Sunday, March 30, 2008

Listen UP!

So today I'm just sitting at home, veggin' out, watching the TV -- when all of a sudden I see a commercial for Listen Up, the personal sound amplifier. If you have not seen this add, find a way to watch it: like clicking here , because it's hilarious. So this device is essentially a walkman-style hearing aid. However to increase the target audience Listen Up has come up with a broad range of uses such as listening to your kids on the playground, hearing the birds chirp, listening for prey while hunting. OR my personal favorite "Listen in on people talking about you at the gym" (at which point the ad shows a middle age man lifting weights and listening to girls saying "Oh, he's hot!")

OR you could "hear everything in church." For this usage of the Listen Up device, the ad shows 2 elderly people calmly sitting in church holding their listen up walkman-like-box up in the air smiling contently while people pretend to not be starring at the old people with their hands in the air.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thank God it's Saturday

I had kind of a tough week. As previously stated, my Mom was here until Tuesday morning, which was great! However, it did leave me a little tired and absent of things like clean laundry, food in the fridge and an abundance of things like errands and the like. I say this not to complain but simply to say I was already counting down the days to Friday.

However as an added bonus my shortened work week SUCKED. Seriously S-U-C-K-E-D. As a further added bonus, my shortened work week was not shortened at all but rather lengthed. I had one whole extra day of suckitude added when today became a business day AND I have to go in to work tomorrow as well (though only for like an hour, but with the new changes on the CTA? That will probably take me 4 hours).

All of this incredible suckiness has left me thoughtful. What better place to talk about one's thoughts than an incredibly public blog? Clearly you all believe I am right or else you wouldn't read said blog. Also, clearly I am not a secretive person.

I've been struck by the frequency of which I live in the moment. Perhaps far to often, I do what is best for the short term, allowing myself to be swayed by a second of triumph or feeling of personal determination. The result of this week has been that perhaps I made a very big mistake last year right around this time and committed myself to an endeavor which will not have the rewards or even personal gratification originally promised. I have the very strong feeling that though I gave my word to stay in Chicago and have now been true to my word for 1 full year and counting, my boss may not value the tremendous personal sacrifice that I made and furthermore may not actually fulfill his end of the bargain. Which would be fine. If he did so in an honorable way. And I'm not sure that he isn't running scared.

In juxtaposition to my real life, I've been rereading Gone With the Wind lately (not cover to cover but sort of a general skimming). Rob and I then rewatch the movie. As a fun side story and completely unrelated tangent, I got Gone With the Wind in mind, when I saw a picture in Martha Stewart Living of people in a typical Martha Living Room, watching GWTW and eating ginormous chocolate chip cookies. Which is exactly what Rob and I did.

To return to my point -- say what you will about Gone With the Wind, but there is a great deal of depth in those characters. Everytime I read that book I find myself drawn to sooo many people within the story. This time I found myself wondering, in my life am I a Scarlett or a Melanie? I fully well realize that I have some Scarlett tendencies, but I would truthfully prefer to be a Melanie 9 days out of 10 (that 10th day being the day when Melanie is too weak to get herself away from Sherman's army and is passed out in a buggy).

So I guess my point is, why is it that I'm still waiting to become the things that I want to be? I always have this rather vague feeling like there will always be second chances. I often find myself thinking that at the end of my life I will be ridiculously wise and conscious of all the mistakes I made and all of the successes I enjoyed. Only occassionally am I struck by the idea that by that time it will all be over with no opportunity to do it all again.

In summation, I have come to some conclusions tonight which I share with you all in hopes that this struggle may someday help each of you as well. I will never again loose sight of the things that I want in my life. And I will stop waiting around for the time to be right to go after those things. Please believe me when I say those things very much involve the friends and family that I know read this (and Rob, who I know does not).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't expect any life mystery solving...

I really feel far too tired to concentrate on writing today, but those of you who read this blog know not to expect much anyway. I wanted to give a little update on my life for those of you who have been wondering why I have been MIA.

My Mom was here this weekend. We had a really great visit, and went shopping a lot (though once was for quilt stuff, but still it was fun.) I got to show Mom my office that I always talk about, and we went to see Miss Pettigrew, which was seriously right up my alley. AND I cooked my very first holiday dinner that we ate on my wedding china that I have never used before (half of it is in Buffalo in my old attic room)!

The loveliness of this weekend is of course countered by 7:30 am wake up times everyday, which really do sometimes set me off schedule. So now I'm tired, very tired. I always love company but I often spend days cleaning the house prior to their visits, and then days after recovering.

