Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Herewith, my annual list of scary things.

1. Yesterday's five o'clock realization that I'd forgotten to apply deodorant that morning.

2. Toilets that flush forcefully and automatically, quite often when one is still perched upon them.

3. My meeting later today with my new personal trainer, who will be revealing my "metabolic age." (Please, please don't let it be older than 29.)

4. The amount of bubble wrap that certain people find necessary to protect a thimble-sized sample of cheap perfume. The environment cannot sustain my FedEx intake!

5. The CTA's "Doomsday" fare hike/route-slashing scenarios, which I suspect continue to be publicized not because of the lack of state funding but because everyone enjoys the word "doomsday" so intensely.

6. The moment when one's cell phone—which is by no means protected by Sprint's scam of an equipment replacement program—hovers in midair before plummeting with a sickening SMACK to the concrete below.

7. Reviewing my online bank statement and counting the number of times the words "Potbelly's" and "Chipotle" appear on the list of charges.

8. The moment in the hairstylist's chair when the following conversation inevitably occurs:

"How much do you want to take off?"
"Just an inch or two. You know, a trim."
"I think we could go a little more than that. There's a lot of hair here."
"Yeah, but I still want to keep it long."
"But we could do more layers."

9. Pulling an armload of clothes from the flaming hot industrial-strength dryer, only to discover a pair of already-somewhat-snug, lay-flat-to-dry jeans in the mix.

10. One day, Black Beauty will die. Then what?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A World of Opportunity

Last Friday I saw one of the most enlightening TV commercials ever aired, and since then I've been waiting and waiting for them to play it again so I can be sure I wasn't hallucinating. But it's starting to seem like that commercial was a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity, so I'll go ahead and impart its wisdom in a message to all of my current, former and future interns, as well as to my little sister Liv:

If you want a fun job where you get to spend time with your friends, travel, work in magazines and be on TV, then hear this: there is NO REASON to go to college. Who needs the stress? Who needs the 30-year student loan repayment plans? The solution to your life's ambitions can be found in one elegantly suggestive two-syllable word: Hooters.

That's right, ladies, the Hooters restaurant chain is on the prowl for reliable new employees. In the recruitment commercial (aired on E! during a rerun of The Girls Next Door), an optimistic college student visits her guidance counselor and describes the qualities she's looking for in a grownup job (fun, magazines, travel, friends, etc.). The counselor gets in just one derisive snort before the co-ed suddenly remembers Hooters and flounces out, ready to begin her new life.

And why not? Hooters has a lot to offer. For one thing, you get unlimited free tube socks. You get a meal plan that includes all the wings you can eat (the resulting cellulite is easily hidden by flesh-toned dance tights), and one voucher per year for a round-trip ticket to Vegas on Hooters Airlines (you do have to serve peanuts during the flight).

It's too late for me to get on the Hooters fast track, since I already went to college and developed a wrinkle on my forehead. Plus, orange isn't really my color. But it's a pretty sweet deal, so all I'm saying to the next generation is: give it some thought.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Family Ties

My family and friends are a bunch of excellent people, they really are. Creative, soulful, funny, gossipy, good with dogs, and of course, great hair—basically they have it all. But if for some reason I was forced to trade them in for characters from my current rotation of favorite reality TV shows, my list would go something like this:

Dad: Hands down, the coolest dad on TV right now is Rev Run of Run's House on MTV. Who wouldn't respect a man who texts inspirational messages to his congregation while soaking in bubble baths? Also, it was great when he proved an important point by dressing up in a gorilla suit to pick Russy up at the bus stop, after Russy complained of embarrassment over the family Bentley (I used to feel that way about the Drury Volkswagen Vanagon, until the hippie kids told me it was awesome and begged to buy it off us).

Mom: Oprah. Even though she's never been a mom, she'd obviously be good at the job. If there were a McDonald's-esque sign outside the Harpo studios advertising Oprah's maternal-style successes, it would read: "Billions nurtured!"

