Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This means you

I've been trying to figure out how to say this without sounding like it's just another post complaining about my mom. I feel like it's something that needs to be said, and, unfortunately, she is being made into an example. Well, that's her problem. Here goes:

Last night as I watched the numbers rise, as the networks, one by one, announced the winner, I had one thought repeating in my head:

"It's over."

Not just the election (though I'm glad to be rid of that as well) but the eight long years of the ignorance and arrogance of the Bush regime. The dark times were over. It's over.

I watched McCain's concession speech with my jaw agape and tears in my eyes. My mom, a staunch Republican, stood in the kitchen, eating her dinner. Of all the places in the kitchen where she could have stood, she made sure to stand where I could see her. Her back was to me. After McCain's speech I was walking through the kitchen, and she moved as I moved - she made sure her back stayed toward me.

When Obama told his daughters that they had earned a puppy, she scoffed, "Oh, geez." All night long she was making sarcastic comments, following each one with, "Oh, I didn't mean that. I'm just in mourning."

Look, this has to stop. Republicans, don't turn your back on this country. Don't turn your back on this president. Don't wallow in your party's loss when you can be celebrating your country's future. I know you don't see it. You see every bad quality, every evil - real or imagined - all packed into one skinny black senator from Hyde Park. You see in him likely what the rest of us saw in McCain. But look beyond that. We need you.

Democrats have a majority in the Senate, in the House, in the voting booths. But we need you, now more than ever, to make sure that another voice is heard. We need to know that when we are out there making a change, you are out there changing with us. Not because we want you to give up your life's philosophies and turn blue, but because we are all Americans and we are all depending on each other to get this country through these tough times.

Don't turn your back on us, Republicans. We are still one nation, we still share one hope. We still have a common dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The nation can't heal and won't thrive without you. It won't get done on any one party's terms, and it won't get done if we can't work together and face the problems of this nation as a nation united against ignorance and hate.

Don't give America the cold shoulder. It's your America, too. Help us make it something to be proud of again.

And to all of you who went out yesterday and make history in the voting booths, you aren't done. You and I everyone else all have a lot of work to do. Your commitment to this country cannot end after the acceptance speech. Get out. Make a better life for us. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It's time to get in the game.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hate is hate

'Hanging Palin' causes Halloween display uproar

Freedom of speech is pretty awesome. I'm all for it. But I know ignorance when I see it and those of you who are championing this guy, saying "it's just art" and that it should be left up there because you hate Palin, too, should consider this:

What if it were an Obama doll?

What if someone prominently displayed a mannequin resembling the man who might be the first black President of the United States hanging from a rope? Oh, the outrage! Oh, the condemnation!

Two years ago, at Louisiana's Jenna High School, the discovery of nooses attracted the attention of the FBI. Yes, that FBI. Just for the presence of nooses with nothing in them.

But because Palin is a white woman, nobody is batting an eye. Is implied violence only offensive when it's against racial minorities or gays? Those of you rallying around this display, would you be able to hold your tongue and call it "freedom of speech" if, across town, someone had Obama "surrounded by flames" as McCain is in this same display? I doubt it. Hating white people is no better than hating black people.

Are you free to believe and say what you want? Why yes, of course. But I have to ask: when your hateful statements are basically the same as their hateful statements, who have you become?

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I live in Illinois. We're a blue state, have been for ages. Our state is going to go to Obama, no matter what I do. Recently I overheard some co-workers talking about how it's not even worth it to go to the polls because our votes wouldn't matter (we're going to Obama), and even if we were a swing state, our votes wouldn't matter because of the electoral college. And I know it's true, but it still pisses me off.

What can I do at a polling place that matters? I don't trust either one of those rich fuckers. According to, McCain has raised $230 million and Obama has raised $454 million. They're both elitists. They are both richer than I will ever even hope to dream of being.

Neither one of those rich fuckers will ever know what it's like to sell possessions to put gas in their cars. (I had to do that three weeks ago). Neither one will ever have to take a jar of coins down to the CoinStar and lose 8.9¢/dollar just to get money to turn into quarters to do laundry. (That was two weeks ago). And you can bet your sweet ass that neither one of them has ever had to use to a windbreaker as a winter coat (in Chicago, no less) and sat around on the el trying not to cry because everybody else looked so warm and cozy. (That was ten years ago.)

So I'm doing something different. I am going to count this year. I am not voting for either one of those over-funded, over-polished, under-hearted jackasses. I'm putting my vote in for a third party. "No! Not another one!" you're thinking. "That's how we lost in 2000, you ninny!" you might be screaming at your monitor. No, no. You don't understand. My vote won't elect Obama or McCain. My vote will, however, get us one tiny step further on the road to eliminating the two party system. It will not be lost in the millions of other moot votes, it will not be just a drop in the ocean running towards the pockets of American politicians and the corporations that pull their strings. My ancestors didn't fight for my right to sit idly by and be another brick in the wall. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Susan B Anthony, and all those forgotten others, did not fight so that my vote could be cast in vain.

To the disillusioned millions out there who think their votes do not count, I say you're doing it wrong. You're voting for the leaders of Corporate America, not the leaders of our America. You're voting for bailouts for the rich and the legislation of motherhood, death, and love. What does John McCain know about women that gives him the right to say if we can have an abortion? What right has Barak Obama to tell the millions of terminally ill Americans that they can't die a dignified, peaceful death at the mercy of a needle? What right does anybody have to tell us who to love, and how, and whether we can be married? None. Absolutely none.

You have got to stop voting for the candidate who had the best stories on Letterman or the guy who did the funniest skit on SNL. You have got to stop that NOW. You have to stop voting for what's cool and start voting for what is right. The two party system isn't right. The electoral college isn't right. But the absence of your voice is your permission for this mess to continue. You cannot sit on your ass, stuffing your face and watching "America's Next Top Model" and expect anything at all to change. YOU are the change. YOU have the right, the power, and the responsibility to vote for someone who doesn't speak for Corporate America. The problems of our nation, of our world, rest on your shoulders.

Stop doing what the TV tells you to do. Be somebody you can be proud of. Turn off your fucking iPod and stand up to count for something. Start a revolution.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick? Pigs?

That's what you fuckers want to talk about? Lipstick on pigs?

Shut the fuck up and fix the economy. Stop fighting with each other and get a damn thing done. I mean jesus h christ on a pony, why do you act like you matter when nothing you've ever one is worth a damn?

I mean, seriously: fuck you.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My tomato plant is PMSing...

I got a tomato plant from the farmers' market a few weeks ago. It shot up like a weed, got a bunch of blooms, and now it's got little green bulbs on three of the blooms. They're not actually tomatoes yet, they're swollen ovaries. Yeesh. Sounds like something out of 7th grade health class.

But this is so much better:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I find guilt in the most ridiculous places

Due to unexpected popular demand, here is a generic picture of the car I got (picture stolen from

Except my sister-in-law (who had the car before me) had all the windows tinted, so be sure to keep that in mind. That's the paint color I have, though.

