Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Miniature Horse, Of Course

Today I spent the entire day reading an entire book. Nothing too intellectual, just a frothy novel about a champagne vineyard in France and three sisters who couldn't get along until a Gypsy showed up and straightened them out. The most intriguing character was their pet, a dwarf miniature horse named Cochon (French for pig). Having never heard of dwarf miniature horses (tinier, even, than a regular miniature horse), I immediately Googled them and learned they are sometimes put into service in the manner of seeing eye dogs. Fascinating. I always think about how fun it might (or might not) be to get a puppy, but I think I could definitely be the talk of the neighborhood with a dwarf miniature horse following me around on his little hooves.

Anyway, I needed to take it easy today because for the past week I've been kickin' it in Kentucky, gettin' buzzed on bourbon balls, shootin' the s$%! with a variety of family members and researchin' a new breed of cool kids who appear to be taking over the town: Hillbilly Hipsters (my own term, don't you love it?). I tell you what, they're a slightly standoffish crowd, and I pretty much feel like an uptight supernerd around them. I never did come up with quite the right outfit to properly infiltrate (my hair is waaaayyy too shiny for that scene), but I did manage to take some pretty revealing notes, which you won't find here since I'd rather work them into a story for a paying media outlet.

While in Louisville I had one breakfast at my favorite restaurant, Waffle House. Atmosphere-wise, that place has really taken it up a notch since the smoking ban kicked in. One new thing I discovered at Waffle House is that I don't need to order the double waffle, ever. It's just too much dough. I also noticed a line of fine print on the menu that I'd never seen before: "Thank you! You had a choice and you chose Waffle House. Please send comments to..." followed by an address. I always try to comment whenever possible, so I started thinking about what I might say. Basically, I'd be full of compliments. Good waffles. Crispy hash browns. Exceptionally friendly service. I like watching the line cooks work the grill. My only advice would be that Top 40 music should not be allowed on Waffle House juke boxes. Only oldies and country.

Meanwhile, I defy you all to lead me to a more outstanding fast food establishment than the Chick-fil-A at exit 172 off I-65 in Lafayette, Indiana. I mean, give me a break. It's fabulosity defined. Sparkling clean, with delectable waffle fries and employees who seem genuinely delighted to be serving up chicken sandwiches. It's also a great place to stock up on my favorite low-fat mayonnaise packets, which I carry in my purse at all times. They're not open on Sundays because the Chick-fil-A corporation believes in a day of rest, so I sometimes have to reschedule my drive to a Monday morning so I don't miss out.

P.S. The highlight of Christmas Day was when my sister Claire brought one of those spiky head massagers to dinner at my grandparents' house. In a rare episode of bonding among all factions of the family, we passed it up and down the 20-seat table, each person massaging the next one's head. Even Sammy, our golden retriever, got his head raked. It was a very warm moment.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

30 Going On 13

Last weekend, I was watching the enchanting Jennifer Garner flick 13 Going On 30 (it was part of a movie marathon that included two other favorites guaranteed to drive any man away, In Her Shoes and Something's Gotta Give), and thinking I really ought to star in the sequel, 30 Going On 13.

When I was 13, I was a very powerful eighth-grader at Crosby Middle School. I was the number-one flute player in the school (duh), and my band teacher and I even had a special whistle. (Mr. Dennis Anderson was possibly the best teacher of my entire public school career and beyond, and I sincerely wish I'd called him up and told him that before it was too late.) My on-again, off-again love interest was a bad boy named Brandon with a floppy blond bowl-cut, and I never found his antics anything but 100% amusing. Most of our romance played out in the back of Jefferson County Schools bus #411, but he was an excellent folder of notes and he did jump off my parents' balcony to impress me once.

Anywho, if I could lend my 30-year-old brain to my 13-year-old self for a week or so, there are a few things I could easily accomplish:

1. Since my most cherished activity of all time is staring out the window, I would stage a walkout at Crosby Middle School, a stinking brown blob of a building designed in the '70s when the presence of windows was considered a menacing distraction for students. Little did those idiot architects know how many perfectly coherent sentences I would dream up while staring out of windows later in life.

2. I would provide myself with many deadly comebacks and various other knee-as-weapon moves to use on the vast array of young men who found it endlessly entertaining to suggest I was on the fast track to a successful career at Hooter's.

3. I would strongly advise myself against being dragged to Christian rock concerts and stadium revivals by various friends' mothers, who clearly thought I needed Saving. I mean, how close did I come to being brainwashed?! Well, not very.

4. I would throw away any jars of Noxema facial cleansing mousse that may have been lying around our house at the time. Noxema is the most drying chemical agent on earth.

P.S. I am SO MEAN to telemarketers who mispronounce my name. It really gets me going.

