No Longer Classy

November 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Well, that’s it.  I have officially completed my certificate in Museum Studies through Northwestern University!  I won’t be getting the actual certificate in the mail for a few weeks yet and since there’s no ceremony or parade to honor this momentous occasion, a delivery from the mailperson will have to do.

Yay Me!

Not going to lie, I’m a tad bit proud of myself.  Going back to school (even for a continuing studies certificate program) is something I’ve wanted to do pretty much since I graduated undergrad and while it wasn’t always easy or financially responsible, I totally made it happen.  These courses led to my docent position at the Field and introduced me to a great new friend that I’m glad to have.  I learned quite a bit about things I’d never even thought to think about before and I’m really glad I did it.  Now, what will I do with my free time on Tuesday evenings?  Well, I’d like to say I’ll take that time to relax and take it easy but in reality I’ll probably find something else to occupy myself.  In fact, I’m “supposed” to be joining a gym with the boyfriend.  Though to be honest the thought of having an entire night to come home after work, veg out on the couch and crash early is awfully appealing.  I feel as though I haven’t been paying enough attention to my poor couch and it’s about time to rectify that.  Not tonight (food pantry) or tomorrow (visit with a friend after work then house cleaning for my upcoming guests) or this weekend (Mom and Sissy will be in town!) or Monday (Christmas shopping) but maybe…Tuesday?  Hey look at that, it might happen after all!

Anyway, my final class and final presentation went well, despite the fact that I have a cold and was a walking, sniveling, snotty, coughing mess too doped up on cold medicine to really care if I spoke in coherent sentences or not.  By saying it went well, what I really mean is I finished it without falling over and people half-hardheartedly clapped at the end.  Whatever, I’ll take what I can get, especially since it means I’m officially finished!

Your invite to my graduation party is in the mail but feel free to preemptively send a congratulatory check.

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Thanksgiving Recap

November 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

My Thanksgiving was eventful, as always.  If you think you can handle it, I broke it down into a ginormous list – sorry if it hurts your eyes but once I got going I couldn’t stop!

The food was good, the company was better and we managed to fit more into the long weekend than I would have thought possible.  This included, but was not limited to, the following:  Meeting four new additions to the family that aren’t blood related; continuing family traditions such as drinking at the dive bar known as Fluidz the night we all arrived in town; cramming 15 people around various dining room tables and chairs for the main meal; eating so much food I thought my stomach was going to explode in a bloody Alien-esque scene; making two trips to Wal-Mart (two more than what I usually do in any given year); dyeing my hair for the first time in four years from a box purchased on one of the said trips to Wal-Mart; making a mess of the hair dyeing process and ultimately loving the new look; sleeping next to my sister three nights in a row while trying in vain to block out the television that she seems to be unable to sleep without; kicking myself for not bringing my ear plugs and eye mask; watching the Macy’s Day Parade and being thankful for not being anywhere near those crowds; drinking Jager Bombs and making S’mores around a fire (they do not go well together, in case you were wondering); taking photo’s of my 54-year old uncle’s hickey; driving my grandma’s Lincoln Navigator just a tad faster than what was legal; opening gifts from my grandmother with my other female cousins that all looked remarkably sexy and indecent (made for an awkward few moments until we figured out what the garment was); driving into New Orleans and staying at a 125 year-old hotel in the French Quarter; navigating various elevators that would only take us to certain floors because the hotel has been built onto so many times that it is now an official labyrinth; hearing ridiculously cheesy pick up lines all night long (including the old standby “What’s a girl like you doing here on a night like this”); having an eerily interesting palm reading done by the same guy at Marie Laveau’s  House of Voodoo that read me two years ago and hearing much of the same thing (only this time I’ll be married in a year instead of three…); getting lost in the lap-dance area of a strip club; voluntarily eating meat for the first time in almost 15 years in order to get an hour’s worth of free drinks out of my sister (it was a piece of fried crawfish and I managed to drink $40 of booze in that 60 minutes…also it will probably be another 15 years before I eat any more seafood); watching men on the sidewalk try to decipher drag queens from real women; more bar hopping than I’ve done in years and two hungover plane rides back that included horrid turbulence, screaming children, late departures, no time for transfers during my layover, lost luggage, hitching a ride on the old folks’ golf cart thingy, being the last person to make it on my connecting flight and uttering the words “Jesus Christ” at the end of it all only to be told by an airport official “Tis the season for that”.

