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.