Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yikes (An Easy Scare)

When my sister Claire and I were roughly 3 and 5 years old, our parents took us on a one-day excursion to Disney World. It was our first and only visit to the park, and I have just one memory of the event: being escorted out of the Haunted Mansion via emergency exit. As I recall, we were still waiting in line for the ride itself--but when the rising ceiling trick started, I just couldn't take it anymore. It was too scary. 

In honor of my almost-favorite holiday, behold: my fourth annual list of Terrifying Things:

1. Space heaters. The next five months will be spent shivering/anxiously monitoring three plug-in devices for signs of smoke, sizzle or impending flames. 
2. The new digital price tags under every item at Whole Foods. I suspect this system makes it even easier for them to sneakily raise prices day by day--and beware, I'm watching. I know those Omega-3-enhanced eggs weren't $3.39 last week. 
3. Potholes. At 270k miles, Black Beauty is rattlier than ever. Yesterday, outside Jimmy John's, a piece of door handle fell off in my hand. Is total implosion imminent?
4. Halloween costume stores and all items for sale within. Only crazies think 100% polyester "Dominatrix Unicorn" getups are hot. Or figure-flattering, for that matter.  
5. A realization: my homemade Pocahontas outfit might resemble something off the sale rack at Chico's.
6. Chico's
7. Porch collapses (standing on porches at parties).
8. Pressing the "purchase" button after selecting an itinerary on an airline website, then frantically second-guessing whether I entered the correct dates for several chilling moments while the confirmation page loads. 
9. Getting laid off. It's been almost a year, and my feet still sweat when I think about it. 
10. This conversation: 

Me: Where's my black jean skirt?
Claire: You don't need to put on that black jean skirt. 
Me: But it's my thing, that skirt. I'm wearing it. 
Claire: You're no teenybopper. It's time to retire the skirt. Promise me you'll never wear it again. 
Me 2 Me: I love that skirt. I'll wear it until it disintegrates! Until the day I die! They can bury me in that skirt!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Hope There's An App for That

My BFF Jeff moved to New York over the summer, and since his iPhone is his sole mode of communication, most of our conversations now go something like this (ahem, AT&T): 

Ring, ring.
Me: Hey Jeff! What's crackin'?
Jeff: Oh, I'm just walking to work. Man, my feet hurt. CLICK.
Ring, ring. 
Me: Jeff? We got cut off.
Jeff: I know, sorry. This stupid phone. Anyway, what are you up to? 
Me: Well, yesterday, Kate and I went to a Big Buck Hunter tournament at a bar for five hours. Straight men from Texas everywhere. It was wild. CLICK.
Ring, ring. 
Jeff: Sorry. I hate this thing. 
Me: Geeeeez. That freaking phone. 
Jeff: So, what do you think about... SIRENS. HORNS. ENGINE NOISE. 
Me (to me): My God, is he hit?
Ring, ring. 
Me: Jeff? What in the world? 
Jeff: Oh my gosh, it's so loud here. Well, I'm at the office now. Guess I have to go. Talk to you later. 
Me: OK, bye. 

iPhones do not function well in New York. But they seem to work fine in most other places, and since close to 1 billion users have personally told me their iPhone changed their life for the better, I'm still considering getting one. It's not, however, a popular debate among my exclusively Sprint-bound family members. A frequent exchange with my brother unfolds as follows: 

Lee: Yo Emma. What's up? 
Me: I'm thinking of retiring the old flip phone. 
Lee: Come on. Not the iPhone talk again. We've been over this. If you give up Sprint to Sprint minutes, all the phone bills in the family will skyrocket. 
Me: But Lee! I'm a Mac user! I need an iPhone! 
Lee: Just hang on for, like, another 64 months. Then my Sprint contract will be up, and we can all switch at the same time. 

I might be forced to enter BlackBerry territory to appease the extended family, but I'm still developing an iPhone app from which I anticipate millions in profits. It's called "The Complainer." Day-to-day life provides so many opportunities to voice one's opinion, and this app would deposit recorded voicemails and texts directly into the phones of CEOs and elected officials across the country. No research, dialing, or holding necessary. For example: 

To CEO of Chipotle: I just passed a Chipotle billboard which reads: "Not drugs. But just as addicting." Sir, the word is "addictive," not "addicting." It's incorrect to use a transitive verb without a direct object. While this won't result in my reduced consumption of your delectable burritos, your company is now a little dumber in my eyes.

To Vi Daley, 43rd Ward Alderman: Hi, Vi. This is my third call about the 'no parking' signs in front of my building on Mohawk Street. The work on the house next door is complete. I even talked to the stucco guys about it face to face. So let's get these signs taken down now, OK? It's a waste of valuable parking spots. Oh, and holler me back when you get a chance. I have a few other things to discuss.

To president of Checker Cab: Greetings, King of Cabs. One of your drivers just schooled me yet again for using a credit card to pay the fare. He made me late to the opera with his intentionally prolonged swiping process, then advised me to go to an ATM next time. But I don't have an ATM at my apartment. That's where I catch cabs. So please, no more of this argument. Get with the times. Let's have those passenger-operated CC swipers installed STAT. 

Speaking of cabs, I hopped in one last Wednesday night only for the driver to ask: "So, when did you join the ranks of the upper class?" 

Here we go again, I thought. My posture--which I refined as a child in order to appear taller, and continued to hone during four years of perfectly perpendicular piccolo-holding while trilling off Sousa tunes as an Eastern High School Marching Eagle--often leads people to label me a supersnob (a debatable point). But my attempt to convince the driver of my down-to-earthiness led to a heated discussion about health care reform that left me completely overwrought for my press dinner. (Driver: The public option will never work! Never! Work! Me: Oh yeah? What's YOUR coverage like? Driver: Eh. Lost it when my wife divorced me.)

For heaven's sake. One minute you're watching MTV and still really, really wishing you could do Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance, and the next minute you're on heart-attack alert over a public policy argument with a stranger. Oh, the stress of city living.    

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Casting Couch

Somebody needs to sit me down and read me The Berenstein Bears and Too Much TV. You know, shame me into putting down the remote. The batteries are dying as it is. Then again, I've learned (or at least reinforced) some valuable lessons under the tutelage of my favorite shows. In the past year alone, I've learned how to chop fennel (Barefoot Contessa). I've learned that sometimes, the less you say, the more you get (Mad Men). I've learned that bad boys can be good (Gossip Girl) and good boys can be boring (Gossip Girl). I've learned that you will most definitely cry when you try on the wedding dress you were born to wear (Say Yes to the Dress). And, if your boss hires a fun gay assistant, he will soon be the favorite and you will be either bitter or fired (Rachael Zoe Project).

