Archive for January, 2007

Having no cash = bain of my existence

It’s astounding how one moment I can be telling senior management of a multi-billion dollar company how to make even more money, and in the next moment be diving in dumpsters in downtown Naperville looking for another $2.90 to add to the $1 in my wallet so that I can buy a train ticket to get home.

A couple times a week I go visit my client, which is near Naperville – about 35 miles west of downtown Chicago. (Naperville is literally the most stereotypical blissful suburb in America — there’s a study or something to back it up — and it’s regarded as hell on earth by any downtown Chicago dweller.)

I don’t own a car, so when I need to go there for meetings, I either ride with a co-worker or rent a car. Today I had a 10:00 meeting that Tim was also attending, and then an 11:30 with Erik. So when I got to the office this morning, Tim offered me a ride, and Erik said he could bring me back. The kicker was that I was going to have to do my 2:00 client meeting by phone, which wasn’t ideal. So when the 10:00 meeting was over, Tim said he was going to stay for a 3:00 meeting, and that I could ride home with him.

I kinda banked on this, though we didn’t set it in stone. And I knew that I had a couple other options for getting home should he leave me behind: taxi or train.

Long story short, I waved Erik on down the road and opted to stay for the 2:00 meeting, thinking Tim was still around. When I emerged at 3:45, I had a voicemail, an e-mail and a text message from my spies telling me that Tim had already been back downtown in our office for hours.

Traffic into the city anytime after 4:00 is rotten. It takes at least 90 minutes. Sitting in traffic is almost unbearable as a driver, and as far as riding in the back of a taxi – well, I’d rather inject jalapeno juice into my eyeballs than suffer through (a) the long ride, and (b) the carsickness that I made famous when I barfed down my uncle’s back at the age of 5.

So I opted for the train.

I asked around and learned that the shuttle from the client’s office to the train station was leaving at 4:05, and it cost $1.25.  So technically I would be down to about $1.72 including my coins once I paid the fare.

SURELY I could buy a train ticket with my credit card or a check once I got to the station.

The klunky old school bus showed up, and six of us boarded. Ten minutes later we were dumped off at the depot.

And the ticket window was closed. There was no ticket machine. And there was a tattered yellow piece of paper on the window saying “cash only on board to Chicago”.

Fortunately I had my handy dandy Treo along, and I found a Chase bank location about a 15 minute walk away. So I put up my hood, pulled on my gloves, and set out in the -400 degree evening to find cash.

I passed Harris Bank, LaSalle Bank, US Bank, Washington Mutual and Park Ridge Bank. I got frostbite. And just as I approached 155 S. Main (supposedly where Chase was located), I found Starbucks there instead. Sigh. No money there, but alas! A warm oasis! The girls in there told me the bank was two blocks away. I grabbed a tea and trudged on.

Fortunately they were right about the location. I got some money. And I had missed the next train.

With 30 minutes to kill and Ann Taylor Loft right next door, I decided that I MUST warm up a little in there before the big walk back to the train, right? And since I jacket I liked with JUST $23, I had to get it.

Back to the train. Tromp, tromp, tromp, shiver, shiver.

By this time, nearly two hours had passed since I’d left my client.

The train pulled up, I got on, and here I sit. Sigh.

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Automation, Autodation

Right now I am living without my ATM card, and I’m down to $2 in my wallet.

I’m not sure of the last time I set foot in my bank. October, perhaps? I think I needed laundry quarters. (Which by the way someone STOLE from my storage locker in the basement a couple weeks ago….AARGH!)

I guess you could say I bank at Walgreens, where there’s always a Chase ATM. And I pay my bills online. So generally there’s no need to see a teller for anything.

Unfortunately, last Friday I stopped at Walgreens to get cash, got distracted during the transaction, and forgot to pull my card back out of the machine. Fortunately I realized this about 1 minute after I did it, so I immediately called the bank to cancel my card.

The problem is now that even though Chase has hundreds of locations in Chicago, all of them require nearly a mile walk (both from work or from home), and in case you hadn’t heard, it’s DAMN COLD here this week! Like -400 degrees. Boo hoo.

