Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rock it revisited
I went out with Annie last night to Old town's best dive bar, Rock It Grill. As the Washingtonian Magazine, my old employer, describes it in their "Best of" issue:


Rock It Grill (1319 King St., Alexandria; 703-739-2274) is a dive karaoke bar where there’s always at least one person who knows the words to every country song ever written, one person who sings so badly you can’t be as bad as she is, and one bachelorette party going on. Add strong drinks, good dance-music sets, and . . . chill.

Anyway, I always love the Rock it because it's like this blue collar jewel in the midst of uppity Oldtown. A smoky oasis of neon and cheap beer amidst Oldtown's cobblestoned streets and tasteful lighting. Annie and I have been there a few times to enjoy the karaoke (which is every night starting at 9 for those who are interested). The place gets more crowded as the night wears on and it's mostly composed of regulars; these karaoke people know eachother well. I'm always kind of amazed by these loyal karoke-ers who could out on a Tuesday night to sing Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of all" and are still going at it at like 1:30 a.m. Who are these people?

Last night at the table closest to the stage there sat three men who were nursing pitchers of sodas and O'doul bottles. Annie and I surmised that they may have been visiting from some sort of halfway house facility since the men were of varying ages, but all seemed to have some sort of cognitive delay or disability. They each took turns at the stage, though, earnestly singing a variety of songs (often spoken word) and the BEST thing about Rock It Grill is that everyone in the bar was just as respectful as these guys as they are of anyone else. I loved the older hunched over white guy who stood up to talk his way through Boys II Men's "End of the Road."

It was the first time I've ever really paid attention to the lyrics either, watching them on the screen while the guy sang. And the lyrics are awesome. I wish that there were an occasion that I could launch into the spoken word part.

Holy Crap
I was blown away by the photos in the Post today showing the aftermath of Katrina. Mindblowing.
My dad just told me that he couldn't even get onto the website for the Salvation Army or the Red Cross because they're so busy, so that's good at least.

In a bit of good news, I was reading an article as well about UVA's push to attract students from poorer incomes. Apparently, more of the state schools are really striving to make sure that they are still accessible to everyone. The article mentioned:

And Friday, the College of William and Mary announced a scholarship program, the first major initiative of new President Gene R. Nichol: Any student accepted with a family income of $40,000 or less will graduate debt-free.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Words: I love them.
I'm adding a new term to my lexicon: sturm und drang. I had seen it around before occasionally, but today saw it in two different articles that I read. I finally went and looked it up. So next time you and I are talking about violent upheaval or disturbance, you can expect to hear those words.
Back in the swing of things
Yes! Back online and no longer having to pirate. Thanks to Robin who figured out what was going on.

I also need to thank Matt who brought me my second grade journal the other night; I had left it in the apartment when I moved and he saved it for me. This journal is different from my aforementioned My Melody diary since it was for school and read and graded and all serious and crap. We were required to write an entry a day and let's just say that some days were more inspired than others. The best thing about the it is that it was one of those black and white composition notebooks and those things stand the test of effing time. You can't even tell that the thing is over 20 years old, it looks like you could have bought it from the local CVS last week.

I had also included some illustrations with my entries, which also held up to passing of the years quite well.

So what were some of the scintillating topics that I felt worth broaching back in 1984? A few entry titles: "Time to go to dinner," "My Pencil Box," "Chinese People," and "My Brother the Brat." I was running out of steam toward the end and offered up entries with titles such as: "Flag," "Paint," "Football" (of which I knew then as much as I know now which is to say NOTHING), and "Fish."

Today, I will share with you a sample, written on February 9, 1984. I was clearly influenced by the upcoming Valentines day holiday.


I love makeing
[sic] hearts.
For girls it's fun.
Boys hate hearts very much.
Some can't make one.
Some can.

I shared this particular entry with the table on Saturday night and I think everyone was appropriately bowled over by its depth. So put it in your pipe and smoke it.

Man, it would have been hilarious to have been my second grade teacher, Mrs. Barnes. Can you imagine reading like 25 of these things every day?

