Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Putting a wrap on my Christmas week.

What can I say about Christmas? I'm not going to lie, and I apologize in advance to any of my family who ends up reading this, because it's not their fault, but Christmas kind of blew. It all started with Amtrak. We took Amtrak this year because we took Greyhound last year and it was crowded, stressful, and disorganized. We decided Amtrak would be better. I never thought I would say this, but Amtrak made Greyhound look like a shining example of efficient transit.

(This gave the lady across from me a laugh, at least. Glad I could entertain...)

I'm not going to go into too many details, because I'm sure they are boring, but here's a quick summary. We leave the station at 6:30, about a half hour behind schedule. No biggie. The train was extra slow. Still, no biggie. The train broke down in the middle of nowhere between Aurora (as in Wayne's World, party time, excellent) and Mendota (yeah, I'd never heard of it either), Illinois. Biggie.

(Ah, Mendota, my nemesis...picture taken on the way back. What you can't see is me shaking my fist at the city.)

First, they say they're going to try to get us to Mendota and bus us the rest of the way. I call my family. They tell me that we're going to be towed back to Chicago, given a new engine, and start the trip all over again. I don't believe them, that sounds absurd, considering we were already three hours into a trip that was supposed to be 2.5. The train starts going backwards. Finally they tell us that indeed, we're going back to Chicago. We arrive back at around midnight. Roughly half of the passengers decide to get off and give up.

I ask my family if we should just stay in Chicago. They say no. They will all be very upset, especially my cousin. They have a ton of stuff planned for us to do while we're there. I ask them if they want to go back to their house, it may be a while. Nope, the roads are icy and they live an hour away from the train station. They will go to an all-night diner and eat pie. We finally get moving again. Amtrak says we will not be making all of the stops again, we will stop in Mendota and all stops after that. We don't stop in Mendota. We don't stop in Princeton (the next stop after that). Three girls in front of us get a phone call from relatives who have been waiting for them in Princeton for over six hours saying they just saw the train go by. Girls throw fit (understandably). Girls pace back and forth in cabin yelling into phone and calling Amtrak attendant all sorts of lovely names. They get off at the next stop (about 30 miles past Princeton). I hope they got a free ticket or something.

(Also taken on the way back...not at 3am obviously)

Finally arrive in Galesburg at 3am. Get back to aunt and uncle's house about 4:20. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Wake up around 10am, do Christmas presents, eat. I am deprived of coffee and sleepy still, so I am probably very grumpy. Try to help cook, don't do much. Eat more. Kind of a blur.

The day after Christmas we saw Valkyrie. Really, truly, honestly, surprisingly good. I HATE me some Crazy Cruise usually, but even he was good in this one. Here's where I have a confession to make. I did not pay attention in History class. I don't watch the History Channel. I don't care to know all that much about the past. I am interested in science, science fiction, literature, poetry, writing, politics, technology, weather, food, travel, psychology, astronomy, even math, but never did I care about history. I blew it off. I did my AP American History final report on British music of the 90s (hey, she said we could pick ANYTHING). So, here goes. I had no idea how Hitler died and I think I liked the movie more because of this. Is that sad? I thought maybe he was killed in the bombing. The way they filmed it was brilliant, never letting on one way or another until the phone call. Score one for stupidity and willful ignorance (and let it be known I'm not usually a fan of either)!

So yeah, we saw that and then...nothing...well, I popped into CVS for a second to buy shampoo and coffee and a few other things. Then we actually went out for coffee, which was good. I got to use the internet for a few minutes. I paid some bills. Thrilling.

(Coffee shop #1)

We went out for coffee once more on Saturday and stopped at Hallmark to get discounted wrapping paper and ornaments. We watched Pirates 3 and Transformers, both of which I'd already seen.

And that's it. I was there for almost four days. I didn't get to see my cousin's pictures from Germany. I didn't get to show them my pictures from the past year (the whole reason I brought my laptop, really...because they only have dial-up, so I knew I couldn't go online). The cousin seemed really meh about us being there. I'm sure some of that had to do with the fact that she had to sleep on the couch due to the four guests (other uncle and grandpa were there as well) and her boyfriend was in Florida, texting her a bunch. When I was 16 I would have been over it too. I always thought I could be the wise and fun older cousin from the big city, though. The one with tons of knowledge and experience to share, since she's an only child. Thing is, she doesn't really need advice or someone to rant to or any of that because she's totally level-headed, beautiful and brilliant. Hmph. Figures.