Big Sister: Definitely Leila Ali from Dancing With the Stars. She would totally have my back and beat up any toolbags who dared cross me.

Boyfriend: Clearly, Ian Ziering of Dancing With the Stars (and 90210) fame. Did you see how sweet he was with Cheryl, his dancing partner, when they got voted off last night? He kept giving her all the credit for how far they made it in the competition and slipping in favorable comments about her looks. He also gave her numerous lingering hugs. I swear there's something going on there.

Little Sister: For this I'll go with American Idol's Jordin Sparks. She's sassy, but not bratty. Plus, family members always get to be in the American Idol audience.

Little Brother: I'm used to the "wild child" variety of brother (and I mean that ever so affectionately, LCD), so I'd probably have to go with Jason Wahler, the bad boy of Laguna Beach. Granted, he's an insufferable a-hole, but he'd be a cute addition to the family. I probably could've set him straight before he ended up with an extended jail sentence.

Best Friend: Ryan Seacrest. Due to his apparent asexual status and the fact that I would still be shorter than him in heels, we could carry on a completely platonic relationship in which I would be his standby date for the Grammy's, the Oscars, the American Idol wrap party, etc.

P.S. This morning I had a bit of a confrontation with a transient who was feeding Rainbo bread to the geese and their little chicks in the park. This is a strictly forbidden activity, and there are plenty of signs indicating as much. Anyway, as I approached the feeding frenzy, there were so many giant birds blocking my path I feared for my life. I literally could not pass, so I pointedly removed one of my Ultimate Ears UE-5 professional mold earphones and noted sternly: "This is ridiculous."

"It's Nature," the man replied.

"Well," I huffed, concealing my terror as I navigated the throng of flying feathers and ominous-looking beaks. "They're SUPPOSED to be in Canada!"

Who knows if that's true, but it sounded great. They are, after all, Canadian geese.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Blue-Eyed Girls

Like most people, I spent the last few hours of Easter Sunday flipping back and forth between an episode of Run's House on MTV2 and the Family Channel's presentation of one of my Top 10 favorite movies of all time, The Sound of Music. I figured it was an Eastery lineup because Reverend Run, after all, is a man of the cloth, and The Sound of Music is all about morals and family bonding.

I'm always enthralled by the scene in which Liesel sneaks out to meet young Rolf for a midnight rendezvous on the grounds of the Von Trapp family estate. Rolf, though clearly a controlling a-hole in the making, is unbelievably dashing as he twirls Liesel around the conservatory, where she leaps like a unicorn from bench to bench in her pink chiffon dress. I can't say the lyrics of their little serenade hit home for me—particularly when Liesel sings, "I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do" (um, no thanks)—but if they would just dub in a nice Oasis remake from The O.C. soundtrack and put Rolf in a linen suit instead of that Nazi uniform, the encounter would play out to near perfection.

It was that scene featuring the ocean-eyed Liesel that led directly to my ill-advised quest for non-prescription color contact lenses during the summer before my sophomore year of college. My sister Claire and I spent a blazing hot afternoon driving from Lens Crafters to Lens Crafters in my un-air-conditioned sauna of a car (Black Beauty #1), desperately seeking an ophthalmologist cool enough to sell us blue contacts on the spot so we could wear them to a raging keg party at my apartment later that night.

We finally finagled a few pairs at a price we could ill afford ($60), and we giddily made our way home to see how great we would look. After about 45 minutes of wide blinking and painful eye watering, we concluded that we did indeed look fantastic. We completed the effect with just a few pounds of eyeliner and mascara. (In retrospect, I'm not sure one could draw a direct comparison between us and Liesel...Marilyn Manson, now that I can see.)

