Thursday, December 28, 2006

Worst Post Ever.
Due to the increased and intensive amount of family time this week, 17-year old brother has been in tow for most events and gatherings. We've (and by 'we,' I mean, his older brother and me) been teasing him when he texts his friends (and by 'when,' I mean approximately every hour or so) during said events. Here are the texts we surmised he was sending:

1. Worst Christmas EVER. No Wii.
(He did get some kind of digital camera/mp3 player/camcorder deal, though).

2. Worst Boxing Day EVER.*
(My parents took us out to a proper lunch and movie on the 26th. Erik totally slept through the first half of the movie)

3. Worst Afghan dinner EVER.
(That's what we did tonight).

* Robin thought that Erik might not know what Boxing Day was, so I don't think he got that joke.
One Moment of the Night
We watched "Blood Diamond" tonight which was engrossing and good, but stressful. Afterward, I found Robin doing an impromptu jig (think Irish step dance) in the kitchen. I don't think it was related to the movie, but if I didn't know better, it was like he was dancing because: "Yay! Child soldiers!"
Vacation is the best.
I really, really like vacation. It is very awesome not to work, to stay up late, to glut on sleep, and to generally goof around. It also makes me lazy, hence the non-blogging.

So, what has happened in the past week or so?

--I turned 30, officially. I feel no amount of trauma.

--Lots of family time. Robin's home for the holidays, which is great.

--I rolled about 200 spring rolls for my parents' open house last week. It was worth it for the spring rolls, though.

What will happen in the next week?

--Lots of shopping. Friends and family were so kind as to give me many gift certificates so I can get some grown-up clothes for work and I need to use them.

--Todd arrives tomorrow. Yay for that!

--More birthday and new years festivities.

--We drive back to Chicago. It will be good to be back, but it will also mean being a grown up, starting a new job, and just generally dealing with life again. Boo to that!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Time to Vote

Amie just sent an email about this awesome news about Jenny. I'm paraphrasing since Blogger won't let me cut and paste the email.

The Denver Post nominated Second City's "How I Lost my Devirginity" for Best Comedy and Jenny Hagel for "Best Comedy Actress" in their annual Ovation Awards which will be awarded on 12/31.

People can vote for Readers Choice through 12/27. So vote for Jenny!

Go to the Denver Post web site and click the light blue box along the top that says Ovation Awards.

Answer questions 7 & 11, and then clock "Done" at the bottom of the page.

I drove back to DC straight from Chicago yesterday. It was wise to get on the road at 6 because I forewent all of the Chicago commuter traffic in the morning, which made the start of my trip MUCH easier. I also managed to elude DC commuter traffic getting in, by skipping the beltway (which Google maps urged me to try) and going alternate country routes that my dad gave me. I was home in time for dinner after an 11.5 hour drive, but I was pooped.

Luckily, I had the book on cd called Don't Know Much About History. It's 24 hours of American History. I've listened up the begininning of the civil war. I was embarassed recently when I realized that one of the questions given to one of the "beauties" in the show "Beauty in the Geek" (I know that you watch it too) gave me pause. The woman was asked to name the first three American presidents, and I had to really, really think about it. And then guess. This was not a good thing and exposed me for the ignoramus that I am. So I'm trying to edify myself, and now I feel much better about my knowledge of US history. Also, I didn't know that Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel! Man, it's like an olden version of "The Wire." I never knew what I was missing out on.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table today intent on getting the last geology assignment before the midterm done. It's a paper and I want to do nothing else less. Plus, it looks nice and sunny and fresh outside. Feel sorry for me?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

General party crowds. I know that this is a shitty picture, but I wanted to capture what it looked like when you were wading through. Maybe I'll frame it.
Todd and me. Note that gold necklace on me. Lindsay had gotten it for 50 cents out of a vending machine; it came in one of those plastic eggs. I totally got compliments on it.
Northwestern girls Part I.
Some of the NU classmates. I don't know what I'm doing with my neck here since it kind of disappeared.

Also Mirhiyah flew back from San Francisco to celebrate with us this weekend. That was another big treat.
Lee, Pam, Jenny and myself.
Mo' La Tengo playing their brief but stupendous set.
Party time!
It's been the weekend of celebrations. Friday night, Todd and Kiley threw a joint birthday/graduation bash for Steve and me (it was Steve's 30th birthday a few weeks ago). Kiley and Todd arranged to have the fete at this bar called Phyllis' Musical Inn in Wicker Park. Phyllis is this old bar with a tiny stage, high ceilings, and lots of character. It comes complete with a gaggle of regulars hanging out at the end of the bar. While they weren't able to rent out the bar, they arranged the musical line up, so the owner allowed them to do what they wanted in terms of the party. First up, Josh Kalmus. Josh is Steve's friend from high school and plays really impressive blues guitar. Also playing were Vamplifier (a band Steve used to play in at one time) and Bear Claw (a three-piece band that includes Todd's roommate/bandmate, Rich).

There were some changes. Todd, Steve, and Kiley made it up there to play a number under the name Mo' La Tengo (influenced by YLT). . Although three minutes long, it was my favorite performance of the night. Also, Bear Claw wasn't able to play despite their best intentions since their van broke down right as they were getting ready to load their stuff.

I told Todd and Kiley afterwards that it was my perfect idea of a party. Lots of different friends were there, so it was full but it never got so crowded that you couldn't manage the crowds. Kiley ordered insane amounts of pizza for everyone and made cupcakes to share. The venue was dimly lit and warm and the party lasted until the bar closed down. Rich even made a poster for the party/show that is so awesome, I'm waiting for him to get an electronic copy of it to me so I can post it on ye olde blog.

So again, lots of fun. Thanks to everyone for coming out on Friday night to celebrate the early birthday.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Space Needle, Office Dinners, Hot Dogs, Country and Western Bars, and St. Lucia's Day: A post that is officially all over the place.
I've had a pretty nice past few days. This week has been awesomely great mostly because I don't have a whole lot going on besides a few appointments and trying to wade my way through more Geology assignments (this is proving to be the longest class in the history of time, solely by my own doing).

Every day this week, Lauren, Hillary, Megan, Laura and I have been getting together; each time doing a little celebration of our *graduation.* Today, Megan and Laura had us over to their place to celebrate St. Lucia's Day, which I understand to be the Swedish version of Christmas. Correct? Megan told us that St. Lucia was killed and had her eyes gouged out. I'm pretty sure that there was more the story, but that's the part that stuck with me. Yesterday we met for lunch at Hot Dougs, which was surprisingly crowded for a Tuesday afternoon. No reindeer hot dogs on the menu that day.

This past week I finished up with my exam, papers, last client sessions, and also went out for Hillary's birthday last Wednesday. That was great since it ended up being an extremely flavorful tour of the Northside. We started with dinner at Pho 777 in Argyle and then ended the night at Carol's Pub, which is this dimly lit country and western bar on the fringes of Andersonville. There were about three people in the place besides us and the live band. Two of the people were a newly minted married couple who informed us that they had met in the bar a year ago, and proposed in the bar as well (we were the only people who didn't know since everyone else attended the wedding that past weekend). The groom looked like a character out of Bloom County with the cigarettes rolled up in his t-shirt sleeve and aviators that didn't come off of his face. The bride was extremely warm and she sent Hillary a birthday drink across the bar. The country and western band also organized a birthday singalong and accepted a birthday request from Hillary. Friendliest bar ever.

Thursday night I went with Todd to his company's holiday dinner. Fancy affair! Steak! Fancy dessert! Open bar! I love company holiday parties.

This past weekend, we took a whirlwind trip to Seattle. Kiley had done us the favor of bringing us back maps, magazines, and bus schedules from her recent trip, as well as a list of places to visit. This had stupendous worth since we visited every place she recommended. Our hotel was in the downtown area (2 blocks from the space needle; believe it.) so we walked much, more, and a lot all weekend. Todd was excited to see the reunion of Juno on Saturday and Sunday nights, we got to see Don, and we got to try lots and lots of coffee places. Kiley named one place (Vivace) as the best place in Seattle, so we found it and I will wholeheartedly agree that it is mah-velous. Some things that struck me about Seattle:
- It smells so fresh! Definitely compared to Chicago, which can often smell like exhaust and urine.
-The buses operate on hybrid-electric! Very impressive and progressive.
-Seattle is a lot more hilly than I recollected. Good to get the exercise, but I couldn't park a car on some of those inclines. Or ride a bike up them.

