Friday, August 08, 2008

The Long Black Veil

This is a hard entry to know how to begin.

It is one that I really don't wish to write at all, quite frankly, but feel I can't properly continue to write this blog without pausing (at the very least!) to mark this moment. There has recently been a death in my family that has been very difficult...it is still too raw to go into any more personal detail than that. This has developed into one of those life-changing, life-affirming, enlightening, re-evaluating "ah-ha" times that I think has changed my life forever as a person; looking back, it's hard to see that anyone could go through a similar experience and not come out different.

My views on death, life, marriage, parenting and what love means (and I ain't talking about the kind that comes in a Hallmark card) have all been profoundly affected.

Overall, I feel more compassionate and understanding about both family and friends. Through the years, it has always been my tendency to fill the role of peacekeeper in many situations and now I feel more comfortable in that role and find myself stepping up it instead of just eventually "falling" into it.

There is a helpless, terrified sense about how fragile life is that has been hammered home quite clearly....it sounds horrifically trite, but is so very true a sentiment; I would have to assume being at a birth is a very similar experience. In today's world that is so dangerous and mired in cynicism, it is understandable that people don't really dwell on on the whole life/death matter and the plethora of frivolous distractions makes sense; everyone would drive themselves nuts being depressed or in a constant state of terror if they did.

As previously mentioned, it does however put things in perspective and that is something that is acknowledged all too seldomly. This whole process/experience has brought about a whole new framework for which me to view things. I've noticed there tends to be a sense of peace and calmness that settles in now over times that I begin to get stressed or moments of indecision....not right away, but it does come. I shall forever have my moments of fretting mind you, (I'm Jen, Mood swings is what I do!) but it now seems obvious that there is really very little about which getting worked up over is an effective and worthwhile use of one's energies. (Passionate about, yes. again, have you met me?)

It's a bit of a cop out, but I'm not feeling too original at the moment, so to sum this whole bit of rambling up, all I can say is "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and it Really IS in the end all Small Stuff."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

You date a girl and find out later she smells just like a percolator

The answer is "498days".

The question is "How long did it take Jen to spill coffee on her desk?"
(For those not in the know, this was quite an impressive streak for me. Also amazing? This time it miraculously managed to miss both the keyboard and the mouse; over the years, no less than 5 keyboards have met with their untimely demise due to my lackadaisical drinking habits!)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola

Hello! Yes, it is really me again.

I could go through 1001 reasons for hiatusing so abruptly (Captaining an MS Ride Team, keeping said team in roughly one piece despite injuries, planning a large meal for 100 in November, handwriting invites to said soiree, finding orthopedically sound wedding shoes...and it goes on), but instead, let's just jump back into the writing shall we?

My name is Jen. I am a caffeine junkie. I love the stuff and would drink or eat coffee frothed, foamed, iced, wrapped in chocolate, whipped in ice cream, swirled in a brownie; I'd even drape myself in it, if it was socially acceptable.

But, I've never been big on soda. There was a brief point in college that I did buy Mountain Dew by the pallet-load. I still hated the taste, but when your academic building is open 24-hours a day, professors give no credence to the novel thought of finishing ones assignments under a conventional 8-hour sleep+16hour class schedule. This was just before the big commercial coffee boom, so there was no spot to stop for a giganta-venti. And, as my "workspace" came furnished with a mini-fridge, it was an all-you-can drink chugfest of the death green bubbly wakeup juice!

Anyhow, today I found one heck of a reason to never touch the stuff again. This past weekend Bosco and I managed to get bike grease on nearly every piece of clothing we had packed for the Bike MS "Tour de Farms". As it was finally time to attack the pile of black goo, I decided to try an urban legend that I'd heard floating around; dumping a can of Coke in the load to dissolve the grease.

Needless to say, it worked wonders and while I am now in awe of Coca-Cola's magical abilities in the detergental arts, the thought of pouring it down my throat ever again gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

When you're only having seconds, I'm having twenty-thirds

Because I'm fat, I'm fat, come on
(Fat, fat, really really fat)
You know I'm fat, I'm fat, you know it
(Fat, fat, really really fat)
You know I'm fat, I'm fat, come on you know
(Fat, fat, really really fat)
Don't you call me pudgy, portly or stout
Just now tell me once again who's fat?


We'll get to that lovely song reference in a second. I have been intending on writing a post for sometime now about the insane Land of Weddings...and, believe me, it is a Land, just not one dreamed up by Mr. Disney alongside Fantasyland and Adventureland (although you can get the matching Cinderella invitations. WARNING: Don't view without a vomit bag!)

This morning was our first viewing of one of the wedding venues we had narrowed things down to The Metropolian Club on the 67th floor of the Sears Tower. Bosco has some really snazzy hookups in the H&T biz and it was only because of that "in" that we even bothered looking, as it is not only high in the sky, but features galactical budgets.

It was very lovely, and as a bonus I got a free trip to the top of the Sears Tower (all the locals go Whoo!) Alas, the "in" brought the price out of the stratosphere, but still way more than practical, no screws loose me could stomach spending on one day. There is another option we're seeing on Saturday, but I'm not posting the name until we have a signed contract---no one is wedding googling, finding this entry and snagging my venue!

Speaking of kooky things, what exactly is it about weddings that turns bright, accomplished, independent women into completely feeble little whisps who fret and frown over whether or not "Acapulco Gold" will still be in for a 2009 event and are reduced to hysterical tears (I can only imagine, based on the frightening emoticons in some of the forum posts I've prowled looking for ideas) upon finding out that the autumn leaf placecards are on backorder until after their event!

And the weight? Oh lordy the weight! I had been hearing about this wedding phenomenon non-stop at my current gig as one of the gals has been a bridesmaid 4 times in the past 3 months.....she's on a perpetual diet, actually CHISELS a pear down over an 8 hour period and still shares the majority with someone else. This is not a large girl, she has no glandular issues; why then would she do this to herself you ask? She didn't want to order a size 10 because she could almost fit into an 8 without alterations if she starved herself. Oh yeah, did I mention she was a Phi Beta Kappa with a Master's Degree?

But, your demure writer has laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of all of these things and sworn that SHE SHALL BE DIFFERENT! SHE SHALL BE STRONG! SHE SHALL NOT FREAK OVER TUSSY MUSSYS!

Until today. Like the lambasted Ms. J Love Hewitt, I am apparently fat.

After lunching with Mr. Bosco and Lady R, I decided to officially start the wedding budget and go purchase the dress I had seen a few weeks ago. I walked in to the store, was a little shocked that my dress wasn't where it was hanging originally, and, with a mere gleam on panic started furtively hunting through the "general stock" rack until I found it....size 4, 6, 8, 10....no 12.

FUN FACT FROM WEDDINGLAND (in case you missed it): Special occasion dresses are made "European" sizes and my svelte size 4 at Old Navy is a 12 in their world.

I asked the sales girl if my dress could be ordered in a 12, when she said "yes", I said I would like to do so, but wanted to try on the 10 real quick just to confirm I liked the style. It was just as magical and just as tight in a couple places....but, hey, that's what alterations are for, right?

My fatal mistake was then wanting to see it in the 3-way mirror and stand on the pedestal outside the fitting room so I could see the drape of it and have a mental image for when looking for shoes.

The sales gal saw me come out of the fitting room, noisily, sucked air over her teeth, raised an accusing eyebrow and gave me a once over, snarking "Oh honey, are you going to lose some weight before the wedding?" KEEP IN MIND, I had already told her I knew I needed the 12 and just wanted to try the 10 on for the style. I pasted on my best Minnesotan smile and carried on chattily with her about how I would gain a lot of muscle tone training for the MS Tour De Farms bike ride & wasn't worried as long as there was plenty of fabric for the tailor. Why in the hell she couldn't have just said "Yes, I think you are right in ordering the 12." Why am I apparently expect to starve myself to fit into what smaller size they have?

I know I should have walked out, but not wanting to give up "my" dress, I went ahead and special ordered it, which took 25minutes, since the clerk was apparently new, and didn't know how to do it. She proceeded to call 7 other stores to find someone to talk her through it because her manager was on lunch and refused to help.

Needless to say, I know I shouldn't feel bad, I know I am a good person and bright and funny and, not that it's a huge (pun intended) thing, but I am petite and not exactly a mudflap in the looks department. But, wow, it does sting and even though my logical side is brushing it off as ludicrous and idiotic there is a smaller side influenced by today's onslaught of skinnymedia that is whispering "Well, maybe just a pound or two...."

*sigh* Can we just go back to the refined era where I was traded for a bunch of goats?

Friday, January 11, 2008

A cat's entitled to expect, These evidences of respect..



Not in this household!

T.S. Eliot had certainly not experienced the glory that is "Stuff on My Cat" when he wrote his musings on felines.

