Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday

I found out about this cool site called Self-Portrait Tuesday through my friend Holly's Web site. Basically, every Tuesday you post a self-portrait that meets the month's challenge. This month's challenge is personal history. Here's the site's explanation:

January Challenge - Personal History

Explore the cross over between self portraiture and family photography. This challenge can be as simple as revisiting old family snap shots - to tell a story.

Technical advice - scan in old pics - or photograph old pics. Use them in various ways to think back on your journey through life, your achievements, mistakes, highlights and low points. Perhaps you could make a time line or overlay several images. Tell a story.

This pic is from my spring break trip of 2003. In my five years in college, I never took a typical "college student" spring break. Never got drunk in South Padre with midwestern frat boys. My spring breaks were pretty uneventful. Most years, I just came home. One spring break I had to get my wisdom teeth out. That was fun.

However, for my final spring break I decided to go on a road trip. Alone. I drove from Missouri to Syracuse to visit Chris, then drove from Syracuse to Toronto to visit Jon and Teviya. Then I drove from Toronto to Chicago, and finally back to Missouri. I got all the perks of a friend-filled road trip, without the hassles. I listened to my music. I stopped when I wanted to. When it came time to pick a place to eat, I always got my way.

I wasn't single back then, but I felt totally independent at that point in my life. College was almost over. I had very few friends still at school. I had nearly no obligations to anyone. I definitely got lonely from time to time during that last semester, but for the most part, I enjoyed my solitude.

Before that semster, I spent so much of my college life angry. I was always mad at someone or something. I was mad about the cards life had dealt me. I hated college students, and I envied them.

But then I met Chris and suddenly all that hatred disappeared. Somehow, this beer-loving, Missourah frat boy taught me stop hating my surroundings and myself. It was the first time in my life I was happy being me. I was totally content in life. That's what I see when I look at this picture.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The great cable debate

When Chris and I first moved into our apartment in Chicago, we made a conscious decision not to get cable. For one, we couldn’t afford it because at the time I was supporting both of us on my meager reporter’s salary. And two, we thought we were above cable. It was August, and we delighted in taking our dog to the beach or reading in the park rather than watching brain-numbing television. People would ask us about some pop culture crap, and we’d respond with the utmost self-righteousness, “Sorry, we don’t watch television.”

But that’s pretty much worn off now. Now it’s January and going to the beach in the Windy City is not a good idea (And yes, I realize that Chicago’s moniker the Windy City has nothing to do with the weather. But every local has experienced being knocked over by gale-force winds whipping off the lake and through the insane wind tunnels created by the buildings downtown.) Now when Chris and I get home from work, we find ourselves turning on the tube and watching whatever we can get in using our old-school antenna. We get the three big stations pretty well, but sometimes they’ll only be black and white, or we’ll get that unbelievably annoying flipping screen. Fox is even worse, and as a result we both developed beer bellies watching the MLB and NFL playoffs at bars. Of the stations that do come in, about half are Spanish and another five or so are Asian. PBS has been our one saving grace. We get sucked into its documentaries on a regular basis. Plus, PBS shows the original version of The Office, which is awesome.

But by and large, during primetime we find ourselves watching shows we hate. CSI, the Bachelor, Four Kings, Access Hollywood. They all make my brain hurt, especially because I know there are good shows out there I’m missing. When we lived in Syracuse, we not only had digital cable, HBO and Showtime, but we also had DVR. We recorded everything. So when stupid stuff was on, we could watch last night’s Daily Show. We got hooked on Project Runway and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. We taped awesome documentaries, and unlike PBS, they weren’t interrupted every half-hour with a pledge drive. At any given time, we had at least 30 hours of television saved on our DVR. And essentially, this is why we won’t let ourselves get cable now. Now that Chris and I are both gainfully employed, we could afford digital cable and HBO and DVR. The problem is that if we get it, we both know we’ll never leave the apartment again. We act like we’re too enlightened for pop culture, but in reality we’re both TV junkies trapped inside an apartment with bad reception.