Anyway, we left on Sunday. Our train was delayed about 2.5 hours from the start. We got back a little late, but nothing as confusing and annoying as the way out there. I was just ready to be home. It was nice having the Christmas tree and the big feast of yummy food (including lots of vegetarian options), the wrapped presents in the morning and the family get-together feel. I love them all, but it was so quiet. I would go nuts. I guess I'm so used to "tons of things to do" meaning literally that.

There was also a little tension, as usual, because my aunt and my mother dislike each other immensely. When I'm around, she tries to get me on her side, I suppose. "I've tried...she just hates me. I don't know how to talk to her. She mocks me when she calls. She got married and didn't tell me," etc. For the record, when my mom got married, she didn't tell me either...so I don't think it was her trying to be mean. She's just unique.

So from my trip I've learned a few things: I am not an Amtrak fan. I am not the cool cousin I thought I might one day be. Life without the internet is almost unbearable. I have a wonderful boyfriend willing to put up with almost anything, and for that I am very lucky. I am thankful that my mom moved my brother and I to Florida when I was a child. I don't know how I would have turned out if I'd stayed in Iowa, but I like the way things are and wouldn't want to change them. My uncle makes the best margaritas in the world and they are, at times, a saving grace. My grandpa is maybe the coolest grandpa on the planet because he just gets it. He sees the ridiculousness of it all and I love that. Life in the Midwest, for some, completely revolves around the weather and that sucks. I want to spend next Christmas in Florida. In the warm.

On a completely random note...THE DOLPHINS ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS! No, not just in the playoffs, they won their division. If you know anything about football and how hideous they were last year (and for years before that), you know how huge this is. I am so damn happy!

Happy 2009!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Travelin' time.

Happy holidays, everyone! I'm sorry I haven't had time to do a proper post all week. I've been busy last-minute gift shopping (because I'm a world-class procrastinator), cleaning (because the apartment desperately needs it), and freezing my butt off (unfortunately not literally).

I'm going to Iowa today! Jon and I are staying with my aunt and uncle in Bettendorf. I'm really looking forward to seeing my cousin, Katie, who spent her summer in Germany and I'm sure has a million pictures to show and stories to tell. My uncle, the one that lives in Minnesota? Michigan? I can never remember...will also be there, as will my grandpa (who lives in Cedar Rapids).

I have one thing I've been meaning to say. I usually dread shopping over the holidays, but this year, it actually wasn't that bad! My personal highlight: the retail employees who helped me out. I have extreme gift anxiety. It's really bad. No matter what I get for people, I panic that they'll hate it or already have it, etc. The people at Macy's were really helpful and sweet, and I kind of enjoyed it for once. A favorite moment happened at Lush, where the salespeople are ALWAYS really...persistent. Especially over the holidays. This 25 year-old guy kept following me around telling me exactly what a 16-year-old girl (Katie) would enjoy using. He held up this one bar of soap and said, "Smell this! It's so good, isn't it? This is what I imagine Hanna Montana would smell like if she was soap!" I didn't buy that particular soap, unfortunately, but opted for a gift basket instead. I currently have gift anxiety over it.

Ok, well, Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy your time with family and friends, stay safe and warm, and I'll talk to you (at you) when I get back. :)

Off to pack, pack, pack...

Friday, December 19, 2008

A big ol' jumbled mess in my head.

So, I'm going to straighten it out here. Yes, I suppose it may be boring for anyone who decides to read this specific post, but on the other hand, what better way is there to get to know what someone is up to than by reading their to-do list? Plus, if I post it here, there's some sort of accountability that goes along with it, right? If I end up doing none of this, I will feel like a giant failure and who wants that?

This weekend is going to be crazy busy. I haven't done ANY shopping yet. None. I need to get my mom something. I'm pretty sure I've already decided on a Netflix subscription. The only downside to this is that I'm sure her new husband will use it more than her and she might resent me if he spends any more time watching the TV than he already does.

I have to figure out the best way to get my boyfriend his present, which I've already mentioned on here is Guitar Hero World Tour (Amazon might take too long, carrying it home from Target might not be physically possible...I dunno, this might involve a cab ride or something).

I need to fill out Christmas cards for everyone I'll actually get to see in person (my family in Iowa, people at work). Then, I have to figure out what to do with everyone else. An e-card seems somewhat impersonal, but let's face it. Nothing I send out now will get to anyone in time because I've last-minuted this thing to death. I will just have to find some really good e-cards??? Ugh, I'm the worst.

