Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Be Happier: January

A while back I chanced upon a book at the library called How to Be Happier Day by Day: A Year of Mindful Actions. I found it because the author, Alan Epstein, also wrote a book called As the Romans Do. (Unfortunately the CPL system doesn't have that book, and interlibrary loaning it is taking some time--but rest assured, I WILL find that book and see what it's all about.) His How to Be Happier caught my eye--I love day-by-day living, lists, and challenges, and this book has all three.

As I read through, I realized I had already done/currently do most of the things he suggests. I was curious to know how "happy" I should already be, so I went through and cataloged the year--his mindful actions, my interpretation of them, and whether I did/do/want to try them. Here's January:

  1. Say hello to everyone you see. Does eye contact/smiling count? That's the bare minimum I do, in a walking past each other on the sidewalk situation at least. Inside buildings I'm more likely to say something. I wonder what that says about me.
  2. Start a piggy bank. Yes. It's a bowl, not a piggy. I have an actual piggy bank somewhere though (mental note to look for it next time I'm in Wisconsin).
  3. File all your papers/documents. I'm decent at this. I love organizing paperwork when I have the time.
  4. Go through old magazines and cut out words/pictures that mean something to you. Make a collage. HELLO TO MY LIFE. I do this in my sleep. I have a file folder bulging with magazine cut outs that eventually get Mod-Podged onto any unclaimed surface--notebook covers, frames, boxes, cork boards. Ask Mom about how protective she's had to be over her magazines if you don't believe me.
  5. Recycle any papers/old magazines you don't file or use. Donzo.
  6. Exercise daily. LOL.
  7. Decide to have a prosperous year. Ok. (This was one of the actions where my re-action was, "Okay dude, you're obviously stretching," but he does have to come up with stuff for 365 days.)
  8. Phone old friends. Not a big phone person. I wrote letters to people and reconnected other ways.
  9. Make appointments for all the little things you put off. Not due for any appointments right now (and I don't have a car to change oil, etc), but I crossed off a lot of big to-do items this month, like Get a New Computer and Home Improvement.
  10. Ask someone for help. The "help" I ask for most is rides to places or use of a car to haul things.
  11. Volunteer. I did for a year! But I do feel out of practice. No worries, there is always a Mercy event on the horizon.
  12. Do something completely out of character for you. Right at the start of this year Britney was convinced that I was acting super weird, but by weird she meant more normal than usual. Apparently I was a certain character during our Mercy year, and for a bit I fell off...she thinks 2013 is my year to get my groove back.
  13. Think about someone you admire. I currently admire funny women, especially funny women writers and writers/actors. We live in a great time for funny women.
  14. Read an old (dated) newspaper/magazine. I do this when I'm making my collages. Fashion and makeup date quickly. Love/life advice, not as much. Recipes are ageless.
  15. Examine a prejudice you have. Note: Epstein doesn't say to end the prejudice, just to examine it. His example was, "Maybe you don't like lawyers. Hang out with one once and see what they are really like." I don't know that I have any tried and true prejudices. I may subscribe to certain stereotypes, which lead to pre-judging, but the judgments aren't necessarily negative or permanent.
  16. Be silent for a day. On a week day, If I don't go grocery shopping and M has basketball after school, I can literally go until 5:15 pm before seeing another person (roommates included), much less saying anything.
  17. Send someone flowers. I had no occasion to send flowers this month, even if Epstein is suggesting I do it just because. I bought several houseplants and a peace lily for our apartment.
  18. Start a journal. Child's play.
  19. Spend the day with a child. Literally child's play. Just kidding, I don't know any "children," only teenagers. I frequently befriend children in line at the grocery store/library.
  20. Take a long, slow, hot bubble bath. Did this one several times! I added candles, music, and sometimes wine (in a plastic cup, learned that the hard way).
  21. Look at your budget and buy something high quality. Considering I started budgeting all of four months ago (prior to that my financial philosophy went something like "I probably can't afford that."), I think I should get a handle on what budgeting actually is before I make "high quality" purchases. I'm a secondhand consumer at heart.
  22. Listen carefully to those around you. I do this, but it's always something I want to work on. More so being totally present to those around me, and hoping that careful listening follows. This means putting down the cell phone, iPod, book, etc and engaging.
  23. Go through an entire day without seeing/reading/hearing the news. Easy. 
  24. Dine by candlelight. I do this nightly in the winter. We depend on our candles for the heat and light they provide. The smells too.
  25. Plan your birthday celebration. Eight months in advance? Epstein, I don't even know how old I'm turning this year, I'm not about to plan a celebration.
  26. Join a support group. I don't know what group I'd join, or how they would provide me with more support than a bowl of ice cream and trashy TV.
  27. Enjoy the Super Bowl. It hasn't aired yet, but I just finalized plans for watching. The draw for me is Beyonce and the commercials. Go Niners, I guess.
  28. Take public transportation. I have and I will again. Not quite sure how CTA can make my life happier, other than helping me not take speedy transportation for granted. 
  29. Play hooky from work. On MLK, Jr. Day my boss gave me the option to stay home or come in. I stayed home and lived it up, pajama style. Best decision that week.
  30. Give up something you know isn't good for you. Remember, these are daily suggestions. Epstein really wants his reader to immerse him or her self in the action of the day and not worry about continuing it indefinitely. So for one day, no nose-picking.
  31. Keep a success log. I'm counting this as my success log, along with my paper-and-pen journal, where you can bet I write down any wins I gather throughout the day.
By my count, I attempted, began, or completed most of these. The important part (I think) is the mindfulness aspect, so even for things I couldn't or didn't do, thoughtful meditation about the action/why I didn't do it played a part. If this sounds like I'm making excuses for not following the suggestions to the letter, I am. It's only January, I have eleven more months of these.

