Leap Day!

February 29, 2012 at 11:39 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Jump!

In honor of Leap Day (the history and explanation of which can be found here), I’ve compiled a small list of things I only do once every four years:

  • Try the veggie burger at Burger King.  This is because it’s horribly nasty and every few (four) years, I decide to give it another try in the hopes that time and an increase in vegetarians nationwide has prompted BK to improve their patty.  I have always been disappointed.
  • Wash my blue jeans.  Well, maybe not every four years but close to it.  Denim doesn’t get dirty, right?
  • Attempt to jog.  I absolutely loathe running but every few years I think to myself that I must be missing out on something because people are still doing it.  Of course people are still smoking meth so just because it’s being done doesn’t mean I should participate.  I think I’m still sore from my last jog in 2008.
  • Measure my height.  I haven’t grown in almost a decade but I keep trying every now and then because Clueless made me want to be 5’10, just like Cindy Crawford.
  • Read through my old journal from middle school and cringe at how in love with the Backstreet Boys I was.  If I do this more than every four years then I want to crawl into a hole and hide.
  • My taxes (just kidding, IRS!)
  • Think about where I was just four years ago (in this case living in Bloomington and working 5 jobs to support myself out of school) and consider at how quickly time seems to have passed since then while marveling at how long four years seemed to me while I was in, say, high school.
  • Attempt to give up Cheez-Its (you know, for my health).
  • Fail at giving up Cheez-Its.
  • Vote.  In Presidential elections, at least.

Since this day only comes once every four years, I suppose I should also try to incorporate something I wouldn’t normally do, ever.  Perhaps eat a steak?  Kick a hobo?  Dance on my desk to the theme from The Office?  Or perhaps I’ll just enjoy the extra day and try to make the most of it.

By throwing a steak at a hobo while dancing down the street.

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Introducing The Dude

February 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Please join me in welcoming the newest addition to our household, The Dude.  For those of you unfamiliar, The Dude is a character in The Big Lebowski, a film about bowling and someone pissing on a rug.  Actually it’s about a lot more than that but if you’ve never seen it I’m not going to try to explain because it’s a little…complicated.  It is a Cohen Brothers film, after all.  Anyway, The Dude (His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) is the lead character and he’s incredibly laid back and takes things as they go.  Our kitty was a lot like this on his first few days with us, hence the name (well, that and it’s fun saying “DUDE!” when he’s doing something he shouldn’t, like scratching the couch).  So I give you The Dude:

Hello Kitty

As I mentioned after my birthday, we brought this new kitty into our home.  He’s a four-year old Himalayan who was found wandering the mean streets of Chicago.  We technically fostered him for two weeks but after a few days with us, we knew we didn’t want to let him go.  It was bittersweet bringing a new pet into the apartment but I’m so glad that we have him.  He came to us with stinky breath and matted fur but the good people at PAWS took care of all that and he’s now shorn like a sheep and his breath smells as it should, like cat food.

We shaved him to take care of the matted fur and were planning on letting it grow back per usual but to be honest, we kind of dig this shorter look.  There’s less cat hair floating around and as someone who technically has a dander allergy, less hair is okay by me.  I can snuggle with him more without wanting to scratch out my eyeballs, at least.  We’ll see what happens as it grows back in but we’ve been enjoying teasing him and petting the soft locks he has left behind.  In case you can’t tell here, he has bright blue eyes that are really very pretty.  He’s a good-looking cat in general, if I do say so myself (like I birthed him or something).  He’s gotten much more comfortable at the apartment and can be found sleeping with us at night and following us around like a shadow during the day.

Now if I could just train him to make me breakfast and bring my slippers when I walk in from work, we’d be set!

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Road Trip!

