Thursday, April 27, 2006

My, where does the time go?

Someone stole* the hands off the Wrigley Building Clock.

*OK, chances are they weren't stolen. But isn't that more fun than being taken down to be cleaned or whatever? Glad we're in agreement.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Puppy Portrait Tuesday: Silly Pet Owners

So, I could post a self portrait today, or I could post pictures of my puppy. What would you rather see? Stinky, post-workout me, or puppies. Puppies? Oh goodie, me too.

OK, so remember how I said I have noisy neighbors? Right, well part of the joy of having loud neighbors is also having a 100-pound rottweiler that has to investigate every bump in the night. With every crazy neighbor noise at 3 a.m., Rosie runs to our window to investigate while making little sleepy woofs, like so:

This investigation tendency led Chris to name her "DSI: Dog Scene Investigator," which led me to take the joke too far and dress her up as a cop, like so:

Special Agent Rosie examines the victim's home.

Agent Rosie secures the perimeter.

Agent Rosie takes extra time investigating the bedroom.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fast Granny

My mom is so cool. On Saturday night the family went to my aunt's 50th birthday party. We all ate too much and drank too much and stayed out too late. Then the next morning, my mom got up at 6 a.m. and ran a 5K in 34:05. She ended up getting third in her age group.

In her words: "Not bad for a 56 yr. old, hung-over grandma!"

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Tale of Baby, Gadda-Gah, The Moaner and Mr. Shut Up

I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately. A strange cast of characters in my neighborhood has been keeping me up. The past week has been one of those stranger-than-fiction kinds of weeks, and I’m not happy about it.

Usually I’m a very heavy sleeper. I can easily sleep through normal urban noises, ambulances and even tornado sirens. And other than these sounds, my neighborhood is fairly quiet. It can get a little rowdy during the Gay Pride Parade and North Halsted Market Days, but for the most part, it’s pretty quiet. That’s one of the things that drew us to this area: we’re within walking distance of the Wrigleyville bars, but we’re far enough away that we don’t have to deal with frat boys passed out on the front lawn.

However, not long after we moved in, we met Baby and her crazy owner. Baby is one of those tiny, fluffy ankle-biter-type dogs. Every morning at the crack of dawn, Baby and her crazy owner make their way down the corridor between my apartment complex and the one next door. Our bedroom window faces this corridor. This is unfortunate because the crazy lady doesn’t actually walk Baby. Instead, she’s sends Baby scampering down the corridor with her leash attached. At the end of this leash is a metal handle, which clangs upon the cement as Baby runs along (I can only assume to poor dog is trying to run away from this noisy metal object). So every morning, just as it’s getting light outside, I awake to the sound of metal scraping along cement, a yelping dog and the crazy lady calling “Ba-beeee.” (By the way, I call her crazy because everyday Chris runs into her when he’s walking Rosie, and everyday she asks what Rosie’s name is. Everyday. We’ve lived here for eight months, and she still can’t remember Rosie’s name.)

Since moving in, I’ve gotten used to Baby’s run. It still wakes me up every morning, but now it’s like a little alarm clock letting me know that I need to get up in an hour. It’s annoying, but I can excuse someone making this kind of racket during daylight hours. What I cannot excuse are the people who make noise in the middle of the night. People like Gadda-Gah.

Gadda-Gah first appeared about two weeks ago. Around 3 in the morning one night, I heard a man yell out “Gadda Gah!” At first, I thought he yelled, “Got a Gun!” and I nearly hit the floor. However, after he continued to yell out this mantra every few minutes for the next half-hour, I realized that it was something more like “Gadda-Gah!” I don’t know what this means. I don’t know why he yells it out. I don’t know if it’s something he does in his sleep or if it’s some type assembly call he yells out to his Gadda-Gah brethren. What I do know is that it’s really fucking annoying.

But not as annoying as The Moaner. Starting Monday night around 2:30 a.m., a woman on the other side of the corridor decided to start moaning very, very loudly. Now, I’m a pretty open-minded person, and I understand that when you live in a big city, occasionally you’re going hear folks boffing. However, this particular boffing session lasted for an eternity. Every few minutes this woman would carry on these long, drawn-out moans, occasionally followed by “Wheeeee!” (I am not making this up.)

After enduring this for an hour and a half, a man in the apartment complex finally yelled out “Shut Up!” The Moaner carried on, only a bit more quietly, for another hour.

On Tuesday night, The Moaner struck again. Once again it started around 2:30 a.m. This time it lasted about 45 minutes before Mr. Shut Up yelled out “Shut up you *expletive expletive*!!!” She quieted down after that. About 20 minutes later it started raining, and subtly over the raindrops I could hear, “Gadda-Gah!”

