This is Halloween

October 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

May your tricks and your treats be spooky and safe!

For the history buffs among us, click here to read a little about the holiday via good ‘ol Wikipedia.  It’s not just a marketing scheme cooked up by candy factories after all!

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Circle of Life

October 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

You can’t go far today without hearing about SuperStorm Sandy and the havoc she’s wreaking.  I’m seeing something like almost 40 deaths and untold millions (billions?) of dollars in damages.  I have friends on the East Coast and while I believe everyone is accounted for, there are still many people who I do not know who aren’t and my thoughts are with all of them.  I think that weather like this is going to be more prevalent in the future and I hope that the damage done through this storm remains as minimal as possible.

In unrelated but also depressing news, yesterday I found out that a work associate of mine had a massive stroke over the weekend and was removed from life support yesterday.  He passed away last night.  This was a middle-aged business owner who cared for his ailing wife and large business but always managed to have a smile on his face as he brought donuts into our office for his regular meetings.  I saw him on Thursday and he seemed in as good as spirits as he ever has.  Sudden deaths like his and those in the eye of Sandy definitely make me appreciate all of the people in my life and just about everything else I can.

Cue the music

In the midst of all this, my cousin gave birth to her first child last night, a little boy who weighed in at 8lbs, 8oz.  This is a cousin that is more like a sister to me and as the pictures started rolling in, tears nearly rolled down my face.  It’s incredible to think that he was growing inside of her just moments before those photos were taken and I’m so excited that his delivery went well for both him and his momma.  Granted, she pushed for almost three hours before eventually having a c-section (um, ouch) but the look on her face in the first picture I saw made it clear that the whole ordeal was more than worth it.

All this has me in kind of a weird mood today (not to mention the fact that I’ve been fighting off a cold all week and have that medicine head thing going on) and I’m more thankful for everything in my life than ever before.

Especially for the fact that I’m not going to be pushing an almost nine pound person out of my nether regions any time soon.

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Fright Fest

October 29, 2012 at 10:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

I don’t know if it’s the time of year or just a coincidence but it seems like all I’ve been watching lately are lots of shows/movies that make me want to wet myself.  I’ve been into The Walking Dead recently, which is a cable show about a zombie apocalypse, and it’s so scary that I couldn’t watch the episode I taped at my mom’s house last weekend because I was alone and her house was just plain too dark and creepy.  It doesn’t help that she lives near some woods and has huge windows with no curtains in the living room.  I had to wait til I was back in Chicago and holding Scott’s hand before I could get caught up.

Zombies and guns and biting, oh my!

On Friday, we watched the original Halloween, which I can’t deny was related to the upcoming holiday.  I hadn’t seen it in…well, recent memory and I was surprised at just how jumpy it made me.  The scene where Michael Myers appears in a bedroom wearing a sheet and the glasses of the guy he just murdered was especially freaky and made my eyes close so tight that I saw stars when I opened them.

On Saturday we continued our Scare-Paige-Shitless streak and began a new series that comes heavily recommended by some friends – American Horror Story.  They let us borrow the entire first season and each episode is an hour long, so of course we stayed up all night to get through the first three.  This show has an entirely different plot line and cast each season and the first one revolves around a home where terrible murders took place, and the new family who just moved in.  There are the obligatory scary scenes involving children, ghosts and kitchen cabinets that open on their own and there’s also sex, violence, blood, gore and just plain physiological creepiness.  After all that on Saturday, we watched the newest episode of The Walking Dead last night and then I had to watch a few episodes of children’s shows to clear my mind before I went to sleep.

At least I’m in the Halloween spirit!  What’s your favorite Halloween movie?  And yes, Hocus Pocus counts because I watched it last week and will likely watch it this week as well.