February 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

It’s that time of the year again.  The time that I travel down to my hometown to celebrate my birthday (along with that of about a dozen family members) at the legendary Beef O’Brady’s.  This will be the third year in a row we’ve had this party and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty excited.  I haven’t been home since Christmas and while it hasn’t been that long ago, I’m ready for a visit.  I’ll be hanging with family and seeing some friends (while also checking out the new home one of them just purchased – god, I’m getting old) and I’ll also get to meet my sister’s boyfriend, which I’m REALLY looking forward to.  Given that she hasn’t had one since the sixth grade and has spent the last dozen or so years giving grief to every partner I’ve ever brought around, I figure it’s time for some payback.  Surely he needs to know about how she used to carry worms around in her purse and once brought a jar with a slug that had given birth in it to show off to the whole school for Show and Tell – right? Right.

I’m also more than ready for the Mental Health Day I have scheduled for Monday – a day that will be full of sleeping in, going out for brunch and hanging out with my awesome self while everyone else I know is at work.  Score!

In honor of my three-day weekend and the good mood I seem to find myself in, here’s a picture of a silly, cute looking dog:

Awww

Happy Weekend!

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Rant

February 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Do you work with any imbeciles at your job?  Say someone who makes you just want to smack your forehead against your desk until either it or your skull cracks?  Perhaps this person drives you insane because they don’t read their emails but nevertheless tries to respond by picking and choosing twoor three of the most unimportant words in the text and then getting everything wrong.

Incoming

Which would cause you to have to refer them back to the original email or copy and paste the same paragraph numerous times so it can somehow seep its way through their thick skull.  Maybe this person also comes into work late and leaves early each and every day while talking incessantly about their idiotic diet and stinky, sickly child.  Or sits behind closed doors with the shades drawn down in their office every day, making it both uncomfortable and unlikely for them to be interrupted.  While managing a large group of people.

This person probably can’t tell their ass from a hole in the ground and essentially makes any interaction between you two extremely painful and fruitless.  They also likely have no idea of the basic concepts of how their job functions or how the jobs of any of those that they’re managing work, either.  In fact, they might be clueless on the fundamentals of life in general, thus making every thing you try to discuss with them well beyond their grasp of knowledge.  It wouldn’t surprise me if this imbecile obtained their current position via bribery, trickery or plain dumb luck.  And now they spend their (half) days of work walking around like a giant, lopsided dinosaur while flirting pathetically with the receptionist and hoarding Girl Scout cookies.  Do you know anyone like this?

Yeah, me neither.

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Dinner Guest!

February 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

The very first dinner guest to sit at our new dining room table was entertained last week and I was so proud of my meal that I had to share:

Mmm

What we have here is cheese stuffed manicotti that had been sitting in my freezer for entirely too long (hey, I’m all about honesty here).  I used a food processor to shred some broccoli, spinach, carrots and mushrooms and added that to the marinara sauce then poured all that over the manicotti, which I had placed in a glass baking pan.  I threw that all in for about an hour and then poured a glass of wine as I set about the rest.  Not pictured is the salad with goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts that I made but that’s because it was devoured before I had a chance to take the pic.  I did manage to snap the photo while the flat bread was still around, though.  I took that and covered it lightly with olive oil, black pepper, basil and oregano and then baked it for a while with the pasta.  Then I added the olive oil/pepper dipping combo here and was able to present it nicely before the boys dug in.  Both Scott and our house/dinner guest Nate told me they thought the meal was delicious and I definitely agreed, especially considering most of it was pulled from pantry or freezer shelves.

Gotta love grown up dinners – perhaps this table will inspire me to get off my ass and cook even more!  Although carryout fits nicely on it as well…

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Green with Envy…or Alcohol Poisoning

February 16, 2012 at 10:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So my mom flew down to New Orleans yesterday for her third Mardi Gras adventure in the past four years.  Am I jealous?  Why yes, yes I am.

I’m trying not to be because I get to go to New Orleans on a regular basis and have even been in that area during a Mardi Gras myself.  Sure, I fifteen and couldn’t fully partake in the debauchery (though I managed a bit) but I did get to at least experience the atmosphere.  And to be honest I’m not entirely sure I’d want to be down there right now anyway because the older I get, the more I tend to dislike large, drunken crowds.  I’m sure I’ll go to The Big Easy for The Big Party at some point or another but for now I”ll have to settle for living vicariously through Mom.