Happy Level: I feel content. On a scale of 1-10, my happiness this month was a consistent 6.5/7. Points lost for rain, snow, and cold.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Go Away, January!

It's miserable outside! A perfect day to eat and veg on your couch with a movie or book or Angry Birds, and if you worked today, even better! You deserve a night off.

There are plenty of words to describe this week's weather: fickle, confusing, upsetting, and disgusting come to mind. It's become a daily challenge for me to decide a) if I can bike to work or not and b) what season to dress for. Is it the dead of winter? Yes! The beginning of spring? That too! How about late fall? Why not?!

Yesterday it neared 60 degrees, so I biked. Several hours later, the temperature held, but the rain didn't. I would have been soaked by the time I got home, but before leaving work I fashioned myself a grown woman reverse diaper poncho out of a plastic bag, so at least my core was dry. Today was an entirely different story--it started off rainy (meaning CTA) and by the time I headed home it had also snowed, sleeted, and hailed. Now it's just gross outside.

On the bright side: January is almost over. February is pretty awful too, but it's only 28 days. Last year March was rather bearable. We can do this, people.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Working Out at Work

It's gorgeous outside! A perfect day for a workout, but if you work/worked today, you might not have much time to get in routine exercise in the form of a run or trip to the gym. Have no fear, there are plenty of things you can do while you are at work! I present, Monday Workout at Work:

Warm Up

Why not ride your bide to work since it's such a nice day? You'll get your heart rate up and sweat a bit. We're all okay with being a little sweaty at work, right? It's not like you showered this morning or anything.

Sand Grab

Now that your muscles are nice and limber, let's go to Menard's to get some sand to sprinkle on ice. All the employees will avoid you (I guess you look particularly competent in your flannel), so it'll take some searching to find someone to help. Once you find someone in the middle of the store, they will send you back to the front to talk to a building materials representative. When you find him, he will tell you to go to the warehouse for the sand you require. Where is the warehouse? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy in the back of the store. Outside of the store, actually. Several employees will ask what you are looking for while you are on your way, and each will continue to point you to the warehouse ("the last aisle in the warehouse"), but none will offer to grab the 50 lb. bag of sand for you. You will have to find the large carts to haul the sand, push it to the end of the aisle, throw your sand on the cart, and push it back to the front of the store to check out. Then out to your car. Go ahead and wipe your dirty hands on your pants. What a work out!

Stair Run

At some point during the day, you may need to grab some groceries. Why not wait until rush hour, when not only the grocery store's lot is full, but also the spare lot it shares with the gym? Then you'll have to park at the top level. Forget the elevator--it's broken. You, my friend, are taking the stairs down to the store, then all the way back up with your arms laden with groceries. Burn those calories you just bought before you have the chance to eat them!

Cool Down

You've done a lot of running around today. Let's cool off with another bike ride. No rushes on this one--you're on your way home, take your time and let your muscles relax and stretch out. Get home and crush some protein. Maybe a glass of wine?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Revenge of Konan Castle

"What happens when you mix an Eleventh century haunted Scottish castle, eight greedy Americans, and a two hundred year old family feud?"

So asks the box of the Murder Mystery Party we found at a thrift store several months ago. The answer? You get a great night of solving the murder of Ian Campbell! With a diverse spread of food and a traditional Scottish music Pandora station, 17 of us gathered (in full costume) at the Naw last night to figure out who among us killed the last of the Campbell family while in search of a hidden treasure worth a fortune.