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October Book Club Review

October 26, 2012 at 10:49 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

For our book club meeting last week, we read Lord of the Flies by William Golding and ate at Vapiano in yuppie trendy Lincoln Park.  There were a couple of girls in our club who had never read Lord of the Flies before and since I own it (having read it in high school and again in college), I was all for reading it again.  For those who aren’t familiar, this book is about a group of elementary school British boys who wind up stranded on an island, sans adults.  As the reader comes to find out, there was some sort of atomic bomb (this book was written in the ’50’s) and the plane carrying these kids to safety crashed and burned en route.  So no one knows they’re there.  Cue melodramatic music here.

You know you have a classic when The Simpsons do a parody

In the beginning, the boys see this as an opportunity to run things the way they want and enjoy the freedom that those pesky grown-ups always seem to try to take away.  It doesn’t take long for them to nominate a chief and create grand plans of shelter, feasts and frolicking on the beach.  Of course, this doesn’t go as planned and soon kids are sick from the massive amounts of fruit they’re eating and their lack of protein, they’re living in shoddy huts and spending more time fighting and having nightmares than anything else.  They also manage to light the island on fire not once, but twice.  Kids I tell ya.  The fighting continues to worsen as the chief and the head hunter don’t always see eye to eye and before you know it, boys are being killed in barbaric ways as most everyone struggles for survival.  I realize that this is a bit depressing for some people but this book is really just a forefather to things like The Hunger Games.  I thought it also provided really interesting social commentary and while I won’t ruin the ending for those of you who might want to give it a go, I will say it was better than I had remembered.

Our dinner was also one of the better ones in my memory and was an interesting experience overall.  This restaurant looks swanky and super nice and when I walked in I was surprised at how large it was.  Wooden tables were arranged throughout with little lamps and greenery on each one and everyone sat on stools (not uncomfortable but not the nicest thing my butt’s ever had the pleasure of encountering…and that sounds much dirtier typed out than it did in my head.  Oh well).  The model of this place is unlike anything I’d ever seen and we were all given little menus with our own personal plastic cards upon entering.  There were various stations set up around the restaurant – the bar, pasta, pizza, appetizers etc. each had their own stop with their own respective bartender and chef.  I hit the bar first and enjoyed a rather large glass of $3.95 red wine, which can’t be beat (unless you’re buying a bottle for that price at Trader Joe’s).  After I ordered, the bartender swiped my little card and my purchase rang up on there.  Same thing for dinner – I had pizza and my card just kept accruing the charges until it was time to leave.  At that point I just walked up front and turned it in, then paid the balance.  I thought it was pretty cool to eliminate the need for a large tip (though there were jars for dollars at the various stations) and I don’t mind carrying my own food so it worked out.  I split two pizzas with a friend and both of them were huge and delicious.  I could’ve probably saved some for lunch the following day but once I started I just couldn’t stop.  At the end of the night (one big pizza and two large glasses of wine later), my tab was just over $16.  Not bad for an evening on the town!

I read some Yelp reviews and some people complained that such an upscale-looking place shouldn’t make its patrons carry their trays and use a soda fountain but you know me – I’m much more frugal than foodie and I honestly thought it was kind of cool.  The whole evening was fun and while we’re skipping a meet-up in November due to the holidays, we’ll be back on track in December with new books and new restaurants to check out!

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It’s That Time

October 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I realize there’s not much we can do about the way politics in this country play out but the time for the one and only thing we CAN do is now upon us:

Just Do It!

You can make your opinion known by hitting the polls on Election Day, or if you’d like to avoid the crowds, anytime before then.  A quick internet search can help you find the polling place nearest you and I don’t even care who you vote for (that’s not true, but I won’t TELL you who you should vote for).  Just make sure you vote because if you don’t, you lose all rights and privileges to bitch and moan about the Commander-in-Chief for the next four years.

Just sayin’.