The Big Easy can sure take a lot out of you

There were some other occurrences but I think this gives you a fair picture of what my holiday was like.  It’s a good thing it only rolls around once a year because I don’t know if I could handle this much excitement more often than that but I will admit that it would be fun to try!  I hope your Thanksgiving was equally awesome in its own special way and if it wasn’t, maybe you can come down with me next year.  That is, if you think you can handle it.

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Once Again…

November 24, 2011 at 10:17 am (Uncategorized) (, )

…I shall post a previously posted post.  In honor of the holiday, I present the truth about Thanksgiving:

When I was an undergrad, I took quite a few courses in Native American History.  I thought it were fascinating and I was simply astounded at the things I didn’t know about the history of America.  For instance, did you know that in 1969 a group of Native Americans from many different tribes came together to occupy Alcatraz Island?  The Sioux Treaty of 1868 stated that all abandoned or unused federal land adjacent to the Sioux Reservation could be reclaimed by descendants of the Sioux Nation, and reclaim that land was what the Native Americans did.  They occupied the island for nineteen months and nine days, and this was something I was never taught about in history class.

Of course, there are many things that are simply glossed over in any given classroom full of young white students.  The history behind the very first Thanksgiving happens to be one of these things.  As a disclaimer, if you don’t want your rosy idea of Pilgrims and Indians laughing and sharing over a giant turkey to be forever altered, you should probably quit reading now and come back another day.  I know my posts are usually full of humor and wit, but this one will be a bit more serious.  Consider me Wednesday at her Thanksgiving Day pageant.

If you do a simple internet search for the true story of Thanksgiving, you’ll come up with a totally different story than the one that’s reenacted every year in elementary school gymnasiums all over the country.  Ready to learn what’s not so easy to explain to a bunch of five-year olds?

“In 1637 near present-day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival (which is now our Thanksgiving celebration). In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive.”

Gruesome, right?  Here’s what the Governor of Massachusetts Bay colony had to say the next day:

“A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.”  It was then signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”

Doesn’t exactly give you the warm fuzzies, does it?  Well, it’s history and history isn’t always pretty.  Here’s more:

“Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.  Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.”

Grisly indeed.  I’m not trying to ruin your Thanksgiving or turn you against your country or anything like that.  As you can see from my last post, I’m quite thankful that I live where I do.  I’m unable, though, to give thanks properly without thinking about the true history of the holiday.  It’s only fair the Native Americans get the respect they deserve, and I like to think that Wednesday Addams would agree with me.

*Special thanks to the following websites, which provided me with valuable information and amazing quotes:

Alcatraz Island Occupation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Alcatraz

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/alcatrazisnotanisland/timeline.html

The Real Thanksgiving:

http://www.manataka.org/page269.html

http://www.republicoflakotah.com/2009/cooking-the-history-books-the-thanksgiving-massacre/

http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2009/07/jf-ptak—-the-great-mystery-was-how-those–indians-were-smuggled-out-of-the-grave-in-spite-of-the-watchfulness-of-those–gu.html

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Thinking of Thanks

November 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This is a super short week as I fly out of town early Wednesday for another Deep Fried Southern Thanksgiving in Louisiana.  However before I go, I thought I’d take a minute and jump on the bandwagon of bloggers giving thanks.  I have quite a bit going for me and while I try to be thankful every day of the year, devoting a bit of internet space to pay tribute a little more never hurt anyone.  And yes, I know they’re all pretty standard but if you don’t feel like reading, I’m sure there’s another website out there somewhere that can occupy you until my next post.

