Koala Follow-Up

Oh yeah, there's nothing you can't do without Photoshop. Dream fulfilled.

Please Do Not Cuddle the Koalas

In doing a little research for my upcoming trip tonight, I discovered the following: "Passengers are not permitted to hold Koalas by New South Wales law, but they may touch and pat the animal." Ack! No holding koalas!!?!!? Is this trip even worthwhile??!
I jest, but it seems like everyone who's gone to Australia has a goofy photo of themselves holding a little snuggly koala bear. I don't even know these people but their Flickr photostreams offer documentary evidence that in other places in Australia, people can cuddle the koalas.
Maybe the only koala looking for a snuggle from me in Australia might be this little fellow.

At least it makes my shopping around for an excursion easier, since I was scouring the web for a trip that allowed for koala holding. Now that I know they're all the same I might sign up for afternoon champagne with the kangaroos. I don't think you're allowed to climb into their pouches though.

One Pink Martini, Please Waiter!

Sunday night I made it home from Columbus in time to lead a girls' night outing to Ravinia Park. Inspired at first from Jason's reluctance to join me for Latin Jazz night, his idea that I ask a few Chicago girlfriends turned out to be a very good one. Maybe it's the years of ostracism in grade school that make me still surprised as an adult that I have lots of friends now. (I was a nerd, and Mom always told me I'd make more friends when I was older. Thank God, people mature!) Good thing Jason also has confidence in my friend-collecting abilities, since I don't know if I'd ventured it without his encouragement.
The concert featuring Arturo Sandoval and Pink Martini was really enjoyable. Although at first I was overwhelmed by the crowds. We traveled up north on the Metra train, standing the whole way. The dutiful conductor climbed over people and picnic baskets to collect every fare, every penny. (There should be some rule that if there isn't really room for you on the train, your fare is not counted. They didn't count on you when they put the train cars on the track, did they?)
The exodus off the train choked the gates, and when we came to the edge of the lawn and saw a ten foot square patch of green we immediately snatched it. Surveying the crowd, it was as promised: the cultured, mostly 40+ y/o, Chicagoans arrive with lavish spreads. Outfitting their tables with tablecloths and tea lights there isn't a spot without a bottle of chilled wine, decorative wine glasses, and some fancy cheese. You half expect there to be white gloved waiters milling about.
If I'd been a better girls' night planner, I thought to myself, I would have concocted a signature drink for the evening, themed around the band itself, Pink Martini. But this may just be a symptom of my entering the wedding planning stage of my life, where every missed detail is guilt-fully regretted. And I feel powerless.
But as it was, we did have our wineglasses dive bombed by the cicadas, so anything more expensive than the grocery store wine might have been wasted. (I swear I caught the 17-year cicadas when I lived in Columbus two years ago, so it's ironic to find them here again, 15 years early according to my personal chronology, in Chicago. How many large creepy bug cycles can one girl suffer?)
Pink Martini was wonderful in my mind, and I stole a few moments to lean back on my elbows on our picnic blanket, staring up at the white birch tree, and through its leafy branches to the half moon in the summer sky. (To the tune of "Everywhere" from PM's latest album. And I thought a little of my mom, who would have maybe enjoyed the lounging on the grass, and whose visage was queued by the dreamy nostalgic lyrics: "Every time I'm far from home; I am never quite alone; Whenever we're apart; You're always in my heart; For you are with me everywhere)
There was a background of angst-ridden chatter regarding how members of our party would get home. The train would certainly be crowded and there was misinformation from the Information Booth about its arrival time. This was a little frustrating, especially when you're day-dreaming yourself off into a moment of profound reflection. As you may know from my previous posts, I am of the school of thought that if something is worth attending, it's worth staying for. Rather than "beating the crowds" I'm of the "wait out the crowds" mindset. Stay.. lounge... people-watch or stare some more at the moon. But contemplative summer sky staring is best done alone, and not on a Sunday night when others are beginning to fret about the start of their workday or their children at home with husbands whose patience may be rapidly waning. We left early, admittedly a little to my chagrin. But it's ok, since I had come half for the company and it would not have been a girls' night without them. Even if I didn't get to hear the title song, "Hey Eugene!" Here it is anyway:

