Friday, January 31, 2014

Thanks, Mother Nature...


I don't know who decided January would be National Thank You Month, but they must really enjoy irony. I struggled to feel anything resembling gratitude; most days it felt like I was competing with Mother Nature for who could give less shits. She won, but just barely. From getting dressed in the morning (some days it looked like I had completely given up on resembling human, much less woman) to making dinner at night (I think I ate pasta 25 days so far in 2014), I couldn't be bothered to care about many things.

Besides January, here are some other things I'd like to be done with:
  • cab drivers
  • entitled teenagers
  • public transportation
  • wet socks
  • laundry
This week felt especially trying. Since CPS was bullied earlier this year into a precedence of cancelling school for cold weather, the kids got a four day weekend. Somehow, homework due on Monday lingered, undone until late Tuesday night. Rides to and from snow day activities were requested and extra hours were put in entertaining the perpetually bored. My roommates and I haven't been able to properly grocery shop for a few weeks, so dinners have been lacking creativity. The book I'm reading went from snappy to ploddish, leaving me to skim until it picked up again (it did, sort of).

Despite my dislike of January, my Happiness Jar is starting to fill up. I don't mean to belittle the entire month--and just because tomorrow is February doesn't mean things will be rosy all of a sudden (well, maybe for one day, like at the exact center of the month, wink wink)--but soon people will finally give up on their new year's resolutions to be more optimistic and we can all be crabby together.

Plus, February has these to offer:
  • Super Bowl: as of right now I'm watching it with three people who don't watch and/or don't care about football, but that just means I can send them to the kitchen to bring me snacks during the game. Plus, commercials!
  • Winter Olympics: not as great as Summer Olympics, but the venue promises to keep things interesting. [Tangent: When they first started advertising, my roommate was confused as to why the Olympic slogan was "So Chi," (pronounced "So Shy,") as in "So Chicago." Then the polar vortex hit, and suddenly "So Chi" made a lot of sense here in "Chiberia."]
  • Valentine's Day: luckily I'm old enough that most of my friends are okay with this holiday/treat it with benevolent indifference. Growing up it was fun to give/get candy from Mom and Dad and classmates, but college kids are decidedly PRO or ANTI Valentine's Day, and that's just exhausting.
For tonight, I send out January in style. My pizza (I say "my" because both of my roommates are gone...this baby is alllll mine) is in the oven, a bottle of wine is chilling in the fridge, and The Sopranos is loaded on my HBO queue. Ciao, 3rd snowiest month in Chicago history!

For me? OK.



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Looking In

Girl in the window
what do I know of
thick dog-eared books
and graphing calculators?
I am your distracted study partner,
the one who abandoned you for
cobblestone streets
and escapist photography.



THANKS: Becca for a ride to work and Jesus for a ride home so I didn't have to wait in the cold for the bus earlier this week.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I hate first dates, but you know what? Second dates aren't that great either. Josh took me out again last night, but before he picked me up I had no idea what we would talk about. We already knew each other's favorite music and movies, where we grew up, and what we studied in college. I'm a slow reader, so I was still reading the same book as I was when I saw him a week earlier.

Someone more socially adept might suggest we dig deeper--religion, politics, child-rearing strategies--but I was mostly hoping we could focus on the food. He took me to The Black Adder, you know, home of the Anaspeptic Ribs, so I figured that's what he wanted to do too.

Then our waitress came over.

"Hey guys, welcome to The Black Adder! Can I--oh, hi, uh Josh." She put our waters on the table and took a step back.

Josh looked up. "Oh, Abby, hey!"

"What...brings you guys here tonight?" Abby asked.

"The ribs," I offered. "I'm Erin, by the way."

Abby nodded and pulled out her order pad. "Do you want to start with drinks?"

Josh, who had been playing with his straw wrapper this entire time, ordered a beer: "Just whatever's on tap."

"I'll take a whiskey and coke."

Abby smiled. "I'll be right back with those."

"Wow, that wasn't awkward at all. I'm guessing you guys have a sordid past? Please tell." I was elated at being off the hook for coming up with conversation--that interaction alone could entertain me for a night.

Josh looked over his shoulder, presumably to check that Abby was out of earshot. "We dated. For three years. She wanted to get married, I wasn't ready, and we fought about it daily until we just...stopped."

"Stopped fighting?" 

Another waiter came around with our drinks and Josh took a big pull from his beer. "Stopped talking."

"Oh." I stirred my drink.

"Yeah. Then one day, she was gone. Took all her stuff, no note or anything. She must've started working here recently. I saw her once at her old job. She used to tend bar at Eclipse. She threw a drink in my face."

"Well she sent someone else out with our drinks tonight, so that's a step in the right direction." I lifted my glass. "Cheers, to mending broken hearts."

He clinked his bottle with my glass and we both drank. I felt as though the night was going great. I already got this guy to open up to me! And with a juicy story nonetheless. 

Josh took another look around. "You know, I um, I'm not sure if I fed the meter enough, now that I think about it. I'm gonna go...check that." He got up and put his coat on. "Order me a burger?"

I sat there and waited, but he never came back.



THANKS: Brooke, for making dinner last night and tonight when all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Grammys 2014

The Grammys are on tonight - 7 pm, my time. Because they are music awards, I'm more excited for the performances than for the actual awards (we only see a fraction of them being awarded anyways). I know a lot of people are unimpressed or downright confused by the seemingly random collaborations, but I'm game for nearly any mash-up of voices and songs. Why not?

If you're watching tonight, I'd love it if you joined me here as well. I'll be spouting off my thoughts and opinions on the performances, outfits, and even the winners (and losers). Until then, stay warm!

10:45 - Good Night!

Thanks for joining me for this award show that only presented, what...four, five awards? CPS cancelled school tomorrow, but as of now I'm still working. Off to bed!

10:35 - Album of the Year/End of Show

Album of the Year: Random Access Memories, Daft Punk. I think Taylor Swift looked genuinely shocked that she didn't win. This album wasn't even Daft Punk's best stuff, so it is surprising that they won in a tough category.

NIN/QOTSA/Lindsay Buckingham in a performance I don't quite understand, but still don't mind? It's too bad they have to be played over by the credits.

10:20 - In Memoriam and Miranda Lambert/Billy Joe Armstrong

Check out that glitzy piano. I wanted Lang Lang to play the entire In Memoriam.

Somehow both Miranda and Billy Joe's voices lend well to the Everlys.

10:05 - "Same Love" and 33 Weddings

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert singing a great song with a great message, if you discount all the times where Macklemore has to reassure us that he, himself, is not gay. I appreciate Mary Lambert's appearance, not only because she is gay, but because she is from Seattle, like Macklemore.

I wonder what the actual weddings of these couples will be like? Or how many of them were already married? Or how many won't have any other ceremony besides the Grammys?

Wow. Madonna is not doing herself any favors with that cane. She already looks like she rose from the grave to sing this song. And Mary sounds so much better than her.

9:49 - Metallica/Lang Lang and Daft Punk again

Here's another collaboration I might use as a bathroom break. I like the fire.

Steven Tyler, what a lovable old lady man.

Record of the Year: (not to be confused with Song of the Year, which is the actual song part) "Get Lucky" for what really is a great recording--music, lyrics, digital effects.