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By the Numbers

October 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Well, I’m glad I went to my reunion and I’m also glad it’s over.  It’s amazing what ten years can do to some people and I had to laugh as I witnessed the stereotype of the good-looking, popular guys from senior year who gained a huge beer belly and lost their hair.  Despite having a super drunk former classmate of mine dump red wine down the back of my favorite sweater upon my arrival (thanks for getting that stain out, Mom!), I enjoyed myself and Scott seemed to tolerate an evening full of strangers telling stories he wasn’t a part of very well.  It was good to see most everyone and it was also good to find out who was still a giant douchebag.  It was also crazy to see just how many visibly pregnant women were there – I counted at least 8, not including myself.  Haha, just kidding!  Trying to see if you’re paying attention.  I enjoyed catching up with old classmates but was also reminded why I don’t speak to more of them on a regular basis.  There was almost a fight between two guys near me too, so it was just like the good old days.

Too bad I was never any good in math…

My long weekend was, as typically goes for my trips home, a rather busy one.  Instead of writing about it in detail, I figured I’d just show you the stats:

  • Five days ago Scott and I drove 250 miles after work and arrived home around 2am.
  • Four days ago I received 1 haircut, visited with 2 grandparents, “napped” for 3 hours, met with 4 friends and attended my 10 year high school reunion, where I mingled with nearly 100 people and had lots of wine (yeah, lost count on that part).
  • Three days ago Scott returned home and I visited with 5 friends for 2 hours over 1 brunch, then I visited with 15 family members and 4 additional friends in 6 different locations across 2 states.  I was very busy.
  • Two days ago I had a nearly 3 hour brunch at Cracker Barrel where I visited with 12 more family members before boarding the Megabus and traveling the 250 miles back to Chicago.
  • Yesterday I enjoyed my day off by cleaning out 6 different cabinets and 1 drawer across 3 rooms.  Also, 1 trip to the gym, 1 call to my building maintenance, 1 apartment problem resolved and 1 more nap.

And now I’m back to work, counting down the hours until I can leave once again.

All in all, it was a great trip.  You can see how much quality time I got with my friends and family and I was also able to visit my still hospital-bound uncle, who is doing better.  Even though they accidentally broke his leg in physical therapy.  Granted, he’s a paraplegic and can’t exactly feel a broken leg anyway but c’mon.  Who does that?  Luckily he’s in good spirits even with this new setback and should hopefully be back in his own house this week.

I still can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I finished high school and I can’t help but wonder what the next 10 will bring.  I feel like I’m on a good track though and so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and see what happens.  At least I’m not bald!

 

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Time Flies…

October 19, 2012 at 10:43 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

…when you’re growing up.

Scott and I are traveling down to Indiana this weekend to attend my (gulp) ten-year high school reunion.  In some ways it seems like only yesterday that I was pulling my backpack on wheels (I was extremely popular, by the way) down the halls while trying to think of ways to ditch my Spanish class.  It also feels like I’ve lived about four lifetimes since then and the whole high school experience seems like eons ago.  I’m not someone who had a horribly traumatic high school experience but it wasn’t exactly the best time of my life either.  We had a five-year reunion which I did not go to (because seriously, it had only been five years) but this one is about 3 miles from my mom’s house and I was going home this month anyway so it all worked out.  I haven’t exactly kept in touch with tons of people from those days but I do have a couple good friends whom I see regularly and we’re all meeting at mom’s to drive over together.  If nothing else, I’m excited to spend some time with them!

What I’m not excited about is the fact that we had to pay $35 a ticket, which should include beer/wine and dinner.  Well I looked into it further and for vegetarians, dinner will consist of a veggie tray, some queso and chips and a salad.  Wow.  I used to have problems with finding veggie friendly food back in the day and at one point I wrote a petition for more options in our school cafeteria – it did the trick and after meeting with a few school officials, we began getting veggie burgers and some other items at well.  I didn’t realize I should have done the same with the caterers at the reunion.  I know we won’t be the only herbivores there and it’s cheaper to feed us anyway, but I digress.  We’ll eat dinner before our “dinner” and just enjoy the drinks, dancing and of course the company.

Should I say I invented Post-Its?

