Thursday, June 26, 2008

Are You Kidding Me, Angelina Jolie?

Dear Angelina Jolie,

No offense, but are you f-ing kidding me? Do you really have to name one of your new babies Amelie?

Now, I realize there’s a one-letter difference between my name (Amalie with an “a”) and your possibly infant/possibly unborn daughter’s (Amelie with an “e”), but trust me, problems will arise.

For starters, both of us are famous, and people are going to confuse us all the time.

Secondly, people will constantly hear little Amelie’s name on TV, and as a result they will start mangling my name even more than usual, I just know it. That’s what happened when the French movie Amélie came out. Not that I don’t adore both Audrey Tautou and Amélie to death and consider it a prized component of my own DVD collection, but the bottom line is that I do not pronounce my name the ooh-la-la French way. Now it's all I’ll ever hear.

Finally, you have just ruined what has thus far been an excellent writer’s name: instantly recognizable, memorable, somewhat confusing, with a hint of exotic flair. Now there will be screaming tiny Amelies all over the place, and even though Amalie hasn’t been on the list of top baby names since 1883 (when it was ranked 822nd in popularity), I’m sure all variations of the name will skyrocket in usage right away. I might as well just call myself Chrissy or Tanya or something.

Well, whatever. I guess there’s no turning back now. I’m flattered that you want to name your child after me, but you owe me big time.

Amalie (the original)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Extreme Good Sports

My visiting mother had a splitting headache on Saturday, so I decided to go ahead and take her and her boyfriend Dewey (a political science professor at my alma mater, the University of Louisville) on the Seadog Extreme, billed as the “most horse-powered commercial vessel of its kind currently cruising the Great Lakes.”

“Oh, that’s the one where they take you out and slam you around for an hour,” said my sister Claire, when our mom told her about our Seadog adventure via cell phone prior to boarding.

Fully living up to the hype, the Seadog sped, it spun, it stopped on a dime. Welcome to the jungle!!! screamed Axl Rose over the sound system. In the end, though, the 30-minute ride proved surprisingly smooth. We were all soaked to the bone with 60-degree Lake Michigan water and I was curiously dizzy as we walked to Fox & Obel afterwards for double chocolate cookies, but everyone had tons of fun overall. There were just a few iffy moments—I think this picture pretty much sums things up:

Later that day, I took Mom and Dewey on what I like to call “Emma’s Obama Mania Tour,” a presidential candidate enthusiast’s outing which you may remember was developed in conjunction with my sister Liv back in March. The tour includes drive-bys of Barack Obama’s house in Hyde Park, his campaign headquarters on Michigan Avenue, his controversial former church, the University of Chicago campus where he taught and the South Shore neighborhood where future First Lady Michelle grew up.

As tour operator, I strive to maintain a certain level of professionalism while navigating the city streets and pointing out highlights, but this weekend, my concentration was challenged by conversations such as this one:

Mom: Sweetie, do you want a sip of my Diet Coke?
Dewey: No, that’s all right.
Mom: Well, I thought you might like a sip to go with your chips. This is a huge Diet Coke.
Dewey: But you know, I don’t really drink Diet Coke. It’s just so…I don’t know, it’s like poison or something. It’s so bad for you. But you go ahead and drink it, hon.
Mom: Well, not now that you ruined it for me!
Dewey: Now sweetie, I didn’t mean to, it's just that I don’t like Diet Coke. But you go ahead and drink it if you like it and that’s fine by me.
M: I do like it! Nothing could stop me from drinking it. You know I need my fizz.
Emma (swerving across four lanes): Please look to your right for a view of Buckingham Fountain, featured on the hit show Married With Children and scheduled to undergo a multimillion dollar renovation this fall!


P.S. When will I ever cease ascribing human emotions to inanimate objects? I cannot convey my depth of guilt at throwing away uneaten produce from my refrigerator. Imagine a bell pepper's dismay at being cruelly tossed into a Dumpster after waiting all its life to be part of a delicious meal. Tonight’s dinner shall be titled: Every Vegetable Known to Man with Rice.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Go Active! Emma

My friend Graham (who is in fashion, so he should know) always says he likes my hair best when I’m working my Wild & Wavy look, which suits me just fine because it cuts about four hours in blow-dry time. But, have you seen Kathy Griffin in the new season of My Life on the D-List? If that’s what my Wild & Wavy hair looks like, then it might be time to reevaluate. I love you Kathy, but that ’do is a Don’t.