No road trips yet (gas is $4.25 for fuck's sake), though I did take it out for my favorite drive on Sunday night:

Down the highway to Lower Wacker Drive (an underground thoroughfare that has changed quite a bit since it was featured in the big chase scene in "Blues Brothers"), over to Lake Shore Drive (where I get smacked in the face with a stunning view of the lake), up to a kind of up-scale neighborhood, around a waste of space called the Nature Museum ("Here are the types of grass you'll find in Illinois" and they don't mean the fun kind), then racing back down again. There are few things in the world that calm me down as much as that drive does.

My old car, Dox, would die when he was idling so I'd sit at red lights with my foot on the gas. I still find myself doing that. Also, if I found myself driving a nice car in the past 5 years or so, it was a car that I had borrowed that had automatic transmission. Dox was a stick, and so is the Kia (tentatively named Trixie), but I forget that I'm driving a stick with Trixie and sometimes find myself going 35 in second gear.

I'm having to re-learn how to drive stick. Trixie has four working speakers and no broken engine parts, and no dial on the dashboard telling me my current RPMs, so I have to really pay attention to know when to switch gears. Also, Dox's transmission was in such poor shape that I could switch gears with just one finger. Trixie has a good transmission, so I have to actually have my hand free to switch gears.

Trixie doesn't have power steering, so every time I turn I say to myself, "Gun show. GUN SHOW!" trying to really put some muscle in it so I have something to bring to the (you guessed it) gun show.

Trixie is clean, doesn't smell funny, has no rust or dents, has four working doors and five working seat belts, a fancy flip-down stereo, gets a modest 26 miles to the gallon (Dox got 9...that's not a typo, he got nine), and doesn't reek of gas for ten minutes after you kill the engine. There is no cause for embarrassment when I drive her, and people at the bus stop no longer look in my direction with hope and then disappointment after realizing it's not their bus, it's just Dox's muffler. In every way (except air conditioning) she is a vast improvement.

But in my heart of hearts, I miss Dox every damn day. If I didn't have an audience around me when they put him on the junk yard's tow truck, I honestly would have been in tears. He was my trusty steed through some of the most amazing and scary years of my life, and I loved him like an old friend.

Even when he was broken down, even when his expired tags got me arrested, I still loved that car. There have been very few times in my life that I have felt like a completely unredeemable asshole, and selling him to the junk yard for $150 is definitely in the top 5.

The guy who put him on the flat bed didn't understand that his brakes didn't work and that he'd have to pull Dox up the ramp with the chain. When he realized it and brought Dox back down the the street, he scraped Dox's muffler. I wanted to punch him.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Friday's (late) Feast


What is the nearest big city to your home?

Chicago. Sprawling, wonderful, intricate, lovely Chicago.


On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?

Pretty well. Of course, about 40% of the time I forget I even know the secrets I'm told. The fact is, people tell me secrets, and then it turns out the secrets aren't interesting at all, so I forget about them almost immediately.

I'm pretty good about keeping the juicy ones, though.


Describe your hair (color, texture, length).

It's brown, ramrod straight, falling past my shoulders. Nothing useful can be done with it. Whatever you try, it just straightens itself right out again. Color from the home coloring kits won't stay in it, neither will curls or clips. It's obnoxious.

Main Course

What kind of driver are you? Courteous? Aggressive? Slow?

I am the only person in the tri-state area who knows how to drive. I have a news flash for you bitches: at a four-way stop, the right of way goes like this:

1. People turning right.
2. People going straight.
3. People turning left.

So the next time I'm turning left and you just sit there staring at me, don't look all shocked when I cuss you out.

Other than four-way stops, I'm pretty laid back. I cuss at people a lot, but I'm not aggressive. I like to play cribbage on license plates. I let people in to "re-shuffle" my hand.


When was the last time you had a really bad week?

Early April, whenever that trip to St. Louis was. That was pretty awful. But my noggin is finally all healed up!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We don’t need no education

I read an article today talking about how education isn't look at as a way to broaden your horizons so much as it is a way to stay out of minimum wage jobs.

Part of it said:

"Most of their talks inspire, but many have also adopted an underlying message that links education, graduation, and material success. It's a message that unwittingly reduces the worth of an education to the expected wages it can bring. It sees tuition not as a ticket to a liberated mind but as a down payment on future income. In our excitement for the graduates, we've put the emphasis in the wrong place."

Look, this is 2008. It has been years since I've met anybody who wants to actually debate an issue. Everybody I meet thinks that any issue more serious than the latest episode of "Lost" is boring, or they have an interest in the important topics but lack the ability to debate. They just want to yell.

I've been working on my 2-year degree for three years now. I didn't want to go to college for the learning; I wanted to go to college so I could get a job that didn't involve cleaning toilets. That's it.

The art of debate and the importance of democratic debate are lost on our citizens. Basically, nobody gives a shit.

Why do you think gay marriage is suddenly being talked about again? Because nobody really thinks about real issues, and everybody understands gay marriage. It's a valid way to win voters.

Why does Congress keep calling the heads of the big oil companies up to discuss gas prices, and then not doing anything about it? Well, if you were bothering to learn all you can about the situation, you would know that these prices are being driven by investors who have no place else to put their money.

On May 6th, oil prices went up based solely on the speculation that oil prices would go up. What the hell does the oil company have to do with any of that? Nothing. That's big business. Wall Street, free trade.

If you bothered to use your education and the resources around you, you would notice that nearly every day the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P are down, even though nearly every day the price of oil hits a new high. The other stocks are falling fast, and oil is the only sure thing around. Congress - college graduates, all of them - should know this. This parade of oil tycoons is frivolous and pointless, and they know it. But they're banking on us to vote for them because they called the oil execs in to talk to them. Because none of us really uses anything we've learned to find out what a bunch of morons Congress takes us for.

Everybody living in poverty now who is thinking "man I really wish I could afford college" isn't going to college to learn about Schrodinger's cat, world history, or the Pythagorean Theorem - they're going so they can make money and get out of poverty.

When a kid brings home a bad report card, the parents say "What about college?" Not because they're concerned that Junior is going to vote for the wrong politician, but because they're concerned that Junior will never get a job and move out.

We are a country built on capitalism. We love it, we embrace it. We are addicted to it. We love our credit cards and our shiny electronics and our fast cars. All we want is more toys. We have no interest in the goings on around the world unless it's dirty laundry or dead people. This is why we know a lot about the lives of the members of the Royal Family, but most of us don't know how to find Myanmar on a map. And the only reason we are bothering to wonder where Myanmar is is because there are a lot more dead people there lately.

So yes, we go to school for the wrong reasons. We retain little, if anything, of what we learn there. But we get our degrees and buy our toys and raise our kids to go to college so that they, in turn, can buy nice things. This shouldn't be surprising. If we could make more money any other way we would. An education is the next best thing to a guaranteed higher income.

Look at all the people will college educations who can't even grasp the difference between "there," "their," and "they're," people who don't know what's wrong with the sign that says "10 items or less," and people who think Benjamin Franklin was a President are making more money than me. Why? Because they have a degree. They don't really know anything, they just have a degree. And they're doing great.

