Archive for January, 2008


In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t posted for a good ten days. I’ve had so many cultural experiences in that timeframe that my brain is paralyzed! I’m not sure where to begin.

Here’s a quick run-down, in case you think I’m lying:

  • Ann and Andrea came to visit, and during their time here, we shopped Naperville, had drinks at the top of the Hancock building, went to the Shedd Aquarium, saw 27 Dresses, made pot roast, shopped Michigan Avenue, had lunch at the Zodiac Room, and bought a Marc by Marc Jacobs dress (whoops). Phew.
  • Went to a roller derby on Saturday night
  • Drove by a massive a ski jump
  • Sang irreverent songs along with Pat McCurdy. (Interestingly he also plays at a bar called Durty Nellie’s. Hmmm.)

It’s my intention to discuss each of these in complete detail, but let’s face it: a sequel to the peanut butter story came out in the Mo-Jo, and I think that requires the most urgent attention.


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Damn, damn, damn. I have a kink in my neck.

Actually, it’s on my left side above my shoulder blade, halfway between the blade and spine. I woke up with it yesterday.

I have three hypotheses on how it developed:

  1. Standing and walking in high heels for more hours than usual this week
  2. I pulled something playing volleyball
  3. The tribal warriors that hang out inside the radiator in my bedroom during the middle of the night were not only playing the bongos, but placing a curse on me for running around too much. (Seriously annoying “clang, clang” for three hours on Thursday night.)

This is why I am perfectly content to be sitting in my PJs at 3:48 p.m. I feel like a female Hugh Heffner in a fuzzy pink housecoat.  (Though I doubt Hugh would be reading Willa Cather’s My Antonia while sitting on the courch surrounded by purring kitties.)

Fortunately, there’s Advil. After four of those suckers and a hot tea, I was able to bake banana bread and mop the kitchen/bathroom floors.

Call 1-800-555-1212 for your free sample.

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The A Team

I came out alive.

Last night was our first volleyball game of the season, and this time we decided to play in the “A” league — i.e. “competitive”. We’re also playing on Wednesday night instead of Thursday night, which means we have different refs — i.e. not the one who spiked me in the eye.

The good news is that we won the first game by a slim margin. Apparently their hitters were still cold. But the second and third games were a different story. They killed us. Fortunately they didn’t kill ME.

Those guys can really hit — and though we have good hitters, we only come out on top when we block well. Otherwise the balls are literally being spiked in front of the spiking line.

All in all, it’s great fun. I actually broke a sweat. (Could have something to do with the fact that I was at a client event at hip new bar English ahead of time…)

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My New Avatar

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

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Last night I had plans for dinner — though the only plan we had at the time was that we were going somewhere or other around 8. I got home from work at 7:45 and ran a comb through my hair, just as my friend called to say I had five minutes to pull it together because he was five blocks away from picking me up in a cab.

I asked where we were going. He said he didn’t know. I asked how we were ever going to make a decision about where to go in a split second (my track record for deciding on a restaurant in less than 30 minutes isn’t good) — so perhaps he should come in so that we could decide. He said not to worry, we’d figure it out en route.

Who was I to argue?

I got in the cab, and within seconds it became clear that he’d been having a conversation with the cab driver — Shaquiel — who emphatically suggested a place (couldn’t understand the name). He insisted that we’d like it because it’s new and is the hot place to go in the West Loop.

So after trying to brainstorm a few places that I’d actually heard of, we decided to just let the cab driver take us to his suggested spot. I didn’t know whether I was in for hot dogs, pasta, fish or sushi.

We headed west on Randolph. Past the restaurants. Past the grocery warehouses.

Pretty soon we pulled up in front of it:


The Alhambra Palace. It became clear that we’d be having couscous for dinner.  Seemed reasonable enough. I like couscous and falafel. A nice glass of wine, a nice lamb chop, a quiet dinner to end a busy week.

We stepped inside and saw a moderately filled bar area in front of us — and an empty dining room to our right. Hmmm. We asked for a table for two. And then waited 10 minutes. Hmmm. My friend went to the restroom while I continued to wait.

5 seconds later he was back. “You gotta see this,” he said. So we walked through the bar. Into a ginormous room (14-ft ceilings with huge balcony) seating hundreds of people. With a huge stage featuring a flamenco band. And flamenco dancers on the dance floor in front of the stage.


stage 2

Right then the host found us to take us to our table.

I was speechless.

But it got crazier. After the flamenco band and dancers, another small band came out — I’d call it Moroccan. And a belly dancer with her DD’s covered in a fuscia bra with rhinestones. 