In other news, I can’t stop picturing myself as the star of a commercial for McDonald’s Go Active! Adult Happy Meal. Sometimes, when it’s the dead of winter and I’m watching Mean Girls on repeat while huddling under a purple wool afghan and eating chocolate-covered pretzels for dear life, I do feel a little lazy. But that has nothing to do with Summer Emma. I tell you what, if it’s a Saturday and conditions are balmy, then you’d better bet I’m going to be Making the Most of the Situation.

So seriously, I cannot believe there isn’t a camera crew following me around to film me riding Old Yeller past the planetarium, sprinting along the lake in a sudden shower (can you call it sudden when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning?) or attempting a single pull-up on the bar by Diversey Harbor. At the end of the commercial, they could show me cheerily holding up a plain hamburger and a fruit cup while wearing workout attire. Why must I constantly be the one to think of everything?

Things I Am Into At This Very Moment:
1. Using capitals for emphasis. See above.
2. Listening to the Vampire Weekend song Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa 100 times per day.
3. Flip-flops provided as party favors at black-tie events. Put ’em on, walk home.
4. Considering the possibility that my new neighbors might be cute.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Can’t Mind My Own Business/Big Know-It-All

When tourists ask me for directions in Chicago, I’m never content to point them down the street and be on my merry way. Oh no, I have to make sure whatever route I devise will provide them with the best opportunities for sightseeing, and I never want to send them on a journey that might be unpleasant (it’s stressful and dirty to walk under the train tracks) or affront their senses with bad scenery (it is clearly my duty to keep this city’s architectural reputation intact).

A few weeks ago, a group of strangers asked if it was too far to walk to Millennium Park from a street corner near my office. I pursed my lips and considered the weather (sun out, slight breeze), their footwear (tennis shoes, but not with ideal arch support), and how much it would cost them to take a cab (roughly $8). I recommended they walk, and furthermore instructed them to pause on the LaSalle Street bridge for a photo op and be sure to take note of the new Trump Tower. I then made them promise to re-visit Millennium Park at dusk for better viewing of the Crown Fountain.

This morning, I stopped at a water fountain on the lakefront and was approached by a bookish-looking teenage girl on a bike. She was clad in full racing spandex and clutching a hand-drawn map. The conversation:

Bike Girl: “Do you know where the chess pavilion is?”
Me: “It’s back the other way.”
Bike Girl (consulting map): “So I need to go back that way?”
Me: “Yes.”
Bike Girl (confused): “But do you know where the Lincoln Park Zoo is?”
Me: “What is your ultimate destination?”
Bike Girl: “The zoo.”
Me: “Well you’re here! Just ride up this street for a block and turn left into the parking lot. But you know, bikes aren’t allowed in the zoo.”
Bike Girl: “Oh. Well, I’m working there, and they said I could ride my bike.”
Me: “Then I’m sure you’re fine.”

There were so many other things I wanted to ask, such as: Who drew that map? How far did you ride your bike to get here? What kind of work are you doing at the zoo? What is your favorite zoo animal? I refrained, but just barely.

P.S. Speaking of bikes, I went on my maiden cycling voyage of the summer last weekend and took this picture (see above). Please be informed that because my bike has now completed one full year of service, she will henceforth be referred to as Old Yeller.

P.P.S. It is so prissy when my ponytail starts swinging during my workout. There’s nothing I can do to control it unless I wear a low ponytail, which is uncomfortably hot on the neck. If you see me with a swingy ponytail, please do not think I’m trying to put on cheerleader-ish airs.

P.P.P.S. I can’t believe I didn’t get my picture with Barack Obama a year ago, when it would have been a cinch. Now I get invitations to Obama fundraisers that require a $5,000 donation for a picture with the future pres (!!!). Since that’s probably more than the Blue Book value of Black Beauty, I doubt we’ll be posing together anytime soon.