We each had characters to play (the game only has eight characters, so we doubled and tripled up on them--for murder mystery enthusiasts out there, having a character buddy is helpful), clues to reveal, and secrets to keep. I played Ashley Leeds, the beautiful and flirtatious daughter of a wealthy business man. While not appearing very smart, Ashley is actually a manipulative woman who uses others to get her way. The only thing her daddy won't/can't buy for her is the attention/affection of Dr. Andrew Mathieson, the brilliant archaeologist. Ashley is at the castle to find the treasure in hopes of convincing Andy to take her to Egypt with him on his next excavation. Other characters included a wealthy widow, an engineer, a jewelry designer, a football player, a major in the army, and an army nurse.

As our secrets came out little by little (game rule: no lying allowed, unless you are the murderer!), it became clear that we all had motive to kill. Ian was close to finding the treasure we all wanted, and he knew a few too many secrets about some of us. Once we went through all the clues, we made our accusations. Nearly everyone was accused at some point, but only one character had it in him to kill. The mystery solved, we continued eating and drinking the night away.

A murder mystery is the perfect distraction from the cold. There's no football this weekend, no holidays, and the world outside is dreary and frigid. Might as well gather with friends and pretend you are in an old Scottish castle--kids aren't the only ones who get to play pretend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Parenting Lesson

If you are located anywhere near me, you know. It's Freezing out. You have chapped hands and lips, you're doubling up on socks, and you have to force yourself out from under the covers in the morning. There are a number of ways to warm up when the weather is best described as biting, my favorite being a cup of tea and burying myself in blankets. A good book can help too...unless it's We Need to Talk About Kevin or The Shining.

My most recent reads were decidedly chilling, not warming. It was partially their winter settings, but mostly the creepy and terrifying plots. Don't read them if you scare easily, live alone, want to stay warm, or have a fear of really intelligent children. That being said, both books provide an invaluable lesson for parents hoping to keep their families safe and (spoiler alert) living.

Parents MUST be a team, a united front that communicates with each other always. In social work terms, splitting staff is unacceptable. A lot of grief could have been spared in these two books had the parents followed this rule. A LOT of grief. As soon as parents take sides, the odd parent out starts to resent both parent and child. Same goes for kids--they resent the parent left out. Parents teaming up against kids is just the way of nature, and a great way to get your kids to cooperate with each other (even if they can't stand each other, they'll have a common enemy).

I might be simplifying things a bit here, but for me to notice the same grave mistake in two very different books means something. Even if things would have gone horribly wrong for the families in both books no matter what (haunted hotels and mentally unstable/evil children are hard to overcome), I think all parties would feel better about their situations had they followed my rule.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Breaking Bread

Our apartment went through three dozen eggs this weekend. That's a dozen a day. The explanation is simple: we do brunch. Brunch at the Naw has evolved from our first several weekends here--we now have a Belgian waffle maker, a full menu, and set recipes and jobs. Anyone who happens to be joining us that day (brunch time is between 11-1) also gets a job to do: chopping veggies, shredding cheese, whipping egg whites for the takes work to pull off a brunch like ours.

These meals are some of my favorites. The more people we have over, the better. The jokes we make alongside the waffles/eggs/bacon/pancakes/potatoes are nourishment themselves. I love the entertainment, the carefree attitude of the weekend, and of course our amazing food. Our brunches remind me how much I enjoy and appreciate hospitality--giving over receiving. I always find my community in meals, in making and sharing great food and better conversation.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chicago Diner

The best way to try out a new restaurant is with a coupon deal--I don't want to go somewhere I'm unsure about unless I know I'm getting a bargain at least. Thanks to a Google Offer, last night Jesus and I checked out the "Meat free since '83" Chicago Diner at its new(ish)ly-opened second location. While neither of us is vegetarian (I see myself as more of a localtarian/I make exceptions for meat when I'm going out or if someone cooks for me and Jesus is a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore), I've heard their fake meat menu items rival the real things.

My first observation was that for sounding classic and old-timey, the Chicago Diner is pretty hip and new-agey. Their Lakeview location is decorated as one would expect a diner to be, but their Logan Square location can only be described as "hipster-posh"--environmentally-friendly lighting and recycled/upcycled furniture abound. I'm sure the waiters and hosts are required to have tattoos, piercings, and/or half-shaved heads to go along with their flannel and skinny jeans. As for the clientele, well let's just say Jesus' mustache was our only "in" (even the three tattoos and seven piercings we have between us didn't seem anti-establishment enough for this crowd).

Because it was a Saturday night and there is also a bar inside (shelves stocked with locally brewed beers, vegan wines, and organic liquor), we had time to people-watch before being seated. (I have so many new character descriptions: waif-like women with purses bigger than their bodies, thick-framed glasses on horsey faces, beautiful only because they are so unnaturally striking, men with Harry Potter-esque scarves.) It was almost surreal, these character cliches being so unironic about their cliched hipsterness.