Again, I have pictures. I just have to figure out how to download them onto my computer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Also, Happy 30th to Madeline!

I'm done with graduate school.

I accepted a job offer to start a month away.

This is what I will be doing for the next month.

More soon with further, but I had to post this now.

(thanks to Todd for sending me this, as this clearly shows that he knows me too well.)
(Fat baby + Fat Cat )(In Repose) = Truly Fantastic

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another comment.
Oprah is on in the background, and Il Divo is singing. Has anyone seen them? They crack me up because they're like walking caricatures. And the people in the audience are seriously losing their shite. I love the guy with a deep voice because his eyebrows are forever cocked as if he has an inside joke with every mom in that audience. I think that he's the attention hog. And they have a goddamn orchestra playing behind them.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Second Official Distraction of the Night
Campus Ladies, season 2, on Oxygen. I swear, this show slays me.
I studied finally today!
I went to my favorite coffee shop to study and secretly spy on first dates. The Caribou by me is always full of boys meeting in person for the first time. Seriously, I estimate that 60% of the time I am there, there is a first date occurring within 10 feet of me. I love it. Most, I'm sad to report, are kind of losers of first dates. You can tell that the people are definitely not into eachother. Tonight may have been one of those, since when the second dude walked up, the first dude clippily announced: "You're late." I'm pretty sure that it was a first date too, since the other guy was kind of nervous and their small talk was about their living situations. So yeah, I studied for about 30 minutes and then I was distracted by the date happening directly across from me, and I ended up spending 20 minutes listening/eavesdropping.

May I also discuss my new favorite method of procrastination? There is a website where the blogger details the happenings of his two cats (I know, but hear me out). One of the cats, Winston, definitely gets more of the exposure and man does he deserve it. For the love of all that is good, round, and roly-poly, check it out.

Monday, December 04, 2006

98% There
Man, I'm so close to being done that I can taste it! I confess, it's all very surreal. I finished with my school placement on Friday, where my supervisor was very kind and brought two enormous sheet cakes as well as a few gifts for me. The school experience was an extremely positive one. Now I've got one exam left and one more client session and need to round up signatures. Again, so close.

Oh, yes, and there was a snow storm in Chicago on Friday! The news was talking it up all week, warning of 12 inches on the ground before noon on Friday. That morning started off scarily with blustery snow everywhere and no traffic on the road. I woke up early, deciding that I would take public transportation to school if it wasn't canceled. It wasn't. Apparently, Skokie school districts haven't canceled for snow in something like 8-9 years. The snow wore off by noon, though, and the roads were pretty clear by quitting time on Friday. I have to give it to Chicago city services because they are very efficient about salting their roads.

Todd treated me to dinner out on Friday at one of my new favorite restaurants, Darwins, in celebration of the occasion. Two words: baked brie (although, Lauren's baked brie with apricot still rules the roost in my opinion). I decided to swear off work for the rest of the weekend, which I did quite effectively, thank you very much.

Saturday we headed over to Roscoe Village. Todd got a haircut, and I decided to hit up the local thrift store there for toys and books for therapy (can't remember the name right now, but it starts with "Village"). Roscoe Village is a cozy little neighborhood full of young professionals and starter families. Needless to say, their toy and book collection was *awesome*. I got some great wooden puzzles and really nice books and large plastic blocks and bundles and bundles of assorted toys and figures. I left with a huge bag of stuff. What was the cost you ask? Well, my friends, you better be sitting down since the grand total was $6.50. I am definitely hitting that place up as my main source of materials. Sarah was telling me about how she hit up all of the yard sales in the rich suburbs this summer for her materials and made out like a bandit with super quality toys and games. I am totally following her lead this coming summer.

The best way to celebrate a shopping coup such as that was to try out a restaurant, so we went to Kitsch'n for lunch. YUM. Another new favorite. I had their famous green eggs and ham (scrambled eggs with basil pesto and honey ham) and I think I was about to die for belly happiness.

The rest of the weekend was spent inside, hiding from the cold. We also glutted ourselves on Netflix. It was quite awesome.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday, Robin!

The big day was yesterday, and I hope that he lived it up in Texas.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turkey Hangover, still.
How was everyone's Thanksgivings? Mine was lovely. Todd and I cooked up a huge feast with Kiley and Steve (pictures impending), but the entire holiday was over way too quickly for my liking. Here I am, it's Monday night, and I have a bunch of work that needs to get done. I'm totally unmotivated and feel kind of out of it, but that's probably from being computer-bound for so long. I spent the last half hour perusing emails from two years ago, that's how desperate things have gotten. It made me realize what a horribly putrid correspondent I have become.

But, may I say: this is my last official week in grad school. Praise Allah.

What else happened? Well, besides the lovely mild weather and some long, leisurely walks, I didn't do much. We did go and see "Borat" the other night. I went in with hugely high, astronomical hopes since seeing his bits on the Ali G show slays me to tears. I found the movie to be funny, but it was more gross-out, scatalogical humor which I'm not crazy about. I realized afterward that what I loved about the Borat character in the show ws that while he was incredibly clueless, and often offensive, he maintained a certain sweetness about him (the episode where he was on the treadmill--it killed me). In the movie, those subtle sweetness were sort of sloughed off, and the jokes were more aggressive and in-your-face. So, while it was still funny, I definitely prefer the show-Borat.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I was paying bills this morning. For a bill of $37.37, I ended up using check number 37. What are the odds of that? I need to go and get a lottery ticket stat.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

And so begins the festivity season
It's been a fun weekend besides the SLP certification test on Saturday morning and writing of papers in between. Last night I accompanied Todd to his friend, Emily's, wedding. Whoa. Very nice and swanky. The reception was at this restaurant in downtown called Nacional 27, which has chichi Latin food. Apparently, it's the hot place to go for salsa dancing on the weekends. They rented the restaurant out for the night, and it was great. The drinks were flowing and they were all fancy-dancy (my favorite: mojito martini). The appetizers were amazing (crap and guacamole dip, lobster salad, cerviche, etc) and the main course food was varied and delicious. I woke up this morning with a bit of a dashy stomach from all of the rich and delicious food. But it was worth it.

Today we went to Todd's family's Thanksgiving feast in Wilmington. Mmmm.

So, very fun weekend. The next couple of days will be a little work-filled, but I can handle two days

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yays and Boos
Boo to writing this paper due next Tuesday. It's an interesting topic, but I'm having difficulty organizing my research and it makes me tired. I am on page 4 of 10, and it's sucking a whole lot right now.

Yay to Robin, who is an amazing brother, and sent me his digital camera to use when he had read on ye olde blog that mine was kaput.

Boo to certification exams in fields of study. Mine is next Saturday, although I confess that it is a whole lot better than comprehensive exams such as James recently took. You are a strong man, James.

Yay to broccoli and delicious lemon yogurt being on sale at the grocery store. The broccoli was only 49 cents a pound! Awesome!. I had the lemon yogurt for dessert tonight and I thought that I would die from the pure joy of the experience.

Monday, November 13, 2006

One more thing knocked off the to-do list.
The above title is not referring to my current, ever-growing to-do list for school and general getting my life together stuff, but to my List of Things-That-I-Must-Do-in Chicago-at-Some-Point. Saturday evening (after finally getting some work done at the library...the coffee did the trick, if you care) Todd and I joined Steve and Kiley to celebrate Steve's immediate birthday for an evening at the Green Mill, because according to them "that's something that 30-year olds do." True that. The Green Mill is an old acclaimed jazz joint in Uptown. It's renowned for late hours, good jazz, and a rich and juicy history (Al Capone and his henchmen had a regular booth there, apparently). I had always wanted to go, so was excited for the opportunity.

So, it was good.