On Wednesday night, The Moaner went at it again. This time she was only going for about 15 minutes before Mr. Shut Up yelled out, “Shut up you *expletive expletive* There’s no reason for you to moan out your window and wake up everyone else! Shut up!” She was silent after that.

Finally, last night was the first night I got some much-needed rest. I slept the whole night without any interruptions. No Moaner. No Gadda-Gah. No Mr. Shut Up. I felt refreshed when I awoke to Baby making her morning dash down the corridor. But then, while I was getting ready for work, The Moaner struck again. It was about 8 a.m., and she was still going strong when I left a half hour later. She’s probably still going now, but I really don’t care. As long as it’s not the middle of the night, I’m a happy camper. And apparently, so is she.

UPDATE (04.25.06): The Moaner returned Friday night. However, this time Mr. Shut Up threatened legal action. In his words: "I'm going to call the cops for a noise disturbance, and they're going to give you a summons for disturbing the peace!" She hasn't made a peep since then.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Self-Portrait Tuesday: Silly Renters

Not long after Chris and I moved into our apartment in Chicago, we were unsure about what to do with one, giant white wall. So one day, using a broomstick as straight edge and nickels for circles, we sketched out the CTA “L” system on our wall. Then we forgot about it for five months.

Finally last weekend, we got around to painting the thing. And it’s big. Really, really big. It’s going to be super fun trying to repaint the wall white a year from now when we move out. But hey, you’re only young once. Someday we’ll have a real house and such a thing will be considered “immature.” But today, we have the freaking CTA on our wall.

Chris works on the Green Line.

I tackle the Orange Line.

Rosie finds the whole process tiring.

Did I mention it’s big? O’Hare flies onto the ceiling.

Chris and Rosie relax the next day.

You are here. Now you know where I live. Sort of.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Running away

“Veronica and I trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it’s jogging or yogging. It might be a soft J. I'm not sure, but apparently you just run, for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild.” – Anchorman

Inspired by Women’s Health magazine and a friend’s blog, I’ve decided to start running. Running is probably no big deal for most people, but it is for me. Why? Because I suck at it.

For the past seven years I’ve told myself that I can’t run because of my feet. But the truth is before I got sick, I was a horrible runner. When I run, my feet feel fine. It’s my lungs that feel like they’re about to give out. From what I’ve read, I need to build up my endurance. So, I’ve prescribed myself the 5K training method: alternate minutes of walking and running, increasing the running minutes every session.

I don’t own a stopwatch, so I started this method on the treadmill. Every other day I head down to the gym in my building after work and hit the treadmill for 30 minutes. I started at the lowest walk-run ratio, with 2 minutes of walking followed by 3 minutes of running. Over the past few weeks I’ve worked my way up to 2 minutes walking, 10 minutes running. This is a major accomplishment for me, especially considering I had to hold at the 2-5 ratio for a few sessions.

So two weeks ago, I decided to take this outside to the lakefront path. All throughout winter, even on the below 0 days, there’s a few running nuts out there pounding up and down Lake Michigan. With the weather getting warmer, the lakefront has become increasingly populated with runners, bikers, roller bladers and dog walkers. So I decided to join them, and it was not pretty. Running outside is A LOT harder than the treadmill. The ground is uneven and there are little hills and an insane wind coming off the lake. The first time I went out, it was in the 50s, so I went out wearing a few layers. However, from the time I jogged the two blocks from my apartment to the lakefront path, I swear the temperature dropped 20 degrees. I froze my butt off. So the next time I went out, it was in the upper 60s, and I wore some layers again. This time, I nearly dropped from heat exhaustion.

Each time I’ve run outside, I haven’t been able to keep up my treadmill numbers. Because of my lack of a stopwatch, I use my little MP3 player to let me know when to walk and run. I’ve loaded it with a running mix of 2-minute songs followed by songs that are between 4 and 8 minutes long. (I wrote out my mix below. I’m pretty sure people with multiple personalities have similar looking playlists.) Although I could easily run in 10-minutes segments with a steady speed on the treadmill, outside I’m lucky if I can get through the 4-minute songs without dragging my feet and slowing down to the point that I’m jogging yet getting passed by walkers. It’s pretty pathetic. But when I when I get home, I feel great. And the next day, I'm sore in all over, in a good way. So I’ll keep heading out to the lakefront, braving the wind and trying not to get hit by bikers, building up my stamina and running for the simple fact that I can.