Once seated and served, we were able to focus on the reason we came: the food. It honestly didn't disappoint. We started with barbecue "wings" and an organic root beer. Okay, so the wings' texture wasn't exactly wing-like, but it was still a tasty texture and wing-like enough when taking into consideration the awesome sauce. I followed up with the Gyros, not something I would get in pure-meat form, but surprisingly flavorful as a vegetarian option. Jesus got the Cajun Black Bean Burger, forgetting momentarily that he "can't handle" spicy. Once the offending jalapenos were removed, he was fine and we both soldiered on until our plates were empty and our bellies full. Regrettably, neither of us left room for dessert. A shame considering their vegan shakes are arguably their most popular menu items.

Altogether, we had a solid meal and a decent evening. We'd both return (it helps that their Logan Square location is literally up the street from us)...even if just to make fun of the other customers.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Roommate Run

I don't normally partake in physical activity (except during my few months of funemployment, and if you count bike rides to work and my refusal to take elevators unless I'm traveling up more than four stories), but Brit and Brooke convinced me to join them for our very first Roommate Run this afternoon. A new tradition? Perhaps. I would never go for runs on my own when I could watch TV or cut pictures out of magazines or almost anything but willingly exert more energy than it takes to travel from my bedroom to the couch, but knowing two other people would be suffering with me encouraging me along the way helped get me off my butt and out into the brisk January day.

The best motivation to staying/getting active is other people who are also active. If your friends are all skinny, you're more likely to be skinny. If your friends lounge around eating junk all day, you're more likely to join them. If your friends fall into both camps, well, you are probably a teenage boy enjoying the peak of your metabolic rate.

What I'm saying is, this will only become a tradition if Brit and Brooke continue to guilt me into joining them. Once we were out and running, I was fine ("fine" meaning I hung back about a block, you know, to keep an eye on everything). Side cramps set in at about the three block mark and not long after that, it felt like I was running with spare change filling my non-existant pockets. Doesn't matter, I made it the whole way--just about two miles--only stopping for traffic and to regroup at the halfway mark. 

We were all proud of ourselves for actually doing what we optimistically suggested this morning, but our very different exercise philosophies became apparent as soon as we got back inside. Brit moved aside our coffee table so she could continue exercising. Brooke joined in for a bit, but it wasn't long before she was doing more stretching than circuits, and eventually she gave even that up to do her nails. And me? I went right into post-workout stretching followed closely by post-workout nourishment. I don't know how the other two weren't starving. By the time I was fully cooled down, I had devoured an apple, nuts and chocolate, chips with avocado and hummus, and pizza. We finished breakfast at least two hours before was definitely pre-lunch time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Kids are All Right

Did you spend all day installing new carpet padding and shuffling 15 years worth of a family's accumulations onto wood flooring from carpeting so that everything is ready for the carpet to be cleaned tomorrow? Do you need a night to just veg, order in, and watch a fun, but not mindless, movie? Check out The Kids are All Right. (I'm assuming I'm the only one who moved around boxes, baskets, and bins of Stuff all day today in preparation for carpet cleaning, but perhaps you had a long/productive/tiring day as well. Congrats! Now lounge around and watch a movie with me.)

I guess I would call this movie a dramedy...real life humor, real life problems, sort of. Nic and Jules are just your two average lesbian moms. Joni is their freshly-graduated from high school straight-A student, excited for one last summer before college. Laser, their 15-yr old son, wants to know who his biological father is, so Joni (now 18) makes the call & finds Paul.

Opinions on Paul range from intrigued (Joni) to indifferent (Nic) to insecure (Laser) to infatuated (Jules). In one day Paul plays pick up basketball with Laser, treats Joni and friend to a gourmet dinner at his restaurant, sleeps with Jules, and fights with Nic about the safety of motorcyclists. It seems that they might be able to make this modern family work out, except for the fact that Jules is gay and Nic is not all about sharing.

Okay, so the happy-ish ending seemed a bit contrived, but I think they would have gotten to that point eventually (just not in the two hours the movie gave). The acting was solid on all accounts, from the main five to supporting friends and lovers. The music was fun and there were several perfect lines. Watching The Kids Are All Right was time well spent ...not folding laundry, washing dishes, or grocery shopping...all things that still need to be done, here at home at least.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One-Word Wednesday

Could you get your message across in one word sentences? Today I challenged myself to do that (mostly via text). I'm not a woman of many words (until I drink caffeine or alcohol), preferring to write (duh), but it was still tough to condense what I wanted to say into one word. I had to get creative with descriptions, which led to being more accurate while at the same time more confusing. By the end of the day, I found it hard to not word vomit everywhere; I kept thoughts in my head to spew out once my self-imposed challenge ended.

