Truckin’

September 30, 2015 at 4:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I came across this scene the other night on my walk home.

  
In case you can’t tell, this is a huge truck full of chairs, couches, video game consoles, controllers and screaming, deliriously happy children. Apparently you can rent these things to park on your street while whoever you deem fit to join you plays all sorts of video games on large screen TV’s. I stopped in wonder and asked a nearby woman what in the heck was going on and she said they had rented it for their son’s birthday party. Sure enough, there were tables full of pizza and snacks sitting behind me (at like 8pm on a Tuesday evening, which I found weird but whatever I’m not a parent and I’m sure the trucks are way more expensive on weekends). Anyway the noises coming from inside the truck assured me the children were either having the time of their lives or viciously torturing small animals and since the mom in charge didn’t seem too concerned, I’m assuming it was the former. It seemed like fun to me and I wanted to get closer and check it out but I didn’t want to look like some creepy child-stealing person so I just backed up slowly and walked away. I was tempted to steal some pizza as I left because I figured my gift to the birthday boy could be a lesson in the school of hard knocks but I didn’t, mostly because the video game truck had wheels (obviously) and I didn’t want it to run me down.

If it held me hostage, though – well that could be a different story. Either way, I know what I want for my next birthday!

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June Book Club Review

July 1, 2013 at 8:11 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

For our June book club, we read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and went to Pizzeria da Nella for dinner.  I had never been to this Italian eatery before but it’s in a good location in Lincoln Park and it’s hard to go wrong with pizza so I was happy.

Not for the feint of heart.

The book is written by the woman who wrote the popular Gone Girl (which I have not read).  I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this novel and I didn’t know anything about it before diving in, so I was taken for quite a ride.  The story follows a journalist who gets sent from Chicago to her hometown to investigate what seems to be a serial killer targeting young girls.  The main character, Camille, also has some demons of her own and this is her first job assignment after being released from treatment for self-inflicted cutting.  So Camille stays in her childhood room and has to face the memories of the younger sister who died when they were kids and the new half-sister who’s roaming the halls.  I don’t want to say any more because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who may want to read it but I will say that it was a quick and engaging read.  I wasn’t too surprised by the twist at end although there were some things throughout the book that I definitely did not see coming.  Some scenes made me very uncomfortable as well, though I couldn’t be sure if that was the intent of the author or just my reaction to what I found too unbelievable to be true.  All in all though, it was entertaining.  This was the author’s first book and those who have read her others said they could tell it was a debut and her writing became better later on.  So perhaps I’ll pick up something else she’s written and give it a try!

As for food, I split a pear and Gorgonzola salad and a pizza with a fellow book clubber.  The pizza had zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms, basil, oil and mozzarella and it was a huge portion.  It was all very good and I left stuffed full of delicious dinner and good conversation.  Our next meeting is two days before we leave for Costa Rica so we’ll see if I feel up to a night out before a week out of the country.  Got a lot to look forward to this month!

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Girl’s Night Out

January 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

This weekend, I went to my second ever bachelorette party.  The only one I’d ever been to before (which I’m pretty sure I blogged about at some point) was a couple of years ago when a group of girls and I went out in Indianapolis for a night of pizza and hanging out a bar.  It was fun and low-key, but low-key was definitely something Saturday night’s party was not!

There were six of us besides the bride-to-be and most of them met for manicures in the late afternoon.

This is honestly the tamest photo from the evening.

This is honestly the tamest photo from the evening.

I had a previous commitment (not to mention budget restrictions) so I met them all at the tail end of their session and we headed back to a downtown hotel, where we had booked a suite for the night.  We commenced with doing our hair and make-up while drinking wine and champagne, then grabbed a cab and went to BIN 36, a wine and tapas bar near the House of Blues.  The drinks were good (especially their J&J cocktail, which of course we had to order since the lady of the hour and her fiance both have names that start with the letter ‘J’) as was the other small plates that we ordered, but to be honest a tapas restaurant isn’t the best plan for dinner before a night of heavy drinking.  Luckily I had figured that beforehand and had a sandwich before meeting up, so all was good.

