12.23.2008

Holiday update

It's not even the main event, yet most of the madness has passed without incident. The Half Acre bike team party last Friday went really well; it was nice to meet the rest of Dan's team mates, and to see the ones I already knew. Sometime during the night I managed to smash my left ankle with the dishwasher door, but that didn't really diminish the fun; it turned a lovely, almost festive, shade of royal purple after I skated last night - just in time for rocking a skirt and heels at my in-laws Christmas Eve church thing. It isn't a holiday if I didn't look like an abused wife - right?

Saturday's family dinner at our place went awesome. Things were a bit hectic and tense leading up to the big event, mainly because I'd never been insane enough to prepare a dinner for 12 before, but Dan and I both came out alive with some amusing, mashed-potato-flinging moments to laugh about later. Everything turned out great: roast pork, sweet and sour cabbage, curried butternut squash, twice-baked potatoes, potato biscuits, asparagus with cheese sauce, salad, and gołąbki. I actually managed to forget the gołąbki warming in the cooler to the side, so we didn't eat them for dinner; no worries because there was enough food on the table that nobody noticed that they were missing. They will be making an appearance at Bernie and Jean's on Christmas day instead.
Desserts were also plentiful. I made my first successful cake ever (I'm a lousy baker): mint chocolate with mint chocolate cream cheese frosting.
It was a nice way to honor my grandmother, whose recipes I almost solely relied on for the entire meal.

Now it's time to regroup, wrap gifts, and get ready for brunch with my parents tomorrow, and a stay at the in-laws tomorrow night. After that, the morning of the 26th, I'm off to meet my best friend Claudia in Vegas for the evening, and then accompany her back to Chicago to surprise her family.

So, happy holidays and safe travels to everyone - catch you all in a few days.

12.16.2008

Livid

I love snow. Really, I do love snow. I even like driving in snow. However, what I had to deal with today was absolutely batshit crazy. I left my home at 12:45pm to drive to meet my mother-in-law up in the northwest burbs (usually about a 45minute drive) and there were some lite flurries coming down. As I turned onto the ramp for 90/94 I saw it was already gridlock - "no worries," I thought, "this always clears up after the exit for 290."

Wrong.

Dead wrong.

THREE HOURS LATER I limp into the parking lot where my poor in-law was milling around trying to keep busy while she waited for me. OK, I shook it off, figuring that it was a fluke that I hadn't seen a single plow or salt truck going either way on 90 the whole time I was creeping down it, and guessed that things would be more under control after a couple hours of hanging out.

Wrong again.

I didn't even have to wait to get to 90 to see that things were still completely screwed, if not worse, because it took me a full hour to get down 53 to get there; I watched the odometer and never saw it go above 5mph, with about 2mph being the average. Again, no plows.

I get to I-90, and it is a parking lot. There were ridges of snow literally two feet high between the lanes, and no ruts to speak of to drive on. Average speed again, 5mph. At 7:45pm I finally saw my first plow of the day!.... and then passed it and never saw another. There was a brief, mind-blowing ten minutes after the O'Hare turnoff and before 94 joind 90 where I was able to hit about 35mph, but that was it; parking lot resumed.

Fast forward to 10:35pm when I finally get off of I-90/94 onto 31st street - hey, guess what? SHOCK, the city streets weren't plowed either! W...T...F?!

So, did Rod go ahead and sell of all our plows and salt trucks while we weren't looking? What exactly are my taxes paying for? I'm absolutely furious. A total of over 7 hours in my car to go a round trip distance of less than 80 miles? You have got to be kidding me - get your shit together, Illinois.

12.12.2008

As of 4:41am

I was officially done with my semester. True to form, it's been another long night of last minute, semi-delirious paper writing. I feel like the post-bar drunk who has just kicked the evening's fling out in order to get some sleep before stumbling to work - I know I just did something, but I'm not sure if the 'beer goggles' made it look better at the time than it really was. I think it went really well, but that could just be the sleep deprivation talking! I guess the grade will tell me whether or not it was a good lay.... err paper, or not.

So, as of right now, I have only one more semester - about 5 months - between me and freedom. I will be so very glad when this is all over. I just interviewed for a graduate assistantship position as an archivist at The History Makers in Chicago and am waiting to hear back about that any day now; with any hope, my last bit of school for the foreseeable future will not only give me some cool classes, but some much-needed on the job experience. As always, fingers crossed...

11.29.2008

Time

I don't normally re-post the kind of stupidity that I wind up posting on internet forums, but today a thread on one of my regulars got me thinking; it was all about how people who had registered in 2001 had been posting there for 7 years (2001 being the general agreed-upon date as being an OG on this particular site). My first comment was something to the effect that it was kind of sad that my participation on that particular forum has outlasted pretty much every other 'constant' in my life, save certain relationships with family and a couple friends.

My second post, once someone agreed with this revalation, went into more detail and merits the re-post in here:

I know, right!? Let's see, since 2001:

5 boyfriends - converted one into a husband (been with him 5 years (give a little); he's on DOA rarely but we didn't meet here)

quit drinking caffeine 3 times - drinking my second pot of earl gray today

3 universities to finish my undergraduate degree

1 university, almost done with my graduate degree

lived in 5 different residences

held 4 different jobs - currently unemployed

haven't been to a non-old-school jungle/dnb night since about 2003

switched phone companies 4 times

had 3 cars

had 1 dog die, 2 more dogs come into my life, and my first cat

started 3 different blogs; keep up with 1

quit drinking once - lasted about a year

went through 1 film camera, 3 point-and-shoot digital cameras, finally bought a dslr

went through 2 PCs, 1 dell laptop, finally bought a macbook

had two DOA usernames, many aliases, but only one loyalty


Response from other user: can safely say i'm probably the most inconsistent person on the planet ,I can't stick with anything, music ,relationships,jobs,diet,friends,all seem to come and go
:constant drifter:

apart from doa it seems? its been the longest thing ive stuck with ,even though I said to myself on many occassions maybe I should post less! its kind of crazy really.




My final thought: I guess DOA is more portable and easier to tailor to your needs than most other things in life


Ah the odd realities of being a 20-something and living life on the internet.

11.27.2008

Thanks

It's that time of year again - really the start of the countdown to the new year and new beginnings - when people start taking stock of what they're thankful for (and often times, as a result, what they're lacking).

This year seems to have become more about what I've been going without than what I actually have, so tonight I'd like to focus on how good I really do have it.

Losing my job was perhaps the biggest blow I've received in my relatively-short adult life; to me it marked the end of an era - a position in life - that I had worked for almost a decade to achieve. In this time, my friends and family, and even acquaintances, have really stepped it up to show me how much they value me and want to see me succeed. Immediately after I left the museum for the last time, I was getting emails forwarding me job descriptions, sent from friends, coworkers, family, and even friends of friends and family; it was completely awesome to see that so many people had my back.

When I decided to take on a full course load of classes rather than getting a part time job immediately, Dan was 100% supportive of my move and told me he was happy to shoulder the burden while I took care of what I had to. Throughout it all, he has been constantly patient and understanding about the mayhem going on here. My parents have also been great sources of advice, and my mother-in-law a nice confidant to vent to from time to time.

At this time I am also thankful for my own health and drive; I have been under a ton of stress, and have been amazed at my ability to keep it together. Being able to go out a night or two a week to play hockey has been an absolutely invaluable luxury and stress release; I'm thankful for my dad who loves hockey so much that he helps cover the costs so that he has an endless supply of hockey to watch.

Finally, though it may sound silly - I am thankful for my kitty, Hunter S.. Now that I'm a complete shut-in, we've become great pals. Thanks, kitty, for snuggling up to my head once Dan leaves in the morning to keep me warm. Thanks for following me around wherever I go, curling up, and keeping me company. Thanks for providing ample laughs; at a time when real human contact is rare, it's nice to have a kitty like you with a lot of personality to make me feel like I'm not a total hermit.

So, for those of you reading, I hope you all have people, pets, and other things in your life making the bad times as good as they can be.

11.25.2008

As nerdy as it gets...