9:36 - Carole King/Sarah Bareilles and more Lorde

Here's hoping this version of "Brave" is better than the People's Choice Awards....yep. So far it is. I mean, Carole King helps A LOT.

Song of the Year: "Royals," Lorde. I'm glad it went to her. She could use some help with that posture, but congrats nonetheless.

9:15 - Country music and Daft Punk/Pharrell/Nile Rodgers/Stevie Wonder

Jeremy Renner looks like a smudgy pencil eraser.

Note: not watching this part. More country. Can't do it.

Awww, look at Taylor making sure to be the first clapping/standing up for Kacey. Can we rename The Grammys to The Taylors?

Pharrell, is that a different hat? He's still adorable. He looks totally psyched to be performing.

Wow, Steven Tyler dancing in the audience.

9 - The Beatles and Bruno Mars

Julia Roberts: your legs look good, but you don't look comfortable walking in those heels.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr: always legendary, but do The Beatles need acknowledgement every year? I'm a little bored, and it looks like the audience is too.

Gloria Estefan looks great. Beautiful dress.

Best Pop Vocal Album: Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars. Ummm...I guess he's okay. He's performing at the Super Bowl, he's easy to listen to, his songs are ALWAYS on the radio...that's all I got.

8:45 - Imagine Dragons/Kendrick Lamar and Kacey Musgraves

I love the weird collaborations. And Taylor, I'm back to hating you (just for this song, probably)...white girl to white girl, please stop. A music critic just referred to Imagine Dragons as an "edgier Coldplay." Maybe? I'll go with it. The camera feels a little trippy, but I like the jam session feel.

Kacey Musgraves has lights on her boots, so I can't take this performance seriously. I would probably like "Follow Your Arrow" if it wasn't so country/if someone else sang it.

8:30 - Ringo Starr and Jay-Z

Sorry, I missed the first part of Ringo Starr...I switched over to ABC to see Catherine walk up the aisle in The Bachelor's Live Wedding. Just note, these shows have both been on for 1.5 hours. We've seen three awards and the bride is only just walking up the aisle. Filler much?

Best Rap Collaboration: "Holy Grail," Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake...another rad tux. "Daddy got a gold sippy cup for you." Haha.

8:15 - Pink/Nate Ruess and Lorde again

Alright, I can get behind this. Is Pink really singing and doing acrobatics? She's got to be real fit for that. And not afraid of heights or susceptible to vertigo or anything. This is competition-level choreographed contemporary dance. She is definitely breathing heavily. Real stuff. ...and now onto the song I like better, but I can't enjoy it because Nate Ruess's entire look is creeping me out. My my, that mustache. Pink's vocals are ON POINT. She must do cardio.

Best Pop Solo Performance: (featuring youtube covers for the nominee packages) - Lorde, "Royals." She looks very tall and awkward, like most 17-year old girls. So, at least that was an age-appropriate acceptance speech (despite her very mature songs).

8 - John Legend and Taylor Swift

This camera work is weird. I'm really distracted by whoever the the spotlight is shining on as we pan back and forth. Unfortunate, because this John Legend song is super sweet. It deserves this standing ovation!

Kevin Hart's tux is awesome. Gold weave. So Classy.

Best Rock Song: Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, etc, etc...remember when Dave Grohl was in Chicago recently and apparently it was a big deal? Man he barely let Paul talk.

I can never decide if I love or hate Taylor Swift. Right now it's love. Not this song, necessarily, but her aura.  Great dress, I love the hair (my hair)...and the drop! Okay, the initial part was a little exorcist-y, but I'm not about to judge a performer for performing. No one really looks awesome rocking out on the piano.

7:45 - Robin Thicke/Chicago and Keith Urban/Gary Clark, Jr.

Robin Thicke is a talented singer. It's too bad his reputation will hang on "Blurred Lines," a song I think was blown out of proportion (proportions not helped by its distasteful music video). Chicago is a very different collaborator than Miley Cyrus was at the VMAs, that's for sure.

I'll take a million Robin Thicke/Chicago mash-ups over anything country, but the guitar solos/duets are okay with me.

Can I just say I have Taylor's hair cut?

7:25 - HH/Katy Perry

Four words in and I'm already over this Hunter Hayes song.

Pop Duo/Group Performance: "Get Lucky," possibly one of the few summer hits I didn't get sick of. Pharrell is a great singer (he was the best part of "Blurred Lines," by far). Daft Punk are just great musicians in general (also that could be anyone under those helmets). I don't know much about Nile Rodgers, but I really enjoyed him in the music video!

Katy Perry and Juicy J--I really like this song. I think it would make a great wedding song, only sort of kidding. "once you're mine, there's no going back"--right?

7 pm - Show Opener/Keeping Expectations Low

Ahhh, already The Grammys are controversial. This is why it's such a low-rated awards show, compared to other awards shows. People weren't happy with the nominees, and they definitely aren't happy with the winners (so far). In reality there are only a few awards left to hand out, and I'm mostly here for the performances--starting with this show opener: Beyonce.

It's nice that she gets to start us off, especially considering her surprise album came out too late for Grammy consideration. I like the idea of this song: first she was "Crazy in Love," now she's "Drunk in Love." I love Jay-Z joining her onstage, because that's awesome for them. I'm not in love with this song. To be honest, I haven't really gotten into any of the songs on this album. I would apologize, but I'm sure Beyonce is fine.

I would love a performance by Anna Kendrick. Or just some stand up.

Best New Artist: I wonder what defines an artist as "new" because, some of these guys are newer than others. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: not exactly new. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy these guys. I don't believe they are the "Best" or "New" Artists.

Lorde: Here's a lady who should've A) been nominated for Best New Artist and B) won. I LOVE that she is wearing clothes.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Proposal

Chloe and Franklin drive home from dinner when the subject comes up again.

"I can't believe that guy proposed at a restaurant," Chloe says. "People still do that?"

"Some people really like food? Maybe that's where they met. We don't know." Franklin says from the passenger seat.

"And did you see the ring? A diamond. C'mon dude, it's 2039. Diamonds are so quaint."

"This coming from the girl who still drives a hybrid...besides, he did the whole get down on one knee thing, so why not throw in a diamond?" Franklin shrugs. "Call me old-fashioned, but I thought it was sweet."

Chloe looks over to Franklin, then back at the road. "You are old-fashioned. And don't make fun of my car," she pats the dashboard, "I got a really good deal on this gal."

"Maybe that guy got a good deal on the ring."

"I should hope so. It wasn't even that big."


 [Envisioning a near future where things are different, but still the same.]


THANKS: blankets. coffee. socks. tea. steamy showers. candles. anything that makes me warmer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sitting with my Stuff

The things you own end up owning you.

In the roar of a movie that is Fight Club, this whisper of a line--albeit an important whisper--always sticks out to me.

My boss is cleaning out her house, mercilessly donating and tossing old/unwanted things. What I mean is I am tossing/donating. My boss is deciding what to toss/donate. Even though it's not my house, and the books/bags/clothes/furniture aren't mine either, getting rid of stuff feels good. Her things don't own her as much as they define her, though naming is just a different form of ownership.