  • Family: I have a super awesome family and while they don’t all live near each other, it’s nice knowing they’re around.  My mom, sister and myself get along especially well (when we spend less than or equal to 5 days together) and my dad is still kicking cancer’s ass so that’s great too.  All four of my grandparents are still as healthy and with-it as they’ve ever been and the aunts, uncles and cousins are holding their own as well.  I’m thankful for all of that much like I’m thankful that I’ll always be prettier than my sister.
  • Friends: I also have some pretty rad friends.  True, a handful of very close ones departed the Chicago area this year and that sucks pretty majorly but I’m still in contact with them all and hope to see each of them in the next few months.  I have friends who are inspiring, smart and supremely interesting and I’m lucky to have such phenomenal people in my life.  Quite a few of them are scattered all over the place but we’ve maintained relationships for years and I don’t think they’re going anywhere anytime soon.  So I’m thankful I have too many friends to make friendship bracelets for (because my fingers would tire and my hands would fall off).
  • Health: Having family members battle chemotherapy and kidney transplants makes me realize just how good I’ve got it in the health department.  I had a brief worry earlier this year that resulted in a few mammograms but everything is now hunky dory and as long as I’m free from hospitals, I’m happy.  Better than that, I’m healthy!
  • Employment: I’m extremely grateful to have a job, since I know many under and unemployed people who don’t.  My job allows me to eat and pay my bills and also lets me enjoy the view of Chicago along Lake Michigan each and every time I come into the office.  I’ve made some good friends here and the place treats me well so I’m thankful for a reason to get up and dressed every day.  Or rather, I’m thankful for a steady paycheck.  I’m also thankful for health insurance (though just how thankful I am about this will be determined after my dentist appointment this afternoon).
  • Hobbies: I’m lucky enough to be involved with more than one outside-of-work activity that I enjoy and I’m thankful to still be a part of so many things.  I’m still a staff writer for an entertainment magazine in Indiana, I regularly volunteer at the awesome food pantry, I’m still a part of a fun and entertaining book club, I’m learning more as a Docent at The Field Museum (and just turned in the draft for my very first public tour!) and I am thisclose to finishing my certificate in Museum Studies through Northwestern.  Not to mention all those cookies I bake from scratch and pass out to the people in Sears Tower…yeah just kidding about that.  But I’m thankful I’m able to stay involved in so many things I enjoy while not completely losing my mind.
  • Catsby: I’m thankful I had her for 8 years.  It wasn’t long enough but I’ll always be grateful that I got to know such a quirky, cool little cat.
  • Travel: I’m thankful I’m able to get out and about so much.  I wasn’t kidnapped and held for ransom in Guatemala so that was nice and I’ll be enjoying sunshine and warmth in New Orleans by the end of the week.  In fact, I’m so thankful for my upcoming sandal-wearing weather that I almost devoted this entire blog to it.  YOU should be thankful that I didn’t.
  • Boyfriend: This is the first year in the last few that I’ve had a significant other to be thankful for.  While this romance has progressed a little more quickly than what I’ve been used to in the past (and as cliché and trite as this sounds), it just feels right.  I’m having a lot of fun living with my boyfriend and things are going very well in that department.  I’m thankful he’s a part of my life.  I’m also forever thankful he was a part of Catsby’s life when she needed someone the most.

Obviously, I’ve got a lot that’s worth giving thanks over.  And while I may not be praying to God or Buddha or anyone in particular, I am grateful that the universe has aligned in such a way that I’ve been given what I’ve got.  Sure, things might not always be so rosy but I know that in the grand scheme of things, I’ve got it better than most.

Like the American Indians who got truly screwed in this whole Thanksgiving thing.  Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the origin of the holiday and you can bet your stuffing I’ll be re-posting the true history later this week.  Until then, be thankful you’re not a turkey!