So much for relying on automation. Pretty soon the paper boy is going to come and demand his $2, and I’ll have to go dig pennies out of all of my stashed away purses. Hopefully that replacement card shows up soon.

Which leads me to why I was at Walgreens getting cash last Friday night. I was getting together with Matt #1, and I needed money for a cab ride.

Matt #1 is a classic example of autodation. First, we met on Match.com. Second, 90% of our communication is in sentence fragment increments via text message. Which is great for knowing a person’s whereabouts, but hinders establishing much of a relationship.

This is exacerbated by my two-month-old Treo, which allows me to read all my e-mail, surf the web, send text messages, send photos, send video and of course call people.

So isn’t it ironic that my ATM card got sucked away while I was using it to actually SEE Matt #1 in person?

With my luck, I’ll probably accidentally drop the Treo in the toilet. And the relationship with Matt #1 will be flushed away forever.

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Dating the Apostles

Until I moved the the upper Midwest, I didn’t realize the extent to which men in my age group have Biblical names. I grew up with names like Trustan, Deon, Todd, Jason, Kevin, Ryan — new age ’70s names. I guess there were a few from the Christian tradition, but it didn’t really cross my mind. 

Now my life is controlled by apostles. I work for Peter, Mark, Timothy and John. I’ve dated Andrew, Paul and Peter.

January has been the month of Matthew.

Last night I went on date #1 with Matt #3. To clarify, Matt #2 went by “Matthew”, which most any other Matt would say is a pansy sin. (He told me he chose his apartment based on close proximity to the zoo because he liked to go there often to look at the animals. Let’s just say it didn’t mesh with my pet-eating upbringing.)

I made the first move a few days after Christmas by sending Matt #3 a wink on Match.com. He then went on vacation, was away for a weekend, and I was busy washing my hair, so we didn’t get together until a full month later.

So in typical first date fashion (rule: date lasts no longer than one hour), we met up for coffee and a get-acquainted chat. We shared funny travel stories, talked about our relatives and then proceeded to talk about Christmas traditions (in true apostle style).

A few years ago, while his family was unwrapping presents, his dad was given a rather strange looking gift “from Jamal.” Not knowing anyone named Jamal, he opened the gift, to find a hideous Virgin Mary nightlight. Finally his brother-in-law cracked up and confessed.

Apparently the Virgin Mary gadget now makes its rounds, mysteriously appearing in people’s glove boxes, freezers and underwear drawers.

Perhaps Our Lady of Jamal will save the two sinners in our family who have bestowed the gift of the movie Showgirls on unsuspecting relatives.

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Jenn’s birthday

Today is Jenn’s 29th birthday (for the 7th time). So last night three of us got together for a celebration/therapy session.

The plan was to meet at Anita’s at 8:00, and then go to Cornelia’s (local French country-inspired restaurant/piano bar, where they know Anita well). At 8:05 I was having a wardrobe crisis. 30 minutes, 5 outfits and 10 text messages later, I hopped in a cab. (As if it really mattered what I wore, considering that no more than 10 people saw me, and half were gay men.)

Most of the conversation centered around dating — or lack thereof, in some cases. Anita has a new love interest who she met at Underground a couple weeks ago. She digs him. He made here a “mix CD”. He doesn’t yet know that she’s harboring her ex in her basement.

After about 45 minutes of chatter, we headed out into the snowy night.

At Anita’s house

Edie (blonde owner of the establishment originally from Holland) greeted Anita and Jenn with hugs, and I was introduced. We said hi to the piano guy, who was seated at the bar finishing his break between sets. We plopped down next to him, and Edie came over to chat about Anita’s love life and the hotel Edie was thinking of buying in Puerto Vallarta.

A couple glasses of wine came and went, along with pulled pork, potatoes and salad. Then Edie suggested that I go and sing with the piano guy. By that point, we were the only people in the place, so I headed over and took a seat on the bench next to him.

Lori singing

Then it became clear that I know the words and melodies to exactly zero songs.

Edie gave me a microphone, and I attempted to sing along to a Billy Joel song — about every fifth word.