I just received a gift this morning from my supervisor at work. I wasn't expecting anything from anyone here, so naturally, I didn't think about it. Now I have to get something! I have no idea what! I don't know what she got me...and I'm not supposed to open it until Christmas.

I have to do MASSIVE amounts of grocery shopping. I must somehow carefully manage to only buy enough for what I need to make and not have a ton of excess because we are heading to Iowa on Wednesday and it will all go bad if left in the fridge. I have apparently been nominated to make polenta (the only thing I make well) for my boyfriend's pot luck at work (which I'm not invited to, so seems like a scam to me). I also want to make cookies for work...I'm thinking these vegan cookies, which were posted by Luciana on Twitter and seconded by Lauren, because it will be something different than what everyone else will bring. The only problem with this plan is all of the ingredients that it requires, of which I have very few at home. I would probably have to go to Whole Foods to get some, and I just don't know if I'm willing to make that trek in the snow. It's not all that far, to be honest, but it's not exactly on the way to anything else, you know?

I need to buy jeans. So. Bad. I have one pair that falls off of me after wearing them for 15 minutes because they are too big and they stretch out immediately. I have one pair that is on the verge of being too tight and too short. I have two pairs that are identical to each other that I adore. I've worn them for more than eight years now, though, and they are literally falling apart. Every time I wear them now I worry they will just crumble and I'll be bottomless. And cold.

I have to finish cleaning my apartment. I moved there in June. I mean, c'mon. It's time to finally complete the unpacking process, don'tcha think?

I have to make a decision on whether or not I want to go to church on Christmas day with my family and call my aunt about it. If I tell her I'm not interested, they will go on Christmas eve before I arrive. This may be more convenient for both of us, but I'm worried about offending. I really don't want to go, but it's one of those things that I'm willing to do to keep the peace, you know? Hey, my family may be Catholic, but they're also Democrats, so they're not totally crazy. ;)

Hopefully 20 extra hours will somehow magically appear in my life this weekend. Right now, though, I have to get back to work. Adios!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snowing like a mother!

It's been coming down all day. It has to be about 6 inches total. I know a lot of people had 2-3 hour commutes to only go a few miles. 3.5 hours according to one friend on Facebook. Speaking of Facebook, I added these pictures and a few more to my Winter set. I just don't think it does them justice, though. Seriously, just click on any of the ones below to see them full-sized. The "Night Landscape" function on my camera is so weird. It makes everything look like a yellow/orange-tinted version of daytime. They do come out pretty clear if you balance it on something, though. Not too bad for a little pocket Kodak in my opinion.

These were taken on the roof of our apartment building. There's a little park up there where dogs are not allowed, so we figured it was as safe a place as any to roll around in the snow and not get a poopy surprise on our boots or coats.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. Happy Mid-December everyone. Can't believe I have at least 3-4 more months of this! Ack.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Concert recap time.

So I saw a concert on Friday (in case you haven't looked at my blog or Twitter or Flickr or Facebook in the past week or so)! It was at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, which was about a 45 minute train ride, 10 minute bus ride, and very very cold 10 minute walk away from my apartment. Probably not a trek I'd like to make again at any point from December-March, but it was well worth it.

We got there at about 7:15. I checked out the merch stand, fell in love with a beautiful brown t-shirt with a rose on it, got a book of poetry and a different, less beautiful blue t-shirt, since it seemed to fit better and was a bit cheaper, went to find the restroom and just as I was washing my hands at 7:30, I heard Ryan Adams & The Cardinals start playing. I flew out of the bathroom, grabbed Jon by the arm and started freaking out. I was cold, I was excited about finally getting to see him/them live, I was worried that I was missing a part of the show, and I was trying not to fall down the stairs in the dark. I got to my seat, sat down and started bawling like a baby from all of the emotion.

I honestly don't even remember the first two songs...I realized shortly after sitting down that my camera, which I thought had been charging all day, was on its last bar of battery life (turns out the plug doesn't work...so it wasn't charging at all). I freaked out. Our seats were so great (Yay, Jon!) I was heartbroken because I thought I wouldn't be able to get any good pictures, and in case you haven't noticed, I love taking pictures. Luckily, I was able to conserve what was left of the battery pretty well and still get some decent snaps. The ones of Ryan Adams aren't that great, but no surprises there. The opening act rarely gets good lighting...which I think is a total shame. Especially in this case.