Additionally, I had the added strain of Comcast cable. I tell you that I've heard enough stories about comcast to not truly be surprised by this, but...
  • I came home last Monday to discover that I had no cable, internet or phone service (Thanks Comcast for your irrestible bundling prices!) Since I am a freak of nature and don't have a cell phone, I sat around my house wondering if there had been some sort of Armagedon. Then I figured out I can tap into the library's wireless and contacted Comcast's Live Chat. They told me there was an outage in the area, and I should try again in "24-48 hours."
  • Tuesday night I discovered that the situation had not changed.
  • I had live-chat number 2 in which I was told there was no outage in my area at all! I was told I had an appointment for Wednesday and was given an appointment confirmation number (I know, mythical, but it does sometimes happen)
  • Wednesday, Rob's only day off in a 8 day stretch, we decide to check in with comcast to verify the time of the appointment
  • Alas, I'm told my confirmation number is in fact a myth
  • I am then told that the phone operators can't verify appointments, and I should live chat someone.
  • I live chat with a lovely girl named Pursima. (At this point you might be bored with this play by play action, but I have to get this out or I will fester and rot with hatred and animosity). I tell Pursima, "I have an appointment, Confirmation # 123, can you verify what time to expect the maintenance guy?" Pursima tells me, "How can I help you today?" So I repeat myself. Pursima tells me, "I can get you an appointment for March 24 between 8 am and 12 pm."
  • Pursima and I engage in a long game of back and forth chatting in which I am forced to say, "I don't know if I'm making myself clear, but what I want to know is what time is the dude coming to my house." And which Pursima is forced to say,"Oh, I canceled your appointment to make you a new one on Monday."
  • Sadly, I am then forced to say, "I'd like to speak with your supervisor." To which Pursima is forced to say "You can take your cable box to the local shop, but I'm not helping you."
  • I screen shot my live chat dialogue box and save it for retribution.
  • I call Comcast and make a new appointment for the following morning, using a voice which clearly indicated I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.
  • I take off Thursday to sit at home, and actually do work.
  • Again, I TAKE OFF a day of work so that I can DO WORK.
  • Because I am dumb.
  • Between 8 and 5, I manage to do an inordinately large amount of work with Rob's cell phone in my hand and my feet propped on the window sill, and one eye on the parking lot in front of our building.
  • At 4:55 pm, a Comcast truck pulls up and sits in front of my building for 10 minutes without any one getting out.
  • The Door of the comcast truck opens to reveal a very nice man who comes into my apartment, tests wires, goes out into the back porch-like area, comes in and tells me, "Well it looks like Comcast cut your line." I say, "I don't understand. I paid my bill and wouldn't Comcast have a record of shutting off my service?" And he says, "No, I mean literally they cut your line. They opened the locked box, took a pair of wire cutters cut the line, closed the box, and left all the wires inside."
  • The conversation ends with me saying, "Why would they do that?" and Jose saying, "I just don't know ma'am."

Wow, I'm really sad that I wrote all that. It must have really, really been bugging me.

I'm even more sad that you read all that. Poor you. You must be a good friend to read all of my story without me having to dramatize it in any way. So I say, "Thank you."

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Happy St. Patty's Day to you!

For some reason this year I am really into St. Patrick's Day. Normally I've never been all that enthused by the holiday, except maybe when I was a kid and we would go see my Dad walk in the parade (after you've been to Mardi Gras those parades are kind of boring, plus it's cold.) I keep thinking if we were in Buffalo we would go someplace to listen to Jackdaw! What better way to spend the most Irish day of the year. If you don't know what Jackdaw is, go here.

But instead of going out and drinking, which I don't do any day of the year actually, I'm sitting at home eating a lovely dinner of yellow rice and fajitas. Yup I'm Irish. The other thing I'm doing is sitting here not watching TV. And not using the phone. And not using my DSL (I'm using the Library's Wireless). This is why you should never bundle all of these services. And also why I should own a cell phone. So that when our Comcast goes out, we can call and report it! Lucky me I live in the parking lot of lovely, wonderful Sulzer Library, 2nd largest library in Chicagoland.

And though I could be reading or writing my actual book, I am instead going to blog! I wanted to let you all know that this week, I've decided to take a cue from one of my favorite blogs, The Collective and am giving myself a little theme for the week at my Recipe Blog. I've decided to write about the people who have most inspired my cooking, and provide you with my favorite recipes from them. Stay tuned! (Second night in a row I'm saying that!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I can't tell you how much I love...

