Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

For my final SPT All of Me challenge I thought I’d share a few unsightly photos, all of which my sister, Laura, took. Laura has the unique ability to take the worst possible photos of me. A few examples:

Exhibit A: Save big money at Menards

In this photo Laura has managed to make me look heftier than her pregnant friend. Because we were both looking directly into the sun for this shoot, we have squinty grins. This smile is what my dad and I call the “Menards” face. If you’ve ever seen a commercial for the Midwestern lumber store Menards with the white haired old dude saying “Men-aaaardds!” you’ll know what I mean.

Exhibit B: Hey you guys!

While taking in a White Sox-Red Sox game at Fenway last summer, Laura managed to nab this shot. I don’t remember what she said to prompt me to turn around and make this face. I can only guess it was something to the effect of, “Do your best Sloth impression from Goonies.”

Exhibit C: Huh?

Okay, I’m partially to blame for this shot. For some reason Eric (my brother in law) and I decided to put napkin rings on our ears at Christmas dinner. And then we decided to tilt our heads to the side in a confused manner for this shot. Laura’s really not to blame for this pic, but capturing my double chin is highly suspicious.

So how does this fit into the “All of Me” theme? Well, as much as I dislike these photos, they’re ones I’ll keep forever because they capture my personality. I’m a weird girl. I make strange faces, even when I’m not trying. And when I’m around my sister, well, that goofiness just multiplies.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Been dancing with Mr. Brownstone

Most pre-teen girls have obsessions. In my day, some girls were obsessed with boy bands (NKOTB). Some were obsessed with famous pre-teen boys (JTT). And some were obsessed with television shows (90210).

When I was a pre-teen, I was obsessed with Guns N’ Roses.

And it’s not really fair to say it was a pre-teen obsession because the fascination lasted right into my teen years and beyond. I used to know each band member’s birthday. In sixth grade my homeroom teacher made me wear my explicit GNR t-shirt inside out. When other girls my age were experimenting with blue eye shadow and hanging out at the mall, I was dancing around my house in a do-rag and plaid skirt, ala Axl in the” Live and Let Die” video.

I learned how to play "November Rain" on the piano. I knew all the words to all the songs, even the bad ones. I hung countless Axl and Slash posters around my room. My mother was horrified.

But sadly, GNR’s fame didn’t last. After the "Use Your Illusion" releases, the band pretty much disappeared as grunge took over the rock scene. I never even bought its last album, the critically lambasted, cover-tune collection The Spaghetti Incident?

Although I still listen to GNR on occasion, I haven’t given much thought to the band recently. That is until today, when I read this. It looks like my all-time favorite band might have a comeback. And if this new album is even half as good as Appetite for Destruction, I might have to pull out the do-rag, plaid skirt and explicit t-shirts again. And I’m sure Chris won’t mind if I plaster our bedroom walls with posters of the GNR gang. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wake up to Axl Rose’s skinny legs every morning?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

See you in two months

Forecast for Chicago, IL

High /Low (°F)
Feb 22 Mostly Sunny 44°/32°
Feb 23 Mostly Sunny 39°/24°
Feb 24 Few Snow Showers 38°/32°
Feb 25 Partly Cloudy 40°/25°
Feb 26 Mostly Sunny 33°/24°
Feb 27 AM Clouds / PM Sun 32°/21°
Feb 28 Partly Cloudy 29°/24°
Mar 01 Mostly Cloudy 33°/27°
Mar 02 Rain / Snow 36°/29°
Mar 03 Scattered Snow Showers 40°/33°

I remember in the middle of August when we didn't have A/C and I kept wishing for a freakish snow storm. What the hell was I thinking? Cold weather stinks. I'm done with winter. I'm going into hibernation. Wake me when it gets above 65 (which, in Chicago, won't be until May).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Well, I hope your babies look like monkeys

Remember that part of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion when Michelle has a dream that she stands up to the A group and somehow knows the formula for glue? (“First, you need to thermoset your resin…”) I totally had one of those dreams last night! Except instead of the formula for glue, it was the intricacies of No Child Left Behind, and instead of the A group, it was President Bush.

In my dream, I was at Chris’s law school graduation again, and for some reason Bush was attending (except it didn’t look like Bush, even though it was him. You know how dreams are like that?) Anyway, I went up to Bush and told him that NCLB was an absolute failure, and I went on to describe all the problems with the law (stuff I can’t remember now but in my dream sounded golden!) I said stuff like, “You can’t honestly expect schools to improve based on a punitive funding system.”

Then I went on to describe the funding woes of the Syracuse City School District and how so much of its limited funding goes toward heating and maintaining its 80+-year-old buildings. Somehow, in my dream, I also remembered specifics about the district’s budget as well as what percentage of its funding comes from the city, state and federal government.

Then, after telling off the prez, I walked around a high-fived all of Chris’s law school friends. Then I woke up.

Weird, huh?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Finally where I want to be

That's my style guide flying over Michigan Avenue

When I was in college, I knew that I wanted to work in Chicago at a magazine. And I knew that given Chicago’s magazine market, chances were I’d end up at a trade publication.

Now, nearly three years since graduation, I finally got there. Last month, I started my new job as a copy editor for a group of trade publications in Chicago. However, my trip to this point was a little different than I expected (moving to Upstate New York rather than Chicago after graduation was a minor twist). I don’t regret any of my choices getting here. I loved my first job out of college as a reporter, then editor, at a weekly metropolitan newspaper. Leaving that job and moving to Chicago was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, even though I knew it was right for me.

