Wednesday, June 29, 2005

closet car singers, rejoice!

i'm down with the new rule that requires you to wear a hands-free device when you're talking on your cell phone and driving. with the jabra-jobbie [what a company name: jabra] hanging on my left ear as i sled from wisconsin dells back to chicago, passers-by think i'm talking on my phone and not rapping to tribe called quest's the low end theory.

besides, to hear people on the cell when i'm driving, even if i hold the phone to my head, i still have to have it on speakerphone. the earpiece [albeit a more comfortable one] rocks.

Monday, June 27, 2005

how-to guide for visiting chicago public pools

roosevelt pool being painted after completion

had my first chicago park district public pool experience friday. now, this was not my first time at a park district public pool. back in the funview days, we lived at roosevelt pool with redheaded rita, neighbor and daughter of a big irish name in chicagoland wrecking. with our aluminum pool passes sewn in matching thread to our one-pieces, we spent every day from 1-5 at the beach-like circular pool, occasionally heading to the snack shop for sherbet cones and cheese pretzels. we'd begrudgingly get out of the pool during adult swim to join the rest of the kids in glowering at the few moms and dads making laps around the large high dive platform in the center. then, we'd luxuriate in the locker room showers in a scented cloud of agree shampoo and head home. oh, i miss the roosevelt pool days.

making use of your hard-earned tax dollars at a chicago public pool takes some adjusting to. the chicago pool embodies the utilitarian sense of going to the pool: you're either in the water or you're out and drying off, getting ready to leave. there's no all-day open swim every day of the week. instead, there are several learn-to-swim classes for those urban parents seeking to break the chain of landlubbing city folk. there is, however, a daily open swim hour from 2:15 to 3:15. i slapped on my suit, unmarred by any municipal markings, and checked it out.

why is the experience so different? you can't bring anything other than a towel and sandals to the pool deck. no lockers either. you have to check your bag in the small, fetid changing room. i smuggled a book and phone [my rhinestone phone that i dropped on the concrete and broke in half] in my towel.

ain't no snack bar. there's scant few chairs. there are, however, a lot of people. sitting on the concrete deck, the word that comes to mind when observing the pool is teeming. it's literally teeming with life: shallow end is chockablock with parents and tiny kids and smaller kids splashing and dunking. ruled by rambunctious teenage boys who line up lemming-style to hurl themselves repeatedly into the drink, the deep end is no place to swim. you might have a blinged-out teenage girl thrown at you by accident, too. your best bet is in between -- too deep to wade and play but too shallow to jump, this area is frequented by few.

what else is different? there's a lot more tattoos. there's moms commanding daughters not to wreck their hair by going underwater. there are lots of grimy kids and parents in ill-fitting, mismatched bathing suits [or reasonable facsimilies thereof]. there's unabashed swearing. there's sullen pregnant teenagers, bulging over last year's junior-sized bikini. what's different and cool is how friendly the kids are -- no shyness of "stranger danger" dressed in triangles of lycra.

at 3:15 on the nose, the whistles blow and screaming like college bar bouncers, the lifeguard chant begins: get! out! get! out! everyone obeyingly exits the pool, greeted by a gaggle of paletelleros -- little hispanic guys pushing carts peddling paletas [popsicles].

different isn't bad. i'll be back.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

man i'm bored

there are two times of the year when life just gets really boring and this is one of them. i have a massive drive to create at this moment, but i think i've exhausted all my arts and crafts supplies except one; i have to wait until all the apple juice is gone from the large glass jug... and then look for some lighter fluid. tell ya later. just pray i don't light myself on fire.

in a span of about two weeks, i've already:
  • etched designs on two vases with etching cream
  • restrung/created two bead necklaces, one beaded bracelet, and two beaded ponytail ties
  • planted zinnias and phanero'ed all the weeds out of the back yard
  • crafted a pda cover from felt
  • fixed the ripped neck on this hilarious vintage dance t-shirt i have
  • designed a t-shirt for my maternal family's second annual family reunion
i've been running again. i'm shy a mile from where i used to be, but at least having the drive to go. i've determined that i can run as long as:
  • my ipod is programmed with a dope-ass playlist
  • i am equipped with a wristband for daubing [i love that word] my sweat
  • the a/c at the y is blasting
  • the t.v. is on with captions, preferably to fear factor.
  • i don't do something stupid like leave without stretching because i broke a window frame and so we couldn't go in the pool 'cos my friend from new york was coming any minute and we were outta beer and needed to order the food already... tell ya later. ouch.
      things i-want-it are:
      • new sewing machine. seriously! there's a kick-ass one at target.
      • new nikeids. i designed a red/orange/yellow pair to replace my worn green/black/silver ones.
      • some very fine, pretty yarn. i wanna crochet a fake sweater/scarf/shawl like nicole kidman's character wore when she witnessed the wives "exercising".
      • my cd i ordered to arrive! i ordered an obscure cd for use on this year's choreo project and it's taking forever. once i have that, i can quasi get started at least one some ideas for the routine.