Telemarketer: (Long crackling pause): "Hello, is this Mrs. A-muh-lee Drew-key?"
Me: "No."
Telemarketer: "With whom am I speaking?"
Me: "Amalie Drury."
Telemarketer: "Well, Mrs. Drew-key,"
Me: "I'm sorry, but do you see a "k" anywhere in the spelling of my name?"
Telemarketer: "I see D-R-U-R-..."
Me: "So why do you keep saying it with a K? And what makes you think I'm married?"
Telemarketer: "I'm sorry, Mrs. Dur, I mean Drew..."
Me: "I think you've got the wrong person, and furthermore, I don't have enough cell phone minutes to indulge this conversation. Adios."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Manifesto Kind of Mood

Watching Jerry Maguire always puts me in a bit of a manifesto mood. You should have heard me up on my high horse last night, going on about high-rise living in a conversation with Jeff over a turkey burger at Marge's on Sedgwick. (Stay tuned for more on this topic in Jeff's upcoming book, Cool vs. Comfort: The Eternal Architectural Conundrum.) My passionate speech about the existential issues involved with living like stacked ants in overly imposing glass boxes reminded me of the intensity with which I used to approach my neighbor on Cherokee Road in Louisville to speak to him about his leaf-blower. Basically, I wanted him to:

1. Not blow leaves and sticks upon my freshly washed car, which was parked near his residence.
2. Not blow leaves when people were trying to get married in peace at the church across the street.
3. Not blow leaves when I was trying to study for the GRE.

The Quote of the Month goes to my friend Tim, who noted (upon having inadvertently attended the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Michigan Avenue):

"It looks like the suburbs exploded down there. Everyone was wearing Lucky jeans."

P.S. I go to a lot of trouble to text big words like "galavanting" and "cumulonimbus clouds," so please don't write back if your text vocabulary is limited to the letters R and U.

P.P.S. Happy birthday to my mammy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Am My Own Housewife

Today was my first official day at home, since I abruptly became someone who Works From Home. (Photo: Working from home.)

I awoke and asked myself, What now? Well, I said to me, you might as well make yourself an egg, just like always.

I turned on the TV and searched my DVR recordings for something to watch. I decided on last night’s episode of The Hills, which I couldn't view during its normal airtime due to the draining, gut-wrenching emotion of the Britney Spears documentary, which I’d watched for two hours beforehand.

About seven minutes into The Hills, my brain began to shut down. I snatched the remote and pressed the “last” button switch to TV in real time. What do you think was on? The Hills. The very same episode. The very same moment in the very same episode, the one where Spencer chastises Stephanie about visiting their Nana. Poor Nana. What toolbags she has for grandchildren.

Later, I proceeded to my gym, Equinox, one of the loveliest places to kill an hour or two while boosting one’s sense of self-righteousness. It was noon. I warily assessed the other worker-outers, assigning each of them an excuse to explain why they might have time to do lunges in the middle of the day.

At Whole Foods, I filled a cardboard cup with spicy gumbo. I waited patiently for chicken cutlets at the meat counter.

Back at my apartment, I said to myself, You ought to dust those baseboards. You should mop (without moping, mind you), and later, you’ll throw away that super-sized box of oatmeal that expired in 07. You can replace it with a box of Quaker’s new Weight Control oatmeal.

Meanwhile, who decides to market a product using the term “Weight Control?” There is a similar tagline for a certain section of the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, I’ve noticed. Weight Management. As if anyone wants to announce to a group of dining companions and the waiter: “Yes, I’d like the Weight Management Pear and Endive Salad, please.” Yeah. And a box of tampons, while you’re at it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Awkwardly Social (New People Suck)

MNP stands for Meet New People, which was the title of a party I attended last night at Landmark Grill + Lounge across from the Steppenwolf theater on Halsted Street. Prior to MNP I was at the Michael Kors opening at the 900 Shops, where I talked to roughly 15 of the 200-500 people I always talk to. Prior to that, I had a margherita pizza at Frankie’s Scallopini on the fifth floor.

MNP was not supposed to be a singles party, but upon arrival my friend Graham (who agreed to escort me so I wouldn’t have to meet new people by myself) took in the mostly female crowd and said: “Yep, smell that desperation in the air?” Later, when we were surveying the scene from the second-floor catwalk, we also detected a hint of tater tots and possibly a note of funnel cake.

Anywho, though we were sorely tempted to converse only amongst ourselves (like we do all day every day at work), we forced ourselves to seriously Meet New People. A sampling of the conversations that ensued:

Amalie & Graham, approaching party of three: Hi! Are you guys meeting new people?
Two guys & a girl: Yeah. None of us know each other.
A&G: Cool, where do you work?
(Banking, doctoring, and one other thing I can’t remember)
Graham, to doctor: What hospital do you work at?
Doctor: A children’s hospital.
Graham: How nice. What’s your favorite part of your job?
Doctor: The patients.