This is America. We don't need no education; we just want to be able to afford our rock n roll lifestyle.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Intro to Introverts

"Introvert" is defined as "a person who tends to shrink from social contacts and to become preoccupied with their own thoughts."

That's what I do. Some people mistake it for being shy, but it's not the same. See, when you're shy, you really want to meet new people and talk to strangers who seem interesting, but you're scared to. With introverts, we don't really want to meet those people or talk to those strangers. Hell, even people we know and like aren't always people we want to talk to.

For introverts, hell is having to talk to people at breakfast. For introverts, small talk is a form of torture that should be covered under the Geneva Convention.

We don't hate you, and we are not being anti-social. We're just a special shade of indifferent. We prefer thoughtful silence to constant yammering.

Yes, we get bored of it and we go out. On occasion we can fake it and make it look like we are not the social retards you've known us to be. And then we run home and spend hours by ourselves doing whatever we please, and reveling in it.

We are not the wallflowers who are wishing people would come over and talk to us, we are the wallflowers who are enjoying watching other people talk. It's not that we have nothing to contribute or nothing to talk about - no, quite the opposite. I will sit and talk about some subjects with total strangers til I'm blue in the face. Chicago history is one of those subjects. So is juicy gossip. But sitting around talking about the weather or stocks or other boring things, well, I tend to tune that out. And if you want to make me hate you, then by all means let's start a deep discussion about spirituality or our feelings.

Alone is not the same as lonely. If I wanted company, I would call people and go see those people. And I'm not just staring blankly into space when you do corral me into going out, I am pondering things that I don't feel like explaining.

I'm not being uppity or elitist, I just...well, I just don't feel sociable. That's a pretty basic explanation of introversion. I'm not depressed or upset or in need of special attention, I just am not a big talker around people I hardly know, and I have no interest in entertaining people.

I don't go out on Friday nights. By 5:30 Friday afternoon I basically can't stand anybody. I have talked politely to every moron, cheapskate, and lunatic that has walked past my desk. Of course there are nice people who come to my desk, but these respites are brief and only make the slack-jawed morons seem more unbearable. There is a very short list of people I would even bother to pick up the phone for on a Friday night, and most of those people know better than to call me when they get off work.

That's not to say I just sit home and stare at the walls. Sometimes I go downtown, or go for a walk or a drive. I can be okay in a crowd where nobody knows me, because nobody will strike up a banal conversation with me. I can't be out with people I know and like, who know and like me, because they will expect me to be chatty and sociable, and I just don't have that in me by the end of the week.

It's how introverts are.

So don't be offended if we don't come out very often. Don't get huffy when we leave your party early or turn down invitations to just hang out. Don't get all upset when we do come out and we don't have much to say. It's just who we are.

And face it, you wouldn't have us any other way.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Goodbye, June! Hello, teen angst!

My mom's coming to stay with me June 6-28. This is kind of a big deal. She's in town for a series of three classes she has to take to keep her law license current and it's easier to just stay with me instead of flying back and forth three times. Yeah, she's a lawyer. And that's the least of my problems.

See, my mom's crazy. Now hold on, I know you're thinking, "No, MY mom is crazy!" but seriously, my mom is nuts. Level two borderline personality nuts, according the shrink she used to share with my sister. And she's in a cult. By "cult" I mean group of people who make sure only certain people are allowed in the group, and the group is insane. The cult, among other things, doesn't like the colors red, black, orange, and grey. When one of their flock fell over at a restaurant after Temple, they prayed for his ascension (read: death) as he lay there with his heart attack and his new found faith. They don't eat meat (Mom's a vegan), they don't like "bad" music and movies. By "bad" I'm not talking about Lords of Acid and "Debbie Does Dallas," though those certainly count as well. I mean shit like "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Stand by Me." I tried to watch "Stand by Me" with her when I was in high school and she had a panic attack about ten minutes into the movie.

Oh yeah, did I mention the panic attacks? The screaming, crying, throwing things, punching herself in the head panic attacks? The Joan Collins ("no wire hangers!"), gut-wrenching, always-ends-in-suicide-threats-or-a-pity-party panic attacks. She's anemic, too, so when she's hungry these come out in full force.

Oh, her medication? She won't take any. It's against her fucking religion. She also thinks I'm a straight up bitch for asking her to get help. Her current living situation is in my sister's basement that she shares with my sister's eight year old daughter, and the rest of the house is occupied by my sister's other two kids, my sister, and my sister's boyfriend. That house is too small for her drama. She doesn't have a job, though she finally had an inteview last week. It went well.

She still sometimes thinks of me as the lying, mischievous brat I was when I was a kid, when we last lived under the same roof. She didn't get the memo that I grew up, that I know now what I didn't know then, and that I'm well aware of the things that I still don't know. She doesn't say this, she doesn't have to. She's my mom, I know what she's thinking.

She cries at everything. Part of the problem with her coming in is that I have to hide all the stuff that will make her cry. This includes books (Palahniuk, Bukowski, "History of the Devil," etc), music (Lords of Acid, Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash), and DVDs (all the horror movies, the "Arrested Development" set, "Harold and Maude"). I have to hide the red carpet I was going to put by my bed. I already bought a blue comforter for her, since she can't use my orange or red ones.

My siblings don't do this for her. They just do whatever the hell they want and if she can't handle it, it's her problem. We all know she's crazy, and they are always surprised when she acts like she's crazy. Then, when it comes time to have a Serious Talk, she's already wound up and nobody can get through to her.

Me, I like to pick my battles. For the month of June, my battles won't be about "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Joe's Garage." I won't come home to find my mother has "accidentally" spilled something on my red rug and threw it out. I won't reach for "Ham on Rye" in mid-July and wonder where it's gone.

We are going to have Serious Talks. We are going to answer the questions "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" and "Why do you think it's appropriate to act like that?"

And that's the part that really gets me down. I don't want to have those talks with my mom. I don't like seeing that look of disappointment that I always brought to her face when I was a kid.

I didn't get the good part of her when I was growing up. I didn't get the carefree era of regular paychecks and a steady boyfriend. I grew up so clenched up and stressed out that I started to just tune her out, tune everybody out. In high school, when my brother was off at college in Alaska and my sister was off married to the wrong man, I got a little bit of Good Mom. She introduced me to classic movies, something I have and will always be grateful for. She showed faith in me, and never once said "Oh, you can't do that," when I wanted to try my hand at anything.

When I was eighteen and my left leg was gripped in unfathomable pain, she held me and cried with me and tried to feel my pain for me, tried to share my burden. She held my hand when we walked down the street and didn't pity me when I was doubled over in pain, walking with my hands down around my ankles because standing up straight was excruciating. She didn't make a big deal about the tears I watched drip off the end of my nose and land - splat - on my oh-so-hip Doc Martens.

I didn't get Good Mom when I was growing up. I got her when I was seventeen, eighteen years old and had her all to myself. I got her when everything was going so wrong in each of our lives, when the world kept hitting each of us separately with the one-two punch of real life and real loss.

