Fine Swine Dining

June 15, 2011 at 11:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

I got to spend Monday evening playing grown up, as my aunt from Texas and two of her coworkers were in town for business and they wanted to take me out.  We met for drinks at their hotel bar and then wandered down Michigan Avenue in search of a place to continue drinking and maybe eat some food.  We first tried a Thai place but upon learning they had no bar, they decided to split.  One of her coworkers (actually I think he was her boss) suggested a place that he had heard of, The Purple Pig.

Oink Oink

It was…okay.  I knew I wouldn’t be rolling in veggie-friendly options and that was fine though I will say the feta and cucumber spread and stuffed peppers I had were delicious.  Too bad it took forever and a day to get it.  We arrived and while the place was busy for a Monday evening, it wasn’t jam-packed.  Our server (who looked a few years shy of 15) was running around like a chicken with her head cut off and promised us a table in just a few minutes.  Almost half an hour later, we were seated at a large table with another group.  That was entertaining in itself, especially when the slightly intoxicated, very flamboyant man next to me started showing us a website devoted to cats that look like Hitler.  Sometimes I really have to question the value of the smart phone.

So we were seated and then it seemed as though our server was wearing an invisibility cloak, as we didn’t see her much after that.  The courses at this place are all small plates (and while I have my own thoughts on serving dinky portion sizes but charging twice the price, I’ll skip those today) so we were finishing our dishes pretty quick.  The drinks came out more often than the food which helped us forget about our hunger and two and a half hours later, the meal was complete.

I don’t know if I’ll be going back to the Purple Pig anytime soon but I’m glad I gave it a shot.  It was great seeing my aunt outside of Ventress, Louisiana and I think she fell in love with Chicago enough to want to bring my cousins back for a trip.  She said it was like a cleaner and prettier New York, which I’ve personally felt for years.  It was nice to have her agree with me and even nicer for her bosses to pay for my drinks and meals.  Now if I could just find a job that would jet me all over the world while paying for me to drink at night, I’d be set!

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Let the Summerfests Begin!

June 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I love Chicago summerfests.  Streets sectioned off so people can stand around, drink booze, listen to music, eat fried foods and check out local vendors…how does it get any better than that?

On Sunday, my two aforementioned friends who were visiting for the weekend decided to take another friend of mine, whose birthday it happened to be, to the festival in a neighborhood just blocks from my own.

You may not see me, but I was there

Andersonville is a ‘hood I haven’t had much time to yet check out so this was the perfect opportunity to play in the street and learn more about where I now live.  We wandered through cute clothing, antique, toy, kitchen and jewelery shops as we wove through the vendors and food booths and even the crowds of people, dogs and strollers didn’t get in our way.  We got lucky and the weather was the nicest day of the weekend so the huge cookie dough sundae that the Birthday Girl and I split was easily enjoyed.  As was the sangria, fried pickle spears, sweet potato fries, beer and falafel.  Not that I tried all of that….okay who am I kidding.  Of course I did.  It’s not like this is the time of year I should be worried about fitting into a swimsuit or anything.

Oh wait.

Anyway, the festival made me appreciate once again my newer, better living locale.  I thought about going to this fest last year but it would’ve required 2 bus rides and 45 minutes of my precious time just to get there.  A short not-even ten minute walk was so, so much better.  Just makes me even more excited to wander all over this place during the next few months and see what the other streetfests have to offer!

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Airing My Dirty Laundry

June 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Friday morning I awoke at 4:45 with the urgent need to relive my bladder.  Upon getting back into my nice warm bed, I noticed a small spot near my feet that was damp rather than nice and warm.  I was a little confused and as I groped around in the dark to try to make sense of the situation, I stuck my hands directly into cat vomit.  It was awesome.  After letting a few choice words escape, I pulled all of the sheets off my bed and threw them on the floor.  Then I laid down on my couch and gave my cat the evil eye until it was time to get up and get ready for work.

The plan was to wash the sheets immediately upon getting home.

Perhaps I should invest in a set up like this...

I had two of my best ever friends from college staying the weekend with me so it wasn’t like I could just sleep on my couch and put off the laundry – every sleeping space was needed.  Plus, who wants to let kitty throw up fester for days on end?  So I got home Friday and with roughly 2 hours until the arrival of my boys, I grabbed a few of the only quarters I had (those things are SO hard to procure on laundry day) and walked down three flights of stairs, through the alley, through the back courtyard and down the basement stairs to our building laundry units.  The first thing I noticed was the middle washing machine was still broken.  I knew it was broken because it ate $1.50 of my hard-earned money the last time I did laundry.  I avoided it like the plague and gingerly shoved my gross sheets into another unit.  I put in my quarters, added detergent…and nothing happened.  Choice words escaped once again as the machine displayed an error light that hadn’t been lit before.  I made my way back up 5,293 (or something like that) stairs back to my apartment and grabbed more quarters.  After switching the sheets to the last machine while still trying not to touch them, I tried one last time.  And one last time, the stupid man-made machine kept my money and didn’t do a damn thing in return.  I was so thrilled with this that I absolutely did not kick any of the broken units.