It's 7:30am, I've been up all night slogging through my final Cataloging and Classification I assignment on Dewey and LC, and I have the nerdiest mental comparison of what my struggle felt like to me. The imaginary conversation goes a little something like this:

Me: "You know that part in that LOTR movie where Gandalf fights that fire demon, you know... the Balrog?"

Nameless/Faceless Person: *Blank stare - clearly wondering where I'm going with this*

Me: "Well, anyway, I felt like my night-long battle with Dewey Decimal number building and Library of Congress classification numbers were analogous to Gandalf's struggle with the fiery entity in the dark pit deep in the Mines of Moria - Nobody knew that I was still awake and struggling with it, but in the end I triumphed and became a more powerful wizard... errr librarian..."

Nameless/Faceless Person: *No response except for generally shunning me for the embarassment I have become*

Hopefully my prof. doesn't write "You shall not pass!" on my assignment...


There we have it, blog friends; possibly the nerdiest thought to have ever crossed my mind, and that's saying a lot. Damn you, library school... damn you!!!

11.23.2008

Stroll through Kenwood/Hyde park

Some pics from the Kenwood / Hyde Park area.


The Godfather at Zaleski & Horvath Market Cafe

Details on the residence of Louis Farrakhan

Lovely entrance gate

Side entry

A bit of color

Professors Row

Woodsy Porch

Sunset


Click on the photos to enlarge them. The rest can be found here.

11.20.2008

"We don't know what the f*ck you want from us"

That was Billy Corgan's 'rant' (though I would call it a lament) from the Tuesday night concert at the Chicago theater; the show received confused and otherwise tepid reviews from the local news sources; I had my chance to check it out for myself tonight (now last night). After watching the near two-and-a-half hour show, I think I may have some answers for Billy.

First of all, Corgan was in a much better mood tonight, but made it clear that he was under the weather - coughing a bit between songs and taking a bit of a breather at one point to talk about the Cubs and the Sox (amusing, to say the least!). As the show progressed, I started realizing that the problem has never been Billy Corgan, or The Smashing Pumpkins, it has been the fans. Like any great, generation-defining rock band, the Pumpkins meant a huge deal to the people who grew up with them.

I fell deeply in love with my first boyfriend to the soundtrack of Pisces Iscariot, Siamese Dream, Gish, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness; as a matter of fact, I had my heart broken for the first time by him to those as well! I grieved the for the death of my grandfather to the sounds of Adore, and helped my best friend over a huge loss of her own driving around at all hours of the night, talking and listening to the Twilight to Starlight disc of Mellon Collie. Dan and I bonded over the Pumpkins when we first met, and even walked in to the banquet hall to be announced for the first time as husband and wife to 1979.

All those songs have vivid memories, emotions, mental pictures, and a whole lot of baggage attached to them; judging by the reactions of the crowd at the show, everyone else had their own strings attached to them as well. The Chicago Theater rocked when the Pumpkins were playing old materials, but the energy waned and the crowd sat down as the material got newer or more obscure. I was sitting there listening to the material I didn't know, and would find myself waiting for it to end in the hopes of hearing one of 'my songs' - then I'd come to the realization that the music was actually really good but it just wasn't getting the emotional response out of me that I had come there to experience.

Everyone got old; we were there to have those emotions served up to us on a platter. Just like how everyone my dad's age seems to hit the bathroom at the Rolling Stones concert when the post-1980s tunes come out, or Keith Richards has his token songs, we all just want to get nostalgic at this point. I looked around the crowd and saw virtually nobody under the age of 23 - the majority were actually into their 30s and older; for many people in this demographic, we've hit the point where we're no longer picking up new music like we used to. Sadly, we've stagnated and love the things that moved us back when we were busy becoming the individuals we are now; we used that music to help define us, and once that identity was put firmly into place, it was hard to knock down that scaffolding and move on. Also, for a lot of us, we're at the point in our lives where things aren't nearly as dramatic as they seemed to us as teens; it's not such an emotionally-charged situation where the sights and sounds around you become the backdrop of amazing or horrible memories later on. When the going gets tough now, we just return to the 'comfort food' music anyway.

I know this isn't everyone, and I have a lot of respect for those who keep finding new bands to love, but there's a reason our parents started having oldies channels on the radio about the time they hit their late 30s, early 40s; for those of us who were children of the late 70s-late 90s, we're getting there.

So Billy - to answer your question - we want you, and us... 10-20 years ago. You are still an amazing musician, but we have gotten soft on you. Never think that your lack of sales has anything to do with your lack of talent; I still believe you're one of the true musical geniuses of my generation and I think all your work (even up to now) demonstrates that. Sadly, you are stuck in the no-man's-land of musical greats between the era where you made it big, and the revival where our kids are old enough to find 'our music' cool. Hang in there Billy - you will have that young crowd again, and maybe they'll even be dragging us there with them, the way I brought my father tonight (and to the Adore tour way back when) - you have much much more to give the music world before you give up in frustration.

11.19.2008

Charged up

This may sound silly coming from a future librarian, but my resolution as of right now is to use the library system more. For ages I have been an Amazon addict, having to buy every singe title I wanted to read because I've always valued having a good collection at home. Thing is, even when books are priced at under a dollar, once you factor in shipping and all that, it gets pretty expensive when you have a habit like mine. Ordering all those books, and having them shipped also creates a lot of garbage in packaging and paperwork, not to mention the fumes from the planes and other vehicles that get them to me in a matter of days.

Aside from the mess and the cost, having an actual due date will make me actually read what I've ordered up. I have shelves of books that I know I'll get to, post grad school, but it doesn't make them any less of a space-waster as they sit around collecting dust. So, now is the time to end my own hypocrisy - to stop complaining about librarians losing their jobs, and to start making them work for me. If even future librarians refuse to utilize the services offered by their peers, how can they expect there to be jobs waiting for them when they graduate? Time to do my part in keeping my industry a valued one.


What's first on the list? I am not ashamed to say, my inner dork just put a copy of Twilight on hold (thanks Em).

11.18.2008

Fall in the non-profit world

This season it's not just the leaves that are dropping rapidly around Chicago; it seems that the sizes of the professional staffs at local cultural institutions are as well. Just today I got word of a special meeting called by the president of The Field Museum addressing new measures to fix the same broken budget that cost me my own job. This time there is a call for 50 positions to be vacated as soon as possible, preferably voluntarily by early retirement and general atrophy. For those facing the 'choice' of early retirement, apparently a statement was made to the effect that if they chose to stay on and refuse the 'early out,' their jobs wouldn't be guaranteed to be there in January. Lovely.

This seems to be a silent crisis going on in tandem with the much louder calamities occurring in the larger industrial sectors of the nation; non-profits freezing positions that have emptied, not renewing term positions that are about to end, and generally sucking the lifeblood out of all the work that they are trying to accomplish by depleting their staff of ground soldiers. What's left? Anyone with a PhD or a six-figure salary; how messed up is that? It will be interesting to see what kind of work gets done once these folks have to jump down from their pedestals and do all the leg work they formerly assigned to their minions. How much money will these museums be bringing in when the staff that help to physically create (not just the intellectual parts that curators come up with get it done) exhibits and events are gone and the work grinds to a halt?

Yes, I understand that times are hard and the money is short, but how about turning the gaze on some of the non-productive members of the staff at higher levels? It's not my place to name names, but there were no secrets about what curators were virtually dead weight at The Field Museum, yet they remain safe as this all goes down. Yes, this is an angry post, but this news has made me very angry. People, USEFUL people, friends who have given their lives to The Field Museum are being forced out like they're nothing - as though decades of service, and years more of viability mean nothing because it's harder to let go of someone with extra degrees and a mistaken assumption of tenure. There is no tenure track at The Field Museum, and therefore no good reason why curatorial staff couldn't be laid off as well. Plain and simple. But it's always the grunts that get cut in the end.

11.13.2008

K9 gets props

From the guy who runs the "Things My Dog Ate" site:


Classic! No, Legendary better defines it! I absolutely loved it! Very well told! She has deservingly earned the key to the "Things My Dog Ate" castle - her own page and everything! I'd be honored to feature her story on my site. I'll let you know first thing when her page is up... should be by the end of the week.

