Monday, March 30, 2009

Back in Chicago

I just got back from vacation in Arizona last night. The trip was pretty awesome — highlights include getting a massage, going to a Cubs spring training game, seeing Mizzou beat Memphis in the Sweet 16, seeing the Chihuly exhibits at the Desert Botanical Garden, hiking at Cave Creek National Park, and hanging out with my childhood best friend for two days.

The only downside was the trip home — I forgot to pack my brain.

First, I left my cell phone in our rental car, but I didn't realize I had left it behind until after we had returned the car and were on the shuttle bus to the airport. Luckily, we arrived early enough that Chris had time to take the shuttle back to the rental place, and actually tracked down my phone, while I checked in our bags at the airport.

Then, on our first flight, I spilled my Southwest-supplied soda all over myself, Chris and the guy sitting on my right. Spilling something on yourself while sitting in the middle seat on a packed plane is one of the worst feelings ever. There's nothing you can do. You can't get up. You can't clean it up. You just have to sit there in a puddle waiting for the flight attendant to bring you napkins. Fortunately, we were in the last row, so the napkins were close at hand. Our attendant took some pity on me and brought me another soda, but she put a lid and straw on it because she said, "you can't be trusted with a normal cup." I laughed and Chris was all, "Oh look honey, a sippee cup."

At the end of that flight, I forgot my book and pen in the seat pocket. Luckily, I realized it before leaving the plane. But after that, Chris wouldn't let me carry anything on my own.

Beyond that, the rest of the journey wasn't too bad. Our second flight was delayed, but only a half hour. And when we got home, we were greeted by the happiest, most snuggly Rosie ever. She wouldn't leave our sides the whole night, and she literally sat on me while I sat on the couch. That puppy can turn around even my worst days.

Today, I'm happy to be back at work, back to my normal routine and back in Chicago. This city might be cold and congested, but I sure do miss it when I'm gone.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Dry Life

I gave up alcohol this year for Lent. Last year, I gave up meat, and really, it wasn't all that hard. In fact, after Lent last year, I never really went back to eating a lot of meat. I do eat meat from time to time, but I'm still partial to fish and seafood. So this year, I didn't think giving up meat again would any sort of sacrifice. Alcohol, on the other hand, that's a sacrifice.

So far, it hasn't been too bad, although there are times when I want red wine so much I have to smell some just to get a fix. Other than that, there have been some surprising benefits and drawbacks to going booze-free.


  • Saving money: Since Ash Wednesday, when Chris and I go out to dinner, we actually spend more money on food than booze. Pre-Lent, I can't remember the last time our bill wasn't at least 50% alcohol.
  • Motor mouth: When I drink, I talk. A lot. And I often say things I shouldn't. Nowadays, I am much more trustworthy with your deepest secrets.
  • St. Patrick's Day: This might seem like a con, because St. Patrick's Day always falls during Lent, making it difficult to enjoy one of the hundreds of days throughout the year Chicagoans find an excuse to get blitzed and stumble through the streets. (Other excuses Chi-towners have been known to use include New Year's Eve, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Easter, Fat Tuesday, the entire week of the Taste, any day there's a parade somewhere in the city, and every time the Cubs win.) This year, Chris and I returned to the Abbey Pub, where we spent St. Pat's last year. While there, we witnessed a very drunk couple in an argument that involved lots of teetering, pointing, confusion, and incoherent ramblings. I smiled and remembered that last year, we were that couple.
  • Better sleep: Drunk sleep is the worst. And waking on up Saturdays and Sundays having slept well the previous night leads to...
  • More productive weekends: I actually wake up refreshed on the weekends, ready to accomplish all kinds of to-dos. I've even had time to make all kind of yummy breakfasts, like whole-wheat blueberry pancakes. Despite this new-found productivity, I still manage to fit in a disgusting amount of TV on the weekends, but at least I'm not watching TV simply because I'm too hungover to get off the couch.
  • Non-Motor Mouth: When hanging out in social situations like bars, parties, etc., I feel like most uninteresting person in the room. Although being sober means I'm not saying things I shouldn't, it also means I'm not saying much at all.
  • Food compensation: I thought I'd lose weight when I gave up drinking. Instead, I've been compensating with snacks. My skinny jeans still don't fit.
  • I now find drunk people extremely annoying and/or boring: Ever get into a conversation with a long-winded drunk who keeps repeating himself and talking about things that don't really follow what he just said two seconds before? Ever tried to get through that conversation sober? I don't recommend it.
  • The realization that I used to be, and probably will be again, that guy/girl.

Friday, March 13, 2009

9 Links, March 13

1. Yum. Just try to read this without craving black beans by the end. It's impossible, unless you don't like beans for some reason. And if that's the case, what's wrong with you? Weirdo.

2. If you're not a weirdo, then you probably think this recipe looks amazing. I have to try this out. If it's as good as it looks, it just might be this year's vegetarian enchilada dish at Cinco de Mayo.

3. The Phoenix forecast. In 8 days, I'll be on vacation Arizona. I tend not to rely on long-range forecasts like this, but I can't help checking it at least once a day.