My second job as a reporter for a group of bi-weeklies in the suburbs was a blast, but the long hours, commute and late meetings became too much to bear. Living with someone who’s an incredible cook, but never being home for dinner, is not fun.

Finally, I landed here. I can take public trans to the office. I’m working in my chosen field. I still get to write occasionally for publication. When I’m not writing for press, I have this blog. And most importantly, I’m home by 5:30. For the first time since graduation, I have a life outside my job.

All this, and the view from my desk ain’t too shabby either.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Scratch that…

I knew I shouldn’t have posted about having such a great day at 10 a.m. I was having a good day, until I read this.

The FCC wants to force cable companies to offer channels to people on an “a la carte” system. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea: pay for what you watch, and don’t pay for what you don’t watch.

What bothers me is that the government is going to mandate this. This is a conservative-backed policy that Republican Sen. John McCain wants to push through to keep families from having to pay for raunchy television. Fair enough, but what was wrong with the V chip? Why should the government force cable companies to run their businesses as they see fit?

In the article Kyle McSlarrow, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said Washington has no place mandating how the industry runs its business.

I couldn’t agree more.

I find it ironic that Republicans who whine about big government are the ones behind this drive to legislate cable television.

However, not only is this law totally unnecessary, it also could have extreme impact and reach. If people can pick and choose which channels they buy, cable companies, advertisers and possibly the government will have a better idea of who’s watching what. I wonder if Bush will be able to get his hands on this information. “Citizen A opted not to buy Fox News and one of the 40 Christian-only stations out there, and instead he paid for Comedy Central. He must be a terrorist!” During the November elections, will hear stump speeches such as “My opponent buys Showtime and Bravo, both of which have shows featuring homosexuals. You don’t want this type of person as your representative, do you?”

Not only do I fear the government’s spying eyes, I also fear the mainstream’s new power to kill intelligent programming. If people choose which cable stations to buy, E!, VH1 and ESPN are going to thrive while CNN, Bravo and Discovery die. Bundled cable packages help less popular channels survive. When the mainstream stops buying the less popular channels, they’ll lose the ad revenue to survive.

Now, I realize that my position might be a tad hypocritical considering I don’t even have cable. But my favorite channel, PBS, doesn’t have advertising anyway, so it’s a moot point. Plus, Bush’s appointees to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are trying to kill even-handed journalism at PBS and NPR through new right-wing ombudsman, but that’s another story. It looks like I might have to get cable anyway.

A good day

Despite losing all hot water while in the shower this morning and getting to work 10 minutes late, I've been in a good mood all day. Why? Because Chris wore my favorite outfit today: brown pinstriped pants, tan sweater over a blue botton down. He looks adorable, and although he doesn't really care about his clothing, he wore it to make me happy. Also, we're going shopping after work, for him. It's something he doesn't exactly enjoy but he does to make me happy. Then, we're going to register for a few things for the wedding.

What a good day.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Self-portrait Tuesday

This month's Self-Portrait Tuesday challenge is "all of me."

February Challenge "all of me" - embrace your mistakes, love the ugly bits.

These are my feet.

It’s hard to walk barefoot.

This is the ugly part.

Chances are you already know about my toelessness. If not, you can read the long version (and by long, I mean really long). Here’s the short version: Freshman year of college (in 1999), I got bacterial meningitis. Lost my toes. Got lots of scars. Stayed in hospital for three months.

Chances are you know my meningitis story because I talk about it too much. At least I used to. After I recovered and came back to school, I talked about my experience ad nauseam. I couldn’t help it. I was dealing with normal people, normal girls that would be able to wear skirts and sandals and high heels for the rest of their lives, and I wanted to scream in their faces when they looked at me funny for wearing long pants and sneakers in July. I felt like I had to tell everyone my story. “Don’t you know what I’ve been through?” “Aren’t you proud of me for having the courage to move on?”

I could tell when my friends were getting sick of me, but I couldn’t drop it. I hated myself for rehashing it, but something compelled me to continue talking about it. I fed off people’s sympathy and admiration.

Two years after I got sick, I was in a magazine writing class, and I finally kicked my habit. I finally learned that everyone has a story. Everyone has been through something difficult. Some students had attempted suicide. Some had parents going through a divorce. Some developed lumps in their breasts at age 20. Some were single parents. Everyone had a story, and no one was all that special. It was in this class I finally wrote about my story. I was supposed to write about another topic, but one night while suffering from writer’s block, I let all the events of my freshman year fall on the page. I jotted down all the things I wanted to scream to people, all the stuff my friends and roommates had to listen to for the past two years. And then I was done. Writing was my therapy.

After that, I rarely spoke of my incident. I lived in London for four months, and my two flat mates never knew about my story. I would sneak past them when I was barefoot so they wouldn’t see my feet. I never showed my scars. It wasn’t until two years later when I was at one flat mate’s wedding that the other realized I had scars on my legs.

I had finally realized that the most significant event in my life didn’t need to be shoved in people’s faces. But here I am, writing about it in my blog, shoving it in everyone’s face again. That’s the ugly bit, not my disfigured feet or my scarred legs. The ugly bit is my constantly yapping mouth.