Preemptive Reprieve

This was scheduled to be a unique week. I mean, how often do you get to go to Connecticut? And then, what a rare opportunity to go Connecticut twice in one week!As you might guess, these trips were planned separately, one for fun and friendship, the other relatively last minute for business. Ironic that events transpired this way.

However, the business trip was canceled today before I could even get to the office, thanks to the threat of a blizzard aiming towards Chicago. An optimistic traveler, I was willing to give the trip a shot anyway, but then I saw the email from Corporate Travel warning of a "massive" snowstorm. I got a preemptive reprieve from the trip that I was not so excited about anyway.

My every hope (and continuing optimism) is that it snows tomorrow and Wednesday, they clear the runways by Friday and I'm off East for the weekend. The plans are to spend the weekend with college roommate Ellyn, her husband Joe, and adorable daughter Clara.

What a Day


It's not every day (a good thing) that helicopters hover over your home at 6:00 am, and the traffic report includes news of a police chase moving south into your neighborhood. Today we had some excitement, that was brought to a safe conclusion a few blocks away. A criminal stole a taxi and drove it through about four suburbs before crossing into our part of Chicago, where he then crashed into an empty school bus, then a pole, and then a police officer tackled him to the ground. That riff-raff from the suburbs, seriously bringing the neighborhood down.

And it's also not every day that two events in your life make the news. The other one was workplace layoffs, with my company announcing the cutting of 1,900 jobs. Thankfully, mine was not one of them. But the office seems lonelier as we look around and realize who's left, and all the work we've suddenly inherited.

I am hoping for a less eventful day tomorrow.

Probably a Dumb Question

After the usual train ride home chit chatting with coworker buddies, and unsuccessfully trying to make a call to another friend as I started my walk home, I was left with a few blocks of solitude to think.

I thought about the conversations I'd had with my train friends, mostly small talk. Really unimportant stuff, that I tried to make interesting.

Like sharing the weekend victory of pointing out to the Macy's cashier that the silverware was advertised on the display for $25 less than it rung up for on the register. I thought maybe she'd give me the spatula for free, but my luck stopped at $25.

The tale of our condo maintenance man, who decided mid-winter that he didn't want to shovel our snow any more. A story made more amusing when you hear the litany of various reasons he gave for his abrupt resignation: he's old (only 37!); he smokes; his back hurts; last time he had to come shovel on his birthday; it was also his wife's birthday; his snow blower broke; he hires someone to shovel the snow at his house. And I share this story in my poor and inconsistent imitation of his Eastern European accent, which Jason points out starts to sound like my grandma.

But caught with a few moments alone, I started contrasting the stories I'd shared with those that my friends had told me on the way home. The ratio was not even.

"Do I over-share?" I wondered to myself. The answer is likely, "yes, if you have a blog, you probably are a natural over-sharer."

Thanks for letting me share, readers.

Art by Yoshitomo Nara.

Things Stalking Me on the Internet

Darn cookies! Spend a little time window shopping on Overstock.com or Zappos.com and those shoes are prancing around the internet following you everywhere.

Here's the rug I thought might be a foundation for redecorating the guest room. It just showed up the page recapping celebrity Golden Globe fashions.

And the pouf that was a cheap deal for a finishing touch for my workroom. But it's MUSTARD YELLOW! I think I'd rather have bronze, or white, but this guy shows up next to my email in-box with steady loyalty.

Just going back to Overstock to re-visit these items means I've likely bought another week in their company, as they eavesdrop on everything else I do on the internet.

This is not a Football Blog

This is not a football blog (that's my husband's job), but it's hard not to mention the buzz that's going up and down the shore of Lake Michigan, across the Illinois/Wisconsin state line: Bears versus Packers. They play on Sunday for a slot in the Superbowl, the first time they've met in a playoff since 1941.

Back then it was played at Wrigley Field, and with those funny classic uniforms that seem like they couldn't protect you from a sneeze, much less a linebacker. The highlight reel is cute, done silent movie style with majestic music to set the tone. They were playing the week after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which adds another layer to take in with the footage. I like history more than football, and this may be the evidence.

I work practically on the border between Wisconsin and Illinois, with 50% of my co-workers living in Wisconsin, so I'm looking for intrigue and signs of a workplace divided. So far everyone's disappointingly well-behaved. Not what I'd expect for fans of the teams who can be credited for the first ever ejection of players for fighting during a game. (1924)

Who am I rooting for? The Bears.Cheeseheads would not look nearly as dignified on the heads of the Art Institute lions.