I don't know my jazz, but it sounded good to me, and I was impressed by the management's iron-clad will to keep the place quiet when the music is playing (no loud conversations are allowed, nor are cell phones allowed to be turned on). We got there late enough that we didn't snag one of the booths or tables, but managed to find a length of the bar to belly up to. The drink prices weren't outrageous, which I kind of expected them to be, because the truth is that enough locals and tourists go that they could charge out the nose. And the people watching was spectacular. The bouncer/doorman had a waxed, curlique moustache that would make historical re-enactors quiver in their boots, and there was the most hilarious couple engaging in a massive display of public affection in the booth beside us.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I swear to God, I'm getting dumber every day.

In one of my classes, we were discussing "gifted students." We spent most of the time talking not about your run-of-the-mill honors class kids (and most of you reading this were just those kids) but the super-duper geniuses. Anyway, one of the signs of a super-crazy smart kid is one who is able to focus for long periods of time on the topic of interest. That flagged my interest since I've been noticing lately that my own focus has been shot (and this is really all about me). I seriously can't sit down for more than an half an hour working on something before my mind wanders. Bottom line: I am the opposite of a super-genius.

Even today is a good example. I came over to the library which has nice uncluttered space and is relatively free of distractions (besides the free wi-fi, that is). I've been here for a little over an hour and I've done maybe 20 solid minutes of work. And now I'm completely obsessed with the idea of taking a break and getting some coffee from across the street. I saw a guy sitting at another table drinking a cup and I began to slaver immediately.

I think this calls for self-bribing. The deal of the moment is one in which I must sit here for another hour and do at least half an hour more of work before allowing myself that coffee break.
Hmm, there's a guy who's been sitting across from me working on some sort of very complicated table. I figured that he was a business student or some such crap, but it looks like he's doing some sort of fantasy football deal. Now *that* guy has some focus that I admire.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans Day!
It's been a good week. Firstly because of the awesome midterm elections. I can't believe that the Dems have majority in both the House and the Senate, now, but it's a long time in coming. Tuesday night was pretty exciting; I kept on checking the polls online and so many states were neck and neck. I'm thrilled that Webb got Virginia.

Secondly, my car is back with me as of this morning. She is shiny and new with her replaced bumper, light, and hood. The place even cleaned her for me, so that was a nice positive.

Thirdly, I have the day off from school. Yahoo! I have lots of work to do, but it's nice that there's an extra day of it.

On Wednesday, my supervisor was out at my school placement so when I didn't see kids I got to hang out in the classrooms of my choice. I spent my free time in my favorite preschool classroom with my favorite preschool teacher (I love the way that she interacts with the kids, and she is always cracking up at their absurdity, which I appreciate). Pre-schoolers are hands down my favorite age to work with, I realized. They're interested, interesting, blunt, kind of bizarre, sweet, and crack me the hell up. They are not capable of any kind of machinations, but if they do happen to try, it's so transparent that it's more hilarious than anything else. I love that.

But on Wednesday it hit me more than ever that pre-schoolers act like drunkards.
  • They lumber and clumsily wheel into shelves or any standing object nearby.
  • They hold loud conversations that follow no rules of topic maintenance.
  • They are full of non-sequitors.
    • One little one walked up to me and calmly stated "My shoes are purple." They were not.
  • They are free and sloppy with their effusiveness and affections.
    • Another of my favorite little ones, who I don't see as a client, approached me when I was in the room, threw his arms around me, and sweetly stated "I love you."
  • They howl and laugh over un-funny things. So much that they can be convinced that something is hilarious when it may not be.
    • I was reading a picture book with one of my kids, and when commenting on a picture, did a fake laugh and suggested "Isn't that silly?!" He immediately burst into laughter and said "SO silly!" Best audience ever.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Bane of My Existence: Hard Work Has Paid Off
So I'm taking an online geology course to help fulfill my requirements for certification (I needed an undergrad physical science course and I opted to take this one). It is kicking the ass in a major way. (Christie, my beloved friend who majored in Geology, would probably be tickled mightily because yours truly *struggles*). I bombed my first three assignments and was managing an awesome C- average. It was dire. So I really, really tried on my fourth assignment and was holding my breath to find out the grade. I just checked it online and I got an A+! I am seriously proud.
Two Years!
Todd and I have been dating for two years now (my, how time flies) and we went out last night to a fancy dinner to celebrate. We went to Fixture for their "Beer and Bacon" pre-fixe meal. It was tres chi chi, and definitely special-occasion pricing, but well worth it. Each of the three courses was paired with a delicious brew, and each of the courses had some sort of bacon or pork addition. It was super fun, and very appropriate, and we both enjoyed it immensely.

I made Todd take pictures of at least two of the courses with his camera phone, but he drew the line at bringing his digital camera with its flash into the dimly lit restaurant for the purpose of taking pictures of the meal. I definitely need a digital camera that works because I gots NO shame in that way. And I know how much my loyal audience appreciates looking at food porn, like me.

On an unrelated note, I did my second hearing screening at one of the private schools around here this morning in order to fulfill requirements. We screened middle and high schoolers and they were all surprisingly polite and sweet. One of the teenagers cracked me up: he barely passed his screening so the supervising audiologist was questioning him about to what he's been exposing his young ears. She asked him about whether he has used fireworks recently and he paused for a second and then very blase-ly informed her that he routinely participates in "roman candle wars." She was like "I don't even know what those are, but stop doing them." Then he told her he went to a "death metal grind core" concert on Saturday night and stood up front. That kid was the best. He also said that his mom uses garlic cloves as ear plugs. The audiologist had never heard of that before; have any of you?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I spent the whole of yesterday taking tests that are a mandatory part of my path to the obtainment of teacher's certification. What a pain in the ass. I got up at 5:20 in the morning and then hustled on down to the huge, cavernous convention center down by Chinatown. I left there at about 5:20 feeling completely burnt.

So today is nice and lazy. I was intending to do some work, but I haven't been able to motivate myself just yet. Urg.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You want to see some awesome costumery?
Check out Kevin's blog post about the costumes he made for he and Dop.

UNbelievable. They better have won some kind of prize.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Someone plowed into my car in the past day or so. They left the headlight dangling and almost ripped the grill off of the front after closer inspection. I suspect this happened at some point late last night when some drunk a-hole wanted to do a 3-point turn on the street. The car was fine yesterday. I was walking over to the Halsted Halloween parade to find Kevin and Dop (Kevin, sorry to have missed you) when I discovered this very sad sight. I'm going to haul it into the closest collision place tomorrow a.m. and then hoof it to my school placement in the suburbs via CTA. Should be fun.

I know, I know. Things could definitely have been worse. I could have been IN the car, or they could have caved in the entire side of the car. But still, it's a pain in the ass, and I'm not looking forward to paying the deductible.

Bastard ass faces! May their cowardly, drunken lives be forever cursed. So there.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Also, there were dumplings. In Texas.
Major Congratulations to Robin who opened up his dumpling shop, Kuai, this past Friday in Dallas, Texas. He is my hero, he put so much hard work, blood and grit into this thing with very little complaint.
West Point loveliness.
More West Point foliage.
Anne and Suzi, the lovely bride.
Check out the chapel. How lovely and Gothic is that??
Anne and I got to pose with the groom.
Suzi and Tom even had their big day emblazoned on the water bottles they provided on the bus.

Very nice touch.

Major thanks to Anne for providing all of these pictures! My camera is long dead and I rely on the kindness of my friends to share.

West Point Nuptuals
I flew over to the east coast this past weekend to attend the aforementioned wedding of Suzi and Tom. I got in late on Friday night to lovely Newark International Airport. My flight was an hour delayed, but it worked out well because I arrived in time for Anne to swoop in and get me on the way to upstate New York. (Thank you, Anne!).