My Life, in Airport Codes

LGA: Long-awaited Grumpy Arrival
It's been a crazy busy week. Waking up at 3:45 am on Monday to fly to New York City, with the only incentive being that at least I was flying home that same night so I could sleep in my own bed. Except that we were delayed by 4 hours. It was one of those curious situations where they tell you it's the weather, but you look out of the terminal window and see nothing but gentle sunbeams. You call home and inquire for a weather report, only to hear that it's also cheery there. So where is this phantom storm that grounds us? I have now thoroughly examined every item for sale at the airport shops at LaGuardia.

ORD: Overly-long, Random Delays
Today, flying out of O'Hare our flight was delayed by just an hour. That hardly counts anymore. I had a momentary evil moment of glee when I put myself on the standby list for an earlier flight and saw that my frequent flier miles bumped me ahead of someone else on the list. Then I reflected that it might be a little unfair. In the end it was academic, since only one standby passenger made it onto the earlier flight.

CMH: Coming to Mom's Home
Now I'm in Ohio, where we'll be visiting Jason's mom and extended family for the weekend.

Next Monday it's back to Longing to Go Away (LGA).

Rant for Hire

Phillyist features a rant that I have been dying to write, but instead have been still too fuming about its points to take a deep breathe and tap it out on a computer. It's about ignorant commuters. The folks who put their bag down next to them on the seat even when the train is rush-hour, sweaty-summer, crowded. And the other people who don't pay attention to when their stop is coming and then try to barrel down the aisle to the doors with little regard for their other passengers limbs and bags. The irritation may be peculiar to us urban dwellers, but the annoyance is pretty universal. Even though I'd call him a country mouse when we first moved to Chicago, Jason is getting his edgy commuter vibe revving now that he commutes to the Loop. His idea to address the ignorant commuter is to issue stickers, kind of like parking tickets to them, bringing the selfish behavior to their attention. I tell him my intervention: if I see someone with a bag next to them as the train is getting crowded I'll make a beeline to their bench and I ask politely if I may have the seat, even if there are another few empty ones around. Thus rewarding the polite people (those who put their bags on their laps or the floor) with maybe a longer ride with some more space around them, and crowding up to the ignorant.

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
- Henry David Thoreau

Instead of my daily horoscope, my google home page serves up a quote of the day. This morning's quote was keenly pertninent to someone who has just kicked wedding planning into gear. And done so by just ordering cute gear for her beach wedding/honeymoon.
Not to forget I will need the wedding dress, ...and Jason needs a suit.
But the little beach cover up I found at Eddie Bauer looks so darn cute, that it's hard to believe that needing new clothes is a danger sign.

What does Henry David Thoreau know anyway? We're going forward!
I felt the better quote to focus on during wedding planning might be:

The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.
- Nicholas Butler

Who knows who Nicholas Butler is, but he sounds smart. With all the bridal magazines that tell me this will be the most important day of my life and the dress has to be THE ONE, I kind of what to reply, "Really?" Aren't we setting ourselves up for disappointment here? It will be a beautiful day, a special day, a memorable day. But the MOST IMPORTANT in my entire life? Seems like that's the influence of traditional Susie Homemaker values, when the life goal of women was marriage, not school or career. I found the one guy, let's try to relax about the rest.
There's something I find pleasing about our wedding day being just any weekday, without much ceremony. Maybe it's that Quaker schooling that rubbed off on me, believing that everyday is a special day. Formal ceremony and a qualified officiant aren't needed to find your enlightenment. Shouldn't all the days after your wedding day be the special days? That's what it seems more productive to focus our attentions to.
And if I need a reminder: new season of Bridezillas just started. It's horrifying. Sundays @ 10/9c.

iz me and mah sister!!!!