Monday, August 29, 2005

My new addiction
Is the Bravo show "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List." I have to say I never really gave her much thought before and loathed her character on "Suddenly Susan" back when, but this show slayed me to my surprise. I stumbled upon it today and thank goodness for that.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Back East
I'm back in DC and have been for a few days now! The blog has been silent, though, since the Internet connection at my parents' house is all wonky but I can sometimes pirate off of the elusive signals from our neighbors if my position (northwest corner of my bed) and the timing (random) is right. Thanks and sorry to the mystery neighbors who are feeding my Internet addiction.

It's been great to be back, though. I've seen Anne, Suzi and Tom, Matt and his sister, Des and Bry, Liesl, Madeline, and Annie and it's been awesome. I've also gotten comfortable with the ebb and flow of having no schedule. I wake up at my leisure, fix some coffee, read the paper, watch some trashy tv, and then spend the rest of the afternoon attending to whatever miniscule task I've set out to accomplish. Last week I was concerned with trying to renew the registration on my car. It went relatively well, but all I can say is Damn You, Great Falls Shell! who charged me for an emissions test while never performing one and causing me to run about like a crazy woman all afternoon trying to figure out why I couldn't re-register when that emissions information should totally be there!

I also have like two weeks left of this, which is pretty gosh darn awesome.

Okay, now to see if this questionable connection will allow me to upload this entry.

ps. Happy Belated Birthday to Bill who turned 29 last week!

pps. Congratulations to Todd who got a sweet new vehicle this past weekend! I'll miss his Jimmy, but I'm sure more gas and space conscious Altima is a nice replacement.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Eating our way through Chicago, Part III
Okay, I'm back to report on how the family visit has been progressing (or, progressed now that we're almost done here).

On THURSDAY, my parents and Erik arrived at their hotel in Lincoln Park around 12:30 in the afternoon. Robin hid in the Borders across the street while I went to go and greet them. While we all stood in the lobby of the Days Inn waiting for the elevator to come to shlep the bags up to the room, Robin ambled in. My mom howled with happiness and surprise: it was pretty awesome. The surprise was a success.

And with my parents' arrival, the serious touristing and eating began.

For lunch, I took them to Belmont to Giordano's to have Chicago deep dish pizza (or, their "famous stuffed pizza"). Thumbs up all around. Afterward we walked over to Boystown so I could show them my place and they could appreciate the sweet thickness of the air that one obtains of lack of air conditioning. Mmmmm. Then we walked over to the lake where we sat by the water at Belmont Harbor and laid around and chatting and enjoying the late afternoon sunlight. We whiled away at least an hour there before heading to Broadway for a quick dinner (Joy's, Cheap Thai place #3), and then finally to see the Blue Man Group perform that night at Briar Street Theater. I had never seen them before, but they were pretty awesome. Excellent multi-media presentation with lots of audience participation.

After the show my parents and Erik went back to the hotel to hit the hay and I went out with Robin who was itching to see some of the nightlife in Lincoln Park. It's not an area that I frequent as much, but I'm game. We walked down to the chichi-for-Chicago (read: sparse decor and $6 drinks) bar, The Gramercy. We stuck around there for a drink before seeking a livelier joint and found one at The Tonic Room on Halsted (it's no wonder since drinks were a sweet two-fitty each). After people watching there for a while I finally caved to the sandman and had to beat it by 1 a.m. or so.

On FRIDAY, I met my family at the hotel and we walked over to the Diversey el station where we caught the purple line express up north to Evanston. We walked through Northwestern's campus, at one point sitting down by the lake and talked my Erik and my dad snacked on some delicious Norris Center Sbarro's. (Halfway through his piece, my dad was like: "this isn't that good," like he was all surprised). After they got fill of checking out the campus, we caught train to Argyle, in the Uptown area of Chicago so my mom could try their pho there. We went to Pho Xe Tang (Tank Restaurant) at Broadway and Argyle, a big bright space with tons of round tops. Mom, Robin, and Erik ordered their bowls of pho XL, which was just kind of hilarious. The sheer gigantism of these servings would have given anyone with a large appetite something to contend with, but my petite mom whipped it. Impressive.