We checked into the hotel at around 11, and then caught up for awhile before conking out around midnight.
Saturday was the day of the wedding so after supping at a local diner, we threw on our clothes and got on the bus to go 20 miles to the West Point campus. Upstate New York was awash in leaves turning, and it was downright stunning. Our bus wound around the impressive West Point campus before stopping at one of the chapels there (the highest point on campus, I'll have you know).
Suzi and Tom's ceremony was moving and lovely. Suzi looked graceful and beautiful and I teared up as she walked down the aisle with her parents.
After the ceremony, we loaded onto the busses for a tour of the West Point campus before heading to one of the alumni houses for the Chinese tea ceremony and the reception.
We also managed to catch up with Clarence and Jonathan and a few other people that I haven't seen for a varying amount of time. Some old faces from China too, which was cool. One couple that I knew in Beijing has since moved to the States and had a baby who I wanted to eat up, he was so luscious.
The reception was a blast. Dinner was amazing (there are no words to describe the salad: brown sugared pecans and pears and apples on greens = heaven.) and the DJ pumped out the 80s tunes. So fun. Definitely one of the more super fun weddings I've been to. Suzi and Tom put together an amazing weekend for everyone.
So after brunching on Sunday, Anne drove me over to Newark where I discovered my flight was delayed two hours. I got into Chicago at around 8:45 and next thing I know it was time to head to school in the morning. Back into the grind, but well worth it after an amazing weekend.

Congratulations again to Suzi and Tom.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last night we had another book club meeting (I can't believe a month has passed already) and the book was one that Lauren suggested. It was called Nice Big American Baby, a collection of short stories by Judy Budnick. Run, don't walk, to find and read this book now, because it was excellent. I suspect that I had read her novel once before a couple of years ago and was sad when I saw that she didn't have anything else out there. I'm going to try to find that novel again. Anyway, it was cool because we sat and discussed the book for at least 40 minutes last night before devolving into speech language-pathology talk (there was an actual heated discussion as to whether DPS--Deep Pharyngeal Stimulation, I believe--is an effective treatment for swallowing).

Actually, I need to stop by the library today because I need some fun plane reading's Suzi and Tom's wedding this weekend! I am very, very excited for them and for me because it'll be a wee vacation.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sleep monster
At the end of this past week I felt another cold creep up on me. I think that it was due to a combination of not getting adequate sleep during the week and being surrounded by sniffling kids all the time.

This weekend I made up for it, though. Friday night I fell asleep at midnight and didn't get up till around 9. Last night I fell asleep before midnight and didn't get up till 9:30. It truly was awesome. AND I feel like my cold is going away.
Super Daaaawwwwg

Yesterday I coaxed Todd into driving out to the way north of Chicago so we could try Superdawg, a hot dog drive-in place. We had heard its praises being sung on "Check Please," and I had to try it.
The verdict? The food was yummy. I had a cheeseburger was very tasty. The fries were nice and crisp like I like them too. We split a chocolate milkshake, and sure enough it was super thick so the straw stood up straight, as promised.

The downside? It was pricey. The burger and fries were almost $5, which was okay I guess, but a hot dog and fries, which is what Todd had, cost the same thing. You can get it for waaay cheaper at any other Chicago hot dog joint in town.
It was also kind of confusing. You didn't know whether spaces were for parking for inside dining or for car hop service. We opted for car hop service. It was a first-time experience, but as Todd commented, "it kind of sucks to eat in your car." True thing.

But, still yummy overall. I'm glad that we got to try it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

October Weekend

Friday night I went with Todd to see The Evens play (Ian Mackaye and a woman who may or may not be his wife) at the Pulaski Park Field House. A few cool things about the show:

1. It was early, so it started at 8 and ended at 9. Short and sweet.
2. It only cost $5 to get in.
3. The Pulaski Park Field House if awesome: it was his huge cavernous room with a large stage with a massive painting adorning it--the perfect room for a party.
4. The show was fun. I don't know much about Fugazi, but I liked the music by the Evens which was in turns slow and quiet and then raucous and louder.
5. There was audience participation involved. There was a singalong and at one point the band urged the audience to whistle in unison at the start of one song...with the echo from the room the effect was weird and haunting.
6. Todd told me that they had a song on some children's compilation called "Vowel Movement," which made me love them a lot.
7. Out of curiosity, I looked up Ian MacKaye on google, and it spit up this interview with him from Salon back in 2001. There's a great story about why he now responds to high schoolers contacting him when they're writing reports.

Beyond that, we met up with the Northwestern ladies later that night which was a good time. The rest of the weekend has been spent pretending to do work, going out to dinner. Todd treated me to Wishbone last night, which was yummy. We tried to go to Hopleaf which is supposed to have an awesome selection of beer and a good menu, but they offered us an 1.5-2 hour wait when we got there around 9, so that was a no-go.

I'm also trying to study for my quarter's first midterm which is on Tuesday. It's hard to get motivated.

One more thing: I started watching episodes of "The Wire" for this season, and I am completely hooked. I've caught up fully, and zoomed over to netflix to put season 2 and 3 high in my queue.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

When I should be doing work...

I got caught up on the weemee website. Go there and make a wee you! I want to see what it looks like.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"But You Can Call Me Il"

This is awesome. From Harper's Magazine, a collection of titles "allegedly used by prominent leaders from 160 nations around the world" to refer to Kim Jong-Il announced on North Korean television.

Some of the list is as follows:

Greatest Saint Who Rules with Extensive Magnanimity
Lode Star of the Twenty-First Century
Best Leader Who Realized Human Wisdom
Leader with Extraordinary Personality
Perfect Picture of Wisdom and Boldness

and last, but not least....

Eternal Bosom of Hot Love

(via themorningnews)
I like it when Mondays are off so Tuesdays are the beginning of the week. I keep on looking ahead and Thursday is day after tomorrow! It's practically the end of the week already!

I'm trying to be good and get organized in terms of school work. I'm also trying to get back on the workout train and eating healthier. I am brimming with good intentions for virtue!

And that's all that's been going on with me. Except that Saturday was Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!). I celebrated by going to Greektown with Todd and having some moussaka (yummy). It was my first time in Greektown, although I guess it's not so much a 'town' as a 'block.' The place we ate was really charming, though, with garden seating which was perfect since the weather this weekend was flawless (sunny, clear, in the 70s).

That night we went to Todd's cousin's wedding. It was a very nice, classy affair. Huge with 10 bridesmaids (!) and an ice sculpture and stuff. The wedding reception was held in a hotel type place that was also housing another reception. We walked into the other reception by mistake and realized our error when we couldn't find the seating cards and didn't recognize the bridesmaid dresses. We ran into Todd's Uncle Pat at the doorway; he realized that he was at the wrong place as well but not before he got a drink at the open bar, so he just took his drink with him to the right wedding.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Congratulations to Zack, Jenny, and Baby Josh!

Zack and Jenny became parents a couple of days ago, which is exciting and great. Josh is a looker, isn't he?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just Try to Choke Me Now.
I attended a Crisis Prevention Training at my school placement today, which means I learned how to defuse escalating crisis/behavior situations, both verbal and physical. It was helpful information, and I wish that I knew some of this before since it probably would have helped me in terms of behavior management in clients past. What's nice is that it was proof to me that working with the TBI kids this summer definitely educated me in terms of some of this (at least the verbal). I rocked during some of the role plays today.

But what's cool is that we learned defensive reactions of what to do if struck or grabbed, including hair pulling, choking, hitting, kicking, etc. If someone tries to choke me, I will so be able to slip out of their grip. And if some buster on the street tries to grab me, at least I'm theoretically aware of what I need to do.

In other news, I popped in Season 2 of "Lost" tonight and that equals trouble. I'm captured.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I have a new favorite.
Seriously, my new favorite restaurant of the week in Chicago is called Darwin's. Todd and I had walked by the place dozens of times, but I finally read about it in Chicagoist, and found the photos and the descriptions of the food irresistable. Last night we finally went, and thank goodness for that.

I had the bacon and brie burger.

I know.

It had bacon enmeshed in the burger with slabs of melted brie on top. And parmesan and herb encrusted fries.

I am in love.

Next time we're going to get the starter of fried macaroni and cheese bites.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A list of things that are good.

1. My book club
A few of my classmates (some graduated now) from school came together for a book club, and I like it very much. It's once a month, and it's a good excuse to see people who I normally wouldn't, and there is always plenty of food and wine.