So I called the maintenance guy and after I reminded him of how he told me it would be fixed two weeks ago, he mentioned that he talked to the property company and neither he nor they take care of the washing machines, so I should call the number listed on a hidden poster in the basement.  Would’ve been nice if he had mentioned that to me before, but whatever.  I called the customer service number and, after a circular conversation that pretty much just pissed me off even more, I was told that a repair guy would be out in three days and I’d have a check for $4.50 mailed to me by the end of the  month.

Just dandy, but I still had vomit-laden sheets to deal with.

Luckily, there’s a laundromat a few blocks from my place.  After selling myself on the street corner for a bit for yet more quarters, I finally managed to wash my sheets.  I also had to sit and kill time at the laundromat because by the time I walked home, it would’ve been time to turn around and go back.  I managed to finish the sheets, re-make my bed and finish tidying up with about .5 seconds to spare before the boys rolled into town.  Everything worked out in the end (as it usually does) and we all three managed to sleep all weekend without any vomit-induced awakenings.

Though I’m collecting PayPal donations to go towards my next load of dirty clothes.

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Movin’ and Shakin’

June 9, 2011 at 11:25 am (Uncategorized) ()

My move may be a thing of the past but it seems like just about everyone I know is preparing themselves for one transition or another.  One friend is moving to Indy to live with his boyfriend later this month (and it’s about time!) while a lovely couple I know is searching for a new place as their current neighbors are making their lives a living hell.  A fellow cubicle rat in my office is looking at buying a condo with his significant other and one of my lady friends just finished grad school so she may or may not stay here in the city.  Not to mention the girlfriend who recently moved back to NYC and another who also just finished grad school and moved from Tuscaloosa to Chattanooga (which I learned last night is not easy to say after a few glasses of wine).

These are all moves that I knew were coming and was expecting.

Bust a move!

However, a couple of months ago I encountered one I did not predict.  A very close buddy of mine has decided to move cross-country, to Seattle.  I’m very excited for him (and very excited to visit Seattle) but as he was a pal who currently lives just a few blocks away and enjoys nice cold beer as much as I do, his presence will definitely be felt.  Then last night I was informed that one of my very best friends (ever, let alone in the city) was offered a job 5 hours away.  She accepted.  I am extremely happy for her because it’s a career move she wants to make but a very selfish part of me would love for her to stay.

I know this happens, just as I know I’ve been able to maintain long-distance friendships before and this will be no different.  Still though – what’s up with all the moving?  I understand that Chicago is a transient city and not everyone stays here forever.  Hell, I probably won’t stay here forever.  And I know this is an opportunity to cultivate other friendships, blah blah blah.  I’m still gonna miss my buddies!  However, I am excited to add some more places to the list of where I can visit and crash for free, so that’s a perk.

Of course, these moves will affect my friends much more than they’ll affect me.  And I’m truly excited for everyone to begin these new chapters in their lives – just don’t forget to send me a postcard every now and then!

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School’s Out for Summer!

June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Yes, that’s right.  Last night I had my last class for 15 weeks.  15 weeks!  We all presented our final projects and the friend of mine in my group and I did pretty well, if I do say so myself.  They weren’t hugely difficult and laborious projects and we were told from the beginning of the course that each person should only speak for about 5 minutes.  Which is why it was more than a little frustrating when the first girl got up there and yakked away for 25 minutes.  Sure, her presentation was interesting and all but it caused the rest of us to have to rush through our own projects and some of us were cut off before the end.  Not my group, of course, because we were awesome.  But some of the less-awesome groups suffered.

Preach on, Alice

So whatever shall I do on Tuesday nights?  I’m sure I’ll think of something.  There are other museums I want to check out that have free days Tuesdays, if I want to continue indulging my somewhat nerdy side.  Or I could take advantage of the warmer weather and ample happy hour opportunities by indulging my somewhat lush side.  I could even start working out if I wanted to indulge my…wait, I have no side of me that wants to work out.  Forget that idea.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel once I’m completely finished with this program later in the year.  I’ve enjoyed being back in school, even part-time, and I like going to class.  Luckily there are many other types of courses I can take – since I’ve already ruled out exercise, there’s always language, cooking (yeah right) or even self-defense classes I could participate in.  I like the idea of learning to kick even more ass than I already do, so perhaps I’ll go that route.  Then I can be a bookish, museum-loving fighting machine, able to ward off dinosaur bones and mummies in a single bound.