I forge strong emotional ties with the faces on TV, and while I'm fast-forwarding through the commercials, I like to imagine which characters would make the best contributions to my own reality (should they suddenly step out of the screen and into, say, Black Beauty). A few years ago on this very blog I made a list of potential stand-ins, and it needs an update. Herewith, my life as populated by the realest of the reality stars (version 2009):

Dad: Tim Gunn, Project Runway. It's not easy, being endearing and all-knowing at the same time. Tim pulls it off. Plus, he could teach me how to do a perfect hem, a useful skill to have when every pair of pants in the world is six inches too long and every skirt fits you like a nun's habit.

Mom: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa. This is a no-brainer. I could sit in that cedar-shingled barn/kitchen pouring out my heart all day while she whipped up hearty sausage-lentil soup and lobster mac 'n cheese. Duh.

Big Sister: Patti Stanger, Millionaire Matchmaker. Like lots of big sisters, Patti loves to give advice. She's also brilliant at destroying people's self-esteem one aching fiber at a time (which I've heard is a popular activity in many families) with relentless jabs at other women's hairstyles, clothing, weight and makeup application techniques. Anyway, I'm sure she'd have me looking good and scared to speak in no time flat.

Little Sister: Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. Khloe's a good little sister because she's fun but surprisingly take-charge, much like my real little sister. If you're into drawing parallels between the Kardashian sisters and the Drury sisters, here's how it lines up: Kourtney = Emma (oldest, shortest); Kim = Claire (glam middle child); Khloe = Liv (youngest & tallest; expert eye-roller). We are just like them. We even hang out in family-owned boutiques drinking champagne and everything! OK, back to the list. 

Brother(s): Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, Top Chef: Las Vegas. Competing chefs in the family? Thanksgiving would be aMAZing.

Best Friend: Jeff Lewis, Flipping Out. Jeff is mean, self-centered, has impossible standards, is a neat freak, and is unsuitable for romantic involvements. Oh, and also handsome, funny and good at hanging curtains. He would be a great best friend.

Boyfriend: Hmm. This is the hardest, since there are almost zero straight men on my reality TV schedule. OK, it's a little out of left field, but how about: Joey Rozmus, Real World: Cancun? You know, the skinny one with the tats and the drinking problem? He's a little young (or is he? At 22, he's within my 10-year radius), but he's an instigator and he's in a band. That's hot.

P.S. Last night, I ventured out on a dusky stroll and passed a woman on the sidewalk carrying a mostly white rabbit wearing a neon green leash. I openly stared for about 40 feet of approach time, hoping to make eye contact with the woman so we could both acknowledge it:

"You're carrying a rabbit. That's weird."
"I know! A city rabbit, on a leash! I'm a kook."

But she refused to see me, keeping her eyes trained on the stoplight ahead as the rabbit morosely twitched his ears in my direction. What does it take to get a little human interaction around here, people? Geez Louise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Identified Flying Objects

Have you ever found yourself driving down the highway next to an unfathomable object? Something so surreal that you risk your life digging in your purse for your camera so you can document and research the item when you get home?

I have, about two months ago. It was on I-65 in northern Indiana, about 90 miles outside Indianapolis. There I encountered several slow-moving semi trucks, each carrying one smooth, white, gently sculpted, extraordinarily graceful, shockingly large thing. I had no idea what the things could be. Propeller parts for the world's largest helicopter? The hulls of super-swift submarines? Rockets being developed for use by the general public? BOMBS? Good Lord, I was mystified.

The answer came last week, when I was again driving the same route and came upon this glorious sight (see right). These towering beasts (please note size of trees for sense of scale), as I later learned via extensive Googling, are GE 1.5MW Wind Turbines at the Benton County Wind Farm, providing carbon-free energy to hundreds of thousands. Perhaps you have seen something similar on your own journeys, but I had not, and was moved to exit the expressway for closer inspection.

A few days after the windmill encounter, my sister Claire and I flew to Florida to visit our brother Lee on the occasion of his 24th birthday. Our visit was a mix of incidents both successful and mildly disastrous, our favorite combination. On our first afternoon in residence at the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa, we began with an hour of poolside lounging, followed by a stroll on the beach. A group decision to fully immerse ourselves in the Atlantic Ocean led to the following mini-emergency: 

Claire: Should we get in?
Lee: Yeah, the water’s warm!
Me: I hope our sunglasses stay on.
Claire: We’ll just leave our drinks right here in the sand.

Soon, the conversation turned to body-surfing:

Lee: Here, wait for the next big wave, and I’ll tell you when to start swimming.
Me: This one?
Lee: Nope. Not good enough. Hold on.
Claire: This one?
Lee: Yeah, get ready. OK, paddle! Go!
Claire (shrieking as two-ton crush of saltwater sweeps us helplessly to shore): My sunglasses! They’re gone!
Me: Stop! Everyone! Find them!
Claire (flailing in wave suds, panicked by accessory loss to churning sea): It’s over. Done! We'll never see them again.
Lee: Yeah, I'm pretty sure those suckers are gone.
Me: Weren’t they, like, $600?
Claire: Yeah. Retail. But not wholesale.
Me: Well I’m just sick over it. We’re not leaving until we find them. I’ll drown looking for them.
Lee: Forget it, Emma. Those sunglasses are on the bottom.
Claire: A mermaid’s wearing them.
Me: She must be one cool mermaid.

The emergency trend continued later that night when Lee slipped on some wet marble stairs in the hotel and required three stitches, some x-rays and a tetnus shot, an activity that kept us entertained at the urgent care center for the better part of our brother's actual birthday. It was fun, but not as fun as this nighttime landing in a single-engine Piper (Lee's been living in Vero Beach for flight school, and he flies like a pro). The video cracks me up every time, see, because the screaming stall horn followed by the sudden camera drop makes it seem like we really crashed. Luckily for you, we didn't:

This video of a daytime landing features better lighting, but beware, Claire's deeply ingrained fear of flying occasionally prompts her to cuss:

P.S. Today, I saw a bee buzzing along the sidewalk and thought: I wonder if I'll ever get stung by a bee again for the rest of my life? I wonder.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hot Timez in the City

You know those girls who're always like, "Ooh, it's freezing in here!"? (See left: Keira Knightley, a master of the art of appearing chilled.) Then, their teeth chatter delicately as they display goose bumps and pull cashmere wraps around their non-insulated shoulders in 82-degree environs? Well, that's not me. All my life (well, at least since I was 13), I have been known in certain circles (i.e., the circles frequented by all people with whom I've ever associated) as a particularly hot-natured person. When it's -5 degrees with a windchill of -20, then yes, I'll shiver with the best of them. But otherwise, I may be observed frantically ponytailing my hair off my neck, disappearing to run cold water over my pulse points and fanning myself with any card, envelope, folder or notebook to be found in the depths of my handbag.