Thanks so much for sharing K9 with me (and her pics). It's truly one of the more memorable stories I've received. And I've received a lot :)

Best,
-Matt

11.12.2008

The Legacy of K9


Submitted by Lisa L. for the approval of Things My Dog Ate

The late, great K9 had a very refined palette, but she never walked away from a challenge. While K9 had a preference for beef almond ding, delivery containers and soy sauce packets included, she also never turned her nose up at the garbage, cardboard boxes, TV tables, hockey sticks, retainers, or mouthguards. One thanksgiving K9 and her partner in crime, Mittens, made a whole turkey disappear from the back of the stove; we never even found the bones. When the cicadas hit Chicago in 1990, K9 spent hours in the backyard, crunching away on her new favorite high-protein snack.

K9's biggest hurdle to greatness, and ultimately finest hour, was her battle with the bar of Clinique soap... and the soap dish; she had a few rough hours after we came home to find her passed out on the hallway floor and realized what she had gotten into, but eventually the emergency vet gave her the clean bill of health and sent her home. K9 often would find bottles of TUMS in my hockey bag and eat those, plastic and all - I figured that she needed to sort out all the randomness that she ingested on a regular basis.

Only once did K9 fail to conquer a challenge she set for herself, and that was the 5lb bag of gummy bears that she found hidden in my brother's bedroom - we found K9 sprawled on the floor next to the bag, which had been 2/3 eaten (including the plastic), completely sated. She pooped in color for almost a week.

K9 died in 2001, at the ripe old age of 13. The dog, the myth, the legend - she was born somewhere in the backwoods of Kentucky as a stray, and like any hobo worth her salt could never pass up the opportunity for a meal, good or not. She was loved by all who met her, and gave her family the inspiration to try just about anything, at least once.

11.05.2008

Photos are up!

Check them here

Some previews though (click on them to see them larger)


Andrew on the train, heading to Kasey's Tavern


Dan and me at Kasey's before the rally


Victory is declared in Grant Park


Obama speaks - I couldn't see him, but hearing him and feeling the energy in the park was enough!


Simply amazing


A beautiful fall night, blurry or not!


Energy in the streets


Walking past my favorite view of Chicago on our way to the Halsted bus.

I love my city.

11.03.2008

Yay!!!

The tickets have arrived :D

The final hours

I can feel the tension mounting as we are hours away from the start of election day and the massive rush to vote; wow am I glad I got in on the early voting because I have a feeling it's going to be insane. For the first time in a long time I have genuine butterflies of anxiety in my stomach, not wanting to believe news from either side - not wanting to count my chickens before they've hatched but also never wanting to doubt for an instant that things will go well tomorrow. We are on the verge of something historic; well, the historic has been happening for a while now, but the final act is about to play out. Hopefully I will be there, front and center, to share in the making of history at the Grant Park rally - camera at the ready - I'm nervously waiting for my tickets to be emailed, hoping that they actually show (I need to see them to believe it!).

Everyone who still reads this, please go out and vote; take part. Even if you don't agree with me and are not an Obama supporter, it's important that you have your say. It's been a long 8 years, and I feel like tomorrow will be a big day for national closure of some sort or another, and hopefully new beginnings. Fingers crossed - waiting on pins and needles in Chicago

-YD

10.22.2008

Hello blog, it's been a long time

Sorry I've been neglecting you, this semester has been a bear. I hope everyone who checks this from time to time is doing well; I'd like to say I'll be doing a better job of updating, but I think that'll be pretty unrealistic until the end of term.

10.03.2008

Note to housekeeping

First of all, thanks for cleaning up the big mess we made last night; the place looks awesome. One thing I'd love to ask you to not do in the future is continue putting those stickers on the lose end of the toilet paper roll. I'm OK with the usual bathroom origami that housekeeping seems to like to do with the free end of the TP roll, but this sticker thing isn't making a lot of sense to me. Today I got the feeling that you were trying to spite me for my mess because you put three stickers on a brand new roll, making it virtually impossible to get some sheets off. Please, allow me the easy access to the roll that we've all come to expect, and spare the usage of those stickers!

Thanks.

Master debaters...

Urbana = drinking games with debates. Notable challenges include the following:

maverick
pipeline
name of average American
blank stare
words lacking 'g' and ending in '
nu-cu-lar rather than nu-cle-ar
references to bush
mentions of immediate family members
the phrase 'hockey mom'
wallstreet
mainstreet
more that i can't remember for obvious reasons

got to love librarian parties...
needless to say, it's time to sleep....

10.01.2008

What a difference

Back in Urbana for classes (the kitty's butt is ok, but that's another story), and staying at the Hampton Inn this time instead of the dorms. I had a great time getting dinner and some beers at the Blind Pig with my friend Tracy from my archives intensive, and now I'm lounging in the most comfortable hotel bed I've been in a while and watching some baseball. This is a long cry from the lofted bed, clammy walls, rogue pubes, and 5am fire alarms of the dorms I've stayed in previously. This may be a bit more expensive, but throw in a hot tub, pool, cable, and continental breakfast and it's totally worth it!

9.25.2008

Reluctant researcher


(Quiet before the storm - unsuspecting kitty on the smelly carpet)
I am a newbie to the world of cat owning. New facets of cat ownership that have been brought to my attention, quite frankly, have shocked me. Lately I've been noticing bad smelling patches on the carpeting when I have been laying on the floor watching TV. A friend of mine commented last night that perhaps I needed to expel my cat's anal sacks.

Come again? (no, brother-in-law Dave, not anal sex)

Yes, I heard correctly, so I guess it was time for me to do some google searching. Apparently, like skunks, cats and dogs have something called anal sacks below the business end that they use to mark their scent while pooping, and even to spray while they're angry or feel threatened. Most of the time these things aren't an issue, but they can become clogged and infected, and in need of expressing. Owners know this is an issue when they see their pet 'scooting' their bottoms across the carpet, or frequently licking the area in question.

Well, I've never seen Hunter scoot, nor have I noticed any obsessive/compulsive booty licking going on, but the fact remains that my carpeting still smells bad here and there. I haven't worked up the nerve to follow the internet's suggestions that I probe the area to see if they're swollen (at least not without a large amount of booze consumed by both me and the cat), so I think we'll have to wait in uncertainty until he gets to see his vet.Luckily I have him booked for a vet appointment for tomorrow, so any over-familiarity with my cat's anal region will fall into the more gentle and trained hands of a vet tech, but it may be that his smelly sacks need to be squeezed or lanced. So, more info and possibly pics of an embarassed and enraged (but relieved) kitty to follow.

9.21.2008

Photoblog - how I spent my summer.

There's not much to write lately, so I may as well share some of my images from the summer with you all. Sorry for my inactivity of late; I've been away from my laptop a lot. I do solemnly swear to try harder as the seasons change and we head into fall.

And now, my summer (click on any pic to see a larger size img):

































9.14.2008

After the rain comes the sun

and the runs. It finally stopped raining long enough for the Sox to win their double header against the Detroit Tigers tonight; happily Dan and I were in attendance for at least half of the spectacle. Big ups to my man DeWayne Wise for hitting a huge grand slam to put the club ahead after they blew a 7 run lead, leading them to an 11-7 win (and a sweep of the odd two-game series)- he's one of two guys I had a feeling would be good this season (the other being Carlos Quentin). This was out last set of tickets for the regular season; hopefully we can manage to scalp a couple more before the snow flies - I don't think I'm ready to say goodbye to my first season living in Bridgeport.

Waterworld

Well, Mother Nature intervened in a big way and canceled my morning race plans; I'm sure many hardcore runners braved the torrential rains to run the Chicago Half Marathon, but I just couldn't find the will to run through all that in me. Yesterday was determined to be the rainiest day in recorded Chicago history, with over 6.63 inches of rain falling; local rivers have swollen and even crested. Some Chicago and suburban neighborhoods have been evacuated. The Sox have been rained out twice in a row, and things aren't looking much better for the makeup game this afternoon and scheduled game this evening. Dan had managed to lose his second wedding ring during cross practice (the other is somewhere at the bottom of the lake in WI).

Overall, it's a disaster.

What's worse? It's still raining. A lot. Now we're dealing with what remains of hurricane Ike, and will probably still be seeing heavy downpours into the early evening. Rains are supposed to continue intermittently into tomorrow sometime, after that it's supposed to be mercifully sunny and dry.