My brother and sister didn't get that Mom. They didn't stick around to see how it turned out. That's the Mom I want back, the one who gave me Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and "The Universe Song." That's the mom I'm packing up my stuff for, that's the mom I want to have here in June. Yes, there will be Serious Talks, and there will be crying and fighting. But for a few days at least (hopefully, most of the days), there will be "Operation Petticoat" and "Meet Me in St. Louis." There will be sewing lessons and family stories and (dare I say?) cooking lessons. There will be my mom, my secret mom that my brother and sister never had the patience to know. All this for a month of doing without some of my favorite things.

And to me, that's a bargain.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Friday's Feast


What was your favorite cartoon when you were a child?
Oh, there were so many. I loved Scooby-Doo until an incident with my kindergarten teacher that was inexplicably embarassing. She pointed out that "Maggie" (the name I went by then) rhymed with "Shaggy," and giggled in such a way that made it clear that she was making fun of me. Bitch.

I liked Thundercats, Transformers, She-Ra, and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman figured into my Plans for Being a Grown Up. (These plans, in my mind, deserved capital letters.) I was going to marry Maxwell Smart, and I knew this just as surely as I knew Monday followed Sunday. We were going to live in the city, and we would live next door to the A-Team, and Wonder Woman and I were going to Hang Out and be Best Friends and she was going to be nice to me. (This cofession, whispered at the tender age of six to my favorite great-uncle, was met with a grave and understanding nod and best wishes to my future marriage. This is why he was my favorite uncle - he never laughed at my dreams.)


Pretend you are about to get a new pet. Which animal would you pick, and what would you name it?

I nearly got two parakeets this week. They were offered - along with a cage, bowls, toys, and food - on Freecycle on Thursday. I sat at my desk and daydreamed about having two little parakeets, teaching them to say "I pity the fool" and "Psht bitch please." After a doctor staying in the hotel stopped by my desk to bitch about the price of the internet, I added "I gots to get paid, son!" to the list. I would name them Laurel and Hardy, and teach them to sing along when I played my uke. (There was a lot of time for daydreaming on Thursday.)

I looked up what it took to take care of them, and the grand plans for Laurel and Hardy flew the coop, if you'll pardon the expression.

I don't want another cat, they tear things up. I'd love a dog, but my place is too small. Fish are boring, I have a poor history with hamsters and gerbils, and I would never find anyone who would take care of a pet lizard if I went out of town.

So, I started small. My neighbor and I went to the Garfield Park Conservatory today; they were having a sale on herbs and flowers. I got a little geranium that smells like lemon. I named her Gladys and plan to get her a hanging pot tomorrow. If I can make this work, I might try fish next. Wish me luck.


On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy getting all dressed up for a special occasion?

Ok, here's the thing about me dressing up. I am always the most inappropriately dressed person around. From weddings to court dates to just regular dates, I am always over dressed, under dressed, or just wrongly dressed. I can't get fashion; dumb-ass me always takes into consideration things like "Well there's no way I'm going to make it tonight in shoes like that," and the outfit sullenly follows.

I would love to get dressed up, but there's no place to go and I would do it wrong anyway, so rating this a 10 would be moot.

Main Course

What kind of music do you listen to while you drive?

Depends on my mood. I like loud music, though, so I don't zone out and forget to turn when I should.


When was the last time you bought a clock? And in which room did you put it?

I don't remember exactly, but it was probably a CD player/radio/alarm clock and I put it in the bathroom. I like to listen to the radio when I'm taking a shower before bed, and in the morning when I'm getting ready. I don't have one in there now, though. Instead, I torment my neighbors with my atrocious singing at night and in the morning I listen to the news from the bedroom.

That came out wrong. Well, you know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

My mom sent me an email from for lemon chicken. It looked pretty good.

I basically see cooking as a circus (those of you who have seen the mess I can make in a kitchen will see the sense in this), so I see components of a dish in rings. This dish was a three ring circus. First, I had to get the chicken together, then the dipping sauce, and then the email (which came to my mom via mentioned at the bottom that I could throw some cauliflower in a food processor and then toast it up to serve with the chicken.

So, I start with the first ring. It was a dipping sauce that involved chili garlic paste. I was way too lazy to go find a store that sold that, so I found a recipe for it. I didn't write down what kind of chillies I needed for the recipe, I just wrote on the back of a piece of paper that some asshole had left on the floor (by the trash can) of the computer room at the hotel, "2-3 oz. chillies" and left it at that.

Well I got to the store, and there were all kinds of chillies. I usually shop at a tiny little grocery store across the street, but I needed some stuff that they don't carry so I was at a great big grocery store, and I had basically forgotten how big that place was. There were all kinds of dried chillies to choose from. After getting opposing information from around the country from the people I trust to know about chillies, I was about to give up.

Then a guy and his wife walked up to the chili display and started talking in rapid-fire Spanish. I decided to ask him which chillies are the mildest. I retained enough of my two semesters of Spanish to get out, "Pardone me, necissito chillies pero no me gusta caliente. Por favor?" This was the wrong thing to say. He started in with me in Spanish like we were old amigos from Ecuador with shared fond memories of being weened on pablanos and fried rice. Oh hell no. I stopped him with, "That's all the Spanish I know."

He said, "okay. Okay!" and smiled and handed me a bag of little chillies. "Caliente!" he declared proudly. I said, "Um...gracias. Pero, no me gusta caliente." And I held my stomach and tried to convey to him with pantomime what would happen with caliente. His wife giggled. He took the bag back and handed me a bag of great big chillies. He said something that I told myself was along the lines of, "Ok, nice lady, here are some nice, mild chillies. Have a great day!" but was probably more like "Alright, you bland, unimaginative, gringo, here are your bland-ass chillies. I hope you choke on 'em." Given his wife's ensuing guffaws, I'm sure it was the latter. I digress. Here are the chillies:

I finally did find a jar of the chili garlic paste, over by the soy sauce. Here is what I found:

It was only $1.50 and I figured I could definitely use a back-up.

So I got home and started in making the dip, an ingredient of which was the chili garlic paste. First, I soaked the chillies in boiling water for half an hour:

While that was going on, I went to pummel the chicken. I don't have one of know, the mallet things, so I improvised:

Just trust me, that's a half an inch. Boy, that was fun!

The chillies still had some time left for soaking, so I went on with the second ring of the circus: the caul-rice. This sounded kind of gross to me, because a caul is actually a...well, it's not pleasant, and there's no need to bring it up. Here, it's short for cauliflower-rice, which is basically chopping up some cauliflower in the food processor and then toasting in a wok. And so:


The chillies were done soaking, so I drained the water into a separate bowl and cleaned the chillies. This basically meant taking off the stems, cleaning out the seeds, and rinsing off the chillies. This was boring and seemed to take forever. I'll cut to the chase:

I went from this:

to this:

to this chili/oil/garlic concoction:

So the paste was done. Now I needed to make the rest of the dipping sauce. That was easy, just throw some stuff in a bowl. Don't even have to cook it, just stir it up with a fork.

