Time & Place

I was just thinking about how it's funny that there are some things that taste notably better based on when and where you enjoy them.
Frozen yogurt, soft serve style with lots of sprinkles (or jimmies, as we know them in Philadelphia) is so good at the airport. Maybe because it's one of the most impractical things to balance in your hand while hauling a rollerboard behind you, with a computer bag cutting into your shoulder. But it's so yummy, comforting and cool when you're stuck in a hot stuffy gate, before boarding a hotter, stuffier plane.

Do bagels also taste better on Sunday morning?
Are socks more comfy when you don't have to put a shoe over them, and you can just lounge on the couch?
Does my perfume smell better when I'm dressed up?
Does the car seem to be faster when I'm not driving to work?

I Don't Want to Hear About It

The annoying corollary to having foot surgery (as if the treatment itself won't be bad enough) is that whenever I tell anyone about it they quickly roll into their own surgery story. I hope that it's prompted by an empathetic impulse - although sometimes I wonder if we're not all just so self-centered and find it more interesting to talk about ourselves than listen to anyone else. (See definition: Blog).

I give credit to a coworker who, with his story of dropping a 45 lb weight on his toe at the gym, was at least in close proximity to my own target area. But I really didn't want to hear about how the surgeon had considered amputation.

The other guy who had foot surgery recently detailed how they "skewered" his foot shut, and then even brought in one of the pins to show me! (I found this horrifying.)

Others have offered stories that broadly range away from toes, to shoulders, arms and backs. With gross details like having ports to drain fluid.
With greatest sympathy, I can only think: ICK.

I don't want to hear about it! I don't even want to consider the details of my surgery!

I always try to proactively tell the story about how I almost fainted when the doctor told me what he'd do to me, hoping that others will get the hint that, with a vivid imagination, I don't do well with surgery stories.

But it doesn't stop them.
Thank you so much readers, for being kind and considerate in the comments, and not volunteering your war stories.

And the surgery isn't until July 18th. (I scheduled it because I signed up for another 5k on July 10, and didn't want to miss out on that. Which reminds me, I should go to the gym now.)

Nothing Glamorous About This

I have to have foot surgery. I was feeling ok about this until I talked to a coworker who recently had foot surgery himself, and his comments included that his doctor had said he was lucky he wasn't having the kind of surgery I am about to have, because it was worse. As it was, I started to feel faint when the doctor explained the procedure to me. "Can you stop?" I desperately asked in the middle of his pointing out wall diagrams of the foot, "I feel faint." After he reclined me into the exam chair and I was nearly horizontal with the comforting rush of blood back to my head, I was temporarily better.

I'm really struggling to portray my malady with any dash of romance or adventure. When I told another coworker he asked, "Oh, sports injury?" "No," I replied, and inhaled cautiously before blurting it out, "bunion."

Would you find it romantic and very old-world if I told you that it's colloquially called "a tailor's bunion"? In centuries past, tailors sat crossed-legged on the floor and therefore had constant pressure on the outside of their foot. My podiatrist kind of pooh-poohed this expression. I wanted to tell him that people probably still say that because it's the only embellishment that can make the word 'bunion' bearable.

Going to the podiatrist's office, after my self-diagnosis from Dr. Google, my greatest fear was that the doctor would tell me that it was my fancy shoes*. And that I should never ever, ever, wear high heels again. I'd be doomed to flats for the rest of my life. (And in this scenario - which I did get a little carried away with imagining - I sighed to myself and thought, 'thank goodness I've already had my wedding in shoes of my choosing.')

I was quickly reassured -- delighted -- when I sat in the waiting room and looked around to see the artwork on the walls. Artistic sketches of various high heel shoes. It got even better when I discerned that the doctor himself is gay. (Raising the possibility that on weekends he might even indulge in wearing heels himself.) At the very least a man wearing a pink shirt could not deny a girl her own fashion choices.

I go for surgery the middle of next month. I expect that I'll spend a weekend on the couch with limited mobility. I am preparing Tivo to entertain me by setting up a wishlist for Katherine Hepburn films. She seems like she might have the right amount of spunk to foster my recovery.

A first question for the doctor will be, "when can I wear real shoes again?" And by real shoes, I do mean heels. For two weeks immediately after I will be stuck with a boot on my foot. Maybe I can bedazzle it or give myself a punchy pedicure to entertain the questioning eyes that will inevitably drift down my leg to wonder what I did to my foot:
Skiing injury in the Alps with the Royals?
Lion bite from safari with Angelina and Brad?
Dancing misstep from my moonlighting as a back-up dancer for Justin Timberlake?

