Thursday, December 06, 2007

I lerv:

This super obese Chinese baby. Aw, he's so chubby, he can't walk or stand!

(thanks, Lisa!)
I also lerv:

Abandoned baby hedgehogs.
(thanks, Todd)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Missing in action
Yes, I have been a quiet bastard on the blog here of late. It was a mixture of things: work was extraordinarily busy for some reason and trying to get my mind wrapped on where to begin on planning a wedding pretty much took me out of commission. I have never wanted a fancy and extravagant wedding, but balancing this with also wanting to include more than three people on the guest list has proven to be a challenge for me. Because I didn't realize it before, but having a wedding is crazy expensive. I know, I must be like one of the few people on this planet, excluding your neighborhood toddlers, who didn't realize the extent of the cost. Now mama knows.

So, the past few weeks of planning has involved a mammoth amount of wheel spinning. We've explored so many venues and combinations of venues and each time there was *something* that didn't slip into the best place. We've looked at places from both of our respective parts of the country. We've crunched numbers. And I would usually come out feeling exhausted and stymied.

But, on Friday we were out at Beat Kitchen, sharing a Thai chicken pizza before seeing This Will Destroy You (who were great, by the way, even though they were like eleven). And this one place that we like to go popped up as a possibility for the reception. And we both got super excited about it because it would be: fun, casual, slightly (okay, very) kitschy, have room to fit everyone, have good food, and be a hell of a lot cheaper than most places that we've looked at. Why hadn't we thought of it before? A phone call was made and we're penciled in for now and I am extremely relieved and thrilled at the prospect of getting this settled into place.

In other news, it's like three weeks till winter break for me and Hallelujah! I'm still enjoying my job, but for some reason, this onslaught of referrals and meetings has popped up and I can't go to the bathroom without someone stopping me in the hall to tell me about a student they want me to observe.
The Happiest of Birthdays to Robin, my favorite older brother!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The News!
As most of my loyal blog readers know by now, Todd and I got engaged last Wednesday night! We are excited of course, and I'm doing a good job of reeling myself in now and reminding myself that planning a wedding shouldn't take over my life (it took me a couple of days to get through the initial panic of "what do I do?!" to get to this point, admittedly). It's all about getting married rather than the wedding day, which, while it should be fun, isn't the main event.

So how did it happen? Well, Tuesday was our three year anniversary since our first date (the blog entry can be found for it dated November 7, 2004--I would have linked to the specific entry, but it was proving to be challenging). We ended up going out for our fancy dinner on Wednesday since I had already had book club scheduled on Tuesday (I do love my book club). Todd made reservations at Marche on Randolph Street, and (lucky us!), Wednesday is their night of their Prix Fixe deal. Marche was fun and yummy and looked like it bought decorations off the set of Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge." (see more about Marche at the end of this entry)

We had a great relaxing dinner and then headed back to Todd's place where we were going to relax and watch a DVRed episode of "30 Rock." As we were about to walk into his door, I was yammering away in the hallway, and Todd paused and stated "I got you a present." Next thing I know, he was on one knee with a box in his outstretched hand. People, I was flabbergasted. Flabbergasted, but thrilled. While I knew that we would eventually get engaged, I figured that it would be early next year or something. It was then that I found out that Todd's been planning this for months now, researched and found the ring on his own, and even called my parents last week for permission. He did an excellent job of picking a ring and keeping it a secret, although he did confess that in the elevator from the garage up to his place he had to concentrate on "acting like [him]self."

So: yay! I'm constantly distracted by the awesomeness of my ring; I've never been a jewelry kind of girl, but I'm lerving the shininess. And of course, I'm so happy to make it official with the best dude ever.

Note: Y'all, RUN to Marche for their Prix Fixe deals! It's 28 bucks total and you get any appetizer, main course, and dessert you want off of the menu. I chose the steak as my main dish and that, alongside my french onion soup and my bittersweet chocolate cake flanked with mint chip (with fresh mint leave tastiness) would have normally set me back $51. My steak dinner alone normally costs more than the price of the prix fixe meal! I'm overcome by value and it was all super delicious. Go, go, go!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Struck
So I recently sent Robin a bunch of my favorite "This American Life" episodes, because I know that he's going to be putting in long hours when he's opening another branch of Kuai, and he'll want something to entertain him either at the restaurant or driving back and forth to the restaurant. He called tonight to give me feedback on some of the episodes that he's listened to so far, and one of them includes one of my absolute favorite acts: an oral reading of the short story "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story" by Russell Banks. I remember when I first heard that story when it aired I was dumbstruck. It is such amazing writing and reverberates with sadness.

