Market This

June 30, 2011 at 11:09 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

A few weeks ago, Willis Sears Tower began hosting a farmer’s market on the sidewalk outside the entrance facing Wacker Drive.  Living in the city prevents me from spending much time around farms and truly fresh produce so it was exciting to see it brought almost right to my door.  I ventured down there on the cold and rainy Thursday last week and, while there were a few booths with miserable looking attendants standing around, the weather prevented the event from being what it could’ve been.  I did manage to find a cheese booth and being such a ginormous cheese lover myself, I hung around there until I was almost shooed away.  The woman had various cheese spreads, cubes and curds and I was in heaven.  I was not, however, prepared.  I didn’t put much planning into my little shopping trip and I had no cash so I had to walk away empty-handed (well, not entirely empty.  I took as many samples as I could).

Today I made no such mistake.  I showed up bearing cold, hard cash.

Look! Booths!

It was tough not to buy something from every booth.  The pastries and chocolates were delicious and there was an entire salsa station featuring jars with pineapple, Portobello mushrooms and a whole lotta spice.  Have I mentioned how much I love free samples?  Then there were the tables showing off gorgeous and fresh produce, not to mention sunflowers and random bouquets of other flowers.  I had to stop myself from going crazy but I did allow myself some cheese.  I purchased a brick of  baked jalapeno delight that can be cooked on a little George Foreman grill, on the stove, in the microwave or a toaster oven.  Since I have all of those things I shall be feasting on cheese for…well, however long it takes me to eat the entire package.  Like maybe an hour.

Looks like I’ll be spending a good amount of time on Thursday mornings hanging around the booths on the sidewalk.  If you’re around you should join, otherwise I’m sure your area has a farmer’s market of its own.  Feel free to check it out and then send me cheese from all over the world.

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Diet Schmiet

June 29, 2011 at 11:01 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

So I work in a cubicle, surrounded by other cubicles.  This isn’t actually so bad as the three girls and guy who sit around me are all relatively cool people and we get along really well.  Spending so much time so close to one another allows us to know all sorts of details of each others’ lives, which is great for the sake of friendship and making the day go by but not so great when I have to hear about the bowel movements of someone’s new puppy.

Not recommended by this girl.

Anyway, since we spend so much time chatting it didn’t take long for me to realize that most of the women sitting around me (including the 4 HR ladies in the office next door) have started a diet.  The South Beach diet, to be exact.  Apparently this is some hellish way to lose weight by eliminating carbs from your food intake.

Screw.  That.

The thing is, none of these women are really heavy.  In fact, I think most of them look pretty great but they’re still hellbent on shedding some pounds through deprivation and torture.  At least, that’s what it sounds like to me.  I completely advocate people eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle but I generally think “diets” are a bad idea.  Why not just eat well and move around a little bit more?

Perhaps my lack of understanding in this area is yet another reason I’m a “bad” woman.  The fact that I couldn’t even find one single tampon in my apartment last night as I ran around in a frenzy doesn’t help my case either, but I digress.  Fact is, I’ve never really tried a diet and have no real desire to do so.  Actually, I ate leftover potatoes and toast from one of the girls just this morning because it’s forbidden to her right now.  And it was delicious.

So no, I won’t be participating in their little diet-off.  I will, however, encourage them to bring me all of the breads, pastries and cookies they have since they can no longer eat them.  Taking one for the team isn’t always easy but somebody’s gotta do it.

**UPDATE** – so far today, I’ve received potatoes; toast; a salad with cucumber, tomato and egg; crackers; string cheese; a tangerine and four rather large bananas.  All from these women who are dieting.  Pretty great considering today was a rare day that I didn’t bring anything from home to munch on.  So far I’m loving this diet!

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To Improv or Not to Improv

June 28, 2011 at 10:16 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to an improv comedy show Friday night.  It was at the iO Chicago Theater on Clark Street and it was my first time there.  Like many Chicago improv spots this one had a rather large bar next to the stage, which did not go unnoticed by yours truly.  The particular show that I managed to catch was a performance group of 5 or 6 men and the entire 2 hours was spoken in Shakespearean speak.

Sort of like this.

So lots of old school words were being tossed around and it was also heavily in rhyme, which you can imagine caused some interesting lines as these guys were thinking on their feet. The title and theme of the show is suggested by a random audience member and our night’s piece revolved around pancakes.  Yup, pancakes.  The characters these men quickly evolved into included, but are not limited to, a hunchback, a juggler, a strongman, a rather flamboyant King and his two daughters, the Fairy King, forest fawns, a trio from Malawi and two obnoxious drunks.  Since each man played multiple characters, they’d be talking to themselves and running around the stage like crazy in efforts to keep the story going.  And it was hilarious.

