Bloody Mess

November 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I donated blood last week. This was only the second or third time I’ve ever donated and let me tell you, it still hurts. Previously, I’ve donated to the American Red Cross (even though I think their policy banning gay men to donate is complete and utter bullshit) but last week a smaller, independent donation came to the building I worked in. While they had some of the same out-of-date crappy policies as the Red Cross, I felt like it was a good thing to do anyway. Plus I’m not entirely selfless – by donating blood, I got a free iron test (and my levels are great, which is kind of surprising for a vegetarian), I’ll find out my blood type and I got some free juice and cookies. And a sticker. So it’s a win-win for everyone!

Bloody hell.

Except yeah, it hurt. I’m kind of a baby with needles and couldn’t even look in the direction of the one sucking my blood so instead I focused on the bright green socks the dude next to me was sporting. He seemed to appreciate that. Also, my fears weren’t exactly alleviated when the girl ahead of me passed out after her donation and brought back traumatic/funny memories of when my little sister visited me in college during my freshman year. She had just turned 17 and they were having a blood drive in my dorm so we donated and then a bit later she passed out in my hallway. Everyone thought I had gotten her drunk but I really do promise it was because of the lack of blood (Mom – I swear!). I’m not sure if she’s donated since then or not but these images were definitely in my mind when it was my turn. I squeezed that little ball they give you pretty quickly in an attempt to pump my blood faster so I’d be done as soon as possible and that actually worked, which was awesome. In fact, the registration process too longer than the actual donation! Then came the free juice and cookies, which was everything I had been hoping for.

Last week I also received a letter from Pantene Lengths, the place where I donated my hair earlier this year, verifying that they were able to use my donation. Between my hair and my blood I think I’ve done my good deeds for this season, right?

So can I get another cookie?

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Take This Train and Shove It

November 20, 2014 at 8:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

On Tuesday, Chicagoans faced one of the most brutal morning of commutes I’ve ever heard of. A small airplane crashed into a residential home near Midway Airport (it came within eight inches of where the homeowners were sleeping – they miraculously survived but unfortunately the pilot did not) so that obviously caused some flight delays. Then there was an accordion bus (basically a super long bus the size of two regular  buses) on Lake Shore Drive that got a flat tire and then CAUGHT ON FIRE while it was being repaired. Clearly, that messed up the entirety of Lake Shore Drive. On top of all that, yours truly got to experience quite a nightmare on the L. Next door to the L tracks was a school that was in the process of being renovated and it caught fire early in the morning. No one was injured (there or on the bus) but the water the firefighters used to put out the flames immediately froze and covered the train tracks and electrical wiring with a nice layer of icy potential death. This caused my train line and one other to completely quit running, which meant all the people who usually took those trains were forced to shove themselves onto the one and only line that WAS running. Considering how that line is always packed anyway, this did not go over well. I managed to squeeze in as soon as I could but I saw hundreds of people waiting on the platforms for spots that plain didn’t exist and I know they waited a good long time. But just because I made it on a train didn’t mean I was comfortable – it was more like being a sardine than being a person. I got closer to strangers than I ever want to get again and the fact that we were all sweating in our winter gear but unable to move to even take off a scarf didn’t exactly help. Claustrophobia and nausea definitely set in but I closed my eyes and thought of wide open spaces until I was mercifully able to get off the damn train.

What the L

And of course the escalator didn’t work in the train station I disembarked at so I had to walk up three flights of stairs to get out. And since I had to take a different line, I came out about a half mile from my normal stop and I had to book it to make it to work. Oh, did I mention the wind chill was somewhere around -10 during all of this? Because it was and that was like the icicle on top of a frozen crap cake.

At least I wasn’t alone, as all of these issues affected thousands of other commuters as well. That said, if I had my way I would’ve turned right around and gone home to bed the minute I found out about the train problem and stayed under my covers until Wednesday. Public transit has quite a few perks but the downsides can really be awful. I know my last couple of posts were talking all about the great things this city has to offer but some aspects of living here just plain suck (hear that, winter?). But if I had to choose between regularly paying for gas and sometimes inhaling the gas of my fellow commuters, I guess I’d rather save my money. At least that’s what I have to tell myself.