4. Speaking of Arizona, I'm going to Spring Training! I am so, so ready for baseball season to start again. Bring on the hot dogs, peanuts and...water. No frosty beers for me :( I gave up alcohol for Lent.

5. Fearing change. My dad worked in the Sears Tower when I was a kid. It was pretty much the coolest thing ever to a 10-year-old. "My dad works in the Sears Tower!" Then, in 1992, Sears sold their space and moved out to suburbs, which was kind of a let down. "My dad works in Hoffman Estates!" didn't pack quite the same punch. I'm still mad that Sears left the tower 15 years ago, but I'm also a little sad to see the tower's name change. Willis Tower? I dunno about that.

6. Dance machine. My nephew, at a recent wedding, tearing it up.

7. He takes after his father. My brother-in-law, at a wedding this summer, tearing it up with his "faux-hawk."

8. Our Lady of the Underpass. I used to live a few blocks from this Mary, who always had tons of flowers and candles by her side, while 90/94 roared overhead. I just might have to go see this play.

9. Loo with a View. Hilarious.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Saturday, on my couch

What I planned to do today:

  • Go to Target
  • Clean out filing cabinet
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Organize hall closet
  • Go through clothes, finally admit that some things will never fit me again, put in a box for Goodwill
What I actually did today:
  • Went to Target
  • Watched the Cubs game
  • Fell asleep on the couch while listening to my old friends Len and Bob
  • Ate my weight in pita chips and hummus
  • Played tug of war with Rosie while sitting on the couch until we broke the tug-of-war "toy" (old sweat pants I cut up and tied into knots)
  • Watched Food Network
  • Watched TLC
  • Watched Animal Planet
  • Watched "Millionaire Matchmaker"
  • Ate my weight in Taco Bell

Friday, March 06, 2009

This is why I watch WGN in the morning

On the Channel 9 morning news yesterday during a segment on the possible legalization of medical marijuana in Illinois, they showed a clip of an old lady smoking a massive joint. I tried to find a clip to include in my 9 links yesterday, but I couldn't track one down.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one who found this hilarious, so they replayed it this morning, with a little embellishment. Hilarious.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

9 Links, March 5

1. IL Senate race begins. I thought Alexi might be more interested in becoming Illinois Governor. But now that Blago's out and Quinn seems to be doing well enough (so far) to possibly secure the Democratic primary, Alexi's off to the Senate.

2. Hot property. The folks at the Tribune think this is a bad time for the CTA to sell off its property, given the state of the real estate market. I dunno. If I hadn't just bought a house, I'd be interested in buying something closer to the train and cutting my daily round trip commute by 20 to 40 minutes.

3. In case you're not already in love with Jon Stewart. Jon sticks it to that Santelli fella, along with the rest of CNBC. Watch the full 8 minutes. You will not be disappointed.

4. And some more videos. My co-worker lent me this awesome DVD recently of really strange and hilarious TV clips. You kind of have to watch it to get it. Or you can just check out this Web site to get a taste.

5. Puff puff. Medical marijuana might be coming to Illinois. Here's my favorite quote from this story:

"David Jocson, statewide drug enforcement coordinator with the Illinois State Police, opposed the bill because he said marijuana is not an FDA-approved medication and because allowing people using cannabis for medicinal purposes would make it easier for others to obtain."

Right. Because it's really hard to get now.

6. Twitter Peraica. We might be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but I kinda love this guy.

7. This is kind of ridiculous. There's a huge difference between police brutality and a citizen complaint against a cop. I can't figure out why this list is even needed in this case. A woman is suing the city because a cop supposedly used excessive force while arresting her kids. So, how does this list relate? If the cop's name is on the list, that proves he beat up her kids? I'm no lawyer, but I can't imagine how this would hold up in court. Fortunately, my hubby is a lawyer: Honey, help me out here. Am I missing something?

8. Missouri munchies. Sure, Mizzou may have lost horribly to KU last week, but you know what? One of our future alums invented beer-flavored popcorn. So there.

9. Oh yeah, and we beat the crap out of No. 5 Oklahoma last night.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Funhouse, Part 2

I've been meaning to upload an "after" video of the Funhouse since October.

I didn't actually get around to shooting the video until December. We've done more upgrading since then, but considering it took me three months just to upload and edit the video, I thought it was best to go with what I've got.

So here's a little before and after video of our house. You might notice many resemblances between before and after shots. Pretty much, we sank most of our time and money into refinishing the floors, painting, deodorizing, and scrubbing away cat and bird feces. There are still many, many things on our to-do list, like the brown kitchen cabinets that don't close, replacing the drafty, impossible-to-clean windows, and of course, the funhouse stairs, which are still oh-so-fun (i.e. not level). I also didn't bother to clean the house before shooting the video, so you'll see us in our natural, messy habitat.

Another thing to note: In the last video, I found my own voice so horribly irritating that I took out all the audio and replaced it with music.

No worries, Axl and Amy describe the Funhouse much better than I ever could.

The Funhouse, before and after from Sarah Wunder on Vimeo.