This past month we read "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" which is on everyone's book club list, and which I didn't like. Noone else in the club liked it either, so while it didn't spark a whole lot of discussion, there was a lot of self-affirment. Then we sat down and watched "project runway." My kind of party.

2. The weather in Chicago right now
It's cool and crisp and sunny. Walking around campus was so lervly this morning, and I started to feel stabs of nostalgia already (!). I couldn't believe it.

3. My Thursday schedule
2-4 in class. That's all. Enough said.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Everyone warned me that once I walked into the schools I would contract a cold of some kind. They were totally not lying, because yours truly is coughing up all kinds of stuff. Not bad enough to interfere with my life, but still kind of annoying.

I know it's been a while since I've blogged. Not much to report except that things are still going well. I'm starting to accrue things that need to get done this quarter, but it still feels like a tropical vacation compared to last quarter. I've been able to see friends in the evenings! I've been able to not spend 12 hours a day at a placement! It's been great. I am starting to feel the pressure of all of the final things that need to get checked off the check list and am worried that I'll forget something, but nothing is life-threatening, so that's okay.

Last weekend was a relaxing one. Todd and I joined Steve and Kiley for dinner and a movie on Friday night. We went to see "The Last Kiss" which annoyed the hell out of me. I think Zach Braff is overrated anyway, and this movie he played someone disbelievably irresistable. Plus his character was stupid and selfish. Let me know if any of you came away from that movie with a different opinion. Anyway, on Saturday we went to see The Life and Times play at Subterranean, which was fun, but beer and a late night made me seriously fall asleep standing up. I am so, so lame.

And that's all that I've got. I've got stuff to do tonight, but tomorrow I don't have class till 2 (lovely!) so can stay up late tonight getting stuff done.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Huggy Bear
Thanks to Todd who sent me this awesome news story today about a dude in China who after downing four beers, decided to climb into a panda pen at a zoo "to 'hug' the bear."

The panda promptly bit the guy who then bit the panda back.

No one ever said they would bite people. I just wanted to touch it

Zhang Xinyan

So awesome.

Monday, September 18, 2006

First day of school
I had my first day at my school placement today, and let me just say: it is pretty awesome. I'm at two schools: one is school age (K-8) and the other is Pre-K and Kindergarten. The latter school holds mixed classrooms of special ed and mainstream kids. I really, really liked what I saw. My supervisor seems extremely nice and I was done by 3:30 and home by 4.

I have a good feeling about this quarter.
I'm using this picture to tell our Columbus story. Basically we got into Columbus in the early evening, but spent a good 40 minutes driving through its suburbs which had character in an industrial kinda way. Cheap real estate too.

We got turned around and traveled the same patch of the highway a few times, which I found hilarious, but I wasn't driving and didn't have to deal.

When we finally found a hotel, we promptly found out that there was an OSU game the next day, so every place in the surrounding area was all booked up. Columbus plans busted. But we had to drive through the city on the way out, so we got to see OSU's campus and many seemingly cool neighborhoods. Columbus, I hardly knew ye.

We ended up driving further on and landing in Marion, OH for the night. Marion, OH: a bastion of hotels and restaurants and a good place to stop for the night.
Morgantown, WV.
We decided to stop in Morgantown for lunch. I thought that it might be fun to see the University of West Virginia (above you can see one of the cable cars that run across town for the students). At first, I was charmed by the town since I was feeling all things good will toward the state at that point. But let it be said that for some reason, the traffic in Morgantown is ALL messed up. Wtf? It's *Morgantown*. We ended up driving into campus looking for a restuarant that we never found, and then ended up stuck in traffic. We were in Morgantown for an hour before we found a place to eat.

My good will toward Morgantown basically disappeared after that. I think that the chain link in the picture is apropos.
Todd had to borrow my sunglasses for the road.
He looks sweeeeet.
This doesn't do justice to the fog that lay over Ohio on Saturday morning. Spooky stuff.
Trust me on this one

In the bottom left hand corner it reads:

Be Proud.
Show your HOOTERS
From Virginia we hit West Virginia of the rolling hills and verdant loveliness. Seriously, West Virginia is beautiful, and it's sad that it's so nationally derided.
Road Tripping
Back in Chicago now (where fall has officially crept in, and it's unbelievably crisp, cool, and awesome outside). Todd got into DC last Thursday, and then we took off on Friday morning. The plan was to drive to Columbus, spend the night there, and then make the rest of the trip on Saturday.

Our route consisted of Virginia, and then Maryland.

Todd got a kick out of these signs in Maryland that dotted the highway every few miles.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Take me there now.
Bastard Mouse

So my check engine light came on in my barely driven car. After doing the requisite gas cap checkage, I finally caved and brought my little black civic to the dealership. Since I'm driving back to Chicago on Friday, I need to make sure that everything is in tippy-toppy condition.

So after waiting in the rather chichi waiting room at Tysons Corner Honda (they have a deli shop and Internet access for the patrons!), the mechanic came and found me and showed me what was up. Mice had chewed open one of the emissions tubes, and according to the mechanic, "probably crawled in there and died somewhere."


So I need to get all of those mouse-chewed tubes replaced and pray that my car doesn't smell like mouse remains for eternity. My car has been smelling kind of musty, but I attributed it to not having been driven that much. The lucky/sad thing is that I'm totally used to the smell now. Ah, how quickly one acclimates to the odor of rodent death.
This is my blog after all

And I have to talk about the food this weekend. I borrowed my dad's camera to capture an image of our family dinner on Saturday night. It was truly grand.

Shall we have a little run down of the menu?
1. King crab's legs
2. grilled shrimp
3. grilled scallops
4. Spinach salad with feta, sauteed red onions, cranberries, and sweet pecans.

And for dessert? Napoleans, of course. My friends, it was fantastic. Also behold my awesome table setting job. It was a patchwork paradise.
I want to be "Mr. Pink."

The service for my grandfather was on Sunday, and this family portrait was taken afterward, hence the dark (very dark) garb. My cousins, uncle, and brother took off on Sunday and Monday. It was great to see everyone, but it sucks that it was for such a sad occasion.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back in the Hood
It's been exactly a week now since I've been DONE. The Lake of the Ozarks was great. The weather was gorgeous, the lake was beautiful, and I read and read and read for pleasure. Todd's parents rolled out the red carpet and we went for many awesome boat rides and ate a lot of great food. Todd also took me for my first jet ski ride. A truly successful vacation all around.

Now I'm back in DC. My timing is good in a terrible way since my grandfather passed away a couple of days ago. I'm really glad to be back for everything and the rest of the family comes in late tonight. So it'll be good to see everyone again, but it sucks that it's for a sad reason.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Free Woman!
I am officially a liberated girl. All the paperwork got wrapped up, the last patient seen, and I was out of there by 1:30. I cannot describe how light my feet felt when I walked down the sidewalk. Now, two and a half weeks off! Tomorrow morning Todd and I leave to go to the Lake of the Ozarks for a few day, so I'll be off the radar till the middle of next week.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I had my final meeting with my supervisor today, and it looks like I'm passing and am going to be able to be done within a day and a half. I am *thrilled*. There are still a couple of things left to do, but no more evaluations, no more huge reports, no more craziness (I don't think). I seriously cannot describe the ebullience I felt tonight when I came home and realized that I didn't have to do work straight through the night.

It's been an extremely tough road for me at this placement (and it's renowned as one of the hardest placements out there), but I am proud to have gotten through it, and am grateful for how much I've learned, which has been a lot. I can work with extremely involved infants and I can work with emotionally labile and agitated traumatic brain injury patients and all sorts of people in between.

But now it's time for bed. I'm going to sleep on time and waking up so I can get into work when I'm scheduled to, rather than an hour and a half earlier. People, life is good.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Charles sent me this tonight. He scanned it from a postcard I had given him many years back, which is actually one that I got from an art showing in Beijing. I still like it very much, so was inspired to post it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Also, Happy Belated 30th, Bill!
Anne was the good one to remind me because I've had my head up my ass so thoroughly. Hope that you celebrated like a crazy man, Bill!
I'm still here!
I spent all weekend plowing away on my student project for the hospital. I have lost perspective on how good it is, but I've put in the work now. Saturday morning I settled in at the Bucktown branch of the Chicago Public Library. It's brand new and VERY nice. Plus, free wireless. Go Chicago Public Library! I then headed back to Todd's and worked till like 11pm. Which made it about 12 hours of work. Awesome. Today, more work. Nothing new there.