National Treasure. And it's on tv right now. I could watch this movie ten thousand times. In fact I think I have. And I really like Diane Kruger (even though she was a horrible Helen in the horrible movie Troy. God that movie was bad).

Anyway both my side note on Helen Kruger and the whole National Treasure thing play into what I wanted to blog about, and thus, it's a good introduction.

This past week I found out that someone at work has a very strong background in Greek Archaeology (digs in Crete, study abroad in Greece the whole nine yards). Additionally she is planning on pursuing a degree in Archaeological Conservation. How fricking cool is that?? I love Archaeology, I love Conservation. I'm so jealous. I always felt like I found Archaeology to late in my educational life to actually make a go of it. By the time I got to grad school (without a Classics degree, without Greek and Latin, without a dig) I felt like I was always playing catch up.

I would still absolutely love to be some fantastic archaeologist who teaches amazingly inspiring Classics courses, publishes high faluting articles which solve the mysteries of the ancient world and takes her family to summer vacation on dusty excavation sites (a la Amelia Peabody, but in Greece or Turkey). Alas, I'm just not that motivated. And as cool and exotic as it sounds, I just can't imagine balancing the stable family life that I want with the education road-trip that I dream about. So I prefer to just dream about it.

I still firmly believe that I could be a professor, or I should say that I will be a professor. But I can't ever see myself going in for all the amazingly competitve crap that is a part of the whole Classics world. I have no desire whatsoever to chase after a teaching job dragging my family from place to place in desperate pursuit of tenure. Ick, the very thought goes against everything that I so desperately want (and the reasons why Rob and I are currently plotting out move back to Buffalo.)

Meanwhile, I'm writing again! Finally. After 3 years of research (and trauma after loosing 150 pages of my improperly saved manuscript at the completely inept hands of the malicious Microcenter tech team), I have finally put pen to paper in my own version of a Greek epic. Which is written in English (see previous note about how I don't have a Greek background), and is not a poem. But, which I think is fairly good. Take that Dr. Bernstein! But that is a topic for another day. You can all read my book if you want. It will be done in approximately 10 years. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Musings on my Mama

I've been rather uninterested in blogging lately. Honestly a part of that is because I don't think any one really reads this. But then I got a counter, and it turns out that 60 people have viewed (not necessarily read, but viewed) my blog. Whoo-hoo. SO, now I shall blog for you all.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the wonder that is my Mother. Mom's coming to visit for Easter next weekend. She's driving from B-lo to Chi-town by herself, so she says that she'll only come if it's not too icy. Luckily good weather seems to be digging in it's heels (knock on wood, fingers crossed). The thought of potenially bad weather makes me nervous with her driving, because really 9 hours is a lot fo one person.

I've always been a little bit of a sissy when it comes to long term driving. When Rob and I used to drive to NOLA with Kramer, we would take turns. He would drive for 5 hours, I would drive for 3. Then he'd have to take over again because I was too tired. Now, he does all the driving, because he says he likes it better.

My Mom doesn't seem to have this problem. However, I do remember a time! In 1987, the summer after my Dad died, my Mom took Jim and I to DC. This trip is not long, I think like 8 hours (I don't think I've ever driven it since then). Well that trip, we got as far as the NY-PA border, before my Mom checked us into a hotel for the night. That would be about a 2-3 hour drive. Thinking about that trip, I realize how amazing it was that my Mom, newly a single parent, decided it was important enough for her to do something she had never done before to make sure that we kept up the family vacation tradition.

As Spring nears, which translates for me as the high travel season, I spend more time each day on phone calls (seemingly interminal) with clients, offering guidance, advice and travel tips. How far is Rome from Venice? What things should I see in Florence? Is it easy driving? Fun discussions, right? (My job rocks, most of the time.) I keep going over in my head the other great adventure we took as a family. In 1990, my Mom took Jim and I to Europe for 6 WEEKS. She drove that entire continent on her own, with two pre-teenage children. In countries where she did not speak the language, and though we had reservations in major cities, most places we just played it by ear.

I didn't really have any sort of point to all of this, short of saying that I'm still awestruck by my Mom. And she doesn't read blogs, so she doesn't even know it. Don't worry, I'll tell her:)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Mad Mover

My mother used to be referred to by family members as "the Mad Mover." Whenever the mood would take her she would rearrange furniture: sometimes once a month, sometimes more. She actually had scaling rulers, furniture templates and a whole binder filled with floor plans and cutout to-scale-furniture so that she could arrange on paper before doing the actual moving. My father came up with this nickname for her. He had his own set of fears. He used to say that he was afraid to come home at night because he wouldn't know where he was. And he was blissfully relieved when they got a waterbed, which she could NOT move. At least he would always know where the bed was.