I think Alice Cooper would approve.

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Long Weekend, Long Post

June 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

My trip last weekend went pretty well, though as always it was a little too short.  Because I’m in yet another list-making mood, here’s a little recap of the highlights:

  • Having an elderly man on the train ride to the airport thank me profusely for my “pretty, pretty smile”.  I wasn’t sure whether I should be flattered or creeped out so I settled on a little bit of both.  At least he didn’t follow me to my plane.
  • Airport beer.  ‘Nuff said.
  • I had a stopover in my hometown so I waved a little, then had some girl who freaks out on plane rides sit next to me.  In

    The special I spent half my life watching

    related news, I realized how thankful I am that planes don’t really bother me too much.

  • The woman at the Hertz rental counter in the New Orleans airport took one look at my last name and launched into a long discussion about how one of her daughters married into our family a while ago, and did I know so-and-so, whose father was the brother of some guy named Mark.  It made me laugh, since up north no one can pronounce my last name but down south it’s common enough where everyone can make a connection.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know Mark.
  • I took a ride to the Morganza Spillway, which is the huge spillway making recent news as they had to open it for the first time since 1973 because the Mississippi had flooded so badly.  I’ve been out here before because my family used to own some of the land before the government turned it into the spillway but I’d never seen it look like that.  Water was everywhere.  The Mississippi is one helluva thing to mess with.
  • I had a pedicure.  With my father.  And it was his idea.  Apparently he’s still way too sore to reach down to trim his own nails (and while I’ll do anything for daughterly love, I won’t do that) so when my grandma came back from her weekly toe appointment, he suggested we go next.  Daddy/daughter pedicures ensued and I have photo evidence should I ever have the need to blackmail him.
  • During the pedicure, a huge storm came out of nowhere.  Now the “salon” we were in, Nail Biz, was actually a small concrete room and we were the only clients so it was a little weird when the power kept going out.  We were glad to be out of there, especially after lightning struck a transformer next door.  The ride back was a little scary since I’m not exactly used to driving in bad weather (and dad’s not up do sitting behind the wheel quite yet) and at one point we had to turn around because a tree was in the road.
  • Due to this storm, I spent the majority of Sunday picking up massive branches and sticks in the yard, righting a few chairs and swings and cleaning all kinds of debris from the pool.  In 90+ degree weather.
  • I didn’t mind the hot weather because I’ve been cold for roughly the last 8 months in Chicago.
  • I got bit by some ungodly looking creature with wings, pinchers, horns, fangs and an evil force field.  Or something like that.  Whatever it was, it left a nasty whelp featuring three weird punctures before it was through with my apparently delicious flesh.
  • I had a mimosa with my grandma, which was the first time we’ve ordered drinks together.  Yay milestones.
  • I watched a 5 hour Lawrence Welk marathon Saturday evening.
  • I read two books, watched 4 movies, caught up on my favorite TV show on Hulu and played a lot on my laptop.  It’s amazing how much time there is to fill when everyone in the house takes 4 naps a day and goes to bed by 9pm.
  • I dealt with another storm on my drive back to New Orleans to catch my flight.  I almost peed myself.  There was hail and lightning and more rain that I’ve seen in years – I actually pulled over in some truck stop to try to wait it out.  Then I became worried about missing my flight so I braved it anyway.  After dealing with a faulty pump at the gas station and an endless line at security, I made it to the gate as they were boarding.  The beer I somehow got for free on the flight calmed me down a bit and the whole ordeal made me even more thankful I’m car-less in the city.
  • Most importantly, I spent some good quality time with both my dad and my grandparents.  I’m not going to lie and say everything was easy – my dad is almost a foot taller than me and currently weights less than I do,  so that alone was difficult to see.  He’s doing well considering everything he’s been through but he’s not taking care of himself the way I would like and some difficult conversations were had.  However, I’m still extremely thankful I was able to go down and I already wish I was back.

Looking over this post, it seems I accomplished quite a lot on what was supposed to be a quiet and laid-back trip.  Though if I don’t see any Lawrence Welk between now and when I come back at Thanksgiving, it won’t break my heart – and hail can stay the hell away too.