Finally, a few songs in, I started relaxing and after standing up and sitting down a bunch of times whenever people in the rows in front of us would show up, I decided to just stand. At first, I didn't want to be rude and make the other people behind me stand up too, but then I realized that no one there really cared all that much anyway. So there I was, standing with Jon. There was one other couple a few rows in front of us standing too. It was awesome. With everyone else sitting, I had a perfect view and it almost felt like they were just playing to us (and maybe that other couple too). They played for about an hour. It was magic. I'm now on a quest to see them again on their own tour. I need more.

Oasis came on after a short break. They had the same cocky swagger that I remember so well, and they were as good (musically and vocally) as I've ever heard them live. Jon posted their setlist here if you're interested. I kept seeing him typing on his phone, so finally I had to ask, "What the hell are you doing?" He was posting each song on Twitter as they were playing it so he would be able to go back and compile said list of tunes. Ah, the information age. I don't know how his Twitter followers felt about their feed being flooded with Oasis song names. Some were probably just utterly confused!

I don't really know what else to say about the actual show. The audience as a whole was a bit tame, but I was surrounded by Jon, who is a dancing fool at all concerts, and a bunch of somewhat rowdy guys who seemed like they'd been drinking most of the day, so I felt a lot of energy. One particular dudebro in front of us kept high-fiving everyone, standing on his seat (told again and again to get down by security, he wasn't scurred), and trying to flirt with the girl next to me. She wasn't really dancing all that much, so he took it upon himself to keep reaching over and lifting up her arms, thinking that this would make her evening more enjoyable, perhaps? Needless to say, she looked creeped out and ended up switching places with her friend, haha.

The lights were amazing, the sound was spot-on, and my rockstar crush on Noel renewed again (not that it ever left, really). I joked on Facebook that I got to spend the evening with three of my fake boyfriends and my one real one. Well, I can't thank the real one enough. I'm glad he's a good sport about all of my musician-worship and buys me concert tickets for Christmas to further feed my obsession. Thanks, Jon...if you ever read this!

Next up, the Dandy Warhols on New Years Eve and The Killers in January. More concert banter to come. I promise I'll get better at the reviewing part. I just need more practice. ;)

Randomness for the day: A farmer in Japan made Apple apples. I have no idea why.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I really want to write about the concert last night. Honestly, I don't know what to say about it yet though, so it will wait until tomorrow. For now, just know that it was awesome. And pictures are up...I've been pimping them all over, so they're easily accessible.

Instead of posting an attempt at a concert review, tonight I will shoot for something easier. I will describe the yummy dinner I just had. There is a restaurant called Big Bowl here...as far as I know there are only two locations in Chicago. I went there for my birthday in July and fell in love with the food and drinks so much so that I crave it constantly.

Today, a friend from college called me and said that she would be in town for the night and asked if the boyfriend and I would like to go to dinner. I'm always game for some good company and excellent cuisine (that I don't have to cook), so we went to Big Bowl because it was convenient and something a bit different. To start off, I ordered a pomegranate sangria because there is nothing I love better than a fruity wine (though Blue Moon comes close). She ordered something that I probably would not have been adventurous enough to order: a Thai herb mojito, featuring gin, fresh lemon grass, mint, cilantro, and a pinch of Thai chile. It was odd and tasty, and I would recommend it to anyone who's not afraid of a little something different.

For dinner, I stuck to the same thing I got the last time I was there...and the time before that: the yellow curry vegetable with tofu, bok choy, green beans, seasonal vegetables, and a coconut curry sauce.

It was heaven, as usual. Sweet and creamy with a hint of spice going down. I often have major objections to my boyfriend's play-it-safe-and-order-the-same-thing-every-time routine at restaurants, but I honestly don't think that anything else can compare to this, so I will continue to eat it again and again and again until I no longer have access to it.

It was a lovely evening with flawless food and interesting conversation. It was nice seeing a friendly face from Tallahassee as well. It's funny how fast the years go, isn't it? I feel like no time has passed at all, when it has already been a year and a half since I moved. As much as I rag on Facebook, it has the amazing ability to make me believe I'm just as connected to everyone as I always was. I almost feel like I know more about people's lives now than I did when I saw them every day. It's kind of awesome when you think about it.

Random thought for the day: I don't care where I live, I only want to feel passionately about it. I see friends, writers, poets, musicians, and strangers that are connected to their physical location in a way I've never experienced. It is their city, and everyone else is only a visitor. A lot of my life has been spent daydreaming of escaping my current locale for a more exciting, exotic one. This is why I made myself travel. Even if I was afraid...even if I had no one to go with...I traveled all that my meager wages would allow. Now I feel like I am smack in the middle of the excitement, but I can't seem to make it my own. I'm working on it. I'm slower than most at truly letting people in, so perhaps I'm the same about places. I appreciate the things that Chicago has allowed me to do more than I can possibly put into words. It's almost surreal. Still, I sometimes find myself yearning for more. Ungrateful or insightful? Only time will tell.