It had been a while since I’d seen a good comedy show and this one in particular appealed to my English Literature loving soul so it was a win-win.  I’ve passed by the iO Theater dozens if not hundreds of times during my time in Chicago and I honestly didn’t even realize it was there, though I’d heard of it randomly every now and then.  Numerous SNL and other comedy actors got there start at this place and others around Chicago and the experience of that night just reminded me I need to get out and enjoy some of the laughs this city has to offer.  And if it can be done while drinking cheap beer and watching fully grown men prance around a stage, even better!

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PRIDE

June 27, 2011 at 11:55 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This weekend marked PRIDE in Chicago and many other cities, and we all had even more to celebrate since the state of New York decided to legalize gay marriage on Friday.  Kudos to them for joining the other five states that have already done so!  Now if we could get the rest of them to catch up we’d be set.  But it’s progress, little by little, and that’s what counts!

Equality Rules!

PRIDE festivities in Chicago are a long-held tradition and this year proved no different.  As I went to a Shakespearean improv comedy show Friday and had Field Museum stuff and dinner plans Saturday, I didn’t get out to Boystown until the Parade on Sunday.  A fried and I made a huge brunch complete with mimosas before heading out and the weather was the most gorgeous I’ve seen in a long time (see – God does love the gays!) so it was a perfect day for the gay ‘ole parade.  We found a spot near some shade and enjoyed float after float full of scantily clad LGBT’s and their straight allies.  There were also floats featuring various organizations, stores, bars, groups and charities.  We got covered in confetti and even had free popsicles!

One thing that really warmed my heart was the sight of so many young couples with their children walking around the parade.  Sure, men wearing little bits of leather over their…well, bits…might deter some people from bringing the kids but the overall theme of tolerance and acceptance prevailed in the end.  Hopefully if we continue to expose younger generations to ideas of acceptance, ignorance and prejudice will be things of the past.  Not to say that hatred still didn’t rear its ugly head during PRIDE – reports of slashed tires on various floats before the parade surfaced later but almost all managed to get up and running before the parade even began.  Take that, haters!

After all, people have the right to be proud of themselves, whoever they are.

Unless you’re the jerk who slashed the tires on the floats, in which case you should be ashamed and should probably go play in some heavy traffic.

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You’ll Put You Eye Out!

June 24, 2011 at 10:02 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

This morning, I watched a woman seated across from me on the train attempt to apply her eye make-up.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t a creepy stalker – this picture is not of her and is from the more anonymous  internet instead.

Not. Safe.

I see this surprisingly often and I just don’t understand it.  Every day, countless men and women lose their balance and dangerous bodily collisions are made all over the trains.  People drop their groceries, bags and children in attempts to stay upright and yet these brazen women are poking at their eyeballs with sharp little sticks covered in goo.  How can they possibly think this is a good idea?

I’m not saying they shouldn’t be wearing make-up.  But maybe they should consider waking up 2 minutes earlier and applying it before leaving the house.  I get all anxious watching them try to paint their faces because I’m just waiting for a catastrophic injury to occur.  As in, poking out an eyeball.  If this happened I suppose I could save the day by donating the Tupperware I carry my lunch in to house the poked out eye until the woman could be taken to the hospital but in reality I’d probably freeze with horror and forget to make that an option.

I mean, I know how often I poke myself with my mascara while I’m standing completely still in the bathroom and concentrating with all my might.  Perhaps other women are born with inherent ninja moves that allow them to apply make-up with efficiency and ease – but if that’s the case, why am I lacking that gene?  I was actually told this week by a male friend that I’m a “bad woman” because I had to Google the term “romcom”.  It means romantic comedy but I thought it had something to do with video games or the internet.  He said this in the nicest way possible but now I’m thinking that I’m missing part of an X chromosome.

Oh well.  I’m not putting my own eyesight and health at risk so I guess I shouldn’t really worry about it.  But if I have to rescue some hapless woman on the train and I won’t be able to keep from saying “Eye I told you so”.

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In My Dreams

June 23, 2011 at 10:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Last night, I had a dream that I was matched with Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the dating site, OKCupid.  We had dinner and he fell madly in love with me before the meal was over.

xoxo

Yesterday morning was full of rain and thunder and yet I had a harder time getting out of bed today.

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Cat Lady

June 22, 2011 at 8:36 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine recently when we, like many single twenty-something women, started talking about our cats.  We quickly got on the topic of cat chats, or talking to our pets.  We both do this a lot.  I really have no standard to measure myself against to ensure I’m not on the fast track to being a crazy cat lady like on the Simpsons and I can only hope that this is somewhat normal.  I know my mom talks to her cats pretty frequently but insanity can be hereditary so I probably shouldn’t measure myself against her either.