In my own home, I don't feel owned by my things. I'm a staunch clutter-remover. My room is only 64 square feet, so it's not like I have a ton of storage space. And yet, I could be better. I consider myself an amateur minimalist with sentimental tendencies--I don't hoard things, but I'm guilty of holding onto certain things. I give meaning to inanimate objects (this is why a lot of my belongings have names and/or personalities) because, as an introvert, it's comforting to have control over my surroundings.

The things you own end up owning you.

That line came back to me Sunday night, after a rough day of working through unpleasant memories. I like to think Tyler Durden wasn't limiting his "things" to physical objects, because some days I'm not sure if I own my memories or they own me. I've spent years rewriting the ending and closing the book to my past, but generally it's to no avail. As long as I clench my fist around my "things" (memories, experiences, views of myself), they've got me wrapped around their fingers.

What I'm trying to reconcile is how to claim my past without letting it clutter me. How to have things without being those things. How to let go without forgetting what got me to where I am today. I want to be a minimalist, but I don't want to minimize. Like the sentimental value I bestow on my trinkets, my experiences--high and low--mean something.

I want to move past the idea of my memories owning me and see what's on the other side, but it's a good bet that the only way out is through. I can't simply disengage. I have to sit with my discomfort, explore its every aspect, and know it completely--I love a good puzzle, and I love doing research. Instead of clenching my fist in ownership, I will take apart the pieces of what I own. I will dismantle my experiences until they become nothing more than a collection of harmless knick knacks. And those I can let go of.



THANKS: 101.1 for providing a radio experience that helps me keep my sanity on the pot-hole-filled, never-quite-plowed streets of Chicago.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Playing Dirty

"I have spent years chasing the tail of my darkness." Louis looks across the lake, where there is only more lake.

No one says anything for a long time. Waves roll in and smack the concrete surge barrier where the three men stand. It's dark except for the beam of the car's headlights at their backs, sending out long shadows over the water.

Gus takes out a cigarette and cups his hand around the end to light it. He takes a long drag and turns his head to exhale. His shirt is a size too small and the ends have come untucked. They flutter in the wind like pennants at a used car lot.

"You've been chasing tail, alright. Nobody said anything about darkness." Eli kicks at broken concrete, sending pebbles down onto the rocks that form the shore.

"Watch your mouth, kid." Gus speaks low, but Eli hears him as if he'd whispered straight into his ear.

Eli straightens up and combs down his hair with his hand. The wind messes it up again. He shoves his hands deep into his jacket pockets. He's the tallest of the three men, but right now he feels like a child.

"Shit." Louis adjusts his hat. His tells are frequent, but they aren't a fail safe. He has so many--each one like its own pose in an album of still shots--it's hard to distinguish which are genuine and which are play. "So the other night, when my wife asks me where I've been, I decide to tell her the truth."

Gus drops his cigarette butt on the ground. He uses the heel of his dress shoe to snuff it.

"I say to her, 'Irma, I'm a hardworking man. You know I haven't always been the most moral of men, but I do my job, I never leave you wanting.'" Louis spits. "Shit. Got a light?" He pulls a pack of cigarettes out, tapping them on the palm of his hand before pulling one out.

Eli pulls a lighter out of his pocket and holds for Louis while he inhales. He snaps it shut a little louder than he means to and covers this noise with a cough, snort, and spit. He could use a smoke right now, but he's afraid to move anymore. He's new to this game.

"She didn't even try to deny it; that's how I knew." Louis shakes his head. "All I said was that I stopped by Paulie C's before coming home. Already she's biting her lip, looking up at me from the table with those wide eyes. I didn't even have to show her the evidence." He pulls a pair of women's underwear from his jacket pocket and throws them on the wrapped body-shaped bundle in front of him. "God damn panties. The snake kept a souvenir." With several kicks, Louis sends Paulie C and his souvenir into the water. He flicks the butt of his cigarette in after. "I shoulda known. She was still married to her first husband when we started fooling around. I fell in love with a cheater. Now I can barely stand to look at her."

The men walk back to the car, where Irma waits. She sits, crying, in the backseat. Eli joins her as Gus takes the wheel and Louis gets in the passenger side.

"Did you hear that, Irma?" Louis asks from the front. "I can barely stand to look at you."

In the darkness, Eli reaches for Irma's hand. She is perhaps the best player of them all. When Louis started getting suspicious and asking questions about her whereabouts while he was at work, it was Irma's idea to frame Paulie C. "Louis has never liked him," she'd said, and that had settled it. Now, she glances at Eli from behind fake tears. A smile plays at the corner of her mouth. He squeezes the tips of her fingers and prays he stays on her good side.



THANKS: Martin Luther King, Jr. and everyone carrying out his dream. (Yes, I know I'm a day late on this, but I didn't post yesterday. I'm still grateful.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn't hate this book. It's hard to hate a book that was really easy/fast to read. I don't feel like I really wasted any time on it, despite its lack of substance. Another reason for me to harbor no ill will towards Insurgent is because my boyfriend had already read it and I enjoyed making fun of the main characters/discussing the story with him.

If you've not read Divergent, you won't care about this review/book at all. Insurgent starts exactly where Divergent left off. No recapping, which is the author's creative decision (I agree with her reasoning--recapping can be awkward and clunky), but this left me confused for a little while, especially since I really only skimmed Divergent. Once I re-calibrated, everything made more sense.

The story itself is pretty solid, if you can continue suspending your disbelief from the first book. Yes, breaking the human population of a dystopian Chicago into five factions based on very broad personality traits (bravery, selflessness, honesty, peacefulness, logic) is a little silly. Assuming that people who display aptitude for several traits at once are inherently dangerous is even sillier. For the sake of the story, though, sure, why not?

I'm also a fan of the setting--I'm game for almost anything set in Chicago, and a future Chicago where the Sears Tower is referred to as The Hub sounds like fun. My roommates and I have enjoyed mapping out where each faction headquarter is located.

Where Insurgent loses stars is with its unbelievable dialogue and annoying narration. I don't care when or where your story is set, people still need to talk to each other like they are real people and not cardboard mouth-holes.

I also wish Tris wasn't the narrator, or that she didn't tell us so much. Trust your readers, Veronica Roth! We hear, from Tris, that she sees someone look a certain way. Then Tris goes on to state that the aforementioned facial expression must mean this because of this event and this person must be feeling this way because when this event happens to people they often feel this way. I felt like Tris was slapping us in the face with story filler. "Guys, I'm going to do this now because I am part Erudite and that makes me logical!" "Now watch me be selfless and sacrifice myself because I am also from Abnegation!" Then Tris would momentarily forget there was a war waging because she got lost in Four's blue eyes. I could have done without the romance.

Again: this book didn't make me angry at its author, and I wasn't furiously trying to finish so I could be done with it. It was more like, meh, that was fun, but c'mon now, really? Will I go on to read Allegiant? Yeah. Insurgent ends with a cliffhanger that was the most interesting aspect of the book--a thicker plot develops and we get a glimpse of what this trilogy has been trying to set up all along.