Despite the cheese factor, she was GOOD. I couldn’t believe it. (Or perhaps it was the wine…)

After her performance, a trio of young mafia members came and sat next to us. And proceeded to come and go to smoke outside at least three times in 15 minutes. Then the rest of the room got up to bellydance as a group.

We left before midnight, and the crowd was out of a movie. Tons of people dancing to Arab music. And plenty of greasy men looking on.

If there’s ever a sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is where it will be filmed.

I’m still mute.

P.S. I’d give the place a C for food, a C for level of taste and an A for entertainment value.

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In Honor of Dad, On His Birthday

It’s 9:17 p.m., and I’m sitting at my desk at work because I can’t seem to muster the energy to unglue my cheeks from my seat. And I told myself that I couldn’t go hail a cab and muse over Vietnamese food until I wrote a post.  Hmmmm. What should I write? (Nap, snooze, yap, eat Greek chocolate, repeat.)

45 seconds ago I was literally hit with a bolt of lightning that made me nearly fall out of my chair. Oh no! It’s Dad’s birthday, and I didn’t get his present ordered!

So, to make up for a slightly late gift, I am going to behave tonight as if I were Dad, in his honor.

  • I will go to Dairy Queen, since ice cream on every “outing to town” is imperative 
  • I will get home and have either a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of cereal, because I don’t cook
  • I will take a shower and wipe it down afterwards, so as not to get water spots on the tile
  • I will watch the evening news to catch the weather
  • I will check the markets on the CBOT site
  • I will talk to DIY for two hours about wind farms
  • I will read a book on my couch, which most closely simulates the blue recliner that he normally sits in to read
  • I will shut the cats in the closet, to simluate putting the cats in the shed
  • I will set my alarm for 6:30, knowing that I will snooze for an extra half hour because it’s winter

Happy 40th, Dad! May you relive this year for eternity.


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A Productive Weekend with Curly Girl

When my long-time friend Curly Girl called last month and said she was coming to Chicago for a conference, I was delighted to invite her to stay with me for a few days.

We first met at 11:37 a.m. on August 2, 1995, on a train from Munich to Prien (between Munich and Salzburg) — en route to a two-month language course at the Goethe Institute. By some twist of fate (after an all-night flight), we ended up in the same 6-person train compartment, and through talking with a German man next to us, we realized that we were going the same place. Upon completing our placement tests at the school, we were assigned to the same class, and then naturally we became roommates — since we didn’t know anyone else there.

She had just arrived from Israel, and we started telling everyone we were sisters. (We obviously look identical.)


At any rate, we lived together for those two months, and then I visited her for two weeks in Israel that spring. Her mother moved to Chicago within a year, and the summer after I graduated college, I visited Curly Girl in Chicago — my very first experience in the city I now call home.


(See that purse over my shoulder? It was stolen in a Chinese restaurant in the Loop about 15 minutes after that picture was snapped. Sigh.)

She moved to New York with her husband in 1998ish, where they both did their PhD’s, and I visited her almost every year until they moved upstate about three years ago.

This was our first time seeing each other since then — how time flies!

Since Thursday, we’ve pretty much eaten, organized, hemmed and yapped. (I’m still stuffed, and I haven’t eaten for 6 hours.)

Saturday morning we got up, drank coffee, and ambitiously made muffins. (Read the cup carefully.)


Then my OCD friend insisted on organizing my living room. (Who was I to complain?) Within a couple hours everything was neatly stowed, and pictures were hung. I should’ve realized that this was a bribe to get me to hem her new pants from our Ann Taylor Loft excursion on Friday night.

All that organizing turned out to be quite fun. Our most surprising accomplishment was the composition in the entryway (including the clock, which still doesn’t have batteries…)


She organized all my books and trinkets — and dusted!


Look! The piano doesn’t have any crap on it! It’s all stowed away in the magazine rack that Dad made in high school (lower right).


I should’ve been on to her when she said my sewing machine made the perfect centerpiece…



We decided to hang this map from Rome in the hallway instead of above my headboard.


And put the pictures of the Eiffel Tower across from it.


Sadie feels quite regal in her palace. This chair has become her throne.


This afternoon we went for Mexican food, then headed to the Field Museum for the Maps exhibit. You’ve probably figured out that I’m a sucker for maps, and I’d been looking for the perfect person to accompany me to this exhibit.


Our favorite was an oil painting of Amsterdam. The Dutch were expert mapmakers, and they liked to do things so they looked realistic — which is why you see shadows from the clouds.


I thought the Lion one was really cool…


…as well as the one of Chicago before the fire.


It took us nearly two hours to get through the exhibit, and by then we were pooped. We headed for the train, and I sent her off to the airport.

Bye, Curly Girl! Come back soon.

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