Afterward my mom perused a pottery shop by the el stop and purchased some sweet porcelain, even convincing the shopgirl to carve a couple of bucks off the price. After this, she was quite satisfied with herself (my mom, not the shopgirl so much...but maybe she was too), commenting on the nice manners of the aforementioned shopgirl, and wondered if maybe she was single since she would be a good match for Robin? That would be a match made in a heaven because, hey: nice Asian girl for Robin and a lifetime supply of porcelain.

After this we all chilled for a little bit before gearing ourselves for dinner. We decided on Indian, so I took everyone to Tiffin, a slightly upscale Indian restaurant in the heart of the Indian neighborhood, Devon. Todd came along, supplying rides for the overflow, and we all stuffed ourselves to the gill wiht succulent Indian food. Robin ordered some crab marsalla as an appetizer which made me want to drop to my knees and weep from the sheer awesomeness of the dish. I love Tiffin's garlicky naan as well which is fresh and hot and puffy and swimming with garlic.

Did you think that after the massive food coma that Tiffin brought on, we would be dominated? Oh no.

After dinner, we all drove back to Lincoln Park, deposited under-age Erik back at the hotel, and walked over to Kingston Mines on Halsted to see some blues. The place was packed so we couldn't get seating for the main blues band, but we did nestle in the second room to wait for the next show on the alternate stage. We were treated some mean guitar playing from a woman named Joanna Connor and then called it a night at around 1 a.m. (a theme for me this week). My parents impressed me by staying up that late, actually, especially when we had such a full day beforehand.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Chicago River. Posted by Picasa

Robin + Chicago = True Love Posted by Picasa

Chicago skyline, Wednesday afternoon. Posted by Picasa

The public fountains in Millennium Park. I love these! The changing face pillar spit out water, creating a wide shallow water pool across the pavement. The place is filled with little kids getting their splashing in. It looks like families spend their days there. Public parks rock.  Posted by Picasa

Ice cream at Margie's. Can you make out Robin's dish? Yes, he ate all of that.  Posted by Picasa
Eating our way through Chicago Part II
To continue the account of the family excursion to Chicago:
On Wednesday, Robin and I took the morning off and then took the Addison bus over to find our way to Hot Doug's where we met Todd for lunch. Mmmm: Hot Doug's. I wanted Robin to get a headstart on the place and he was properly impressed. He had one of their gourmet dogs (something sweet and delicious) and a regular Chicago dog and we were all very, very happy.

Afterward, Todd was about to drop us off at the Western el stop so we could catch the blue line downtown, but we decided to make an impromptu stop to Margie's Candies. Margie's is a Chicago institution: an ice cream place built in 1914, visited by the Beatles when they came through, and has an interior that looks like an old candystore on a movie set. There are often lines around the corner when we go by there during the nights and weekends, so beloved is this place. Todd and I split (and weren't able to finish) one of their signature thick cookie and cream milkshakes and Robin dominated a three scoop turtle sundae complete with a bucket of hot fudge on the side. I am way impressed by how Robin can shovel the food in. It pleases me greatly.

Sated with ice cream, he and I then went downtown, and walked along Michigan, by Millennium Park and then north so he could admire the magnificence of the Magnificent Mile. Magnificent indeed. It was a spectacular afternoon, so we spent all afternoon walking around and then met Todd to have dinner in Wicker Park, at Penny's (cheap Thai place #2). Afterward we went to have a beer at Club Foot in Ukrainian Village, after which we were all officially wiped out and called it a night at 10 pm. A job well done by all.

The walk along the lake. The north avenue beach is two and a half miles south, about, so we got on a sweet five mile walk just to the beach alone and back. Posted by Picasa

North Avenue beach on Tuesday Posted by Picasa
Eating your way through Chicago in Five Days
The Mahan clan has hit Chicago officially. Robin arrived on Tuesday morning and we played for a couple of days before the rest of the family arrived yesterday. It was a surprise too, which was pretty cool and pretty amazingly successful since I was wondering if I would slip at some point. I didn't and I'm proud. It's only really just begun, but I wanted to take note of what we're done (read: ate) so far before I forget. It must be noted that the Mahan family takes their food seriously. Very seriously.