There were a few hours of carefree blue-eyed fun, made all the merrier by the fact that we were taking shots of wine from a cardboard box throughout the evening. But in the end, the experiment failed because A. I couldn't see shit and B. I find it impossible to touch my own eyeball. The prized baby blues dried up in their case and that, darlings, was the end of that.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Two by Two

Ah, Sundays in Chicago. Couples' day. The one day of the week when the city suddenly becomes a modern-day Noah's Ark, and every activity is performed in pairs. Two by two they hold hands and stroll down the sun-dappled streets. Two by two they ride bikes on the lake and wait in hours-long lines to share omelets at neighborhood brunch spots. Two by two they slurp Starbucks and march through the park clutching leashes attached to pairs of drooling pugs. The city is a commercial come to life. Love is all around. It's just too adorable for words—that is, until you witness the one pastime that always sends me straight over the edge: couples' jogging. The matching outfits (MICHIGAN. HARVARD. PURDUE.). The sweaty stoplight shoulder massages. The out-of-breath pep talks about picking up dog food at Petco and painting the guest room in the new condo. It is all much, much too much.

In other news, I've been working on a thank-you note that I intend to send to Tara Connor, the outgoing Miss USA who, incidentally, hails from my home state of Kentucky. Let me know if you think this is OK:

Dear Tara,

Thank you for using your reign as Miss USA to show the world exactly what kind of nice girls are born and bred in Kentucky. As you know, the Bluegrass State sometimes gets a bad rap. For instance, I'll never forget the first time I saw the movie Clueless and heard Alicia Silverstone say (in reference to teenage brides): "As if! This is California, not Kentucky!"

But, despite your highly publicized stint in rehab and other Spearsian antics, overall you have represented our state well. The Donald was right to give you a second chance instead of stripping you of your sash. I was impressed by your graciousness last Friday night during the telecast of the 2007 Miss USA pageant, when you had the difficult task of passing on your cultured-pearl crown to a new American princess. Remember when you were hanging out with the girls backstage and you gave the camera a sideways peace sign and said, "Word?" I could tell it made everyone feel more relaxed, and in my opinion, that moment was a significant indicator of just how cosmopolitan Kentucky has become in recent years.

And even though I'm not sure if they should become your trademark, you took a real risk by getting those shaggy bangs. Although truthfully—and I mean this in the most helpful way possible—you kind of looked like a kitten who'd just escaped from a pillowcase thrown in the pond out back.

Anyway, have a nice year. Take some time off. You deserve it.

Yours truly,
A fellow Kentuckian

Friday, February 23, 2007

MTV Guide

Due to the aforementioned unpleasant weather conditions in the city of Chicago, I've been watching highly detrimental quantities of MTV. In fact, studies show that my brain has withered to half its normal size over the month of February. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that there's a lot more to MTV programming than the TV Guide capsule descriptions imply.

As a latecomer to the realm of digital cable, I remain fascinated with the control-it-yourself TV Guide feature and the "Info" button, which allows one to read the premise of a show before it is aired. But, if I were allowed to write the "Info" for some of the MTV shows I watch regularly (OK, repeatedly), I would really try to get my facts straight. See below.


TV Guide premise: Teens plan elaborate 16th-birthday parties.

Emma's premise: Suburban youths make regrettable formalwear selections and emulate gangsta behaviorisms/porn-inspired dance moves at parties costing more than it will take to elect a new president in 2008.


TV Guide premise: A reality series following Lauren Conrad from 'Laguna Beach' as she moves to Los Angeles, where she tries to break into the fashion industry, starting with an internship at Teen Vogue.

Emma's premise: A succession of blondes in designer sunglasses pine over unattractive sub-par love interests and practice the art of the long pause.


TV Guide premise: A reality series following the lives of seven young people in Kaanapali, Maui.

Emma's premise: Against a lush tropical backdrop, people tanned to the point of crackling and in severe need of Blistex engage in elementary relationship-oriented dialogue using such key phrases as "I'm like, way bummed," "I'm super stoked," and "are you sad?"


TV Guide premise: Following young engaged couples (ages 18-21) in the final weeks before their weddings.

