Christmas Tree Down

January 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

And I don’t mean that it has fallen, though it did that twice during its duration in my living room this winter.  The first time was because I got the lights tangled around my large clumsy feet, which I didn’t realize until the tree was on the floor and numerous ornaments had been smashed.  That was fun to clean up, especially since I was slightly inebriated and quite sleepy when it happened.  The second time it fell it didn’t actually fall all the way – my hell cat jumped over it and I managed to catch it right before it hit the ground.  I was pretty proud of that deft maneuver but of course no one but the cat was around to appreciate it.  Story of my life.

Timber!

Anyway, my tree is officially dismantled and back in the storage unit in my basement.  I truly love the cozy glow that Christmas lights give off and I never want to take down my decorations but all good things must come to an end.  Last night I realized that I wasn’t going to have much time to devote to deconstructing Christmas over the next few weeks and that if it was going to get done before Valentine’s Day, it needed to be taken care of soon.  Now I have what feels like a large hole in my heart living room and my mantle seems unbearably bare.  And seeing how the next major holiday is one that, as a single, I won’t really be celebrating, it looks like my apartment will be sans decorations of any kind until St. Patrick’s Day.  And who decorates for that?  What I really mean is Halloween.  I suppose I could decorate for my birthday but I wouldn’t really know how to do that (unless I found some pinatas).  Besides, I walk around in my birthday suit enough and that has to count for something.

Have I mentioned that I love living alone?  I doubt any roommates would’ve allowed me to keep up the tree as long as I did and while some may or may not be okay with me walking around in the buff, I prefer to keep my nudity where only I can see it.  And while it makes me sad to think I won’t be decorating this current apartment ever again (I’ll be moved out long before Halloween), perhaps I can create a new holiday and decorate for that.  Arbitrary Day, anyone?  Bring it on!

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Let Me Eat Cake!

January 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Dinner!

The countdown has begun – my birthday is in exactly one week.  Yes, there will be posts documenting the event.  However, my birthday is not the reason that one of my lovely friends came over and baked me this cake earlier this week.  She did that because I was in a crappy mood and craving chocolate (read: PMS) and she’s a very nice person.  Who likes to bake cakes.

I have awesome friends.

I know this thing looks ridiculously indulgent and unhealthy but it’s actually not that bad for you (at least, that’s what we told ourselves while digging into it with forks).  And yes, those are two gooey chocolate-y layers there.  It’s some Chinese spongecake recipe (as my friend is originally from China, it only seemed appropriate) and doesn’t contain any sugar at all, which is good because it has been my late night snack every night this week.  It was just what the doctor ordered and I plan on finishing it off tonight, which will be a great way to start my weekend.

Just what does my weekend hold in store for me?  Oh, the usual.  Vet visits and research time at the Field Museum.  I’m going to try to knock out all of my errands this weekend so I can enjoy birthday shenanigans all next week.  Truthfully, I celebrate my birthday the entire month of February because it’s such a sucky month otherwise.  Next Friday will involve happy hour drinks atop the Hancock Tower and a gender-bending burlesque show at a gay bar – obviously it will be a grand time.  My sister is also coming up with some friends and she’s even renting us a swanky hotel downtown for the occasion – WHICH I just realized has an indoor pool.  This birthday thing really does have its perks!

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The (Photoshopping) Dilemma

January 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

This ad is gracing train platforms and taxi cabs all over Chicago:

Take a closer look

I’ve encountered this thing more times than I care to think about and each time I see it my annoyance grows just a tad.  Do you notice anything odd about this photo?  Like, the fact that neither of these middle-aged men has anything even resembling a wrinkle anywhere near their foreheads?  It’s almost creepy how closely their complexion matches that of a baby’s ass.  Apparently, the heavy-drinking and heavy-eating lifestyles of Vince Vaughn and Kevin James cure facial lines better than Botox.  Someone tell Hollywood, stat!  Obviously movie stars need more liquor and bacon, not trips to the plastic surgeon.

I’m pretty sure at least part of this movie was filmed in Chicago, hence the heavy saturation of this particular ad.  I have no idea what the movie is about but the glossiness of their promos have completely turned me off  (though to be fair, I don’t typically rush to see every new Vaughn or James movie that hits the theaters…really, Mall Cop?).  I know that movie posters are photoshopped and airbrushed every day and this is nothing new (hello Sex and the City) but I think this is especially ridiculous.  These “men” look like they’ve never seen an ounce of worry in their life, so what “dilemma” could they possibly be facing?  Sorry guys, I don’t buy anything about it.  Including a ticket to your dumb-looking movie.

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Bad News Bears

January 25, 2011 at 11:36 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

So there was a football game here in the city on Sunday and apparently it was sort of a big deal.  As you may remember from this post from roughly this same time last year, I’m not much of a football fan though I’ve been known to jump on a bandwagon or two in my day.  Subconsciously, I knew the game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers

Bears are Down

would be a big deal but I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for just how much everyone around here cares.  It blew me away.