For someone who can play the piano and sing, it’s completely ridiculous that I have no public use for these skills.

Oh well, in the end it didn’t matter. A good time was had by all.

 Trio

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Sadie and Nette, my vomiting kitties

After having raised and eaten many a farm-animal pet, I’ve always viewed animals as more of a source of food than a vehicle for companionship and amusement.

But once I moved to Chicago, the idea of having a cute kitty cat started to creep into my thoughts. Apparently once something enters your thoughts, the wheels of the universe start turning to make it happen. (Exception: Prince Charming)

One day in August a couple years ago, I was walking home from work and ran into my neighbor Battlestar Man, who was just walking out of his Diesel store (he was the manager) to head home as well. We walked the remaining six blocks together, and he told me he was meeting up with Joel (another neighbor I knew) and Kelly (a neighbor I didn’t know) at a casual Thai place for dinner. Kellie was taking the two of them out as a “thank you” for watching her two cats while she’d been in Egypt.

I didn’t have other plans, and Thai sounded good, so I tagged along. Little did I know I’d be coming home with a long-term lease on two cats.

Conversation at dinner was fascinating. Kelly is very artistic — both her mind, and her lifestyle. She’d spent probably 6 months in Paris bumming around, then came back to Chicago, then started dating an adventure-travel guide named Bruno, then went to Egypt for a few weeks with him. Now they’d decided to move in together in Chicago, and he was severely allergic to her cats. Clearly they would have to find a new home.

I mentioned that I’d been thinking about getting a cat, so after dinner we popped back over to our building and I accompanied her to her studio apartment on the 12th floor to meet them for the first time.

Kelly (nickname: Mother of my Cats) got Sadie and Nette from her aunt, and now they were 5-year old littermates who were rather apathetic about each other. Laid-back Sadie came out to greet me, but sourpuss Nette hid out the whole time. Oh well, at least she didn’t bite.

I said yes. She said she’d bring them over in two weeks.

Kelly was already sniffling when she brought the litterbox to the door that day. We went upstairs to grab the other paraphernalia, and then the cats on one last trip. As a final goodbye, she took each one in the bathroom to sit on the toilet and brush them (her normal routine). And she parted ways with them, in tears.

Nette hissed at me for at least 5 days. And she continues to hiss at any man that enters my abode. But she’s definitely the more human of the two and just can’t bear not to be on my lap when I’m at my computer, on my head when I’m on the couch, and in the bathroom when I’m taking a shower. I had to get a doorstop for my bedroom door, as every morning around 5:30 she sticks her little paw under the door to rattle it, then bawls like she’s in peril.

Nette 

Sadie is definitely your typical cat. Likes to be held only on her terms, but insists on sitting on my chest while I’m on the couch, drooling like a baby.

 Sadie

I’ve grown very fond of these little critters, and though Kelly is still their official mother, it’s looking unlikely that she will swoop in one day to reclaim them (though that’s our arrangement). Kelly now lives in New York, but on the two trips she makes to Chicago a year, she comes by to see them. The visit consists of 10 minutes of small talk, then the brushing on the toilet ritual with each.

My main complaint is the vomit. My friend Annette has had cats for years, and it seemed she was always cleaning up nasty barf. And she wasn’t talking about hair balls, either.

Probably once a week I find a nice fresh pile of freshly eaten cat food in a moist pile somewhere in my house. If I’m lucky, it’s on the wood floors. If I’m not so lucky, it’s on my white couch. And if I’m REALLY unlucky, it’s on my bed. Eeew.

But even worse, I’ve discovered that there are many piles that I never even find, as they puke while I’m at work eat and it back up before I get home.

Seriously, the things we tolerate for critters.

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My Avatar

av·a·tar  [avuh-tahr, av-uhtahr]
–noun

1. Hindu Mythology. the descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god.
2. an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.
3. Computers. a graphical image that represents a person, as on the Internet.

When I hear this word, I feel like I’m in Dungeons and Dragons or some weird sci-fi game. I had no idea what an avatar was until probably four months ago, when press about Second Life exploded.  