So, one ring down, one ring nearly finished, and one ring to go.

Instead of dipping the chicken into the bowl of marinade, I poured the marinade into the Ziploc baggie and shook it up. Then I heard a commotion outside and went to go see some drama! It was a false alarm. That extra time with the marinade probably did the chicken good, though. Right?

So I threw the first chicken breast in the pan, set the timer for five minutes, and went to start cleaning up the horrendous mess this meal had created. After a minute or two I went over and started messing with the chicken. I didn't want it to burn, so instead of letting it cook for five minutes on one side and then flipping it like the recipe said, I started flipping it and kept doing that for the next ten minutes, in between washing dishes.

That one seemed done, so I put in the next piece of chicken. As that was cooking, I started to toast the caul-rice. That was pretty boring. So I made a second dipping sauce with the pre-made chili garlic paste. That was a shitload easier, since it was just opening a jar instead of all that soaking and cleaning.

Anyway, the second piece of chicken was starting to look pretty well burnt, so I put it on a plate with some caul-rice.

I took both dipping sauces and tried each of 'em. The one with the home made chili paste was pretty damn bland. I didn't put any of the seeds in there, though, so that explains it. The dipping sauce with the pre-made paste had a lot more kick but the vinegar was way too strong.

The chicken was okay. I guess I don't understand chicken. I can't get it to cook right. My friend Ed said I should poke holes in it with a fork since I'm too cheap to buy one of those things that injects the flavor into the chicken. Maybe I'll try that next time. Or maybe I'll start making the kind of friends who go out and buy that shit for me.

In all, it took an hour and a half to prepare, half an hour to clean up, and it wasn't worth it. It had real potential, but only part of the chicken - the outer part, naturally - tasted like anything. It was good, but it wasn't worth the trouble.

The caul-rice was fucking awful. Maybe I didn't let it toast long enough, because every bite became a mouthful of caul-water. Nasty.
Next time I'll poke holes in the chicken, let it marinate overnight, and use cous-cous instead of caul-rice. Also, the email I got said to serve the dipping sauce on the side, but I think it would have been better on the chicken. I honestly think that in this instant glory world that we've created, there is probably a pre-made marinade for this. I'll keep an eye out for that for the next time. I mean, this didn't even taste like it involved lemons, and the whole point was that it was lemon chicken.

Whatevs. The kitchen is clean now and I'm heading to bed with a heart full of disappointment and a belly full of cous-juice. Whatever horrid dreams may come, I know I've brought them on myself.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday's Feast

Name something you would categorize as weird.
My family.

What color was the last piece of food you ate?
Multicolored: Jack's thin crust with pepperoni and sausage.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy being alone?


Main Course
Fill in the blank: I will _________ vote for ___________ in _______.

try to, the lesser of two evils, November.

Describe your sleeping habits.
I like to sleep with my arm curled up under my pillow, which is why my shoulders are bothering me lately.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday's Feast


Name a color you find soothing.

When the sun has just dipped down over the horizon, leaving us to our own devices for the evening, and half the sky is a dark and mysterious blue and the other half is a lighter, more hopeful blue, there's a blue that binds them together. I guess it's closest Crayola name is Royal Blue. But it's more than just royal to me, more than the stuffy pomp and circumstance that that word intones. It's the color I think of when I hear "My Blue Heaven," the color I tried so hard to dye my hair when I was young and easy to please.

Royal, rambunctious, lovely blue. It's where my peace lives.


Using 20 or less words, describe your first driving experience.

Don't remember exactly, but I do remember my mom freaking out when I got the car up to 30 mph.


What material is your favorite item of clothing made out of?

Cotton. The commercials are cheesy but they don't lie.

Main Course

Who is a great singer or musician who, if they were to come to your town for a concert, you would spend the night outside waiting for tickets to see?

Paul Simon and Tom Waits.


What is the most frequent letter of the alphabet in your whole name (first, middle, maiden, last, etc.)?

Erm, with my legal name it's A, but with any of my nicknames it's M.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Friday's (late) Feast

Invent a new flower; give it a name and describe it.

The Megret flower has a thick stem and slighly opaque, blue petals. It's shaped a little like a ukulele.

Name someone whom you think has a wonderful voice.

My friend Kristi has a great singing voice. My friend Heather has a great speaking voice, but both of these women already know that about themselves.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how clean do you keep your car?

1 is the lowest I can go? Because I'm thinking -23.

Main Course
How do you feel about poetry?

Most of it is superfluous. I like Bukowski, though, and I'll never turn down a good limerick.

What was the last person/place/thing you took a picture of?

There's a door to the stairwell of the parking garage at the hospital where I was on Saturday morning that had some, I don't know, graffitti (or maybe it's just peeling paint) that looked like Sloth from "The Goonies." I got home and uploaded the pictures I took, and now it looks to me more like if Sloth and Jabba the Hut had a baby.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Still just a rat in a cage (or, "Why does my comptuer freeze when I Google the candidates?")

I had my computer playing music while I cleaned tonight, playing through all my songs at random. I sat down for my scheduled break of Diet Coke, a single cigarette, and all the Tri Peaks I could fit into that cigarette. (Don't hassle me, I'll quit again when math class is over.)

The line that caught my ear was, "And what do want? I want to change." To me, it sounds like he's singing "I want change." Which suddenly turned this fantastic song from my misspent youth into a political track.

We do want change. But it makes me cringe when I hear people talk about whether they're going to vote for the black guy or the white lady. Even fewer people talk about voting for the white guy, but that's beside the point.

I just got done reading "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell, which was recommend to me by a good friend whose opinions I respect (though I can't say the same of his puns). The author had gone on a few trips to see places and pieces associated with the three assassinated Presidents who were linked (however loosely) to Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln. I've had the Presidents - past, present and future - on my mind all week while tearing through this book. So sitting here at two in the morning with a kitchen and a bathroom yet to be scrubbed, I decided to sit down with you a minute and talk about the election.

Yes, we can make history this year. We can elect a woman for president. It's been stirring for years, this idea of a woman running the country. The speculations about what a woman in the White House would mean have run to each end of the spectrum, from "Finally! Someone in charge who can show some compassion and bring a little ladylike dignity to the White House," to "That's all we need! Women are crazy! Especially post-menopausal women!"

We could also make history with the election of a black man. We are two hours past the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and this weighs heavily on the minds of voters as well. The speculation here is also far-flung from one end ("A man who knows what it's like to be a working man!") to the other ("He's gonna ruin it! I don't want a damn [n-bomb] in the White House! He'll be up there listening to his damn rap, poppin' a cap in a ho and then where will we be?"). I won't even discuss the whole "He's going to turn us into Muslims!" theory, which is beyond absurd for many, many reasons.

Nobody talks about the issues. Nobody talks about what kind of change Obama would bring. Nobody talks about what Hillary's experience can do for this country. Nobody I know even talks about McCain, but that's groupthink at its finest.

Have the politics in America become so redundant and insipid that they no longer factor into the politics of America? Have we become so jaded, so ready and willing to accept failure as our leader, that we can't be bothered with issues?