9.12.2008

Dear rain -

please stop falling for a bit. I would really like to run my half marathon this Sunday, but from what my friends on the weather channel have been telling me, you've called up reinforcements from Ike's arm and they'll be arriving around start time. I know I'll come run with you if you're drizzling - I don't think I'd mind that - but I really don't think I want to join you if you decide to follow through with the deluge you seem to have planned. Oh, and can you take a bit of a break during the two Sox games I'm supposed to go to this weekend? That would be very thoughtful.

Thanks in advance

~Me

9.11.2008

Much better

I had my second men's league game tonight and felt 100xs better - perhaps it was due to my awesome cheering section in the first period. Thanks Ben and Julie for giving me some motivation out there! I actually felt a lot more confident than I had last week, mainly due to the absence of searing pain in my throat and lungs; it's amazing how quickly it all comes back with a couple nights of hard skating. We wound up tying 5-5 and neither team managed to put one in the shootout. I felt like we looked a lot better this game as a team, generating a lot more offense, and clicking a lot better with the defensive pairings. I really like my new partner, who also happens to be the guy who hooked it up with our scrimmage last season at the United Center (we'll be getting t to it again on the 27th of this month, which I'm really stoacked about!).

Amazing how much better I feel right now though; nothing cheers me up like feeling satisfied with how I played hockey. My attitude has improved towards my race this weekend; out of training or not, I am going to go out there and do what I can. I absolutely refuse to end a summer's worth of training on a downer because life took a U-turn and put me into a funk; if anything it's more motivation to get out on the path and have some mindless exercise to lose it all as the miles add up.

9.09.2008

Yay Dan!


Congrats to my man Dan for getting back on his bike and kicking some booty at Palos last weekend; that shoulder is looking good! Not sure to whom I can give credit for this pic to as it was emailed to me by Dan, but I'm a big fan :)

9.06.2008

Back on the ice - and White Sox action

Had my first game back on a men's league hockey team this afternoon and things could have gone a lot better.  I felt as though I hadn't skated in ages (I guess in reality I haven't skated at that level in ages).  Sure, some of our women's tournament games can be fast-paced at times, but for the most part I haven't had to put much effort into playing my top game; tonight I felt completely out of shape and in dire need of some conditioning.  It's amazing to me that I can spend the entire summer being more active/healthy than I have been in a long time, yet feel completely out of shape when I step on the ice.  My legs felt fine, thanks to the running, but my lungs were absolutely shot; I guess my theory is that I've been running in the warm weather and used to being active in that environment, but that they weren't ready to make the transition back to the cold rink air.  Every turn on the bench my throat and lungs were burning and it took a bit to get my air back; I definitely wasn't prepared to feel so shitty!

We wound up losing the game 4-2; hopefully I can get back into the swing of things quickly so that they don't regret bringing me on.

In more positive news, Dad and I went to get dinner and saw the first inning of the Sox game on the way home I suggested that we scalp tickets.  We got in after the second inning, but we wound up getting our money's worth as the game went a full 15 innings (7th and 14th inning stretches observed) and resulted in a White Sox winner at the hands of a homer-hitting Jim Thome.  After the game we were treated to a fireworks show, and a nice walk home.  Tomorrow?  16" softball with my dad - the last game of the season.

9.04.2008

Iron chef - leftover CSA produce challenge

Ingredients:


1 large eggplant
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 large green pepper
4 stale hot dog buns (butternut I think)
salt
pepper
olive oil
some fresh garlic
sharp cheddar cheese

Method:

Throw old buns in the toaster oven until crusty, then crush them into crumbs with the meat tenderizer, add salt and pepper.  Cut up eggplant into discs (I left the skin on), dip both sides in olive oil, then in the crumbs.  Put into lidded baker in layers - covering each with the tomatoes and then grating a layer of cheese; repeat until out of eggplant.  Garnish with sliced green pepper, tomato, more pepper, and minced garlic.  Bake at 450 for ~25min.

Let cool off, enjoy.  When Dan heard I was trying to make faux eggplant parmigiana with hotdog buns he said I should blog about it; I thought that was a good idea, but unfortunately it was ready to go into the oven to cook before we brought out the camera to document.  Here are before oven, and after oven pics (note Dan's arm hovering over the finished product; his cam wasn't focusing well and he was about to fork me in the arm to make me let him eat!)

Eggplant Macgyver:



before oven side - eggplant macgyver by you.

after - eggplant macgyver by you.


(Posted with my brand-new macbook!)

9.02.2008

Back

Back in Chicago after a long Wisconsin lake house stay. We had a blast over the weekend, lazing around, and then heading to Madison for what can only be described as a rave. Saturday started off really well; we decided to do the brewery tour thing, so we hit up New Glarus (located in a really cute touristy town with amazing good), and Capital Brewery in Madison. From there we went and saw the latest Batman movie to kill time, checked in to our flea bag motel (room actually came with a free copy of Penthouse which was placed right next to the bible and the phone book). We lucked out and got two single rooms because they messed up with our request for a double, so Dan, Bill, Wendy and I went out to Great Dane to get dinner and celebrate our good luck. Good food, good beer, and a base built for the rest of the night, we returned to our rooms, collected our party supplies, and headed out to the venue.

Once there, we found a decent amount of gutter punks, goths, and aged former ravers in plain clothing gathered at the back of a machinists shop, filing into a small, hot, humid, and extremely bassy single-room event. Enpromptu cooler fashioned out of a motel trash can in hand, we set up camp in the back on some mangy couches and got down to business. The entertainment on the evening was all hardcore/gabber/musical ruckus - never really my thing - but it turned out to be a really fun night. At some point the thought crossed my mind that I was 27, unemployed, really drunk, and at a rave, and that I was mentally regressing to about age 16, but that was laughed off and the night went on. We stayed until about 4am and then decided to pack it in because a friend of ours was heading out past our hotel and could drive us home; everyone else literally raved till dawn, but we were feeling old and out of practice and wanted our grimy bed.

The rest of the weekend was filled with sloth and gluttony, which of course meant it was a good one. Now I'm back at home, studying and sending out resumes - waiting for class to begin for the evening.


To Dan - happy 2 year anniversary! I think we celebrated in style last weekend :)

8.29.2008

Escape

Sitting here at the lake house, crickets for my soundtrack as I write this. Today I fled the scene of my disappointment; grabbed my faithful companion, Daley (alias Whaler) from my parents and hit the open road. No, this wasn't the coast-to-coast aimless road trip my soul really desired, but I think it's the familiar flight to a comfortable place that it needed.

I carefully chose my driving music and got onto the highway, headed to Wisconsin. I wanted music to yell to, to sing to, and to remember to. I started things out with Fugazi-live in Heaven, which definitely gave me the shouting and singing portion of my lineup to get me through the gridlock that was pre-holiday-weekend/road construction traffic. From there, I got off the highway in Kenosha, grabbed some Starbucks (I know, I know) for me, and the proffered doggie biscuit for Daley, and switched to the Violent Femmes to lighten the mood a bit with an off-key singalong. Feeling refreshed, I visited Jeff Buckley for a bit as I wound through the country lanes; Live at
Sin-é really hit the spot until the shuffle got to "Lover, you should have come over," and I got a little more misty-eyed than I needed to be while driving. An old favorite brought me the rest of the way; nothing brings me back and makes me feel more calmly-happy and myself than listening to some old Pumpkins - Pisces Iscariot being the absolute best of albums to achieve this result this. With all the great memories, friends, and emotions wrapped up in each track, it's really hard to feel bad about present discontent while listening to them.

Some women resort to chocolate to mend mental woes, while some men hit the bottle - some people do a little of both. Well, I've tried having some drinks with friends and that's just gotten me a headache; I tried the eating thing, but I just felt gross. I guess all I really needed was my music, and a little activity; a change of scenery and stimuli to take my mind of things. I'm tired of the laziness and self-pity. Tomorrow I'm off to get a run in, combining that with some of my favorite tunes and some beautiful scenery. Hopefully everyone else has a very nice, healing, healthy holiday weekend, and that we can all come back home a little bit better than we were when we left.

