Monday, August 31, 2009

Thanks for trying to kill me, Mom

Even though it hasn’t been well-received since, hm, college graduation, if ever, my mother still insists on loading me up with the questionably aged contents of the back of her freezer whenever I see her. While I greatly appreciated her braving the drive into the city yesterday, Cubs game be damned, I just couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for the suspicious loaf she shoved my way as soon as I greeted her outside of my apartment. Oh, of course I’ll take this upstairs right away, before I even help you find parking. Would not want to forget this… banana bread? Oh, don’t be concerned if it seems “wet” when I unwrap the cellophane? “Because it was frozen”? Okay, thanks mom. Yummy.

Do I sound like an ungrateful brat? Probably… I put this woman through childbirth and 12-year-old cleavage, nine months of pregnancy and the threat of parties every time she went out of town, or to the grocery store. Perhaps it’s just part of my payback to take these frozen mysteries off of her hands, so she doesn’t have to feel guilty about throwing food away. It’s the least I can do, right?

Or maybe my suspicion is unwarranted. Maybe my lovely mother baked this banana bread especially for me, and put it in the freezer because I’m a horrible daughter and she had no clue when she’d see me next. So this morning I cut a piece of this latest gift for breakfast, but I couldn’t help bending down to inspect before consuming. And it’s a good thing I did because the loaf in question was chock full of walnuts, i.e. POISON.

Perhaps my mother forgot about the walnut salad that sent me to the emergency room last summer. And the mole sauce that swelled up half my face on a date last fall. Perhaps those conversations slipped her mind… But you’d think her memory would have been jogged when, an hour after sending me upstairs with the lethal loaf, I asked the waitress if the pesto that came on the chicken sandwich I ordered for lunch was made with walnuts. Or when the waitress came back from the kitchen and told me the pesto was safe but the sandwich came with a “walnut slaw” so she would make sure to order it without… you’d think that would have triggered some kind of alarm… or when I launched into a rant after the waitress left about how I can’t believe so many restaurants sneak this extremely common allergen into food and don’t warn you on the menu.

But no, I received no warning. So this confirms my suspicion that my mother doesn’t even know what contents lurk under the protective ice she insists on feeding me. Either that, or she’s trying to kill me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Ladies Room

Door number 1: Woman applying lipstick in front of the mirror

Door number 2: Unflushed toilet

Door number 3: Broken lock

Leaning forward in a squat, one arm extended in hopes of thwarting a surprise visit or indecent exposure, I wonder if I’m at a bar or at work.

I seem to be sober, so I guess it’s the latter. Damn.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More fun with office post-its

It's gems like this that remind me why I get up for work in the morning.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turbo Spaz

While I commend anyone who can feel the fun along with the burn, I think when you’re a fitness INSTRUCTOR, you should maybe care as much about your “students’” workout as your own. And lately, I’ve been a little disappointed with the classes at my YMCA.

Now, I realize the whole idea of cardio kickbox aerobics is a little ridiculous. [Insert name of professional kickboxer here] would probably be horrified to see a group of bouncing Midwestern gals jab-cross-jabbing in front of mirrored walls. But I personally feel that a normal cardio kickbox class releases the perfect combination of aggression and dance fever. I went to one of these classes at my gym in college, and I was delighted to see multiple variations on the fitness schedule when I started going to the Y by my new apartment.

Express Cardio Kickbox class – fabulous; what they call “Turbo Kick” – bad idea. The uber-enthusiasm of the instructors, their spastic combinations and my sporadic attendance create a perfect storm of awkwardness. Apparently it’s more “dancey” than regular cardio kickbox classes... the Y’s description ends with “some coordination is ‘helpful.’” Are those quotation marks mocking me?? I thought I was a coordinated person... back in the day I could do all kindsa crazy tricks on the balance beam (remember folks, that beam is just four inches wide!).

But in this arena I am very challenged... and the instructors do not help. They are having so much freaking fun that I don’t believe they give a hoot if we get their crazy “routines.” I use quotations because I don’t believe these instructors have prepared actual routines. I used to turn Tori Amos and Rusted Root up really loud and randomly stomp/dance around my mom's living room, becoming one with the music – what those instructors are doing up there reminds me of that. With more punching and kicking. Sometimes they yell out incoherent instructions a few regulars appear to understand.

To make matters worse, Google tells me “Turbo Kick” is apparently a whole fitness movement. Everyone sure does look like they’re having a good time... well, to anyone considering trying it out, I recommend practicing in the privacy of your own home first.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Double your fun, or halve it

Apparently I need not apologize for the frat-tastic double TV situation I was talked into... a similar set-up was actually stylish enough to gain a win for team Tori, Dan and Antonio on last night's Design Star!

If this turns out to be the beginning of a new trend in heterohabitation, I'd like to document that the first romantic night of Real Housewives alongside muted sports occurred in my living room:

Class, class, class.

(First photo courtesy of

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sheepish Bag Lady

A RedEye column I read on the train this morning spoke to me, literally.

"Hey, you with that gigantic bag..."