But, five more days. I can hardly believe it. I know it'll stretch, but I console myself with the fact that a week from now I'll be hanging out at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Eight more days! (that's not including the weekend, but still...)
Dudes, it's still non-stop. I think it will be this way till the very end. I'm starting to get to the point where I'm divorcing myself from my life and making peace with the idea of one hour of downtime an evening. I've realized that the deal with this placement is like a crash course in all of the grad school courses, since with every new patient (and there are lots), I need to learn exactly what's going on, how to evaluate them, and then how to treat them. And then write new goals every week. The paperwork alone is tough, but I think that the hard part about that is that everything that I write needs to go through my supervisor, so when I'm certified and working on my own, that will no longer be the case.

I can't wait to have my life back! I was walking home from the bus and passed people out in the cool evening, enjoying margaritas and I felt very cranky towards their good luck.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The weather is turning gorgeous again! It's cool outside and feels like September nights in Chicago, which makes sense since September is about 10 days away. Woowoo!

I worked on Saturday. That was pretty brutal since I woke up at 5a.m. that morning to get in at 6. Friday night I turned in early, but had dinner with Todd at T's in Andersonville. The home and asleep before 10:30. It was very surreal walking to the building downtown and passing people who were still up from being out. Yes indeedy.

Saturday afternoon we went to Katja and Tom's wedding which was held at Chief O'Neill's Pub. They have this vast beer garden that is verdant and has this enormous pear tree in the center. Katja wore this amazing mandarin colored silk gown with green trim. A first that I've ever seen at a wedding, and she pulled it off beautifully. The ceremony was lovely, the food was spectacular, and the wine flowed freely. We left at 6pm and then conked out on Todd's couch. I think that I slept about 12 hours last night.

Today we went to Wilmington to a bbq at Todd's parents place since they were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. Steaks: yum. Now I'm home and getting ready to tackle yet another week. Two weeks left now. Ten days. I may just need to do a daily countdown on the blog. But, two weeks from today I will be at the Lake of the Ozarks with Todd and his family. Three weeks from today I'll be back in DC.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I have to study for tomorrow at the hospital. See, I have to prove that I learned all of this information to help me pass. I've been studying all night, and it's a very surreal experience. I can't explain why. I have to work on Saturday too, although only till 12 since my friend, Katja is getting married that afternoon and my supervisor took pity on me and gave me the afternoon off. But it means that it extends my hospital countdown by a day still (11.5 days and counting now!)

But this week I managed to find some time for fun, which was nice. Tuesday night, I went and saw All Limbs Intact (one of Todd's bands) play at the Double Door. They were very awesome. I even got to use one of their VIP stickers (ooh la la) and go and see what their dressing rooms were like. Dank and closed in, but cool nonetheless. Plus, it was cool to see them play at such a renowned place. Actually, Todd's other band, Wind or Ghost, is playing tonight at Subterranean, which is another cool Wicker Park club. But because of the aforementioned studying, yours truly needs to miss out.

Last night, I joined Jenny, Amie, Pam, and Joe for a picnic at Millennium Park. They had the symphony playing for free. What an awesome thing. Besides the great company and the amazing spread, I am wowed by this other thing that Chicago offers for free. You sit under the Gehry dome, listen to music on the vast lawn, and the Chicago skyline is your background. There were even fireworks that went off later that evening. It was a lovely, cool evening and it was just what the doctor ordered for me to decompress.

Okay, back to the grind.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Happy Sunday Night
Another nice weekend, with amazing weather. I'm gearing up for another week at the hospital. THREE MORE WEEKS! 15 more days. I can do it, but it's a lot of work. It's funny, because every week that passes, the end still seems very far away. It is a one-day-at-a-time type thing. I talked tonight to my parents who gave me a big pep talk (eat bitter before tasting the sweet!). Bear with me here.

It was a nice weekend. Friday night Todd and I made dinner and watched "Shopgirl" (I liked it). Saturday evening we went to Cathy's house where she had a "Salad-Off." Todd and I joined forces and made this chicken and pasta salad and we won second place (wooo!). Kiley was the winner with this amazing strawberry pretzel jello salad: sweet and salty is where it's at.

Today was about getting lunch at Calvin's and then coming home and doing work.

Okay, I need to hit the hay soon. I'm going to read up a little on spinal cord injury and swallowing disorders associated with it first, but then bedtime, because girlfriend needs her sleep.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The goings-on
Ah, the bittersweet Sunday night experience. This weekend was nice. Friday night I went with Todd and Rich to their friend Jen's post-wedding celebration with her new husband Frank. They have a lovely garden condo in Logan Square, two large dogs, two tabbies, and it was quite cozy and nice. They also whipped up some burgers, gazpacho, and some mean guacamole. They even had a pinata (a lion-mule hybrid) which yours truly cast the final blow to (it was on its last legs). An excellent activity for a Friday night.

Saturday I declared No Work day, and Todd and I headed to Skokie to go looking for some jeans for him. Beforehand we had lunch at Wholly Frijoles, which is definitely some of the best Mexican food out there. Last time we tried to go it was Saturday at 5pm and we were told that the wait was 2 hours. On Saturday at 11 a.m. for lunch, we had the tables of our own choosing. That night we took it easy, made a nice dinner, and went to bed early. I think I slept for like 10 hours or something.

Today I headed back here and did some work and studying in preparation for next week. I hate doing it because it always feels like it's never enough, but some is better than nothing I suppose. It's Market Days in my neighborhood this weekend, which means that Halsted is closed off for a very packed street festival. I went last year and it was quite an experience trying to maneuver from block to block. I decided to avoid it this year, but I can still hear the bands playing through the windows and I pass the merry-makers as they walk the streets.

So....four more weeks left at the hospital! This means that I have 20 days left. I think I will begin the number count down in the meantime. A month from today I'll be coming back from the Lake of the Ozarks with Todd, getting ready to fly back to DC the next day. Hooray!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

People! How the Hell Are You?
I figured that I would drop a hello line to the blog tonight since I didn't have a whole lot of work to do (for once!). Tomorrow will be rough, but that's tomorrow, so I'm going to hit the hay early tonight and buck up in preparation. The hospital continues to kick the ass. I had an up-and-down beginning of the week, but the last couple of days have sort of shifted into some kind of routine, which I like. My favorite patient has been extended (her discharge date was originally Friday) due to being sick and she would have to go on a long airplane flight home. I feel for her father, who looks more defeated every day. I'll tell you this much: even though I complain and feel sorry for my trials and tribulations sometimes, nothing adds perspective like seeing these families at the hospital every day. You begin to develop relationships with them as well, which is what I appreciate about the job.

So, there's the dad who lost his wife and mother in law, whose daughter is now on a ventilator and has quadriplegia. There's the mom whose son received a gun shot wound to the head, and listens to her son wailing day in and day out. There's the family whose 16 year old was in a car crash and now have to understand and deal with his traumatic brain injury, help the change his diapers, and to make sure that he doesn't claw at his tracheotomy stoma. There's the mom whose son was in the hospital after suffering an acute motor disorder who has two other sons at home: one with severe autism and one with a brain tumor.

But despite it all, people maintain their senses of humors. I see them joking happily with their family members and participating with enthusiasm in therapy. I totally admire and respect that level of groundedness and strength, and hope that if I were in a similar situation that I could react the same way. Although, I'm sure that there's relief in that their family members are *alive* and in rehab. I'm beginning to adore many of the patients and really look forward to being with them during therapy, which I see as a good sign.

My difficulties in this placement come with the high-stress pace of the hospital. I get there around 7 and don't stop till after 5 most days. I work through lunch and barely find time to go to the bathroom. This is not such an awesome thing.

But four more weeks and one day!