After dinner, we headed to a nightclub where they were supposed to be featuring a male revue.  Apparently they moved it at the last minute so we hailed another cab and went to Lincoln Park, where the show was in full swing.  Now, the only male strippers I’ve ever seen were in the French Quarter in New Orleans and to be honest, my memory of that evening is somewhat hazy at best.  I don’t know what I was expecting but this show was raunchy as hell and surprised me just a bit.  And I’m not easily surprised.  We bought our friend a lap dance and the guy literally picked her up and threw her on a bed that was in the VIP area we were sitting in, then proceeded to hump her face and grind on places I didn’t even know where grindable.  It was pretty hilarious, to be honest.  Other men were walking around and dancing for the hoards of screaming women in the seats while a different guy was dancing on stage while utilizing chairs and other props.  It was all very…entertaining…but I kept my money to myself and only spent it on drinks throughout the evening.  Once the show was over the whole place turned into a nightclub, which promptly reminded me how much I hate clubs to begin with.  While the immediate company was great and we had fun dancing, the music was horrible and the drinks were overpriced.  At one point I laughed in some guy’s face after he came up behind me, put his hands on my hips and dropped some horrible line.  I think he got the point.

We were going to go to another club after we left the first one but there was a line out the door and it was roughly 5 degrees, so we headed back to the hotel.  We ordered a huge, greasy pizza (the smartest move of the evening, in my opinion), opened another bottle of wine and played a revealing game of Never Have I Ever.  No purses or stomach contents were lost and we all had a good time so I’d say it was a successful evening all around!  And who knows, perhaps even the over-muscled, grabby dude I laughed at found love that evening.

 

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What a Nightmare

November 5, 2012 at 1:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Do you ever have a dream about work?  Waking up to realize you’ve spent your precious hours of freedom unconsciously thinking about your job is a blow to the morale, that’s for sure.  Now what about this – do you ever have dreams about working at a job you haven’t held in years?  Even though I’ve worked in over a dozen places of employment over the past 14 years, I luckily don’t tend to dream about any of them very often.  However, when I do, it’s always about one place and one place only:  Dairy Queen.

Oh god why

I was THE Dairy Queen during my entire high school career and I suppose the reason it makes unwanted appearances in my dreams is because I worked there the longest.  I like to think that over the fact that I worked there during my most formative years because, well, that’s depressing.  Last night, I dreamed that I was back wearing my visor and uniform because, for some reason, they needed me to work for a few hours as they were so short staffed.  My sister was there (she worked with me briefly in real life too) and she needed the back up so I resigned myself to help out for a bit.  At one point, when faced with empty boxes of ice cream cones (because no one ordered enough supplies) and a horribly dirty ice cream counter, I made the comment that the place wouldn’t have been so bad off if I had never left.  Because clearly it’s my life’s goal to stay on as an assistant manager of a locally owned fast food joint.  In the dream, the manager was freaking out because the person coming in to relieve me wasn’t showing up (ironically, the missing worker was the confused accountant we briefly had at my current real job, who didn’t last longer than a month) and they were begging me to stay to close the store.  I asked how much they would pay me and when they said “at least $20 for the whole night” I laughed in their face and walked out the door, meeting my mom in the parking lot so we could go do some shopping.  While walking to our car I found a bag containing $90 cash and realized my decision to quit was a good one, and that was that.

But what does it mean?!  Probably that I’ll make more money doing just about anything (including walking around semi-full parking lots) than I ever would have if I had stayed on at DQ.  Of course, the mystery of why I still dream about that place has not been solved and I don’t know that it ever will be.  I hope that eventually I can get these dreams out of my system but I suppose they’re better than dreaming about wading through dirty underwear in clothing donations at Goodwill or delivering pizzas to a seedy strip club on the south side of Bloomington during college.  Those were the days…not.

As much as I complain about my current job, it’s definitely a step up from the ones I’ve had in the past!  But maybe tonight, just for fun, I can dream about winning the lottery and swimming in a pool full of money with the cast from Magic Mike.  Here’s hoping!

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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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Mid-Week Round Up

July 25, 2012 at 11:51 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Just a few things floating around in this head of mine today:

  • R.I.P. Sherman Hemsley, a.k.a. George Jefferson.  I remember watching him in the 80’s and being so happy he finally got a piece of the pie.  And while I didn’t make the connection until yesterday, I also thoroughly enjoyed him as the voice of Earl Sinclair’s evil dinosaur boss on the 90’s Jim Henson show, Dinosaurs.  Who wouldn’t?

    Sinclair!

  • Ride, Sally, Ride

    Also, R.I.P. Sally Ride.  The first American woman in space deserves our respect, admiration and honor for all of her hard work, dedication and inspiration to young people everywhere.  She was the only person to have served on both of the commissions for the investigations involving the space shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents and she was an advocate for science education throughout her entire life.  She also happened to be gay, which unfortunately makes her a second-class citizen in the country she so honored.  May she rest in peace and dignity.