When Juliet and I were little we were thick as thieves, as two sisters 18 months apart, who spent at least a few years living abroad where the only friend you had was her, will be. I'd see a picture of a twosome of anything, point to it and say, "That's me and Juliet." Picking out a postcard to send to Grandma from our family vacation in the mountains, I'd reach on my tippy toes for the one with two raccoons poking their heads out of a hollow tree. I'd carefully write in my best cursive, "Dear Grandma, Here are me and Juliet hanging out in the Adirondacks!"

What's funny is that even now whenever I see an adorable twosome of anything, a little voice in my head persistently makes gleeful note, "That's me and Juliet!"

It's like the most obvious thing. Or not, as I realized when I was looking over Jason's shoulder one night as he showed me the meme cat website* and I saw these two little kittens. "Oooo," I cooed, "that's me and Juliet." I then giggled nervously, quickly realizing that maybe he hadn't spent his entire childhood playing the "me and Juliet picture game."

"That's me and Juliet sleeping."

"That's me and Juliet helping out in the garden"

"That's me and Juliet trying to call Santa long distance to the North Pole to tell him what we want for Christmas. On hold with the elves AGAIN!"

*The meme cat site is a really hilarious visit if you'd like to do nothing on a Friday afternoon. It will introduce you to an entire internet language of inside jokes (the LOL cat phenomenon), that, like the "me and Juliet picture game" no one else around you might get, but you'll find amusing. (I almost tried a "Im in ur staff meeting..." joke the other day at work, but quickly thought better of it.) I really do most enjoy the kitty pidgin language though (example below):

Hours of my life have already been lost to the vortex of cute kitties. Enter with caution!!! But then don't miss the "Next -->" link at the bottom of the page. So many kitties.

Write Back Soon!

Sometimes I click over to my own blog, hoping that there will be a new post to read. I don't know why, clearly I am the only author so unless I've learned how to blog while sleepwalking, I'm going to be disappointed.
The past couple of days have been a flurry of planning, and therefore less writing.

Planning for two quite major events in my life, both of which seem to have come upon me a little suddenly. #1. The aformentioned trip Down Under. #2. We're getting married.
Both of these activities have drawn me to the same conclusion: you really can find anything on the internet these days. I've pretty much planned our entire wedding online. (I did even find the groom online, after all.) So when it's one 'run-away to Hawaii' wedding that piques my interest, I can pretty much click "Add to Shopping Cart" and we are set.
Readers: it is the small party for many of you that will require more attention, and is therefore slated for May or June next year. Don't worry, we'll have pictures of the Hawaiian lei exchange that marks our solemn commitment. (And maybe the giggles at the enjoyable cheesiness of it too.)
Now I just need to figure out where in Sydney I can get a picture of myself and a koala bear! Perfect to match me and the penguins from Antarctica and me and the camel from Africa. So back to planning and less writing.


Our National Sales Director can't make it, and I was next on the list, so with that sudden ease I am ready to set foot on my seventh continent. Next month, I go to Australia. But I'm not truly ready. I still need to book my flight, and figure out how long I wish to stay. And what is there to do in Sydney, anyway? (Besides the Opera House, of course.) I'm told the flight takes 22 hours. *Ugh* And I will still have to work for a few days once I get there.
But I imagine I'll feel mightily fulfilled once I arrive, to have seen another part of the world that's so far away.