View all my reviews



THANKS: Saturday. For requiring nothing of me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Birdcage

Who needs Netflix when you have PBS on a weeknight? Last night my roommates and I got to see a classic movie with no commercials, for free, on public programming! We had PBS on while we ate dinner, and after a rather informative program about the Middle East, a movie started. Intrigued as the opening credits rolled (Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, set to "We Are Family"), we kept the TV on. By the time we got to the title, The Birdcage, we were hooked.

This 1996 film tells the story of Armand Goldman (Williams), a gay Jewish owner of a drag club; his partner, Albert (Lane), is the star of the drag show. Their son, Val (Dan Futterman), is 20 and in love with with Barbara Keeley (Calista Flockhart), a girl from his school and the daughter of a conservative Catholic US Senator (Gene Hackman). Before Senator Keeley and his wife (Dianne Wiest) will agree to/announce Barbara's engagement--it is election year after all--they want to meet Val's parents, who they believe to be a heterosexual couple (as per Barbara's description).

The hilarious climax comes at this meet-and-greet dinner party at the Goldman's home in South Beach. Here we see Robin Williams give perhaps (ironically) one of his least flamboyant, but still genuinely nuanced performances--I thought he was spot-on as Armand. In one of Nathan Lane's breakout roles, Albert is perfect as Val's "mother" and Armand's lover. Hank Azaria as the Goldman's maid/butler Agadore kept all three of us laughing out loud with his voices, dancing, and expressions.

The Birdcage is a comedy through and through--I can't believe this was the first I'd heard of it, but I have PBS to thank for introducing me to this cultural gem!


THANKS: PBS, for your wide variety of programming and commercial-free movies. You gave the Naw a night of pure joy.

FURTHER THANKS: Dad, for all your work in multiple zip codes across which turned into paychecks which turned into bacon, literally and metaphorically. Congrats on your retirement!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No Spark

The first time I saw how strong a word is, I was too late to take it back.

"If that's how you feel, what else is there to say?” she said.

“Wait,” I said.

But she was gone.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bump in the Night

"Hey babe? Can you come here...and bring a needle with you?" Jesse called from the bathroom.

Melody sighed from their bedroom. "For what? I'm a little busy." She went back to reading her book, hoping Jesse would do his own sewing.

"Please? I need help." Jesse walked in the room, one leg of his sweatpants rolled up as far as it would go to reveal a pasty white thigh.

"What's wrong?" Melody rolled over to face him. "Oh, God. Jesse, put that down. You're so pale."

Jesse propped his leg up on the bed so Melody was face-to-face with his groin. "I have a thing." He pointed to a yellow and green bump on his inner thigh. "Can you poke it with a needle? I think it needs to drain out."

Melody pushed his hips out of her face and sat up straighter. "Woah, bud. Whatever happened to leaving a little mystery in our relationship?"

"I'm really freaking out about this, Mel. What if it's a tumor? Some sort of growth?" He pulled his sweatpants all the way off and stood in just his boxers. "You know what? Forget about it. I'll take care of it myself. Where's the sewing kit?"

"Some things can't be forgotten, Jesse. The needles are in the hallway closet, on the shelf above the towels." Melody picked up her book. "Make sure you sterilize." She heard water running, then a sharp intake of breath.

"Oh. Shit. Wow, that hurts."

Curious, Melody peeked her head into the bathroom. Jesse sat on the edge of the tub, one leg crossed over the other, as he poked and prodded with the needle. After piercing himself, he squeezed on either side of the bump, exhaling slowly. Blood gathered around his fingertips.

"You know that's probably an ingrown hair, right?" she asked.

Jesse looked up, putting on his best Pity Me face. "It hurts so bad. Is it really bright in here? It's like the sun's in my eyes. I feel so hot." He leaned back, closing his eyes. "Oh, no, now it feels like I'm spinning."

"Babe, you any drugs recently?"

"I think part of my soul is leaking out of me."

"Alright, I'm gonna go put in a pizza. You hungry?" Melody started walking away before Jesse answered. "Good luck with your growth. I'll be in the kitchen if you need me. Don't need me."


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Hair

"There. Back to ashy blond." My hairdresser twirled my chair so I faced the mirror.

"Wow. It looks so different. Normal. I like it."

After nearly 10 years of different cuts, colors, and styles (with a few interludes of non-experimentation), I'm back to "natural."

My hair journey started with a temporary rinse in high school. I had half a head of purple hair, but I didn't have to commit to it. What I didn't know then was that blond hair--even dirty blond--stains. Commitment it was. The only way to get rid of the purple was to dye my entire head a shade darker. When that color faded and grew out, I went red, light brown, and deep mahogany.

"Chocolate Cherry"
I was hooked. I rarely missed being blond. I saw girls with great hair and thought "I want that. I could have that. It's only a box away." I dyed my hair (or enlisted a friend to help), and enjoyed several months of an alternate personality--every color has its own attitude. My cuts changed less often, staying within an inch of my shoulders. Bangs came and went. I got a perm. I wouldn't get another, but I don't regret it.

long bangs, semi-natural color
Soon, only several hairstyles and colors remained unworn by yours truly, and recently I crossed two more off the list: impossibly long and incredibly blond. Having long hair was always something other girls did--girls who cared about deep conditioners and Moroccan oil--but just once I wanted to try it.

My hair weathered a summer and a winter and another summer. I still dyed it and played around with bangs, but we (my hair and I) were going for length. Then, last spring, I went Beach Babe Blond. I was a little scared to do it myself, but I’ve always done my own coloring, and besides, it's just hair. It took two treatments, and the results were a little uneven, but I had super light hair and the upcoming summer sun would only help to brighten and blend the color.

long and blond
Then fall and winter came, and with them, hair growth that was decidedly NOT blond. I had a horizontal line in my hair--below the line, blond, summery and long, above the line, dull, dark, and quick to look greasy. Headbands and high ponytails could only help so much. I was also completely over the long hair. It was fun for a while, but brushing was a huge chore that left our apartment littered with long bi-color strands of hair.

That's how I found myself in a salon chair, telling my stylist to chop it off. She nodded, knowingly, and suggested a toner to take care of the awkward color line. She did a great job of matching the toner to my original color--the bleached band is only recognizable if you already knew it was there. I’m back to looking natural, and feeling that way too.



THANKS: Dara, for the new hair and the new personality!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Golden Globes 2014

Welcome back to another awards season! Live-blogging starts here, TONIGHT, January 12, at 7 PM Central Time...or whenever football gets boring/ends and I switch channels. See you in about an hour, people!

10:00 pm - Good Night!

Thanks for joining me! I believe the Grammys are next, at the end of the month.

9:56 pm - Final Award, We Made It

Johnny Depp: "Woah, that's a lot of people." Where have you been the entire show?

Best Motion Picture (drama): 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen. Why does no one ever expect to win? There are only five nominees, you all have a 20% chance.

"This is the beautiful mess we hoped it would be" - Tina  "And I got to make out with Bono." - Amy

9:44 pm - The Big Awards

Tina with a supermodel vagina joke - and a weird blackout? Did that happen to everyone?

Best Actress (motion picture - drama): Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine. Her hair won't move at all. Flawless.

Jessica Chastain's hair should be moving...that doesn't look great.

Best Actor (motion picture - drama): Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. He sounds like he has a few vodkas under his belt.

9:35 pm - A Movie Trailer and an Award

Drew Barrymore, this is a much better dress than you wore the other night.