Waiting to be Entertained by Cleopatra

After seeing it on many another blog, I decided to pick up (or download, really) Cleopatra, A Life as my next book. I'm struggling. Throughout the first chapter I wondered if this was just the forward, and when did the real story begin?

Maybe I was expecting historical fiction, or was at least hoping for non-fiction in a good storyteller's voice. It's instead become one of those books where every character seems to have the same name, and the thread is proving hard to pick up.

Why didn't any of the other blogs mention this?

I am hoping it gets better once you get further into it. I have a slew of other books sitting on my kindle half started. Instead of dreading going back to each one, I've started reading Sherlock Holmes case by case. A trusted classic, and free from Amazon on your kindle! Though, after seeing the movie last year, it's hard to stop picturing Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

It's Ok With Me, John

Much has been made of new House Speaker John Boehner's propensity for crying. His is quite a weepy fellow. It inspired 60 Minutes to do a little web piece recounting other politicians we've seen shed tears.

As someone who's had some moments of trouble keeping the tears in their ducts at the office, I'm kind of ok with John's habit.

I never quite understood why it was ok for someone to yell, curse, and variously ballyhoo about in a meeting. In fact, it might make them seem stronger and more powerful. But a show of similar strength of passion, in the opposite direction, is something you never want to do.

Run to the ladies room. Suck it up. There's no crying in baseball. If John Boehner might somehow be increasing the collective tolerance for a diversity of emotion at work, I support it. Like affirmative action for feelings.

Winter Begins

In the mid morning chill I stood on my deck today and pulled down strings of Christmas lights. At least it's sunny, which made the task maybe a little more appealing. But it was still cold and I just focused on pulling the lights down in a tangle and then tossing them inside to be rolled up more neatly later. I like pushing the limits of Christmas lights: up the weekend of Thanksgiving, down no less than a week after new year's. Any sooner and then you are rushing the holiday season, like the shops who install Christmas decorations and merchandise before Halloween. If the lights are up any longer, people start to think you are just lazy and likely wonder if you'll be one of those houses that saves themselves next year's chores by never taking the lights down at all.

I wish we could keep Christmas lights up all winter, to bring light into the cold, cold, dark nights. Optimists remind me that since the winter solstice has already passed the days are getting longer already. What makes me optimistic is picking up lights for next year at a 60% discount last week at Lowes. The fat, colorful, classic kind too.Riding the *early* train home last night at 5 pm it was already pitch black. Despite its meteorological truth, I'm not convinced that the days are longer. I'll believe it in April, maybe. And now it feels like the real grunt of Chicago winter begins. No more cheery holidays celebrations, no free days off of work until Memorial Day. Just dirty piles of snow that won't melt for weeks, dead car batteries, cold and darkness. It's time for reading Russian novels, red wine, and either delivery or restaurants with fireplaces. Being relieved to get home from the walk from the train station because it's so chilly outside, but the couch is the perfect place to watch snowflakes fall through the beams of streetlamps.

Reason to Celebrate

The calendar that came with our last delivery order from local favorite Chinese place tells me 2011 is the year of the Rabbit.
Besides loving bunny rabbits lots, I am also a Rabbit year person. Take away from this as much as you would from knowing I was also born on a Sunday, and am a Virgo. (So not too much really.)
"People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog."

I also like carrots and burrowing into blankets.I wonder what this year will hold? (I wish I could remember if anything special happened in other rabbit years: 1987 and 1999. I guess if I can't remember the answer is probably no.)

I Feel Much Better Now

I was at the gym, trying to do a delicate 15 minutes on the stationary bike. I didn't want to press my sore knees further than they are up to, and I found myself gazing longingly at Katy Perry on the tv screens. Music videos play in a continuous loop at the gym, so it's increased my fluency in pop music and rap stars. Earlier this year, I found myself following Dancing with the Stars.

But Katy Perry... so much further to go on the bike before I arrived at the place where I look like that, I thought. Her jaunty music video, showcasing her midriff tops and lithe limbs, just seemed like mockery to us little chubby hamsters on our wheels.

But then I remembered this: A photo from Russell Brand's Twitter feed, featuring his relatively new wife first thing in the morning, before she could reach for any eyeliner or lipstick. (Or at least that's what the internets say.)

Now, don't get me wrong, I would be LIVID. HORRIFIED. if Jason. ever. did. this. to. me!!

But I might like Katy Perry a little bit more now. And on the bike and the weight machines later it was this face I thought of instead. I felt much better.

I wouldn't blame her if she wanted to bop Russell Brand pretty hard on the head though. I guess I can also feel better that everyone's husband is occasionally mischievous in a way that isn't entirely appreciated. Makes jokes that only he laughs at... ah, marriage.
 

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