A simple Google search of "one word" brings up some fun things--apparently I'm not the only one challenging myself this way, nor am I the only one who recognizes the power of solo words: : they give you one word, you type for 60 seconds. It's about "being inspired by words." If you choose, you can register & upload your flow. Today's word is "sweep" and I invented a new definition for it: sweet weep. Like happy crying. I sweep fairly often. : "Change your life with just one word." The idea is to "choose one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year." This super overwhelms me. Like defining an entire city with one word (see Eat, Pray, Love --Rome is "sex," New York is "ambition," London is "stuffy," etc.), I think it's neat to think we each have one word that defines us. I just don't think I could ever settle on one word forever. (Maybe my word is overwhelmed?) A search for Chicago's word comes back with "loyal," "husky," "nonchalant," "real," and "straightforward." : Similar to My One Word, this site is a 2013 New Year's resolution to choose one word to focus on for an entire year. What does it mean if the words I think of first are "wine," "balance," and "pranks" ? When I asked Britney, she said her word would be "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Getting the most bang for her buck, that one.

I remember having to do a one word writing exercise in high school. We wrote stories with just one word sentences; it was one of my favorite activities. I write better when posed a challenge, given a specific topic, or made to follow story guidelines--I'm not nearly as overwhelmed by an expanse of white page when my options are limited. In some way limits are freeing. I can't find the story now, though I'm sure it's at home somewhere. It was mostly dialogue, which happens to be my writing forte.

I guess I'll write another...


Bar. Empty. --Wait. Woman. Alone.
Bartender. "Thirsty?"
"Thanks." Sip. Grimace. Bitter.
Frown. "Unpracticed."
Door. Man. Sits. "Whiskey. Please."
"Sure." Turns. Pours. Serves.
Downs. "Another."
Wave. Dismissing.
"Celebrating." Sarcastic. "Pregnant."
Woman. Eavesdropping. Sighs. Bottle.
Emptied. Empty.
Leaves. Leaving.
Stops. Whispers. "Congrats."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fifty Shades of Target

Target's new ad series for their "Everyday Collection" confuses and unsettles me. Not that I don't think sex has a place in advertisements--I'm all for making things sexy, really. And not that I don't love Target (I may or may not have casually spent $100 there after work tonight). It's just, Target is my Messy Ponytail and Sweatpants, Going to Buy Shampoo but Walk out with New Shoes, Idle Browsing in the Clearance Section of all the Departments Department Store.

I don't want sexy at Target. I don't want to "dominate" bake sales, "conquer" dinner ("one cut of meat at a time"), or "master" diaper-changing. What are you telling me, Target? That being a woman is about "power"--in the grocery aisle. The only ladder I should be climbing is the one reaching to the light bulb that needs changing. And let's talk about how these ads feature gorgeous (female) models dressed in all white, including heels. (Always with the heels!) What mother is wearing all white to change a diaper, much less to be in the vicinity of a baby? Why are we wearing heels to make cupcakes?

Sure, these ads make me laugh (Feeling ho-hum? Watch "Ravenous" and try not to be creeped out in a hilarious way.), but that's because I get what they're doing. Thanks to the "mommy porn" trend, we get sexy groceries. Sexy laundry. Sexy babies. (As one YouTube user commented: "Seduce those toddlers.") Nothing is off limits for advertisers as they market to new (and experienced) moms.

Personally, I'm looking forward to my non-sexy days as mother. Isn't that every young girl's dream? Work really hard in your 20's to look good and accomplish things so you can someday settle into sweats and halfheartedly work off pregnancy fat?

[Note: Almost all the video comments included positive reviews of the songs used in the commercials, so points to Target for creative music choices.]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globes 2013

I personally don't care about the Golden Globes--who wins, the dresses, the jewelry, the endless champagne (okay, I'm a little interested in that)--BUT I am super pumped to see what Tina Fey and Amy Poehler do as hosts. And because I am watching, I might as well jump onto the live-blog wagon (limo?) and give you a totally unbiased (let's be honest, I've maybe seen all of two of the nominated movies in all categories combined) description of the red carpet and the awards.

5:37 pm: I want to be watching the Texans/Patriots game, but unfortunately our CBS station is not working. A quick flip through the channels and I found the GG 1st Look. Red carpet interviews ("Who are you wearing?" as if the dresses ARE the designers), pre-recorded interviews, and showing us regular folk all the glamorous things we are missing out on (bedazzled dresses and steak and sea bass dinners).

5:38 pm: buzzwords: open back, clutch, nude, tweet, gorgeous, dashing, freezing (newsflash: it is currently in the 50' is NOT freezing on the red carpet), WHO ARE YOU WEARING.