So until we confront our inner-TV-loving demons, until we can honestly promise ourselves that getting cable won’t lead to the end of our already pathetic social lives, we’ll be stuck watching Emily’s Reasons Why Not.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And a garland of fresh herbs...

So, I’m getting married. The planning process is way more complicated than I thought. The problem is, I don’t have any strong feelings about things. I’m not one of those girls who starting planning her wedding when she was six. As a result, I don’t have a lot of direction. People say things such as, “So, how are you going to wear your hair?” And I’m like, “um, on my head…?”

But, there were a few things I was sure about before getting into this process. For starters, I wanted to wear my mom’s dress. I’m not typically a traditional kind of gal, but that’s one tradition I like. Luckily, it actually fits. My mom was 19 when she got married.

Second, I also knew that in the end, I just want the wedding to be fun. I have no desire to have a fancy wedding. In fact, I originally planned to have Italian beef and deep-dish pizza catered in for the reception, but Dad wasn’t too thrilled about that plan. Chris, on the other hand, thought it was a great idea, which is why I’m marrying this man.

Finally, I had my mind made up on this: no Top 40. No P-Diddy. No Britney. No Nelly. Nobody wants to see grandma get down to 50 Cent. I also don’t want any of that YMCA-crap either. Instead, I’m having a local blues/Motown band play the reception. Sorry kids, no hokey-pokey dance or lame ass Conga lines.

That’s pretty much it. The planning’s progressing, but there’s still stuff I have no idea about. (I have to hire a florist? Wha?) If anyone out there has any suggestions for cheap wedding ideas – my fiancĂ© might be a lawyer, but student loans are a bitch – please pass them my way. Cheers!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My last news article

After two short years as a newspaper reporter, I've decided to switch careers. I began a job as a copy editor for a group of Chicago trade publications Jan. 9. This story, published Jan, 6., was my last one as a newspaper reporter. Had all my stories been this fun to write, I probably wouldn't have left the field.

Stabbing victim leaps from balcony
By Sarah Stone
Staff writer
Westmont Progress Newspaper

A Waukegan man is recovering from his injuries after he was stabbed several times -- then jumped from a third-floor balcony of a Westmont apartment to escape his attacker -- at about midnight Dec. 30. A 30-year-old Westmont man has been charged in the incident.

William Clinge, 26, was at a residence in The Ponds, an apartment complex on the village's south side. He said he was visiting Neriious Niakviadavitchious, 30, 6724 Tudor Lane, for a couple of hours when the attack took place. The two had been drinking vodka, and finished more than one bottle, Clinge said.

"I was sitting there drinking and all the sudden my brother called on my cell phone and he was talking to Neriious," Clinge said. "That conversation was fine and everything was perfect. Then Neriious got a phone call in Russian, and it wasn't a good phone call. It didn't go so well. He went into the kitchen and grabbed two kitchen knives. Then he walked back over to where I was at. He punched me in the side of my face and threw me to the ground. Then he put the knife to my throat and slit my throat."

Clinge said he doesn't know why he was attacked. He suspects the phone call had something to do with Clinge's business. Clinge declined to say what type of business he's in.

"It has to do with our two different businesses," Clinge said. "Our business ethics weren't the same."

Although Clinge's throat had been slit, he said he didn't lose consciousness. Clinge said Niakviadavitchious told him to take everything out of his pockets, which he did.

"I told him he was making a mistake," Clinge said. "I said, 'If you let me go now I won't tell anybody.' He said, 'No, I'm going to kill you.' I have no idea why he wanted to kill me. I wish he had told me why."

Clinge said Niakviadavitchious kept him in the apartment for about an hour, stabbing him every time he tried to leave. Clinge said due to the loss of blood, he began having chest pains.

At one point, Niakviadavitchious let Clinge use the bathroom, Clinge said.

"I started looking around for a window," he said. "He saw me looking around for a window and stabbed me again."

