about some guys reading Twilight on the Metra train I took every morning.  I’ve come a long way since that inaugural post and instead of turning this into a rap or poem, I figured I’d do a bit of commentary on posts gone past.  If you ever wanted some follow up or closure on some of my stories, you got it!  And if you didn’t care either way…well I’m writing about it anyway.  It is my blog, after all.

This one's lasted longer than my last blog!

So I spent an entire evening going through post by post and I must say, I forget how clever I can be.  I made myself laugh more than once and cringe more than once as well.  I was halfway finished when it occurred to me that I should’ve looked through them while I was writing this one, so I could link to the things I was referring to when appropriate.  Too late now so if you’re really interested, you’ll have to go back and search for yourself.  There’s some gems in there but I’ll warn you – a lot of it is just pure drivel.

Here are some general observations:

  • I write.  A lot.  Some of these are damn lengthy and I applaud you if you’ve actually made it through all of my randomness.   However, in case you didn’t notice, they’ve been getting a little shorter lately.  That’s because my current job doesn’t provide ample time for goofing off like my last one did and I’ve been forced to blog at home after work.  I’m not as inspired or awake at that time so the length of my posts has suffered.  At least I’m still updating almost daily!  And today’s post is sure to be a behemoth (hell it took me two days to put together) so that’s something.
  • It makes me sad that many of the pictures I’ve put in have disappeared.  I suppose that’s the nature of free internet images but it makes me frown nonetheless, as sometimes I think the photos are the best part.  I’m way too lazy to go back and find new ones though so the big blank spaces will have to serve as a reminder of what once was.
  • I’ve come a long way with inserting links and formatting in general.  While I’m sure I could still stand to learn more, I give myself a little pat on the back for my progress.
  • These are things I write about a lot (too much?):  the weather, The Field Museum, books, libraries and food.  Specifically, I write about eating cereal and cookies for dinner almost regularly and I talk about pizza quite a bit.  What does this say about me?  I’m a super large nerd who could probably stand a slightly better diet.  And Mom, I promise I don’t eat junk food for dinner every night.
  • I also talk about sports more than someone who has my level of appreciation for sports really should.  I caught myself mentioning the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup and the World Cup – and I don’t really even watch sports.  What does this mean?  Perhaps I should give them a shot.  Or perhaps there are days when I’m really struggling to find a topic to write about.  Probably the latter.

Those are just some of the things I noticed while glancing over the last year’s worth of writing.  Now for some updates and/or commentary on things I’ve already written about – but be warned, there are things I’ll say here that I may or may not have already updated before.  I didn’t have the time nor energy to read every single word of every single post, but I think this is a pretty good summary.  Away we go!

  • I no longer ride a Metra train to work so I don’t meet as many random friends on my new commute.  The Metra was full of the same people every day, and they typically sat in the same area so contact was easy.  Now I ride a crammed subway and have to use all my energy to keep from falling down.  I would like to say though that the Metra introduced me to at least 6 new friends and even someone I dated for a while – and we’re still friends so that was a win-win.  I don’t miss that commute but I sort of miss that train.
  • As much as I’ve written about The Field Museum, I think it’s only appropriate that my dreams are beginning to come true as I’ve nabbed a few volunteer positions there.  I begin docent orientation this weekend and you can bet your ass I’ll be blogging about that too.
  • All of the things I love so much I wrote poems or modified rap songs about?  Still love ’em.  That list includes (but is not

    Is it a blogging anniversary or a blogging birthday? Who cares, it's a cupcake!

    limited to):  The Burrito House next to my apartment, the Megabus, Trader Joe’s and the little dive bar I live near.  In fact, I’m on a first name basis with the two regular bartenders there.  Is that a bad thing?  Certainly not.

  • I’m still going gray.  Those little rogue hairs are coming in faster than the Wicked Witch during a rainstorm and, short of dying my hair, there doesn’t seem to be a damn thing I can do to stop it.  It’s kind of fascinating in a way but I’d be happy if no new grays ever appeared.
  • I no longer go to the chiropractor.  It helped for a while but then I lost insurance so things like that went by the wayside.  Maybe I’ll go back once my new insurance kicks in, maybe not.  I haven’t woken up unable to move my head in a while so I might just hold off for a while.
  • I haven’t worn that awesome coat I bought from the girl on Craigslist yet but I think I will be busting it out in the very near future.  Which is bittersweet, I suppose.
  • I still don’t have a car and I’m still totally happy with that.  I now look at my diabetic cat as a similar expense anyway.
  • Speaking of my diabetic cat, she’s doing pretty well.  We’re still working on getting her insulin regulated but she’s gained weight and isn’t freaking me out so much.  She is, however, driving me crazy with her incessant early morning crying – her diabetes makes her feel hungry all the time so I understand it, but having her paw my face and whine in my ear isn’t my favorite way to wake up.  I’ll take it though because it shows she’s healthier than she was.
  • I don’t feel like as much of a tourist as I did not so long ago.  I still get lost and sometimes take the train in the wrong direction but I’m feeling much more confident in my ability to get myself around.  I should attribute some of that to the Google maps feature on my cell phone but I’m proud of my new navigational abilities nonetheless.
  • My upstairs neighbor still drops food in our stairway.  I recently spotted a Cheeto in the corner and this week I discovered a plastic fork.  He must have been in such a hurry to stuff his face that he decided to forgo eating utensils entirely.  What a charmer.
  • Remember the post about me waking up with a Charley horse in the middle of the night?  Yeah, it’s happened like twice since then.  I guess there are some times that the universe just decides I don’t get to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
  • Towards the end of July, I wrote about how my watch battery died and I was going crazy without that little timepiece strapped to my wrist.  Well, guess what?  I never did buy another watch and my wrist has been naked for months.  Take that, Timex.
  • I am still totally, madly and forever in love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
  • I am still totally, madly and forever against jogging.
  • I still have a lost red bra and ipod earbuds.  I did manage to find my scarf, t-shirt and movie though so I’m holding out that I’ll find the bra.  I’m pretty sure I left the earbuds on a Megabus trip.
  • I still have no clue who gave me that wreath, but it does look nice up on my front door.
  • That Ghost and the Darkness movie?  Awesome.  And scary – I don’t know how the people I talked to managed to watch it as kids.  I sat alone on my couch and hid behind my fingers more than once.

Okay I think that about does it as far as summarizing and updating goes.  Told you this post would be long.  All in all, I’m rather proud of how far I’ve come in a year and I realize that the break-up that inspired me to start writing again was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me.  If you can think of something you’d like me to update that I didn’t cover here feel free to let me know, otherwise I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the last year’s worth of posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.  I shall raise my wineglass tonight to many more!

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November 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

This is one of this week’s Post Secret post cards.  It really struck me and I wanted to share.

I firmly believe this to be true.

Unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is Post Secret?  It started off as a blog where some guy would post anonymous postcards revealing people’s silly, shocking and otherwise true confessions.  Feel free to check out their website, which is updated every Sunday.  These postcards will make you laugh, cry, rage, squirm and just about everything in between.  If that weekly fix isn’t enough for you, consider the Post Secret Archive.  And if that’s still not enough, there’s more than one book out there full of secrets waiting to be read.  As an added bonus, many people stick their own secrets in the pages of the books while they’re still in the store.

What’s my latest secret?  Okay, I’ll spill…I’ve eaten almost an entire package of E.L.Fudge cookies in just two days.  Those delicious little bastards don’t last long when they’re in my house.  Now, what’s your secret?

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