Obviously, the main reason for attending a high school reunion is to see your former classmates whom you haven’t seen in years, but I feel like my generation is going to be the first that has some issues with this, mostly because of Facebook.  I already know who got married, who had kids, where people moved to and what they now do for a living.  Hell, I’ve seen their kids naked in bathtubs and know the color scheme of their living rooms.  It’s a really surreal situation to be in because I’m not exactly sure how to talk to these people I haven’t seen in a decade.  Do I acknowledge all of the intricacies of their life that they’ve posted or pretend I haven’t seen the things they so clearly wanted to share?  How much talking and catching up is there really to do?  I know not everyone posts all tidbits of their lives online and my HS friends will basically know where I live and where I’ve traveled to, but still.  It’s something that no generations before us really had to face.  If you never completely lose the ability to look into someone’s life, do you really need to dedicate a night to a reunion?

I’ll admit, the anthropologist in me ultimately made my decision to go.  I want to see what it’s like to know yet not know everything about each other’s lives and how the interactions will go down.  Also, “free” wine (and salads).  It’ll be interesting if nothing else and since I’ll be with close friends already and also close to my mom’s house, if all else fails we’ll just go back there and spend some quality time together.  Because that’s really what it’s all about, right?

Also just as an update, that super inspirational girl from Pakistan, Malala, is doing better and better.  Keep it up, girl!

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Bad Business

October 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

You know what pisses me off?  When someone places an ad for a free salon service, you volunteer your evening to participate in the service, confirm with that person numerous times and then they cancel on you at the last possible minute.

I had to do this myself last night and I was nowhere near as cheerful.

I came across a post online from a guy who recently graduated from cosmetology school and was in need of women to sit for free shampoos and blow outs so he could practice at his new place of employment.  Since I walk past said place on my way home from the train every day and I like being pampered for free, I signed right up.  By the way, I was totally planning on tipping him graciously for his time and talent.  He seemed excited to meet me and we went back and forth on the appointment time, with me asking if 6pm was alright since that was the soonest I could get there.  He assured me it was and we confirmed again the day of the appointment (yesterday).  Logically, I know a professional shampoo and hair drying isn’t that big of a deal but I put other plans on hold so I could go to this and I was really looking forward to it.  I had a crappy day at work and got myself through it by thinking of my evening in a salon chair.  Then, on my train ride home, I received an email on my phone from this would-be professional saying that his boss didn’t want him to take appointments after 4:30, but he hoped we could reschedule.  Well, Mr. Irresponsible, as I previously told you I can’t get there earlier than 6pm so I’m out and won’t be coming back.  PS, kiss my ass.  PPS, you’re lucky I wasn’t going out of my way to come to your salon (which I won’t name because I’m too classy for that) or I would’ve written a much more pissy response back to you and may have even expressed my displeasure by decorating the front of your store with some unfertilized eggs.

Besides the whole hair thing, I was also excited to check out this place since I pass it so often.  I hadn’t gone in yet because the prices seemed a little high but the Yelp ratings were good so I was going to let last night make up my mind.  Consider my mind made up – I won’t be going in there even if I sleep on a wad of gum and my only other option is taking a pair of blunt child scissors to my own head.

Guess what they say is true…if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

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Things That Go Bump in the Night

October 15, 2012 at 9:03 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I went to a haunted house this weekend, the first one I’ve been to in years.  Scott’s brother works at Dream Reapers in Melrose Park every year and was able to get us, Scott’s sister and her boyfriend and their Mom in on Saturday night.  This place is known as one of the best haunted houses in the state and even Yelp agrees.  I’ll admit to being nervous from the get-go as I’m someone who jumps when my cat sneezes too loudly so the creepers and ghouls who followed me around and got all up in my personal bubble definitely freaked me out.  I was glad that we didn’t have to wait in line (ah, the perks of knowing people) and we started off in a room full of strobe lights and mirrors that made me extremely thankful that I’m not an epileptic.

Boo!