Emma's premise: Mere children don bridal attire and make public declarations of love to fiancées for whom they have previously expressed extreme dislike.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Every Millisecond Counts (Conversational Shortcuts)

For those of you who can't be bothered to utter complete words in everyday conversation, please refer to this list of my favorite and most often used acronyms:

T.C. = Time Check OR Temperature Check
Usage 1: "Isn't American Idol coming on any minute now? Let's get a T.C., please."
Usage 2: "I know! Let's go around the circle and guess how cold it is outside; then we'll turn on the Weather Channel for a T.C.!"
Usage 3 (advanced): [To person with remote] "Can I get a T.C. on channel 96 and a T.C. on 99?"

P.T.H. = Ponytail Holder
Usage: "My hair's suffocating me to death. Does anyone have an extra P.T.H.?"

G.C. = Good Call
Usage: "Let's stop at Starbucks for hot apple ciders." "Oh, G.C."

V.R. = Volume Reduction
Usage: "Good Lord, I'm trying to concentrate on my crossword puzzle! Let's get a V.R. on that State of the Union address!"

V.I. = Volume Increase
Usage: "Are we watching this or not? V.I., please! I can't tell if they said Marissa DIED or she needs a RIDE."

B.T.S. = Back to Sleep
Usage: "My insomnia was so bad last night I was forced to watch an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County to help me get B.T.S."

R.O. = Roll Out
Usage: "I can't listen to that Beyonce song again, and plus, my feet hurt. It's time to R.O."

G.P. = General Public OR Gently Priced
Usage 1: "There's no way I'm paying cover. That is sooo G.P."
Usage 2: Q. "What kind of wine should I get?" A. "Just grab something G.P."
Usage 3 (advanced): Q. "Where should we go for dinner?" A. "I'm in the market for somewhere G.P. but not too G.P."

Monday, January 1, 2007

To Do and Not To Do

Well, another New Year's Eve come and gone. I honestly have no idea how anyone lives up to the pressure to have so much Fun! Fun! Fun!, seeing as it's a close second to Valentine's Day for Most Overrated Night of the Year. But, rather than relive fiascos of New Year's Eves past (fights, tears, hours spent waiting for cabs, bad champagne, itchy sparkle sweaters, etc.), I think we'd all be better off with a few lists:

Five Things I Shall Do in 2007
1. Eat strawberries straight off the vine (something I just had an uncontrollable craving for due to the fact that I'm drinking a raspberry-apple Vitamin Water, which is somewhat reminiscent of a melted strawberry smoothie).
2. Go on a trip that does not involve taking Lake Shore Drive South to I-55; then 90/94 to Indiana; then the Indiana Toll Road to I-65 South; remaining on I-65 South through Indianapolis and stopping at O'Charley's for a chicken salad; counting down the last 100 miles; and taking I-71 to the Zorn Avenue exit in Louisville.
3. Wear colors other than black.
4. Pay off my Bloomingdale's and other similar charge accounts and shred the cards into a million little pieces.
5. Somehow, some way, get tickets to Oprah.

Five Things I Shall Not Do in 2007
1. Stare at various illuminated screens for more than half of a 16-hour day.
2. Forget people's names immediately upon meeting them.
3. Live under the assumption that people who have met me more than three times do not know my name.
4. Answer 4AM calls from notorious drunk dialers, especially on weeknights.
5. Become addicted to an array of new and incredibly tempting MTV programming, including shows with such titles as "I'm From Rolling Stone" and "Maui Fever."

Five Things I'm Not Desperate to Do Ever Again
1. Eat at Steak & Shake.
2. Forget there's a large but hidden hole in the floorboard of my car; take car through the automatic carwash with the "undercarriage spray" option; spend the next two days waiting for the bubbles to recede.
3. Be startled awake and momentarily placed under the impression that the city is under siege when my upstairs neighbor drops what are probably 50-lb. blocks of steel onto the floor directly above my head at 3:23AM.
4. Pay $75 for a single bag of groceries at Whole Foods.
5. Stand on my bed, frantically trying to hold the vacuum close enough to the ceiling so that it sucks up a swift-moving, 8-billion-legged centipede before the insect can fall on me in the dark and take refuge in my hair.