  • Speaking of us gays, a big shout-out to The Jim Henson Company for standing up for what is right.  Last week, they announced that they would no longer partner with Chick-Fil-A due to the restaurant’s strong support of anti-gay organizations by stating, “The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.  Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD”.  This week, the bigoted restaurant said that they were removing the Jim Henson toys from their kids’ meals because “there were safety concerns” which is pretty much a blatant lie.  As a vegetarian, I haven’t eaten at Chick-Fil-A in over a dozen years anyway but hopefully this will convince others that being the patron of a place that discriminates means your dollars are going to fund that discrimination, even if all you want is a sandwich.  So thank you, Kermit and Company!
  • I still can’t wrap my head around the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, and I don’t think I ever will.  My thoughts are still with those affected and while I wish random outbursts of hatred and violence such as this quit happening altogether, I don’t think anyone has any good ideas as to how to make it happen.  More guns?  Fewer guns?  Metal detectors?  Wider access to mental health help?  I don’t have any answers either but I feel sick watching so many people hurt so much.  I hope they find some of the peace and comfort they deserve.

On a lighter note:

  • The heat wave hasn’t broken and I’m fully prepared to melt into my sandals.  I’m also damn sick of shaving my legs but am still enjoying the absurd look of our shaved cat.
  • There’s only 37 days until Scott and I leave for Ecuador!  And even though it’s in South America and much closer to the Equator than Chicago, the weather there promises to be in the 60’s and 70’s.  Sweet relief while on a sweet vacation!
  • I’m super, duper grateful that the Olympics aren’t in Chicago.  Like, seriously.
  • I’ve eaten pizza and guacamole for dinner ever night so far this week, because I am a truly awesome grown up.

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Don’t Cry Over Squashed Squash

July 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Okay.  Today is better.

But my weekend was the best.  Besides the adorable calf from my previous post, the Saturday evening I spent at my friend’s old (as in over 100 years) farmhouse was full of pizza, more cows, kittens, barns and vegetable gardens.  My weekend also consisted of a tour through my old campus (complete with a drive-by of one of my favorite apartments); beer at one of my favorite sports bars; bagels from a well-known, local establishment; meeting and greeting other new feline companions; a walk through the state’s largest farmer’s market (where I was reminded just how much I love the hippies in that town); lunch and brews at the brewery of my dreams; a cook-out; tours of the new homes from two of my nearest and dearest and plenty of good, old-fashioned catching-up.  I got to see every person I hoped to and narrowly avoided some of those I didn’t.  I was given some news from one dear friend that wasn’t exactly happy but as she seems good with it, I’m good with it too.  I’m incredibly lucky that I know such strong, intelligent and resourceful women and I’m proud to have them all a part of my life.  I’m also very, very grateful that they took the time to hang out with me as much as they did in the short amount of time that I had.  I made a promise to myself to get back down there (with Scott in tow) sometime this fall so by putting it here in the blogosphere, I’ll be held a little more accountable.  Hear that, ladies?  Hold me to it!

I thought this was somewhat appropriate.

The only downside to the entire weekend happened, appropriately, at the very end of my trip.  Before I go any further, let me just say that every person in Bloomington seems to have their own garden.  Seriously.  Everyone.  Of the four female friends I spent time with, all four have their own personal patches of vegetables growing in their backyard (or at least trying to…Indiana really needs some rain).  At the cook out I attended, gardens were a hot topic of discussion and it seemed everywhere I went, that’s what I heard.  I’m not complaining because I honestly think it’s awesome but I am more than just a little bit jealous.  If I had a garden here, it would consist of a pitiful few seeds in a plastic cup on my balcony and not the rows of awesomeness that I saw all weekend long.  So with lots of gardening comes lots of extra vegetables and I’m never one to turn down free food, although I did try to beg off in this case since I was traveling by bus.  One friend insisted I take a large zucchini though and after loading it up in my purse and making a few penis-related jokes, I forgot all about it before boarding my bus and going on my way.  Toward the end of the ride I put my hand in my bag to search for my wallet and realized there was an unfortunate stench wafting from folds of my favorite purse.  Then I realized I had zucchini mash under my nails and all over my hand.  This was not something I wanted to deal with on a hot, crowded bus while facing another hour train ride home.  Upon inspection, I saw that the zucchini had snapped in half and mush spread over my wallet, journal, book, keys and every other damn thing I had in there.  And it reeked.  I managed to find some unharmed tissues and after getting off the bus I cleaned up as well as I could.  There’s probably still a rotting, smashed zucchini sitting on the steps of the building near the bus stop but that’s not something I think they can link back to me.  Unless the security for that building reads my blog.  Anyway, it was gross and I’m not entirely sure that my favorite purse and wallet are washing machine friendly but I guess I’m going to find out.  I was also bummed at the loss of a giant, delicious zucchini but there was just no saving that bad boy.