Is it really so strange that I pretend to have entire conversations with my feline friend?

A look into my future?!

She looks at me with such inquisitive eyes and when I ask her a question she tilts her head before meowing a response, so I can almost convince myself she understands.  When I tell her she really needs to get a job or at least start cleaning her own litter box, the look of disdain that she tosses my way before shoving her butt in my face makes it very difficult to believe that she doesn’t understand.  I talk to her as I cook in the kitchen or clean my apartment and I’ll tell her exactly what I think of that client I had on the phone or the jerk in the car who ran the stop sign by my apartment.  I try not to cuss around her too much though, because she’s only 7.

I also make up songs about what I’m doing and serenade her with them.  Should I be concerned that that’s a bit odd?  I really enjoy doing it so even if it is strange, I don’t think I’ll stop.  My most recent favorite improvised song is a new rendition of “I’m Gonna Sex You Up”, using the words “I’m Gonna Shoot You Up” instead.  I typically sing this while I’m preparing to give Catsby her insulin shot.

What do people without pets do?  Talk to themselves?  To be honest, a percentage of my ramblings are often directed at myself but since I’ve got that furry companion hanging around so much I can pretend that the words were meant for her instead.  And since talking to my cat is probably somewhat saner than talking to my coat rack, I’ll continue to chat her up.  I’ll even continue to think she’s responding to me so as to convince myself that I’m still the dominant one in the house.  Maybe tonight I’ll even tell her about today’s post, after I ask her how the job search is going.

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Thanks, Dad

June 21, 2011 at 11:22 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

My relationship with my father has seen its fair share of ups and downs but he’s the only one I’ve got and of course I’ll always love him (even when I want to strangle him).  He’s still dealing with some health stuff and will begin chemotherapy treatment in the next few weeks, so I’ve been talking to him pretty regularly to stay in the loop.  With Father’s Day being last weekend, I spent a bit of time thinking about good ‘ole Dad and I thought it might be appropriate to highlight some instances from my childhood that will tell you what kind of father I grew up with:

  • Ways he used to wake my sister and I up for school: squirt bottle full of ice water to the face or feet, ice cubes on our back, hands on our neck after he’d been outside on cold winter mornings and by telling us that we had a snow day and could go back to sleep, only to laugh and say he was kidding and it was time to get up.
  • He would hook up the wooden sled our grandpa made to the back of his truck and drive us around the front yard – in the middle of summer.
  • He had a recording on our answering machine when I was 13 that threatened any boy who called for my sister or I with bodily harm.  Actually, I think his exact words were “I’ll hunt you down and kill you”.  Local radio stations actually called to hear it before my mom made him take it down.
  • He (with the help of many friends) built us a two-story playhouse, tree house complete with rope ladder (that had to be taken down after my sister fell and broke her arm…thanks, sis), a sandbox, a mini basketball court and a tire swing.  Our backyard was and still is awesome.
  • He used to tell me that my ice cream smelled funny.  When I bent to sniff it, he’d push it into my nose.  In my defense, he only got me twice.
  • When I came out as bisexual to him, he told me that for my entire life he’d been telling me that men were dogs and if he were a woman he’d be a lesbian so he couldn’t judge me.
  • He taught me to drive, hit a golf ball and throw a soft ball.  He drove me to practices and games and chaperoned my 6th grade class trip to the Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, where he asked a group of my classmates why they were surprised that the prepackaged astronaut food tasted like shit.  He took me to my first drive-in movie (Free Willy) and on my first trip to New Orleans.  He helped me spray paint a cardboard box black so I could dress as a TV one year for Halloween and the outline is still in my mom’s garage because he didn’t think to take us out to the grass (ironically, my sister pulled a similar stunt with her coffee table and the sidewalk at her old apartment).  My dad helped me choose every one of my cars and was always there for me when I called him freaking out because one of them did something I didn’t understand.  He taught me the importance of keeping my cars cleaned and well-cared for, which translated into having pride in the things I’ve earned.
  • He always told me I could do anything I wanted and be anything I wanted to be.  In spite of my boat-sized feet.

My dad helped give me a great childhood and I know that he’s always there for me, no matter what else may be going on.  I love him, I miss him and I hope he had a great Father’s Day.  And maybe one day I’ll manage to convince him to smell his own ice cream.

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After the Beep

June 17, 2011 at 10:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Why am I so horribly awkward when leaving voice mail messages?  I’m not a bad speaker and I’ve been told numerous times that I have a very pleasant phone voice.  I’m comfortable with myself and those I’m leaving messages for but it seems that in this age of email and texts, my ability to leave a semi-normal, non rambling message has completely disappeared.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve left a handful of voice mails where, once I’ve hung up, I immediately started kicking myself.