Some of you may know that in my long illustrious work history, I worked for a while at Pier 1 Imports. First of all, let's get this story out of the way. My tenure at Pier 1 was actually quite ironic, because when I was little my cousins and I would play store in my basement. And my store was named Pier 2 Imports. I kid you not.

At any rate, I was working at Pier 1 while trying to finish my stupid MA thesis and also after just having moved to Chicago. I remember being utterly frustrated on the work front, and taking out my frustrations in the form of incredible merchandising. In other words, rather than work on stocking or even managing (as I was supposed to) I would rearrange the story. At least once or twice a month. Pretty much as soon as I was done arranging the dining area, I would start over again. Let's understand what this entailed. Have you ever tried to rearrange 24 dining tables, display fixtures, china/earthenware, and thousands of chairs, while simultaneous cramming more furniture in a 35 x 60 inch space than you could possibly imagine? And ONE time it involved 5 shelves of white porcelain collapsing on me and the two glass top tables next to me (nary a scratch, my friend!) But the best is that I used to do this whenever the store manager was out of the store. SO she would come in and not know where anything was:) God, I hated her.

In my personal life, I've tried to calm the impulse. When I move into a new apartment, I arrange the furniture on my first impulse. Usually about 1 year later I realize that the arrangement doesn't take full advantage of the space and rearrange it. Ultimately, I'm amazed at how much better the second arrangement is and I stick to it. So we've lived in our current apartment for 3 years. I've rearranged the living room once, the dining room once.

Well yesterday was the first day I have ever rearranged the bedroom. SO MUCH BETTER. My back however, not so much better. See, that's the other little thing that developed from my days at Pier 1. Once Christmas Eve, I unloaded a stock truck before flying home to Buffalo, and did something VERY BAD to my back (I pinched a nerve!) I then spent the flight to Buffalo and all Christmas weekend in tears and absolute nerve wrecking pain. Every once in a while, it happens all over again. And this would be one of those days. That's what I get for being a mad mover!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Thank God it's March

I can't say that my life has actually become easier or less stressful since March 1, but I am really glad that February is over.

  • For one thing, that means we are almost to the end of this God-awful winter (possibly the most horrifying winter which has ever happened).
  • Secondly, Easter is this month which means yummy Cadburry Mini-Eggs (the one thing in this world that I can actually say I am addicted to).
  • Third, my Mom might be coming to visit! Mom doesn't come to visit too often, so I'm pretty excited.

Really, that's about it... I seriously need to get more enthusiastic about things. My horoscope the other day said something like:
    For the past few months Mercury has been in your sign giving you a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but today Mercury moves on leaving you exhausted.

And I thought, really? If I was this unenergetic in January and February, then what the heck is my non-Mercury month going to be like?

In other news, I am literarily adrift. You know when you really crave a good book something like a Jane Austin or a F. Scott Fitzgerald, but you've read them all? You look for the next great Classic that you haven't yet discovered, but everything you pick up is just lacking in some way or other? So this is me. I'm craving some sort of mix between a romance and historically accurate thriller of some sort. I started doing just to get inspired but it hasn't happened. Today I went to the library and got We were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oats, so maybe that will work.

OK, this post has depressed me. I'm moving on. Next time I write I will be more upbeat. I promise!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Part 2 of yesterday's musings...

I have a sad addendum to last night's "Look at me-- I'm so sad and lonely" post. It's sad because a) I didn't remember it yesterday, and b) because I only remembered when I wanted to feel sorry for myself. Yesterday was Rob and my 1.5 year wedding anniversary! Really since I didn't even remember you shouldn't feel sorry for me.

We don't really celebrate half-anniversaries (though my family used to celebrate half-birthdays... oh but also Rob's half birthday was about a week and a half ago... oops... moving on...). In fact really our wedding anniversary doesn't stick with me quite so much as this. Maybe we should have gotten married on our already existing anniversary.

But then we couldn't have had this beautiful moment:

The other musing that this missed anniversary brought to me was that yesterday was also my cousin Katie's birthday (Hey Katie! Happy Birthday! I don't think she reads blogs, but anyway). Which means that her half birthday was on my wedding day. And I forgot that too.