Robin told me that he found the full short story online (the reading is slightly abridged on the show), so I googled it immediately and found it here. I suspect that it's even more powerful when you hear the most excellent reading of it on the show, so you can find that here. Get ready to pay attention for awhile, though, because the entire reading is 42 minutes.
Annie in the city
Annie came to town this weekend! Her family comes from Chicago originally, so she didn't need to do any sightseeing. This meant it was a very relaxed weekend, and lots of popping off at our leisure to do whatever suited us. The best kind of vacation, methinks.

The weekend revolved around prioritizing the kinds of cuisine that Annie can't obtain in her current city of Gainesville, so we had: Thai, Chicago hot dogs, Mexican, Mediterranean, dim sum, and heavy metal burgers at Kuma's Korner (which, incidentally, was just featured on "Check Please" this past weekend, so even though we got there before 5 pm on Sunday, there was still a wait). We did quite well for ourselves.

Now we're launching into a busy week: lots of assessments, meetings to schedule, and report cards to be done and distributed. This is the last five day week for a while, though, since next week is Veteran's Day, and then the week after that is Thanksgiving. Sweeeet!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I also love this
This website is Overheard in New York.

Some of my favorites:

Old man to two-year old: Man, talking to you is like fucking talking to a brick wall.

--F train

Overheard by: trieze

Subway performer: Can you guys help me out? I take pennies, I take hundreds, I take business cards... Hell, I take white people's shoes and socks! [To random passenger] Awww, shit, girl -- I take phone numbers, too! ... You like White Castle? Daaamn.

--Downtown 4/5 Train

Overheard by: Bemused Spectator

Nurse to hobo next to her: Aw, hell no! You fucking stink! [She pulls out a can of air freshener and hoses him down.]

--A train
This blog knows what amuses me
I love the use of flagrant and unnecessary quotation marks on public signs, and this blog does as well:

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Things that have brought tears to my eyes in the last 24 hours, no joke.
1. I was watching a stupid Lifetime show about this medium, Lisa something, who communicates with the dead (I know). I even watched two episodes. Yep, I did. And I totally wept like 90% of the time.

2. I just watched a PBS "Nova" about people who trained for the Boston marathon. They were from all walks of life, all ages, but were all pretty much sedentary before training. Something like four of the people crossed the finish line when the race was wrapping up and it totally made me weep! They were so proud of themselves and had worked so hard and many had family members running the final stretch with them to cheer them on, and it was all very heartening.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lazy days
So my plan this weekend was to sleep off this cold! Mission almost accomplished since I've pretty much taken it easy all weekend and while the cough is still present, it's less...mucous-y than before (yum!). Yesterday we went shopping for much needed items like socks and underwear and then cooked dinner in. We also watched several episodes of "Freaks and Geeks" again. There are few things that I can watch over and over again, but that DVD set definitely qualifies. Maybe also "Strictly Ballroom," but since I don't own that, I haven't really put it to the test yet.

Today it was a pleasure to see that "The Darjeeling Limited" was showing at the Davis Theater, around the block from me. I love me some Wes Anderson, but I wasn't expecting something amazing since I had read such mixed reviews of the movie. I really liked it though: it was touching, and interesting, and Wes Anderson always picks such sad-faced, clever, perfect-line-delivering cuties to star in his films.

And the week looms ahead: lots of meetings, therapy, and paperwork to look forward to. Yahoo!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Day Kind of Blew
It started out with finding a flat tire on my car in the morning. I walked past the Mustang parked in front of me and its windows were all smashed out and I was all like: "whew! I escaped it!"

Until I started driving and heard the crunching of the tire rim. Not a good sound. So I pulled over and attempted to change the tire myself. I've never unearthed the donut before or examined my tire changing equipment, so it took me a little while to figure out where everything was. And then it took me a long ass time to try to jack up the car (the civic equipment sucks). I was lucky since this nice old Asian dude stumbled upon me and helped me out, especially by loosening the lug nuts because my weak-ass was unable to budge them. So instead of taking me like five hours to change the goddamn tire, it only took about 45 minutes.

Got to work about half an hour late and came upon a whole bevy of emails talking about paperwork issues. Lots of paperwork fixing followed. Annoying.