Amalie & Graham, approaching dude frantically texting on iPhone: Hi! Are you meeting new people?
iPhone dude: I’m waiting on someone I already know to bring me a drink.
Graham: Well, is this seat taken?
iPhone dude: My friend’s coming back. (Continues to text, fully ignoring further conversational attempts)

Amalie & Graham, approaching guy in blue shirt leaning on wall: Hi! Are you meeting new people?
Blue Shirt: No, I’m setting my watch.
A&G: Fascinating!
Blue Shirt (fidgeting): It’s kinetic. It’s powered off the movement of my body.
Amalie: Oh, I’ve never heard of that.
Blue Shirt (appalled): What, you don’t know how a Rolex works? (Runs away. I kid you not. Literally exits the room at high speed.)

My arrival back at my apartment building held ten times more excitement, thanks to the fact that there was a mystery box addressed to me in the foyer. I had not ordered nor was I expecting delivery of any items, so my walk up the stairs was a fantastic exercise in imagination.

A gift from a secret admirer?

A bomb?

Fan mail?

Hate mail?

Popcorn? (That’s what it sounded like)

The reality: A three-month supply of prescription medication from the mail-order pharmacy my healthcare provider now requires us to use.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Heavy Metal

Today I was getting a manicure in a nice bluish-blackish-gunmetal-gray that I brought in myself (as always), and the manicurist asked, “So, what’s with the color? Is it for winter?” Well, what kind of a question is that? I mean, the only sensible answer is that I happen to like it, but that didn’t seem quite good enough. Should I have told her I don’t do pink? Should I have said dark nails are my best option for maximum wardrobe blending? Should I have explained that this is a nail strategy that is both cool and also avoids the overt trendiness of pure black? Here’s what came out of my mouth: “Actually, I’m a little bit rock ’n roll.”

What? I am! I used to love Metallica, and even to this day I naturally gravitate toward any item of clothing that features grommets.

Oh fine, so I might have a slight badass complex. This fact first occurred to me while in the Circuit City parking garage on North Avenue with my friend Jeff last weekend, when he tried to convince me that instead of new speakers for Black Beauty, what I really need is a new car. As usual, I was scoffing away. “Humph! What do I need with a new car? This one hasn’t overheated in at least a year! Don’t be fooled by all those check engine and brake light failure alerts; they indicate nothing more than a slight electrical problem. I can take it! Me and this car, we’re in it together. Fight to the end! The very, very end.” Yeah, I should probably get a Honda.

Anywho, I’m off to flower-arranging class. C-YA.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taxicab Confessions

Once in a blue moon I’ll take a cab to work so I can reduce stress by not having to look for a parking spot, but sometimes it’s not much of a savings. To wit:

Me (sliding into backseat of cab): Man, it’s really smoky in here.
Cabbie: I just got back from a run to O'Hare. Guy was smoking, but I couldn’t see him in my rearview so I didn’t say anything.
Me: Hmm.
Cabbie: My dad smoked for 83 years, lived ’til he was 96.
Me: That’s something.
Cabbie: But if you ask me, it’s selfish to stay alive past a certain point.
Me: Mmm.
Cabbie: I mean, if you’re old and you can’t do for yourself and you’ve got diabetes and you can’t go anywhere and all your friends are dead then waddya got left? The boob tube? No thanks, I’d rather walk off a bridge.
Me: Yeah.
Cabbie: Don’t know why they keep building new condos. Nobody’s buying in this market.
Me: The Spire’s on hold.
Cabbie: The economic crisis is good for a lot of people. People are cuttin’ up their credit cards. Buddy of mine had 21 credit cards. He hit hard times. Lost his six-flat. Told me he could get $250,000 in credit anytime he wanted, but I always told him then he’d have to pay it back.

I really wanted to change the subject but I was too tired.

P.S. Lately I’ve been catching myself talking to myself in terms of Facebook status updates. I think: “Amalie is eating M&M’s.” “Amalie is looking for a new favorite lip balm.” “Amalie has a lot of split ends.” Somebody please stop me.

P.P.S. If you absolutely must send me an e-mail with the subject line, “Fighting Dandruff Fungus!” then please refrain from sending it between the hours of 11:30AM and 1:30PM.

Friday, October 31, 2008


My Halloween costume for the past three years has consisted only of a headband adorned with two small and slightly off-kilter tiger ears, but this year I’m not a tiger. I’m a Liger. This is a new word I learned on the Today Show a few hours ago. It’s a cross between a tiger and a lion. Unfortunately, the subject came up because a Liger recently killed a volunteer at an Oklahoma animal sanctuary. No matter what its adorableness level might be, you cannot count on a 1,000-pound cat to behave in a domesticated manner. That’s scary.