Tuesday morning Robin arrived in Midway and after lunching at Duck Walk (cheap Thai place #1) and dropping off his stuff at my place, we walked down to the North Avenue beach along the lakefront. It was a sunny, hot day, and it was my first time lying out at the beach. Pretty awesome. Robin found some people to play volleyball with and I laid around and read the latest issue of Food and Wine (courtesy of Anne) while listening to Robin's iPod. Heavenly. We stuck around there for a couple of hours and then walked back, and for dinner walked over to the Southport area to have dinner at Strega Nona with Melissa. Word to the wise: on Tuesday nights at Strega Nona, with two entrees you get a 50 cent bottle of wine. Pretty sweet when they usually cost around $20. I love me some deals! After dinner we headed over to the best neighborhood bar ever, Guthries, and enjoyed a cold PBR before heading back to my place for the end of the night.

To be continued... (I have to get on the road now to round up the family)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Okay, this wasn't from vacation, but this is a leftover picture of just HOW awesome Hot Doug's is.  Posted by Picasa

The lervly St Louis riverside. Romantic! Posted by Picasa

The St Louis Arch! Between buildings in the little riverside area where we had lunch. Are you bowled over by the artistic quality of it all? Posted by Picasa

Enough said. On the road in MO. Posted by Picasa

An excellent product that I spotted the outlets that we visited on Saturday. I wish that the picture could do the honors of just how awesome this thing was. there were dragons. Posted by Picasa

View from dock at Todd's parents' place.  Posted by Picasa

Getting off of the pontoon boat. Posted by Picasa

Todd showing off his awesome sunburned shoulders. He likened himself to neopolitan ice cream: white, red, and brown. Posted by Picasa

More beautiful views. Posted by Picasa

Here's a view from the boat at Lake of the Ozarks. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005

Time vortex
Rate My Professor: look up your college, scan for your professor, and look for student reviews.
Go Tribe!
Hey, William and Mary gets its due: it's listed as Newsweek's "hottest small state school."

(thanks to Adam for the head's up)
One more thing
Brendan had suggested to me the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer. I randomly picked it up at the library when I was scanning titles and didn't realize that was the same one that Brendan had mentioned until after I checked it out.

This book was nothing less than great. I devoured it in a couple of days and it would switch from making me laugh out loud and then making me weep. Seriously, tears rolled down my face yesterday when I finished it up in the car ride back. I highly recommend it, especially for those who love New York (vroom vroom, I'm looking at you).

Here's an article about Jonathan Safron Foer. He's my age: 28. Unbelievable.
Floatin' and Boatin'
We got back yesterday from Lake of the Ozarks where we went and visited Todd's parents at their most beautiful house on the lake there. I was excited because:
a.) vacation!
b.) I had never been in the state of Missouri before
c.) I had never even heard of the Lake of the Ozarks before I came to Chicago.

The Lake of the Ozarks used to be part of a river before it was dammed up, so it's all wind-y and with tons of little fingers and coves. Todd's parents lakehouse is right next the water and you walk down (or take the cool little tram) down to the dock. We arrived too late on Wednesday night to go out and do anything, but we went boating on Thursday and Friday. I confessed that I had never been officially boating before, so didn't know what was involved. What's involved is: going out in the boat, anchoring in some little cove, sitting around on the boat eating and drinking and then going into the water to cool off when you feel like it. Todd's aunt, uncle, and cousins were there as well, so it was always a little party. His parents have two big beautiful boats to choose from as well. It was all quite luxurious and fancy and a nice change from my hot humid, stubbornly un-ACed apartment.

I realized that I hadn't been swimming in at least a year (this is amazingingly pathetic, I know), and it was *so* great to jump into the warm water and paddle away. On Friday, we took a trip to a national park (an area called Hahatonka(?)) and spent all day there while Todd's dad grilled burgers. Yeah, it was *that* awesome.

During the nights we would eat awesome food (ribs galore on Saturday night) and then crash early so I slept a lot. Fresh air, gaw-geous views, and good food = one happy Kristin.