One of my delightful Xmas presents from Bosco was a desk calendar featuring a Cat-A-Day dressed in whatever the owner could find laying around the house. Using yesterday's cat "Barney" as inspiration and having just run out of paper towels, it seemed only fitting to see if Twyla had the mettle to be a calendar pin-up girl!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Well ladies and gents, mark your datebooks at #171. It took that many entries for me to be called out!

The previous entry was found inappropriate by an interested party and I was asked to censor it and remove comments posted by other readers. While I respect the viewpoints expressed to me by that person, I decline to do so as there is no basis.

It's a sticky business to be sure, as when I began this blog it was on the foundation of honesty at all costs and was intended to be as truthful to real life as possible. Over the past several years, I have used my editor's red pen more than I would have ever thought in the beginning; some tales were not all that interesting in the end, some required far too much setup (including details that would have be inappropriate to write) and others, well hey, I also don't shower with the windows open...a gal has to have some mystique!

For integrity's sake, I've always maintained that no real names would be used (either an initial or a online handle), no images posted of friends/family without their consent and a PG rating would be maintained (at least for language, if not always for content). Also, if there was a comment that failed any of the above criteria was obviously slanderous or an attempt to start a flame war that I would delete it; not liking or agreeing with it would never be a reason.

That said, I was going to post an update to the previous entry (though it was to be attached to ponderings of a much cheerier nature) and will do so now:

12/8 UPDATE: Well, it turns out things did work out and my Mom did email me the information regarding the viewing and funeral in a timely fashion....it's quite nice when one's fears are proven wrong. Unfortunately due to the flippy-flop nature of Chicago weather and an ice storm warning by the National Weather Service it seemed especially unwise to travel via car or bus and quite possible that an attempt to fly would end me up in Springfield-Branson, Bloomington-Normal, Louisville-Standiford or some other twice monikered regional airport from which a quick escape was unlikely. In the end, it seemed best to send a card and not attempt to attend the services.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Four Wedding Dresses and a Funeral

Let me begin by saying that it sucks the big wazoo that this is the next entry to be logged.

The last 48 hours have been a high speed fun ride of nauseating highs and lows that I find myself still very much in the thick of. Thus, retreating to virtual pen in an attempt to process some of this seemed like a much better alternative than staring at the darkened ceiling of my bedroom.

This all began quite innocently Thursday morning when I met fellow Bridzilla-in-Training "K" out for another round of wedding dress shopping on Michigan Avenue. We had gone to a high-class consignment place a few weeks ago, but found that neither of us had the requisite screw loose required to lay down a couple of Grover Clevelands for real Peau de soie satin with enough beads to put Mardi Gras to shame.

As K's wedding is in June, she is on a much quicker timetable than your humble author who still stands by "No date, decisions or matters of detail until January 1st, 2008." But, it is fun to mock the ridiculousness of the silly dresses and even sillier brides that one finds hovering around said frocks and even more so with someone who shares my dark sense of humor. Arriving at the JMC Boutique we found that we were the only two people in the store, so immediately turned our vengeance on the wall of dresses. It was a delightful surprise that most of the dresses were not horrifically ugly, did not have bows or bell skirts and were ridiculously affordable; a Benji or two and a couple of his lesser denominational buddies. K found a delightful frock quickly, and after filling her dressing room up, started on me. I had no intention of actually trying anything on, but after some cajoling that I should "at least know what shapes look flattering" pulled two off the rack to try on.

SIDENOTE: Wedding dresses are apparently made in "European sizes" and they had dozens in size 2 and 4....my petite self was a size 10/12. Who in blazes wears a 2 then and do they consider gum a meal?

Anywho, K hit a home run in Dress #2 which was just delightful and made her look amazingly feminine, yet very regal. I didn't hate either of the dresses I tried on, but neither really made me feel like a bride; it was like the dresses sensed I had no experience with formal wear and were mocking me. K had already changed back into street clothes and I was ready to go back into hiding for several months, when I decided to try one more off the rack by the dressing room door. It looked rather strange on the hanger and I saw K's eyebrow raise at my suggestion, but she humored me. It was perfect. Every part of me was coddled and draped in the most flattering way possible....I felt like a bride! K was awestruck, and mentioned that if I didn't know that was the one, then I was an idiot; what can I say, the gal adores me ;) But, I needed a bit of time to ponder, so we left the store to grab a coffee and said farewell for the afternoon. After all, I had heard that this wedding stuff was shear torture, could I actually try on 4 dresses and be done with one of the bigger pieces so quickly?

HA! One should never ever tempt fate in such a way.

Thursday evening was the night of my office "holiday" party, and waiting for a train downtown on a chilly platform I decided to bide my time by calling my mother back from an earlier message. After 5 minutes of pleasantries and pressuring me for Christmas ideas, she matter-of-factly informs me that my uncle has died. This was not unexpected as he has been ill for awhile and declining steadily over the past few months. It was a shock that she just laid it out there like a big steaming lump in the middle of the conversation. While she faces death on a daily basis in oncology nursing and thus might be used to it being "normal" conversation, it did seem rather callous to not bring that up immediately upon my calling. But just my 2cents, touché.

In the middle of me pumping her for info "Who, What, When, What Can I Do, etc." she asks me quite sharply "Is Bosco Jewish?", this is about as random a comment as I could have ever imagined being asked. I had never hidden the fact that yes, Bosco is one of the "chosen people" as it doesn't really factor into our lives too much, except around the bigger holidays. But, apparently I was amiss as I should have been introducing him around as "Hi, this is Bosco, my Jewish boyfriend" 'cuz ya know that fact that he loves me for who I am and treats me like gold and doesn't smack me around or yell at me like some drunken oaf....that's not what's really important, he has a different religious upbringing and what a flippin' travesty that is.

Sorry, lost it there for a minute (and the above is the shorter edited rant!)

So, apparently my mother had been at the nursing home at/after my uncle's passing (I'm not sure as that was not the topic of the hour being discussed!) and after mentioning my engagement to the family at hand, one of them queried if this "was the Jewish guy" I had been seeing (my apologies to the relative in question if this is out of context, I am working with 2nd hand pissed off mother-in-law information). My mother claimed she didn't know how to respond and was horrified that she didn't know this key info about her soon to be son-in-law. A barrage of questions followed and I was pummeled for the ones I couldn't answer as "How can you agree to marry someone and not know [insert random nugget of info, ie: Father's hometown]. Hmm. Yes, I realize how many marriages fail because you didn't know where Cricket Corner, New Hampshire was as opposed knowing if your betrothed is in the mob or has syphilis or has 16 split personas!

With that conversation, I had an inkling into what delightful circle of hellfire I shall be entering into the next 9-12 months. Had I bought the dress, I was 2 seconds from returning it and booking the first red-eye to Vegas....and it's still a very attractive escape route. But, it's not what I want. I really do wish for a ceremony with all my/Bosco's friends and family that wish to support us in this endeavor attending, and for it to be a quirky, fun expression of who we are as individuals.....and I have little doubt that our choices will confuse, hurt and anger various famial factions. As the typical "peacemaker" in most situations, it's a ridiculously difficult precipice I find my toes on the edge of. Is it worth the headache to repeatedly play the "It's Our Day" card at the risk of alienating someone (which yes, the thought of unhappy folks eat away at my insides) or worse to sacrifice the beginning of what looks to be a very happy little life to the greater good.

As to the my uncle's funeral, there is no date set to the best of my knowledge. That in itself is a whole other matter as it is a mixed bag of feelings of sadness for those closest to him, relief that he is no longer in pain, guilt for being greedy and wishing to keep my memories of him pure and happy and avoid the awkwardness of deterioration and dementia as I have not seen him in over a year. While I very much wish to attend the viewing and laid out my intentions to my mother, that short of an epic blizzard, I'd find a dogsled and a way to be there. I should, he was not only one of my Dad's closest brothers, but also my godfather. But, there is a nagging feeling though that my mom will call me with the date/time casually about 2 hours beforehand, eliminating all chance for me to attend. It's passive, it's aggressive, it's motherhood at it's finest.

So, until later, a nugget of knowledge while my peptic ulcer has triplets:

From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins":
DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T - "Early American evangelist Lorenzo Dow (d. 1834) coined these words while condemning other preachers who 'make the Bible clash and contradict itself, by preaching somewhat like this: 'You can and you can't - You shall and you shan't - You will and you won't - And you will be damned if you do - And you will be damned if you don't.'"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant



Yes it's true, Bosco and I are readying our snorkels and getting ready to plunge into matrimony!

This magical moment happened last Tuesday November 20th in the mighty city of Boston's delightfully Italian North End. It was here that B & I were to meet a ex-Chicagoan pal for some dinner (or so I thought!). As his other attempts to woo me for the evening had failed (Top of the Hub was cloudy, and I flat out refused to rest my ankles at the Parker House to get a drink...didn't want us to be late!) he finally coaxed me to sit down for a pre-dinner drink at this nice windowside table.