Running mix:

The Sniper Song – Naked Raygun
Lady Marmalade – Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya and Pink
Bruce Lee vs. The Kiss Army – Guttermouth
Sexual Revolution – Macy Gray
Prozac Moment – Mr. T. Experience
Ray of Light – Madonna
Rock & Roll – The Redwalls
The Perfect – The Killing Tree
Wave of Mutilation – The Pixies
Freedom 90 – George Michael
Cooking Wine – Alkaline Trio
Tangled Up in Blue – Indigo Girls
Breakfast of Champions – Rainer Maria

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday – April Fool

I had this great idea for this month’s silliness theme, but I left my camera at my parent’s house this weekend, so I’m gonna have to go with a scanned photo.

Anyway, I was trying to think of some silly photos from my childhood, and lots of Halloween costumes came to mind. Most years for Halloween I dressed up as either a) a baseball player (usually Bill Buckner when he was a Cub, before the ball-through-the-legs unpleasantness), or b) something weird my parents came up with. There was the year they dressed me up as Mac Tonight, the singing moon character from the McDonalds commercials. I wore a giant cardboard moon on my head. All day long the other kids made fun of me and asked me for cheeseburgers. Then there was the year they dressed me up as “William Tell’s First Son.” I had an apple on top of my head and an arrow going through my noggin. But the kicker was the giant, sandwich board I wore that read “William Tell’s First Son.” Considering I had no idea who William Tell was, and none of my eight-year-old friends did either, the costume didn’t go over so well. Yep, lots of kids making fun of me that year.

But to choose one of these pics for my silliness self portrait is almost too easy. Plus, it’s not really me being silly as much as me grudgingly going along with my parents’ twisted sense of humor. (By the way, I don’t blame my parents for these outfits. They were just being parents. You see, this is why you have kids. You get to dress them up in silly outfits and send them out in public, and there’s nothing they can do about because they’re kids. I fully intend on doing the same thing to my children. When all the other first graders are dressed up for Halloween as princesses and superheros, my kid will be the one dressed up as Fidel Castro.)

So, for my self portrait this week, I thought I’d go back farther than grade-school costumes. This pic is from Halloween when I was three and my sister was 10. We’re not even dressed up as anything. But did you look at that pumpkin? What is up with that thing? It’s got green peppers for ears, onions for eyes, chili peppers for eyebrows, some sort of gourd for a nose. That pumpkin has my parents written all over it. When all the other houses on the block featured cute, carefully carved pumpkins, our front porch had a pumpkin that was sprouting salad. It’s when I look at pictures like this I remember why my sister and I never really fit in with the other suburban kids.

Thank god.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Songs for Jack

I guess newborns aren't quite ready to jam yet, but I decided to make a CD for my new nephew anyway.

Here Comes Your Man - The Pixies
Jennifer and the Ess-Dog - Steve Malkmus
Underdog (Save Me) - Turin Brakes
Tell Him - Lauryn Hill
We Are Nowhere and It's Now - Bright Eyes
The Triple Bill of Shame - Mendoza Line
Can't Take My Eyes Off of You - Lauryn Hill
Helpless - Neil Young & The Band (The Last Waltz)
Sweet Baby - Macy Gray
It's Summertime - The Flaming Lips
Silent Sigh - Badly Drawn Boy
Hanging Around The Day Part 2 - The Polyphonic Spree
The Only Living Boy in New York - Simon & Garfunkel
The First Day of My Life -Bright Eyes
Brown-Eyed Woman - Grateful Dead
New Slang - The Shins
Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright
Dear Chicago - Ryan Adams
Sin City - Beck & Emmylou Harris
Lord Protect My Child - Susan Tedeschi

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Never thought I’d blog about Katie Couric

I really don’t care about Katie Couric’s move from the Today show to evening news. I only catch the Today show occasionally when I’m waiting for the local TV station to show the weather, and I tend not to watch network evening news because I’d rather get my news from a newspaper or NPR.

However, the topic has been debated on a Mizzou j-school graduate listserve I belong to. Mostly, people are discussing if it was a smart move and if Couric, who’s been doing morning-show fluff for the past 15 years, has the journalism chops to join the ranks of Murrow, Cronkite and Rather. However, one person brought up an interesting question: “If Matt Lauer were tapped for the CBS spot, would anyone be discussing this?” My guess is probably not. Although Lauer and Couric have both been doing the same cutesy morning fluff for the past few years, most people wouldn’t think twice if Lauer decided to become a “serious” journalist, whereas when Couric decided to make the shift, everyone questioned if she could hack it. Why? Because she’s female.