      i think things will change once i get out and get my butt to some camps. hate me all you want for saying it, but i'mma say it anyway:

      sitting behind a desk all summer makes me feel like i'm in prison.

      i can't wait to see my dancer buddies and get in the mix!
    • Tuesday, June 21, 2005

      homemade apple soda

      cold, carbonated, and less than 100 calories for 17 ounces, homemade apple soda is sure to rank right up there with the coveted 'black fizz' [classic coca-cola] according to our family fizz aficionado, 3-year-old c.j.

      in a 20 oz. glass with five ice cubes, pour one can of rasberry seltzer [klarbrunn is the seltzer of choice here, but la croix is good, too.]

      then, pour 5 oz. of apple juice. stir well [until tell-tale urine-like swirls of a.j. are gone].


      Monday, June 20, 2005

      kill them with kindness

      not pulling the hood over my eyes. i know what they're aboot!

      i'm sorry, but i just ban this philosophy, people.

      killing someone with kindness means, when dealing with someone whom you dislike or feel is being a severe pain in the ass, to be as sugar-sweet as possible when you really want to grab them by the back of the head and bang it repeatedly into the curb yelling, "no, no, no! bad! bad dog!"

      i am all for diffusing someone's anger by being calm and attentive to the problem at hand. trust me -- i have a lot of practice doing that in my line of work. the notion that you should falsely disguise your desire "to kill someone" with friendliness and cheerfulness is just antithetical to my core.

      i just have to be honest with someone and convey my sense of frustration with the matter with maturity and civility. let's face it: if someone is just royally puckering up to the ol' pink stink star at what seems to be an inappropriate time [standard protocol for those kwk devotees], chances are i will be able to tell. anyone with the capacity to follow a logical, linear path of thought should be able to smell the bullshit a mile away, yet certain people still maintain killing someone with kindness should be the 11th commandment. i can see if being nice will mollify the matter, but i swear i turn into a silverback gorilla when someone is laying it on thick.

      i remember fellow college dance team members who were guided through life by the phrase "kill 'em with kindness." these were the ones that would talk to the athletic department administrators in baby voices, giggling, twinkling their eyes and shaking their pom pons. ack. one day at practice, i finally told my team members i didn't understand why they talked to them like that, that it was embarrassing for grown women acting like children around the very people from whom they seek validation. they blinked their dewy, surprised eyes and totally started bawling. i guess there's more to the old adage that "if you can't take it, don't dish it out." turns out they don't dish it for a reason. oopsie.

      i have come to the conclusion that, while the phenomenon seems to have originated in the land of southern hospitality, the legend of minnesota nice and other stereotypes the word heartland connotes rank right up there with santa claus and the tooth fairy. come on, you guys -- you're not gumming all that cheese up there in dairyland. it's okay to show some teeth!

      Wednesday, June 15, 2005

      the little red sled

      not actually a photo of the actual red sled.  merely a facsimilie.

      let me introduce you. my car is a 1995 honda civic coupe ex. it's a conundrum of spartan efficiency and creature-comfort conveniences.

        no a/c... but does get hotter than a devil's dingaling in the dead of winter on setting 1 of 4.

        no cd player... but it does have a tape deck so i can plug in my ipod with one of those tape adapters. works for me!

        no fancy spoiler... but it does have power windows, power sunroof, and cruise control.
      urban teenage boys down with the aftermarket-loving streetracing scene eye her with envy. with the exception of one [on the back -- backed into a small tree], none of the dents were my doing.

        dent on hood: from out of the ethers, a shoe came flying and hit my car as i was driving home on i-88 from dekalb

        dent on passenger door: happened in the parking garage of a high-rise on lake shore drive while i was at a cheer staff holiday party ages ago.

        dent on rear bumper: drunk lady just coasted into me at a red light. someone she knew had just given birth and she seemed a little distracted.
      the sled has been home to much eating and drinking, smoking and sleeping, crying and sneezing. the collapsable drink-holder broke ages ago [the spring popped out] and so beverages are wedged between the parking break and the seat. between the seats is ten years of orange juice, coffee, and soda. the floor has been home to crumbs, wrappers, and snot-rags, yet is always a source of wealth in toll change.

      i'm not gonna lie to you people -- she reeks. especially in the summer, there is a disgusting odor that wafts from the upholstery. perhaps it's from all the perspiration. i've driven to des moines in august in sweat-soaked clothing with my head out the window, gagging on cow-ass stench.

      what's great about the sled? she runs like a dream and has needed very little work. she's reliable, economical, and easy to park in the city. the driver's side flank is virtually flawless. despite a small custody battle and what i believed to be backbreaking payments for my meager salary of yore, she's paid for and she's all mine!