5:40 pm: I've heard about Lena Dunham and her show Girls. Why is it on HBO? I want to watch it. Also, she really pulls off that haircut. I'm still flirting with the idea of a pixie-ish cut. Too afraid right now.

6:12 pm: Biggest dress trends: nude colors (looks good when you're tan, but those of us who turn sheet-white in the winter can't pull that off unfortunately), mermaid tail bottoms (to hide big feet?), cutouts (that's the trend I want to try), and FANCY.

6:17 pm: Tina and Amy look AMAZING. I love that their clutches are just props and are totally empty. They just went over the Golden Globes drinking game rules. Amy's final rule: "Just if you've had a tough week."

6:20 pm: Did George Clooney age to perfect silver fox status and then just stop? I don't think he's aged since I was 18.

6:23 pm: Jennifer Lawrence either has crazy heels on or she is just really almost awkwardly tall. Not a fan of her dress. Not a fan of Hathaway's dress either. Too many weird shapes on both of them! Makes me wonder what I would look like next to them...even weirder? Or possibly normal?

6:25 pm: That Velveeta commercial was spot on.

6:34 pm: I think Adele has one dress she wears to all awards. Whatever...I'm sure she could care less.

6:35 pm: Halle Berry. Wow, woman.

6:51 pm: Almost showtime. Brooke and I decided we would eat appetizers only for dinner.

7:00 pm: Tina and Amy still looking great. And being completely hilarious. Taking a break from blogging to listen.

7:08 pm: Kate Hudson: no. SO MUCH NO. Bradley Cooper: meh. Winner: Please don't set the bar for long boring speeches.

7:11 pm: I really like Kerry Washington's dress. And face.

7:17 pm: Wow Sam Fox looks like his dad.

7:21 pm: LOL. Those fake teeth. Julianne Moore kept her Sarah Palin hairstyle: muted beehive.


7:33 pm: They are letting redheads win a lot of these awards, no? Good for the gingers.

7:35 pm: Aaaaaaaand I believe the teleprompter is out. Homeland does have a lot of hype. Backed up by lots of awards, but still...I can't be bothered to watch.

7:45 pm: Yay Life of Pi! The music in that movie was dreamy and awesome.

7:48 pm: Skyfall...called it. Can I also call that Taylor Swift writes a hate song directed towards Adele?

7:55 pm: I want to be Tina and Amy's third bestie. We would get along SO well, I'm sure.

8:00 pm: I love that they have Bill Clinton introducing Lincoln. He's looking pretty good. Old, but good.

8:05 pm: Kristen Wiig is adorable. There's another woman I want to be friends with. Super real crush. WHY IS TOMMY LEE JONES NOT LOL'ING.

8:15 pm: Megan Fox you are married and just had a baby so stop acting like you are still super sexy we are all over you and your giant lips.

8:16 pm: Anne Hathaway stop being so dramatic and breathy we get it you are educated and have short hair and you have self-doubt like the rest of us AND ALSO YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH VALENTINO.

8:25 pm: Quentin Tarantino, are you drunk? Ugh I want to be invited to this party so bad.

8:27 pm: Lucy Liu, I love your dress mostly because of its pockets. Sweet braid too.

8:35 pm: Lea Michele, honey your leg looks amazing but your skin is looking a little orange. :/

8:41 pm: Is everyone else getting these sexy Target commercials? I don't understand. Cowboy mom changing diapers? Taming the bulls aka cuts of meat? Pinata filled with fruit snacks? Who are you selling to?

8:44 pm: Cheers to you, my friend. Bringing his glass right up on stage. And here I am drinking the rest of this Aldi wine out of the bottle.

8:47 pm: Booooooooo I was cheering for Wreck-It Ralph, not Brave for the Animated Film. Another redhead winner. I think that's enough of them, really.

8:50 pm: Life of Pi. Great book, great movie. Watch out for whales.

8:52 pm: Aziz Ansari will always be funny as himself, right along with Tina and Amy. And Julia, Zooey, and apparently Lena? I really need to watch Girls. Women are rocking the Globes.

8:59 pm: LOL again. Tina's jab at T. Swift, so appropriate. Take some time to figure yourself out, girl. Her jab at Robert Downey, Jr. also appropriate. I can't see him without assuming he is playing Tony Stark.

9:10 pm: Jodie Foster. You, my friend, are majestic. "I am not Honey Boo Boo Child."

9:21 pm: List of movies to watch: Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook...Golden Globes are stressing me out with all of these things I haven't seen yet.

9:30 pm: Christian Bale is that really what you sound like? Stick to Batman grovel please.

9:41 pm: Why are comedy and musical lumped together? Was Les Miserables the only musical? I'm awful at this Golden Globes stuff.