In honor of Halloween, here are 5 more possible scenarios I fear, though they are admittedly less frightening than a Liger attack:

1. My quest for tickets to the Obama rally in Grant Park on Election Night will be foiled.
2. My personal life will never cease playing out like a particularly grating episode of Gossip Girl.
3. I will never find another pair of sunglasses with a frame shape as flattering to my face as my Chanel ones with the gold Cs on the sides, which are starting to seem a little garish to be wearing in this economy.
4. A co-worker will bring a bag of mini Kit Kats to work today, and that’s what I’ll have for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and linner (late dinner).
5. The Donald is going to surprise Mayor Daley by busting out some sort of huge Trump logo to slap on the moments-from-completion Trump Tower Chicago. Spire, schmire. I'll believe it when I see it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

OMG, Get Me to a Natural Setting ASAP

Earlier this week, I clicked on a New York Times link titled "Natural Settings Help Brain Fatigue," and this picture popped up with the story:

All I could think was: OMG, get me to a natural setting ASAP. I looked out my office window at my River North view of concrete, glass, mechanical boxes and streetlights. The only trees I could see were the potted ones on top of the condo building next door, where this one blonde lady walks a yappy little white dog every afternoon.

I mean, I grew up in a place my high school friends liked to refer to as “BFE,” so far removed was it from the glorious used car dealerships and strip malls of Middletown, our Lousiville suburb. As a child, one of my favorite activities was forcing my younger siblings to meticulously maintain dirt trails we cleared in the woods, marking them every few feet with tobacco stakes. These days, I can walk along Chicago’s lakefront path and look out at the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan, but does it count as spending time in Nature if I can swivel my head and view six lanes of traffic whizzing by on Lake Shore Drive?

A lack of true Fall Activities coupled with my intense anxiety over the election might be the reason why I’m losing so much hair. Or possibly, my persistent use of Pantene Pro-V is finally catching up with me.

Either way, I’m antsy, and so is everyone I know. As a group we’re totally defining the “diss” in dysfunction.

Two recent conversations that really put me in my place:

(While riding in Black Beauty on a Sunday afternoon)
Me: (silently to myself in my head) Man, I sure would like to carve a pumpkin tonight. It sure would be fun if someone wanted to carve a pumpkin with me.
Best Friend Jeff: (abruptly and with malice, after viewing several pumpkins on stoops): I don’t give a shit about carving a pumpkin!

(While grocery shopping at Fox & Obel that same afternoon)
Me: I’m really on a French onion soup kick. I can’t get enough of that melted cheese. Yum.
Claire (my sister): Yeah, look, there’s some French onion soup right there. It looks like worms swimming in dirt.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Somebody Put That Baby in a Corner

I’m only just now getting over my fury at seeing one of the greatest love stories of all time, Dirty Dancing, being made a mockery of in Broadway format at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre last night. The highlight was when a giant, distinctly phallic 60-foot log was lowered from stage left for Johnny and Baby to use in their over-the-creek balance beam scene. I basically wanted to gouge my eyes out. It was not the stuff on which my 4th grade perm was based.

Meanwhile, I didn’t recognize my own car on the street mere moments ago because my Kentucky butterfly license plate is, alas, a thing of the past. Legally, it probably would have been best for me to switch to an Illinois plate seven years ago, but the butterfly plate was a little piece of home I just couldn’t let go of. And then, the following conversation occurred last week as I was paying my registration taxes at the DMV in Louisville:

DMV Employee: You cain’t have that butterfly plate no more.
Me: But whyever not?
DE: It’s discontinued. There’s the new nature plate options over on the wall.
Me: Really? Those are the choices?
DE: You can have the polar bear, the waterfall, the hummingbird or the dragonflies.
Me: But what do those have to do with Kentucky? Aren’t there any options that have to do with horses or bluegrass or the Belle of Louisville?
DE: There’s this horse plate.
Me: No offense, but that horse looks disabled. He looks like he fell down and couldn’t get up.
DE: Or you could get the plain state plate everybody has.
Me: Bor-ing. Who’s in charge of these license plate designs?
DE: You could’ve designed your own plate online.
Me: What?! How come nobody told me that?
DE: Which one do you want? I’m not entering any number on my computer until you decide.
Me: I guess the dragonflies. No, the hummingbird. Don't you think that one's better on a black car because of the black lettering? No, the dragonflies, because they’re more like butterflies. No, the hummingbird. Final decision, the hummingbird. Although I would like to point out once again that hummingbirds are not the state bird of Kentucky, and in fact I always felt a little uncomfortable with the butterflies for the same reason.


P.S. I was just in the elevator with a UPS delivery woman who said she voted early today and the line was 45 minutes long. I cannot wait to vote, and if they don’t give me an “I Voted Today” sticker then I fully plan to wear my own “Voters Do It In A Booth” sticker.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Literally, I Die (Dialogue DilEMMAs)

Even though I would prefer to present myself as more of a sophisticated adult, I still frequently use the word “like” in everyday conversation, which is so embarrassing. I try to control it when speaking with the over-60 crowd, but it’s hard. I guess because I think about words so much, I’m also particularly prone to picking up on, imitating, and sometimes inappropriately mocking other people’s speech patterns and catchphrases. I refuse, however, to add the following to my lineup (read in voice reminiscent of cardiac monitor flat-lining):

“Literally, I die. I’m not kidding, put me in those earrings and put me in a coffin in the ground. I die.”
That’s bananas.”
“She is so shutting it down in that dress right now.”