Left work to go to this tire repair place by Todd's place. It's very small, is always hopping when I've gone by, and it seriously looks like a shack. It is a shack. I walked in expecting to be greeted with some order of how things went down, but it's not like that. You basically wait, and wait, and wait until it's your turn since there are only two guys working and they're in demand to say the least. I finally got someone's attention and he looked at my tire and discovered that some jerk stuck something sharp in the side and now my year-old tire has to be replaced. What jerks who slashed it! I'll remind you that this is almost exactly one year since my car got bashed in by some drunken asshole back in Lakeview, so maybe my car is just cursed in late October.

Anyway, the good news is that they had a replacement tire on hand and once we got going it took like 10 minutes to get the tire replaced. And everything in total cost $30, including the new (used) tire and labor. These guys charge $5 to repair a tire so you can imagine how busy they are and what a wide spectrum of clients they see. I also got to watch them repair tires, which was a learning experience for me.

I'm still pissed about the whole thing, though. The good news is that there's supper club tonight and we're visiting a Vietnamese place in Argyle that features seven courses of beef. It's the little things that keep me going.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mucus
I got it! I attended a regional SLP meeting this past Friday and everyone was coughing the exact same: rumbling with lots of phlegm. Yum!

Can I tell you about the past weekend, though? It had a lot of fun things attached. They included going out on Friday night and seeing Mirhiya along with NU girls Megan, Lauren, and Katie. Mirhiya moved to San Francisco with her husband and baby girl mid-program, so it was really cool to be able to catch up with her.

The next morning I woke up at 7 a.m. even though I didn't want to and was all turbo productive which included a trip to the grocery store, the post office, and a work out all before I met Jenny for brunch at 11 am. I know! After that, Todd and I met up and we wandered around Ravenswood and enjoyed the fricking phenomenal weather (it was in the 70s all weekend and sunny!). That evening we met up with Steve and Kiley for Thai food before heading over to a Halloween party. And my time at the party lead to me having to spend all of Sunday on the couch. And that was my Sunday.

Hope that your worlds are mucus-free!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'll shout my love from the rooftops again
for "The Wire." There is a spectacular article about the show and David Simon in this week's New Yorker. I also watched about six episodes this weekend from the first season on Todd's on Demand. I didn't remember most of the details and I found it less stressful viewing it this time around with the knowledge of what happens to the characters you see. Season four, though, stressed me out completely (but stress that I respect!) mainly because there were characters who I loved a lot (Randy, anyone?) and I wouldn't be able to bear if if the story screwed them over (which it did, as it turned out, and I was forced to bear it).

Season five is the last one and it's supposed to come out next year, and I can't effing wait.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Our Little Corner of the World
Wow. We just got back from the Yo La Tengo show and it was beyond great. The Lakeshore Theater is so comfortable and intimate, first of all, and because it's a real theater, there's zero bar back-talk and no smoke.

Also, run, don't walk, to see this particular Yo La Tengo tour because it was so laid back and more acoustic and organic. They wanted questions from the audience and asked for requests and had no apparent set lists and chatted it up, basically, and saw where the night went. We saw the 7pm show and there was another one at 10:30, and I wished that I could have stayed for that show as well because it would have been a completely different show.

So, the YLT show at the Vic in Chicago was great, but I think that this wins out as the best YLT show I've ever seen (and this one makes five, if you count Pitchfork 2006, which I really shouldn't because I totally wasn't paying attention since they were one of the last bands playing at the tail end of the festival).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Booty Don't Stop
We went and saw the FOUND Magazine tour again last night (the title of this post from one of the best, most hilarious finds mentioned). This time it was at this place called the Heart of Gold. I had never heard of the place, but then found out that my grad school/book club friend, Jennifer, knew the dudes who opened it up (it's their apartment and they wanted to have an art space). Heart of Gold ended up being very impressive for an apartment: it was enormous enough to have both walls for art to hang and a huge open room with a stage. They had even fashioned a fancy bar but since there was no liquor license, they accepted suggested donations. FOUND was great, of course, and a super fun thing to do on a Tuesday night. They're still touring, btw. To my dear brothers (who I know would love it), go and see these FOUND shows:

ERIK:

December 09, 2007
Austin, TX » Alamo Drafthouse, Time TBA, 320 E. 6th St.