Best Motion Picture (comedy/musical): American Hustle, which I've seen!

9:26 pm - An Award and a Movie Trailer

Best Actor (motion piction - musical/comedy): Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street.

Reese Witherspoon has a great haircut. Simple dress, too.

Maybe we would get through these a little quicker if we didn't have so many commercials? Although I'm enjoying the opportunity to pee and eat.

9:15 pm - Some More Awards

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity, after the film's introduction. Herpes, ear piece...yeah, they sound pretty similar.

Best TV Series (comedy): Will Brooklyn Nine-Nine steal it again? Yep. While I don't think that show is great (or better than the more deserving nominees, Parks and Recreation and Modern Family), I honestly didn't care who won as long as it wasn't The Big Bang Theory.

9:02 pm - Cecil B. DeMille Award

Emma Stone - another funny lady, which thankfully isn't marred by a weird dress choice.

Diane Keaton accepting for Woody Allen: she certainly dressed the part.

8:52 pm - Wow We Are Still Here

Best Animated Film: Frozen! There's a nominee I know something about, finally! "Let it Go" really is a great song, and while I had issues with the movie, it was still enjoyable on the whole.

Best Actress (TV Series - Comedy): I think it's obvious how funny these ladies are just by the quick cuts to them. We live in a world with a lot of funny women. Many congratulations to Amy Poehler (3-time Golden Globe nominee, 6-time Emmy nominee, 1-time winner--she really does never win these things) and Parks & Rec!

8:40 pm - There Are A Lot Of Awards

Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty. Congrats.

Here we go, more dresses! And more jokes.

Best Actor (TV movie): Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra. Lots of wins for that. So sad Jesus and I didn't use our free Redbox credit for that instead of Man of Steel, though it seems to be worth the $1.20 we would pay for it. "The only reason you're not here is because I had more sequins." --Douglas to Damon, but really to the world.

8:28 pm - Still Awards!

Emma Thompson holding a martini glass in one hand and her shoes in the other: this is the Golden Globes, people.

Best Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her. "I'm bad at speaking English and it's the only language I know."

Tina and Amy - no dress changes? Boo.

Julie Bowen and Seth Meyers - have they acted together? I think it would go well.

Best Actor (TV Series): Andy Samberg in a STEAL...I'm beyond pleased that Jim Parsons didn't win for his less than stellar acting in The Big Bang Theory, a less than stellar show that somehow always wins at these things. Andy's killing this acceptance speech. "I guess I'll just thank everyone."

8:14 pm - More Awards

Kevin Bacon & Kyra Sedgwick & daughter Sosie Bacon - adorable.
Tina Fey & "adult son" Randy - hilarious.

Best Actress (TV series, drama): Robin Wright with a run to the stage! Yeah, someone gets it!

Woah, Jim Carrey coming out with the sarcasm right away.

Best Supporting Actor (motion picture): Jared Leto, who I really want to see in Dallas Buyers Club, along with Matthew McConaughey. He has a subtle beauty that men don't normally possess.

8:02 pm - Awards, Awards, Awards

Go Chicago Fire! And beautiful lady! (Amber Heard)

Best Supporting Actor (TV series/mini-series, etc, etc): Jon Voight in something I've neither seen nor heard of, surprise surprise. Wow, so Jon Voight operates better with a script.

Olivia Wilde, you look like a majestic pregnant mermaid.

Robert Downey, Jr. is a classy dapper guy.

Best Actress (comedy): Amy Adams. LOVE her dress. I could never wear that, but she looks great. It's reminiscent of her wardrobe in American Hustle.

7:49 pm - Music Awards

So official with those names - Sean Combs, Usher Raymond IV - very classy.

Best Original Score (motion picture): Alex Ebert, All is Lost...are we thinking hipster? Cute anecdote of the time he partied with Diddy on a boat. "Even the most deft pen is a clumsy tool." Such wisdom from a soft-spoken dude...who parties with Diddy on boats.

Best Original Song (motion picture): Wow, this is a stacked category. All solid nominees. Congrats, "Ordinary Love," Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and Bono/U2. I wonder if Chris Martin is thinking, Man why did I help them, I could've won!

Wait, why was Kate Beckinsale even up there?

7:34 pm - More Tina & Amy, More Awards

President's speech. I don't remember this from last year. I guess I must've taken a bathroom break.

Margot Robbie is beautiful/adorable.

I do not like Paula Patton's dress. Her voice helps make up for it, though.

Best Actor in a TV Series/Drama: Bryan Cranston. There was no way he wasn't going to win, especially since Breaking Bad finished and has no more award chances after this year. I'm still on the first season, but I'm a fan so far!

Best TV Series (drama): Breaking Bad. Once again, this was its last chance, so it makes sense for them to win. Congrats, AMC.

Does their speech time get cut into for how long it takes to get on stage? I guess usually there is a voice-over with fun facts and tonight they are just playing theme music, which can get a little strange and make it seem like the walk to the stage takes forever.

7:22 pm - Mini-series/TV movies

Ah, the mini-series/TV movies. I think I've seen zero in my lifetime. My guess is it'll be Top of the Lake or Behind the Candelabra...the shows with directions in their titles always win.

Behind the Candelabra wins--I think they got an Emmy as well?

People need to hurry it up on their way to the stage. This is taking forever.

Best Actress (mini-series/TV movie): Elizabeth Moss...there's the Top of the Lake win. Another shaker. I love the earrings. They go great with that dress, which goes great with her hair.

It's Matt Damon, the garbage man! (And actor from Behind the Candelabra.)

6:58 pm - Show Opening & First Awards

This countdown is stressing me out. Where are Tina and Amy and their 50 outfit changes?

Tina: Love the color, the cut, the jewels of that dress. Amy: Same. Gorgeous back detail too...and we're at 2 different outfits so far (they had different dresses on the red carpet).

I'm so glad I now know for sure how to pronounce Meryl Streep's last name. Still sounds funny to me.

This is a nice little overview they are giving. Nice because I haven't seen or heard of a lot of the nominees...woops. And it's always fun to see Hollywood make fun of itself and enjoy it. This is like a general Hollywood roast.

Tim Hanks can't get a break tonight and that is awesome. Tam Hunks/Hawks. Ha.

Here we go, awards.

Best Supporting Actress (movie): Jennifer Lawrence...and she is the only one who is surprised. I love her new haircut. I'm not so much in love with the dress. The double belt thing is not doing it for me, especially how it cuts off right under her butt. Appropriate acceptance speech for her personality--quirky, bubbly, nervous--but c'mon girl, you knew you would win.

Best Supporting Actress (TV/miniseries): Jaqueline Bisset...looks heartbroken. People, this is an award! It's a good thing, but not something to be so dramatic about. Get it together! This is why these shows go on forever.

Man of Steel

With a free movie credit from Redbox, Jesus and I decided to give the most recent Superman movie a go on Friday night. Let's just say Man of Steel was barely worth the $1.20 I didn't pay.

If you want to see a lot of buildings and vehicles and nature get destroyed, stop reading this review and have at it. Man of Steel is technically "action-packed." It makes good use of CGI, of panoramic landscapes (being destroyed by Superman and whoever he is fighting), of dramatic wide shots--really, it's visually pleasing. Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El himself (Henry Cavill) is perhaps the most visually pleasing aspect of the entire movie. Like seriously, he's gorgeous.

