Archive for May, 2007

Some things should just be white

Wednesday I was out at our client’s office with a couple of my co-workers, and when it came to be 5:00, Mark suggested that we go out for dinner instead of putting ourselves into the stream of stalled rush hour traffic.

So I suggested we head to downtown Naperville, and surely we could find a decent place to dine. None of us was entirely certain how to get there, but given that I’d been there a couple times before, I volunteered to lead our caravan of three. This led to a flurry of heckling text messages en route from the driver at the tail end of group, questioning my ability to lead us there. (Very safe, I know.)

At any rate, we made it there without a hitch and dined at an old school steakhouse (where the girls were dressed in short, tight black outfits).

I was getting worried that this outing wasn’t going to produce a blog topic. But then I went to the bathroom.

Lo and behold, when I walked into the stall, a big black toilet roared at me.

Eeek! (1) Why do people even manufacture black toilets, and (2) who actually buys one? (And if you own one, I apologize for this rant.)

My gym has tan ones, and there’s always something shocking about seeing them. You just expect a toilet to be white.

This reminded me of a trip I took to New York about five years ago to visit my friend Daphna. I was ill. So she fed me tea with honey and lemon at least 10 times a day. And it was then that she explained that she insists that cups have a white interior. Otherwise how can you see what’s in there?

Call it paranoia, call it practicality, call it what you want. But now, every time I pick up a cup to make tea, I always go for the ones that are white.

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Lakeview Times — May 25, 2007

VOLLEYBALL PLAYER SMACKED DOWN BY WOULD-BE EX-LOVER

Chicago, IL — A Lakeview woman was attacked with a pre-meditated spike to the head Thursday while playing in the semi-finals of a seemingly harmless volleyball league.

“Nelly”, a combination setter/hitter for the Hot Irish Dickies was playing center back when the incident occured. The perpetrator, a semi-pro player and former referee for the league, hit cross-court from the outside directly at Nelly’s head. The force of the ball hit Nelly square in the eye, and knocked her airborne before she landed with a bounce on her left buttock.

The victim’s team smelled trouble when they arrived at court and saw “Travis” walking in with an otherwise not-very-skilled team. “We couldn’t believe he would stoop so low to play on such a bad team. And it’s insulting that they would recruit a pro to play dirty in our BB Level League,” said Jocelyn, setter for the the Dickies.

The Dickies were well-acquainted with Travis, having played for two years with him as a referee. Travis had even joined the team on two occasions at the team’s after-game bar, Ginger’s.

The scuttlebutt between the two parties began over the holidays, when Travis contacted Nelly via Match.com and asked her out. Nelly allegedly e-mailed two polite replies, then ignored him once he produced his telephone number.

His bizarre behavior first manifested itself when he chose to play with the mediocre, dirty-playing team in the same league as the Dickies. Until last night, however, it was limited to fake smiles and small talk.

“We knew he was taking his spite to a whole new level when he showed up last night in a see-through white spandex muscle shirt to show his nipples,” said Dan, outside hitter for the Dickies.

Nelly reported that her saving grace was the two beers she’d had in the hour between their first round game and the semi-finals. “It was the natural painkillers in the alcohol that allowed me to pick myself up, keep myself from crying and finish out the game.”

The team returned to the bar following their losing effort to ice Nelly’s eye with a Miller Lite.

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Amazing Buns

My favorite restaurant in Wichita is a little Vietnamese joint called Saigon at 11th and Broadway. I’ve only had three different dishes there, and two of them I only had once. #45 became my staple, and when I lived three blocks down the street, I’d order take-out for $6.95 about once a month and literally snarf at my coffee table while watching bad reality shows.

#45 is bun thit nuong, which is the yummiest grilled pork, over a bed of angelhair rice noodles and greens (lettuce, sliced cucumber, cilantro and bean sprouts). It comes with the best egg roll ever (seriously, the Vietnamese have it right — and it’s different from Chinese), and the whole dish is topped with chopped peanuts. Then you get this broth-like vinegary “dipping sauce” on the side. I think it’s made of lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar and water, along with some grated carrots. 

Bun

At any rate, I’ve been searching for an acceptable substitute for Saigon’s version of bun here in Chicago, and until yesterday, nothing measured up. I’m sure I’d had it from at least five different places, and I’d been disappointed every time.

So last night we went to the Vietnamese district on Argyle street, where there are at least 10 Vietnamese restaurants back to back to back. We picked “Tank Noodles”, which was excellent. (And we weren’t the only white people/English-speakers in there, which was comforting — some of the other places were truly overrun by the natives.)

And I found the best bun in town. Mmmmmmmmm. I could eat it again right now.