Well, yes, they have. We have.

All I hear about the candidates lately is that they're trying to woo Super Delegates. They don't care about us, they don't know you or I. None of them. And the way things are going, they never will. I'm furious about my useless vote, irate that nothing I do will matter and these rich, privileged, snot-nosed jerks are going to be in charge of my life - my money, my privacy, my body - for the rest of my irate years. I'm irritated that people only want to vote for a gender or a race, and not a qualified leader.

I guess that's why this old song hits home so hard for me. There's nothing I can do. I want change. But, despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We all eventually become our mothers

Chicago's temperatures soared into the high 50's today. On the street, everywhere, people were walking around in t-shirts and jeans, smiling and happy. The sun was out. The dawn of spring was nigh. It was the first day of the year that people felt guilty for wasting away hours at their jobs and chores instead of going outside to breathe the seemingly tropical air and feel the sunlight on their arms.

Tonight I pulled into a gas station and some guy was standing around the corner from the front door, skulking in the shadows and looking around expectantly for someone. He kept staring at me. I was going to call my friend Ed, who I always call just so that I'm on the phone if something happens so he can, I don't know, freak out or something. I knew he was on another call (his phone was ringing when I left), so I just got out of the car. The skulker had been peering at the only other person at the pumps, and that person was gone now.

He approached me, this skinny black guy dressed too warmly for a night like this. He started with his pitch. I said, "No," a little too loudly. He backed up. He gave me some story that his car was out of gas. I didn't see any car. I told him I was out of money ("Hey, man, I'm a college student, I'm on my last dollar too. Look at my car," trying to make a joke.) I got inside and told the fella behind the bullet proof glass about the skulker. He walked back out with me, two wary souls out for a fight on the first nice evening of the year.

The skulker was chased off, and the clerk stayed outside with me while I pumped a whopping $10 into my poor car's tank. The clerk was in his 50's and shorter than me by four inches, easily, but his face showed creases that spoke of hard days past. As we watched the skulker flag down people across the street, I thought about my chances of taking on the clerk in a brawl, and the skulker's chances of taking us both. Whether through bizarre curiosity or basic self-defense ("always be aware of your surroundings") I don't know, but this is a question I often ask myself whenever I lay eyes on people. It's just one of those weird tics that makes this monkey different from all the other monkeys crawling around on the planet. The skulker was heading back across to our side of the street, heading for the fast food place next door. (He would fight from his shoulders, lightening fast punches delivered by taut muscles that hugged young bones. His center of gravity would be higher than the clerk's, but he would still be hard to knock down.)

I thanked the clerk (he'd have taken me once he knocked me down; he looked like he fought with his torso, low to the ground and strong like oak, squeezing the life out of his opponent) and I drove off into the shimmering night. I cringed as I pulled up to the only traffic light between me and home, realizing I saw in that guy's eyes was simply worry that some stuck up white lady was going to call the cops when he wasn't doing anything. Maybe the skulker's car was broken down two blocks away and he was really desperate for some cash. We're in a recession, after all. And here I was, being a stereotypical suburban white woman acting a fool because a black man was talking to me. At night. At a deserted gas station.

Maybe some other driver, kinder and richer than I, got him his gas and the skulker made it home safe. Maybe he's still skulking around that fast food joint. Maybe he's given up on this stuck up, predominantly white town and hoofed it home.

If so, he's lucky. It's a nice night for a walk.

The times they are a-changin'

As in daylight savings time. What, you wanted something deep? Try the Pacific.

I got new hours at my new gig, but since they started the same week as daylight savings, it's still a lot like getting up at 5. The new job is very strange, all of the freedoms and restrictions have been swapped. I can now wear whatever I want (as opposed to those ratty old uniforms), get up whenever I want to go get some water, state my opinion without being treated like a moron, and actually enjoy talking to my co-workers.

I can't surf the net, do most of my homework (because of the net restriction), have free reign over the Business Center, or really do my job. I used to be able to quote a price for a job, create and print all kinds of useful cards (business cards, name tags, post cards, place cards for tables), and be a back-up hand for the hotel's office staff. Everything is run on credit cards now, so the prices are already set and I can't do anything about it. My printer is just a little black and white printer that can't make all the fancy cards and can only make half-decent non-fancy cards at a very slow rate. Three times today I let the hotel staff down because of the credit card situation or because of equipment problems. I am redundant. But at least I'm employed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

About a year ago, I was introduced to via It cheaply and efficiently backs up your files. It does this automatically in the background, so you don't have to spend time doing it manually. I got a free trial through, and when I heard back from other "agents" I decided to pay up for a whole year - about $50.

Everything was going great. I knew I had to go through and specially set it to backup my video files. This isn't written in bold red print, but I found it in the fine print and set it up to backup videos. No biggie.

Then I got a virus. It wiped my whole hard drive. Pictures, music, video, word documents, notes for class - all of it, gone.

I was more irritated than worried because I have the Carbonite backup and I knew all my files were fine.

I re-installed my hard drive and went to log into It didn't accept my password. I clicked "forgot password," and was told to fill out a form to send to their customer service department with basic information. They asked for the last four digits of th credit card that I used to buy my subscription. I couldn't remember which card I put it on, and told them so. I submitted the form and got an email auto-response. Apparently it was going to take 72 hours to get back to me.

72 hours. To recover a password.

So I called their support line. Nobody was there, they only support people between 9 am and 5 pm, Eastern Standard Time. Because everybody knows that's the only time computers crash, right?

So I called back today. The recorded voice said I could get something like preferred customer service for just $20. It said I was 9th in line for regular service. I kept my $20 and waited. Every minute, the recorded voice interrupted the horrible elevator music to tell me I could also contact customer service via email. It gave me the email. After 45 minutes, I got really pissed.

I wrote:


I have been on hold with your company for 46 minutes. You have my $50 and all of my backup files. I would like to get back either my $50 or my files. I refuse to pay an extra $20 just so you will pick up the phone. You keep asking me to hold. I guess you think I am going to hang up.

You are wrong.


Half an hour later, it was a similar email. When I hit the 90 minute mark, another. I wrote to their CEO (his email is listed on the site) as well. Still nothing.

At one hour and 45 minutes, someone finally got on the phone. His name is Chris. He had an email sent out within minutes.

When I went to check for that email, I saw that I got a reply from someone named Roseanne. This was in response to the email I'd sent to the CEO. She sent a link to reset my password and apologized for my hassle. I clicked the link while I was on hold (very briefly) with Chris. It didn't work. I'm guessing that's because it was being re-reset by Chris. I clicked on the link from Chris's email and it worked perfectly.

I won't be using this service again. I'm going to get my files back, put them on removable storage, and get that McAfee program that backs up my stuff.

Yes, it was my fault for not writing down the password and keeping it in a safe place. However, the customer service at this company is so ridiculously difficult to access that it would be stupid to keep trusting them with my files. It shouldn't take five angry emails and two full hours of my daytime minutes to get access to a program that I've already paid $50 for.