That’s right, Rachael Zoe. I will not fall prey to your conversational gimmicks, and the only time I’ll ever repeat them is when I’m warning everyone I know not to get hooked on your show because they’ll be in danger of rolling their eyeballs right out of their heads.

When it comes to cuss words, as you know, I don’t often take it to the gutter, except when other drivers try to go when it’s my turn at a four-way stop. I swear sparingly in print and with even greater rarity in the office, except for those moments when I long for a pair of noise-blocking headphones due to grating conversations taking place a few desks over. But I tell you what, that Kathy Griffin had one dirty mouth on her last night at the Chicago Theater. The f bomb, the c word, the a-holes—she was letting 'em fly like there was no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow, which is today, so I really hope I can control my language at a society luncheon later.

P.S. Why the hell did I ever think it was a good idea to get my ears double-pierced in college, with the extra cartilage piercing at the top of my left ear which got strangely hot whenever I talked on the phone too long? Idiot! Those dumbass holes will never grow back now. Talk about tack-ola.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

Chicago was recently ranked the most stressful city in America by a Forbes poll with dubious methodology. In second place came New York City. Hmm.

Never have I been more stressed than after spending four days in New York last week with my sister Claire and her business partner, Jennifer. Together they own a shop, the Peacock Boutique, and on this annual spring buying trip we were scouring Garment District showrooms for Derby dresses with fluttery ruffles and cashmere sweaters whose sleeves did not give one’s arms a sausage-like appearance. (Question: Will boyfriend jeans like the ones Rachel Bilson wears here take off in Louisville? Let's hope so, since we ordered a LOT of them.)

While debating the merits of so many thousands of articles of clothing, we became warped to the point of repeatedly reassuring ourselves that $800 is really quite a reasonable price for any quality sweatshirt. I exaggerate, but still.

The U.N. General Assembly was in town, meaning that the routes to almost everywhere were barricaded in deference to the security of some president or other. One night at our hotel, the Women’s National Republican Club (don’t ask), the Prime Minister of the Netherlands was giving a speech, and I found myself in a very full elevator. The following conversation occurred:

Hotel chef (boarding elevator): “I can’t believe you’re wearing that shirt in here.”
Me (glancing down at “Obama Says Knock You Out” T): “I’m just going to get ice.”
Chef: “I’d watch it if I were you.”
Republican in navy skirt suit: “Oh, it’s fine. I think it’s cheeky.”
Me: “I’m from Chicago. You know, Obama mania? I’m not a Republican, I’m just staying here.”
Chef and other assorted Republicans: Silence/glares.

Anyway, if I believed in Botox I'd need a lot of it to repair the effects of September 2008. Not only did I turn 30, but after watching so much news about the economic crisis and book-banning VP hopefuls, I keep catching myself frowning in my sleep. But in an effort to think positive, here are two great things about NYC:

1. Many fast-casual dining options include calorie counts on their menus, making it ever so convenient to forgo corn salsa in favor of tomato (a 70-calorie savings).
2. All cabs are now equipped with do-it-yourself credit card machines, eliminating the Chicago ritual of being verbally abused for 15 minutes each time one presents a Visa card to a driver.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

See It & Eat It (Poor Piggy)

One recent morning I was hanging out with Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow (well, maybe I was only an audience member during an Oprah taping, but I did sit front and center and briefly chatted up Gwyneth backstage). Gwyneth was talking about her diet and saying how no one should ever eat anything that comes out of a package. I agree. Not even Healthy Choice with their new Café Steamers can convince me that something is good for you if you have to tear a flap off of a cardboard box, pull out a black plastic bowl, poke a hole in the film cover, microwave on high for six minutes, and stir to incorporate a sticky sauce.

Lately I’m more into “straight to the table” food, which includes the pig we ate at my 30th birthday soiree on the farm in Louisville last week. The pig arrived at the party in the back of my dad’s truck. He was ensconced in a plastic bag, but it was very loose-fitting. Nary a preservative had crossed his path.

We laid him to rest/roast in the ground early in the morning, and later that night we pulled him out by the light of tiki torches with the assistance of a large tractor and chains. It was a fairly barbaric sight, I must admit, so cover your eyes, because here is a photo:

A few of the party’s attendees couldn’t bring themselves to sample a bite of pork (when I did, my vegetarian friend Tim screamed “Death breath! You have death breath!”), but the truth is, that dear pig was probably far more nutritious than the many dubious passed hors d’oeuvres we consume on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, poor Jeff had to be traumatized by the pre-cooked versions of his dining choices twice in one week. Mere days after the pig roast, we were at a press dinner where he ordered a monkfish entree. He then went home and was astonished to find himself watching a segment about monkfish on Animal Planet. “I’ll never eat monkfish again,” he vowed, describing how the fish blends right in with the sand on the bottom of the ocean and consumes its prey via a hideously wide, flat mouth. “It looks like a rubber band and tastes like one, too.” He drew a little sketch to prove it.