So last week a directive came down from Wonder Woman in Peril (aka creative director in NY) that all the agency should be depicted as avatars on our company website. So a few of us have had hallway conversations this week, trying to figure out who the hell our alter ego would be. Doris Day? Lucy from Peanuts as a psychaitrist? Julie Andrews as Maria in the Sound of Music?

Right after lunch we got an e-mail from Wonder Woman, reminding us of the assignment. She attached the avatar of the Account Director in NY, who is an energetic brunette gal.  Here it is:

 Sumo

Yum. 

This afternoon my co-worker J.M. was in my office when our creative director walked in and said, “I’ve got one for Danny…Snoopy as the Red Baron!” It fit perfectly.

He also told me J.W. was going to pose as the Fonz.

I asked what he thought I should be. J.M. said, “Oh, wait…wait, you know…” and snapped her fingers trying to pull the name out of the air.  “That girl from the Wizard of Oz!” Our creative director said, “Dorothy? That’s perfect!”

So around 6:15 tonight I was still sitting at my desk, and I started perusing Google for images of Dorothy.  Weird and wild stuff.

Here’s my favorite:

Dorothy Once More

But I also had options of Surprised Dorothy…

Dorothy Again

…Sexy Dorothy…

Sexy Dorothy

…Mooing Dorothy…

Piggy Dorothy

…Angelic Dorothy…

Dorothy

…Bad Hair Dorothy…

Scary Dorothy

…and Dorothy after pigging out on ice cream once she was back in Kansas.

Fat Dorothy

Hopefully choosing such a fine specimen as a representation of myself won’t draw creepy men out of the woodwork.

Is Dorothy Here?

On second thought, better not tempt them.

Rosie Riveter

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The Rabbit King

Tonight I was out with my co-workers to celebrate our production manager’s birthday, and we started talking about nicknaming people we’ve been out with. Suzie said her all-time favorite name was Dr. Converse — a med student who she went out with three times. He wore sneakers on all three dates (at which point he said he was too busy becoming a doctor to date her).

My favorite was the Rabbit King.

During a the last few months I lived in Wichita (before moving to Chicago), I was on Match.com to keep myself amused. The problem with online dating in Wichita is there’s one degree of separation between everyone — and given that I was a former 4-H agent and knew at least one person in every county in the state, it was pretty easy to find out the scoop on every single person I came across online.

One guy even tried to tell me he owned the airport in Kingman, until I called him out on it via intelligence from the FACS agent, who said she knew his mother and that he still lived at home. (However, it’s possible his family did own a strip of grass suitable for landing an aircraft, so I have to cut him a little slack.)

At any rate, one day I received a rather witty e-mail from a guy with a not-completely-hideous photo, so I checked out his profile. He’d grown up in a smaller town not far away, then gone to various prestigious colleges, and he was now a PhD student at Stanford doing a research project locally. He told me his last name, which was a very unique last name that I had only heard once before.

So I called up my old Fair Board chairman (Mr. Little, who wasn’t so little), and indeed, this cat was the son of the guy who had been the judge of the rabbit show at the county fair. In fact, their whole family was really into showing rabbits, to the point where one of the female family members had actually been crowned National Rabbit Queen (or something like that). They traveled all over the U.S. with their rabbits, and were quite well-known on the circuit.

I’m sure I had met Father Rabbit at some point, but I couldn’t put my finger on what he looked like.

Once I learned this about my Match.com fellow, he was forever pegged as the “Rabbit King.”

We arranged to meet for lunch at a Lebanese restaurant that we mutually really liked, and just as I’d pulled in the parking lot, a little neon blue car raced in, and a skinny dark-haired guy stepped out. Clearly it was him. I knew at that instant this was never going to work.

We had a nice lunch, and we had lots to talk about — rabbit stuff, and all. But the whole time I just couldn’t get over the fact that not only had he grown up raising rabbits, but he actually LOOKED like a rabbit!

Maybe there is some truth to people looking like the animals they grow up with?

And now I just had a horrifying thought. My first boyfriend in 5th grade once got really mad at me and started calling me Priscilla the pig.

Yikes.

(And to think they named an adult store after me…)

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