Archive | July, 2010

WooHoo!

29 Jul

Just a quick note to readers who dont follow me on twitter or facebook… you can find a Reader Revealed article on me here!

Oh, and you can check me out on twitter at: ohmybears48

New Addition + Crap I Find On Etsy

28 Jul

Nope, this ain’t your mid-80s, male R&B sensations. This “addition” is much cuter and brings less chance of getting “Poison” stuck in your head. This freshly dropped, soon-to-be hit comes care of Brother and Brother’s girlfriend. The duo had previously brought the world the one-hit wonder of my adorable little niece, but now they are back with the vengeance of cuteness on their side…

Premiering on this blog for the first and certainly not last time…. The New Kid On the Block…

Alexander Alfonso (Insert Last Name Here)
8lbs 11 oz, 20 1/2 inches
Born July 28th, 2010 at 2:45am
Commence fawning.

Only the proudest and happiest of aunts would refer to her newly born nephew in early 90s radio jargon.

But I digress. I’m obviously delighted at the news of a new addition to our family. Alex should anticipate loads of kisses, spaghetti, trips around Kankakee, White Sox games, and hard rock music concerts with my paternal side. My maternal side only brings normality. It evens itself out. And there is no doubt that this little meatball will be spoiled rotten as all of us children were and continue to be. He’s already got a White Sox teddy bear heading his way when I visit him this weekend.

Anticipate pictures from my visit.

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Because I am in such a pro-child mood, I will bring a special baby edition of Crap I Find On Etsy!

As always, I bring you the bad first:
According to picture documentation, I had the typical rainbow mobile. Cute, practical, and whimsical for the late 80s. Now, imagine if Tim Burton and that seedy seamstress at the tailor shop got ahold of your rainbow mobile. Injecting a nightmare inducing sense of sadness mixed with some really shotty seaming, you get…


If this isn’t a reason for continued bed wetting, I seriously dont know what is. I might have peed in fear just coming across this monstrosity of a crib mobile. The fact that the seller claims that it would be adorable in any baby room just sends shivers down my spine. Even the people from the Saw franchise wouldn’t dare put this in their child’s room.

Ok. I cant look at it anymore. I’m afraid that its raindrops will cut me.

As for the good, well, there were tons of good. I saw the most adorable little onesies listed, including a Neil Diamond one, several Mr. T’s, and even one quoting one of my favorite authors. But mainly, I’m in love with this one:

Dana: So what do you think?
Peter Venkman: Well, he’s ugly. I mean, he’s not Elephant Man ugly, but he’s not attractive. Was his father ugly?
Dana: [to Oscar] Don’t listen.
Peter Venkman: And he stinks! You’re ripe, Senor! Did his father stink? Yeah, I bet Daddy was smelly, wasn’t he?

Why yes, that is Bill Murray’s orange face on my hispter toddler’s tshirt. Enough said.

Fears

26 Jul

Sometimes I feel like my mom can easily pick out my biggest fear and just go at it. It’s pretty much harmless. She brings up a concern and it’s like… BAM… bye-bye self-confidence and hello self-loathing. It’s like she has this special psychic power to know what’s really bothering me so she can be sure to bring it up during our weekly phone conversations.

Today’s biggest fear: That I will lose my musicianship. I’m not going to be afraid to say it here that I am frightened of not being a music teacher and not being a regular player in a band or orchestra. I miss clarinet and I am totally afraid that not playing in a band means I wont be at the same level ever again (though it wasn’t at that high of level).
It kind of culminates with the fact that I’ve been upset that I am essentially wasting the wonderful degree I got (music education) on a job that means nothing to me. Four years spent crying over playing tests, pushing through lessons with the witch, dealing with gossip and pressure, pulling through music history papers, failing at auditions, etc… And I have nothing to show for it but one year teaching under my belt.
I’d like to continue playing in some capacity. I would love to teach a couple lessons here. But I have no connections in the city and all the community bands are tucked away in the suburbs. It’s another con to put on my list regarding my new location.
I’ll figure it out. I know I will. I just need a moment to mourn my loss of the dream job I always wanted. I just need some time to realize that what I worked so hard for wasn’t what I got in the end. I just need some time to pay off the mountains of student loans I just flushed down the drain for my current desk job that’s uninspiring and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
End of ramblings.