Unfortunately, even as a visual production, great movies should feature great stories. For being nearly two and a half hours long, there is very little by way of plot, character development, or even character interaction. Several scenes were unnecessary, including the first ten minutes. Weird flashback placement, unsatisfying dialogue, and unbelievable attraction/chemistry between Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) made for a tough watch.

There's hope for the sequel to amp up the quality by developing the romance between Clark and Lois and showing more of Clark as a "human" in Metropolis, working as a reporter at the Daily Planet. Probably the best line came right at the end, when he takes this new job and Lois says "Welcome to the Planet." I'd like to forget about Man of Steel (won't be hard) and start there, where I feel an actual story lurking.


THANKS: Redbox, for the free movie credit, despite my poor rental choice.

Upcoming Post: Golden Globes 2014 TONIGHT! I'll be armed with a vague knowledge of the nominees and my own personal style judgments.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the KingA Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dave Eggers' most recent book is sad without being tragic. It has a stark beauty that speaks volumes without saying a lot. I can't really compare it to anything else I've read recently, even his other works.

Alan Clay, former Schwinn enthusiast and salesman, now a divorcee/self-employed consultant holding on to his last strands of dignity, travels to Saudi Arabia to pitch a proposal to King Abdullah. There, he leads a team of three young (that is, younger than Alan) people as they prepare their IT presentation--a holographic teleconference--that, if impressive enough to the king, would give their company sole IT responsibility in the king's pet project, King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

Day after day, Alan and his team gather in a tent in the city, waiting for the king, whose schedule is never set in stone. In a series of flashbacks and letters written to his grown daughter, we learn about Alan's rise and fall in the business world, his failed relationship, and the unfortunate dip his life has taken as of late.

Areas of the book meander here and there--Alan befriends a young Saudi man, confronts a lump on the back of his neck, and meets several women of varying romantic interest--but the essence remains: what has become of the America and the American Dream that Alan knew so well when he first became a salesman? If the Saudi desert seems like a strange place to ponder this, well, it is.

The minimalist approach and language mirror the physical landscape in the book--sweeping expanses of beige broken by stilted dialogue. Despite being 312 pages, this was a quick read with lots of page breaks. Several of the story detours felt out of place, but the pacing ensured these didn't last long.

Is this a particularly memorable read? No. I'm not a middle-aged white guy or a member of the Corporate America Club by any means. Still, I enjoyed this book for what it is and for the week of warm weather it gave my imagination.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 10, 2014

Happiness Jar 2014

I first read about Happiness Jars last month, while researching creativity. The idea is Elizabeth Gilbert's, and started as her own personal way to record, remember, and reflect on the happiest moments in each day. (Read about the genesis of Happiness Jars in her own words here.) As she says, there are no "rules" to a Happiness Jar, and the jar itself only serves as a vessel for holding happy moments we write down.

I was sold. I had to have my own Happiness/Happy/Happy Happy Joy Joy Jar for 2014. In 2013, I experimented with Alan Epstein's How to be Happy monthly lists, but I wanted something new for 2014.

Then I got sidetracked reading about all of the other cool things Elizabeth Gilbert thinks about creativity and writing and I forgot about finding a jar and scrap paper.

But I follow her on Facebook, so I kept seeing all the pictures she shares of other people's Happiness Jars, and kept thinking, "I've got to have an empty jar/bowl/beer stein around here somewhere." I was determined to "catch up" on recording happy moments from the year so far.

Finally, I cleaned my room. In between sliding my dresser one way and my bed the other, I came across what I think used to be a candle holder, now empty. I'm sure at one point I planned on storing pens inside, but I have plenty of cracked-but-still-have-sentimental-value mugs for those. A Happiness Jar it was. Is.

She's nothing much to look at, but soon she will be filled with happy.

It sits on my desk, waiting for goofs, successes, blessings, silver linings, and fond memories written on scraps of paper. At the end of this year (or on bleak days--looking at you, Feb/Mar), I'll read through them for even more happiness. It'll be interesting to see how my definition of "happy" changes throughout the year.



THANKS: Jesus for dinner at Chipotle after a long & trying day of giant puddles, endless driving, and late starts.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Going Paleo

"Everything on my tray is beige," I said, sitting down across from Lou at our table. Two days in and the school lunches were already getting a little desperate.

Lou continued pulling apart split ends with the concentration of a brain surgeon.

"Hey, Cafeteria to Lou." I swatted her hand away from her hair and she looked up at me like I'd kicked a puppy rather than discouraged her bad habit. "Tell me what happened this morning--why were you late to school again? And what are you eating?"

"Kali forgot to send in my lunch money and this was all I could find at home." Lou stirred the murky contents of the plastic container in front of her. "Leftover pea chowder. I think."

"Your mom cooks the weirdest shit." I took the chicken patty out of my sandwich and handed her the bun. "Here, you can have this. I don't need the carbs and you won't eat the meat. Win-win."

"Can I have your applesauce? You don't need the sugar either." Lou glanced down to my waist and back up again.

"Excuse you?" I pushed my tray across the table. "Whatever. We're going to Big Sammy's after school anyways, right?"

"Can't," Lou said through a mouthful of green soup and applesauce.

I handed her my napkin. "Kinkaide Problems?"

"Yep." Lou disregarded the napkin and swiped the back of her hand across her mouth. "He showed up this morning going on about some Miles guy. I think he owes someone money. Or he's someone's brother? He owes Kinkaide's brother money? I'm not sure. Anyways, Kinkaide is bringing this Miles character to dinner so I have to go straight home after school. Besides, I'm going Paleo from now on. No more Sammy's." Lou pushed my now empty tray back to me, keeping the cookie from dessert.

I glanced at the cookie and back to Lou.

"What? Starting after lunch. I can't go on a diet mid-meal."


 A continuation of Lou's story. Read more here and here.


THANKS: Neighbor guy at work, who helped me shovel out my work car and who always greets me with "Hello, Beautiful," in a non-creepy way.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

People's Choice Awards 2014

Before we get started:  I've never been a huge fan of the People's Choice Awards because even though they sound the most democratic, I can't say I trust an online poll to pick the "people's" choices. I also don't know how the nominations work. That being said, see this as a sort of dress rehearsal for "real" Awards Season, starting this Sunday with the Golden Globes (hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, I'm already sold).

Five minutes 'til showtime!

Our hosts tonight, Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings, are the dynamic duo from 2 Broke Girls (on CBS, the same network broadcasting tonight's awards). Side note: I started watching that show when it first aired and probably would still be a faithful watcher, except I had to stop because Season 1 coincided with my Funemployment stint and it hit too close to home for me.

8:05: So far so good--nice way to open by introducing a bunch of different nominees. And already 2 Sharknado references?

8:08: "servicing Brad Paisley" nope nope nope. "some of me are definitely dudes" yes.

8:10: Favorite Movie Actress: my choice was Gwyneth Paltrow. She was badass in Iron Man 3. Sandra's pretty cool too.

8:13: Favorite Album: If Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience doesn't win this, then I don't trust the People.