I think I found Waldo

To be fair, she deserves a little fun and relaxation and the gal pal she’s reveling with will help her find just that.  Mom actually had a layover here in Chicago last night and while I wish I could’ve gone and had a beer with her while she waited, I had to settle for a vague wave and a text message instead.  But she made it safely and it looks like the temperature there is 72 degrees today so I’m happy for her.  And cold myself.  But not as cold as I usually am because it’s seasonably warm here this winter.  Still, I’m stuck in a cubicle all week while she wanders the French Quarter and there just seems to be a slight injustice in that.

Oh, well.  If I know her, she’ll at least have a drink for me!

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Love Love

February 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

In honor of Valentine’s Day (the history of which you can read here – it’s not some Hallmark holiday like Sweetest Day.  Seriously what the hell does that even mean?), below is a list of things that I love (in no particular order):

  • My momma
  • Cheese
  • My roommate/boyfriend (cue aww)

    Celebrate in your own way

  • My sister, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and the rest of my wacky family
  • All of my beautiful lady friends who constantly inspire and enlighten me.  They are all wonderful
  • My guy friends, who are awesome and pretty wonderful too
  • Getting into bed with freshly shaved legs and super clean sheets
  • Netflix
  • Wine
  • Lists (surprise!)
  • The fact that our new kitty is acclimating well and followed me around like a shadow this morning while I got ready
  • Being a grown up (sure, taxes and bills suck but so does puberty)
  • The way my ass looks in the skirt I’m wearing
  • My blankie and stuffed monkey, George
  • Watching it snow from the comfort of my living room
  • Being right
  • Ice cream and cookies
  • Especially E.L. Fudge cookies
  • Did I mention my awesome family and friends?
  • The fact that it’s staying lighter a little longer each day
  • Days where I get to sleep in late
  • My momma

Clearly, I have a lot in my life to love.  This day means exchanging valentines and candy during classroom parties when you’re a kid and then somehow it turns into something that we’re supposed to splurge and spend on…I think it’s a day to remind those we love that we love them.  Not to say I won’t be enjoying a nice sushi dinner out with my significant other, but that and a card will about cover it.

I’ll spend the rest of the night telling my pillows and cookies just how much they mean to me, too.

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New York State of Mind

February 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I snapped this photo a few days ago as I rode the train because for a moment I almost forgot where I was.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the various modes of public transportation in big cities, I can tell you that the convenient oh shit handles that you see here are not something Chicagoans are usually exposed to.  Rather, we have metal bars that we try to grasp as the train lurches to and fro and if we’re lucky, there will be sufficient space to hook a pinky and hang on for dear life.  Chicago has begun rolling out a few new train cars with these straps and the design of the cars has been modified so as to maximize space (while also maximizing awkward eye contact with the stranger right across from you).  However, this was not one of those new cars and the graffiti from 2003 proved this to me.  So where did these straps come from?  Why are they there?  Who’s been messing with my train cars?

Hang on!

The world may never know.  What we do know is these straps are usually only seen on the subways of New York so now I’m left wondering if our great city is trying to copy NYC or if some engineer just decided to play mind games with commuters because he was bored.  I’m not sure how I feel about this change (and I’m not sure if it really even matters) because I’m just glad to have a place to grope that isn’t the love handles of the person standing closest to me.  Bars, straps, love handles…who am I kidding.  As long as I have something to hold on to, I’m happy.  Even if the straps look like little mini-nooses and leave me with eerie feelings of danger and concern.  So hold on tight and mind the gap…wait, where are we again?

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Birthdays, Buddies, Booze and Boobs

February 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Does it get any better than that?

It seems that there’s been a theme to my birthdays over the last few years.  First it was Dirty Bingo, followed by a gender-bending burlesque show (complete with clowns) last year and then this year was the Indiana Jones: Temple of the Boob burlesque show.  For some reason it appears that I like celebrating my birthday by watching others talk about or get into their birthday suits so I guess I’ll just go with it.  Who knows what next year will bring!