Scott went first and I clutched his hand the entire time, while his mom grabbed on to the sides of my sweater and his sister and her bf made up the tail end of our terrified conga line.  After the mirrors, we passed through a section full of huge billowing black cloth that completely obstructed our view and sort of made me feel like I was emerging from a birth canal.  It was a claustrophobic person’s nightmare because even though I was holding Scott’s hand, I could not see him at all.  Talk about creepy.  Then we walked through one of those rooms with a bridge and spinning, psychedelic walls.  It was very effective and we had to cover Scott’s mom’s face in order to get her through.  We all felt sort of like we were tripping when we got out of there and I feel really bad for the scary dude who had to wait on the bridge as he tormented passersby.

The tour continued with the obligatory rooms full of dismembered body parts and people wielding chainsaws, not to mention jungle type growth where camouflaged bad guys couldn’t wait to jump out and make us scream. There were demented clowns, which are never a favorite of mine, and a few hallways with walls made of skulls and moving eyes, not to mention tons of blood and gore.  All throughout our walk people were jumping out, getting close and generally being freaky, which of course is the point.  We all jumped more than a few times and I’d be lying if I said high-pitched screams never left my lips.  One of the last rooms we passed through featured Scott’s brother and of course he didn’t abide by the whole “the actors won’t touch you” rule so he really scared Scott.  I laughed, but mostly I was glad I wasn’t up in front.

It was an entertaining night and really got us all into the Halloween spirit.  I think I heard a rumor that this is the last year Dream Reapers will be operating so if you’re in the area and looking for a fright, you should definitely check it out.  Just make sure you empty your bladder before you go in and try not to let the goblins get you!

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My New Hero

October 12, 2012 at 11:04 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Malala Yousufzai or not, but you should probably know about her.  Malala is a young woman in Pakistan who is fighting for her life after standing up to the Taliban for her right to an education.  A Taliban gunman tracked her down on Tuesday and shot her in the head, simply because she believes that girls have as much right to learn as boys and because she was vocal about that opinion.  Here’s the latest on her situation from The Huffington Post:

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — A 14-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot by a Taliban gunman after speaking out for girls’ education is in “satisfactory” condition at a military hospital, a spokesman said Friday, cautioning that the next few days will be critical.

So much strength in such a young woman.

The shooting of Malala Yousufzai on Tuesday as she was coming home from school set off an international outcry.

Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said she is being kept unconscious and on a ventilator, and doctors will decide when to take her off.

“Her blood pressure is normal. Heartbeat is normal, and thanks to God, her condition is satisfactory,” Bajwa said.

Bajwa said the bullet entered her head and went into her neck toward her spine, but it was too soon to say whether she had any significant head injury.

Yousufzai is widely respected for her role in promoting girls’ education in the Swat Valley, where she lives, and the rest of Pakistan. A Taliban gunman shot and wounded her and two other girls Tuesday, sparking widespread condemnation. There has been an outpouring of praise for her bravery from Pakistani and international leaders.

The school she attended in Mingora, owned and operated by her father, reopened Friday. The atmosphere was grim as children and teachers tried to come to terms with what happened to their star pupil.

“We have decided to open the school after two days to overcome the fear among our students that gripped them due to the attack. The number of students is low today. We have not resumed regular teaching activity, but held an assembly to pray for Malala and the other two injured girls,” said one of the teachers, Zafar Ali Khan.

Police had been deployed around the school, but even so, many students stayed away.

“Although we have gathered here for to pray for Malala, this shows we will keep her mission going,” Ayesha Khan, a ninth-grade student. “Many of the students haven’t come due to fear, but I believe this fear will subside ultimately.”

The girl was initially airlifted from the town of Mingora in the Swat Valley to a military hospital in the frontier city of Peshawar, where doctors operated on her to remove a bullet from her neck. On Thursday she was transferred to a hospital in Rawalpindi, where the Pakistani army is headquartered.

In addition to the team of Pakistani military and civilian doctors who have been treating her, two foreign doctors have also been consulted, Bajwa said. He said so far there are no plans to send her abroad for treatment.

So while you go about your weekend, take a moment to give thanks for some of the things you’re able to take for granted that so many are not – like freedom, education and your safety.  I’ll be sending all sorts of good vibes in Malala’s direction and I’m sure she’d appreciate it if you did the same.

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