      Thursday, June 09, 2005

      positronically charged

      time for positivity. time to think of things that are good that make me happy now, especially in the summer.

      dr. bronner's peppermint soap: it's been just muggystickyhellhot. by then end of the day, i feel like i painted myself in maple syrup and did the log roll in my garage. the folks at dr. bronner's improved the 40+ year-old recipe so it's less watery and more emollient. it literally has a lasting cooling effect, so you feel very clean and slightly refrigerated. no joke. if you have short hair, you can use it on your head, too. and guess what else? it's 100% biodegradable and one bottle lasts forevah.

      comet sandwiches: i stole this ingenious sandwich recipe from riverview tavern, one of my favorite places to go get lunch in the neighborhood. they pair it with a nice fresh shredded romaine salad with diced tomatoes and cukes, carrot ribbons, and a yummy balsamic, or really kick-ass fries you can drown in malt vinegar. here's how to make the sandwich:

      • french bread, french roll, or hoagie roll
      • some romaine, spinach, or other leaf you like
      • half of a tomato
      • half of an avocado
      • two slices of mozzarella
      • pesto [the kind in the tube is great]

      slice the bread in half and toast lightly. cut the tomato into a few manageable, cross-wise slices. slice the avocado lengthwise and fan the slices so they all spread uniformly across the sandwich. when the bread is done, spread a small amount of pesto on both slices. the secret is to lay the ingredients in an order that will keep the contents from squishing out, so here's what i find works. do tomato, cheese, leaves, cheese, avocado. enjoy!

      buzzin' fly, volume 2 - ben watt: i plug my ipod into the red sled's tape deck [no cd player], crank both windows and sun roof open [no a/c] and drive to and from lush green evanston. volume 1 was more latin-based and a little more downtempo. the second edition has a little bit more energy to it with out being mm-ch! mm-ch! mm-ch! and features some indian, african, and portuguese vocals and instrumentation. good stuff on a summer road trip.

      what's rocking your face off these days?

      Tuesday, June 07, 2005

      everyone's got one and his is this big around

      ladies need to eat some food
      fellas talkin' up the mood
      don't just sit there, let's get to it,
      thumbs up or down, there's nothin' to it... ebert!

      you know that old saying about opinions, right? after an entire weekend forcing myself to be diplomatic, to choose words carefully, to interface pleasantly with people that spew complete trash about my sisters and me, there's nothing as cleansing as being unabashedly opinionated.

      in the sweltering late evening, i sat in front of my laptop with netflix and frantically rated movies. i would tell myself just one more screen and then i'm done, but then a whole new batch of titles would pop up to illicit my gut reaction. could... not... stop... i'm like a junkie.

      before casey left for his whirlwind world tour, he moved all the movies i put on our netflix queue to the top of the list. i have since watched spanglish -- an unintelligible load of crap complete with embarrassing overacting by virtually every member of the cast. i watched the deleted scenes with the director's commentary once it was over. if the deleted scenes were included, the movie might have at least made sense.

      i watched closer last night. it felt like reading it, if that makes any sense. i was doing a craft project at the same time and didn't even really need to look up, like, ever. what was really weird was the juxtaposition of the dry, sterile acting and awkward word choices with the gratuitous sexual talk. i do need to give natalie portman serious props, though. she has a few scenes dancing around in a g-string and bra and she didn't starve herself before shooting the film. her body looks pretty dope and not emaciated. there is even a subtle hint of cellulite. i just have to acknowledge that in light of the fact that every actress these days becomes a human skeleton before every role. look at jessica simpson shrinking herself to wear them daisy-dukes for the dukes of hazzard movie. what's up, doc? carrot stick much?