We started out the night at The Southern, which turned out to be a great venue for a large dinner with a group of my nearest and dearest.  I’m always a little nervous when hosting a gathering of my friends because most of them don’t really know each other and the only thing they really have in common is well…me…which can kind of put me on the spot.  But the restaurant sat us at these large leather couches that were arranged in a sort of circle, which made it easier to converse with everyone and created a friendlier atmosphere.  It also prevented people from being forced to talk to their direct seatmate (not that that’s always bad).  It did make it a bit more awkward when it came time to eat, as there was only one low table, but as most of us ordered their signature macaroni and cheese anyway so it wasn’t too tough.  The food was great, the atmosphere appealing and the company was the best.  I have some really awesome friends and I was so glad everyone was able to make it.

Good, not so clean fun

The entire group didn’t go to the next stop, the burlesque show, but there were a handful that made it out.  The show wasn’t cheap ($20) and didn’t last too long (about an hour) but it was hilariously entertaining and well worth the cash.  Basically, scantily clad women enacted a story about Indiana Jones that was a summary of all of the movies combined into one new tale.  They did a good job and anyone familiar with the movies could pick out recurring gags and jokes along the way.  It was also refreshing because these were women who looked like normal females – extra skin and stretch marks did nothing to deter them from putting on a great show and it was good to see ladies who looked more like myself than Heidi Klum up there on stage (though I wouldn’t have minded Heidi…).  I won’t get too detailed but I will say that I saw one girl use her boobs in a way that had simply never occurred to me before.  And based on the laughter and other various reactions she got, I don’t think I was alone.

All in all, it was a great birthday treat.  On my actual birthday my sweetheart boyfriend woke me up with a beautiful necklace and then treated me to brunch at one of my favorite spots.  After the adoption of that cat (which will be expanded upon soon), we went out for a nice dinner at Basil Leaf, a delicious Italian restaurant that made strong drinks.  I can’t think of a better way to ring in a birthday and thanks to all who came out and made it a blast!

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Catsby

February 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

My birthday weekend was a fun-filled, most eventful one and I’ll have updates on the dinner and burlesque show probably later this week.  First, though, I want to share some big news.  I did something on my birthday that I didn’t think I was going to do for a very long time…

I got a new cat.

Rather, I should say Scott and I got a cat as both of our names are on his adoption forms.  I really did just go to PAWS (Chicago’s no-kill animal shelter) to look at the animals and perhaps let myself become more comfortable with the idea of bringing one home.  However, we walked in and met a little guy who worked his way into our hearts before we even knew what was happening.  I’ll be introducing him to the blog later as well but before I do any of that, I want to properly say goodbye to Catsby, the absolute best pet I’ve ever had in my life.  Be warned:  this post is long and emotional.  It was also something I had to write.

I rescued Catsby in May of 2005 when she was a kitten from an animal shelter in my old college town.  I went with my old roommate and we were just going to get one cat but we each fell in love and left with two.  Catsby won me over immediately with her beautiful coat and adorable nature and we quickly became best buddies.  She was the one who instigated her fetch-playing, by bringing one of my hair bands into me while I was sitting on the toilet one day (hey, not all stories have glamorous roots).  She became quite good at fetch and my attempts to confuse or fool her pretty much never worked.  I still find hair bands in random places and I know my mom once found one from the top of a ceiling fan in our living room – I bet that one drove Catsby crazy.

I think Catsby had some confusion as to what type of animal she was, as she had many dog-like qualities besides the fetch-playing.  This could be because I originally wanted a dog but decided at the last minute that I’d want my dog to have a yard and as a college kid, a cat was an easier, less responsible decision.  I think I projected my dog-wanting onto her because she would also meet me at the door every day when I got home with my slippers in her mouth (okay not really but she did once bring me a plastic fork to play fetch with).  She also brought me cat treats while I slept and left them on my bed or in my shoe in the middle of the night.  She slept at my feet.