P.S. Here are some more shots from the birthday weekend, many of them taken by up-and-coming photographer D.J. Corney:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Numbers Game: A Birthday Blog

I recently picked up the September issue of Glamour magazine to check out a little quote of mine they ran on their “Are You Normal” beauty page. I was shocked to see myself identified as: Amalie Drury, 30, Chicago. My eyes were riveted on the number. It was a few weeks before my birthday, and the reality of the situation hadn’t yet occurred to me with such inked, professionally bound intensity. But alas, a new decade looms. On my last day as a twentysomething, I herewith count the milestones of an era gone by.

20-29: The Stats

Cars Owned: 2 (Black Beauty #1 and Black Beauty #2)
Wrinkles Acquired: 7 (according to screening by laser institute)
Jobs Held: 2 (one 3-year college stint at Jacobson’s department store, with responsibilities including leaning on the counter, reading WWD and trying on bridal veils in the dressing room; 7 glorious years reporting upon all things modern and luxurious in Chicago)
Perceptible Hairstyle Changes: 0
Gray hairs discovered: 12-14 (mostly near right temple)
Apartments Occupied: 6 (Cherokee, Fullerton, Superior, Wells, Wisconsin, Mohawk)
Boyfriends of significant tenure: 4
Repeat Breakups: no comment
Number of times listened to Flunk song “Play”: 871 (most-played song as reported by my iPod)
Family Meltdowns: 207
Interviews with Sarah Jessica Parker: 1
Chipotle Burritos Won: 365
Quarters Fed to Parking Meters: $5,822
Cocktail Parties Attended: Countless

Well, you know what they say. Thirty is the new 21.

P.S. Graham, I can’t decide whether to thank you or smack you for introducing me to Nestle’s Flipz chocolate-covered pretzels. They are the first and last thing I need in my life.

P.P.S. I keep smelling something delicious. I think it’s my hair.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No Flybabies Allowed

Last night I landed at Midway Airport after spending four 100% fun and 100% non-dietary days with my brother Lee in Vero Beach, Florida. He’s studying for his commercial pilot’s license, and he and his roommate and their many pilot friends also clock in a certain amount of time watching reruns of The Office on DVR and playing flight simulator games via computer. I could probably write the script for the movie Superbad 2 based on my notes from the trip, but since that’s going to take a few days to put together I’ll just start you off with some conversational snippets.

On chicks:
1. Dude, look at that hot chick over there smoking.
2. Check out that hot tall chick. She’s big-boned. I like it. I like girls with, like, size 13 feet.
3. Hey, why do you think there are no hot goth chicks?

On food:
1. Why would anyone eat snails? Sick.
2. Do you really think gummy worms are bad for you? No way.
3. I can’t wait until 49-cent hamburger day at McDonald’s.

On bodily functions:
1. I’ll be back. Gotta adjust the weight and balance.
2. I’ve never seen so much s*!% come out of that dog’s a$%.
3. There’s nothing better than a good puke.

I also picked up a new hobby when we went to Chili’s for 2-for-1 drinks one afternoon during a thunderstorm. Basically what you do is turn on the TV to the hunting and fishing channel and activate the closed captions. Hunting and fishing are so much more riveting on mute:

Fisherman 1: Look what we got here.
Fisherman 2: That’s a fish.
F1: That’s a big one.
F2: Yep. A big one.
FI: He’s puttin’ on a show.
F2: Look down there.
F1: Those are some big rocks.
F2: Ha ha ha.
FI: You can really see ‘em.
F2: Mmm hmm.
F1: Here he is.
F2: You gonna keep him?
F1: Yep. Gotta prove to my wife I’ve been fishin’.
F2: Ha ha ha.

P.S. Someone just sent me a Breast Cancer Awareness hula-hoop and it appears to be regulation size. I cannot WAIT to go home and see if I can still hula-hoop indefinitely.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dots & Thoughts

Last week a random phrase kept repeating in my brain and wouldn’t desist. Here it is: “My poor begonias.” I kept walking around saying it to myself. “My poooor begonias.” I have no begonias nor would I recognize one if I saw it (until now, when I did a Google search to find this picture), but there was something about the repeated “o” sounds that I loved.

Another ditty that gets stuck in my head from time to time is this one from Hee Haw:

“I searched the world over and thought I found true love…
then you met another and PFFT! You was gone.”

The attraction has nothing to do with the subject matter; I just like the hillbilly accent. Reminds me of the good old days.

P.S. Speaking of accents: Jeff! Happy Birthday dear Siiiirrr!