8.27.2008

Wound Licking

Day one of unemployment. Woke up at 1pm - nice start there. I went to lunch with my dad at Manny's where I had him look over some documents related to my layoff that I needed to sign and return. Everything looked on the up and up, so I sent them off - I really couldn't imagine all that would have been involved with bringing them in in person: asking permission to bring my car into the lot, having to have someone escort me to the main office area because I would need someone with clearance to swipe me in, having to sign in and out as a guest where just yesterday I was an employee. No, I took a pass on that.

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for my first class, taking said class, and then cooking gołąbki for the dinner we're having tomorrow for my inlaws. It really wasn't a bad day, but obviously something major was missing. Throughout the day friends from work got in touch in one way or another as the word reached them to see if I was doing all right; one of them is arranging a proper sending off get together for next week because she felt I deserved something better than being sent off without notice. In total there were six of us laid off, but only five left because one was found a last minute term position to fill. A huge part of me was hoping that there were more because being one of five in such a huge place makes me feel singled out, even though that's silly. Sad thing is, the museum only saved about 100K cutting our salaries while there are some bigger fish that stay on worthlessly sucking up funding. In the end, it's far easier to cut off the grunts than those with more clout; eventually they will have to make some of those more difficult decisions if they want to make any real strides in fixing the budget, but I have a feeling that won't be for a while.

So now I move on, feeling slightly like I've been dumped by a boyfriend that I should have known all along didn't care as much about me as I did him. My well-meaning friends and family are already trying to help me - sending me job descriptions for sexy new positions that would treat me better, but I know I need some time to grieve and improve myself to be ready to take those on. Hopefully in the meantime I'll post some less emo entries and have some good experiences to keep my mind off it all!

8.26.2008

Seriously?

"Congratulations! You have finished filing your online unemployment insurance claim."

I don't think I've ever wanted to strangle someone through my laptop so badly before. Whomever wrote that glib completion message about having just completed filing unemployment needs to be fired themselves... Congratulations! Your entire family died in a plane crash, all your stocks went down, there is raw sewage backed up into your newly-finished basement, and your dog has crabs (we don't want to know why).


8.25.2008

Fin.

So that's it - as of about 3:30pm today my work with The Field Museum ended. Needless to say, it wasn't personal - 'it's not you it's us' - etc.. They needed to lay off some people, and I already knew I would probably be one of them. Touchingly tears were shed on my behalf, not only by myself. I managed to make it 3/4 of the way through the speech by the HR personnel, but I'm not made of stone. They were nice enough to have a person from a career service meet with me, offering me three months of free resume building, coaching, etc. to help me get back on my feet - something I didn't expect. I also will be getting a severance payment in addition to unused vacation time, which was also an unforeseen bonus.
So, here I am - waiting for the minutes to roll over to start Tuesday and the first day of joblessness so that I can register for unemployment online. It's hard not to feel deeply embarrassed about this one remaining act, even though I'm forced to take it through no fault of my own; as far as I know, nobody in my immediate family has ever been on unemployment. I know the economy sucks for people with professions like mine, but I was silly enough to think that maybe I'd never have to be here either. I take comfort in knowing that at this time I am collecting these checks with a handful of close friends who have found themselves in the same situation, though I hope we all can set things right asap.

What's next? I have bumped my course load from 8 hours to 16 for this semester because I know I'd be able to land a better job as soon as I'm done with this degree. If I manage that number well, I might do the same next semester, and will consider looking for something part time. I've applied for a full time dream position, but I'm not currently holding my breath - needless to say I don't have the confidence to count on my resume as it is now.

I have also started to plan a trip with my best friend and traveling partner, Claudia, who just moved to Hawaii this summer with her man. She will be meeting me in either San Francisco or Los Angeles the day after Christmas, and from there we will be road tripping back to Chicago by way of AZ, NM, TX, OK, MS, and IL. I'm thrilled about the prospect of getting back onto the open road, seeing Claudia again, and sharing the experience of travel once more - I love a good journey, and I know this could be what we both need. More about all that later, after I've licked me wounds a little more.

8.20.2008

Sour times for non-profit folk

We all know, or at least should be vaguely aware, that our economy is hurting; nowhere does this seem as glaringly obvious than within a sphere where everyone's livelihood depends on the generosity of others. Economic hardships within the greater society of our country have hit home recently with force: term positions aren't being renewed here, funds have been frozen, jobs that have been willingly been vacated have been frozen, and over a dozen proposed layoffs were announced a little over a week ago. All this and more have led me to feeling like I am teetering on the edge of momentous change whether it's welcomed or not.

It cannot escape my notice that regardless of how hard I work, how much I like my coworkers and are liked by them, and how valuable what I do may be to the daily operations of my department, I am the lowest rung on the ladder; if anyone goes from the library, I'm 99.9% sure that it's going to be me. This brings up a difficult question: do I start shopping myself out now on the chance that I get the ax at the end of the month, or wait until I hear something more definite? If I do choose to shop myself out, don't get laid off, but get offered another position, do I go? The answer to this second question may seem like a resounding 'yes' to those unfamiliar with my position, but for me it's not so clear. I love my place of employment; the work I do may be completely mind-numbing, but I love coming in here every work day nonetheless. I have been here in one way or another since about 2001 and have done all I could to stay. Out of all major constants in my life, The Field Museum is one of the most enduring. In the back of my mind I've always known that I would eventually have to move on, especially after getting my masters degree, as I'd most likely become overqualified for the jobs that become available (the 'lifers' will never relinquish the good ones, and who could blame them?). As of right now I am in the middle of that degree with no chance of being done before summer, unless I do get laid off and live off unemployment while I take on a heavier course load. My boss here has been more helpful than any employee could ever hope for in terms of helping me get the time off I've needed to travel for classes, and working with my class schedules during the day time; I could never expect such support anywhere else... or could I?

These are all the things swirling around in my head right now. I've just submitted a resume for a position that, about 6 months from now, would be the absolute perfect job for me to get involved with. Needless to say that at this moment the waiting for a response is leaving me wracked by insecurities and second guessing about my qualifications to fill this position, but others keep assuring me that it's something that if given the chance, I could grow to be great in. I guess it's a moot point until I get a response, but I can't help but obsess over it. A part of me wonders if this is just the push I need to step up my game and become a real professional, but an even bigger part of me wants to stay in this familiar womb of a position where I know I'll never be challenged. Time to figure out what I'm really doing with my degrees, ambitions, hopes, and efforts.

8.19.2008

Last night's run felt pretty good, except for a couple twinges in the shoulder when I first started. I'm going to break things up with some easy cross training today and then have another run tomorrow evening. Now it's off to work on shifting stacks (wow, that sounded kind of gangsta) and trying not to think of that unlucky number 15...

8.18.2008

1 week on

It's been slightly over a week since I ran the CDC and the shoulder still hates me. There has been a little bit of progress in that it doesn't go nuts when I look left anymore, but I still have to be careful about how I put pressure on the left arm. I'm getting back to running today, but I'm going to take it easy and make sure I pay careful attention to how I'm feeling and how my upper body posture is. I can't deal with being inactive any longer, so now is the time to get out there before I lose it!

8.15.2008

meh

Uneventful week - uneventful Friday post. I'm off to sit outside where I can watch the planes practicing for this weekend's air and water show. Good times!

8.12.2008

Dr recomends drugs and massage

Fantastic! So as all suspected, my water bottle probably DID do me in. I have a badly pinched nerve and a huge knot in my shoulder area that my doctor said she could feel 'click' when she manipulated it. The cure? Muscle relaxants, heat, massage, and immobility for a few days. I think I can do that. Thankfully I'm cleared to still do cardio as long as I don't try to do anything that involves neck or shoulder strain (no pull ups, pushups, etc), so I won't be getting fat and lazy while I'm having some down time.