It was misting out, and I was concerned that our friend S who was driving in from the burbs would reach us safely. This thought swirled around in my head along with snippets of the Sinatra song playing, the fizziness of my drink, our travel to Salem the next day, the meaning of life and about 1 million other completely random things....I almost missed the proposal! But, there was a lovely, sweet as can be speech by Mr. B and a ridiculously sparkly ring box advanced towards me and before you knew it, it was official!

After a really spectacular Italian dinner, complete with a barbershop quartet serenade of "Going to the Chapel" it was on to call, text and carrier pigeon everyone we knew.

For the record, we are not making ANY plans until after the first of the year...really, not a one, no, not even a ponderance of a place, time of year, sort of dress as we have instead chose to bask in the loveliness of engagement for awhile.

For those who would persist in pummeling us with WhoWhatWhenWhereWhys, we will either enjoy watching you bike 75 miles to the MS Century Loop for the ceremony or freezing essential parts off while pushing through the Bering Straits on a moonlight New Year's Eve cruise....we're creative cats, aren't aren't afraid to tear at that hypothetical envelope ;)

But seriously, we're thrilled and excited and if everyone plays nice I may just blog a bit about what is sure to be an interesting journey!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"The stomach is the seat of courage..."

So, is indigestion the Mephistopheles of the midgut then?

I just ran across one of those dusty tomes from yesteryear called "Cooking for Two: A Handbook for Young Housekeepers" (although it was on Google books, so it lacked some of the joy of finding it in a dusty half-price bin).

Nevertheless, this blast from 1900s injected great hilarity into my weekend morning grocery list making and gave much credence to my earlier moaning to Bosco about being too hungry to do anything, and I quote:

"...and when mid-day is reached neither of you feel willing to do any more work, until you have eaten you mid-day meal. Your energy and motive power are gone. The movements you have made of your own accord in working about the house, but also those made involuntarily by your heart in beating, your lungs in breathing , and your brain in thinking have wasted your stock of energy and worn away tissues of flesh, blood and bones."

And I'M overly dramatic?

Sadly, while devilishly tempted to try something from Chapter IX. "Gelatinous Soups and Jellies: Proteid Sparers", in the end it's back to epicurious.com for me!

But hey, if you are looking for a chuckle or two, check it out more thoroughly. I especially like the "sermonet" at the back; never have I heard the extolling of the benefits of dishwashing for brain stimulation put quite so succinctly (p378).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Cool!



A Lolla continuation from yesterday:

SATURDAY
Oncemore, the schedule this year produced a lot of filler and nothing really juicy to listen to in the mornings. Bosco really wanted to see Pete Yorn and a folksie singer-songwriter sounded perfect to me, having had my fill of obnoxious frat boys the night before. His set was catchy and melodic, much like his more famous New Jersey brethren, but slow, as if Valium fairy dust had been brushed on the band before taking the stage.

Yet another large gap in interesting music led us to leave the festival and head to the Loop for some lunch; while the festival did have food and it wasn't too overpriced, it's hard to resist a cozy booth and a made to order sub and gooey chocolaty cookie at Potbelly!

We made it back in time to catch The Roots, who sounded pretty good when MC Black Thought wasn't blathering on about the state of rap today; true I am not a huge rap/hip-hop fan and the stage and viewscreen were out of eyeline as we were sitting on a blanket at the back due to the large crowd--perhaps had I been able to see it wouldn't have seemed so long-winded.

Viewing luck changed with the next set (Regina Spektor) which was amazingly located a mere 180° turn from where we were sitting! The sound for this performance was unfortunately quite spotty; though trying to mic a piano and woman's breathy mezzo-soprano voice in a huge festival arena must be a sound engineer's worst nightmare!! From what I could hear, she was very quirky, but in a fun and lighthearted way (let the Tori Amos comparisons stop at red hair and female piano player). Her songs are more like fantastical bedtime stories set to music with loads of clever vocal noises and sounds thrown in for effect. She also performed a cover of "Real Love" (a demo originally recorded by John Lennon) which was simply sweet and beautiful; if you dare to touch work by such a beloved and illustrious artist, this is how to do it!

[HUH? SIDENOTE: There was a very confused and sad fellow holding up a sign for most of the concert informing us that he had run out of weed and wanted to buy more...I was tempted to go inform him that just perhaps a low-key, mostly female attended gig was not his best option when both a reggae band and 60s troubadour with a known penchant for illegal substances were both playing at the same time....but, taking a page from Darwin, I decided to let him evolve to that on his own time.]

On the way to dinner, a stop at the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs was necessitated by a blurb in the program describing lead singer Karen O's habit of "humping" and "spitting" at everything in sight. Sadly, it was only an attempted spectacle and despite effort, I just don't quite understand the group's popularity or the critical raves appearing in the local papers and online. I saw Siouxsie and the Banshees several years ago at the House of Blues and that was a spectacle both in theatrics and vocal dexterity. The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs felt like a lukewarm copy of them with a ladle of X-ray Spex/Poly Styrene thrown in for good measure. [Insert your best "Back in my day..." anecdote here]

After a hectic dinner (Mag Mile Tourists + Suburban Lolla Kidz= Mass Confusion Everywhere!), it was back to the grounds to hear a dollop of Spoon, which while rockin' to listen to online, quickly disintegrated into the most hated of Lolla animals: The 4-Headed Jam Band. As Patti Smith was also up, a quick dash was made over to her venue to catch the venerable anti-establishment poet laureate. We arrived in the middle of her cover of Hendrix's "Are Your Experienced" which takes on a whole other context when sung by a 60-year old known for doing "everyone and everything worthwhile". The set was very lively and her energy unflagging; there was a wide range of old favorites, some charged political refrains and another quite interesting cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"---probably one of the first times all the lyrics were properly enunciated. It was a little sad that we were so close for this performance (not more than 40ft), I suppose everyone else was heading for the closing shows of the evening (Muse, Interpol) or out for the night due to the drizzle. It perhaps does reflect the "hipster" mentality of many attendees, just looking for the band of the moment versus a quality performance...although how you can pass on such a historical figure and Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee is beyond me!


SUNDAY
It is still a wonder that we attended the last day at all, the morning having brought torrential downpours. With live webcasts offered for many of the performers, the pull to go stand in the mud and rain was easy to resist. Nonetheless, as Chicago weather seems so apt to do, by 1pm it was sun and blue sky for as far as one could see. Amy Winehouse was first on our bill and running late (as we were), but did tardily take the stage in the end; a rare treat this summer, as conversations around me recollected her lack of will to perform more than two songs, if at all, for most of her previous shows this summer. The humidity had started to build and the afternoon sun was a blast of heat between brief clouds, so I was torn whether or not I cared if she did end up bailing. In the end, she sweatily did the twist beneath a huge black beehive for a solid full set. It's confusing how all the reviews could call it a "rote, lackluster attempt", it wasn't groundbreaking, but sometimes a performance doesn't need a bunch of bells and whistles (or a DJ Pyramid-take note Daft Punk!) and excess crowd banter; if it had been in a small venue with her as headliner then yes, it would have a little disappointing. For a multi-band event, it was a jazzy and satisfying turn and maybe even a big 'piss-off' to critics who thought she was just a tabloid news diva.

Now for the "illegal" activity I so wrongly built up the other day; as it was hot, we slunk off to a shady spot under a tree in the park and gorged on Trail Mix and water. The water was factory sealed when we entered, which was perfectly legal, but there was no outside food allowed...hence, the contraband healthy treat. It is a signaling of my place in life that lawless activities now feature fruits and nuts smuggled in the waistband of my shorts....so much for being a rebel!

Did I mention the heat yet? The impenetrable, all-encompassing veil of soul-drenching air soup that seems to hit Chicago in August? It had indeed become an insufferable day and Bosco was kind enough to procure me an ice cream from the Grant Park Bobtail Cafe; the festival vendors did have ice cream, but it was all vegan...some things should just not exist, and dairy-free chocolate ice cream tops that list!

After a few rounds of "The Water Game" in which the goal was to turn your opponent into a drippingly cool pile, a tromp back north to catch the end of Iggy and the Stooges was in order. This was somehow one of the critics most lauded reviews of the weekend (???), but we showed up as anarchy was unfurling in the form of a crowd being thrown off the stage after being invited up to dance with Iggy (how does this sound like a good idea????). It was loud and dissonant and exactly what the band supposed to be...unfortunately that was lost in fervent cajoling to get everyone back off the stage, Iggy then started to rambling about something--I couldn't tell what exactly as it was lost in the cacophony of the band who was still steadfastly playing on.

Yo La Tengo + major soundsystem issues + extended instrumental jam = early dinner break

I know I'm a snot for not seeing the above through, but sweltering en-masse with some very fragrant folks made my patience for waiting for them to find their groove wilt against the draw of air-conditioning, even if it was Day 2 at Bennigan's!