I'm relieved to live in the age of air conditioning, and on occasions when this invention fails, I become something between melty and incensed. The backs of Chicago cabs are a true-life nightmare, ventilated as they are by makeshift accordion hoses squeezed through crudely sliced holes in the bulletproof partitions that separate passenger from driver. I do plan to bring this public discomfort issue to Mayor Daley's attention the next time I encounter him in a social situation, but meanwhile, I rely on fainting motions and heavy sighs to convey my angst to cab drivers. Recently, this method led to an inappropriate line of questioning:

Me: Siiiiiiggggghhhh. Fan, fan, fan. Fiddle with window control. Inspect makeup meltage in compact mirror. Siiiiiggggghhhh. Moan lightly as if delirious with fever.
Driver: "You OK, miss?"
Me: "It's just sooo hot back here. Is your air conditioning broken?" [A frequent inquiry; see post dated 7/22/08]
Driver: "No, it's on. Can you feel it coming out?"
Me: "I feel nothing but heat. I'm dying."
Driver: "Yes, eet is very hot."
Me: "I'm sweating."
Driver (arching eyebrow in rearview mirror): "Sweating, you say?"
Me: "Yes, I'm always sweating in this heat."
Driver: "Where you sweat, miss?"
Me: "All over."
Driver (knowingly): "Ah, I see. All over."

P.S. More glamorously, last week, in a temperature-controlled setting (the penthouse of the Park Hyatt on Michigan Avenue), I received a haircut (retail value: $1,400) at the hands of celebrity stylist and John Lennon-slash-Jesus lookalike John Nollet. Two semesters of college French have all but escaped me; still, I did manage to translate a thing or two whispered by Nollet as he tornadoed about my head, snipping passionately. Les cheveux magnifique!, he breathed. And this from the man who coiffs Johnny Depp's pirate 'do! Nollet's young assistant was visiting the U.S. for the first time (I was pleased to advise him on a Chicago sightseeing itinerary for the rest of his stay), and he may have found the situation slightly less enthralling. "So many hairs," he muttered ruefully amid the masque-ing, shampooing, scalp-oiling, conditioning, and endless blow-drying of my locks. "So many longs hairs."

But they did shape up nice, those hairs (see partial evidence above). Afterwards, for lunch, I had a celebratory quiche.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'll Give It Some Thought

"I'll give it some thought." That's one of my favorite expressions. It's nothing original, nothing new, just a vague proclamation I've recently pushed to the limits of usefulness. Like making stacks of "open later" mail and coding e-mails in "respond later" colors, "I'll give it some thought" is a well-intentioned procrastination tool which--when paired with a slight chin-tilt and brooding nod--provides a polite delay:

Mom: "How are you keeping track of your taxes for next year? Don't you think you should get an accountant?"
Me: "Hmm. That might be wise. I'll give it some thought."

Bob the Landlord: "Are you still planning to move that old mattress out of the basement? It's a fire hazard. Do you want me to hire someone to carry it away for a small fee?"
Me: "Yes, that mattress has seen better days. It's no doubt blocking the walkway. I'll give it some thought."

Me: "Why don't you spend the entire day arranging every item of clothing you own into three piles: Love It, Hate It, and Haven't Worn It in Three Years? Then dispose of all but the first pile."
Me2Me: "How industrious of you to think of such a plan! I'll certainly give it some thought."

Sometimes, though, it is necessary to maintain an appropriately cheerful flow of chatter rather than putting the lid on a conversation with a handy five-word catchall. This can occur when on a semi-blind date, for instance, or when dining with one's grandparents at a Chinese restaurant. On the dates, I tend to revert to three topics:

1. My job, the related anecdotes of which I suspect make me sound like A. a brat, B. a priss, or C. I'm making shit up off the top of my head.
2. How, when I worked there in college, I used to love to try on bridal veils in the dressing room at Jacboson's department store when there were no customers around (alarming for obvious reasons).
3. The true story of how I once aspired to be a professional flute player (men of a certain age enjoy inserting vulgar American Pie reference here).

Or, I let the dates themselves get a few words in. If they tell me something along the lines of, "So, I'm carrying a laminated list of all my food allergies in my wallet. Here, wanna see?" And the list includes chicken, black pepper, spinach, wine, chocolate, and virtually every other item I regularly place in my grocery cart, I revert to, "Wow. I'll give that some thought."

With my grandparents and other family members, I cover work, their travel plans, the most recent mini-scandals involving each of my three siblings, my relationship with Black Beauty (my car), the state of the economy etc. Luckily, if there's another sibling present, we have double the material. My sister Claire, for instance, can always be counted on to relay the details of her most recent dry-cleaning fiasco (See previous post. Claire has sparred with hundreds of dry cleaners from Chicago to Louisville, for offenses ranging from unremoved wine stains to lost satin belts, too-short hems, unexplained discolorations, favorite-shirt disappearances, and much, much more):

Claire (during lull): "Oh! Did I tell you what happened at the dry cleaner last week?!"
Me (to grandparents): "Claire had another fight with the dry cleaner."
Claire (in affronted tones): "You WOULD NOT believe it. I had this shirt from the store [her store, the Peacock Boutique] that was ivory silk with brown leather straps." (See left, and black version below.)
Me (to grandparents): "They melted the straps."
Claire: "I was SHOCKED. I specifically told them when I dropped it off: 'BE CAREFUL. Those are leather straps.'"
Me (to grandparents): "But in all fairness, how many shirts have leather straps?"
Claire: "Emma! Are you kidding me? Dry cleaning is their JOB. They should know what to do with leather straps."
Me: "Well..."
Claire: "Anyway, you will not believe what happened next. They tried to CHARGE me for it! I said, 'You melted my shirt!' and they said, 'That'll be $15.'"
Gram (mildy): "Then what?"
Claire: "Well, what do you think? I said there was no way I was paying, and they owed me $250 for the shirt, and I would NEVER. RETURN!"
Gram: "Did you get the money back?"
Claire: "Of course I did. And it's too bad since they're so conveniently located. In fact, they're only moments from where we're sitting right now."
Me (sensing drama overload): "So. Pot stickers, anyone?"

P.S. I'm conflicted on the punctuation of the term "dry cleaner's" (or "dry cleaners," or "dry cleaner"). If you have interest or input on the subject of whether or not to use the apostrophe "s" when referring to the specific establishment in question, please weigh in.

P.P.S. Thank you, anonymous commenter. Your logic is sound and I've made the suggested revisions. My initial inclination to use the apostrophe "s" is likely due to the longstanding Louisville tradition of conferring the possessive upon all establishments in existence: "Let's eat at Outback's tonight." "I need to pick up a few things at Kroger's." "I'm craving that burrito from El Mundo's." Outback. Kroger. El Mundo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Confrontations in Innumerable Locations

As seasoned readers may have noticed, I rarely resist action whenever I encounter a situation, person, product or service that proves deeply disappointing. And since I'm your basic non-violent citizen who's never thrown a punch (and since utter silence is the most physically and emotionally draining option imaginable), my conflict-resolution strategies are usually written or verbal. For instance, as a child, I once formulated the ultimate insult: Brokenpiggyskunkcowrotteneggydorkbraingrimyboogerfartfacecrustymoldybuttsucker. It breaks down like this: Broken. Piggy. Skunk. Cow. Rotten. Eggy. Dork. Brain. Grimy. Booger. Fart. Face. Crusty. Moldy. Butt. Sucker. My sister Claire and I used it most often on our younger brother Lee:

Claire: Oh my gosh, Lee, you're such a brokenpiggyskunkcowrotteneggydorkbraingrimyboogerfartfacecrustymoldybuttsucker.
Lee: Mom! She called me a brokenpiggyskunkcowrotteneggydorkbraingrimyboogerfartfacecrustymoldybuttsucker!
Mom: Okay guys. That's enough.