We drove back yesterday and stopped by St Louis for lunch. We went to the little area by the water filled with the requisite cobblestones and little taverns and restaurants and walked down to the water where I took some pictures of the water.

Speaking of pictures, I have a few to post. I'm still muddling through how to download them properly though. Emails have been sent out so hopefully I can figure this out tonight so I can have fresh memory for my family's upcoming visit. I took tons of crappy pictures of the St Louis arch and the Capitol building in Jefferson City, so I want to share them in their all of their crappy-quality-glory.

A few things of interest:
1.) We toyed with the idea of going to one of the subtly-named resort town bars (The Horny Toad, Peckers, Big Dick's Halfway Inn) to see one of the awesome bands that play at resort town bars. We missed "National Act 'Loverboy'" by three days, sadly. And we were too early to go and see the band that really caught my eye. What was the name? 4 Fried Chickens and a Coke.
2. ) A bumper sticker that I saw plastered on the back of a station wagon when we went to the outlets on Saturday: "If Mary had had an abortion, there would be no Christmas." Remember that one.
3.) Last night Todd and I watched "Cheaters," my world's favorite show. The best host ever, Joey Greco, regularly shows the poor cuckolded dude footage of his girlfriend getting it on behind his back. Joey G. is the most hilarious because he's so grave when he makes the cheated-on watch the footage and tries to off-the-cuff narrarate in a very serious, serious tone (eg, "here you can see that she is...servicing him in the your own bed"). He speaks with lots and lots of ellipses.

The piece de resistance is when they showed one poor sap footage of his girlfriend and her lovah partying it up on her balcony, hooting, whooping, and waving beers while they watched some fireman unloading some gear in the parking lot down below. While he was showing that particular footage, Joey G. was like: "As you can see here, here they are on your balcony...with no regard for your property....or for those risking their lives down below."

I love "Cheaters." I know that I've said it before, but I totally need to say it again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'm off!
Last daycare session done. All the reports handed in. Veggies, hummus and pita packed for the ride. Handy YLT cds along for listening pleasure.

I'll be back on Sunday, so will check in then. Hopefully I'll manage to take and figure out how to upload pictures (for some reason I can't use the contraption that my dad had given me that I used with the stolen computer...probably missing some installation disk. whatever).

xoxo 4evah

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Almost done
One more day left to the quarter! I'm still getting through all of my last reports and making sure that everything is turned in before I take off tomorrow to the Ozarks with Todd. I still have to pack too, come to think of it.

Tonight his band, All Limbs Intact, is playing at the Beat Kitchen, so that cuts down the available time a little bit.

I'll be out of the loop for a little while, so hope that everyone has a great weekend.

Monday, August 08, 2005

I was sad to hear that Peter Jennings passed away yesterday. He was my favorite of the anchors and it feels like he had just announced that he had lung cancer.

On a complete change of topic, I want to mention that we went to the Northalsted Market Days with Katja and Tom yesterday. It's a street festival that spans six blocks of Halsted, the whole of Boystown, half a block away from me. It's been touted as Chicago's busiest street festival and I would have to say that there might be some truth in that because that sucker was crowded. Todd and I entered on Roscoe and Halsted and were readying ourselves to walk the four blocks down to Halsted and Belmont to meet Katja and Tom. It took us like 20 minutes to work our way through the crowds. There were billions of booths and three stages of music.

It was a good, crowded time, but I was ready to leave once we walked up and down the length of it. I do love a good street festival though, with the smell of grilled food and funnel cakes and music playing and people celebrating and drinking (ice cold!) beer in the streets. We also ran into Kevin, Jessica, and Aimee, which was cool.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Lazy Weekend
Man, I'm so close to the end of the quarter, I can taste it. It's like my mouth glands salivate at the thought. On Wednesday I finish up my last stint with daycare, and then we're off to the Ozarks for a long, long weekend. Hooray for long, long weekends!

So far it's been a pretty nice weekend capping off a nice week. On Thursday night I caught up with Melissa, an old work friend. We had whole wheat vegetables burritos at Las Mananitas. Hooray for whole wheat vegetable burritos!