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More Museums!

November 18, 2011 at 11:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough (or at all), you know I’ve got a bit of a thing for museums.  I spend a lot of time in the various ones in this city and the course I’m almost finished with allows me to explore museums I might not otherwise make it to on my own.  Last week I went to two such places and I feel they deserve a bit of praise on the old blog space:

The Chicago Childrens Museum(please note that Children’s has the apostrophe but for whatever reason the linking mechanism on this blog puts in extra funny characters if I try to include it as I should) is located at Navy Pier and one of the first children’s museums in the nation.  This place is geared towards kids and adults of all ages and it’s a very hands on and interactive space that allows children to run around and explore to their heart’s content.  I went here with my Museum Studies class and we met with one of the educators, who gave us an interesting talk about the mechanics behind running such a place.  Then we were able to get out and play for ourselves, which was just plain awesome.  Who wouldn’t appreciate not having to wait in a line of rug rats to play with a mock fire engine or climb a two-story rope ladder?  And yes, of course yours truly did both.

Not me, but I totally did this. And I learned it's not really designed with someone with birthing hips such as my own.

I also explored an area made to teach children about the dangers of fire; a small room full of even smaller collections of toys, books, pictures, monkey statues (!), marbles and other curiosities; a space set up to replicate an archeological dig where you could find casts of real dinosaur bones; a huge water play area that works with gravity and physics to soak the participants; an area designed to teach about the various modes of transportation, especially in Chicago and a whole other room that allowed people to design and erect their very own skyscrapers from various building materials.  And this was just what I was able to explore in the 30 minute window we were given.  I have some friends with small children who frequent this place and I can see why and for those that have kids but haven’t been, I’d recommend it.  You can go without taking a child but since children are like tiny drunk adults, I can imagine that being surrounded by a bunch that aren’t your own wouldn’t make for a very pleasant museum experience.  But to each their own.

A few days later, I meandered into the Swedish American Museum  in Andersonville, the neighborhood next door to my own.  Andersonville houses the largest population of Swedish-Americans in the United States and was a very popular place for immigrants to relocate in the 1800’s.  Of course, I didn’t know any of this before checking out the museum but I learned all kinds of things about how and why Swedes made their way to the States and what they did once they arrived.  I also some furniture from the 19th century that really shows the concepts behind IKEA today – for instance, a wooden bench that folds up into a single chair and a couch that pulled out into a daybed.

Sweden!

There was a children’s portion to this museum as well that really let kids get hands on with the idea of immigration.  There were exhibits that showed how everyone worked the farms and they let kids use plastic crops to try to understand what it was like for the immigrants.  There was also a wooden boat set up and while I was there I saw a couple little girls running around and shouting about how they were “going back in time to Sweden”, so obviously the goal behind the exhibits was working.  It’s a super cool little local museum and you can’t really beat the $4 admission fee.

On a completely unrelated note, this is the second anniversary of the start of this blog.  Can you believe it’s been that long?  Yeah, me neither.  This was my one year re-cap and I’m obviously too lazy and full of museum knowledge to do such a thing today.  Sure, some things have changed from the inception of this blog (most notable is the loss of my Catsby…I’ll get around to writing her a memorial post when I’m ready) but some things have stayed the same.  I’m glad I’ve done this whole blog thing because it’s a nice way to look back and reminisce…plus, I’m obviously a hilariously entertaining writer with many great stories to share.  I’m also (clearly) incredibly modest and humble.  Anyway, thanks to everyone (anyone?) who has been along for the ride!

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Hospital Happenings

November 16, 2011 at 9:51 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So today I’m hanging out in a hospital.  Everything’s fine and I’m not even here for myself – apparently having a significant other means taking the day off of work when they have an outpatient procedure done and spending that well-earned vacation day in a sterile reception room.  Not that I’m complaining, because if the tables were turned I would damn well expect my boyfriend to be here for me.  Besides, he’s getting all doped up and for some reason the law prohibits him driving in that condition.  His procedure is very basic and just being done as a precaution but that doesn’t make my day in the hospital any more enjoyable.  In fact, it reminds me just how much I hate hospitals to begin with.