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Have Dad, Will Travel

June 2, 2011 at 11:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be flying down to Louisiana to visit my dad, who’s quite sore but recovering well from his surgery.  I’m pretty pumped to take the trip down south especially since I typically only get to see my dad and grandparents over Thanksgiving.  I’ll be helping around the house, running errands, cleaning the pool and listening to lots and lots of Lawrence Welk.  While it may not be as exciting as some other weekends, I’m really looking forward to the visit and I know I’ll feel a lot better about this business with my dad once I get to see him.

Which I wouldn’t be able to do without my awesome aunt.  She had a few free tickets on Southwest and it’s because of her that my sister and I were able to fly down on such short notice.  She rocks like that.  All that was up to me was renting a car and the day I needed to do that I actually received an email with a 20% discount for Hertz Rent-a-Car if I used my Sears Willis Tower discount card.  Win and win!

LA here I come!

In other, more random news:

  • Illinois civil unions went into effect yesterday and same-sex couples are getting a little closer to equal rights – good news!
  • I realized yesterday that I actually get a summer break in school.  My current class ends next week and the last one doesn’t start until mid-September, so my Tuesday nights will soon be a bit more open.  More good news!
  • An old friend of mine found out that her favorite comic book shop, which also doubles as her place of employment, is soon closings its doors for good.  She found this out the same day she found out The Hulk comics are coming to an end (at least that’s what I think she said – she was a bit of a hot mess when we hung out due to all of this).  She has a Hulk tattoo on one of her biceps (yes, really) and she was heartbroken.  Sad news.
  • I received another issue of that mysterious food and cooking magazine that I previously wrote about.  Still don’t know why and still don’t know how they got my name.  I did, however, notice that this issue had Waiting Room Copy typed above my name and address.  When did my apartment become a doctor’s office?  And when do I get paid rent?  Strange news.
  • I’ve begun playing Words with Friends on my cell phone.  It’s addictive.  I’m also getting my ass kicked left and right, which makes me question the validity of my English degree.  Frustrating news.
  • I slipped in my shower this morning and came dangerously close to knocking myself out cold.  I have a friend who did that earlier this year and she woke up an hour later, bleeding from the head and with the water still running.  This is a now mortal fear of mine.  I’m considering having a Life Alert panic button installed in my bathtub, or at the very least training Catsby in CPR.  Paranoid news.

This all gives me plenty to think about on my upcoming long weekend.  And at least my grandparents have a bathtub specially designed for easy access for older folks so hopefully my next few showers won’t be so scary…

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Ode to My Sissy

June 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

My little sister turned 26 last weekend and I since I wasn’t around to give her a present, I figured I’d write up a little something here.  And that’s all she’ll be getting for the next decade or so (just kidding, sis!).   Also, I’d like to point out that when I turned 25, she made a big deal of telling me how old that was.  Who’s old now?  Anyway, my sister was the bane of my existence for something like 18 years and we were notorious amongst our friends, family and babysitters for getting in vicious and torturous fights as children.  She broke my arm, I have her a concussion…you know, typical kid stuff.  We outgrew our fighting around the time I went away to college, when we quickly learned that we can actually tolerate each other as long as it’s in small doses.

About as nice as we got - also, hello early 1990s

Over the last ten years or so, we’ve actually grown pretty close (awww).  We’ve visited each other in various cities and can now manage to have a fairly good time without shedding blood.  Well, there was that time she passed out in my dorm room after donating blood, but it’s not quite the same thing.  The point is, my sister somehow grew into someone I actually enjoy hanging out with and while I’m not entirely sure when or how it happened, she’s also my friend.  One of my best friends, in fact.  She’s much smarter than I used to give her credit for and she’s in a profession that I honestly respect and could never, ever do myself.  She impresses me and I’m proud of her.  Which does not mean that we don’t revert back to our 13 and 14-year-old annoying and bitchy selves if we spend any more than about 5 days together, but it does mean we can make it that far without wanting to kill each other and that’s gotta count for something.  Seeing as how I’ve always been a bit of a dork and a bit of a writer, the below poem isn’t the first I’ve written for my sister.  It is, however, the latest (and please excuse the inside jokes):

Sure, we used to drive each other insane

In fact, we quite perfected the art of the fight

So now it’s nice that you’re not such a huge pain

Thankfully we no longer get mad and whisper threats of “Midnight”

Either way, you’re stuck with me until the very end

Remember – you can’t see where you’re going, you can only see where you’ve been.

So to my one and only sissy – I hope your 26th year on this planet was as good as mine was.  Also, while it’s true I’ll always be older, I still look way younger than you.

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