*Bunions are often hereditary, and after remembering my mom's feet, I think this is my case. Although I might also remember Mom saying something about wearing shoes that "weren't good for her."

Summer Reading List

You might have wondered if I ever finished reading Doris Kearnes Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." I did.

And then I picked up another brick-size book, "Theodore Rex" by Edmund Morris.
It's taking longer than the Lincoln book, since it's not the same storylike narrative of DKG. Instead it's sort of decision-by-decision, negotiation-by-negotiation play-by-play of Roosevelt's presidency. Jason advised that I should have started with "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" first - but I was already over 100 pages into Rex when he raised this recommendation.

After a friend commented that it seemed like I've been reading Rex for months, I began a sprint to the end of the book. I'm close, and eager to move onto something lighter.
Some summer reading. I'd even do chick lit at this point. Something light, fresh and easy... fiction with an absorbing story.

Another friend recently picked up "Chasing Harry Winston" by the author of "The Devil Wears Prada." But even she took the dustcover off so that no one on her airplane or train would know that she was reading anything so frivolous.
But it is one of Amazon's top recommended beach reads.

I wonder if she's finished... and if I might borrow it. (Without the dust cover, of course.)

The Hours of My Life Before the Internet

I wonder, how many hours of my life would there have been without the internet? Because when there's aimless time to spend, I spend it online, pursuing ridiculous stuff.

Just for example: I bought (online) some grass seeds to grow grass for our cat. He's a lunatic about it, and has an impolite habit of running upstairs to our neighbors' deck and munching down on their cats' grass. He is welcomed, but it still feels like he's being a little greedy.

So now I have the grass, but I need a planter. After looking for, yeah, like an hour, at various retailers, I remembered e-bay.
There is definitely a kitschy fun planter for me here. One that I will find to be adorable and fun... and that Jason will see and tilt his head to the side and ask, "Serious?"
(Although with his approval, I bid on the turtle. He was surprisingly more into frivolous planters than I thought. Love him! He must realize that there's really no harm in entertaining my purchase of a $6 planter. And maybe because the planter will be located outdoors.. and he rarely goes there. :)

Wouldn't the scotty planter be a little ironically fun? Cat eating off the back of a dog?
There really is something for everyone on e-bay.

Sigh... with Frown

It's not news anymore, since his funeral was today, but I've had a vague, grumpy, unhappy feeling for the past few days. I reached the bottom of the barrel of bad moods last night, when I just go into a repetitive lament where everything is just 'stupid.' Stupid people. Stupid work. Stupid whatever.

There's other stuff going on right now (like not getting even an interview for a job I wanted - and had been promised an interview for; like learning I have to have foot surgery - more on that later) but on occasion I realize that there might be less immediate things poking the sad part of my heart.

It seemed like a revelation the night after the space shuttle Challenger blew up when I was sitting on the couch frowning and unhappy and my mother suggested that these kinds of things can make you unhappy. It didn't seem legitimate. I didn't know anyone who died on the shuttle, why should I feel its impact? Moms know these things though. (And fifth graders don't.)

On the train ride home this afternoon I wondered if feeling sad about Tim Russert wasn't just the icing on my pity party cake this week.

I Tivo'd "Meet the Press" every Sunday morning. Before Tivo I always tried to wake up early enough in the morning to watch "This Week" and "Meet the Press." Yes, I thought his head kind of reminded me of a pumpkin, and his inquisitions of guests sometimes bordered on ludicrously detailed. (I don't remember what I said yesterday, much less what I said on April 17th of 2005, but it didn't stop him from confronting every guest with quotes from their past.) But I will miss Tim Russert.

I still had last Sunday's "Meet the Press" on my Tivo on Friday when I learned he died. I deleted it without watching. As bizarrely and sickly fascinating as it might have been to watch someone who was oblivious to the fact that he'd die in just five days, it didn't seem fair. He didn't know it, why should I?
I'm sad for his wife, for his son. I'm also sad that he doesn't get to know how this year's election will end.

Another Wedding

This might be amongst the sweetest wedding photos that you'll find (via NYT). Why shouldn't everyone get the chance to celebrate, in an official way, the one they love so much? (This is a rhetorical question.)
I think it's selfish for ideologues to stand in the way of people who just really love each other and want to get married. Who does it hurt? Seriously, who does it damage? Why should the law exclude some but not others?
Jason's favorite Jon Stewart quote regarding those who oppose legalizing gay marriage: "Do they realize that it's optional? It's not required."