This would be more entertaining if I had some Legos

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my sister actually works in one of these places.  She’s not the only person I know who’s crazy enough to do such a thing.  This means that they voluntarily wake up each day and spend all of their time around gurneys, needles, antiseptics and those indecent hospital gowns.  I understand that about as much as I understand the desire to stick metal hooks in someone’s back and hang from the ceiling but I guess since hospitals are not a part of my chosen career path, it doesn’t really matter.  Besides all of the stress, anxiety, pain and worry I feel in these places, the food in the cafeteria just plain sucks.  I just had eggs, two biscuits and some hash browns and I’ll just say that the taste left something to the imagination.  In fact, it left everything to the imagination and lots and lots of pepper.  I guess that’s what I get for $4.

So here I sit, watching the Wendy Williams (who is this broad?) show in the waiting room.  In a pleasant surprise, the chairs here are actually recliners and if I weren’t so keenly aware of being in a building where people are losing and restoring their lives, I’d probably try to take a nap.  Instead, I’ll play on my laptop and enjoy my new book club book while trying to avoid going back to the cafeteria.  And listen to Wendy Williams dish about Kim Kardashian in the background (by the way, the sassy black lady next to me is convinced Wendy Williams is a drag queen).  Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a morphine drip!

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Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut…

November 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

and sometimes all I really want is a huge bar of chocolate to carry with me as a super awesome sidekick everywhere I go.  Today is one of those days.

Female related hormonal issues have nothing little to do with this.  My craving for chocolate didn’t really hit me until I stepped off the train this morning and headed into the office, as it wasn’t until then that I was smacked straight in the face with that delicious smell.  That’s because Blommers Chocolates is in downtown Chicago and exists solely to torture hard-working citizens as they make their way into their buildings for another day of drudgery on the job.  I smell this tempting treat on the days that the wind blows in just the right direction and while it causes me to briefly pretend I’m living with Willie Wonka, I know my reality is a grumbling stomach and a watering mouth.  I’m just thankful I can’t smell these smells from the comfort of my own home or I’d really lose my mind.  A friend of mine once lived just down the street from the chocolate factory (is there any other pair of words as sweet as this?) and it was tortuous to walk by there when I went to visit her.  I can’t imagine living there and never being able to escape that delicious aroma.

Although I guess all in all, encountering such a smell isn’t a horrible way to start a Monday.

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A Year Here

November 11, 2011 at 11:45 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Last week, I celebrated my one year anniversary at my current job.  In order to truly mark the occasion, the firm sent a limo to take me to and from the office, gave me an additional week’s worth of paid vacation and presented me with a diamond encrusted pen.

In my dreams.  In actuality, one of the ladies in the HR office said “Happy Anniversary” in an email and that was about it.

So. Totally. Me.

It’s okay though.  When I think about where I was working just over a year ago, I know I’m coming out far ahead these days, with or without the diamond writing utensil.  After my recent raise (did I mention I got an actual raise, not just one in my dreams?  Exciting!) I’m making more money than I did at my last job.  I have better hours as well – for the last year, I’ve been able to sleep an additional 35-40 minutes each morning and I regularly get home about 30 minutes earlier than I used to.  I don’t have to deal with the Metra commuter trains and that alone has been worth the job change.  However, I got even luckier and I actually now work with people I like.  Not that I hated my previous coworkers; in fact, there were a few whose company I did enjoy.  But my management left something to be desired and it’s not like I ever hung out with anyone there outside of the office.  The two fellow cubicle rats that sit closest to me these days, on the other hand, are a riot.  We often have probably not safe for work discussions and crack each other up on a regular basis.  My management here is totally different as well and my boss pretty much trusts me to do my thing instead of micromanaging me to the point of having to ask for written permission from three levels of management to leave my desk 5 minutes early (sadly, this is not an exaggeration of what I dealt with at my last place of employment).  So it’s much less stressful to get up and come into work every day and I’m happier in just about every way.