8:14: Yes, the People speak! Oh Ellen. And back to Justin...with relationship advice. It's true, little things make a big difference.

8:20: Favorite Daytime TV Host: Ellen--getting that lucky number 14. One of my favorite quotes comes from her ads: "You never know what funny can do."

8:23: Favorite New Daytime TV Host: Queen Latifah, former PCA host and only nominee I knew anything about.

8:26: I really love Stana's (from Castle) dress. It's ugly, but somehow works so well on her.

8:27: "Brave"...also known as the inspiration to "Roar." I like the song, but not this live version. Even with the pyrotechnics it's still a little boring.

8:34: Confessions from The Voice: What does Blake Shelton tell people who ask him where Miranda is? "I tell them where she is." Congrats on their PCA for TV Competition.

8:36: Okay, Drew...I get that you're pregnant, but...that's not the dress for you. Are you wearing a bra?

8: 38: Favorite Comedic Movie Actor: Adam Sandler--making this 4 consecutive wins for movies that did not do that awesome. He looks kind of disheveled.

8:40: SAWYER....I will never be over Lost.

8:41: Favorite Network TV Drama: GO Chicago Fire! Or you know, a show on the CBS network, like The Good Wife.

8:48: Favorite Comedic Movie: The Heat. I'm so glad a lady-leading film won this instead of a sequel. I haven't seen any of the nominees, so congrats ladies!

8:52: Why does no one know where to go? There's a surprising lack of stage direction confidence going on up there.

8:53: Brad "There are Paisleys on My Guitar" Paisley = bathroom break for me!

8:59: That's a cute dress, Beth. She's got some pipes too.

9:04: NOT A CUTE DRESS. Stay turned around, Malin.

9:05: Favorite On-Screen Chemistry: Not the presenters, that's for sure.

9:06: Well, they scripted their acceptance speech. Tacky, but it worked.

9:07: Favorite Pop Artist: It's a fight of the Mickey Mouse Club/Disney Child Katy and Bruno. Aaaand Britney can't get up the stairs.

9:14: Favorite Comedic TV Actress: Solid nominees all the way through, but what do you know...a win from another CBS network show. I think Kaley Cuoco is funny, but I don't think Big Bang Theory is that great.

9:16: Favorite Comedic TV Actor: Chris Colfer aka "High Pitched Rain Man" - I like his real life personality better than his Glee character's.

9:22: Norman is realll greasy. My roommate has an inexplicable crush on him. Favorite Action Movie Star: Robert Downey, Jr., to go along with the awards for Iron Man 3 as Favorite Action Movie and Favorite Movie. Did he have his speech prepared too? I don't think there are many surprises during this show.

9:26: OneRepublic, thank you for the best performance so far. Plenty of energy, no fireworks needed.

9:34: Stephan Colbert/PCA making fun of PCA? I like it.

9:37: Does Jennifer Hudson look really uncomfortable to anyone else? She made herself cry! What a sweetheart.

9:49: Favorite Actress in a New TV Series: Sarah Michelle Gellar in a super cute dress (like way cuter than Emily Deschanel's matronly frock).

9:53: I feel uncomfortable after that Charmin commercial. We just watched a minute of bears pooping off-screen.

9:54: Favorite Network TV Comedy: Big Bang Theory CANNOT be the People's Choice. NO POSSIBLE WAY. Are we surprised it's a CBS Network show? Ugh.

9:58: Whelp. I guess that's the end. They really meant it when they blocked off only two hours. Too bad we didn't get to see any other winners for the endless list of categories, including "Favorite Music Fan Following," "Favorite Series We Miss Most," and "Favorite TV Gal Pals."

Thanks to MY People, for watching and reading along with me. I'm a little rusty with my live-blogging, so I'm glad I got in some practice for Sunday night!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Floating Against the Stream

There was a loud crash in the hallway. Everyone in the classroom looked towards the door in surprise, except me. I side-eyed Lou's empty chair at my side. She was two-for-two on first period tardies. Worst lab partner ever.

Lou opened the door tentatively, as if she could somehow sneak in unnoticed after whatever happened in the hallway. Please. With her wardrobe? I've seen less conspicuous crossing guards.

She was greeted by 24 pairs of eyes--23 of them curious, one disapproving. I shook my head as she realized her plan to slip in quietly wouldn't work--she bit her top lip, did the Curly snap-snap-clap, and finished by sliding her hands underneath her armpits and behind her back, suddenly self-conscious.

I covered my eyes in embarrassment. How did I befriend the tackiest person in our class?

"Heyyyy....guys," she said.

Silence, then muffled laughter.

"I assume no note again today," Mr. Swank cleared his throat, "Lou?"

Lou smiled a little, then let it drop again. "No. Sorry."

"Alright, well. This will have to be a demerit, then."

Lou nodded. "I know." She joined me at our table and reached for my notes like a compulsive eater goes for the last piece of pizza.

I grabbed them back. "Hey," I whispered. "No hello? Are we just gonna pretend you didn't show up late to school again? And what was that crash?"

"I'm sorry! I--" Lou looked up to Mr. Swank, who was back at the board, drawing molecule configurations. "I was dealing with Kinkaide Problems," she continued in her inside voice.

"Your grandpa's in the hallway?" I casually doodled water molecules in my notebook, feigning attentiveness.

"What? No. The hallway was just a depth perception miscalculation. Kinkaide showed up at our house this morning. My mom's pissed."

"What did he want?"

Lou rolled her eyes. "What doesn't that guy want? I'll tell you after class. Long story short: Kinkaide Problems turned into Kali Problems--"

"--And now we have Lou Problems..."

"Absolutely not. Lou Problems are not--will not become--a thing."


"What are you drawing, anyways? Is that you? Lou took my notebook again, turning her head sideways to inspect it.

"It's a water molecule, Lou."

"No, it definitely looks like you, Duke. It has your big ears. And your big head."


This week's Speakeasy response draws from this story.



THANKS: PNC Bank, for letting me stand in the ATM foyer while waiting for my bus this morning.

Upcoming Post: Heads up, dear readers--tomorrow is the People's Choice Awards. Pending a strong CBS signal, I'll be live-blogging starting at about 8. As the first awards show this year, and the least serious, it'll be my test run/dress rehearsal for Awards Season. Join me!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy Blue Year

Yesterday the mattress guys brought me a good night's sleep. I knocked out last night, dreaming of football games and birthday parties. So far, so cozy--unlike outside. There's currently a press conference on TV featuring several city department heads reminding us to shovel our sidewalks, turn up the heat, bundle up, eat healthy, and help our neighbors. Schools haven't been canceled yet (for some kids, school means at least one or two meals and definite heat, so CPS doesn't like to cancel purely for reasons of cold), but everyone is prepped for another Snowpocalypse.

Dibbsing parking spots...not sure how I feel about it.

A new mattress meant a new room rearrangement (duh, why wouldn't it?) and it also means trying out my new sheets (thanks Mom!). They are slippery. The Naw also recently purchased a new rug (our old one was re-purposed as furniture coasters so we didn't ruin our floors while we were sans rug) and new curtains (to go with the rug, of course!).

It's a Happy Blue Year here; we're only one year late on our resolution to change the color scheme in our apartment!