Perhaps I should request this for Christmas?

It’s not like these are important calls to top government officials – it’s pretty much just among friends so they know I’m a little off anyway.  Still, there’s not much worse than hanging up and instantly regretting the words that just fell out of your mouth.  I’m reminded of sitcom episodes where people break into someone’s apartment to delete incriminating or otherwise awkward messages before they’re played – unfortunately, leaving messages on a cell phone does not really give me an opportunity to do this.  Which doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it, but the logistics of getting into someone’s pants pocket or purse undetected make it somewhat difficult.  Plus a few of these uncomfortable sounding message have been left for people residing in other states, which pretty much means they’re stuck with them.  Hopefully my vocal weirdness comes across as adorable and endearing rather than creepy and half-handicapped like it sounds in my head.

Do I need a public speaking course?  Ironically, I went to a networking event on public speaking in our building just this week but I did it more for the free lunch than anything else.  Maybe I should’ve listened more.  Or maybe I just need to stick to texts.

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Snakes in a House!

June 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Think you’ve got problems at your house?  Check out this story about a family who moved into their dream home only to find out it was entirely infested with snakes.  Warning: this story is not for the faint of heart.

REXBURG, Idaho — The five-bedroom house sits on pastoral acreage in the rural Idaho countryside. At a price less than $180,000, it seemed a steal.

But a bargain it wasn’t. Ben and Amber Sessions soon realized the dream home they’d purchased for their growing family in 2009 was infested with hundreds upon hundreds of garter snakes.

The ground surrounding the home appeared to move at times, it was so thick with snakes.

Throngs of snakes crawled beneath the home’s siding. At night, the young couple said they would lie awake and listen to slithering inside the walls.

“It was like living in one of those horror movies,” said Ben Sessions, 31.

The family would frequently eat out because their well water carried the foul-smelling musk that the snakes release as a warning to predators.

Shudder

Each day, before his pregnant wife and two small boys got out of bed, Sessions said he would do a “morning sweep” through the house to make sure none of the snakes had made it inside. That didn’t always work. One day, he heard his wife scream from the laundry room, where she had almost stepped on a snake. He rushed into the room to find that she’d jumped onto a counter.

“I was terrified she was going to miscarry,” he said.

They invited family as witnesses and snapped pictures.

At the height of the infestation, Sessions said he killed 42 snakes in one day before he decided he couldn’t do it anymore. He had waged war against the snakes and “they won.”

He and his wife had little recourse, though, when they decided to flee the home.

They had signed a document that noted the snake infestation. They said they had been assured by their real estate agent that the snakes were just a story invented by the previous owners to leave their mortgage behind.

But the so-called Idaho snake house was no myth, according to the Sessionses, their neighbors, and the videos and photographs taken by them and past residents of the house. The couple said it seemed like almost everyone else in this tiny southeastern Idaho college town knew about it.

“I felt bad,” said Dustin Chambers, a neighbor. “By the time we knew someone had bought it, they were already moving in. It was too late.”

All of Rexburg, Chambers said, pretty much knows the property as the “snake house.”

The Sessionses filed for bankruptcy. The house was foreclosed. They left in December 2009, the day after their daughter was born and just three months after moving in.

“We’re not going to pay for house full of snakes,” Ben Sessions said.

His wife, Amber, 27, said she felt like their family was starting to fall apart.

“It was just so stressful,” she said. “It felt like we were living in Satan’s lair, that’s the only way to really explain it.”

Several months ago, the house briefly went back on the market.

Now owned by JP Morgan Chase, it was listed at $114,900 in December 2010, according to Zillow.com, a real estate data firm. The price was reduced to $109,200 in early January, which was more than $60,000 below its estimated value. Then, Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet featured the Sessionses’ story in its “Infested” series.

The listing was removed and the home has stayed off the market while Chase decides what to do with it.

A Rexburg real estate company that was hired to sell the house referred all questions to a Chase spokeswoman in Seattle.

Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot did not return repeated phone calls from The Associated Press. But she did tell a business columnist for Dow Jones Newswires that the bank had contracted to have the snakes at the home trapped and released elsewhere.

Ben Sessions said that he has been diagnosed with snake-related post-traumatic stress disorder and that the house should be condemned.

Source

I have no idea how selling a place like this can be legal and I think there is a special place in hell reserved for real estate agents who do such a thing.  I hope the Sessions family can find a place they deserve and I also hope Samuel L. Jackson comes and takes care of the snakes at their old house.

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