In other news, I think I may get an Uber account.

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Steppin’ to Steppenwolf

November 17, 2014 at 9:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t always take advantage of the things this city has to offer. In another attempt to remedy this, Scott and I went to see our first play at Steppenwolf Theatre on Saturday night. Steppenwolf is a pretty well-known place in the city and we got all dolled up to make our debut there. We chose to see George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is a novel we both really enjoy. Due to my not exactly knowing how to best get to the theater, we were rushing but managed to sit down right before lights out and we happened to have some fairly great seats. The play was 90 minutes long and did an incredible job of conveying the main themes from the novel. For those of you who don’t know, Animal Farm is a story about a group of farm animals who decide to revolt against their master and take over the farm for themselves. They manage to drive their farmer away and things go well at first, until certain animals decide they’re better than others and begin trying to take control for themselves. It’s a really poignant depiction of what power and influence can do and it leaves the audience truly wondering what type of animals men really are.

It’s showtime!

I was curious how they were going to depict the animals in the play given everyone acting was human (obviously) but the costume director did a great job of creating knit animal heads and hooves/mittens that made it easy to forget a human head and hands were underneath. The actors portrayed the mannerisms of the animals they played (the chicken was particularly accurate with neck movements, etc.) and there was a slaughter scene where the actors simply took off their woven masks, threw them in a pile on the floor and walked off the stage. It might not seem like it but it was extremely powerful and moving. I actually had chills at one point (and not just because it was cold in the theater). The performance was better than either Scott or I anticipated and we even stayed after to participate in an open discussion/question and answer session. The whole experience was really incredible and since the tickets weren’t too pricey, we’ll definitely be doing it again sometime!

After the play, we decided to find a bite to eat and something to drink. We went to a taco joint appropriately called ‘Taco Joint’ and again, we were not disappointed. We had two kinds of guacamole to start and a few tacos each, which we washed down with a couple of drinks. Scott had a typical Mexican beer while I enjoyed a red wine sangria that I could’ve drank for days. It was a fabulous date night all around and I can’t wait for another night out on the town!

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Instituting the Institute

November 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I have a confession. I’m not always the best of taking advantage of the special perks and benefits the wonderful city of Chicago has to offer and it sometimes embarrasses me. For instance, I’ve really only been to the Art Institute a handful of times, which is in no way enough to get a glimpse of all they have to offer there, let alone fully appreciate it. Chicago is full of amazing museums and cultural institutions and sometimes I let all of my involvement at the Field wear me out (in a good way, of course!) to the point where I don’t get to enjoy anything else. This is particularly inexcusable because one of the benefits of my volunteering at one of Chicago’s museums is that I can typically use my badge to get into all of the museums. So, this week I decided to finally get some use out of it!

What is this, a room for ants?  Actually, it sort of is.

What is this, a room for ants? Actually, it sort of is.

I get an hour for lunch each day and I can walk to the Art Institute in roughly 10 minutes (yay for powerwalking). I did this yesterday and had plenty of time to check out an entire exhibit while on my break, then I simply walked back to the office with a headful of beautiful images. The exhibit I visited was the Thorne Miniature Room and it was full of displays of various rooms, all the size of dollhouses. It basically took a room from a specific time period and specific place and put it on display. From rooms representing dining halls and bedrooms in England two hundred years ago and showcases featuring living rooms and parlors in the United States sixty years ago, there was plenty to look at. I’ve always been fascinated with tiny furniture and accessories and the detail in these designs was simply astonishing. You can see from the photo that it looks like an actual room – I sent Scott one of these pictures and before I explained what it was, he asked if I got to sit in the room – clearly they look like the real thing.

It was a super cool way to spend my lunch hour and I’ve got a guide to the entire Institute now so I plan on going back frequently to peruse just about everything I can. Sure beats sitting in the cafeteria for an hour!

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Coffee Break

November 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Guys, I think I have a problem. The problem’s name is coffee.

Check.