Catsby moved into six different apartments with me in two separate states.  She almost gave me a heart attack when I thought she escaped as I was moving to Illinois but then surprised me with her cleverness when I discovered her hiding under my refrigerator in a spot I didn’t even know existed.  She narrowly avoided being eaten when we were stuck in a blizzard for 8 hours on the highway and she managed to keep another one of her nine lives after I caught her spilling water on my brand new Macbook.  As mad as she occasionally made me though (like the time I found out she was inviting squirrels into the kitchen while I was away at work), I never lost sight of how much I loved her.  When I was going through the divorce of my parents, the transition from college student to working life, and the biggest breakup I’d ever experienced, she was always there for me.  She lasted through more boyfriends, girlfriends and friends in general than any other pet I had.  We literally watched each other grow up.

Catsby in our first Chicago apartment

I treated Catsby for diabetes for about a year before she passed away.  Those of you that have been reading this blog a while know how difficult that often was.  She wasn’t a typical diabetic cat and the vet never could tell me why she developed it, as she had none of the usual characteristics.  I spent lots of time, energy, worry and cash trying to keep her diabetes regulated and I’d be lying if I said it was easy.  I scheduled my social life around giving her two insulin shots a day but I absolutely did not mind, so long as it meant that my furry feline friend was happy and healthy.  I did my very, very best but in the end that wasn’t enough.

Having Catsby put down while I was out of the country is one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had to go through.  Before I go on, I’d like to say that the kindness of certain men and women during this period will never be forgotten.  This obviously includes my friends, family, and boyfriend but also the complete strangers who showed compassion and understanding without really even knowing what was going on.  As I made my way back solo from Guatemala in October, I was keenly aware that my cat might not make it until I got home.  I thought I was racing the clock to return to help her when in reality she had to be put down the night before and no one had been able to reach me yet.  So I didn’t find out until my plane landed in Houston and I called my Scott for an update.  When he told me what happened I became a bit of a visible wreck and the guy next to me (who knew I had a sick family member I was trying to get home to…because hey, that’s what she was) figured out what happened.  He and numerous others offered to help me off the plane and get me a ride to wherever I needed to go.  When I explained that I had a connecting flight to make in under 45 minutes and I had yet to get through customs, a very nice pilot (this was Delta) escorted me through security and customs and led me right to my next gate.  At this point I didn’t really care if I made the flight or not but he got me there with a few minutes to spare.  The woman I was seated next to looked like a seasoned grandmother and didn’t really speak English but the moment I sat down and she saw me, she hugged me, kissed my forehead and said not to cry (this was  something I really needed).  The flight attendants served me the beer and whiskey shot I ordered and then didn’t charge me (this was something else I really needed).  The kindness of these strangers stuck out in my head and helped me to remember that one can really make an impact on another, even if the time they share is anonymous and fleeting.

I miss Catsby every single day and my world isn’t the same without her.  Perhaps it’s because hers is the first loss of a soul that I was personally close to – a soul that I interacted with each day – that has caused this to be so hard, or maybe it’s just because she was such a beloved pet.  I’ve lost both human and animal loved ones in my life but it’s never been like this.  She was the only family I ever had in Chicago and it still hurts.  I have had numerous dreams about her (including the one I had foretelling her death and one where I had her cloned and her clone didn’t have diabetes…sometimes my head is a scary place) and in my dreams it’s  comforting to know that she’s around, even though I always have the sense that she’s not supposed to be.  I don’t know how else to say I miss her and to be completely honest I’m not dry-eyed as I type this.  I don’t know if I’ll ever stop missing her and I don’t really want to because she was an awesome companion.  You don’t forget something like that.

However, Catsby is not coming back and I won’t have the  relationship I had with her with another animal.  Now as I’ve learned, that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a different type of relationship with another animal who needs a human friend.  Which is the mentality that brought me to the idea of another adoption, and to the newest addition to the family.  It’s been a bittersweet experience and while I still feel somewhat guilty for bringing another cat into our home, so far I’m glad I did.  Because after all, it really is amazing how the actions of one can have an impact on another.

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