10 Point Perfect Night!

Last night we celebrated getting married with closest friends and family from near and far at our 6-months later wedding reception. Among the evening's delights:
1. The floral arrangements that I'd worked with a florist to design as reminiscent of being in Hawaii. The florist told me that after I'd left my appointment to see the mock-up another bride walked in and ordered the same arrangements for her wedding day.2. The super attentive staff of the restaurant who never let a glass go empty for more than one sip.
3. Finding the perfect orange orchids for my hair just a couple days before. I didn't know it until I was walking out of the salon, but my hairdresser apparently has a reputation at her workplace for claiming that she can't do wedding hair. I joked about when they were going to tell me that... but she did a terrific job. 4. What other girl gets to wear her wedding gown twice (especially with the same guy on her arm?) 5. My brother-in-law finding the opportunity to don his Scottish kilt. (Darn it, the only photo I have in my camera is blurry!)
6. The "after party" at Pops for Champagne. I love champagne and I love champagne bars. (A very appropriate recommendation from one of my friends.)
7. Seeing our friends dressed up in their party frocks. I realized that I had never seen one of Jason's friends without a baseball cap...ever. Everyone cleaned up so well!
8. The kindness of a thoughtful friend Allison who had e-mailed me a list of 12 things she could help me with in party planning. She set up the card table and packed all of the presents into her car so we didn't have to worry about taking them home ourselves. And this was all in the face of losing her power steering on Lake Shore Drive. Extended gratitude goes to her boyfriend's mom who let Allison borrow her car for the night!
9. The sapphire blue party dress that I changed into after cocktail hour. (Since it wasn't *really* my wedding day, I guess it was a little greedy to consider wearing my wedding gown all night long.) This was the Jessica McClintlock dress I'd wanted since I was reading Seventeen magazine!

We held our party at a swank restaurant in the heart of downtown Chicago. It was fun to have everyone come into Chicago, although you could see that many were a little fatigued from their daytime tourist jaunts. I felt the same way this afternoon and finally succumbed to taking a nap on our living room couch.
So #10. is taking a heartily yearned for afternoon nap under a blanket tucked around me by Jason.

But I Can Look Past The Label

One of the mighty heavy discussions we entertained over the girls' weekend in New York City was footwear from Jessica Simpson's line of shoes.

It turned out that three of us had at one point seen a pair, picked a shoe up at the store to admire it, and then reconsidered based on the vapid label. Like we couldn't lower ourselves to it, although it's probably a undebatable truth that if there's anything Jessica could beat us at, it is dressing up.
But the shoes Andrea sported all weekend, and we admired, turned out to be JS. (We used initials to get ourselves used to liking the shoes.)
I do have to say that after seeing Jessica in this cute yellow dress and colorful purse, I might look past the label. (via The Superficial.) (JS also sports a look that we agreed was one of the best things fashion can offer: a dress with pockets!)
Jess' shoe line even has moccasins which I really wanted when I was seven, but never got so there's still a hole in my heart for them.Being an independent adult has to be about getting the things your parents never let you indulge in...but maybe not in hot pink.

Much to Catch Up On... And More to Come

I can't even remember when I last posted. Even though it's likely been only a few days, I'm guessing less than a week, much has happened.

Last week I was standing over a suitcase contemplating the right wardrobe for a girls' weekend in New York City. Jason didn't understand the significance when I announced that I would just go with brown shoes for the entire weekend. (This means that all my outfits had to be compatible with a brown shoe, so no black pants, dresses or skirts. No black in New York City seemed like a statement in and of itself.) After seeing the Sex in the City movie earlier in the weekend I tried to channel a New York City vibe in my preparations, and avoid dressing like part of a gaggle of midwestern tourists.

The weekend was in celebration of friend Allison's 30th birthday, although ultimately the weekend ended up feeling like a gift for us, not for her. She generously organized theater tickets, dinners, brunches and a trip to the spa. Thoughtfully, she also structured free time which afforded the opportunity to visit both my grandmother and friends Joe & Ellyn, and their new baby, Clara.

I couldn't decide what I was looking forward to the most: spa, theater, Grandma, or seeing the new little baby. When I came down with a cough and sniffles early in the week I responsibly had to e-mail Ellyn and confess that I might not be the person you want your little one exposed to since it wasn't really clear if the ailment was a cold (e.g. contagious) or allergies (just annoying). I was permitted a visit, but holding the baby was not allowed. Bummer, but I did sneak in a little poke of her little diapered bum. What a little squirmy cutie. (This picture reflects the closest that I approached and tried hard not to cough.)