Monday, July 31, 2006

By the way
It's crazy hot in Chicago right now. Today the heat index was 105. God bless my little window unit of AC!
Weekend rundown
Wow, what an awesome weekend. Anne swung into town on Friday, which was perfect since I ended up getting to take a half day that day. I promptly met Anne and we had an awesome celebratory lunch complete with strawberry margaritas at Las Mananitas. From there we went downtown to have another celebratory drink at the Signature Lounge on top of the John Hancock Center. The stars were aligned and we got a table right by the window. From there we went back to Boystown where we met Todd for dinner at Joy's, and then finally headed to Bucktown for some beers at the Map Room. Eating and drinking in Chicago!

The rest of the weekend was spent mostly at the Pitchfork Festival, which is still like the most organized, polite festival there is. It was super hot both days as well, so everyone lolled a little more. The bands were good. My favorites was seeing The National and discovering The Mountain Goats. Sunday we were at Pitchfork from 1 to 7:30. I was so wiped out that I urged us to leave during Yo La Tengo, which was actually the band that I had originally been most excited to see. But being in the sun, lying around, and fighting the humidity takes it out of a girl. Still: Pitchfork is one of the best deals there is around (two days for $30!), with good crowds and cheap food and drink.

Also, I should note that Anne and I talked to Christie on Sunday where she shared some very awesome news with us. Congratulations to Christie and Stefan!

Thanks to Anne for coming and making the trip too. I miss her already.

I'm starting week six at the hospital, so now I officially have four weeks and four days left! Today was the first day in a while that didn't kill me, so maybe (maybe?) things are on the upswing? I pray that it is so.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday, Annie!
Annie celebrated her birthday yesterday in the midst of much upheaval before her big move. Hope that bowling was as awesome as it sounded like it would be!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad!

He's in Arizona as we speak. Woowoo!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Six more weeks...
...left to this quarter. I'm totally doing the count down right now. Is that bad? If it is, eff it.

Also, Anne arrives in five days, which is awesome. She'll be here for the Pitchfork Festival, and it will be great.

This weekend went by too quickly, as usual, but that's the way it is. Friday night, Hillary had people over in her expansive and green backyard for a grill-out. I was completely wiped out by the week, and it was just what the doctor ordered. Yesterday, I took the day off from doing any work, and Todd and I puttered and walked over to the Wicker Park street festival. I love street festivals. It was nice weather, fun bands were playing, and there was much people watching to be done. We stuck around for a couple of hours and then wandered back to his place to cook up a big dinner and fall asleep before 11. Clazy!

Tonight Todd's band, Wind or Ghost, is playing at the Fireside Bowl. I had to ditch out since I have to wake up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to go to the hospital early to read files. I'm sending good vibes.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

There's something to say...
...for being really, really busy. Time sure does move quickly. I spend an average of 9-10 hours at the hospital every day and then come home and do work in preparation for the next day. There are some grinding moments, but overall it's fulfilling. I completed my first evaluation of a patient (or "pt" as they refer to it in med speak, and what I caught myself typing just now) which was something I felt some nervousness about. Glad to be over that hurtle.

One of my primary patients was dismissed today, but I still get to see the 6 month old baby who's still there. I love my therapy time with the baby where I do feeding and language stimulation. It's so calming and relaxing; my favorite time of the day.

I stayed later tonight to attend a presentation on pediatric traumatic brain injury which was informative and good. It occurred to me that that is definitely one of the perks to being placed at this very excellent hospital. The doctor who was speaking knows his stuff and was giving practical information on how to answer families' questions.

So, yes, the hospital continues to be grueling but it's definitely a learning experience. I won't lie and say that I'm not looking forward to the weekend though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Weekend roundup
Man, how do these weekends pass so quickly? It's unbelievable.

On Friday I went with Megan, Laura and Hillary to go and see the Indigo Girls play at Ravinia. Despite the godawful weather forecast, it was clear and cool that night and a perfect night to sit around and drink wine and eat brie to the sweet soulful sounds of folk music. It was great.

The next night was the antithesis of that experience since Todd's band All Limbs Intact played at the Note in Wicker Park. They were the last band to play and followed four (!) other bands, a few of which were very loud metal-ish sorts of bands. A good show still though.

The sad news is that I think that the ringworm has shown up on Todd. It's on his back which in a way is good since he won't be able to scratch it as well, but it's sad since we thought that he was out of the woods for sure. Sorry, Todd. :( My own ringworm is actually fading away and is now a dullish red spot on my chin.
Happy Birthday, Erik!

He's 17 today. Living it up in Spain at the moment. Life is tough.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back in the ring...still with the worm
Well, the ringworm circle is still there, but not as raised and disgusting as before. I know that some asked for photographic evidence, but be glad that you weren't exposed. I will describe it instead: it was this red, puffy plateau on my chin that was white in the center. Grody stuff. But that medication that I took did the trick so now it's just a red circle on my face. I can deal with that. I need to cover it up while I'm at the hospital so I wear a huge band-aid on my chin during the day. Like Nelly, except with the ringworm (although maybe Nelly has ringworm, who knows).

The hospital is still busy and a roller coaster. Yesterday I had a wholly sapping day. I'm learning lots about the recovery process of kids with traumatic brain injury--basically, it's fast. The kid who I was treating I hadn't seen in a couple of weeks. When I left he was totally non-verbal and not very responsive. When I returned, he was walking and speaking again (not a lot of intelligible stuff, but still). Anyway, my session plan was totally outdated and the session went pretty woefully. I came home last night and worked from 5pm to 11:30pm. It sucked a lot, but it paid off since my session with the same kid today went a lot more smoothly since I was well-prepared. Evidence that I'm learning (which is the point) but, damn, learning can be a pain in the ass! Is it bad that I'm counting down the days till it's over? I know that I'll be happy for the experience then, but right now it's tough as hell! And you guys know how I like things easy.

Anyway, in other news, it was a good weekend. On Saturday my parents rolled through town on their way to the west coast and then Alaska. They got here around 7pm and we promptly went over to Southport to have a drink and then a lavish dinner at Tango Sur for Argentinian steaks. My parents then hit the hay since they were wiped from the drive (which they did in one day), and then Todd and I went over to the Hideout to see Gil Mantera's Party Dream perform. Awesome stuff. Two dudes on stage, one dressed in a red mask and some kind of loin cloth thing and they were playing some dancey, energetic stuff. It sounds like it was some kind of gross strip show, but I assure you that it was far more joyous.

The next morning before my parents took off, we all met at the Bongo Room in Wicker Park since my parents had heard me rave about it. We got there at 9a.m. and I despaired when I saw a long line outside (already?!), but it was actually just people waiting for it to open. We ended up getting a big booth. sweeeeet!

That's all that I've got.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Well, I went to the hospital employee health doctor this morning to find out whether I can work or not, and the answer was a resounding 'no' for the remainder of this week. Since there's a ringworm epidemic in my floor now, three patients have it and five staff members have come down with it. So I need to stay away while I'm getting it cured (with my "aggressive" meds) for infection precaution purposes. I think I'll be back in business on Monday when I get it checked out again. It messes with my schedule, but my hands are tied.

So I took advantage of the awesome weather and went for a jog down by the lake and then lay there and read for awhile. I feel like I'm playing hooky, for real. The weather continues to be damned awesome in Chicago.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I have RINGWORM!!!!
Yes, it's true. I developed what I thought was a giant zit on my chin last Friday. When I got back to the hospital today the nurses took one look at me and told me to get it checked out stat (look me at: using the hospital lingo already). See, I did therapy with a kid who has it from head to toe now, but all of those days ago when I worked with him, noone was any the wiser. Gross, right?

Anyway, after many hours of visiting various hospital nursing and doctors offices (at least I work in hospital central) I got diagnosed and a prescription for meds that should take care of it in the next couple of weeks. I also am armed with ointment to stop any itching and to prevent me from spreading it to other parts of my body. Several other therapists I talked to have contracted it over their time at the hospital and kept on working, so I don't think it'll screw with my time at the hospital.