(As a complete aside, the Cubs played the Sox yesterday, which meant my neighborhood was overrun with drunks. As we were walking to the car to head to dinner, a cab drove by, stuffed with inebriated dudes. One of them was hanging out the window yelling at every woman in sight. He caught sight of us and yelled in a drunken drawl, “Heeeey, your wahfe’s got a nahce pooper.” Somehow this rendition of “amazing buns” just doesn’t translate well.  And obviously we looked too old to even possibly be single.)

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Thoughts on thinking

I spend my days thinking. Painful, brain-freezing thinking — that results in a big “yipee!” when it all comes together. It’s definitely fun to have people constantly asking my opinion (when it’s not overwhelming, that is). And for those of you that know me well, you know that I am more than happy to give you an adamant opinion, even if you don’t ask.

The funniest part about the process of wrapping your mind around something is what comes out of your mouth.

For example, last night I was on the phone with Roger (writer/creative director) working through a project. I was having a difficult time transplanting my vision into his brain via fiberoptics. And he said in all seriousness, “I am unsure of my own confusion.”

I started laughing and immediately wrote down his quote and stuck it on my wall.

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Surrounded by Southpaws

Until I started working at my current agency, I’d come across left-handed people here and there. But starting my first week, I noticed a good number of co-workers writing with their left hand (especially among our fearless leaders). And after an unscientific poll, I’ve identified that probably 30% of our office is left-handed, and there are a good number of my clients who are, as well.

I just Googled the topic, and consensus among the highest-ranking sites is that about 15% of the population is left-handed. 

Does this high rate have something to do with being in a creative profession, you ask?

There are indeed claims (some with proof) that lefties are more creative.

There’s a wealth of other “scientific” info on this topic, claiming everything from lefties being more mentally ill, to being better in primitive combat fighting. Check out Wikipedia for an overview.

All I know is that I don’t want to sit to the left of one at the dinner table, since I’m already prone enough to knock over my drink with my flailing hands.

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ROTC Practice

I live on the cusp of Boystown. OK, maybe not the cusp…I’m kinda in the thick of it. So on the weekends, my neighborhood turns into a parade of male couples strolling along with their dogs. And on the last Sunday in June, my living room turns into the viewing suite for the Gay Pride Parade.

Yesterday evening I was walking home from work and heard a Madonna song blaring from the schoolyard across the street from me. Then I saw the ROTC holding their first practice of the year.

The ROTC in my neighborhood isn’t what you’d think. It’s the Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps, an award-winning, all-male precision rifle performance group. Yes, 30 dudes in shorts twirl white wooden rifles to tunes like “Mickey” and “It’s Raining Men”.  They take their practices very seriously. Then they march in the Pride Parade.

Later in the evening I was reading my new Time Out (weekly “what to do” magazine), and they happened to have an article about the new director of the ROTC.

I giggled when I saw his name was Rhett. Fortunately it’s not the Rhett I’ve been kissing. Phew.

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Timeshares for Cars

It’s astounding that my 4th anniversary in Chicago is coming up in three weeks. That means I’ve officially not owned a car for four years.

Where I live in Chicago, it makes no sense to have a car. Traffic’s a pain, and parking is lousy — unless you pay $200/month for a parking spot that isn’t even next to your building.

In my first year here, I really tried to avoid taking cabs. But now I figure I’d spend a lot more on having a car anyway, so I might as well not kill myself over avoiding a cab fare if I just don’t feel like riding the bus.

When I switched jobs last year, I knew I’d be traveling to Naperville at least once a week, so I was concerned about how this would happen. At first, I could usually hitch a ride with a co-worker, but now I most often go by myself.

Sometimes I rent cars from Enterprise — just two blocks from the office — where Holly, Sarah and John always greet me by my first name and ask what I’m playing on guitar these days (meanwhile rolling their eyes because they know I’ll bring the car back on empty.)

But if I’m leaving from my house, the best way is to use Zipcar. Zipcars are car-shares, where you pay $50 to be a member, and then you can rent a car by the hour or day — with insurance and gas included in the price. For a girl without car insurance, this is incredibly attractive.

There are Zipcars parked in pairs all over the city — unattended. You simply touch your membership card to a certain place on the windshield, and voila! The doors unlock. They even tell you to leave the keys in the car (and lock it with the card) when you need to park when out and about.

So just now I reserved my little Mazda online, and tomorrow morning I will trot out in my pink trenchcoat, stop for an English Breakfast Tea with a shot of sugar-free caramel syrup and two packets of Splenda at Caribou, jump in my speedy little car, and turn the XM radio to Flight 26. And I will drive to Naperville, while checking my e-mail and writing a document all at once. (Don’t call the cops.)

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