Which is lucky, since when I quit my last job I didn’t have a damn thing lined up.  I got this gig pretty quickly and while I was pretty hesitant about working at a law firm, things have turned out much better than expected.  I doubt I’ll be here forever but it’s a good fit for me right now and I’m glad I made the jump.  It’s kind of crazy to think it’s already been a year though.  In fact, it’s kind of crazy that 2011 is almost over.  And that I graduated from high school almost a decade ago.  Also, how the hell did I get to be nearly 28 years old?

Maybe I’ll get that diamond encrusted pen for my birthday…apparently it’ll be here before I know it!

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Nice While it Lasted

November 10, 2011 at 11:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Well, it’s cold.

Brr

We’ve been relatively lucky so far this winter and temperatures haven’t caused us to cry just yet.  Today that all changed.  I’m not entirely sure the high will get above the mid-40’s today and I had to bust out my large winter coat for the first time all (seasonal) year.  I knew this was coming and so I can’t really complain but I’m sure not happy.

Why does summer seem to go so fast?  I know that I chose to live in a city with an extremely brief burst of warm weather but I can safely say I made the most of it while I could.  I hit the beach a number of times, read and napped in the nearby park, went to various street and music festivals and spent many a lazy afternoon enjoying a cold one on my back porch.  I’ll miss all that while Chicago freezes over and I seriously contemplate moving to Mexico.  There are a few winter festivals to look forward to but it’s hard to get excited about putting on four layers just to walk to a bus stop.  And to be honest, it’s not even that cold out today – in two or three months I’ll be begging for temperatures in double digits and anything above freezing will feel like a heat wave.  There were even reports of snowflakes today but I luckily didn’t see any myself.  My opinion is that the first snowfall of the year needs to actually mean something and produce some accumulation – none of this wispy washy flurry bullshit.  Of course Mother Nature has never really listened to me or my opinion so there’s a chance I’ll see some snow tonight.  If it’s light enough to see anything by the time I get out of this building.

Is it Spring yet?

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Hard Times

November 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

You know the city of Chicago is running on broke when you see the Mayor on the train during your morning commute:

Why hello there

At least, that’s what I thought when I looked up this morning to see Rahm Emanuel standing nonchalantly in my train car.  He was accompanied by two security guards, one giant tough looking dude and a small yet mean seeming female.  I really wanted to talk to him  (specifically, I wanted to discuss the state of our city’s libraries and museums and plead with him to quit cutting funding) and when I remembered how he was President Obama’s right hand man in the White House until becoming Mayor, I really wanted to bend his ear about some of my concerns.  Unfortunately, his security guards looked about as friendly as a cactus and they stood around him in such a way that made approaching him rather intimidating, to say the least.  So they stood around and secured a rather large space for him to stand in (especially considering this was during the morning rush commute) and the woman continually whispered into a little hand microphone every time we came to a new stop.  This prevented me from my usual morning nap on the train but since she looked like she could snap me in half with one hand tied behind her back, I let it slide.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed our atypical passenger this morning nor am I the only one who snapped his picture (he was reading The New York Times, in case you were wondering).  However, I may have been one of the only ones to make eye contact with him long enough to share one of those It’s-Monday-morning-and-neither-of-us-really-want-to-be-here half smile grimace things.  So that was something.  Perhaps I should start carrying around a letter full of polite suggestions for him in case I ever run into him again.  Though if I tried to hand it to him, chances are his security goons would think it was full of anthrax and that might not work out in my favor.

Oh well, it made for a more interesting Monday morning nonetheless.  Maybe I’ll run into him doing his own laundry next?

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