Postcard from the Recent Past

Memorial Day weekend, remember that? Seems like a while ago already, considering I'm finishing my second week of work after the holiday. (The first holiday day off of the year, I might add. That seems ridiculous, why do we have to wait for nearly half of the year to go by before we get one measly day off? I think it's a corporate HR conspiracy. They know we haven't planned our vacations yet, and will hoard our vacation days for Thanksgiving and Christmas... but ultimately might never get our plans together to spend all those paid days off when the end of the year takes us by surprise. So they win and we can't carryover vacation. Corporate America, why can't we be more like Europe?)
We were delighted to host our siblings for Memorial Day weekend, Jason's brother and my sister, Juliet. Although there was a persistent rain on the day we set out for our architecture cruise and walking around Millenium Park, and then Jason's brother missed dinner, it was fun. (Right, guys?) I was happy to show my sister where we live, and even take her and Hugh to Chicago's Memorial Day parade. (Totally unplanned, but fortiutious.) I missed seeing my mayor go by on a float because I'd ducked into Borders to buy a map. Darn it.
On the sunnier Sunday we visited Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio and walked around super-bucolic Oak Park. I mean it was really adorable: a little kid riding his first two wheeler down the street, followed by his mom calling out her encouragement; a bunny rabbit hopping out from the flowery hedge; oh, and there were peonies too.

Pick a Peck of Pretty Purses

Last week I attended a very fun party, a purse party at 1154 Lill. A great little concept where there are a number of different purse designs and you pick from what must be over a hundred different fabrics to make the chosen bag design uniquely yours. Embracing this idea fully, I made two bags. (One was really small, so it hardly counts.)
On the way home (maybe I was trying to address pangs of guilty buyer's remorse?) I thought about how many handbags I already have. Before bringing these new little ones home, I'd have to throw a few old ladies "off the island." For purses, this means the Salvation Army.
I began by laying all of my purses out on our guest bed. Jason walked in, surveyed the scene and slowly drawled, "Jiiiimiiinnny...." A comment that reveals the lil' bit of folksiness of people from Ohio. I think the last time I heard this colloquialism I was watching the Dukes of Hazard. (It's cute. Jason also says "holy cow" from time to time.)
But back to the handbags at hand, I also bought another purse from Banana Republic this weekend, so the urgency of handbag elimination grew. (Please note I funded this purchase with a spot bonus from work, so it's like it was free!)
I'm happy to report that I identified _twice_ as many purses for donation as the number coming into our home. There were a few that were embarrasingly early 90s in style. Even worse I think I had purchased them in the mid-90s.
With the old girls gone...oooh wait, does this give me license for 3 additional NEW purses??? Not if I know what's good for me.
But I do want one of these handbag hangers. Why not maintain the bags worthy of keeping in good condition? (And, um, maybe create space for some...more?)
In which case, I'd need this room (in my Imelda Marcos dreams, I know.) Other, maybe more realistic ideas, courtesy apartmenttherapy chicago.

"The First Bad Thing You Did That Felt Good"

NPR is doing a little series that has been creating "Driveway Moments" for me: Vocal Impressions. Essentially, they play a clip of a famous voice and ask listeners to write in with their best description of what that voice evokes. This exercise seems to be a clever game for radio listeners, encouraging us to think about what we appreciate in the sensual experience of listening in greater detail... and maybe making a donation to our local public radio station???

Mick Jagger: "the sound of the first bad thing you ever did that felt good" or "a great date with the wrong guy"

Barry White: "Sun-warmed cat fur"

The one that got me emotional in the car the other day was Luciano Pavarotti. I felt awe-inspired, heart-broken, and dissapointed that I was pulling into the alleyway towards our parking spot when the story wasn't even finished yet.
After listening to a excerpt of his operatic singing it made sense to hear Luciano's voice described as:
"Humanity taking a victory lap"

"All the magnificent architecture that has yet to be built"

And finally:
"The sound of your heart when you suffer a tremendous personal loss and you're asked, 'How do you feel?'"

I recommend clicking over to the NPR site and listening to a few clips yourself. Here's Sean Connery and Bob Dylan. NPR is currently asking for opinions on Phyllis Diller, Celine Dion, Bobby Short and Elvis Presley. And of course, they're always asking for that donation.

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