The only association I had with the playoff game was that it disrupted my regularly scheduled time at the Field Museum, since the Field is literally across from Soldier Field.  They didn’t need me to come in and volunteer because the whole place was empty due to the game – this was fine by me, as I’ve been battling a cold for a week and could use the extra couch/recuperation time.  Even with the frigid temperatures I was surprised at how many people ventured out to the stadium and various bars around the city to root for the home team.  I didn’t join in any of those festivities myself, though I did flip back and forth a few times to catch the score as I was watching movies on TV (first The Majestic then Space Cowboys…told you I was sick).  I saw from the get-go that things weren’t going well for the Bears and the 95% game-related status updates on Facebook confirmed it.  I quit watching after a while and didn’t miss much.  The loss hasn’t really had an impact on my life but it’s amazing how dejected many around the city seem to be.  I know it was a big deal and all but I just can’t muster the disappointment.  I’ll pretend to care, at least a little bit and mostly near the water cooler, but that’s the best I can do.

Does my apathy towards Chicago sports mean I get my citizenship revoked?  I sure hope not.  I like pizza and mobsters so hopefully that’s enough for the city to let me stay.  If not – well, I always have next year to get back in the game.

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Outrageous (and Happy) News Story

January 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Since my last post was so somber, I decided this next one should be a happy story to help warm your heart. Here you go!

“In 1987, an anguished, trembling Joy White pleaded for someone to help her find her infant daughter. “I hope she’s all right,” the heartbroken mother told reporters at the time before collapsing in tears. Now, 23 years later, White is crying tears of joy as the decades-long mystery of her missing daughter reached a happy ending.

The saga started on August 4, 1987, when White took her sick baby, Carlina, to a Harlem hospital because of an extremely high fever, a New York police official said. Carlina was admitted in the hospital and White went home to rest. When the mother returned, Carlina was gone. Years passed as White searched for her daughter, all the time holding onto a photograph of a baby girl she had only held for three weeks.

On January 4, White’s phone rang. The woman on the other end of the line said she was Carlina, and she sent White a picture taken in 1987. The face in the photograph bore a striking resemblance to that of the baby in the tattered picture White had held on to. Police, too, agreed that the photographs looked alike and carried out a DNA test. On Tuesday, the results came back — and they were a match.

“Carlina was a missing link,” Pat Conway, Carlina White’s aunt, told CNN affiliate WABC as she raised her hands in the air. “We have gotten her back. In the name of Jesus, Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.” For her part, Carlina Renae White, had nursed a nagging feeling that she was raised by a family to which she did not belong, said Ernie Allen from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Raised under a different name, Carlina grew suspicious when the woman who raised her could not provide her with a birth certificate. So she scoured the internet for answers, stumbling on the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There, she came across an item about a baby girl who had been taken from a New York hospital. She called the center, which in turn notified authorities. Authorities are not saying much about the woman who raised Carlina White as they continue their investigation.

“I never gave up hope,” Carlina White’s grandmother, Elizabeth, told WABC. “It is like she has been around us all her life. She wasn’t a stranger. She fit right in.”

There were times when I was a kid that I was convinced I didn’t actually belong to my parents, though the older I get the more I clearly see how much like them I actually am. So I can’t imagine having this actually happen to me and I can’t imagine what this family is actually going through, but I can be happy that things are coming together for them in the end.

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Outrageous News Story

January 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This is sad, tragic, horrible and unnecessary all rolled into one.  Sorry it’s not a happy one to help lead you into the weekend but sometimes reality bites.

A woman in Colorado has been arrested because her infant son drowned in their bathtub while she was playing on Facebook.

It almost made me sick just to type that.

What in the hell?  Apparently, this 34-year old woman had gotten into the habit of leaving her son alone while he was bathing “because he really wanted to be left alone; he was a very independent baby. ..she knew what it was like to be told no, she didn’t want her baby to be told no and didn’t want him to be known as a mama’s boy.”  Uh, once again, what the hell?  I’m no child expert and I know how trite it is for childless people to give parenting advice, but even I think this is a bad idea.  I know this is an awful, unfortunate accident but I think it really speaks for how addicting online life can be.  I know I check my Facebook page more times in any given day than I’d care to admit and I know many stay-at-home moms use it as a way to feel less isolated throughout their own days.  I get it.  I just think a little responsibility and control goes a long way.

This also makes me hate Facebook even more (yes, we’re involved in a twisted love/hate relationship).  Obviously it doesn’t bother me enough to delete my entire account though – oh no, those bastards over there have made it much too easy to stay in contact with just about everyone on earth with just the click of a button.  Perhaps I should try to wean myself off?  Deactivate it for a week and see how it goes?  We’ll see.  Meanwhile, it’s going to be hard to log in and not think about the little 13-month old boy who lost his life because his mom was hanging out in a cyber-cafe.