Although I once wrote a high school English paper on what I called "Big Backpack People," full of rants about classmates who took up too much room in the hallways and could potentially maim an unsuspecting freshman with their abrupt and careless movements, I have, somehow, become one of those girls on the "L" - the ones with the giant bags. Although mine's not Coach, or any other designer brand. Does that make it better, or worse?

Columnist Jason Steele asks at one point, "Ladies: What is it with these bags you insist on carrying that are almost as big as you? What could possibly be in them that you absolutely must carry with you?"

Jason, I DON'T KNOW! There really isn't much in my giant bag, at least not today... often, I must admit, it's loaded with a virtual feast - banana, Coffee Mate, leftovers preserved not in manageable plastic or tupperware, but heavy-duty Pyrex, maybe grapes or an apple, a container or two of yogurt... and sometimes I waddle onto the Brown Line (not from the Armitage stop!) with said purse, as well as gym and laptop bags.

But today, let's see... I've got a book, planner, iPod, gum, phone, "business" cards, umbrella, chapstick, fork from yesterday's lunch (um, ew), keys (one for my apartment, security door, mailbox, mother's house, car I haven't driven since high school, car I haven't driven since college), wallet, busting at the seems... Okay, so maybe some of these items are unnecessary, but they're all relatively small. Not sure then why my purse is so large, and heavy, or why I feel compelled to carry it around. Maybe I'd feel naked without it, or free...

Steele writes, "These women usually have scowls on their faces as well, probably cranky from having to schlep around all this nonsense."

And he's right! Well, that and also because I'm annoyed with all the people who keep bumping into my bag.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hillary's Hair, oh and some rape epidemic

I first saw the story about Hillary Clinton "snapping" at a college student's question in Kinshasa, Congo on the Today Show, and was uber-annoyed with NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell's commentary, at one point saying, "She was exhausted and clearly, some would say, having a had hair day (chuckle)." She then goes on to mention that Clinton was supposed to be dealing with "really serious stuff" in Congo, such as "women who are being used as weapons of war," but had been fielding questions about her husband and his secret mission in North Korea. Thanks, Andrea, for shedding light on the important issues - after, of course, getting a crack in about the secretary of state's hairdo. Sigh.

I became even more annoyed, however, when I found the story on MSNBC's Web site. Here's the lead:
"Hillary Clinton has a message for the world: It's not all about Bill.

The secretary of state bristled Monday when — as she heard it — a Congolese university student asked what her husband thought about an international financial matter."
As she heard it?? Watch the video. Or scroll down - way down - to the 11th paragraph of the article, where the State Department's translation of the student's question is quoted:
"Thank you. Mrs. Clinton, we’ve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country. The interference is from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton and what does Mr. Mutombo think on this situation? Thank you very much."
Later the student told Clinton he had meant to ask what President Obama thought, not President Clinton. So maybe the student misspoke, or maybe the translator screwed up, but one thing should be clear: Hillary may have lost her cool, but she did not misunderstand - she did not, as the MSNBC article implies, twist the question in her mind in some kind of "Marsha Marsha Marsha!" moment.

But of course using this blip as a lead-in to a saucy story about the Clintons' marital problems sells more ads than a story about real issues, like the one the Today Show somewhat alluded to. A (sincere) thanks to, which lead me to this Washington Post article about how a U.S.-backed Congolese military operation meant to save women from abusive rebels has exacerbated Congo's rape epidemic:
"An already staggering epidemic of rape has become markedly worse since the January deployment of tens of thousands of poorly trained, poorly paid Congolese soldiers, with people in front-line villages such as this one saying the soldiers are not so much hunting rebels as hunting women."

Almost as important to cover as Hillary's ego, and hair. Almost.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The customer is always right

All I wanted was to hear "Laid," by James. Does that make me so lame? Yes, I thought the song was by the Gin Blossoms, and I may have drunkenly tripped on my way up to make my request, but I don't think that means I deserve to be insulted. Just say you don't play that song. Don't roll your eyes and complain that you ALWAYS get that request and you are SO SICK of that song. You know why people ask you to play that song all the time? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME.

So I got into a little tiff with the guitar player dude last night at the bar...

When I overheard him reject someone else's request after me, I decided I needed to say something: "Maybe you should play music people want to hear!" He responded by telling me maybe I should play the song if I want to hear it so badly, and he started to take off his stupid guitar. I happened to have polished off my own bottle of wine at dinner (I take BYOB dining seriously), so my brain failed to produce a comeback. "Uh, I don't know how to play music." That's what I said. And the jerkface responded, "That's what I thought." Jerk. Face.

I understand jerkface probably dreams of being a real musician, not one who plays covers for a half-empty bar every Thursday night. But you know what? I have dreams too. Do you think I want to write Google AdWords about new accounting standards? No, I do not. But that's what pays the bills. I don't roll my eyes at my manager and tell him I'm sooo over Sarbanes Oxley - I do what I'm asked to do. Then I can complain about it, and anything else I feel like, on my blog, if I'm so inclined. So, jerkface, sing what you like in the shower, play what you want on Guitar Hero, but when you're performing FOR an audience, try not to be such a d-bag.
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