The finale of the weekend was to be Pearl Jam. I really could have cared less about this one, but Bosco is a huge fan and also a former Seattle occupant, so I sucked it up as I am sure there are shows I wanted to see that he patiently sat through with no complaint. Wisely, we scooped out a spot near what we thought the "back" of the crowd would be and with a view of the big screen for our blanket. Things would have been lovely, had a rotund fellow not decided to stand at the front of the "blanket section" right in front of the screen. It didn't really matter as once the show started everyone on the blankets stood up----I could try and figure out the logic here, but that could take awhile. Good karma struck as we headed even farther back from the swarm, as the promoters, probably fearing a crowd-crush, had put the show feed up on one of the other unoccupied stage screens. Blanket spread oncemore, we settled in to enjoy the show...until a long line of idiots paraded in front of us to tape, stand, make-out and even attempt a backflip in front of the screen. Much moving of our blanket and increasingly louder cursings ensued. Then, Mr. Veddar decided to get political and start launching into a chant about BP/Amoco's dumping of waste into Lake Michigan...which turned off many people who then left. My favorite comment was by a large, drunken, bare-chested lad wearing a bra on his head and dragging his completely blitzed girlfriend behind him: "We paid to hear you sing, I don't wanna hear no politics, it's not an election or nothing."

I think both Eddie and Bra-Man both make excellent points. It would be hard to be a celebrity that has passionate beliefs and state them in any way that doesn't come off as preachy. Also difficult is laying down hard-earned cash to be entertained and being told how bad and depressing the outside world is because you're not helping enough.

At 9:30, all evangelizing aside, it became obvious the best of the show was over and time to start heading home with all the other weary souls as it was a school night. Hearing about the even bigger soapboxes that were trotted out after we left, it became a very sensible decision indeed.

Looking back, in the end it was well worth what we paid (just under $4per band) and a very agreeable weekend diversion! I doubt I'd feel the need to go again unless the ticket prices were dropped or discount passes came my way again as for what most people coughed up, it was a fairly boilerplate sort of event with only a few anomalies to keep it from being ho-hum.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green!




Lollapalooza 2007 tried to be green this weekend...and unintentionally turned me a lovely shade of it too! I can only hope the sheer lack of resiliency of any of the inks used on festival schedules, wristbands and environmental graphics was due to their being soy-based and not 'cuz the promoters wanted to cut costs for another buck or two! (The lovely emerald pallor on my shoulder was courtesy of an informational tower slimeing me whilst I crouched against its shady bosom!)

It was a pretty excellent weekend overall, especially at the discounted price of $60; that was thanks to incredibly lovely gal H deciding to be out of town again this year and letting me and Bosco buy her tickets off her for a donation to her Grand Canyon Leukemia & Lymphoma Charity Hike.

FRIDAY
Friday started out pretty low-key, having snagged a day off work I preferred to sleep in instead of rushing down to see any of the morning newbie acts. Sauntering in around 2pm netted me a few delightful tunes by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists which was every bit the tuneful energetic punk-pop that the reviews had suggested. After snagging a couple of day-glo orange personal necklace fans at the AT&T "Media Center" I headed over to catch the end of Son Volt---yes, the pitiful attempt of a mammoth and unhip corporate sponsor to beg for my business was obvious as their "cool" graphics circa 1997...but it was a free pocket fan; I'll walk through air-conditioned gimmicky pandering for that on a hot day!

Amazingly, I ended up at the Son Volt stage just as Jay Farrar launched into "Drown" one of my faves by them a hooky alt-country strummer. After another tune or two, they closed down set and I headed over to Charlie Musselwhite, the supposed "inspiration" behind Dan Akyroyd's Elwood persona. Not to spoil the rest of the post, but this was my most favorite set of the weekend, hands down! Hard-grooving blues harmonica in hand, dressed from head to toe in black (a ballsy move for a sunny day in the high 80s!) he rocked, shimmied and tooted his way through one hell of a set. I was shocked to be standing within 15 feet of the stage for such a superb performance--in this case it worked to my advantage that the hipsters were all off seeing the "it" band of the moment, leaving me this soulful morsel to digest! It should be also noted at this point, that I was a little taken aback that all my musical choices to this point were heavily attended by males aged 25-40 (almost exclusively all-male at Charlie Musselwhite)---it made me question how exactly my tastes were so seemingly masculine!

There was, as always seems to be, a sound-bleed problem and the end of the set when The Polyphonic Spree took the stage to the North---I did head over there eventually to check out the spectacle the claim to be and I must admit I turned away at the shear volume, it was WAY too loud (yep, get those old folks jokes at the ready!) and I hadn't thought to bring ear foams. I retreated shady spot close to the fountain and nearly 250 ft away where I could still hear them perfectly clearly to catch up on some short story reading and await Bosco's arrival from work. They did a really atrocious Nirvana cover of "Lithium"---I believe the Chi-Town Trib called it "optimistically inspired"....in a weekend with more covers than bikini-clad nymphets it was a campy attempt at globbing onto a song from a groundbreaking album that came out while most of the audience was learning how to love from Barney.

Bosco showed up to join me briefly for moe. who seemed promising from the downloads, but ended up turning their set into a jam session---an all too common occurrence for Lolla bands, both this weekend and when I went in '05! We caught a bit of G. Love and Special Sauce (always a personal fave!), but ended up cutting things a bit short as the sun was right behind the stage and quite warm, instead opting for some really bland tourist chow from the closest restaurant on Michigan Avenue we could find.

Upon our return, we thought getting close to the sound system for Daft Punk would provide both great audio and close enough to see anything that needed seeing; this quickly was show to be faulty logic, as the crowd grew, and grew and GREW! Their collective intelligence, did NOT as people squished and crawled and continued to plow forward towards the stage. It was uncomfortably close as the performance started and after 1.5 songs and 1 butt grab, I voiced my fears of being slammed against the metal fence and puncturing a lung or severely disfiguring the next pseudo frat boy that found my posterior an acceptable armrest. Bosco agreed and we retreated back about 50ft---which was actually a better view to the whole electro-dance-techno-art performance which featured both bandmates in full helmets and black leather suits ensconced in a huge pyramid spinning samples and even larger triangle scaffolding on which laser graphics were projected. While I never did quite get the whole "must see" attitude of the crowd, it was amusing to MST3K the graphics as to what video game they were ripped from; we hit Tron, Asteroids, Space Invaders and even Tetris before we packed it in to beat the crush to the bus home.

STAY TUNED: Saturday and Sunday's exciting concert reviews and hijinks (some even illegal!)coming tomorrow!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Treating people just like pawns in chess....

Yesterday's bridge collapse in Minneapolis was like a punch in the stomach---like many other ex-10,000 Lakeians, I quickly tried to account for all my near and dearest. Thankfully, to the best of my knowledge all my family, friends and acquaintances are safe and sound. That of course does not include the numerous people encountered over my 18 years there and am no longer in close contact with anymore...when the names are released, I will read it with my heart in throat indeed.

If you haven't heard about this tragedy (which I am not linking too, as there are far too many vultures on it already), just go to any major news source and it's splashed over everything. Don't get me wrong, it is a tragic accident and hopefully just a freak occurrence with no real cause or person to fault. But, it happened to occur on a slow story day and the news outlets are parading it around and milking it for every tear-streaked victim and gory cleanup commentary they can find. If anything else newsworthy had happened yesterday, Matt Lauer and the Today show would not have flown there (spending 90% of their broadcast on it), nor would have nearly the entire CNN staff (filling both broadcast and tickers with "exclusives")! It would be a medium blip on the national headlines---while major on the local Minnesotan channels, naturally.

I almost lost my Fruit Loops when heading out the door this morning when a bumper for tonight's Anderson Cooper 360° came on "Dangerous Bridges: Silent Killers In Waiting, Are You Next?" Sheesh, while an inquiry should take place and the public should certainly demand a thorough investigation and hold our current construction processes up to scrutiny, does it really merit scaring the doody out of folks as well as tormenting those who have lost loved ones so soon after something so horrific?

My thoughts and prayers are with all Minnesotans right now.

Monday, July 23, 2007

This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun!



My parents have owned the above canvas dinosaur for as long as I can remember. If you guessed that it is a geniune 1969 Starcraft Constellation Pop-Up Camper, you'd be correct, and quite possibly also a child of the 70s. Back in that wacky time there was no "minivans" or trips to all-inclusive family resorts with special schedules and activites designed specifically by age group to enhance or build on skill sets to create the next generation of adults with no idea of how to occupy themselves without an agenda.

In fact, if you started a family in the 1960s/70s, I believe you were issued one of these beauties with a station wagon (wood trim optional) a love of plaid, and a man-of-the-house that insisted that driving around the country was an "exciting adventure", "the only way to see the country" and "one of the best educational experiences we can give you kids."