Let's just go back for a moment to discuss the half-birthday idea, because this was my Mom's method and really I think it's genius. You should try it. I am definitely going to do this for people I love (when I remember).

1. Make a one layer cake, cut it in half and turn into half of a two layer cake.
2. Light only 1 candle (I never got why not half the number of birthdays, but whatev)
3. Sing half of happy birthday, making sure to stop in mid-word (Birth or Hap are good places)
4. (This one is my own personal addition) Get a birthday card and write your message/sign it, then go ahead and cut it in half.

Anyone else got good ideas? Because really I'm digging this half birthday thing.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Alone at last? I don't think so.

So I'm home alone tonight. Yeah, yeah, I know, no big deal. But seriously it is a big deal! Rob hasn't been working nights for the past 2 months, which means that just about every night I get to come home to see his smiling face. And I have someone to listen to my stories and cook dinner for. And we were in the middle of watching the Black Donnelly, Disc 1. (Ok, yeah, yeah, I know, TV ain't that important.)

Today Rob's coffeeehouse opened (not his coffeehouse but the one that he works in). After 1 month of getting paid to do nothing, he actually has to go to work. Unfortunately, he's there tonight.

I did my yoga, I'm watching my General Hospital, and making an easy dinner. But it's no good! I miss my husband:(

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Poke This.

So I recently started a facebook page. I've had a myspace page for quite a while now (although, yes, I started that way after the fashion too). As I blogged on my old myspace page, I kind of like the decorating aspect of myspace so I didn't particularly feel the need to jump to facebook.

Then I realized, no one myspaces any more! Honestly, I find that's a little sad, but I can't fight the masses. So I switched to facebook. I will say there are some fun options. The games astound me (Scrabulous anyone? Although, Rob has recently decided to play facebook Chess, which is a little like waiting for grass to grow.)

However, there are some things that I just don't get. Maybe you could help me with this. Please fill me in on the reasoning, purpose or cool tricks that I seem to be missing here:

What the hell is poking? And why the hell would you want to poke someone?

How do you tag people with pictures? (Not that I have any to post, but stil it would be good to know.)

Does everyone just keep adding application after application? I got a dog, because my friend has one. And also because there was a dog that was soooo ugly I just couldn't help it. But do I really have to feed it and walk it and pet it? I have cats, and can't be bothered.

What is the fricking big deal with facebook? Why don't you people just go back to myspace??

Please feel free to leave me some comments and explain this weird phenomenon to me.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

It's Kinda UnWintery

So technically it's still winter, and there is snow on the ground. But it's gonna be like 50 degrees today! Because Sarah asked, I will blog now.

This morning I woke up to find my Tivo frozen. Does this happen to anyone else? Tivo has been freezing a whole lot more often lately and if you have tivo, you know that the only way you can unfreeze it is by unplugging it. Then you have to go through the start up time again. It's not too bad just a couple of minutes, but seriously, it's annoying. I guess I have to admit it may be time to buy a new Tivo.

We've actually had Tivo for at least 4 years now. It's my favorite technological innovation -- seriously, it's better than the ipod, the macbook, the magic bullet (yeah, that's a mini food processor if you don't already know). If you don't have tivo, you seriously do not know what you're missing.

I've heard some people say that they don't want to watch that much television. But I have a secret for you. Yes you do! YOu want to know what's going on in the world (we tape like 5 news programs during the day, so we can get local, national, international, BBc news, and all kinds of different perspectives.) You want to make sure to get the every episode of your favorite show (even if you only have 1 or 2!). When the phone rings, and you're watching something good, like the Office, you want to be able to pause that show so you don't miss a second. Deaf like me? Rewind so you can hear what you missed.

Also, you know what? We spend less time watching TV since we got Tivo. Because you watch TV more efficiently. No ads, so every show is shorter!

Allow me to tell you the single best purpose for Tivo: LOST. I firmly believe you cannot watch Lost without Tivo. Don't know what the black smoke is? That's because you don't have Tivo. Don't know what was flashed past in the season premiere ads? That's because you don't have cable. Dn't know what Walt said when he appeared to Sharon? Tivo. Don't know what those hieroglyphics mean when the hatch clock times down? You don't Tivo, and also maybe aren't dorky like me and have books on hieroglyphics to look them up.

Tivo has advanced over the past few years though. I think that now they have Tivos that can tape 2 shows at a time. I am all about this. But don't tell Rob (don't worry, he doesn't read my blog). He'll get all excited and go out and buy one right away. I'm just thinking about buying one.... And you should too.