This tune pretty much sums up how I've always felt on the subject. Yes, I suppose I was occasionally a bummer of a kid. It's probably one of the main reasons I loved them oh so much back in the day and continue to love them now:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Catch up time!

Last night, I got off of work and went straight to the boyfriend's place of employment to dooooooo this:

That's right, we made a gingerbread house! But it's not just any gingerbread house...no sir. It's a LEED Platinum certified gingerbread house, and it was his company's entry for Gingerbuild 2008, a charity event where it was auctioned off tonight. I'm not taking credit for much of it. I'm no good with constructing anything, and the other people there (5 of us in all) are all architects and interior designers and such, so...yeah...I left it to the professionals. I helped with signage and ideas mostly. It was a lot of fun to be part of the whole thing, though. It our first time doing anything like it (all of us). I was pretty proud of everyone.

You want to know the best part? It WON! I didn't see the other entries, but I heard they were good and we still won. Cool, right? I don't know how much it went for in the auction, but I'll probably hear about it tomorrow. Yay!

Anyway, we were there pretty late and I didn't even get home until after 10:30. I was absolutely exhasted. Probably went to bed around 12:15. I don't think I've slept more than 5 hours any night this week. Barely even got the 5, so tonight, I plan on getting to bed waaaay earlier. I'm catching up on my Top Chef at the moment, so I'll probably pass out right when it's over (and catch up on my sleep). Is the title of the post starting to make more sense now?

I am SO so so so excited about tomorrow. I think I mentioned a couple of posts ago that my work holiday party is this week...well, it's tomorrow. But I'm not going anymore. Yeah, I double-booked myself and didn't realize it. Instead, tomorrow I am going to see Oasis and Ryan Adams! Oh, and Matt Costa, which I guess might be exciting if I knew anything about him. I know the name. Does that count?

Right, so I've seen Oasis a few times. They canceled on me twice in my teens, I finally got to see them in West Palm Beach when I was 16 or 17. I saw them again in Atlanta once and in their home city of Manchester when I was in England. That was by far the craziest concert I think I've ever been to, but those stories can wait for another day. Let's just say I was dodging flying cups of pee from drunken football hooligan types all night. Fun, though!!!

Anyway, I have never seen Ryan Adams live, so I'm sort of more excited about that. In case you haven't noticed from my post on here or my Last.fm page, I've been kind of obsessed with his new album. I always do that when he puts out new tunes. I just can't stop listening! It will just be a great show, I think. It's half of my Christmas present from Jon, the other half being The Killers concert in February. I love going to a good show. Yep. I'd take a concert or two over pretty much every other present in the world. He's getting Guitar Hero World Tour in return (don't worry, he already knows...and probably doesn't read my blog, ha!).

So, no work party for Alissa, but it's probably for the best. I can listen to the stories on Monday and know for sure that there are no bad ones about me. Win-win, you see. :)

Ok, that's it. I HAVE to get some shut-eye. Night!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Like all other Mondays...weird.

A quick story before I go to bed. It's probably not all that funny to anyone but me, but if you want to know anything about the place where I work, this will provide a pretty good mental image I think.

There is a really (REALLY) chatty guy in my office. He's older and a preacher and very friendly. He likes to walk around and pop into everyone's cubicle every once in a while. Today, he popped into mine and started talking about how the soap in the bathroom is really harsh on his hands. I empathized. He asked if he could borrow some of my hand lotion. I agreed, but warned him it was heavily Berry-scented. Then I remembered I had a smaller travel-sized lotion in my purse that was unscented. I hand it to him. He takes a teeeeeny tiny little dab and says he doesn't want to use it all up. I tell him no worries, go ahead, use as much as you need. He says thanks and walks away with the bottle...never to be seen again.

I went to CVS after work and bought four new travel-sized bottles--just in case.

Monday, December 08, 2008


I've posted this on Facebook before, but it's just such a great video for a lovely song that Stereophonics' lead singer Kelly Jones wrote for his daughter (the unfortunately named Lolita Bootsey Jones...yeah).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Filled with beautiful music.

Ryan Adams' songs always manage to make me feel both wistful and happy at the same time. I can't believe I get to see him in less than a week! This song, from the new album Cardinology, is just gorgeous.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

One of the only times you will catch me blogging about football.