I have many a "fond" memory of that camper. "Fondness" in this case referring to there being enough years past now that the sheer torture of being hauled around to significant bridges and historical creeks and staying at campgrounds with no swimming pool, video arcade games and grossly understocked canteens staffed by elderly folks who had never heard of "Pop Rocks."

Sadly, it is to be sold by my brother I've been informed. No more mustiness to greet me when it's unfurled. No wet canvas smell that seems to permeate everything for the whole weekend even though it rained for only 15min. No horrid cans of faded peas heated to lukewarm on the pseduo-stove before it ran out of butane. No fighting over who gets the "better end" to sleep in or making forts out of the day-glow floral seat cushions!

Okay, I'm really not quite that nostalgic!! ;) But, it was a fun little tormenting device of my childhood and thus has earned a wistful *sigh* at it's passing.

On a scary, weird, strange, funny bizarro note; while searching for my brother's craigslist ad , I ran across another similar model being sold in Mankato, Minnesota:

"For Sale: Nice 1974 Jayco Pop Up Camper. This camper is in good usable condition. It has a heater, three burner stove, sink, water tank, fridge/ice box, 110 volt inlets/outlets, excelent frame/axles, good tires, new spare tire, tows very nice. This camper is 33 years old, and is not perfect, but it is in good condition. $750. Cash or trade for firearms of equal value."

Curious, I looked up on a gun site to see what $750 would get this delightful militia -minded moron. Turns out, not much...while he could get most anything from the lines of the shotguns, handguns and rifles, only very low tier semi-automatics were in that price range. And machine-guns? Only if he had 3-4 mint VW Beetles to go along with his classic camper!

Monday, July 09, 2007

And he looks so cute, in his little red suit...

It's been a long, long night boys and girls.

After getting off work at the ridiculously easy hour of 5 o'clock this eve, I rode no less than SEVEN times on Chicago's rarely lauded Transit System in 4-hours; it would have been NINE if another bus and train had fallen in line!

Quick shorthand for Chicagoans in the know: Red Line: (Roosevelt to Lake, Chicago to Fullerton), Buses: (#74 Fullerton/Riverside, #74 Riverside/Elston, #74 Elston/Belden, #36 Broadway to Addison, #36 Broadway to Argyle)---the missing two were the Red Line: Lake to State (it was rush-hour, couldn't even get in the station!) and #22: from Fullerton to Belmont.....the Clark bus was only traveling Southbound in pairs, it MUST be mating season!

Anywho, the question at hand is why oh, WHY was I such the mass-transit aficionado?

A lovely gal at my current place of employment is with child and the company is throwing her a surprise luncheon party tomorrow. I had received the memo notifying me of this last week and made a lame attempt to procure a present last Friday only to talk myself out of it---what in the HECK do I know about showering a baby?????

Alas, upon returning to Old Navy tonight to procure the my previous idea, I was greeted with empty metal brackets, the entire metropolis being now sold out of frog-headed hoodie bath towels!

After a dead heat race through the remaining State Street shops and the few Mag Mile boutiques in my tax bracket, I was still without a present de babe. It occurred to me then, that Chi-town, on the whole, is quite single-centric. I am sure there are LOADS of strips malls, mall-malls and outlets stores catering exclusively to swaddling bundles out beyond in "Chicagoland", but for a friend of an expecting urban gal, I was screwed!

Case in Point: One of the premiere spots for many "singles" to shop is The Shops @ Northbridge on Michigan Avenue. Would someone please tell me exactly what one gives a newborn from The Body Shop, Ann Taylor Loft, Forever 21, Kenneth Cole or Swatch?? (yes, to those smug folks who double-checked me, while some stores DO have a token "infant department", I dare you to justify $40+ for a set of booties!)

So, I wandered from Target to Marshall's, to TJ Maxx, to yet another Old Navy and finally to Kohl's where I finally procured a non-sex yellow footed onesie with "Sailor Ducks" and some terry-cloth "Duckie" washcloths. I followed that up with a panicked phone-call to my mother for other drugstore "essentials" to pad my gift, with needed but oft-forgotten items. She provided "Baby Magic" wash/lotion (which I remember from the 70s, but cannot find ANYWHERE in Chicago, anyone?), Baby Oil, Baby Wipes, Butt Cream (this may be a good time to mention that while I think this gal is KICK ASS, as she is one of the few grrrrls in the joint who isn't obsessed with what is on sale @ COACH online or what is acceptable to eat at this week on Stage blah-blah of South Beach and drove a SAG wagon at this year's MS ride while 8+ months pregnant, I still only know her as an occasional creative director on some of my assignments; we're not in the "Hey, didn' t you just LOVE that breast-pump I got you" territory yet.

It should also be mentioned that the super lady in question does not now the sex of her offspring and is Jewish, which frowns on (quite sensibly!) Baby Showers as they are an assumption of what is not here yet. Even with modern technology, birth is still an awesomely supernatural experience and no guarantee of anything.

There was one thing my mother (the nurse) discouraged, which I did not know: Baby Powder.

Apparently there is issue with Talc being inhaled and causing lung problems from to pneumonia to progressive diffuse pulmonary fibrosis, and while corn-starch based powders contain slightly larger particles, it is still better to rely on an oil, cream or even just the built-in wetness protection of conventional plastic diapers than use them.

Who Knew????????

Not I. I guess I bypassed that phase in my life somehow; presently having friends that are either quite a few years from even pondering procreation or already having done the deed.

I have never attended a Baby Shower. I am 33 years old.

The closest I came to showering was an honorary dinner for former freelance cohort C and her hubby B at Heartland Cafe in something like '01? My friend H had a lovely boy last year, but since we had lost contact, there was no shower/gift to attend to. Other than that, it's just family and I've been either in classes, out-of-state, or taking my ACTs.

I guess the point of this whole entry is to highlight the unfortunatness of being pregnant (as I'm sure maternity shops are equally scarce!) or the compatriot of a gestating one in Chicago....I guess we ship them off to the 'burbs to fend for themselves? It seems weird that this is yet another "life experience" for which I was not given any 'heads up', by formal education or famial nurturing---am I to learn of all this "magical" babiness only upon my own procreation?

That just seems a little odd, maybe it's just this past weekend of laze watching "The Crucible", "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Piano", but it seems like while repressed in some means, women in past centuries were better educated about what should be done at what time, innately...not just as a midwife for birthing, but as just a well-wishing neighbor; when a casserole was appreciated, when teething was starting, when to offer to babysit etc.

Is is just me? Anyone else clueless out there?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Jen Likes To...

It's been a very hectic two weeks with moving and I have about 101 stories to tell. However, there will be plenty of time for those a bit later when I actually have a comfortable chair and desk setup; I am currently writing to y'all crosslegged on the floor in front of my Mac with the monitor sitting on top of the box---very college dormish indeed!

Anywho, while I was awaiting Bosco's return so we could go get ice cream in the new 'hood, I ran across a pretty funny meme on Very Well Red (thanks!) and decide to give it a whirl to some freakin' hilarious results. You go to google. Type in "[your name] likes to" and list the 1st 10 things that appear:

Jen likes to give something edgier and spicier then your average female rocker.

Jen likes losers.

Jen likes to dance (although everyone else does NOT like to watch Jen dance).

Jen likes that these boobs have a message. That message is love.

Jen doesn't have a bio yet, that jerk!

Jen likes TV.

Either Jen likes the man or she doesn't!

Jen likes Egon Schiele, puppies, and #91 at this Thai place in Berlin.

Jen likes the results.

Jen likes to take candid pictures of me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

WWJMCD?

(What WOULD Jen's Management Company Do????)

This has become the buzz phrase in my life as of late. I hadn't bothered to write a post about current dealings with my landlord as they started very mundane and have only recently snowballed into a "What else could they possibly do????" situation.

I should state, to put this rant into perspective, that this is THE FIRST AND ONLY REPAIR that I've requested in the two years I've been at this address. The fun started about 6 weeks ago when I called to get a light switch fixed; both to avoid any hassle at my checkout and as a courtesy to the new tenant. Fast forward to 2 weeks ago when after multiple calls they finally decided they could come out and make the repair. "Beavis" and "Butthead" (as they shall be known for what will be obvious reasons) showed up to fix the switch; apparently they actually HAD been out several days earlier but couldn't figure out what the difficulty was as the bathroom fixture in question also has a manual thumb button on the side. Guess the word "switch" in the maintenance report threw them off! I escorted them into the bathroom to flip the offensive circuit on and off showing that nothing happened. They said "OH, well we'll need to get a new switch" and after that brilliant exchange, they left and didn't show up for 2 more days.

This time, just "Beavis" showed up and had the repair done in about 15min. About 2 hours after he left, my power started flickering and then failed completely. A call the management office sent both "Beavis" and "Butthead" out this time. They mucked around in the bathroom and breaker box and decided they would need to have a professional come out after I moved to fix the bathroom switch, which they replaced with the old unfunctioning one and put in a new breaker switch for good measure, dubbing everything fine.