I never really bothered with coffee until I was well out of college, which is kind of surprising when you think about it. Especially considering how I spent four years in high school working at Dairy Queen, where I would go in to prep and open the store at like 5:30am on the weekends. Of course, this was after I’d spend Friday and Saturday night staying up WAY too late, so obviously I would walk into work quite tired. Yet try as I might, I could never get the hang of drinking coffee. I figured this was actually a blessing in disguise and didn’t really think much more of it and that trend continued throughout college. There were times when I would try yet again to drink coffee to help me stay up late and study but I just couldn’t get into it so I figured I never would.

Oh, how wrong I was.

When I started my first real grown-up job out of college, I was the one who opened the office every day and thus, made the coffee. Without the excitement of flipping burgers or floundering through difficult math problems, I quickly realized that sitting at a desk for 8 or 9 hours every day could be damn tiring. So I tried the whole coffee thing again and realized I could now actually choke it down. Once I discovered fancy creamers and tons of sugar, it was over. Over the last few years I’ve allowed myself a cup or so throughout the day but at my current job I sit right next to the coffee room and it’s just too easy. I’m still only allowing myself like two cups a day but isn’t this how it starts? Will I be mainlining coffee before I know it and quit drinking water entirely? Will I bathe in it? I’m too cheap to spend any of my own money on this newfound addiction (unless it’s the weekend – then all bets are off) so I now have various mugs and cups littering my desk and a craving every morning and afternoon. I guess it’s better than say, a heroin addiction or something, so I’ve got that going for me at least. And two cups a day isn’t horrible.

Though a third cup does sound pretty good…

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Halloween Happenings

November 5, 2014 at 9:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

So I’ve kind of been slacking on this whole blog thing. I hope the four or five of you out there who actually read this regularly can forgive me.

Okay, so my Halloween wasn’t nearly as wild and crazy as last year’s (which involved a Hocus Pocus drag show in Boystown and staying out until like 2am on a work night) but it was still pretty fun. My sister and mom came in town for the weekend and they arrived around 9pm on Halloween night. It was a good thing we didn’t really have anything planned because MAN the weather sucked so staying in and hanging out was about the best thing we could do. I had homemade chili and cornbread ready and waiting for them when they arrived and we watched the actual Hocus Pocus when we finished eating. My mom has been living under a rock since 1993 and had somehow never seen it before but we remedied that. I should also mention that my mom is the type of woman who would’ve also appreciated the Hocus Pocus drag show so maybe we can arrange something like that for another time.

On Saturday we had a delicious brunch then I had the bright idea of driving us all to The Field Museum. What my brainiac self didn’t realize was that there was a HUGELY important and weirdly popular rugby game between the New Zealand All Blacks and the US Rugby team and it was taking place next door to the museum, at Soldier Field. I should’ve realized this because I had actually been planning on attending the damn game with some other people from the Field but I totally spaced everything with the arrival of my family. However, I was rudely reminded while we sat in stupid amounts of traffic and dealt with a museum entrance that was entirely closed off. I managed to find us a way in anyway and we got to check out the exhibit we came for but I swear on King Tut’s tomb that if I ever get myself caught in that kind of traffic nightmare again I’m going to just drive into Lake Michigan.

ANYWAY. My sister made us a delicious meal on Saturday night and we watched a few movies while drinking New Orleans style Hurricanes, courtesy of a package of mix we gave Mom for Christmas last year. On Sunday, we had brunch at a different spot (this one featured an all-you-can-drink Bloody Mary bar and the gods know that was nice), then we visited with a few of my friends before doing a bunch of shopping all through the neighborhood. We grabbed dinner later and watched that crazy dude who tightrope walked over the Chicago River, then basically sat around my living room and just enjoyed each other’s company. Also, I should mention my sister was the first one to fall asleep every night – my mom can still drink us both under the table!

I would totally pay my sister to be my live-in chef but she doesn't accept bubble gum wrappers and IOU's as payment.

I would totally pay my sister to be my live-in chef but she doesn’t accept bubble gum wrappers and IOU’s as payment.

The whole weekend was a lot of fun and it went way too fast. It’s always hard for me when my family leaves because I seriously do enjoy spending time with them and it hurts that I don’t get to do so more often. At least it’s only a 5.5 hour drive, right? Right?! And I’ll be for sure seeing them again at Christmas, so that’s something.

Something else I know for sure? I’ll be checking the live traffic patterns before I ever drive to the museum again.

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