These days, I try to address conflict in more adult terms. Remember my open letter to the Farley's & Sathers candy company about their sickening new formula for Brach's malted milk balls? Well, soon after I posted the letter on this blog, I printed it out and packaged it in an envelope with the uneaten portion of malt balls. Then, my intern Courtney placed it in an outgoing mail bin. Two weeks later, the following reply arrived:

Please note that no chocolate items were included in the enclosed Brach's Sampler (Lemon Drops, Circus Peanuts, Candy Corn, etc.). That's because they know and I know that the chocolate sucks now.

So, that was the somewhat dissatisfying resolution to one recent conflict. Let's move on to the next, an e-mail communiqué I initiated between myself and a 31-year-old member whose toolbag tendencies I couldn't resist pointing out after reading this sentence on his profile page (a direct cut-and-paste): In all honesty, I prefer to date women who are younger than me. I've found that many single women in their 30's are a bit obsessed with Facebook and text messaging. I'm sorry but it's just not worth the hassle.

Me to Match a-hole: Hi there. Your generalization about women in their 30s being "obsessed with Facebook and texting" is ridiculous. Isn't it kind of the other way around? I mean, I'm 30, and yes, I'm on Facebook, but until recently I always considered it the stomping ground of a younger crowd. Meanwhile, my friends in their 30s are mostly concerned with careers and families. I'm surprised to see a guy who's 31 so easily writing off people your own age with a flip little line like that. -A

Match a-hole responds: Hello "A", There's good news and bad news. The bad news is I feel bad for you. Your're critiquing online dating profiles. What could be more pathetic? The good news is I will never meet or talk to you. Thanks for saving me the hassle. [LOVES the word "hassle."] FYI- Enjoying hayrides and champagne does not make a person versatile. Well, maybe it does in Kentucky?

Me (after arriving home from vodka tasting at midnight and becoming incensed upon reading derogatory reference to home state): I'm a professional writer, so the critiquing comes naturally. Takes no time at all. You could have answered in a less defensive manner, but clearly, "professional douchebag" comes just as naturally to you. Good luck with the ladies, bud. Your profile is just the kind of place where I find some of my best material. Readers really get a kick out of that shit. Adios.

Who won that round? Who knows. But I did have the last word, since I subsequently blocked him from further communication.

One more:

Me (to Jimmy John's cashier): I'll have the number two, no mayo, no cheese, add avocado and sprouts. And a bag of Skinny Chips.
JJ cashier: You want a drink with that?
Me: No, because you don't have any good low-cal options that aren't loaded with sugar.
JJ cashier: That's because Jimmy doesn't really care about that stuff.
Me: Well, you could at least offer un-sweet tea.
JJ cashier:'s your sandwich.
Me: Thanks. Do you have any low-fat mayonnaise packets?
JJ cashier: No, we just have regular.
Me (rolling eyes): Great.

Well, that's about all the discord I can handle for today. Stay tuned for a script from my sister's most recent "Claire vs. The Dry Cleaners" encounter, an epic battle which occurred after a silk top with leather straps was irrevocably destroyed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweet Treats

Today I'm listing my favorite sweet Chicago treats on my friend Liz's food blog, Elizabites. Mosey on over there for your chocolate fix.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sammy's Summer 'Do

Poor Sammy. Sammy is one of our family's golden retrievers (shown here at a flower shop in 2006), and he's lived through a lot in his 10 years as a dog. Once, he ran away for two months with one of our other dogs, Frankie. We thought they were gone for good, but then they were found. Once, Sammy came to visit me in Chicago for seven months and got a taste of life as a city canine. Like many dogs, he has particular likes (car rides, wide open spaces, fishing) and dislikes (hardwood floors, sidewalk grates, other dogs). For a while, a few years ago, he was addicted to MySpace. But never has Sammy weathered such a storm as the one he's facing now. He has received, at the hands of my mother, an Unfortunate Haircut.

Me: Mom! OMG, what happened to him?
Mom: I know. It's bad.
Me: Oh Sammy, come here. Poor thing, I can see your skin. In some places.
Mom: You should have seen the pile of hair! It was about four feet tall.
Me: Well, this is the worst he's ever looked. I hate to say it, but I might be embarrassed to take him to the park. He's a sunburn risk.
Mom (sighs): It was dark when I was shaving him. I couldn't get the guard to stay on the clippers, so I went without. Should try to touch him up a little? On his legs and maybe around his neck?
Me: NO. One hundred percent no. Sammy, you look diseased.

Still, a dog's gotta walk, so to the park we went. Sammy perked up and pranced along in the shade (we tried to provide him with as much natural SPF as possible). He ignored, for the most part, the stares. But I couldn't help overhearing two well-meaning busybodies who passed as Sammy lapped up a bottled water and leaped into the car.

Lady 1: Well, I'll be darned. Look at that.
Lady 2: For heaven's sake! He's lost all his hair!
Lady 1: He shure has.

P.S. In other news, at the bus stop last week, someone appreciated the combined effect of my most recent home pedicure and sensible but stylish Sigerson Morrison sandals:

Unidentified man: Woo hoo! Those feet look sweet enough to eat!
Me: Oh! Thank you.
Man: Mmm hmm. I do love me a woman with some pretty feet.
Me (looking down at toes): Thanks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brows, Balls & Cartoon Boyfriends

Pardon me for shamelessly quoting Sex and the City as a 30-year-old, but they say that in New York, you're always looking for three things: a job, a boyfriend and an apartment. If you've got at least two of those covered, you're doing pretty well. Hmm. Hmmmmmmm.