Four hours later, the power again flickers and goes out, only now it's 8pm in the evening and I frantically call the emergency maintenence line which results in my building's manager coming out, looking in the box and saying "They f*cked this up, we'll send an electrician in the morning." Thankfully, Bosco was there with me by this point and advised that I should kill all the breakers (with a wooden spoon to avoid being shocked), pack up my groceries and stay at his place as whatever was wrong, was seriously wrong and could lead to an electrical fire if more power was drawn overnight.

This next repair I know little about, and can only assume it was both "Beavis" and "Butthead" as I was at a meeting downtown and had left a description of the problem, foolishly thinking they would send a professional this time. I returned home to a scrawled missive on the back of my note saying "The breaker we installed was bad, so we replaced it". Once again, several hours later my power starts flickering and I call the management office (thankfully, still open this time) and am assured help is on the way. This time it's the landlord and the fellow to be known as the "Pseudo-Electrician". This charmer tells me the problem is clearly caused by "All your electronic doo-dads", dismissing the fact I have lived here 2 years with nary an issue and am in the middle of packing, thus having LESS "doo-dads" plugged in. He mucks around in the box, rips out and replaces my fridge outlet just to placate me, declares the problem fixed and leaves.

The evening proceeds without problem, but then after watching TV for an hour the power flickers and fails. This time, however the box makes some really scary crackling sounds for almost a minute. I place another call to the "emergency" line which this time is conveniently out of service, more playing the "OFF" concerto with a wooden spoon in my breaker box, more packing of my food and pack-muling to Bosco's.

The next morning, the "Pseudo-Electrician", "Beavis", "Butthead" and the landlord show up to perform more mucking around. More blaming of my TV and cable box since they were on when the power failed. Apparently they replace ALL the breakers this time and, once more say everything is A-OK. My landlord shows the only bit of courtesy in this whole episode and calls me both that evening and the following morning to make sure all is well. Two days go by and everything is hunky-dory. I go to bed on the 2nd night, still slightly on edge and having bad dreams about waking up to flames and jumping out my 5th story window to a painful death. I finally decided I should get up and watch TV for awhile, hoping to eventually catch some Zzzz's on the couch. Whatever could happen next? Yep, flicker and out with the lights!!! I wooden spoon the breakers, pack groceries, make a call to Bosco informing him of his imminent midnight visitor and make another brutal call to the management, informing them that if this is not fixed, FOR GOOD in the morning by a real, professional, Local 134 card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, I would have a chat with my good buddies over at the Board of Chicago Renter's Rights and they would have city inspectors to deal with.

Tthat was evidentally all I needed to say. The next morning, a knock at my door produced "Beavis" asking for a detail of the problem to tell the electrician (my landlord apparently having morphed into a 13-year-old girl and refusing to talk to me now). Two hours later produces the "Pseudo-Electrician", "Beavis", "Butthead" ANNNNNNNDDD "John, member of IBEW". This motley crew disperses around my apartment and starts disassembling lights, outlets and pulling out my breaker box. "John, member of IBEW" has a real voltmeter---the first one that has been in my unit since this whole fiasco started. I remain in an adjacent room to eavesdrop on what is going on and catching bits of conversation including these "John-Gems":

"You have to really clean out all the corrosion when you're replacing breakers...."
"See where the insulation on that wire is pulled away so it's bare? That could have caused the arcing...."
"That's too much load on that breaker, it needs to be split into two....."

AND my favorite gem was asked to "John" by the "Pseudo-Electrician"
"So, what's the way to determine how to set the breakers up?"

I have had power for nearly two whole days now and hope it will continue for the remaining week I'm here. Yesterday, I was quite excited to finally have a quite stress-free evening, but, last night when I came home I discovered THIS:



Ripped out mailboxes, of course! That's What Jen's Managment Company Would Do! There of course was no written notice to residents of why, or how long it would be like this. I'm sure the mailperson will be THRILLED when she shows up today! (Oh yea, in case you didn't know, my first outer glass door has no lock, so without secure "tops" on the mailboxes anyone off the street can walk in and steal mail!)

These ass-monkeys should not be allowed to rent apartments in Chicago or anywhere. Their name cannot be revealed yet as I am still under the delusion that I'll get my security deposit back. As soon as that check clears however, I will post their name here and scathing reviews everywhere else on the web that has a forum for such things. If you are moving in or to Chicago in the next 45 days however, just leave a contact email in the "Comments" and I will gladly disclose the name to any individual, in hopes of helping to avoid this happening to them!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rain and Wind and Weather, Hell-Bent For Leather

Today is officially the 2nd day of training for the Illinois MS150!

(Don't even ask why I didn't post on the 1st day of Training....Slumlord + No Electricity = Unhappy Jen with No Coffee or Blogmaking ability!)

Current Forecast from Weather.com: 36°F (feels like 25°F) Light Rain/Snow Mix and Windy. Winds 21-31mph.

Yep, there really is nothing quite like riding a bike in the strange season the Midwest calls "Spring". For those not in the know, I have been doing this particular ride to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter for the past 2 years as a rider and Assistant Captain of one the teams with a longer legacy.

In this my 3rd year, I find myself the Captain of team "Training Wheels Not Required"---a fun bunch of rapscallions that rode or volunteered with me last year.



The "Rapscallions Anonymous Club" from the 2006 Ride


It is a little sad that part of the causation behind the formation of this new team and the placement of me at the helm was due to severe management issues and ridiculous amounts bureaucracy on the previous team we had been members of---25¢ words aside, it just wasn't fun anymore; I came to feel that even though I was part of the leadership of the former team that my advice and opinions were not respected. After the 300th or so phone/email battle with the "management" over every little crumpet from tents to team building goodies it was just not worth ruining my health and personal satisfaction in the ride over. To put it even simpler: I took my toys and went home.


So far, our little experiment seems to be working though. Despite the uncooperative weather we've managed to 1. Name ourselves 2. Get a fabulous corporation to sponsor our jerseys (Thank you Allerton Hotel Chicago!) 3. Design and receive the jerseys a full 3 weeks before training (Uber-Thanks, Alexis @ Pactimo!) 4. Start DVD core-training to ward off injury and make us speedy! 5. Have a short and productive 1st team meeting 6. Snag a volunteer (G-dawg, you rock!) and 7. Book hotel rooms!

Not too shabby eh?

Probably the only weakness, (especially on my part) is fundraising. It has definitely taken a back seat to my upcoming move and seemingly always job craziness. And, I find myself at the drawing board as to creative ideas to start getting funds as my previous outlet of co-hosting and writing for a local Pub Quiz has not only been eliminated, but the funds I had started to earn for this year's campaign were embezzled by the quiz host and put in his own MS account to win some prize. While I am grateful that the money will end up going for the greater good, it has taught be a valuable lesson about trust and friendship--and when these combine with money how a greedy and megalomaniacal nature can be brought to light quickly.

But, enough of the past!

I would welcome all well-wishes for a successful 175mile ride (100 of which I will be doing on my 33rd birthday!) and, if any of my loyal readers would like to contribute financially to this worthy cause, you can DONATE HERE

Any little bit would be appreciated, Rome wasn't up in a day and even your $10 will go to help some really amazing people fight their battle and do what most of us take for granted....bike, walk, see, even open a can of soup. They are developing some amazing drug-therapies for this devastating illness and there look to be major advances in the next decade coming, maybe even a cure.

Thank you for listening to me rant and plead on a random chilly Tuesday morning, but the bike is calling so I must go. And by bike, I mean the one sitting on my indoor trainer stand...even I don't ride when it's snowing!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wasting Away in Manischewitzville

On Monday, I helped Bosco attempt a very improvisational Passover meal to great success! We decided to forgo the traditional seder plate and ceremony as by the time there was a final guest list it was close to 4pm, a mere 3 hours to sunset and the only one of us with any fluency in Hebrew had not spoken it in years!

The menu featured quite an array of the classics:
Moroccan Brisket with Olives, Tomato Sauce
Apricot Pistachio Charoset
Kishke (which I was MUCH happier about before looking it up on Wikipedia--schmaltz??? I ate schmaltz?!!?)
Egg-Matzo Crackers
He'brew Beer
Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Everything turned out marvelously despite a few misteps; apparently there is both Kosher and Passover Kosher and I made the gentilian mistake of getting egg-matzoh which apparently is intended for the elderly, ill or infantile---which in a pinch most those present could have qualified for!! It was Bosco's first brisket and it was supreme....this is from a gal who never met a cow she didn't dislike! Upon telling his mother he was making brisket for Passover, I think she cried into the phone a little bit with pride. The other "mistep" was actually intentional as no one had the stomach for kosher wine, so between the choice of non-kosher wine and kosher (but not Passover kosher) beer, we wisely decided on the beer.