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Wacky Wednesday

January 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

My yesterday included the following:

  • Thinking my throat hurts, I hope I’m not getting sick as soon as I woke up.
  • Seeing two people carrying large bouquets of balloons.  They were both seen before 7:30am and they were seen in different locations.  This was something I’ve never witnessed on this route before and definitely not twice in one day.
  • An encounter with a 99 cent banana at the Corner Bakery.  That’s one dollar – for a banana.  I laughed and then cried a little.
  • Accidentally showing up to volunteer at the food pantry on a night I hadn’t signed myself up for.  Also, the security officer there had to make his first arrest tonight in his year and a half working there.  The guy threatened him and was handcuffed in the street (I didn’t see it but heard about it from the cop).
  • Four random people say something to me about how everyone was acting crazy like there was a full moon.  None of these three people knew that there was, in fact, a full moon last night.
  • Going to sleep early, slathered in Vapor Rub and woozy from nighttime cough medicine.

I guess it’s not much but it’s enough for a Wednesday.

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Overheard on the ‘L’

January 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Or El, or elevated train, or subway or however the hell you want to say it.

The scene:  Evening rush hour, Blue Line car full of people.

A man gets on.  He is shuffling, wearing ragged clothing and talking to himself.  The other passengers automatically begin to put in ear buds and avert their eyes, as those who live in the city are so prone to do.  The man walks past rows of empty seats to sit in front of a pretty girl.  She ignores him.  He mumbles to himself for a while and most of what he says is unintelligible.  The car begins to empty and one phrase is heard more loudly than the rest: “That bitch got what she deserved”.  Then the man begins laughing and continues with his quiet chatter.  A few moments later he speaks up again and all that is heard is one single word – “Cocaine”.  Another laugh and then a name.  “Steven Seagal”.  More laughter.  The man then stands up at the next stop, walks towards the door and suddenly turns around.  He left some lint on his seat which he grabs and puts in his pocket, simultaneously removing a plastic baggie and leaving it on the ground.  He points, laughs a little more and then exits the train.  The baggie looks as though it contains a residual white powder.  It is not picked up.

End scene.

Who wouldn't want this guy to star in their next movie? A crazy person, that's who

I know what you’re thinking – train guy was clearly operating a few cards short of a full deck.  That’s what I would’ve assumed too, had I not been paying such careful attention. My train companion was not your typical crazy hobo.  In fact, after everything I heard, I’m pretty sure he was a movie exec who is carefully plotting out the details of a new major film starring Mr. Seagal.  It probably resolves around a drug deal gone bad and a snitch of a woman (who is also the likely love interest) who eventually gets what she deserves, which comes in the form of a dropped prison sentence and new lease on life.

I can hear the Oscars calling right now.  I bet the guy on the train can hear it too.

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Dozin’ with the Dinos!

January 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

If I had been a child in Chicago, I guarantee that I would’ve participated in this program at the Field Museum.  Dozin’ with the Dinos is an overnight camp that allows kids and families to stay for an entire evening at the museum.  I just began volunteering for it and my first night helping out was Friday – and it was probably the coolest thing I’ve done in a while.

I arrived and changed into my super official T-shirt, then went off to greet the kids and their families.  The kids were between the ages of 4 and 12 and there were numerous Girl Scout, Boy Scout and school groups in attendance.  I’m not going to lie, the kids were pretty freaking cute…I had a lengthy

Sweet dreams

conversation with one little girl about fossils and dinosaur bones and a chat with a boy about how not everything you see in a museum is always real (authentic).  Then, as I was helping one family set up their sleeping bags in the Dinosaur exhibit, the power went out.  That section was on a timer and someone apparently forgot to turn it off so off I went to try to rectify things.  I had to navigate my way out of the exhibit in the dark but since it was one of my absolute favorite ares (all about evolution!) it was actually supremely cool.  I was completely alone and it was totally quiet and only mildly creepy.  That was probably the highlight of my night but the rest of the activities were pretty fun too.  Oh, and someone turned the power back on as soon as I found my way out.

The workshop I worked involved helping kids recreate a few Native American tools.  Since the Native Americans used wood and stone and we used paper plates and tape, they replicas didn’t work or look quite as well as the originals but I think (most) of the kids enjoyed it anyway.  The time flew by and before I knew it, it was time for us to pack up and go home.  While many volunteers stay the whole night, us newbies have to go through a few runs before we’re allowed to sleep over.  Which is fine because my bed is just a little more comfortable than my sleeping bag.

I’ve got one of these nights scheduled pretty much every months until sometime in the summer, so that’s something to look forward to.  I kind of wish that they allowed grown-ups to do this sort of thing but I was once told that a few years ago, there was a party there, people had a little too much to drink and were caught committing very adult acts in very inappropriate places.  So apparently we can’t be trusted with staying there for a whole night.  Makes sense.  I’m okay hanging out with the kids though and I’m already excited for my next night there!  I just need to remember a flashlight this time.

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Dare to Dream

January 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

From http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html:

In 1950’s America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950’s were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.

Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.

King’s appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following is the exact text of the spoken speech, transcribed from recordings.


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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