If that’s the worst thing that happened, though, I still think I’m super lucky.  And next time I make a visit, I’ll be sure to bring a plastic bag for any produce that comes home with me!

 

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Hunger Pains

June 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

This isn’t a real post.  Rather, it’s a confession.  I got home last night around 8pm and that was nearly 10 hours after I’d eaten anything.  I was not in a mood to be messed with.  I found two pieces of leftover pizza in my fridge and in my excitement to get them into my mouth, I dropped them on the floor.  I then picked them up, gave them an incredibly cursory blow-off and then promptly shoved them into my face.  Yes, they were cold and no, I don’t regret a thing.  I believe my time in college prepared me for just this sort of occasion.

I only tell you this so if something similar ever happens to you, you can rest assured in knowing that you’re not alone.

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Let Them Eat Cake

June 19, 2012 at 11:22 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I have a doctor’s appointment later this evening for a general physical and potential yellow fever vaccination for the trip to Ecuador and I’ve been instructed to not eat or drink anything other than water for the 8 hours leading up to my appointment.  Since I’m meeting the doctor at 6:30pm, I inhaled a ton of food and coffee for breakfast and now I have heartburn.  I’m in no way hungry (yet) but I imagine I will be.  The pizza that was just delivered for our office and set up in the cubicle next to mine isn’t exactly helping.

Neither is the cake that we have for someone’s birthday.  Of all the days…

I mean, I’m used to eating a light breakfast and waiting until 2:30 or so to eat lunch so this should be easy.  Only when someone tells me not to do something it suddenly becomes the one thing I can’t stop thinking about doing.  Tell me I can’t eat?  I begin fantasizing about gnawing on every single thing within eyesight.  Seriously, my stapler has never looked better.  A friend also mentioned that the fasting probably means they’re going to do some blood work and I vaguely remember that from my last physical, which I’m pretty sure took place during the previous century.  I hate needles so I’m a little more nervous about all this now.

A piece of cake would help make me feel better.  Damnit.

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August Book Club

August 30, 2011 at 9:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

It’s been a while since we had our book club outing, mostly because summer is a hard time to track down such busy ladies.  We managed to get together for a couple of hours last Thursday and it was an evening of food, wine and literary talk that was more than a little needed.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to talk much about the actual book.  Our club is in dire need of new members since a couple moved and a few quit showing up, so it was just going to be the four of us as it was.  Then one lady got stuck at work and myself and another showed up incredibly late (stupid buses during rush hour that have to stop every two seconds) but the three of us eventually found each other and caught up over a glass of wine.  By the time we got around to discussing the book, it was clear that one girl hadn’t finished and the other had barely gotten started.  Eh, it’s what happens when the weather turns nice.

I never did figure out what the rose had to do with it

Now I read this months ago when we first tried to plan our summer meeting and since then my brain has been fried by Moby Dick so I barely even remembered it myself.  I do remember that we read The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, which is a novel that tells the stories of a handful of women right before WWII broke out.  One woman is reporting on the war from the trenches of Europe, one discovers she’s pregnant right as she sends her doctor husband to London to help with bomb victims and one woman is in charge of a post office in a small town where all three women somehow manage to connect.  I thought it was interesting, especially because the characters have no idea of the depth of the atrocities going on in the war and it really shows the confusion and ignorance that was probably evident in the Americans on the brink of war.  The book wasn’t exactly an upper but it did make me think and I was glad I read it.  And there was no giant white and evil whale so that was nice.

We ate at Crust, a pizza place that was ironically where we met on my very first night of book club ever, more than two years ago.  I had a spinach and goat cheese calzone that went nicely with my glass of Pinot Grigio and the pizzas that the other gals got looked equally delicious.  We sat on the patio and enjoyed the fresh air while I was reminded that the time to do so is dwindling (I had to wear a sweater last night.  Not okay).  Even though we didn’t get much chatter in revolving around the book, we had good conversations anyway and even had a brief photo shoot because one of the girls needed a new pic for her online dating profile (this was after I disclosed that the new bf and I met on the ‘net).  I left the restaurant full and looking forward to our next book and even managed to get home before some rain hit.  I’m glad we got back in the book club groove and I’m bringing a friend to the next meeting so we’ll have another member soon.

But really, I’m just glad to be reading anything other than Moby Dick.  Like the back of a shampoo bottle or the ads on the train.

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