After stuffing ourselves with the ritual feast, we settled in to view "When Do We Eat?" a little indie film about a dysfunctional family's Seder that takes a turn for the bizarre when one of the sons slips his Dad a tab of ecstasy to bring a new "perspective" to things. It is quite funny as the premise suggests, but don't go into it expecting slapstick humor....it's more of a tongue-in-cheek holding up of the ridiculousness that family gatherings tend to breed; religious or secular.

Also, for your Passover week amusement (and for my favorite Parrothead, K!) this little video ditty "Manischewitzville"

Monday, April 02, 2007

Lefse, Lingonberries and Lutefisk, Oh My!

Well, it's official! I just hung up the phone with the movers and I will no longer be a resident of Chicago's illustrious "Boystown" neighborhood as of April 26th.

Even more of interest to some, this is not a solo moving project. Mr. Bosco will be joining me a mere 16days or so later as a roomie in a delightful 3 bedroom graystone 4-flat located in the picturesque Scandinavian neighborhood of Andersonville.

This prospect leaves me quite excited and also with a pit in my stomach. I am thrilled to up my servings of Bosco per week, as at present it is a royal pain to hike up to his current building after a hectic day, frantic workout and thrown together supper....not that he doesn't join me at my abode some evenings, but then it's a lightning-round cleaning session on top of the aforementioned tasks!

It makes a heck of a lot of sense too as we've been dating exclusively for almost 2.5years and are very much of the advanced age than any future formalization of this arrangement would be out of pocket....rough estimates put our combined savings at $6000-$7000 for the year, nothing to sneeze at for sure!

The pit, however, is that while I've informed my parents that I'm moving, I have not yet mentioned that it's into a house with Bosco. I have as the colloquially put it, "shacked" up with someone in the past and mentioning that to my mother went remarkably poorly and resulted in a tap-dance shifting of people and beds every visit to satisfy her puritanical views and insistence my father's cardiac welfare would be diminished if he were to find out.

The former actions are not something I'm willing to go through again, and while "for appearances" there are 2-non-office rooms, that is mostly due to the fact we both have a fair amount of stuff and having another bedroom allows me to keep my bed; a plush $1500plus Stearns & Foster that fell into my lap from off M's moving truck. It makes for a fabulous guest room and place for the second TV, assuring that I will not be submitted to any more Red Sox games than are necessary!

I am fairly positive things will go badly oncemore, and I will either be unequivably disowned and designated familas non gratis or the visits will stop and I will be making many flights to Minnesota to make-up for them not being able to visit the 'rents for whatever reason my mother dreams up. Bosco will not be sacrificed. Period. Even if it was an option, he is a legal resident of that premise bound by a lease and responsible for 50% of everything (unlike the previous situation in which I was the legal resident and the payee of most bills).

It makes for a nail-biter of a Spring, and I have never been one to claim my life is too dull. For now, all those typical clichés are running through my head "Que Sera Sera" " What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" "No guts, no glory" "There is nothing to fear but fear itself" "That's what friends are for"...yikes, there shall be NO Dionne Warwick in my world, I must retreat dear readers and put on something soothing, methinks some nice old fashioned Urge Overkill is in order....loudly of course, to scare off the rental agent who has shown my place 17times in the last 3 weeks; twice on Friday!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Empress's New Clothes

This past Wednesday taught me that there IS in fact such a thing as a wardrobe malfunction; the fact that I now share a common bond with Janet Jackson is a bit disconcerting though!

It all began with the fabulousness that is the Chicago Transit Authority, oncemore they managed to fail to move a train on a track from North to South in a timely manner, so much so I was running 12minutes late despite having left early.

Knowing that I had a big deadline at 10am, upon arrival I channeled my inner Harold Abrahams and tore out of the station with great speed. Reaching Michigan Avenue, I heard a ripping sound and felt suddenly very loose and very bouncy. Having been so busy at work, laundry had piled up and I was to the bottom of my lingerie drawer, and this day I was forced to wear an old front-closure bra that had seen better days. The little slot the metal clasp slips into had ripped and my gals were sudddenly freer than had they attended a 1960s morning bra-burning.

Such the dedicated worker-bee, I hustled quickely up the elevator and into the well-placed ladies room outside the main office front doors. After assesing the situtation, I attempted to snag the clasp through a thin part of the fabric with some limited success. Buttoning up my shirt I felt a great sense of relief......until two of the buttons on my shirt fell off.

Some folks might find this an excellent time to skulk off into the elevator and place a sick call, but not I! Steadfast, I strolled casually into the office, coat on and shoulders hunched together. Switching up my morning routine, I gathered coffee and a mineral water first and then hunkered down at my desk, slyly slipping my coat onto the back of my chair and slouching.

This worked remarkbly well, and, with the exception of an odd look for wearing my coat to the bathroom on one occasion, seemed to fool the office folks. Lunchtime finally came around and I scurried over to the Target that was thankfully located a mere 4 blocks away. Once there, I located a new bra, new top (oh, did I mention there was also an evening function immediately after work I neeeded to attend? and no time to stop home in between for a new frock!) and a set of safety pins.

Changing in the Target bathroom like a desparate woman, I ripped the tags off the new bra and commenced pinning together my blouse; the charade would be spoiled if I had to explain why I had a different top on when returning to work!

Amazingly, nothing else went wrong the rest of the afternoon and I easily crept back to the restroom at the end of the day to change into my fresh evening attire. The event I attended was unfortunately boring, long and short on food and beverage....but, at least no one was the wiser that I had a broken shirt in my bag.

What of the bra? That would have been left in a garbage can on State/Roosevelt, to avoid any temptation I may have had to repair it when returning home...I think after a 3rd wardrobe malfunction the FCC now puts you in mandatory wardrobe rehab with Janet, Britney and Tara Reid as your counselors!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Let's Get Physical!

As it is getting close to Spring cycling training (my calendar's opinion only at this point), this past weekend was spent practicing carb-intake at Duffy's brunch, shopping for athletic shoes and researching exercises that prevent common cycling afflictions.

While brunch went off without a hitch, shopping for shoes was a torment up there with Top 40 music, making spring rolls and riding the CTA (loud, putzy and pointless). In both stores we patronized, Mr. Bosco found shoes immediately and was ready to go. Your beloved writer, however, tried on no less than 30 pairs with little, if any success. The final two contestants were Nike, a brand that has never fit my foot before and about as ugly as shoes can be. Not that I'm particularly finicky when it comes to the look of my trainers; when one has flat feet and ankles that are more for show than bodily support, fashion is rarely even a blip on my consideration radar. But these 2 were really especiallitrocious--#1 was silver patent pleather with fluorescent pink accents and #2 looked like Michael Jordan had some bad sushi and puked all over them. As they both felt superb on my foot (and passed hopping, jumping and running all over the store), I went with #2 as it was a tad cheaper and a smidge less ugly.

Errands having been run, I returned home to do a little housekeeping and kill some time on the 'puter. Tempted to see what others thought of my new fugly shoes, I googled them--a big mistake. There was only two hits not related to shopping or pricing; one from a PETA site which had them on a list of acceptable shoes containing no animal products (who-hoo, my shoes are vegan!) and the second from some foot guru condemning them as a marketing gimmick to sell to the department stores and resolution runners that will return to their box of moon-pies within a month. Disheartened, I showed up as Bosco's last night frantic that I would again have to search and try on more shoes in an endless cycle of podiatricks. Thankfully, he encouraged me to come bad into the land of sanity and realize that 6 miles a week does not a runner make, the shoes fit and make my feet happy, and most importantly, to never, ever, EVER google my shoes again.

Lastly, in WTFWTT news, a little gem I discovered while researching preventive stretching. Talk amongst yourselves!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Quite literally, as the above snapshot was from this past weekend's Chocolate Fest @ The Garfield Park Conservatory, an annual event brimming to the rim with caffeinated goodies.

Unfortunately, most of their cacao trees were feeling quite brown and under the weather, so the Ladies L-squared and I settled for this slightly frightening giant seed pod from the children's section of the plant exhibits--then again, with all food additives and growth hormones floating about our food supply willy-nilly, it could be quite realistic in a few years!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

All You Need is Gloves...

No, the above picture is not a modern art installation purchased at auction from some reclusive outsider artist just discovered in the Shawangunk Mountains....it is merely photographic evidence of what I've been reduced to.
One of my most irritating tendencies is the knack of repeatedly losing my winter gloves, a habit that started soon after those cute little kiddie klips were removed from my mittens in 1983. But, after numerous years and $$ spent in the hundreds, I've decided it finally has to end.

This declaration actually came at the end of last year when I lost a lovely pair of Thinsulate red gloves in February. A brief stay of embarrassment was granted, however, as Bosco, hearing my rants had ran out to procure an even lovelier robin's egg blue fleece pair to surprise me that frigid night....it seemed such a shame to shackle them, so I decided to give myself a pardon and was sure losing the thoughtful gift was impossible.