8.11.2008

2:23:13

Well, it's over and done with - the Chicago Distance Classic and its 13.1 miles are behind me (photos to come when they upload them). I couldn't have asked for better weather; the route was a beautiful loop down the lakefront to the Museum of Science and Industry, and then back up the lake path. I ran with my brother, Bill, an experienced distance runner who has two marathons under his belt and is training for his third. To be honest, running with Bill was both a blessing and a curse at times, though more of the former than the latter. I had a hard time keeping my own pace, and often ran myself a bit harder than I should have; I'm sure this would have been an issue even alone because I often found myself speeding up to the pace of others around me. There were definitely times, especially after mile 11, when I thought of walking the rest of the way in - however, though running with a faster runner got me there in the first place, having him with me when things got hard motivated me to finish strong; the thought actually crossed my mind that because he'd stuck with me the whole time, I owed it to him to finish running as we had set out to do. Throughout the whole event Bill was great at calling my attention to the fact that I was speeding up, and asking me if this was something I was consciously doing, which, most of the time, it wasn't and didn't desire to do. When I got fatigued and wanted to slow down I didn't feel too embarrassed to ask him to slow a little, and he always responded immediately. I know I said 'sorry' almost every single time I asked him to slow down, but he always reminded me that I didn't need to apologize, and that he knew that I was most definitely running faster than my normal pace.

In the end, running with Bill gave me the best long-run pace yet, ~10min miles, with a finish time of 2:23:13 - only ~3 minutes longer than it took me to run my 12 mile long run a couple weeks ago! I know I would have finished had I run the CDC on my own, but I am absolutely certain that my time would have been much slower. Next year I'm considering running the full marathon with Bill - this experience has shown me that I have a long way to go with my training, but that I have a great motivator on my side to help me achieve what I want to. So Bill, if you're reading this today, thanks for all your help yesterday; you made me push my limits, and thankfully I was able to respond to that well. I hope we get to do it again next year!

As for how my body responded to this experience - the rest of Sunday was spent icing some very sore knees (I trained most of the time on gravel, so the pavement abused them) and laying on my parents' couch with the dogs; today my muscles actually feel completely fine, though my right knee doesn't like me much when I make it walk down stairs. The odd thing is, somehow while I was sleeping last night I managed to pinch a nerve in the area of my left shoulder blade, and now every movement with the left arm, and some movements of my neck cause excruciating pain in that area; it's like my body wants to reward me for what I did this weekend by not making any of my running parts hurt, but is sending me a message that I need to be a bit kinder to it next time by giving me a painful warning shot to remember what it can do to me if I don't play nice.

So, on to the Nike + Human Race 10K at the end of August, and then the Banco Popular Half Marathon on September to complete my running season- in the meantime, more conditioning, and a lot more stretching!

8.08.2008

...

So it's Friday, and here I am as usual - at the desk, waiting to go meet friends for that morning tea and croissant. This weekend is a big weekend for me, though I don't feel it yet. I am dropping in on a couple games in a cancer awareness/fund raising tournament with an elite team, and on Sunday I run my first half marathon, the Chicago Distance Classic. Up until now I hadn't been nervous, but now when I actually think about it all I get a slight flutter in the belly. Thing is, none of it is anything I haven't essentially done before (I've done the 12 mile run and felt I could have gone on), but there are always those nagging doubt and over-analysis of physical sensations preceding an event like this - at least for me - that make me feel that when the time comes I won't be able to perform. It's as if I'm mentally inventing blisters, sore knees, chafed areas, and more - I've noticed this kind of mental handicapping before when I've planned on hitting the gym and about 1/2 hour before leaving I get a phantom pain in one of my knees - somewhere in the back of my head someone thinks I can't do these things. Thankfully the rest of me knows that person is a moron.

So, here we go - hopefully I'll have some good pictures to post up after this weekend, and some happy news to report to boot. Have a good weekend.

8.06.2008

Not here, please leave a message

or an escape plan. I'm having one of those days when I'd rather be anywhere but here. I love my job and the people I work with, but every once-in-a-while a day will come along when for no particular reason I am just crawling up the walls with the desire to escape. Today is so bad that I find myself fantasizing about leaving 'sick' to go grocery shopping and then going home to cook... yeah, a real wild woman here. Somewhere in the back of my head is the feeling that I am missing out on the most exciting, entertaining day ever, but I'm locked inside like a kid being grounded during summer vacation. Someone please let me out so I can go ride my bigwheels!

8.05.2008

Cubs storm vids - Elvis and a Tornado come to call

These are great, go check them out. I like the 'it's gonna happen' sign being waved at the tornado in the second video. Mayhem.

Edit - more awesome Trib reader photos here.

Stormy Weather

Yesterday was interesting, to say the least - Chicago weather showing all her might (awesome pics here). I woke up in the morning at first alarm to what looked through the venetian blinds to be an average sunny day; by the third snooze I could have sworn it was 7pm it was so dark and yellow-hued out. I decided to drive in. The ride was a slalom of flooded streets, tree limbs, and drivers who forgot the art of driving due to the sheeting, almost horizontal rain. When it was all said and done, the air was still sickly humid and incredibly hot - a sign of more to come.

Fast forward to 7:30pm, again Mother Nature seemed to know that I was about to hit the road because the sky went from brilliant blue to steel gray in about a half hour. It looked like rain again, but nothing to write home about as we set out to Northbrook for my hockey game. By the time we hit the 90/94 split things had taken a turn for the worst and the weather band radio in the car got turned on. Tornado warning in Northwestern Cook, tornado warning in Central Cook, tornado warning in Southeastern Cook - where exactly were the tornadoes NOT headed? Thankfully, for the time being, not towards us. As we prepared to pull off on Willow road, the skies looked like they were preparing to do something - I don't think I can even describe what they looked like to do justice to it, but anyone who has ever had to run to the basement in the middle of July or August knows exactly the kind of pea soup color, low hanging cloud wall, and absolute opacity and inability of the remaining twilight to pass through - one could clearly see the end of the front from the contrast between calm navy-blue twilight, and bruise-colored purple, black, and yellow mayhem to the west. We got to the rink just as people were getting pulled off the ice - sirens blaring - and being told to take cover. Nothing came of it all other than us starting our own game a half hour late, but the storm definitely gave us a few moments of worry.

Back at home, thinking it was all over with, we got hit by another wave at 11:30pm - somehow I think this one was the worst of all, but maybe that was because I actually got to watch it. The homes across the street were completely blocked from view by the walls of rain, and the tree our front was blown nearly horizontal by gale-force winds. The lightening and thunder were pretty much non-stop until this final cell blew over about 20 minutes later. After that, the night returned to calm until we were jolted awake by the realization that the power had gone out and it was already 7:40am. Another hectic drive in, and here I am - tomorrow it'll be back to normal, back to taking transit, and enjoyment of the cooler weather - hard earned.

8.04.2008

Home again

Three days, four hockey games, a few pounds of junk food, and about 940 miles later, and I am finally home from my tournament in Nashville, TN. A great time was had by all - we went undefeated and brought home the hardware. I got to have a baptism by fire at playing center (I am normally defense) because I was a late add-on to the team, and the rest of the guys had first dibs on the positions they wanted; I was a bit lost now and then, but I think I did all right. It was fun to get to play with the boys again, as the level of play was heads and shoulders above what I've been enjoying for the last year or so playing strictly women's hockey - I look forward to playing future tournaments with these guys, as we all got on really well.

As for the city, Nashville was a pleasant surprise - I really wasn't expecting much, but I found it to be a really pretty place with extremely nice inhabitants. In all honesty, the only thing I could have done without was the oppressive heat and humidity; I spent most of my time feeling like I was about to melt into a fleshy little puddle on the sidewalk, but it made for nice poolside weather at the hotel. Now it's back to work, sore but happy, and facing down the last week before I run my half marathon. The training schedule looks really laid back, so all I really have to do is stay healthy and get some rest. Here goes!

7.30.2008

Fans gone wild - the road show

I don't mean to appear obsessed with wild Cubs fans, but it seems like there's a bit of a copy-cat string of rogue Cubs fan attacks going on. This time our story comes out of Milwaukee, where three Cubs fans (they seem to act out in packs) got off a bus headed back to Chicago and proceeded to beat the crap out of a Brewers fan that had just lobbed a beer at said bus; the poor sucker lost a tooth for his poorly-timed act of spite, and one fan faced charges of assault. Perhaps now people will stop calling Sox fans the violent, trashy fans in Chicago, and start looking North for the hooliganism a bit more.

Keeping it classy, Chicago.