It's pretty much the same deal in Chicago, except apartments are easier to come by. An alarming review of my current status in the three categories:

1. Last week, I submitted my resume to a major media conglomerate with the following line in my list-format cover letter (devised to avoid the utter boredom of actual paragraphs): "Gets along well with others!" In the same e-mail, I also name-dropped Mary Poppins the musical, a topic which I cannot cease referencing.
2. I can't go into detail about topic #2 without exercising my signature eye roll to the point of retina fatigue, except to say that lately, has been attempting to lure me back into its soul-shriveling fold with the following e-mail subject line: "Love is on sale! 25% off!" Is that a bargain? The offer is accompanied by a rendering of a possible future love interest (above), who, as you can see, might not have a face but comes complete with a full head of hair and confidently slouchy stance.
3. When my upstairs neighbor strides around his living room preparing for his shift at the shoe store, it's like the cast of Riverdance is rehearsing inside my skull. When my next-door neighbor dries her hair at 5:26AM with her low-wattage, non-salon-quality tool, I might as well insert my eardrum into a trash compactor. And when another neighbor lets her XXL tabby cat into the courtyard while my porch door is ajar, he creeps into my kitchen and startles my pants off with his baleful meows. How much, I wonder, am I currently willing to tolerate in exchange for the ease of accessible street parking in the 142 residential zone?

P.S. An open letter to the makers of Brach's malted milk balls, once my favorite mass-market candy:

Dear Farley's & Sathers Candy Company, Inc.,

I have recently learned, via Internet research, that you acquired the Brach's candy company in November 2007. While one would hope you'd keep their time-tested recipes intact, I can see (and taste) that you've implemented some cost-cutting measures to the one candy I regularly purchase at grocery and drug stores: Brach's Malted Milk Balls.

Based on my evaluation of a bag of said balls obtained yesterday at my neighborhood Treasure Island, I would like to submit the following observations:

Packaging (THEN): Lustrous pink bag with superior plastic thickness and tempting photo of malt balls beneath Brach's logo.
Packaging (NOW): Noticeably flimsier plastic in more garish pink hue; dull, grainy picture of unidentifiable brown mass.

Malt Ball Appearance (THEN): Shiny chocolate brown exterior; slightly irregular ball shape with mildly undulating surface.
Malt Ball Appearance (NOW): Smaller ball size; suspiciously matte texture with waxy finish.

Taste (THEN): Initial bite through medium-thick layer of semi-real chocolate, crunching through to sweet/crisp nougat interior.
Taste (NOW): Disturbingly chewy, 100% fake chocolate non-taste followed by chalky, lackluster semi-crunch at center.

Basically, Farley's & Sathers, you're busted. Per your suggestion on the back of the bag, I shall return the unused portion in original packaging to your Minnesota mailing address. I hope you are able to replace it with a quality candy specimen.

Very Truly Yours,

P.P.S. The latest installment in the Drury Sisters Eyebrow Chronicles, excerpted from a conversation on 5/20/09:

Emma: Your eyebrows are looking good. You're going to a new girl in Louisville, right?
Claire: Yeah, she's strict. She yelled at me. I'm not allowed to wait more than two weeks between appointments.
Emma: Well, are you happy with them?
Claire (pointedly arching aforementioned brow): I think they make yours look a little thin.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Once and Future Jackpots

It is one of my most frequent activities: Driving up and down I-65 from Chicago to Louisville, Louisville to Chicago, in my trusty auto, Black Beauty. If you've ever previously read this blog or have met me in person anytime between 1999 and now, you will remember that Black Beauty is not your standard semi-antique hunk of steel. In fact, the two of us have a lot in common. We're both always simmering a little under our hoods. We look younger than we really are. We have the same breakdowns over and over again. And neither of us has very good shocks, so we hit potholes hard (but at all other times we hug the road with a high level of style). You get the gist. So, I usually make that I-65 drive by myself these days, but I'm never 100% alone. A recent (as in yesterday) conversation between me and Black Beauty:

Me: Are you serious? Check engine again?
Black Beauty: If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, check my dang engine.
Me: Bogus. You always say this and it's always nothing.
Black Beauty: Well, you never know.
Me: And frankly, I could use a little input about this SRS light situation.
Black Beauty: Supplemental restraint system.
Me: I know, but is it seriously broken? Would the airbag still protect my face in a crash?
Black Beauty: That's for me to know and you to find out.
Me: N-E-WAYZ, which exit are you thinking for gas?
Black Beauty: Let's hit 240. New pumps, nice quality windshield wipes.

When my car and I run out of things to discuss, I turn to my other favorite 300-mile pastime: deciding what to do with my lottery winnings if and when I win them. I cover the usual bases (pay off people's mortgages, go on an African safari, build myself an elaborate treehouse where I'll read books and listen to birds, and (shhh!) buy a hot new M5), and yesterday I made an addition to the list:

Me: You know, all these billboards are a crying shame. Nothing but porn, preaching and patty melts for sale.
Me 2 Me: Yeah. If that lottery ticket pans out you can totally put whatever you want on these billboards.
Me: Then you can give back to the community. You know, do something to really connect with your fellow drivers.
Me 2 Me: Something pretty.
Me: Yeah, pretty. And fun! Like an art show.
Me 2 Me: Yeah! You can rent, like, seven billboards in a row and hire a famous photographer to do something large-scale and arty.
Me: But not like those nature pictures in the inspirational poster store at the mall. This is not about footprints in the sand.
Me 2 Me: I know. It would have to be non-controversial but cool.
Me: Yeah, like those back-lit Tokihiro Sato photos from the Art Institute [see below] that you got in trouble for taking pictures of because it's against the rules to take a photograph of a photograph.
Me 2 Me: And you could have just a few words at the bottom of each billboard. A greeting to all.
Me: It would be like:
1. Hello, fellow drivers!
2. Please enjoy these beautiful photos.
3. But don't get too distracted.
4. Happy trails!
5. Exit here for a free cookie.

Me 2 Me: A free cookie?
Me: Yeah, you could build a little drive-up shack at the next exit where you'd give everyone a free homemade chocolate chip cookie.
Me 2 Me: Hmm. A few logistical kinks to work out, but man oh man, that is a great idea. I sure hope this ticket is a winner.

P.S. I am anti- the new British announcer they had calling some of the races on Derby day at Churchill Downs. This is not England. This is Kentucky. A British accent does not automatically make everything fancier.

P.P.S. And come on, people, when they play "My Old Kentucky Home" right before the Derby, I really do expect you to sing along. If I memorize the all the words and wear a fascinator all day and throw down cold hard cash on Mint Juleps and park three miles from the track, then I need to hear group participation at the crucial emotional moment. I don't even care if you're from out of town. Get on it for next year. Thanks.

Herewith, the fascinator in action. Speaking of jackpots, my sister Claire (right) took home some bank on the long-shot surprise winner, Mine That Bird.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thank Gelato It's Friday

Today, on Gelato Friday (mmm, I'm really craving something cold and creamy), I would like to address several topics:

1. I want Oprah to stop with Twitter, talking about her Tweeple, and beaming in viewers in via Skype. Sure, I've Skyped here and there, but that's because I'm on a budget and I wanted to communicate with my sister Liv in Italy (that is, before the Italian police asked to see her nonexistent work visa and politely invited her to exit the country). But anyway, I know Oprah is not on a budget. I'd much rather see her take a question from an actual audience member being filmed from a flattering angle than listen to her shout across the room at a blurry image of a poorly-lit Barbara from Rhode Island or Monica from Idaho.