P.P.S. I wonder how many more times this year I can safely wear my polka-dot dress. Maybe today and one other day? Maybe three more days, including once in late September? It all depends on how summery things continue to be. I really do like wearing it, though. I've never had one fight in this dress (well, except for that minor scuffle with the cabbie). Ruffles + dots = good cheery fun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Go for the Gold (Nail Polish, That Is)

What have I done? New rule: Avoid any and all buffet situations. Last night at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana (which recently received a $500 million facelift and now contains arguably the most comprehensive collection of crystal chandeliers ever assembled under one roof in the universe), I actually sat down to a plate of the following:

Fried chicken
Refried beans
Asian chicken wings
Beef fried rice
Mini Tacos
Pecan Pie

It was utterly shameful, but Jeff ate pretty much the same thing plus sushi and a strawberry mousse cup so I can’t feel too bad.

Meanwhile, I am drafting a style memo to the Olympic athletes. Please review.

Dear Olympic Athletes,

You are incredible. Your strength and coordination astonish me. If I could do a synchronized dive like that, I probably wouldn’t be thinking about my hair, either. But since I do have a little extra time on my hands, I figured you might appreciate the following:

Fashion Faux Pas to Avoid When Competing in the Olympic Games

1. Glitter. On the eyelids, on the outfits, sprayed into hair. Ahem, gymnasts.
2. Goatees. Swimmers, I imagine facial hair contributes to drag, does it not?
3. Numerous white, pink or heart-shaped barrettes. If you feel compelled to control every flyaway in your ponytail, I suggest classic tortoise clips.
4. White iPod headphones. If you are a six-time gold medal winner with endorsements out the wazoo, one would think you might want to take the sound quality up a notch.
5. Unpainted toenails when standing at the edge of the Olympic pool and being photographed by every major news organization in the world. Suggested nail color: Chanel’s new Facettes D’Or in Gold Fiction.

A Fan

Monday, August 4, 2008

Winnie + Kevin 4EVR

Whilst eating a peach and my usual one egg for breakfast this morning, I watched Danica McKellar (aka Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years) being interviewed by Diane Sawyer and promoting her new book, Kiss My Math. I couldn't help but think to myself, 'Well, if that isn't the most wholesome, well-rounded former child star.' Her mission in life is to help teenage girls feel confident about calculating percentages; as far as I know she's never been in rehab; she made a yoga video with her mom; and best of all, she still looks JUST LIKE WINNIE COOPER. Dear Lord, how I wanted to be Winnie Cooper. I wanted flat hair that hung straight down my back and made a curtain over my face while I was doing my homework (come to think of it, I'm still chasing this look). I wanted a boy with puppy dog brown eyes to move in next door (impossible on the neighborless Drury farm, where the cable company wouldn't even run a line) and hold my hand while walking me to my locker. That would have been the best.

Meanwhile, I am pissed beyond belief that there's still no Wonder Years anthology available for purchase on DVD. Bogified! Wouldn't a bootlegged copy make the loveliest 30th birthday present?

P.S. One day during Lollapalooza last weekend, I wore my black T-shirt with the blinding gold letters that say, "OBAMA IS MY HOME BOY." In the crowd of 75,000, it conferred upon me instant celebrity status. Every person looked. People of all races, genders and ages smiled. Many commented enthusiastically. I got a couple of thumbs ups. One girl even asked to have her picture taken with me, which was fantastic. There was just one disturbing moment, when a man approached me and said, "You know that shirt is borderline, right? I mean, 'home boy?'" Hmm. Stalling as I prepared for a debate, I said, "The truth is, I'm pretty borderline myself." That seemed to satisfy him, and we both walked on. But I definitely need a better comeback for next time, so let me know if you have anything.

P.P.S. My friend Tim and I were just discussing our love lives over tater tots at the Old Town Pub, while I waited for Old Yeller to get a tune-up at the bike shop next door. Tim made an enlightening observation when he said, "People are just too scared to hit on the really hot ones. That's why we're both single." Mystery solved.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Drives Them To It?

Mere moments ago, my friend Jeff forwarded me an e-mail with a link to pictures of an infant child recently born to his high-school ex-girlfriend, who is now happily cohabitating with a fine gentleman back home in Louisville (“He cussed in front of the nurse!” Jeff marveled, after visiting the couple in the hospital post-birth).

Though I’ve never met this ex, I’ve heard many tales about her life and therefore feel somewhat connected to her, so I clicked through to view her new offspring. I saw the baby wrapped in a pink blanket, the baby wearing a hat, the baby drooling, the baby in a car seat, the baby with her hair twisted into spikey little points. Cutie patootie. Then suddenly, the most shocking image appeared on my screen: a close-up of THE BIRTH ITSELF. Gag me with a spoon! As Jenny Berg would say, I cannot. I absolutely refuse to. Why anyone would choose to expose such details I’ll never know.

Then again, I’ll never understand why people buy animals whose certain areas are not tastefully shielded by fluff and whose eyeballs might eject during a forceful sneeze. For instance, I once dated someone who owned a pug. (Previous to the pug, he had dachshunds, another questionable choice for a person more than six feet tall. He treated them all in the manner of “disposable pets,” handing them off to his parents when he tired of their puppyish ways. As one might imagine, this illuminating little habit crept into many other aspects of his character.) Anywho, whenever that dog sat on anything, all I could think about was Bacteria.