The Gators won the SEC Championship today...and though I'm probably not as happy as Tim Tebow, I'm pretty damn close.

When it comes to football (professional and college), I am extremely loyal. I love two teams and only two teams: Gators and Dolphins. No one understands my love of the Gators because I went to Florida State, but I can only chalk it up to this loyalty. As sad as it is, I'm emotionally attached to them. Maybe I associate watching them with my childhood, or maybe with how I spent many many weekends (everyone's favorite time of the week, and therefore a happy feeling). Anyway, I cry when they do badly and my heart jumps when they do well. It's a fact of life.

The Dolphins have been sucking for years, and the Gators were a bit, er...off last year, so when they lost to Ole Miss earlier in the season I dismissed their chances of doing anything too fantastic and vowed not to care about football, for fear of depression setting in every Saturday and Sunday. Then Tebow came along with this (over-played, but still sorta inspirational) speech: "You have never seen any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of this season and you'll never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of this season, and you'll never see a team play harder than we will the rest of this season."

I still thought they had no chance. But I hoped. And since that day, they have kicked ass and done exactly what he said they would do. And I have been happy. Today, I cried the first three quarters of the game, but they pulled it out in the fourth quarter and won. And now they are going to the National Championship game. So while I've never seen the Dolphins make it past the first round of the playoffs (unfortunately, I don't remember watching football at the age of three or whenever they did it last), I will get to see the Gators play in the biggest game of the year for the third time. For that, I am thankful. Small victories, you know? ;)

In other news, it has been snowing all day here. It's also really really cold (which is rare when it's snowing, actually), so I refuse to go outside. I like looking at it from the warmth of my apartment, but having to suit-up and boot-up and brave the wind that numbs my face is not in the cards for today, I'm afraid. The snow is actually collecting on my windowsill, though. I was able to make a snowball and throw it at my boyfriend, all without changing out of the PJs! Again...small victories.

I did leave the apartment once today...to go to the gym...yeah, so I only went to the Bally which is located in the building, but it's something, right? Speaking of Bally, they filed for Chapter 11 this week. Hope that doesn't mean they'll close anytime soon, because I'll probably never work out. Let's face it, it's easy to get lazy in the winter.

This past week went really fast. The only major event was the previously-mentioned holiday work party on Thursday night. It was fun. Good food, good drinks. Pretty basic.

Because it was on a Thursday, I had to bring my clothes to work and get ready at the office. Some of the girls, knowing I needed help with my look, attacked my hair with product and bobby pins, trying to make me pretty. If you know anything about me, you know I never do my hair. I barely brush my hair, so to have it done was odd. It felt weird, but looked decent, I suppose. They actually got it to do what I was trying to get it to do for Halloween (stand up and look poofy in the back). Sometimes I feel like I fail at being a girl.

On another hair-related note, I LOVE Split Ends on The Style Network. It's just a casual watch for me, but as far as reality shows go, it's always really well done. Two hairdressers (usually totally opposite in look and personality from one another) switch salons for a few days. Drama ensues. Beyond fabulous. Think Wife Swap with scissors. Even Jon likes it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Party tiiiiime!

My first of two office holiday parties is tonight. Jon's place of employment celebrates in Darien (a suburb of Chicago and where the company originated) at a golf course clubhouse or something like it. It was at the same place last year. Drinks for the first hour, then food and presentations. It was a good time, but seriously...on a THURSDAY? Why? I know why. They don't want us to hang around all night and drink and get rowdy because there is work the next day. Bottom line, understandable, but kinda Scroogey, right?

My holiday party is coming up in just over a week. Now THAT will be a rowdy one if last year is any indication. Unlimited free drinks and a dance floor. Yeah. My goal is to not stay out until 5am this time, though.

Nothing else to really say. Just wanted to do this because I have this theory that posting might not be as daunting if it's habitual.

Oh, and if you're wondering what I'm doing for New Years Eve this year, I've bought tickets for Jon and I to go to this. I've the Dandys twice already and they were great. Met them a couple of times, and they were kinda douchey (except Zia who was super sweet), but I don't mind a douchey rock star. It's part of the charm, innit?

Ok, bye!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Well, the forecast said snow, and today didn't disappoint. The first real snowfall of the year always seems magical in a way. Waking up, looking out the window to see everything -- buildings, cars, trees -- dusted with white...it looks just like a Christmas (or some other wintry-type holiday) card!