What I did learn from my research this afternoon is that ringworm is not actually a worm, but more of a fungus. Better. Not much better, but better.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July, peoples of the world. How was everyone's? The weather in Chicago was flawless today, and we joined Steve and Kiley and others on an impromptu bbq that they organized in Wicker Park. The park wasn't crowded, the grass was a verdant green, the sun shined, and the breeze kept up. We grilled up some hot dogs, drank some cold sodas, and played some Taboo. It was quite an excellent celebration.

Todd and I returned from our trip to Milwaukee yesterday. We were there for two nights, which was a good amount of time to go. Again, we were treated to some amazing weather. The downtown area, where we stayed, sits right against the lake as well so we got lake breeze going the entire time. What did we do, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

Day one:
We walked down to Summerfest, which touts itself as "the world's largest music festival." It's this huge county fair like area that's right on the lake and has about six or seven stages with different kinds of music playing. $15 gets you in for as long as you want, to listen to all of the bands except for the headliner, which is usually a big name. The day we went, Paul Simon was playing which sounded awesome, but then the ticket prices of $41.50 for the farthest seat didn't sound quite as awesome, so we opted out. We stayed for a few hours, long enough to run across a band play in which Todd knew the guitarist, to eat a Wisconsin sausage, to drink a Wisconsin beer, and to ride the sky cab. There was some prime people watching available as well, so that is always a good thing.

As we walked back to the hotel we decided to walk along the River Walk area, along the Milwaukee River. There's a pedestrian walkway and it's dotted with restaurants with riverside views. We waited way too long for a table at one restuarant, but since we didn't really have anywhere to be we decided that it was worth it.

Day two:
We got up late and then walked down to the lake again, this time to go to the Milwaukee Art Museum. It's an interesting structure that looks like some kind of ship created in a drug haze. It was quite lovely inside though since it was walled with windows and you look straight out upon the lake. We went to the "Masters of American Comics" exhibit which was very cool. Incidentally it had a section dedicated to Chris Ware, so that makes two Chris Ware exhibits in four days.

We explored a couple of other neighborhoods too, driving up to the UW-Milwaukee neighborhood which was charming as one would expect from a college campus, and then to the
"historic" Brady Street area which was filled with shops and cafes. Since we wanted to have our nice dinner that night we couldn't find much that matched what we were looking for and decided to head back to the downtown area for dinner.

In the end, we ended up walking to Third Street where we had dinner at a nice restuarant right on the water again. We realized afterward that we hadn't celebrated my half birthday this year, so that was a very awesome half-birthday dinner. We ambled over to some German brew place a couple of storefronts away and had huge German beers while drunken dudes at the bar sang, did "shot skis" (shots lined up on a snow ski) and chanted "USA! USA!" to anyone who walked in. A good night in Milwaukee.

Day three:
Time to check out. So we did and then went to lunch in the Marquette neighborhood to a restaurant with a salty waitress and a dank and dark inside that smelled like stale smoke. A total college bar. But prices to match, so that's always a good thing.

So bottom line? Milwaukee is a super charming city. And less than two hours from Chicago, so that's kind of impressive.

Tomorrow I head back to the hospital and the idea of going back to work couldn't be less appealing. At least this is only a three day week, so that's a good thing, right?

Friday, June 30, 2006

Days off
I'm in the midst of another kind of vacation right now. My supervisor at the hospital was scheduled to have this week and half of next week off, so I get it too. I actually have my time at the hospital extended at the end by that many days, but it's pretty cool to have this mini-vacation right now.

Yesterday, Todd took the day off too so we went and caught the Chris Ware exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Oh man, so cool. He had all of his drawings in their various states on exhibit from Jimmy Corrigan Smartest Kid on Earth. Also on display were all of the Building Stories strips that are in the NY Times and the Chicago Reader. One could spend several hours in that exhibit reading all of the panels and then looking through all of the bound books that are available for perusal. The weater was spectacular yesterday (it has been all week) so after the MCA we wandered down to Millenium Park and then sat at Buckingham Fountain for awhile. We walked by all of the booths set up for the Taste of Chicago, which is set to begin today. It was cool to actually see what's for available and how much everything was selling for without dealing with the Taste of Chicago crowds.

Tonight Todd's band Wind or Ghost is having their first show and then tomorrow we're taking a tiny vacation to Milwaukee. Yes, Milwaukee (it's supposed to be a fun town! I'm telling you!). I'm psyched!
Cool Runnings
I have an air conditioner now! Courtesy of my parents, Todd and I went to get a window unit today for my wee room. Good news: sale on air conditioners at Home Depot today--everything was 10% off! Very lucky.

What was not so lucky was our discovery that after lugging the unit up to my second floor walk up that my window is actually five inches wider than the maximum that the unit allows. I have a mutant window apparently. For a moment, we both felt despair at the prospect of loading the air conditioner back into the box, lugging it back to Home Depot, and then finding another entire machine. Guh.

But...BUT (!) I have the smartest bf in the world. He suggested that we find a piece of wood to fill in the extra space and then work around that. Thus began our wood finding adventure. We walked to two different hardware stores and then found one that would cut some wood for us. Confusion ensued, loud and embarassing chastising of an employee occurred (it was all very odd), but we finally left with a 5x13 inch piece of wood in hand. Then back to my place where we (and by "we," I mean "Todd") managed to install the air conditioner and screw in the piece of wood to fill that extra space. So this entire air conditioner adventure took from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It works pretty awesomely well now, I am happy to report. Thanks to Todd and thanks to my parents.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Catch up
Hooray, I have a moment to breath tonight. Time to do a much needed catch up on ye olde blog.

First things first: Ting and Brad's wedding
It was Friday night, so Suz and Brad got here on Thursday evening and we headed over to the Chicago Cultural Center for the wedding ceremony. The building was fricking gorgeous. I included a photo of the ceiling below. It's hard to describe, but the mosaics were everywhere and lovely, the room was huge and airy and the east wall was made of glass and faced Millenium Park. The ceremony itself was simple and sweet and went off seamlessly, although Brad told us later that there was a huge snafu as his tux pants hadn't shown up at the last minute so he borrowed the pants off one of his friends who then trotted back to his hotel in Brad's shorts in order change into another pair.

Later we all loaded into trolleys which took us to Chinatown where the wedding feast was held in the banquet room of Lao Sze Chuan which is hands down awesome Chinese food. I cannot describe the line of dishes that came out. There were 17 courses (yes, 17) and then the wedding cake (which was delectable). The entire meal took about 3 hours. It was great.

Second things second: Suz and Tom's visit
It was great having them here for a couple of nights. We walked and ate and walked and ate some more. They were good sports and took public transportation everywhere with me which ended up being nightmarish. On Friday we waited for the Halsted bus for half an hour and then waited at the North Ave bus stop for 20 minutes before giving in and catching a cab when we encountered very slow moving traffic. This was all to get to Wicker Park to meet Todd for lunch (at the Bongo room!) and the trip took about an hour and a half. Almost as long as a drive to Richmond from DC. Then later that evening we took the el to the cultural center where we happened to load on when the cubs game got out. It was awesomely packed.

Third things third:
The hospital placement is intense but good. I was definitely overwhelmed the first couple of days since they were long days and I ended up with lots of work to do at the end of the day. No rest for the weary. But today went well since I had my first solo therapy session and it went smoothly. As the learning curve becomes ever slightly less steep, it's nice. It's a pretty amazing experience since my supervisor knows her stuff and gives me good, detailed and helpful feedback. The hospital is great and the patients are incredible. Lots of traumatic brain injury, one gun shot wound to the head, one shaken baby. The ages range from 5 months to 18 years old. It's definitely going to be an amazing experience...tough, but amazing.

Fourth things fourth:
I'm going to bed early tonight, but first I'm watching a very sad documentary on Independent Lens called "Lions in the House."

Suz, Ting and me at the tail end of the feast. Posted by Picasa

Suz and me during the feast. Suz was knee deep in strep throat at this point, bless her. Posted by Picasa

Todd and me during the enormous feast. Posted by Picasa

The lovely wedded couple. Posted by Picasa

The ceiling of the Chicago Cultural Center which was over us during Ting and Brad's wedding. Stunning stuff! Posted by Picasa