2. I am fascinated by an item called a fascinator, which is what I plan to wear on my head to the Kentucky Derby next weekend. It's something like a cross between a headband and a hat (see above: SJP in a particularly elaborate example). I hope my (yet to be procured) fascinator will add Drama!, Flair!, and furthermore, Height!, to my ensemble. FASCINATOR. Don't you just love that word? I learned it from my sister Claire.

3. It has been one full week since I spoke to my teacher friend Tim's first-grade class at the Walt Disney magnet school on career day. I told them about how I write stories for magazines, and I tried to outline the process of getting from an idea to an interview to a photo shoot to words on a page. All they really wanted to do, however, was play with my late-90s model mini cassette recorder, which still held the previous week's interview with Mary Poppins (the musical) star Ashley Brown (whom I claimed was the real Mary Poppins). Regardless, I enjoyed the feeling that for a moment I might be molding young minds. I also enjoyed reviewing the students' recent homework assignments on the bulletin board, especially the paper which noted: "If I could be a butterfly for a day, I would fly to Pizza Hut and eat cheese pizza." Well said.

(My favorite number from Mary Poppins: "Step In Time")

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ina Is My Martha

Because affectionately referring to my girlfriends as "heifers" doesn't come naturally to me, I don't think I could ever be BFFs with Paula Deen. (Though nothing entertains me more than gazing in the mirror and intoning in my most extravagant twang: "Guess what I'm fixin' t' do now, ya'll? I'm fixin' t' wrap this bacon 'round these chilled mac 'n cheese squares, an' then I'm goin' deep fry 'em, ya'll.") I can't connect with Martha Stewart, either, because as much as her bad-girl tendencies and sinister flower arranging demonstrations intrigue me, I don't do Arts & Craps. But if there's one TV homemaker who makes me want to move into a cottage and start growing my own asparagus ASAP, it's Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. I never watched her much when I was immersed in the, um, corporate world, but these days I'm 100% enamored with her popped-collar denim shirts, her soothing approach to egg-cracking, her trips to the market to buy lamb shoulders from butchers who adore her and her rotating cast of non-threatening dinner guests. No one else on the Food Network can touch her for pure legitimacy, pure quality, pure comfort--and that, I have decided, is the catchword of the moment.

I was not comforted, however, when I awoke this morning to the grating scream of a giant wood chipper in the alley behind my building on Mohawk Street. I was not comforted when I heard my next-door neighbor puking through the wall (and, directly after the puking, watching an adult video at top volume). I was not comforted when I got into my car and listened to Eminem's Crack the Bottle (the fully explicit version), a tune with which I can hardly bring myself to sing along. I was not comforted when I discovered via various beauty blogs that I might die from the formaldehyde-laced Brazilian hair straightening treatment I received on Thursday. And, though I'm very much looking forward to this evening's VIP Chippendales performance at the Horseshoe Casino, I don't expect banana hammocks would score high on Ina's comfort meter. Oh well. Tomorrow is Easter, a good day for fresh starts.

P.S. More wholesomely, have you ever communicated with a real live Uncanny Nanny using the most modern of technologies? I have:

Whilst waiting in the lobby of the Cadillac Palace Theatre last night to interview Broadway star Ashley Brown in her dressing room, pre-performance:

Jeff: Who're you texting?
Me: The girl I'm interviewing.
Jeff: You're texting Mary Poppins?
Me: Yes. I'm texting Mary Poppins.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Change I Refuse To Believe In

I couldn't be more thankful to see the season finale of The City air last night. Despite the show's value as a treasure trove of upbeat shopping tunes (which I regularly download to add to the Peacock Boutique master playlist), I suspect the producers' choice of Aussie model/renegade Jay Lyon as Whitney's boyfriend has been nothing more than a marketing gimmick designed to subliminally encourage viewers to eat at Outback Steakhouse. Listen closely when Jay speaks and you'll hear for yourself:

Jay: "I told you, Whit, I don't even know that girl. I swear I didn't take her home cheese fries cheese fries cheese fries last night.
Whit: But Jay, you were wasted.
Jay: I only had seven shots alice springs chicken oozy cheese cheese, I swear.
Whitney (balefully): "But Jay."
Jay: "Why're you always yelling at me, Whit? Deep fried bloomin' onion mmm mmm good. Look, if you can't trust me, I just don't know if this relationship can work.

Lord, what I wouldn't do for some shrimp on the barbie.

Meanwhile, a sticker on my most recent bag of Baked Lay's has alerted me that the chip brand will soon be sporting a new look. That's just great. I'll never find them in the snack aisle, and if I ever do bring a bag into my apartment I'll be confused every time I see them on the kitchen counter. Obviously there are Frito-Lay executives who are unaware of my fear of change and the fact that I've already had enough for one year. Between this, the renaming of the Sears Tower (prompting all my Facebook friends to indulge in "What you talkin' bout, Willis?" status updates), the privatizing of Chicago parking meters and an upcoming overhaul of the Chipotle logo, my life has become nearly unrecognizable.

P.S. There are two Quotes of the Week. One goes to Jeff, and one to me. What? It's my blog.

While traversing a sidewalk in Washington Park and mapping a route to the Museum of Science and Industry via iPhone:
Jeff: I think we passed the bus stop.
Me: It's right behind us.
Jeff: Where?
Me: That blue sign, see?
Jeff: There? We can't stand there. Too ugly.

Over dinner at Pingpong:
Jeff: Kelli, remember when you used to love those Babysitter's Club books? You had every one lined up in a row.
Kelli: I loved the horse books, too.
Me: I watched the Babysitter's Club movie on OnDemand last week. I used to be a Babysitter's Club of one.
Jeff: Emma, you babysat?
Me: Oh yes, Lake Forest was a babysitting gold mine back in the day. I used babysit the shit out of that neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Ghost Story, Ending TBD

Yesterday I was at lunch with someone who said he hadn't seen a certain movie because, he reasoned, "Who needs a ghost story? Isn't life scary enough these days?" I concur. Even movies with titles like Confessions of a Shopaholic are enough to scare my pants off in this economy, and with so many hypothetical axes being slung every which way, the last thing I'm trying to get into is more gore.

Still, I can't help but create a little suspense in my head once in a while, especially when the weather calls for it, and especially when I've been churning out a feature story in utter silence for days on end. And so, when I'd typed the last word of said story yesterday afternoon (in case you're wondering, the word was "here"), I stood up, slipped on my tennis shoes, and exited the premises. It was 5:51pm and a tad late for a walk, but that's what Daylight Savings Time is for, right? It was also drizzling rather seriously, but by the time I'd realized it the front door had closed behind me and it was Too Late to Turn Back.