Clinge said he also tried to call 911 from his cell phone but Niakviadavitchious saw this and took the phone away.

"He took my cell phone and smashed it on the ground and broke it into pieces," Clinge said. "He had me take phone numbers out of my pocket and told me to sit by a chair. Then he stabbed me again in the hand. This went on for an hour. Every time he'd stab me, he'd give me a shot of vodka. He'd say, 'Drink or I'll stab you again.'"

Clinge said someone called the apartment and spoke with Niakviadavitchious, who spoke in Russian.

According to Westmont police Lt. Richard Sandford, Niakviadavitchious is a native of Lithuania. Clinge is not Lithuanian, but he has many Lithuanian friends and speaks the language, Clinge said. He also knows a little Russian, he said.

Clinge said he believes he heard Niakviadavitchious say on the phone, "We can all take care of him."

A little later, some people came to the apartment, and Niakviadavitchious left the room to let them in.

"He looked out the door to see if his friends were there," Clinge said. "When he went to (the) main apartment door, I could hear the people walking up the stairs. I ran across the apartment to the balcony and jumped off the third-story balcony."

According to Sandford, this was the only way for Clinge to escape.

"He didn't feel like there was any safe way to get out," Sandford said. "He was restrained in the apartment against his will. He ran out to the balcony to jump off for fear of his life."

Clinge said he landed on a grassy area next to the apartment complex. On his way down, he said he hit the second-story balcony with his hands and part of his back. He landed on the grass on his back, he said.

"After I jumped down and I landed on my back, the wind was knocked out of me," Clinge said. "But I got up with an adrenaline rush. I hobbled and ran a block away."

Clinge said he saw a girl walking her dog. He asked her to please call 911. At first she said no and told him to get away from her, Clinge said. He said he yelled at her and asked her to "please save my life."

"I laid on the ground. I couldn't really stand up," Clinge said. "I've had a heart attack before, so I knew what it was."

Clinge said the police responded quickly, and the ambulances arrived afterward. He was taken to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was still hospitalized as of Jan. 5. Clinge said he's being treated for stab wounds and a heart attack. Despite his three-story jump, he did not suffer any broken bones, he said.

According to Sandford, officers who went to Niakviadavitchious' apartment found it empty, but later obtained warrants against him for aggravated battery and unlawful restraint. Niakviadavitchious turned himself in Jan. 3 and was taken to DuPage County Jail, Sandford said. His bond has been set at $5 million.

Sandford said a woman who lives at the apartment was present during the altercation. However, she was in another room during most of the evening, Sandford said.

"The stabbing had nothing to do with her that we know of," Sandford said.

Clinge said he had known Niakviadavitchious for more than a year before the incident and that they were friends. They met through mutual friends.

Clinge said he went over the Niakviadavitchious' apartment Dec. 30 because he was in the area.

"I called and said, 'Hey, I'm in the area,'" Clinge said. "He (Niakviadavitchious) drove to the liquor store to pick up some vodka, and we started drinking."

This is the second stabbing involving a Lithuanian at The Ponds in less than four months. Paulius Liandsbergas, 22, 6705 Vail Drive, died Sept. 13 at Good Samaritan. According to Westmont police, Liandsbergas was hosting a party at his Vail Drive apartment when a neighbor -- Lewis J. Watson, 32, 6706 Vail Drive -- allegedly attacked him with a knife in the parking lot outside their units.

Watson and Liandsbergas argued in the parking lot before Liandsbergas was stabbed in the chest, Sandford said. The blade penetrated his heart, he said.

Liandsbergas lived in his Vail Drive apartment with his mother. He is a native of Lithuania who had been in the United States for four years, Sandford said. Sandford said police do not believe there is a connection between the Dec. 30 stabbing and the Liandsbergas murder.

Watson, who was charged with first-degree murder, remains in DuPage County Jail on $2 million bond. His next court date is Friday, Jan. 20.