Crash Landing

20 Jul
This morning, I came across an awesome article regarding traveling without hotels. Hotels can ruin a travel budget. A good one will set up back over $500-a grand, but will ultimately set the standard of your trip. A bad one may save you some change but will cause you to pull your hair out from the thought of a cockroach infestation, gunfight down the road, or the various cases of herpes living in your sheets. I, for one, get skeezed out by hotels for those very reasons. And, let’s face it, I’m a cheap gal and I cant justify spending half my rent on 7 days in a room smaller than my living room.
In the article, the author, Benji Lanyado, travels through Europe without using hotels or hostels. Instead, he uses three travel sites that provide room or apartment rental services. For a low to very high price, you can rent out someone’s spare room, mother-in-law suite, or entire apartment and house.
I spent a good part of the day drooling over some of the options on the main site discussed, AirBnB. I of course went to my part of the city first. An apartment rental close next to me goes for $55-80 (for a studio near a beach). Next, I went through my terrifyingly large travel wish list and scoured for deals and oddball attractions that would interest and excite me. Here are some of the most unique options I found:
Everyone wants to go to Amsterdam when in the Netherlands… but I am more attracted to these little tipis on that aptly named Tipi Island. For $57 a night, you can sleep in the most remote areas of Europe while attending creative courses and receiving massages.
And who wouldn’t want to stay in a castle… and while England is not on my list of places I would kill to visit, I still want to include a castle in the mix:

From South America, I am dying to get to Argentina to live out my Evita fantasies, but I cant ignore these awesome star gazing homes in Chilie. For 130/night, you and a guest can star gaze all night, take a late night horseback ride through the forests, and swim in a neon green pool.
Want some place truly unique? For $160, chant some nursery rhymes in this boot home in New Zealand. Stinky feet not included. (har-har)

I highly recommend checking out the site if you are looking for some travel options in some highly desirable places such as Orlando, Hawaii, and California. The site features real apartments, to villas, to backyard tent areas, and luxury resorts. If you are willing to give and take, a guest room or room share will cost you about half the price of a full home stay. Let me know what you find or where you would travel!

Let's Dance

16 Jul

As all of you know, or can predict by my tendencies to fall down randomly or flail my arms like a blind pelican, I am no dancer by any means. My body just doesn’t move like I want it to. It’s like my brain tells my feet to move to the beat, one shimmy to the left and my feet rebel. It’s a messed up situation.

Either way, dancing to me, and 99.9% of the world, is an expression of emotion.

Angry? I’m going to power thrash and head bang till every ounce of aggression is just a headache and minor neck injury away.

Depressed? Watch me emo sway back and forth to some Elliot Smith. Hands to the side, head down, feet shuffling out the pain.

Happy? Let’s freak out with a ton of Britney Spears-esque jumps and a grand ball gown spin around via Princess Diaries.

Bladder full? There’s an app… er… dance for that.

Lustful/Crushing/In Love? Even though I am more likely to injure my partner, slow dancing is my favorite. An ex and I used to slow dance in the middle of my dorm room without any music just because we could.

Of course, I’ve mastered some standard dances in my time- the lawn mower, the refrigerator, the grocery shopper. Sometimes, when I’ve stretched, I can do the sprinkler or the worm. I like it when my dances are a reflection of the true human spirit or the chores we endure on the weekends.

That being said, I under only nagging circumstances dance in public. You wanna see me bust a move? Ask for a private show, buddy, cause home girl dont do that. As I said early, I am a wreck of a dancer. A Lucy Ricardo of the dance floor. Two left feet, hands, arms, face, hips, etc.