Monday, February 25, 2008

For you bookish types (a meme)

Yes, a meme. Get over it.

Here are the Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.

I reached behind me and without looking put my hand on a book. I yanked it out (don't get excited), and it was my text book from my composition class last year. "The Critical Edge: Thinking and Researching in a Virtual Society" by Emily Thiroux.

Page 123, sentences 5-8 read:

"He said that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supplied by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age or under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every counrty being now ready to starve from want of work..."

Okay, you know what? That's still just the first of the four sentences. This is pretty boring. Let me try this again...

Ah, "Ham on Rye" by Bukowski. An old favorite.

"We could hear each person's name as they walked across the stage. They were making one big god-damned deal out of graduating from junior high. The band played our school song:

Oh, Mt. Justin, Oh, Mt. Justin
We will be true
Our hearts are singing wildly
All our skies are blue...

We stood in line, each of us waiting to march across the stage."

Sounds pretty boring, I know, but it's a really good book.

Tag! You're it. All of you. Get on it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ukulele Lady

I have a friend back east. She and I met when we were working a shitty job together, and she's one of the few friends kept in touch with after a move. I've known her five years and I'm reminded fairly often how glad I am that she held on to me after I left Maryland.

She's one of those friends that makes you get out and live your life, who makes you feel like a better person when you're around her. You know the type. She glows, and it makes you glow. She makes a person feel like there's more to life, whatever your life might be.

We trade text messages throughout the day, small notes that often mean nothing more than "I'm thinking of you, I miss you, I wish you were here." We play games with song titles, or word games that I can't explain. I'll think of her laugh, or consider what she might think of an outfit I'm buying, and I'll text her with our inside joke: "What's he building in there?" If I'm melancholy, it will be another inside phrase: "How does it end?"

I'm proud of her. We've had our differences, and they are sometimes big differences, and I'm proud of the woman she's become in this short time I've known her. I'm proud of the mother that she is becoming, and the grace with which she bears the crosses in her life.

We frustrate each other in small ways. I frustrate her, anyhow. I'm a stick in the mud, a fuddy duddy, and I try not to wonder why she talks to me at all. She has good friends who treat her better than I can, both in tangible gifts and sheer entertainment value. I try not to think of these things and just be grateful, but there are days when it's hard.

Like tonight. I got a call from her, and in her slightly southern accent (which tells me she's in a wonderful mood) she told me she was in Hawaii. I asked her if she was physically in Hawaii, or if it was just her imagination running west. These are the questions I have to ask her, because either could always be true. She was in Hawaii, physically, with a girlfriend who works for an airline. The friend had gotten free tickets to a wild blue heaven in the middle of a dreary and droning winter. My friend was calling because she had become aware of how little she knew about ukuleles and she wanted to send me one straight from Hawaii.

I, in my stuck-in-the mud, let's-be-rational mode that I'm sure drives her up a wall, took five pictures and a short video on my cell phone. I sent them to her, a 1.3 megapixel crash course in ukulele buying. In her infinite, wonderful patience, she refrained from heaving an exasperated sigh or laughing at my thorough descriptions. I offered to find a good uke store on her island so she wouldn't have to keep going from shop to shop.

I had given up on finding anything when she sent me this:

The one on the left will soon be in my clutches. She even had the guy working at the shop play me a tune on it. I sat in my favorite rocking chair in Chicago, listening to the dulcet sounds of a bored shop keeper playing a uke for a tourist, as he likely often does. I was thinking about how much she was doing for me, as she always does.

I can't wait to play a concert for her. Maybe a jumping flea boogie, or some old tune that warms her heart and sounds perfect on a ukulele. I want to give her back some of the joy she's given me through all these years. I hope she likes it.

I'd better start practicing.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Green Home Experts

There's a new place in Oak Park that's opening tomorrow called Green Home Experts. They have all the stuff you need for living a greener life. Their website is here, and their store is over on Oak Park Ave right by the Ale House.

The lady who runs the place is very nice (I've spoken to her a few times), and her dog is adorable. But that's not the point of the story.

The point is we all know Spring is coming, and with it Spring cleaning and Spring projects and all that fun stuff. Since I know a fair number of you are Greenies, roll over and check out the new place on Saturday between 10 and 4.

They don't just have cleaning stuff and furniture, they also have cloth bags and other environmentally friendly day-to-day stuff. Bonus: it's a local small business, so you're keeping your money in the community instead of sending it off to Arkansas for the Walton clan to add to their pile.

Extra bonus: If you go to the opening on Saturday, they're raffling off a bag of goodies.

And...they have cookies.

Friday's Feast

(Play along here.)


Have you ever played a practical joke on anyone? If so, what did you do and who was your victim?

Nothing big, just little things. I'm not good at practical jokes. I'm not a very practical person.


What do your salt and pepper shakers look like?

They look like they're cheap. They were. I used the pepper one once as a juicer for a lemon. Remeber?


Where is the next place you plan to visit (on vacation or business)?

I'm going to see Rachel in Indianaplis on March first and I'm pretty excited about it!

Main Course

What kind of lotion or cream do you use to keep your hands from getting too dry?

I usually just get whatever's in the "samples" section of the Walgreen's. You know, those little lotion, um, bottles I guess that fit in your purse. I go in October or November and grab 5 or 10 of one kind so I have enough for the whole winter (including the ones I know I'm going to lose.) This year it was some lovely smelling thing, Curel I think. It's February so I've lost them all. I do have a tube of CVS brand hand lotion with aloe. That stuff works pretty well.


Make up a dessert, tell us its ingredients, and give it a name.

Man, you know I can't cook! Umm...all I can think is Fondue. There is going to be some fondue madness on Sunday at Ed's Oscar "party," so I kind of have it on the brain.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chicago/Art Institute pics

More pics of Chicago, added to the Chicago collection:

Ironically, we were coming from the Museum of Modern Ice when we came upon this installment of frozen cubism:

IMG_4709 - Share on Ovi

They apparently have a gallery inside that's open for free when there's anything to show. I had no idea. The story they had posted of the haunted water tower was a lot more interesting than the exhibit they had on display:

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We were just strolling down the street when this caught my eye. I like how the lamp lines up with the overhead light. I think it was a design gallery or something:

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This looks like if Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski had a party and invited all of their friends, this would be ground zero for the ruckus that would ensue:

IMG_4717 - Share on Ovi

I coulnd't get a shot without the flag. It's Chicago, can't do anything about the wind. *shrug*

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And pics from the Art Institute:

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IMG_4630 - Share on Ovi

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Museum of Modern Ice

Museum of Modern Ice

Museum of Modern Ice

Museum of Modern Ice

There's a sculpture at the Millennium Park called Museum of Modern Ice I heard about it and expected it to be sculptures of people, animals, castles, etc. My neighbor and I showed up and it looked like this:

Museum of Modern Ice

And basically it looked dumb. But we figured, what the hell, take a few shots of some colored ice and go get some lunch. As we were taking our shots, we started to get kind of excited because the longer you stood and looked at it, the more there was to see. Other peoples' comments ("Look, Mama, it looks like the blue and red from the police," and "Is that supposed to be the skyline? That's a very interesting take on it.") made me see it in a different way. There were guides leading people around the exhibit, explaining little bits of it andthat helped, too.