And then you go out in it. Your feet slip on the pavement, your pant legs become encrusted with dried salt from the sidewalks, the bus speeds by you while you're waiting to cross the street, splashing muddy slush all over your white shoes. Ah, the joys and the hazards of winter in Chicago. It sure is pretty for a little while, though.

(The view from our window tonight -- Sears Tower and WaMu lit in red & green)

The difference between the breezy, sunny 75 degrees it was when I left Florida on Saturday and the wet, grey 23 it is here right now couldn't be any clearer. For some reason, I still choose to return to Chicago (for now). But don't get me wrong, Florida has its charms.

For the record, I had a wonderful vacation. The wedding was spectacular, as predicted.

I've uploaded a bunch of pictures to Facebook and there are more of the reception here if you're at all interested....the best part was the wild techno music and crazy dancing, of course. Unfortunately, I didn't partake due to nerves over the possibility of re-injuring my leg. I'm still not 100% about it and thought booze and jumping around like a mad woman was probably a high-risk combo. Instead, I stuck to the picture taking, which proved to be fun in itself. And as a bonus, there are no embarassing pictures of me floating around from that night (I'm sure there are embarassing pics of me somewhere from some time in my life, but if I don't have to see them, they don't exist, right?).

Speaking of embarassing...my mom showed up last Sunday with her new husband (they eloped last year, because that's totally normal for moms to do, right?) wearing this:

Yes, I got to spend the entire day with Thing 1 and Thing 2. In public places. It was fun. We ate, we shopped, we mini-golfed, we walked around Downtown Disney, we ate some more...it was all good in the end. Pics up here.

Monday and Tuesday were spent with Dan, who came over from Tampa. More shopping, more eating, drinking, saw Bolt in 3D (must've been drinking when I agreed to see a movie with Miley Cyrus in it, eh?), lots of Starbucks and interesting conversations with strangers, etc. You get the picture.

Thanksgiving with Jon's family - do I need to describe the eating? Lots of yummy vegan foods. Nuff said.

Went to Animal Kingdom on Friday which was just beyond cool. If you've gone, you get it. If you ever have the chance to go, take it. I love animals, and this felt a lot more animal-friendly than a zoo. Interesting fact about the park: Jon told me last night that the entire Magic Kingdom would fit inside of the one safari ride at Animal Kingdom.

We waited in line for about 30 minutes and the ride lasted 18 more. Now that's what I call time well spent! Everest was good as well, though far too short if you ask me. Finding Nemo show was great too.

I thought it would be really busy, considering that it was the day after Thanksgiving, but it wasn't at all. I'm guessing everyone was shopping? Or sleeping off the turkey? Or conserving money? Well, whatever the case, it worked out well for us! Pics up here.

That's it for tonight. This took way too long to write/post...which is why I give up on blogging I think. No attention span. Mad props to Walt for posting something every single day in November. I don't think I would have something to say each day, so color me impressed!

And as I write this, Jon is setting up his new 42" TV in the bedroom. It's OBSCENE. I just had a look at it. No one needs a TV that big, I'm sure of it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kinda ranty.

I have small bone to pick with Top Chef. WHY, oh why would you eliminate a person who stepped out of their comfort zone to make something that they've never tried before over a person who took the safe route and made something they make every day at their restaurant, and still could not make it well?

Ok, ostrich egg anything sounds gross to me, and sure, it was probably terrible judging by the reactions of the judges when they took a bite, but Padma SPIT OUT the lemon meringue dessert thingy!!! C'mon now! I don't know her name and am too lazy to look it up, but she is obviously terrible. Wasn't she in the bottom last week as well? Is she going to be the next Lisa, skating by all season and making it into the final three?

She is older and should be wiser and more experienced. I have seen nothing spectacular or dynamic about her and she obviously doesn't know how to cook so get her off of my TV already!

Ok, that's all. Other than that, I still love the bloody show.

Since my last post I have bought two dresses, a 5-piece suitcase set, all of the toiletries I need for my trip, and all I have left to do is pack, buy cat food, and get to sleep early tonight (which is always my intention, but rarely pans out as planned).

In other news, my boyfriend bought a new 42" TV to play his video games on, which should be waiting for us when we get back from Florida (well, the Monday after anyway). This means I will be able to have control over the smaller TV, which is hooked up to the DVR/cable and the Wii, so I can play hours upon hours of Animal Crossing. Small victories. ;)

Technically both televisions are his, but I'm poor and he's not, so...you know. Besides, my next substantial purchase will hopefully be a Mac. One of the huge desktop ones. Sometimes size matters. It will probably have to wait until after the holidays and maybe after Valentine's Day, but it WILL happen.