Gerry Fleck: I can’t dance, I can’t dance, I’ve got two left feet!
Cookie Fleck: I thought he was kidding.
Gerry Fleck
: But I wasn’t. I was born with two left feet.

But this week, I went to DanceDance PartyParty, a dance “class” for women only. Basically, it’s a full hour of dancing non-stop. There are no dance rules, no overly energetic Barbie Dolls to mimic and follow. The lights are dim, there’s no talking, and the music is picked by one of the session goers. All you have to do is let go, turn off your brain, and dance.

My experience was amazing. There were about 20 girls in a small, traditional dance studios. Each claimed a spot on the floor and laid their water bottles and changes of clothes next to them. The den mom took my money and I chatted with some of the more outgoing ladies. There were grown women in their 40s to teenagers in homecoming dresses. Some looked like professional ballet dancers with tiny, delicate bodies, while the rest of us ranged from normal to Amazonian. There was an instant comfort level just in the diversity of the room.

When the session started, the DJ introduced her playlist, the den mom turned off the lights and reminded us of the no talking and NO JUDGEMENT rule, and we began to stretch. The first and last songs are warm ups and cool downs and the music was “Beautiful Girl” and a Moby song. Then the playlist begins to blast in to KISSFM tunes, some old Janet Jackson, and a couple of other tunes I had not heard of.

At first, you feel so silly. Even though you can only make out figures of the other dancers in the dark, it is uneasy to just let yourself go. I took the cop-0ut by closing my eyes and turning towards walls and corners. About two songs in, I was totally in to it and I could easily drop all insecurities by feeling free to move through the room, winding my way through the girls as they equally flailed and jumped to a Lady Gaga song.

About half way through, I could not believe how much I was sweating… I would equate it to running about 2 miles or a full hour with Jillian Michaels.

But as I left the studio, I felt something totally different compared to leaving the other classes I take… I felt totally alive and in person. I felt a strange euphoria take over my exhausted body. It certainly wasn’t just the endorphins. It was a spiritual awaking one gets when he or she learns to let go. In all my years of meditation and yoga, I have never felt anything remotely like that.

So, maybe to find yourself, to let go of your insecurities, and to express your bottled up emotions all it takes is an hour in a dark studio with a bunch of like-minded gals. At least, this time, no one was hurt.

Processional and Recessional

14 Jul

YAWWWWWNNNNNN I’m practically falling asleep as I type this. Ok, I already did — on the shuttle bus back to work.