Alas, they were sucked into the great glove ephemera sometime around the end of last March, and oncemore I was intent on keeping the next pair of gloves I purchased no matter how ridiculous the means. Yet again I was foiled, as this past October my mother sent me a sleek pair of black suede darlings. It seemed that they were less bulkier than previous pairs and thus had a good life expectancy--shackling them would only break their spirit! Do I even need to write that Mr. Left was abandoned at a furniture store in Niles, IL due to my rather exuberant hopping on couches? A new pair were quickly purchased at a nearby Target on clearance and were on the road to being hung as soon as I returned home. It having been one of those weeks where breathing becomes optional, I didn't get around to this immediately and instead have now managed to almost lose them 3 times over the past 2 weeks the last involving a panicky sprint back to a local Italian eatery before the busboy got a nice warm additional tip. But, the recent cold snap and dwindling or non-existent stock of gloves at the local store has scared me straight and the harnessing commenced this morning.

So, I'm 32 years old and yet again find my gloves on a string, it's unclear if this qualifies as poetic or tragic!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Suffering from Morning After Coulrophobia

Last night's 2007 State of the Union was indeed the clownfest that it promised to be and I am relieved that it is almost the last of this presidency.

As Mr. Bush decided not to actually discuss the State of our Union, I decided to not exactly listen and instead participated in a delightfully amusing MST3K commentary with Bosco. Here's two of our favorite "discoveries":

1. The mysterious silver thing in the right of the frame. While I know it's a hideously tacky inkwell, we did come up with a few other "uses" including:
1) Neo-Edwardian Water Bong---Pelosi's from San Fran, right?
2) Moonshine Still---dispenses hooch shots to keep Kennedy awake.
3) Cheney's Defibrillator---Pumps oil, not hearts.



And secondly, the discovery that when she assumes her look of "serious determination" or "extreme angst" Condoleeza Rice bears a striking resemblance to either Lurch from "The Addams Family" or the Geico Insurance caveman---she does know she works for and supports Bush? Perhaps it's just bad lighting in the Senate, someone should look into that!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Your Übershop Rocks!

Let it be said that I am THRILLED to hand out kudos to a company with decent customer service, which is about as rare as a three-toed snipe these days.

The company up for my plaudits is the self-proclaimed "übershop" spreadshirt.com

As a special christmakkah present for the Good Lady L, it was determined that she was in dire need of wearable support of the constitutional Establishment Clause and a big old "pppphhhhbbbtttt" to the Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin Boards of Education's hopefully just temporary insanity. (An aside, there are waaayyyyy to many states on that list....here is the most current list of actions or potential ID/anti-evolution legislation I could find).
Anywho, the lovely Flying Spaghetti Monster/Pastafarian shirt I ordered was caught amidst all the holiday kafaffle and was not expected to arrive until after the holidays; this being a-ok as I was not to see the Good Lady until closer to the new year. Much waiting commenced, and I did finally receive an invoice for my order...but no order! I dialed up customer service expecting the typical cop-out of "nothing they could do", "not their problem", "better luck next time" or the general malaise that seems to have infected the entire customer service populous.

Happily, I was wrong! The sales rep I spoke to was pleasant and very apologetic, he assured me that, these things did happen occasionally during busy times and it was probably the company's fault. He also offered to re-order my item and upgrade my shipping at no extra charge. Needless to say I was flabbergasted! Admitting blame? Doing whatever they could to make me the customer happy? I thought this sort of service had gone the way of the dodo.

So a round of applause to spreadshirt.com for standing behind your company and product, you are übercool in my book!

Monday, January 08, 2007

You can call him Ray, or you can call him Jay....

According to dictionary.com, nicknames are defined as “a name added to or substituted for the proper name of a person, place, etc., as in affection, ridicule, or familiarity ie: He has always loathed his nickname of “Whizzer.” or a familiar form of a proper name, as Jim for James and Peg for Margaret.”

This practice is far from being a byproduct of today’s fast-paced society and dates back to even Viking societies around 900 A.D. A passage from vikinganswerlady.com:

“People were sometimes called by heiti, uppnefi, or viðrnefni (bynames or nicknames). These nicknames were rarely, if ever, used by the person themselves, and almost never used to the person’s face. You were tagged by your friends (or enemies) with a byname. This becomes painfully obvious when you look at the historical bynames we have recorded. They are invariably descriptive, and mostly derogatory in some way, though a few denote desirable traits the person was known for.”

In my lifetime, I have been “tagged” seven times:

1. J.R.: My first nickname, culled together by my maternal grandfather upon pondering my monogram. It stuck and to this day the majority of my mother’s family calls me by this.....I wonder if some can even remember what the letters stand for these many years later.

2. Jenny/ Jenni: I was first dubbed Jenny with a “y” by a 1st grade teacher who must have been lazy with paperwork and also sat me next to the other Jenny in the class. It switched to “i” around 4th grade when I read “A Door in the Wall” by Marguerite De Angeli and discovered to my horror that “Jenny” was also commonly used in the medieval ages to refer to female donkeys. I had never really liked the shortening of my name and just went with the flow for far too many years, finally putting a nail in this one freshman year of college....new friends being much easier to train to a new name!

3. Ned: Early in middle school several friends and I had a nasty note passing habit, which caused us all to take nome de plumes to avoid both classmate and teacher interceptions. AS was “Frank” after a college guy she had a crush on, AF was “George” after her fanatical obsession with George Michael and I? I didn’t have any idea what to pick and no boy crush/obsession that was practical to use. So, AS dubbed me “Ned” after Ned Nickerson, Nancy Drew’s boyfriend.

4. Kibblebutt: College also brought about this lovely one, courtesy of a creative K&D and a really homophobic Perkins waiter. Though only D ever called me this officially, it does live on in my Yahoo! email which K (a tech major) set up at the beginning of the Internet rage in ‘93.


5. Good Lady/Ankles: These both came about quite recently and coincidentally both were given to me by a pair of my friends who are roomies. "Ankles" came from K who has an unhealthy obsession with my pitifully weak, but apparently strangely erotic lower twin joints. “Good Lady” is from L who refuses to part with Ye Olde English and yearns for a return to proper etiquette and speech in the King’s manner.

It is actually etiquette that this post was to be about, and the above a mere exercise to calm me down enough to get to the heart of things.

There is a certain post on a certain blog that gets a little too cozy and loose with my dear Bosco’s various monikers. (I shall not link to the aforementioned, as I do not want a flame war, nor do I wish to give the author any additional traffic).

This all started over a Superbowl party invite, in which the nincompoop in question decided to not laud the pleasant aspects of his party, bountifulness of his buffet or sheer vastness of his widescreen TV, but instead used his evite to make fun of my Bosco, his party and call into question his treatment of people. (Bosco sent his invite out 2 months ago, and included "Poopie"). Several people who were on both guest lists called the nincompoop or “Poopie” out on his crassness and suggested he should show more tack, everyone being well-evolved out of high school at this point.

“Poopie” decided to not heed their wise advice and to go on the offensive and blog about the whole event, in which he refers to Bosco by his full name as well as a derogatory nickname several times throughout the entry. This is incredibly crude in this day and age where everyone can search everything; especially employers, government agencies and other institutions that would potentially perform a ‘net “background check”. It is my policy that I do not use a friend or family member’s name in an entry unless I have OK’d it with them.....and this seems to be the policy of most bloggers, “Poopie” has done the electronic equivalent of walking up to Bosco and flicking boogers at him.

Adding insult to injury, “Poopie” wasn’t even around when the nickname he decided to co-opt came about, and in his description completely misses the true intention behind the very inside joke between a few close friends. The nickname in question never really bothered me before, heck I didn’t really consider it as it was used sparingly in a kidding manner by our close friends who really adore Bosco. In the mouth of “Poopie” it comes off smug and flippant and is quite belittling; he even admits to needing this as a way to differentiate between the many Bosco’s he knows.

TOUGH S*IT! Type the extra line and make stories a little longer or ramble on the 2 seconds more it will take to explain who it is specifically you were referring to. You insulted and called into question the character of the man I love deeply and who would move mountains or crush obstacles for any of his friends in a heartbeat!!!

As to your complaint of the “exclusivity” of the guest list, anyone that lives in Chicago knows that a city apartment is rarely spacious and one does need to show a little restraint when putting together a party to get both a good mix of people and not exceed very real square footage capacity. (A lesson I learned quite well last year after trying to cram 25 people into barely 250ft of living area). A Superbowl “house” party is not the same as one in a bar and the goal is not to invite everyone you have ever met.

Bottom line? I’d suggest that "Poopie's" mouth stops writing checks his etiquette and logic starved brain cannot cash. You mess with Bosco, you mess with me and you’ll be wishing for hell’s fury if you continue these sophomoric actions in an attempt to be Little Mister Popular or Prom Queen or whatever your angle is here.
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