Off to get some lunch now since I was running late and didn't have time to make one. Florida tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A good day to shop.

So Jon is off to Greenbuild in Boston and I am alone in the apartment for the next 3 nights. Luckily, I have a ton to do before my trip to Florida on Friday.

Tonight - Shop for dress to wear to wedding (which also has to work for my office Christmas party because I don't want to have to buy another and I can't wear the same one as last year now, can I)?

Tomorrow - Shop for luggage. When I moved to Chicago, I threw out my trusty suitcase (which was a hand-me-down from a friend anyway, so it was in shabby, not so chic, shape) that had traveled with me in the past, so I need to find one or all I will be bringing with me to Florida is what I can carry in my arms.

Thursday - Pack and hopefully get to bed early. Buy cat food and make sure Tia has everything she needs for the week. Jon is nervous about leaving her home alone, but seriously, I think she prefers when the humans are away.

At some point, I'd like to fit in a little Animal Crossing before I go away, since I just got it last night. There will also be many phone conversations with the boyfriend, hopefully, since I am a sap and will miss him a ton. So there ya go, blog post and to-do list all in one! I can multi-task!

Lunch time = OVA! Back to work...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One of those curling up on the couch sick days.

I've been a bit under the weather since Tuesday, but at least it's Saturday and I don't have anywhere I absolutely have to be. Don't get me wrong, there are places I would much rather be than lying on the world's most uncomfortable futon with a box of tissues and my cat, but I also need to get better. I have no choice but to rest and get healthy because on Friday, I'll be flying off to Florida!

Jon's brother Dave is getting married in what is sure to be a beautiful, gorgeous, over-the-top affair in Orlando. I can't wait. I've been to exactly two weddings (that I can remember - I don't count when I was a flower girl at two years old) and they have both been for relatively young, very religious couples, so they were rather subdued and quiet gatherings. No dancing, no meals, no drinks other than coffee and lemonade. I have a feeling this will be quite different! I'm sure I will take a million photos, so I will have to share a few of my favorites when I get back.

I'm also extremely excited to just get out of Chicago. I moved here last July and haven't left since, except to visit family in Iowa over Christmas last year. I'm spending Thanksgiving with Jon's family in Orlando, and my mom is coming up from Boca to visit for a day. Jon's friend (he is mine as well, I suppose but I met him through Jon so I still feel the need to say Jon's friend...is that weird? Do you do that too? Please share!) Dan is coming over from Tampa to see us too, which is so nice of him. I feel honored that my mother and her new hubby are willing to travel to see me and that Jon's family is willing to host me for yet another holiday week.

Anyway, I have this habit of getting sick right before I travel, so I am trying to get rid of whatever I have before I leave. I was sick for 2 weeks last time I was in London, sick for the majority of the cruise I took last year, sick last Christmas in Iowa, and a number of times when I went on vacation as a child. I vaguely remember being really sick when we moved from Iowa to Florida as well. Three days spent in a car loaded up with my favorite possessions, travel games, my mom and my brother, coughing and sleeping it off. It probably made the somewhat traumatic transition easier to handle, if I'm honest. If I wasn't so out of it, I'm sure I would have worried the whole time about leaving friends and family. I mean, I'd never even been to Florida before, and this was where I was now going to grow up? Weird.

So, it's been 11 days now since the election and it still doesn't seem real. I was lucky enough to get to go to the rally at Grant Park and be among the thousands of people that Obama spoke to immediately after winning the most important election of my lifetime. It was a wonderful experience. I meant to write about it sooner, but how do you write about something you can't describe in words? I can only describe it in smiles and tears. I cried many many happy ones that night and for days after. Whenever I would watch a news program and hear the phrase "President-elect Obama" my eyes would well up. I've never known what it feels like to vote for someone and have that someone win. I was 0-2 until this year, so it was a pleasant surprise. Don't get me wrong, my happiness is not simply an "I won" kind of feeling, but a general optimism that I know a lot of people around the world share with me now. Here are a few of my favorite photos from that night:

I can't say what he will change, but I look forward to seeing it play out. There is, I'm afraid, too much for one man to fix in four years, but with a little hope and a lot of good will, you never know what you're capable of. The difference between going it alone and having the world with you is like night and day. Let's all hope the night is over and the day is long.

As usual, I have so much more I could say, but I will leave it at that for now. I have some medicine to take and some blankets to curl up in.