7.29.2008

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

And someone has... In today's Trib top stories was a lovely little number about three of my Eastern European brethren getting into a Cubs V. Sox brawl at a child's birthday party- the fight resulted in the Sox fan losing an eye and the three attackers (allegedly all Cubs fans) being slapped with felony assault charges. This is what happens when vodka, baseball, and confetti cake combine in one unfortunate place.

7.28.2008

201st post - 12 miles

Got up at 5am and did my 12 mile run this morning; greeting the dawn was pleasant. I meet a lot of people on the lake path - all extremely friendly, saying 'hello,' 'good morning,' asking how I was, or just waving or giving the peace sign - a bit of running culture I never really encountered with my evening runs. Perhaps people are more friendly in the morning, though I, for one, tend to be grouchy. The run itself went pretty well; this time I was at about an 11:30 pace, which seems a lot more reasonable than the quicker pace I had on my 10mile. I felt good for the most part, but was getting fatigued as I rolled into the 11th mile; I think getting a better night's sleep and continuing to be diligent about my conditioning runs mid-week will help solve that. This was also my first time trying to run using the Gu stuff - it was a bit of a juggling act with opening the packets and holding my water bottle, but not too much of a hassle. It was definitely worth it though, as I felt I did get a boost of energy out of the Gu. Banana-strawberry was my favorite; I could have done without the berry one I had (too sweet for my tastes).

In other news, somehow I managed to chafe in areas I never imagined it possible to chafe; next long run I am going to have to be a bit more thorough with the body glide. Right now I'm feeling pretty good muscularly, but those chafed areas give me quick moments of intense pain when I move just the right way.

7.25.2008

Trail lust

I accidentally stumbled onto an article about the Superior Hiking Trail today and fell in love with the idea. Having read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the woods, I was already familiar with the famous Appalachian Trail, but I had no idea that there was a silent sister trail running along the Lake Superior shoreline in Minnesota that was less known and, subsequently, less used. While the article above discussed in depth baby boomer usage of the trail, hiking from lodge to lodge without covering considerable distance, there is also a large portion of use that goes to backpackers and through-hikers (a 3 week endeavor, apparently) who use some of the 80+ back country campsites.
I would absolutely love to take a couple weeks of vacation over the summer and go lose myself with Dan in the woods; northern Minnesota is absolutely spectacular, and this sounds like a great way to see more of it. Back in high school I was lucky enough to do some canoe camping in the BWCA; I think I'd really enjoy seeing more north woods goodness by foot.

Well, add this near the top of the 'to do after graduation when grad school stops sucking up vacation time' list, along with that celebratory trip to Egypt and the Middle East; hitting Norway with Dan and the in-laws; traveling through Asia with Claudia; going to Ocracoke with my parents; and much much more. Wanderlust anyone?

7.24.2008

Bartman Returns... or not

In an amusing tidbit of Cubs news, Steve Bartman, public enemy #1 and scapegoat 2k3 for Cub's fans all over, has declined an offer of $25,000 to sign just one autograph publicly st a sports collectors convention. It is to be assumed that he is now living in a cave in Afghanistan with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Osama bin Ladin, and Darth Vader, and can't be imposed upon to come back to the states to make an appearance. In other news, the Chicago White Sox announce that they will be unveiling a statue of Bartman riding a goat over by right field.

Waiting

Made the turn onto 35th today, saw the bus about to arrive, and decided to hop on to get to the el quicker; as I was boarding I heard one 30-something, seemingly able-bodied woman complaining to the other about the lateness of the driver. I assumed the speaker was taking the bus all the way to the end of the line, so I didn't thing more of it. After getting off at my stop and heading through the station, I was surprised to find myself standing next to this same woman on the red line platform - she turned to me and said: "that bus - I waited for it for 35 minutes - can you believe it was so late?"

Now, I normally walk from home to the train - a distance of about .8 miles; from the bus stop it's probably about .5. I have a rule that if it'll be quicker to walk, I'll do so, but if the bus is in sight, I'll wait and take it to catch an earlier train in the mornings only, evenings I always walk (9 times out of 10 I beat the bus because it never seems to be there in the morning). I couldn't resist making some comment about how walking would have been quicker, but she had no answer to that; she was friendly so we laughed off the whole thing, mutually complaining about the unpredictability of the CTA - for me it meant speed walking (a nice wake-up in the morning, or wind down in the evening), for her it meant waiting, rain or shine, for her chariot to arrive.

I used to think that somehow it was inaccurate that the average American only walks a couple miles total a week (at least according to Bill Bryson); that includes to and from transportation, around the office, around the home, etc.. Meeting people like this woman, who would prefer to wait over half an hour for a 1/2 mile bus ride, kind of drove the point home. It wasn't just her though - there were other people agreeing with her when the bus first came who also got off with me at the red line stop. Granted some of these passengers were elderly and looked as if they couldn't handle walking any distance, others looked perfectly capable. Have we all really become that lazy?

7.23.2008

The root of all evil...

Clearly the bane of my entire existence is the eating of carbohydrates. It seems that for every physical and even emotional complaint I have, the answer I get is 'less carbs, no caffeine, and more exercise and protein,' to which I reply "I'm trying, really." The question is, what will I eat if I cut back on those carbohydrates, and which carbs, if any, are allowable in any quantity? The truth of the matter is, the vast majority of my diet is made up of veggies, grains, breads, starches, and legumes; from time to time I blow it out and grill some meat, but in general I just gravitate towards meatless. When eating out, meatless always seems to mean lots of carb or starch with lip service to vegetables, unless you want to eat a salad, and salads are, well, either boring or made very fattening by adding things to distract you from the fact that you're eating lettuce.

So what is there? What is the quick snack that one can grab during the day that is actually 100% healthy? I like to keep fruit and produce around in the fridge, but they tend to take up more room than I feel I'm entitled to take up in the communal work appliance; anything that fits into my desk drawers falls under the headings of 'nonperishable carb,' like pretzels or crackers, or 'highly fatty' like unsalted nuts. So this is my current struggle - I need to find quick-and-easy-style foods that I can have around to snack on throughout the day (I'm also trying to do the mini-meal thing as well as cut back on carbs and sugars). Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

7.21.2008

50min and magic cloth

I'm back on my training plan again. Things went really well tonight - I was really surprised; it had been such a long lapse that I thought I'd be dragging, but I fell into my stride right away. I'm glad I decided to just pick up exactly where my plan told me to be instead of forcing a long run at the beginning of the week; I feel like I should be ready to go on Sunday with the 12 miles.


I also got to try out some new gear today, which is always fun. Before I left for my course in Urbana, I'd decided to purchase another one of the running skorts I'd been training in. The one I had been wearing had begun to kind of slip down while running, at least until I'd worked up enough sweat to make it stick to me (kind of gross, but hey...), so I assumed the waist band had worn out a bit. I decided to take a gamble and order a size smaller. When the package arrived, I unfolded the new skirt and thought of immediately returning it because it looked way too small - once I tried it on, however, it fit perfectly. I love stretch fabrics! I also got to use my new socks, but that's not nearly as nice a feeling as fitting a skirt that looked impossible from the get-go - it was like one of those cartoon moments where somehow or other Tom the cat managed to get into the tiny hole in the baseboard that Jerry carved out for his home - once inside finding himself in a spacious, lavishly-furnished apartment. My booty settled nicely into it's unexpectedly-roomy new diggs, and I was able to run in complete hiking-up-free comfort.

Back

In its own odd way, being back to work seems like a vacation from my 'vacation' to school in Urbana-Champaign. There's something nice about being back to the normal routine of things - 9am coffee and croissant with Karen, DLing This American Life onto my ipod for my hours of catch-up shelving, getting to open all the packages of new running goodies that came for me while I was gone, having lunch handed to me by my friend Spike as he says 'welcome back.' Face it, I really do like my work, even if I complain about it from time to time; in reality, who doesn't complain even about the coolest of jobs?
Semi-curses to Mother Nature for raining on my running plans; I was going to do my long run, but I think her wisdom may be greater than mine - tomorrow it'll be cooler, and tonight I'll get the chance to get a warm-up run in the gym in the basement before heading home. Back to the grind.