It’s 2006, and this sad country still has a problem with women in positions of power. And unfortunately, a lot of this misogyny is self-hatred. Women hate strong women. If you’re a strong woman in this country, other women call you a bitch. Think about Hilary Clinton and Eleanor Clift. Hell, even Martha Stewart. Lots of women love her magazine and TV show, but they also find her cold and frightening. Even Oprah got flack when she was “too serious” and “too hard” on James Frey. Sorry Oprah, women don’t it like when you ask tough questions. Just stick to talking about feelings and giving away cars.

This self-hatred is the reason we probably won’t see a female president any time in the near future. I saw an interesting statistic recently: In Afghanistan, women represent about 27 percent of the government’s lower house and 23 percent of its upper house; in Iraq women hold 26 percent of the seats; in China, women represent 20 percent of the government. And how about our Western, supposedly enlightened, equality-loving country? In the U.S. woman only hold 15 percent of the House and 14 percent of the Senate. Nice.

So what does this have to do with Katie Couric? Absolutely nothing. She might be the first women to host an evening network news program all by herself, but I don’t see that changing anything in the country. In fact, if the CBS’ ratings fall after she takes over, all networks might think twice before allowing another woman to hold such a position.

It’s like Veronica Corningstone infiltrating the Channel 4 news team all over again.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday: April Fools

Oh my, is it Tuesday already? I’ve been busy building what is quite possibly the worst fantasy baseball team ever for the past few days, so I lost track of time. And did I mention I picked Florida to lose in the first round of the NCAA tourney? Me=dumb.

Anyway, this month’s SPT challenge is “April Fool.” I decided to go with some April Fools (plural, not possessive):

A few weeks ago Chris and I visited the Jelly Belly warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. We thought it was a factory, but it turns out it was only a distribution site. However, they still give you a tour and show you how they make Jelly Bellys. They also make you wear hats and ride a train. This is really fun if you’re an eight-year-old, which is good because there were a ton of kids on the tour. In fact, Chris and I quickly realized that we were the only adults there other than parents. So yeah, we’re dorks, but we had a really good time anyway. We bought a ton of candy and got some free stuff and bought chocolate and a bag of mutant Jelly Bellys and a puzzle and then we ate too much candy and got stomach aches.

Here’s to acting like kids for a day:

Monday, April 03, 2006

I am such a girl, part 2

Like most brides, I am currently trying to lose weight before my wedding. Actually, it’s not the wedding as much as the honeymoon. I’m going to be in sunny southern Spain, and I want to be in bikini-wearing shape. I’m not really on a diet though. I’m just trying to exercise more and eat better. More veggies and whole grains. Less fried cheese.

It’s been going pretty well so far. Since beginning my “diet” a month ago, I’ve lost about seven pounds. However, until this weekend, I was pretty sure all seven pounds came out of my boobs. But then on Saturday, I tried on my skinny jeans ... And they fit. I could even sit down in them without passing out. I decided to celebrate this success on Saturday night by drinking heavily (yes, I fell off the wagon) and staying out until 6 a.m. (damn daylight savings).

On Sunday, my weight-loss-induced high continued when I went to my sister’s to hang out with my nephew and grandparents. I happily told the grandmas about my success, and they told me they were also trying to lose weight before my wedding. They’re both pretty thin, and in their 70s and 80s, and on Wednesday, they both became great-grandparents. Yet they feel the need to lose weight. That’s when I realized that just like my mother and grandmothers, my unhappiness with my body was going to last for the rest of my life.

Until yesterday I had accepted, although didn’t agree with, the fact that society pressures teenagers, young women and middle-aged women to be thin. I had no idea that pressure extended to seniors. Granted, I’m glad they’re trying to eat well and stay healthy. But they both rattled off how many pounds they’ve lost and how many more they want to lose. Why is this necessary? They both gave birth to multiple children and raised huge families. They should be able to eat whatever the hell they want.

I wish I could say that after this realization, I gave up my diet and decided to just be happy with the skin I’m in. Instead, I tallied up my calories for the day and scolded myself for drinking non-diet pop. The truth is, I will always be unhappy with my body, whether I lose weight or not. I’m too short, I’ve got a big nose, my chin is too small, I’ve got scars on my legs, and screwed up feet, and discolored skin from years of bad acne. And no matter what I do, those imperfections will always be there. My weight is the only thing I can control. So I’ll keep on eating Lean Cuisine and drinking diet Pepsi and working out as much as possible. Once again, I’d like to think I’m not like most girls, but the truth is, I am.