Funny store about the shuttle before I explain my somewhat unusual sleepiness… This morning I had training downtown. Since I live about 3 blocks away from the free shuttle that connects both campuses of the university I work for, I decided to just take that instead of other forms of germ ridden public transportation. Typically, the shuttles are manageable, crowd wise.
But today must have been a preview of what I should expect come Fall. It was packed and I, being about two inches under a somewhat respectable 5 feet, had to deal with attempting not to fall on my ass while straddling two leather grips (I cant reach the metal bars).
Scene from a bondage film, I tell ya. Here I am, spread eagle in a shorter skirt rocking back in forth as the bus flops around LSD going 50 miles an hour. Now, I’ve never ridden the bus downtown, so I couldn’t anticipate turns like the other standers apparently could. One extremely tight turn later, I am falling straight on top of this poor British college student trying to do his law school homework. And I dont just fall, no. My female parts are all up in his face and I am basically straddling him and his textbook. The rest of the guys sitting near him are just staring in a mix of horror and awe while the ladies graciously held on to my purse and gym bag.
After I managed to pull myself up, I mustered a “Sorry about that. Next time I’ll ask you what you’re reading first.” Klutz.
This wouldn’t have happened on the magic school bus with Ms. Frizzle.
On the way back to my main campus after the most basic training ever, I had the entire bus to myself and I slept.
Why so tired, you may (probably not) ask? Well, today I rose up at 4am like the Sleeping Beauty that I am to watch the man in my life, B, get his Masters Degree from his University in the UK. About 60% of the ceremony was in Welsh, which I certainly was not prepared for, but I was too busy scanning the crowds for B and his family (who were prominently featured in the front row) on my poor streaming feed to notice it at first. But then there came the confirmation of degrees.
In the US, it’s your name and a handshake as you individually walk off stage. These UK-ers on the other hand have it down by efficiency. They call the undergrads in groups of five or six, quickly read their name, read a passage in Welsh, and then they nod their hats. Seriously, that’s it. What took my alma mater almost three hours to do was slashed nearly in half. Oh, and their ceremony featured possibly one of the worst organists I’ve ever heard and a badass flutist and harpist duo the split the ceremony in to two.
There were also no special speakers. One 90 year old historian had to stand about 10 minutes as they read his life story and then was promptly walked off stage. That was it. No fake doctorates to be had. No student life stories. Just quick and easy out-the-door-ya-go procedures.
It didn’t surprise me when B called me after his ceremony to tell me that he wants to stay in that UK town for good to get his doctorate. I was just waiting for him to admit it. He speaks so highly of the place and has shown me oodles of pictures and google maps for me to admit that it is an extremely lovely town. His friends are there, a good degree awaits him, and he can fully realize that terrible Ah-ccent he’s been cultivating. He’s made it this far, and I cannot be more proud of him and all his accomplishments. I cannot wait to see where life takes him from this point on- whether it be the UK to finish up a degree or here in Chicago to find what jobs await him.
Ok. I am going to get gushy in a moment, and I just dont want to do that. I’m 6 days out from him returning home and it could not come sooner.
I’ve stayed pretty occupied by going home over the weekend for my birthday party, working on my writing portfolio, and going out with Turkey tonight. Tomorrow, I am going to DDPP Chicago, which will be my first in two years. I cant wait to just dance all my B loneliness away and attempt to make new friends that are central to the city.

Fireworks

6 Jul
I thought I would try to head to bed early tonight, but I am still awake hammering away at my other blog posts that are due tomorrow. I should have worked on it earlier, but when I am giving a paid holiday observation, I damn well plan on observing it. Plus, I’ve been really drained of all creative holdings. It’s been a long, long weekend.
Friday started off with a mini-adventure with the Ginger. I have been dying to go to the Taste of Chicago ever since I began my “try anything once except green beans” rule. This has included Greek style octopus, various vegan tofu dishes, and veggies I’ve never heard of. And if you are a family member or friend from high school, you know that I am the last person that could be called a foodie or an adventurous eater.
Anyways, the Ginger came up (lllllaaaattttteeeee) to the city to visit me and to introduce me to the Taste. In my opinion, not so worth it. Some of the stands were filled with food you could find in a grocery store across Illinois (like Home Run pizza) or were from chain eateries (Giordanos). Most of the places had the same food- hamburgers, pizza, fries- and it was hard to find anything worth really trying. If I come back, it will be a large group of people and during non-rush times.
I spent the rest of the holiday weekend with B. We found yet another restaurant that both of us could eat and enjoy and spent several glorious hours in two ammmmazing thrift stores. I was hoping to find some things to decorate my apartment with, but I left empty handed. I did discover that I look awesome in those box hats ala I Love Lucy, so it wasn’t a total wash.

Pillbox hats fit for a president’s wife/ex-sexpot French singer.
Plus, I now know how much money the majority of my Nana’s stuff will get at an antique store.
For the 4th, we headed over to B’s uncle’s house for a big family party. It was hot and sometimes clouded by a monsoon… but I got to play cornhole (B’s cousin and I lost against the boys 21-2), eat a great plate of food, and see some fireworks. Children running around everywhere also sets my happily childless heart on fire, so you cant beat that!
I do have to admit that between my birthday and this holiday, I am getting pretty homesick. It’s not that I am longing for an extended trip home, but I am just yearning for a brief visit… uninterrupted by dogs and drama. Since B is going away and I will be a free woman for almost two weeks, I am going to venture down to the Thrilla this weekend. It’ll be a nice change- hopefully.