Dodging sludgy puddles and peering through the fog on the lakefront path, I beheld the enshrouded Chicago skyline. I passed beneath the dim orange glow of an endless row of streetlights. I outpaced the rush-hour creep of Lake Shore Drive. I made my way along the curve of a narrow concrete pier that dead-ends about a quarter of a mile out into the water, where I determined to touch the graffitied steel lattice of a lookout station before retracing my steps. It was a curiously warm evening, but an empty chill rose from either side of the walkway; below, winter's slow-melting swaths of chunked-up ice floated in ringed patterns like crop circles, rolling heavily atop the waves. It was, in other words, an Eerie and Unsafe situation (sorry, Mom!).

As far as I knew I was the only human soul on the pier, but when I turned I found myself walking toward a man dressed in head-to-toe black (workout wear, mind you). He was tall, gym-rat burly, and despite his stony expression, clearly be-bopping to something effervescent on his iPod. We inched closer, and I held my head as high and level as possible, hoping to exude an ass-whuping air of defiance. My hair, unrestrained by any ponytail-holding device, swirled about my face in what I imagined to be an extremely mermaid-esque arrangement. "That man could kill me right now if he wanted to," I thought. "One hard shove, and I'd be a goner." (See above: My possible fate.) I became acutely aware of those undulating ice circles, one of which I might disappear into like a basketball swishing through a hoop. Eye contact was established, and the man and I passed without incident (obviously, as I am still here to spin this heart-stopping tale).

Moments later, the Alicia Keys song "Superwoman" began piping through my headphones, and my mind turned from dark scenarios involving hulking powerwalkers to the daily business of pep-talking myself about my future career. "You will once again be a valuable asset to some company, some day," I preached heartily. "Yes you can. Yes you will." I even sang along a little, since no one was around.

Closer to home and now in full darkness, I waited to cross the street with a group of sensibly accessorized office workers (umbrellas, galoshes) who'd just filed off the 151 bus. They'd stayed late at their desks, no doubt, to prove their usefulness. At a lull in traffic we moved forward in a pack, and for a block I pretended I was one of them. You know, just for karma's sake.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When the Clouds Align, At Last

When Beyoncé sang Etta James' "At Last" to Barack and Michelle at the Neighborhood Ball on inauguration night, it was arguably one of the loveliest moments ever to play out for an audience of billions. Honestly, I could YouTube that shit all day. When the same song plays during the black-and-white scene in Pleasantville where they drive down Lover's Lane while floating cherry blossoms create a sudden shower of blush pink, a similar fairy-tale effect is achieved. But lately, when Etta's silky first notes of this timeless tune announce the beginning of a new Hoover vacuum cleaner commercial, I'm forced to close my eyes, sing "LA LA LA" at top volume and change the channel before another strain reaches my ears. Hoover: As much as I respect your vast vacuum empire and enjoy the sheer dirt-busting power of my Wind Tunnel Complete (it certainly does suck), you're ruining it for me! Please, make up an original jingle about bagless debris storage or something.

In other news, I thought Bachelor Jason made quite the revealing slip last night when he said: "When I'm with Melissa, it's like everything just falls right into place. It's like when all the clouds align. She's such a fun and amazing and beautiful girl." If he were really in love with her, don't you think he would have said stars instead of clouds? Mark my words, Melissa will not be the winner of a product-placed diamond ring and soon-to-be-called-off engagement when the finale airs next week. But if she's lucky, she might get one more run-hug-twirl, Jason's best and signature move.

And now, please allow me to present today's Match Moment! Is it mean if I continue to feature cut-and-pastes from my favorite Match men on this blog? Come on, you know you like it. And so many clouds are aligning these days that I think we could all use the entertainment. So, here you go. Real uncensored romance, unleashed:

PRINCE CHARMING #1: Don't sweat the small stuff I always say! Tommarow's another day! Oops. I'm pretty much of a guy that when life slams me down I always stand up, dust myself off and go on!! Shit happens!!!! Get up and stand tall I always say!!! My match should be able to fish with no help if you know what that means. Camper also is great, but I know when a lady has to be a lady. I enjoy going out for dinner but the candle light thing works for me also! Love to snuggle an spoon!! I love snowy nights infront of the fire, and those rainy Sunday's sitt'n watchin the games, huge bonus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Huge Bears fan and Cubs fan you pick the game I have tickets for both!

PC #2: A Ray Of Sunshine.....And A Lot Of Laughs!!!!! If you are looking for a lot of fun and a bunch of laughs and can handle a great looking, fun guy! Look no further! I am looking for a girl who can be just a blast to hang out with. Someone I can look over and can't help but think "damn she is hot". I want a woman whose smile catches my eye from across a room and makes the heart flutter. A woman who smells intoxicating and I can't help but whisper "let's leave this party now!" Simple guy who loves to be active-sports-playing them...coaching them...watching them...loves the sun-why am I here in mid Feb??? Love to cook-hate doin the dishes...I am old scool romntic but why can't I have it all?!

PC #3 (accompanied by 14 shirtless self-portraits featuring a variety of silver and wood-bead necklaces): Well I'm 5 10 185lbs, . I'm 100% italian, STRAIGHT male, i have 11 piercings & 5 tats, im outgoing, spontanious, silly and fun to be around because I'm still a kid at heart. I'm very blunt too, i dont sugar coat things, I say it like it is! I'm professional with a bad boy side to me which always helps. I always get my way if I want it that bad. I love to work out, love my music (electro house, hardstyle, vocal trance, metal ) , go clubbing, beaches when its nice out, anything that can keep my interest.

Most of my friends are married engaged or work on the time that i have off so it's almost like I'm stuck in alot which sucks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Things, Random or Not

So, is everyone aware of this 25 Random Things About Me chain letter that's taken hold of Facebook and choked the site's entire population in its irresistible boa death grip? Well. When I first saw it I rolled my eyes several times in a row. Like millions of users, I've been "tagged" in the 25 Random Things note nearly 1,276 times. I've always stoically resisted the urge to respond. Anyone who hasn't already been exposed to enough info about A.R.D. via Facebook status updates, MySpace golden oldies, blogs, Google searches, texts, e-mails, contributer bios, first-person essays, actual face-to-face conversation, etc., clearly has not been doing his/her research. Plus, an internet expert on the Today Show last week smirked while calling the list "the epitome of modern-day vanity," therefore making anyone who falls into its trap the automatic World's Biggest Dumbass.