7.15.2008

Made it out

I actually made it for a run this evening. 85F in 53% humidity and no shade are far from being my favorite conditions, but it went all right. I think part of my issue is that I don't really know the area and what roads are good to run on, so a lot of my efforts are wasted running on roads that turn out to be unsuitable; I never seem to fall into my stride because my environment keeps changing.

Regardless, on the short run, in the heat, with all the handicaps, I added about an extra minute and a half to my pace. I guess in the grand scheme of things that isn't terrible, but what is disheartening a bit is the loss of consistency. I found myself walking now and then, not from muscle fatigue, or even shortness of breath, but from a lack of energy as the heat surrounding me seemed to suck the life out of me. I honestly have no clue how my brother and his crew managed to run a full marathon in an environment of high heat and humidity, where other runners were dropping off the course (which was eventually shut down). Days like this make me respect them all even more.

At any rate, all is not lost. I think things will be fine once I am at home and running on familiar turf. I recently learned that the course of the half marathon is exactly the path I've been running all along, so I feel I'll have the home field advantage. All the perks of knowing my own mile markers and being able to gauge how I'm doing will help me out. Aside from all that, it's just beautiful - running south on the lake path is a real pleasure - one that I look forward to enjoying once I get back from here.

Belly

I need to break my addiction to carbohydrates. Not in a fad diet kind of way, but in a 'you can't just eat only carbs and starches' kind of way. Now that I'm stuck away at school it's becoming more obvious that I need to do something. I have no access to any grocery stores within reasonable walking/carrying distance, so I'm stuck buying food at Walgreens or eating at restaurants. Needless to say, at the beginning of week two I feel like someone has crammed a few packages of dish sponges into my lower intestines.

I'd kill for a decent salad right now, but those don't seem to exist here. I've been eating the different varieties of Asian food here in an attempt to get some semi-fresh veggies, but acknowledge the fact that I really don't need all the noodles and rice. Not one place down here believes in brown rice, which is a shame. Just like last time I had to come down to stay here, I know that the week or so after I return will be spent eating as much roughage as humanly possible. Perhaps this time I'll stick to it, and stop resorting to too many carbs and starches to fill the plate. More lean protein (I never feel like cooking meat), and more fresh fruits and veggies, please. Perhaps soon we'll be getting our first installment of CSA produce!

7.13.2008

No escape

After a hot minute in Chicago, I am back in ChUrbana for the final week of my intensive course. Needless to say, after getting to sleep in my own bed with my damaged spouse, I'd much rather be there than here. It sucked having to leave him the day after he got injured, and it sucked even more knowing, last night, that he'd needed me while I was gone, and that I was having to leave him again. At least I'm more than halfway through now, and he definitely is looking a lot better than he did when I first left him (though he's really not feeling much better).

I also have to admit that this trip is wreaking havoc on my training. Due to the fact that this is an intensive, my nights have been spent reading, and my early evenings with meetings with my project group. There really hasn't been much time to do my running, and I know it's only going to get worse. I guess my only hope is to keep an eye on what I eat more than ever, and to attempt to get some exercise in at least a little bit, every night. Thing is, campus doesn't seem like the most friendly place to be running around in skimpy running gear after dark, judging by the emails I've received to my Illinois account at least five times since I got here that warned females about recent sexual assaults. I have to admit that it really takes all desire to fit that workout in in the evenings if running for fun could potentially turn into running for safety. I'd like to say I'm exaggerating, but it seems like every time I log in there's a new warning for a completely different location - not really reassuring. Funny how I can feel completely safe at home, but completely unsafe in such a wholesome-looking rural town like this. In the end it all comes down to familiarity - the known evils of a place. I'm sure Urbana/Champaign is no more dangerous to the intelligent local, than Chicago is to me - avoid parking lots if you're a lone, drunk female at 330am, and so on - but gaining that familiarity and comfort takes time.. I guess I'm not willing to take the time to learn, as my time here is short, but I must find something that works for me in the meantime.

7.10.2008

Wow Detroit, nice one (not sarcastic, I swear)

Dan sent me a link to an article about how Detroit is demolishing the old Tiger Stadium. My knee-jerk reaction was first "wow, Detroit actually demolishes things?" and then "sad, I have memories of that place and it'll be a shame to lose it."

Then I read on to discover that what they're doing with the park and the space is actually really cool. The infield will be left intact, and the foul and flag poles will be placed where they formerly were once demolition is completed. Instead of turning a great stadium into a parking lot, as was the fate for old Comiskey (and what I've grown to recognize as sort of a necessary evil), they will be creating both green space and a (I'm assuming) usable playing field for various purposes. I can see great potential here for tying in inner city youth baseball leagues, or even old time baseball reenactment games and other touristy events that can generate some income from a spot that was really only generating mold and dust. So, good move Detroit - I hope many good years are still left in that field.

7.09.2008

Heat + Humidity + Easy Run = Not so easy

Today's easy run felt like a mission. It was supposed to be 50 minutes at an easy pace, and all told I only got about 4 miles in (and sweat buckets). Hopefully the weather on race day with be much nicer, considering that start time is at the butt crack of dawn rather than the 5pm start time I usually give myself. To make matters worse, I brought the wrong inhaler, so I don't have that advantage. As they say, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger - let's hope the stronger thing happens...

You don't know what you've got till it's gone

So the false fire alarm didn't have a threepeat this morning, and as a result I wound up sleeping through the first hour of class. True to form, I set my phone alarm to 7pm instead of am because I was in the middle of dealing with a humidity-induced migraine. Good times. Anyway, my prof was understanding, and I hadn't really missed much, so it was ok. Now I'm off to play with 16mm films in the digitization lab - hooray for getting to geek out :)

7.08.2008

7:17am and another fire alarm wakeup call. I told the RA as we were standing outside in our PJs that if they went off again Wednesday morning I wasn't leaving my room. F this noise...

7.07.2008

The college experience I never had... thank God...

So I am on my second night at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, in the rotting shit-hole that is known as Sherman Halls - this place is terrible. I have been running the water in the shower for almost a half hour now, and it's only reached a temperature that is about 20 degrees below zero. The staff here at Sherman assure me that it will heat up in time - I had to ask today because after being driven off by the icy water yesterday I have begun to smell a bit ripe. Add to my misery the fact that I am swimming in 86% humidity at a temperature that is even higher; every surface of my little cell is covered with a nasty film of condensation and, from the looks of it, decades of ramen juice and a random assortment of bodily fluids. I'd wear shorts to cool off, but I'm afraid I'm going to get crabs from the computer chair.

The 'linens' provided - two white drop cloths with suspicious stains the desk swears came from an errant pack of koolaide that made it into the wash, and a fuzzy blanket that I don't think was meant to be fuzzy - provide inadequate protection from either the damp chill of 3am nor whatever lurks on the mattress with me.

If you thought that things couldn't get any better at this luxury hotel of mine, the internet is wonderfully slow, and they kindly wake you up at 6:15am with a pointless fire alarm in the middle of thunderstorms. Ah dorm life - how grand.

Now I'm off to check the water temp again; with any luck it'll be to the liking of any reasonable Polar Bear Club member or someone desperate enough to rid themselves of swamp ass.

Sweet dreams...

7.06.2008

Thank you helmets

I'd like to send a personal thank you to my husband's bike helmet for protecting his noggin this weekend; Dan went ass over titties while he was riding trail in the burbs and managed to break his helmet open (as well as parts of his face and his collar bone). He'll be healed and ready to go in a couple months, but it wasn't lost on me that things could have been way worse. For all my friends who read this and still ride without helmets, I'll repeat my request that you please go out and buy one. Sure, they may look stupid, but they certainly beat the alternative; judging by the damage to his helmet, I have no doubt that Dan would not be with us today had he not been wearing his (note the bruising on the forehead from the helmet shifting a bit on impact - helmet pics to follow maybe when I get back into town).




I know most of you just ride on the street and don't choose to go barreling down wooded hills like he does, but it doesn't matter - all it takes is a quick wipe out after hitting a rock, or getting doored, or just having a couple too many (you know who you are) and you suddenly find yourself in a coma or worse.

So yeah, that's my request for the day - go get a helmet and rock it; you can even get one of those stupid Bell Special Ed-style ones I hate so much - I won't make fun of you (too badly).