The slabs of ice are expected and, indeed, intended to melt. As they melt, more colors and textures are shown. When one piece melts completely, it's replaced by a new block of ice. The fact that it changes color as it melts and sometimes reveals swriled textures is what really appealed to me.

I guess it didn't appeal so much to this kid who walked up and just shoved one of the blocks over. I didn't get a shot of it, but we were laughing about it all the way to Potbelly's.

More (non-ice-sculpture) pics to follow.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday's Feast

(Play along here.)


Name one thing that is unique about you.

I have had 23 jobs.


Fill in the blank: My favorite _________ is __________ but I like _________ too.

painter, Enrique Tábara, Van Gogh


What type of wood do you have for your home’s furnishings?

Whatever I can get. I think I only paid for three pieces of furniture in my apartment (the bed, futon frame, and book shelf). The rest (coffee table, rocking chair, futon pad, buffet, dining table and chairs, computer desk,bedside tables, dresser, wooden table by the front windows, chairs by the front windows, cabinet in the bathroom, toy chest (now home to my blankets and sheets), were all either gifts or stuff I salvaged or got from

Go ahead and judge me. Lord knows I've probably judged you twice today.

Main Course

Who do you talk to most often on the phone?

Eddie. Although you would have to make a distinction between "talk to" and "get harassed by."


What level of responsibility do you have in your job?

I show up and help guests make copies. I refrain from throwing things. I cuss at the computer. I wear a worn-out, tattered uniform. That is my job, and I have two and a half more Fridays here before I can burn this fucking uniform and stop caring about the pot holes on River Road.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Drops

So there's this site called where you can put in the ingredients that you have on hand and it tells you what you can make. Holy crap, what a great idea!

I was craving chocolate, but the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips said it would make 5 dozen cookies. What in the sam hell am I gonna do with 60 cookies? I suppose I could eat them (lord knows I would enjoy every morsel) but really I have no place to keep 'em, so fuck that noise, you know?

So I go to SuperCook and tell it I have some semi-sweet chocolate chips. It comes up with this recipe (from another site, actually) for "Quickest Ever No-bake Chocolate Drops."

Half a cup of chocolate, half a cup of peanut butter. Well dang, even I can do that. So I got on it.

Naturally, I left my purse at work, and with it my camera. So tonight we're going to do something a little different. Since this whole recipe is a hell of a shortcut, I'm going to shortcut the pics and use my cell phone's camera.

This should be fun...?

I took a picture of the chocolate chips in the bottom of this bowl. I forgot that you have to hit "save" if you don't want the picture deleted, so if you were looking for some lovely pic of chocolate chips you're outta luck.

You peanut butter fiends are in luck, though:

My microwave tends to blow a fuse more often if I let it run down to zero and beep. So for melting the chocolate I set it for 4 minutes and stood around watching it for about a minute and a half. I stirred it and it looked like this:

Looked pretty gross to me. I was having evil brownie flash backs.

My shoulders hunched forward and I took a quick breath, ready to throw down some noble cusses at the chocolate.

With rigid limbs and a heavy heart I scraped the peanut butter out of the half cup measure and stirred the two together. I saw the peanut butter loosen up the chocolate and I took a deep breath and relaxed, loosening up a bit myself.

Holy shit does this look awful:

I rolled my eyes. Always one more fucking thing. This stupid recipe had two damn ingredients in it - TWO! - and I'd fuckd it up somehow. This didn't look at all edible. Well, I figured I might as well finish making 'em since I started 'em and all, so I plopped them out on to a plate and took an embarrassingly poor quality picture:

This is where I realized I didn't have any wax paper. Oh well. Into the fridge they went.

And then I completely forgot about them until this morning when I opened my email and saw the pics I'd sent to myself from my phone last night.

See, after I dropped the mix onto the plate, I licked the spoon. It tasted okay and basically sated my craving for chocolate. So I was satisfied and forgot to go back to get more.

It tastes like an intense and proud Reese's cup. Maybe like a Reese's cup that was trying to overcompensate for a small...sense of self worth.

I'd probably melt the chocolate chips a bit longer, but I worry about burning them. Also, this mix would probably be fantastic on some pretzels, or with some toasted oats rolled up in 'em. Ooo! Or some Grape-Nuts! Just something to give them a bit of shape, you know?

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Enough already! GEEZ!

I know this is a fact of life in Chicago, but damn! Enough!


Maybe I'm just getting too old.

French toast

Possibly the most boring cooking post ever, even for this blog.

First an update. Remember that sun dried artichoke chicken that I hated so much? I sliced it into strips and sauteed it with the tomato/artichoke mix that was on it, and put it on some rice. That was delicious! Man oh man, if it had been that good the first time around I wouldn't have thrown away the recipe! Anyhow...

French toast, in the beginning:

I put the nutmeg in the picture there because when I was a kid, we put nutmeg in the French toast egg mix. Then I reread the recipe and it didn't call for any. I know we did, though, because we had a cat named Nutmeg and we'd joke about putting the cat in the French toast. We had a very discerning sense of humor, back in Kansas in 1982.

Side note: Nutmeg only ever had one kitten. His name was Patches and he was born in my hair. Remind me later to tell you that story.

Anyhow, I put a pinch in, mixed it up, and used some store bought bread because I didn't trust the bread I made not to crumble.

The recipe said to put some butter on the griddle/skillet and cook it up. My dad said never to do that because the butter burns, so I used Pam.

It was going pretty well. Nothing was burning, getting fucked up or anything. turned out fine. It was kind of bland. I don't have any syrup so I put some apple butter on it. Nothing interesting to report at all. But I want to take a minute to talk to you about something I hear about all the time: apple butter.

I know some of you haven't heard of apple butter, and others have heard of it but haven't tried it. I know it looks weird. I had a roommate once who threw out a brand new jar of apple butter because "it looked funny, like whatever it was it had gone bad." I know it looks like apple sauce that's gone bad, but trust me: it's delicious. Try to get it from one of those farms where you can go pick your own apples or something, or if you live near an Amish community go get it from there. It's usually better than the store-bought stuff. And you all have the good fortune to have never tried my grandma's apple butter.

That sounds bad, I know, but listen to the whole thing here. My gramma was an excellent cook. Everything she made, from her own jams and jellies to her own bread, as well as just regular dinner stuff, it was all wonderful. Every time I have any apple butter at all, I always compare it to my grandma's apple butter. None of it measures up, all apple butter everywhere is only just OK compared to my grandma's, which was fantastic. I'm going to live the rest of my life knowing that I will never have apple butter that good ever again.

But you, dear reader, can go run out to your local farm (hell, probably even your local grocery store) and find apple butter that you consider to be the best, and you can enjoy that brand for decades. And there you're lucky. You don't know what you're missing, so you're not even minutely disappointed in what you find. Sometimes, it turns out, ignorance is bliss.