9:42 pm: ATTN: Winners. Accept that you WILL forget to thank someone and just get over it. Send the forgotten a nice card or fruit basket. Better yet, don't thank anyone during your speech, just say "Thanks" and get off stage.

9:47 pm: George Clooney and I would definitely be friends in another reality.

9:48 pm: ANOTHER REDHEAD. Jessica Chastain's hair/dress/lip color combo works, but the cut of that dress doesn't.

9:56 pm: For real, Target. Stop with the sexiness. Prenatal vitamins are not sexy.

9:59 pm: Lots of politics in the Best Picture nominees. And as Brooke says about the winner (Argo), "So many black clothes, no black people."

10:00 pm: I want to go home with Jodie Foster too! To hang out with Tina and Amy. I think the Golden Globes after party would be fun, but I wonder how many of the celebrities have to work tomorrow? Ugh the real world is such a downer.

Happy Golden Globes, everyone. Join me again for the Oscars?

We Need to Talk About Kevin

I'm reading We Need to Talk About Kevin (by Lionel Shriver) and the first comment I have is SO MANY FUN WORDS! Already I've learned/refreshed my memory on the meanings and uses of:


and that was just in the first hundred pages.

My second, and actual, comment is: This book is crunchy with detail, and heart-crunchy at that. It's not an easy read, emotionally. I sometimes have to stop to take a breather. Kevin is a teenager who kills seven of his classmates, a cafeteria worker, and a teacher at his school. The narrator, Eva, a middle-aged mother of Kevin, is not at all like me, I think...until I start reading and realize a lot of her flashback thoughts (before Kevin is born, when he is a baby, etc) are ones I've thought, even for small moments. Then I see similarities in our philosophies, relationships, and life fears.

I started this book to take a break from The Shining (I could never read after about 9 PM, and definitely not on nights when I was home alone), but it's turning out to be a deep, thought-provoking, haunting story--not a book you read when you are on "break" from a thriller. Doesn't matter, I'm hooked on the language, the characters, even the format of the story, told in letters from Eva to her absent husband, Franklin.

I've already got the movie version on hold at the library (though I'm still waiting on a movie I requested in September to get sent to my library, so who knows when I'll get this one). Put this book on your list, especially now, when our country is deep in gun control and mental health debates. It's a different angle to the issue of school shootings and violent youth--a closer look at the mother, the father, the childhood, and the life forever altered because of the son's actions.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Night

On my walk home tonight, I saw people settling into their Friday night routines: a man riding past with a 12-pack of wine strapped to his bike, dog walkers and couples out on dates, people waiting for buses, drivers checking their phones at red lights (and backed-up green lights), and kids at the skate park doing more sitting around on their bikes & the park structures than any actual tricks.

Thanks to open curtains, I also saw people preparing dinner, sitting down to dinner, and eating dinner in front of the TV. I saw a dad play jungle gym as his kids crawled all over him, white cats and black dogs, houses still clinging to the holidays with Christmas lights and decor, and houses still clinging to a football season with Bears flags flying proudly.

What did these people see? A 20-something heading home to start her own Friday routine (or a creepy lady staring in at them from the sidewalk, but you get the picture). At the Naw we like to make homemade pizzas, drink wine, listen to 90's music, and welcome guests--tonight it's Quinn!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Love the One You're With

It's been one of those days, where all of these things happen:

--Forgot to put on deodorant this morning.
--Fish juice spilled out of the package I was buying and it got all over my hands at the grocery store.
--I put my hair in a bun, but it's so high I keep hitting it on things (car door, grocery shelves when I bend over to get something from the bottom shelf, knocking boxes of cookies onto the floor).
--Had a super long list of errands to run, almost all of which were time-sensitive (appointments, getting places before closing time) & I am awful at time-sensitivity.
--In all of the hectic errand-running, my appetite grew obnoxiously, so I grabbed car snacks...aka I ate a lot of candy and gave myself a headache.
--Shut the cloth belt to my sweater in the car door without realizing it, so when I got out half of my belt was soaked/dirty from flapping about outside the car.
--Came home & took a big bite of some chocolate I found in the cupboard...BAKING CHOCOLATE. So gross.

Even so, today redeemed itself with several silver linings:

--The guy at the Apple Store gave me a new power cord for free, because he was 'in a good mood.' Brilliant!
--I ended up getting the big errands done earlyish, enough so that I didn't feel rushed towards the end of the day (I over-exaggerated my timings).
--I'm pretty sure my super high bun made at least one woman envious...and I credit it for my overall errand efficiency.
--The rain let up right before I headed home, so I biked in only a light drizzle as opposed to actual rain or snow.
--My Chromebook was waiting for me at home! I left it unplugged all day and it still has several hours of power.
--Leftovers in the fridge. YESSSSSSSS.