In the ninety plus degree heat of Sunday I took the subway uptown to see Grandma. Everyone in my airport gate at O'Hare had smiled lovingly as they overheard my conversation with her on Friday morning, "Hi Grandma, it's Claire. I'm coming to New York. Yes, can I come visit?" (I had to talk kind of loud since you don't know if she's got her hearing aid in or not.) Gram's little non-air conditioned apartment was a surprisingly cool oasis and we enjoyed a quiet lunch together. She sent me on my way with a subway token for the ride home. I'm not even sure that the NYC subway accepts tokens anymore, but I wanted to pocket it anyway to save it as a token of a Grandma's taking care of her granddaughter.

The longer trip home to Chicago was a nightmare. Two days later, when we were ready to talk of the experience, Allison and I calculated that it took us 16 hours to get home. A five hour delay to board the plane due to summer thunderstorms, during which Allison, Andrea and I reminded ourselves how play gin rummy and picked outfits out for each other from the pages of InStyle and Lucky Magazine. Then up in the air, across half the country to spend an hour and a half circling Chicago before diverting to St. Louis to refuel. An hour on the ground in St. Louis and then 40 minutes back to Chicago to try to land. Our scheduled 5 pm departure didn't reach Chicago until 4 am. I got home just 40 minutes before I would have had to wake up to go to work on Monday morning. Not a chance that this was going to happen. I slept half the day and worked from home in the afternoon. The experience was so bad that today United *proactively* e-mailed me to apologize! I didn't even complain!

I'm hoping that the family and friends that are coming to see us for a wedding dinner celebration this weekend won't have the same experience. Or if they do, maybe it'll make it worthwhile that we paid for the bar package for dinner. We were sorely wishing that the LaGuardia gate had a bar on our side of the TSA checkpoint. Even it if were cliche, a cosmo might have been nice.

Box it Up

If only I had to store something... these boxes are so smart and cute. Too bad the point of organizing is to really get rid of stuff, not to buy new things. If I was the Type A person (or person with small closet) who rotates their winter and summer closets, I think these would work well.

5k, Nearly 5 Minutes Faster

I can't think of much that I would less like to do than wake up at 5:30 am to go run three miles. But even so, I woke with a little buzz of nervous excitement for my Lincoln Park Zoo 5k Run. Start time wasn't until 8 am, but breakfast was important and I was also venturing to take the bus to the Zoo.

I was full of first-timer worries, like how I couldn't bring very much with me, because what if I had to run with it? (They have a "gear check" tent so that worry was put to rest.) Why did some people on the bus appear to have their t-shirts already? Were we supposed to get them in the mail beforehand or something? (They were the shirts of run alumni, I picked up my shirt at registration.)

My unofficial finish time was nearly 5 minutes faster than the 5k I did in April. I guess that means that "training" actually helps. We'll check my official time online in 48 hours as they record my chip time. The chip is a little black disk that attaches to your running shoe. I had no idea what to do with it initially, but a helpful fellow runner explained and even bent down to tie it to my shoe laces.

The surge of running with the mass of people was motivating. (The race was sold out.) I ran or jogged for probably 95% of the run, also avoiding the shame of being one of the first to start walking. (I had to walk while grabbing a drink at the midpoint water station, realizing that drinking while jogging meant that my shirt would collect more water than my mouth.) We started out running through the zoo, which was a little crowded and I wondered if the antelopes might start a stampede, since that's what it looked like we were doing. The kangaroos popped their heads up with curiosity. The lions were sleeping when I registered, and just like our own cat, their were still lazing about when I finished.

I shuffled along through the last mile, a little perplexed by mile markers from the 10k race that overlapped with my race. (I'd already passed Mile 2, then passed their Mile 5 and 6 markers...where was my precious finale 'Mile 3' marker??! How did a mile in the 10k not equal a mile for us 5ker's? Answer: the 10k route took a detour we didn't.)
I was never so happy to smell animal manure as we came up from the underpass that finally marked mile 3, the zoo was close again!
And I don't think I've ever liked Gatorade so much as when I saw the tables full of their rainbow flavors after the finish line.

A fringe benefit of doing this 5k was that I learned the super convenient bus route running by our house. Instead of taking the El and then walking a mile I hopped on board and was dropped off just a block away. A friend once philosophized that there are 'bus people' and 'train people' and you really don't crossover. This was validated when I was once talking to my Grandma (bus person) and I mentioned the New York subway. She furrowed her brow and 'tut-tutted' me, the subway is not safe. I am typically a train person, but I might become interdisciplinary. The bus not only takes me to the zoo, but it passes Wrigley Field and some of our favorite nearby restaurants on the way.

Sorry, there are no photos of me from the run. While I did the 5k 5 minutes faster, Jason stayed up computing until 5 am, so there was no way he'd be running. Since he's often my blog staff photographer, we only have stock imagery to decorate this post.

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