But. When used as a procrastination tool, the 25 Random Things can be highly effective. Please don't disown me for doing this:

1. I'm considering full-on bangs, or maybe parting my hair in the middle.
2. My sister Claire and I are sometimes mean to each other about our eyebrows. The last time she told me mine were getting too thin was on September 22, 2008.
3. There's a jar of mint-infused honey in my kitchen that I don't want to open for some reason.
4. I've never met my current upstairs neighbor in person, but I know via Bob the Landlord that his family owns a popular Chicago shoe store where sensible shoes are sold.
5. When my sister Liv was a sweet little eight-year-old whose hair curled charmingly around her temples, I taught her to point to those curls and say: "Look, I'm horny!"
6. Magic Johnson cried a little when I interviewed him once. I am the next Barbara Walters, surely.
7. Personally, I always cry a little while watching Sweet Home Alabama or The Notebook.
8. And, I need to get over Ye Olde Hometown Sweetheart Love Story. At least, that's what various friends have asserted REPEATEDLY.
9. I keep a plaster cast of my own teeth above my kitchen sink. I got it the day my braces came off, at the ripe old age of 22 (see photo).
10. I know the horse racing industry is not always on the up-and-up, but I love the sound of many hooves thundering by on a dirt track.
11. Every Monday night, my uncle Jack and I exchange close to 58 incredulous texts on the subject of The Bachelor.
12. Favorite pen = Uniball Vision Exact, fine point, in blue.
14. I just skipped the number 13 because after last Friday, I'm feeling superstitious.
15. I've never been a bridesmaid.
16. Today I stood in front of the seal pool at the zoo, willing a seal to swim over to me. When one finally poked its head out of the water and flared its nostrils at me plaintively, I said, "Oh, there you are!" Like we were old friends.
17. The following fortune cookie wisdom is taped to my desk: "You have a slow and unhurried natural rhythm." I'm not sure if that's a compliment, but I like it.
18. I have to write a book. It just seems like the natural progression of things. But will people still be reading books by the time I finish mine?
19. After I park my car some nights, I like walking down the middle of my street in my party heels, in the dark. I consider it part safety measure, part Sex and the City delusion.
20. I am an incredible rapper. You should hear me on Lupe Fiasco's "Kick, Push." (My favorite song of the year.)
21. Also today, I wrote a letter of complaint to Hotmail about their banner ad featuring some girl's stretch-marked belly hanging over her waistband. I'm sick of looking at that.
22. I just sighed deeply.
23. I'm boring myself to death.
24. I have to go watch American Idol now.
25. Adios.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Un-Funny Valentine

It would appear that I do not have a confirmed Valentine this year, except for McLovin4U, who sent me a wink on Match last night but whom I cannot entertain as a possibility because he's yet another Vegas fanatic. Honestly, I can't wait until my subscription runs out. Whatever, no Valentine is better than last year's a-hole, who sent me an e-card, a couple texts and an arrangement of carnations that arrived at my office after I'd left for the day. He then went off the radar for the remainder of the evening (a time period during which I later learned he took his other girlfriend out to dinner).

This year, I'll be attending someone else's engagement party on V-day, and although I won't be taking a date, I will be getting into the spirit by wearing a rather beautiful pair of red satin shoes with jeweled bows, and that has to count for something. (See right for desktop still life.) They are my new ruby slippers, and if I could break them in enough to tap my heels together three times without wincing in pain, they just might take me somewhere incredible. Somewhere where health insurance is handed out like candy. Somewhere where every lottery ticket is a winner. Somewhere where the temperature at any given moment is 74 degrees and they serve a side of chocolate chips with every meal.

In other news, several things occurred yesterday and the day before:

1. I watched a dried Christmas tree float down the bike lane on Wells Street like a homesick tumbleweed.
2. I went to the dentist for my toothache, which hurts at all times but especially when breeze blows on it. My dentist said she can find nothing amiss and asked if I'm under a lot of stress, then brought up a toothache of mine from several months ago that vanished mysteriously. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I have been diagnosed with a phantom toothache.
3. I took myself out to breakfast at Nookie's, where I sat near a multi-pierced girl who faintly resembled Angelina Jolie and who carried on a mostly one-sided conversation with her unlikely dining companion, a Nerdy Dude:

Angie Junior: If I can draw really good cartoons, then why shouldn't I, you know?
Nerdy Dude: Seriously.
AJ: And the weird thing about it is, everybody says I look like Angelina Jolie, and everyone says Jeanette looks like Jennifer Aniston, but we don't fight, we're actually the best of friends.
ND: That's so weird.
AJ: Jeanette's a Pisces, so she's really outgoing, which is kind of the opposite of me but not really.
ND: Hmm, interesting.
AJ: I would like to have nice teeth at some point, you know, get some work done on my teeth or maybe get Lasik surgery, even though my mom had complications from it. She couldn't see out of one eye for a long time.
ND: Wow.

P.S. I've loved print media since I was roughly 11 years old, when I first started reading Sassy magazine. (Or, maybe it was a fascination born out of running around Granddaddy's office at the Louisville Courier-Journal as a child and getting black ink on my socks. Or reading my mom's Redbooks while she was in Jazzercise.) Magazines have always been my most reliable bedtime companions, and I can hardly bring myself to throw away my Vanity Fairs even when they weigh 20 pounds and I've read every page. I once thought to myself: I want to write for a magazine. And that's what I did. But last night, I met with CNN's Ali Velshi, who just wrote a book about the recession titled Gimme My Money Back: Your Guide to Beating the Financial Crisis. I knew I was expected to ask him a question, so I said, "Ali, I work in print media. When do you think I might be able to get a new job?" His response: "Get a new career." So, I'm taking suggestions. If you can think of a line of work for which I might be suited, please let me know. And please don't say Waffle House.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

See Here: Sassy Water

The next time you come over to my apartment, I'm totally whipping you up a batch of Sassy Water. I just made my second-ever pitcher of it, and it's so refreshing I think everyone should give it a whirl. The only problem is that it's so summery-looking, which is contrary to pretty much everything else. But the chance to offer someone a "glass of sass" is so pleasing that I'm just going to overlook the seasonality thing. Here's the recipe. It's from the Flat Belly Diet, a book my mom and I were recently lured into buying from the end-of-the-aisle discount selection at Target:

8 cups water
1 cucumber, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
12 mint leaves
chill overnight
(see right: Sassy Water reclines upon my desk)

In other news, Black Beauty was towed last Sunday sometime after 3AM, which was the last time I laid eyes on her. Such a thing has NEVER previously occurred. I hated everything about it, from walking outside the next morning to find zero transportation to Graham's birthday brunch, to extracting $180 from the ATM to cover costs, to taking a cab to an underground trailer on Lower Wacker Drive to retrieve her. My friend Jeff accompanied me on that mission, and luckily he was able to find some entertainment:

Jeff (to counter lady at Chicago Central Impoundment trailer): Ahem. Um. Have you ever been on TV before?
Counter Lady: No.
Jeff: Really? You look so familiar.
Counter Lady: Oh, I was on the news one time when they was filming down here.
Jeff: Oh.
Counter Lady: Maybe you're thinking about Jon & Kate Plus Eight. Me and Kate have the exact same haircut.
Jeff (eyeing haircut dubiously): Oh.

As we drove away, Jeff mused, "She said Jon & Kate Plus Eight. But I really thought I saw her on Springer once."

Later that day, I drove by an actual hot dog tent sale at the Vienna Beef factory on Damen Ave. Now that, I thought, is not Flat-Belly-approved.