There's not much else of interest to report except that we went to a wedding last night (strong gin and tonics; I feared this morning that I had lost my glasses, but they were actually left in the seat of Todd's car. Thank God). Hooray for finding misplaced glasses!

Other things to note:
1. Yesterday I wandered around Bucktown/Wicker Park enjoying the stunning warm weather, and I wandered into the Aldi on Milwaukee. I had heard rumblings over the grocery deals to be found at the Aldi, and the rumors are true, I'll have you know. Their produce was like half the price of the produce at the Jewel by me! I ended up buying some cut-rate raisin bran because I couldn't leave without purchasing something. Aldi, where have you been all my life?

2. On Friday I went and worked out at the gym on campus and stumbled upon a cheerleading/dance camp that was going on in the gym. There were at least a hundred stomach-baring high school girls cavorting in one concentrated area. It was hilarious to watch the various dudes who worked at the gym or who happened to be working out slowly emerge and do slow rounds on the indoor track which looks down on the gym area. The guys who worked there even had the pretense of walking around with their clipboards.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Aftermath
Since Kevin is dying to know, here's what happened with Project Defrost. It was long and harrowing. To unplug the entire fridge itself required climbing onto the sink and reaching behind the fridge to work the plug from the socket. I was all proud of myself because I thought ahead and taped the plug onto the wall so I would have easy access to it when it came time to replug the fridge back in. Genius, right?

So a couple of hours into the defrosting as I was switching out pans of water and monitoring the drippage from the glacier that had formed inside I hear a sudden ripping sound. My stomach fell as that was the sound of tape freeing the plug from the let it fall behind the fridge out of my reach.
My first thought? "Who can I call?!"
My second thought: "Noone."

So I MacGyvered my way out of it. I reached my arm around the side of the entire fridge, found the root of the plug and pulled it out on the other side of the fridge. Then I had access to the plug at least even if I wouldn't be able to get behind and plug it in from that particular side. I then taped the head of the plug to the head of the swiffer mop, pushed the swiffer behind the fridge and knocked it to the side. Voila: the head of the swiffer fell against the sink so I had access to the plug again. If things were ideal I would be able to draw a little diagram for you so you can understand exactly how this all went down.

With that solved, I was able to get back to the business of defrosting. Which took several more hours. When I was finally done, at 8:10 in the evening, I received a call from Lauren. She, Bonnie, and Soraya were heading to have dinner on Southport and was I interested? Perfect timing, perfect offer. Lauren picked me up and we had some awesome Thai food at Banana Leaf, and I went home a happy lady.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Popsicles and humidity
Tomorrow we're defrosting our freezer, which should be quite an adventure since: a.) I've never defrosted a freezer before, and 2.) I don't know if and when it's been done on this freezer. Let's just say that it's gotten woeful. I'm home all afternoon so I'm dedicating my time to monitoring the progress and making sure that things don't get too ugly.

In other news, it's the second to last week of school and things are humming as they do on the second to last week of school. Reports drafts are turned in tomorrow, final meetings with parents are going on all this week and next and many, many meetings are made with one's supervisors. I don't mind it too terribly, though, since, well, it's the second to last week of school. And then, my friends, over five weeks of blessed vacation.

I'm going to try to request to keep on my beloved three (soon to be four!) year old client but my fellow students clued me into the fact that she's the perfect 397 client, so I'll probably lose her. 397 is the name of the class where you have your first client, and it's what I took last quarter. Normally they handpick 397 clients since they're relatively straight forward and generally well-behaved. Because my (my!) three year old is so cooperative and engaged and so goddamn awesome, she's perfect 397 fodder. I only got her this summer since there is no 397 offered this quarter. *sigh*. I also watched Laura's client today during her parent meeting. This particularly girl is the Prize Winner of 397 clients. Hillary had her last quarter, I would froth at the mouth over her descriptions of her. She's 10 and spectacularly pleasant and amiable and likes doing articulation therapy. We played Pictionary Junior today and she kicked some ass.