One more: There is a woman on the lakefront path whose workout ensemble is all the exact same pink as her skin. What would possess her to appear as if jogging in the nude?

P.S. Quotes of the Week:

Raquel, a particularly enthusiastic dental hygienist: “You know what I really can’t get enough of? That Johnson & Johnson floss. Not the wax; it’s woven, almost more like yarn. It feels so good to get my teeth real clean with that. Ooh! I can’t wait to go home and do it again.”

The aforementioned Jeff Corney: “Everyone is the same. They all want two things in life: an iPhone and true love.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Various Conversations in a Variety of Locations

In a cab:
Emma: "Excuse me, but could you please turn on the air conditioning?"
Cabbie: "Huh? It's already on. Oh man, my meter's broken."
Emma [one block later, fanning face furiously]: "Sir! Really! It is stifling back here. I'm about to expire."
Cabbie [Stabs distractedly at buttons on meter with complete disregard for surrounding traffic or navigational matters]: "The air is on, I told you!"
Emma: "Yeah, it's on YOU!"
Cabbie: "I can't hear a word you're saying."
Emma: "Forget about it."
Cabbie: "This day is a total wash. I won't make a dime. I guess I'll head back to the garage."

A teenaged granddaughter in the ladies' room at RL, the Ralph Lauren restaurant, whilst viewing herself in the mirror:
Girl: "Grandma, do you remember when I used to be really skinny? I mean, I was really tiny."
Grandma: "Yeah, I used to be really tiny, too. Everyone's tiny when they're four."

My dear friend Bunky Cushing, also at RL, while seated at Bunky's Table and nibbling Bunky's Cookies:
"You see, they come in here straight from the American Girl Place. They walk right on in wearing their Bermuda shorts and T-shirts. What do they think this is, Applebee's? There's one. Don't look. Right there." [Inclines head toward questionably attired tourist.]

Two lady friends, both wearing massive turquoise rings on every finger, dining at Cyrano's Bistro [yes, Graham, you beat me to the punch with this one, but I cannot withhold it from my readership]:
Friend 1: "Did I ever tell you about the time I laughed with Julia Child?"
Friend 2: "I think so. Tell me again."
Friend 1: "It was the best laugh of my life. She was demonstrating a recipe at the old Marshall Field's. We were both hysterical."
Friend 2: "Really?"
Friend 1: "No one got it but us. Me and Julia Child. I could barely breathe."

P.S. The other night I parked Black Beauty with the valet at a certain Boystown nightclub. Yeah, it was Sidetracks. Anyway, they left her right there on the street in front of the door, hazards flashing. That's because Black Beauty is an oldie but a goodie. She is timeless. I was never prouder.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Stickery Situation

Today I got Black Beauty washed and had them scrape off last year’s city vehicle stickers from the inside of the windshield with a razor. I needed to make room for the new stickers, which I recently purchased at the currency exchange.

Then I went home and began the excruciating process of positioning my new city and residential zone parking stickers IN THE EXACT RIGHT SPOT in the lower right-hand corner of the windshield. I can think of no activity more exacting, more nerve-racking, more likely to bring on a fit of self-inflicted rage. This is an entire year of sticker viewing we’re talking about. They must be perfectly perpendicular. They must be precisely aligned, straight as an arrow, with just the slightest and most symmetrical line of space between the two. My God, it is stressful.

And so, with one trembling hand holding the stickers inside the car, I twisted my torso slowly around to the front of Black Beauty to inspect placement. Every muscle tensed, I began pasting—millimeter by millimeter—the stickers onto the glass.

I stood back. I inspected the results.

For the rest of this week I will reflect admiringly upon my sticker placement skills while walking past cars with their new stickers haphazardly slapped on, bubbled, wrinkled and torn. I will tell myself that if a man picked me up for a date with his vehicle sticker so randomly applied, I would know everything I needed to know right then and there. If he also wore a gold rope necklace, I would probably just walk right back inside.

P.S. Quotes of the week:

1. My friend Tim Reilly, upon spotting an overly exuberant male guest at the annual sun deck party of a certain Chicago health club: "Wow, look at that. I bet he's hung like a Tic-Tac."

2. My brother Lee, signing off from a phone conversation last night: "Hey Emma, give me a call tomorrow when you're at work. I'm gonna be kinda bored."


Dear Midnight Bandit,

Apparently Black Beauty was looking a little too stunning after her bath yesterday, and you couldn't resist the temptation to see what treasures might await within her super-shiny confines. I can't imagine why you didn't want the most recent issue of Cooking Light magazine from the passenger door panel, but I hope you enjoy the barely operational 2nd generation iPod with the scratched screen--particularly my extremely popular Haute Living playlist. Track 12 is really quite soothing. Toolbag.

Shown above: Black Beauty's driver-side window shattered on the ground, still mostly adhered by tint sticker.