Yes, the picture says "Made for 75° & Sunny"...
All the snow outside makes it blinding white.


THANK YOU: Snow plow drivers.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Water Witches

Water WitchesWater Witches by Chris Bohjalian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read two of Chris Bohjalian's books, including this one, I'd say he's a character man. Both Water Witches and Before You Know Kindness featured a solid cast of players on both sides of an issue. In Before You Know Kindness, the issues were hunting and animal rights. In Water Witches, we hear about economic expansion and natural resource protection.

Scottie Winston, lawyer, father, and husband, is representing Powder Peak, the local ski resort in his small Vermont town, in a lawsuit brought against them by Reedy McClure, state senator and soon-to-be Scottie's brother-in-law, who believes that the ski resort's plans to expand and tap a river for snow-making will do more harm than good, especially taking into account the ongoing drought. Both Scottie's wife, Laura, and Reedy's fiance (Laura's sister), Patience, are dowsers--water witches--and Scottie and Laura's daughter, Miranda, shows the same talent for finding underground water as her mom and aunt. These three, while supportive of Scottie and his work, morally side with Reedy and the protection of their natural resources.

Knowing just these things, I basically figured out the remainder of the story, but I still wanted to read the whole way through. It's a testament to Bohjalian's writing, the worlds and characters he creates, that even though I knew what would probably happen in the end, I was committed enough to finish the book. Bohjalian throws in a few curve balls along the way, but stays true to his characters. This was a good book to read in the dead of winter--the descriptions of unbearable heat warmed me up as I bundled up to ride the bus.

View all my reviews


THANK YOU: Britney and Diego for making me breakfast, Becca for making two cakes for our January birthdays.

Friday, January 3, 2014

First Friday

Fridays are sacred in my world. Very rarely will I make plans that force me to leave my apartment after I've trudged back here from work--I just can't wanna socialize/interact/stay awake past 11/wear pants on a Friday night.

I promise I'll review the dowsing novel I recently finished sometime this weekend, but for today I'm observing my Friday rituals.

  • Dinner: It may have been a short week, but I'm on the front end of a cold. The best way I know to stop a cold in its tracks (and also my cure for pretty much every ailment) is pasta. After several servings swimming in sauce (or simply dressed in olive oil, salt, and pepper), I'm in digestive heaven. When I'm at full health, pasta is always paired with (cheap) wine, but today I stuck with wine's ancestry, grape juice, to get some much needed Vitamin C.
  • Dessert: I can't stop eating these awesome cookies Becca made for our apartment the other night, and a cold + Chicago wind + below freezing temps = several hundred mugs of honeyed-down tea for after dinner refreshment.
  • Furniture Rearrangement: I don't rearrange furniture every Friday, but more often than not things get shuffled around my 8x8 box on the weekend. Tonight's reorganization came because my Big Girl Very First Non-College and Non-Craigslist Mattress is being delivered tomorrow afternoon and I needed to clear out space for the delivery people. I'm very excited.
  • Vegging: Quinn got me started on Breaking Bad, but I'm sneakily getting Jesus to watch that with me (he recently told me he doesn't watch TV series "for the sake of watching TV series"...this from the guy who's seen Sharknado more than once and is convinced it's movie gold), so tonight I watched new shows from an old favorite, Community.
  • Reading: I started with my sister's new blog (co-written by her roommate), moved onto several other blogs linked here and this free museum day schedule, and will finish the night with A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers.
And that about covers it for Friday nights. Showers are generally needed, but not always taken. Laundry tends to overflow, but usually waits for Sunday. Roommates and boyfriend make appearances, but aren't regulars. Candles burn, lights stay dim, and the radio plays Jack Johnson.


THANK YOU: Bus driver, for dropping me off at the bus stop that isn't.
Shout Out: Happy Birthday, Dad! Your birthday was frigid, but 54 candles should help with that. :)


Thursday, January 2, 2014


Yesterday's Third Annual New Year's Day Movie Marathon featured a cinematic classic that fit right in to our snowed-in lazy day. Fargo, with its sweeping views of frozen Minnesota and leisurely-paced action, lulled us into comfortable complacency as we sat safe inside on our couches. Its dark humor and graphic violence kept us awake and engaged in the story of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) and his plot to make money by having Jean, his wife, kidnapped and held for ransom.

Fargo opens with a disclaimer that it is a "TRUE STORY" with names changed to protect survivors. This is a gimmick to suspend the viewer's disbelief as the outrageous events unfold. Parts of the story did happen, but not at the same times, places, or to the same people as depicted. The disclaimer lends an air of gravity to the movie as it opens on Jerry putting his scheme into action.

The idea is simple: hire someone to kidnap Jean for a ransom of $80,000. Jerry doesn't have that kind of money, but his father-in-law does. Once he has the money, Jerry can make the trade and get Jean back--all while keeping half of the ransom, as agreed upon by the kidnapper. Both parties walk away $40,000 dollars richer and no one gets hurt.

Of course, it's not that simple. One kidnapper turns into two, and wouldn't you know, Jean isn't too keen on being taken forcefully from her home. Jerry told the kidnappers $80,000, but tells his father-in-law they want $1,000,000. Jerry's father-in-law then insists on personally handling the ransom/wife trade, and local police officers become involved when things get out of hand (which happens roughly 1/3 of the way into the movie). Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the 7-months pregnant police chief, knows something shady is going on and she works tirelessly to figure it out, to the chagrin of stuttering, anxious Jerry.

The story itself is well-written and acted out, but I can't talk about Fargo and not mention the accents and mannerisms of the actors, which are themselves as much a character as the actual characters. From the over-exaggerated head nods to the elongated vowels ("Oooo yaaaah") and sing-song tone to even the actual words ("You betcha" and "Darn tootin'") and word order ("What now do ya think?"), Fargo captures "Minnesota nice." Frances McDormand as Marge had us laughing out loud with her exclamations and pragmatic statement of facts: "There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it."

I'm glad I can finally say I've seen this cultural monument, and even more glad that it was a joy to watch. Our apartment started the year right, and now we have several new catchphrases to use in 2014, don'tcha know.

Today's Thank You goes out to whoever shoveled off our front steps this afternoon! I pretty much tumbled down them in their snow-topped glory as I left my house, but when I got back they were nice and clean.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy Five Years, Blog

Today marks five years of travel, reading, working, and writing on this public space.

That's longer than any (romantic) relationship I've been in, but blogging itself is like being in a relationship. There's flirting and communication, excitement at public displays of affection/attention, frustration when you can't find the right words, and a level of comfort where I can be who I am. As the Romans Do and I have settled into a nice routine of book reviews, adventure recaps, stories, and fun lists. We're past our honeymoon phase, but still learning a lot about each other. Or at least, I'm learning a lot about myself and the act of online journaling.

When I looked back to see when to celebrate my "blogiversary," I was pleasantly surprised to remember starting this thing on January 1, 2009. I've never been one for resolutions, especially in the middle of winter, but I like the idea of a fresh year and a fresh blog.

January is National Thank You Month, so this month I want to focus on my gratitude.

On January 1, I say Thank You to the man or woman who will in a few hours deliver my Thai takeout so I can continue my New Year's tradition of movie marathons and Asian food.