      Friday, June 03, 2005

      how-to guide for visiting my paternal relatives

      uncles: when you arrive, you will find them seated as close to the exits as possible. whether they are serving as security guards, looking to bum smokes, or just trying to figure out how to get back to their houses and away from all the loud women as expediently as they can is not known. they may avoid eye contact, but this may be because they either don't recognize you, think you hate them for some reason, or really just hate you. the uncles are a mysterious clan -- proceed with caution toward loud cackling.

      oulas: diminutive women with matching voluminous bubble hairstyles. seemingly sweet and harmless in nature. heavily perfumed and hugely bespectacled, upon hugging you, however, you will be marked as their prey -- you'll stink like junior high career ed day at sephora and they'll have a greasy imprint of your ear over their eye. ever present but virtually undistinguishable, the best way to address one when you're not sure which one you're talking to is by coughing in your hand and saying oula. that way, she won't be offended that you don't know her name is kroula or sploula. if she's another pauline, you're effed -- just smile really broadly, crunch up your nose, and move on.

      cousins: prepare by reviewing the following script.

        cousin: hey, how's life in florida treating you?

        you: i don't live in florida. i live in chicago.

        cousin: you don't? didn't you live in florida?

        you: um, no. remember? we just got married in florida.

        cousin: ohhhh! i get it now. so are you still doing that cheerleading thing?

        you: well, it's actually a dance thing, and yep. still working for the same company i've been with for 13 years now, only i don't teach anymore.

        cousin: you don't? i don't get it -- what do you do then?

        you: i'm basically in sales, event coordinating, promotion and a little biz-dev. what about you? what are you up to?

        cousin: oh, yeah [murmurs conspiratorily]. i'm about to [move to a different hemisphere/get married on another continent/become a vegetarian].

        you: oh, wow! that's magnificent! good luck to you -- that's awesome.

        cousin: wow, you're the only person i know who has a positive reaction about that! the rest of the family tells me that that's a terrible decision and i'm going to burn in eternal damnation. thanks!

        you: hm. no, problem. apparently, i'll be the one driving the bus there, so i'll make sure to call you if i get into any traffic along the way.

        cousin: say, i feel awkward about asking you this again, but any news on the baby front?

        you: uhhhwow... nope. maybe in the fall.

        cousin: oh, okay... say, do i have booze breath? my mom says i stink like a bar. i've been chewing gum, but it's not going away. i mean i just had one glass of wine.

        you: yeah, a little bit, but don't worry about it.

      fire aunt: cross between a fire ant and an aunt. often heard before seen, can be recognized by extremely short stature and flame red hair sticking straight up. will avoid you at all costs, hiding behind slightly taller relatives, until the end of the night. draped in furs, she will meet you at the egress and feign shocked surprise, exclaiming, "oh my gaaad! i haven't seen you in forever!" the fire aunt will then make a few feeble attempts at intimidation and shame, pointing a bejeweled, knobbly finger in your unwaveringly placid face. employ operation smokescreen -- carefully hug the creature and say "we're gonna get going but you have a nice night, okay?"

      Thursday, June 02, 2005

      the answer is no

      some work friends were in town last night to catch early flights back home out of o'hare, so affer getting back from seeing my dad in the hospital [and without eating dinner], i jumped on the blue line and journeyed to the bowels of oh are dee.

      my friends were crammed like sardines in two rooms at the hilton. see, we are always at least three to a room, seemingly satisfying some short, aging, dirty-old-man's fantasy of the eternal pillow-fight pajama party.

      on a side note, i was excited to get to check out the o'hare hilton. for obvious reasons, i've never stayed there, but have always been very intrigued by its parasitical nature to both the cta and the airport. it's just like paris hilton herself -- flashy, trashy, and singularly worthless.

      hung out in the room and drank a can of beer from the minibar, then went down to the hotel sports bar with my very close friend jeannie from nyc and proceded to drink at least three more. she pretty much kept up with me, but it's important to remember two things:

      1. i am about 5'2" and she is 4'11". it doesn't take me much to get lit and takes her even less.

      2. did not eat. whoops.

      came back to their room, and outfitted in a friend's tank top and hello-kitty pj pants, "slept" on the friggin' floor and had gnarly dreams about blood. neat. blood dreams are my fave.

      the room service breakfast that we charged to the underhills [cheddar and broccoli omelet with rosemary potatoes] rocked my face off -- the left side is just gone -- but it was no match for [cue "charge!" trumpets] super hangover! dark glasses and the bad plus in my ipod made getting home tolerable. the cats, denied their dad and mom and late-night feeding and breakfast were about as anthropomorphically disappointed in me as they could muster.

      i think i needed to kick my own ass. i've been feeling overwhelmed with unsurety:

      • is my dad's brain permanently stuck on "random"?
      • will i make it up for workweek?
      • are we going to both days of the wake?
      • if we take my aunt pauline from around the corner, will that suck?
      • if i wear pants to the wake, will i be jumped by an angry gang of koulas, toulas, and voulas armed with large medallioned gold chains?
      • will casey still be feverishly ill when he leaves on his worldwide excursion?
      • am i pregnant?

      maybe, after having put the smack down on myself, i am now forced to be a little less snarky tonight at the funeral home. we'll see.