It's like my good friend Stephen Stills sings, "If you can't have the day you want, love the day you're having." Did I quote that wrong? Sounds right enough... "If you can't quote the song you want, change the lyrics to fit what you're saying." Or write your own song.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy Chromebook to ME


How is that possible? (Or for those of you who don't know my computer woes, Why is that a big deal?)

I just got my Google Chromebook today!

My old laptop, with me since Fall 2006, has seen its sunny days and rainy days. It was dependable and got me through college plus a few years, even surviving my semester abroad, but connected to it as I am, even I need something with more than 7 minutes of battery life and only 50% of a functioning screen.

I shopped around for a bit, but it didn't take me long to settle on the Chromebook. At the risk of sounding like an advertisement or online review, it's super lightweight, fast, and ADORABLE. Plus it only knocked me back just over $200. I'm still playing around with it and figuring out what I can all do with it, but so far it hasn't disappointed me.

I now have zero excuses for not blogging, so hold me accountable & look forward to a year full of posts!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Took a Walk

You know what puts things in perspective? A nice, long walk. It was (relatively) warm here today, and I decided to take advantage of that after work. I walked the several miles from work to my apartment. It only took about 45 minutes, so 15 minutes more than CTA or 30 minutes more than biking or driving.

I have such a weird relationship with time (I prefer free time in large chunks, but need to break work/chore time into smaller chunks, even mentally. I also tend to need more of it than most people for things like transitions, even just the transition between work and home.), so it was beneficial to find out that by walking home, I didn't feel cheated out of my own time, as I sometimes do while waiting for/riding the bus. All I had was my own time, and all I could do with it was take it step by step. Being alone while surrounded by traffic let me ponder without going too deep, and by the time I got home I felt unwound from the workday.

While I most likely won't walk home that often, it's nice to know a brisk walk is an option, and a rather pleasant one at that--provided it's not raining, snowing, below freezing, or insanely hot maybe for 2 or 3 weeks out of the year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Crayon Flowers

It may look like a child made it, but I'm proud of my first solo crayon art attempt. I've also come to the conclusion that I'm addicted to arts and crafts. Everything on my to do list somehow correlates to a craft project. And I'm okay with that.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In the Jungle

That's what we are at the Naw: in the jungle. Our home improvement project this weekend was getting several tropical plants to spruce up our living room (and help filter our air!). I feel like such a grown up now.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Time Traveling New Year

Welcome to 2013! Or, as I figured out New Year's morning, 2+0+1=3. Won't be able to do that again until 2024.

We at the Naw continued our New Year's traditions (two years running now) of napping, watching movies, and ordering Asian takeout. Our movie theme this year was Time Travel, and we found two movies that interpreted this theme quite differently.

Safety Not Guaranteed: This quirky comedy from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine was not what we expected at all, but definitely worth it. Darius is a cynical magazine intern in need of some adventure. She joins Jeff, a staff writer, and Arnau, another intern in writing a story about Kenneth, a man who puts an ad in the classifieds for a time travel partner. Darius acts as the possible travel partner, answering the ad, which specifies, "This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed."

With Aubrey Plaza playing Darius, I was sold, but luckily this movie offers far more -- even the subplot was engaging and original. I'm still trying to wrap my head around where the ending came from, but that could be because I haven't quite gotten over this head cold from Christmas.

Looper: Checking out Joseph Gordon-Levitt's special effects make up was almost as entertaining as the overall concept of this movie, a time travel sci-fi action thriller that we had to pause several times while watching to talk through what was currently happening. Gordon-Levitt plays Joe in 2044, Bruce Willis is Joe in 2074. Time travel isn't invented yet in 2044, but it is in 2074, and when the 2074 mob wants to get rid of someone, they send them back 30 years to an assassin, called a Looper (like Young Joe), who kills them and disposes of the body, which can't be traced. "Closing the Loop" is when the 2074 mob decides to end the contract of a 2044 Looper, by sending their 2074 self back to be killed. A Looper gets a golden payday for this, and 30 years of carefree living, but Joe isn't about to let that happen...though his 2044 self would gladly kill his 2074 self, his 2074 self has made a life for himself and isn't ready for it to end.

It's a classic tale of man vs. himself, only WAY more confusing. Also, don't expect any explanations for how time travel works. At one point Young Joe asks about it and Old Joe responds, "I don't want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we're going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws." I took that to be the explanation to the audience as well, a sort of nod to the audience's confusion while at the same time saying, "Look, time travel is IN the movie, but it isn't what the movie is all about."

Whether you watch them back-to-back or have separate movie nights, please put these guys on your to-see list!