ROBIN:

December 10, 2007
Dallas, TX » The Public Trust, 8 pm, 2919-C Commerce St., 214-760-7170

Beyond that, this past one was a long weekend. We had a visitor in town, so did it up. The weekend included:

1. Performing karaoke for the first time ever with Dave at Spynners. This was a major first for me, because while I love seeing karaoke, I have never performed. This experience ended up being lubricated by a warm, accepting crowd, and lots of 80s songs to choose from. I did sing along with Dave both times, though, if that makes a difference.
2. Walking all through downtown on Saturday afternoon. It was hot, but we did get to walk by and see all of the hullabaloo being set up for the marathon the next day (which ended up having to close down early because of the ungodly heat).
3. Watching the Cubs lose in the playoffs.
4. Brunching.
5. Walking along Montrose Street Beach and sitting by the lake and enjoying the view. I'd never been to this beach before and it's HUGE and has large expanses of grass as well as beach, so I'm officially impressed and am going back.
6. Going to see some blues at Blue Chicago which was downtown. The place is nestled within a busy block with a bunch of clubs populated with some soooooper obnoxious, frosted-tipped denizens. But Blue Chicago itself was deserted and, with a $10 door charge, a steal when you consider how fun the band was. The lead singer was a voluptuous, suggestive lady who was a true party catalyst and managed to persuade the paltry crowd to get up and dance.

Work continues to be busy, but I had my second official session with my very first, personal Early Intervention client today. He's two and tow-headed and such a football-loving boy. He's also like 25% intelligible. It's fun, though, and the hour goes by quickly. I'm still at the point were I'm marveling that I get paid for this. It'll probably take me a few more years before I become all callous and cynical.

Ask me why I'm excited about tomorrow, though. We're going to go and see Yo La Tengo play at the Lakeshore Theater!

Also, I'm currently watching Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares right now, and that shit stresses me out.






Monday, October 01, 2007

The Last Days of Summer
Okay, so it's not officially summer anymore but this weekend sure felt like it was. It was in the 70s both days, sunny, and priceless weather.

Saturday, we went and lunched at this place in Ravenswood called the Over Easy Cafe which was recommended by Jenny and Amie. It was love at first taste and it is in my top 10 brunch places. Maybe not quite at the level of Bongo Room for me, but pretty close. I had eggs and avocado and chorizo (MMMMMMM) and Todd had this apple bake pancake thing with cinnamon butter which was--let's be honest here--like eating fresh baked apple cake. It was the size of apple cake too. So: vote yes to the Over Easy Cafe!

Afterward we walked off our lunches at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I had never been there before since it's situated not-very-conveniently in the Northern Suburbs. It really was lovely, though. Pretty and easy to get around and not too crowded and really, really peaceful. I liked how many little benches and nooks there are that one can sit down in and just contemplate. If it were easier to get to, I would consider getting an annual membership because they have bike trails and running trails and just over all very serenity-inducing. Plus, the weather was perfect with just the slightest tinge of a breeze fluttering the leaves.

Sunday we had a lazy morning and then joined Sarah at the lake-front park in Evanston to celebrate her 30th (happy belated, Sarah!). She and Mike organized a picnic and it there was a pinata and home-made lasagna and birthday cake, and birthday celebratory leis. Super fun and more picnics need to be had before the weather turns officially unwelcoming.

That's my weekend roundup. I am feeling blah and have the slightest cold and am always blowing my nose. So, be glad that I didn't get you sick like I have Todd!
Cuteness Level: Extreme.

Here's a story about baby orangutans and baby tigers who have befriended eachother in an Indonesian zoo.

Apparently it won't last too long once the tigers start leaning toward chawing on some meat. But it's unbearably cute in the meantime, right?

(via neatorama)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

So Proud Indeed
The night was winding down, the last guests were sipping at the dregs of their drinks, and the last dance was impending. We were at Todd's friend, Kip's, wedding this past Saturday, and it was 10:55 with the wedding reception coming to a full-stop at 11. Kip was dapper in a white vest and his bride, Meredith, was lovely and serene as ever in her gown. It was at this time that the dj demanded that everyone in the room (everyone!) come out to the dance floor and to please form a circle around the bride and the groom. People obliged but with some hesitation, since the dj had lost the crowd's faith throughout the night. He was kind of bossy: at one point he commanded Kip and Meredith to come out the dance floor to slow dance to...and he played the "Barney" song. He played the whole thing and the gracious bride and groom danced to it, grinning and bearing it.

Anyway, back to the evening's last moment. So we all gathered on the dance floor in wait and dutifully formed a large circle around the couple. It was at this point that the dj breathed into the microphone something to the tune of: "We're all enjoying ourselves right now, but we need to remember that the troops are out there fighting for us and our freedoms." Downer. Then what came over on the speakers but "Proud to be an American" (because at least I know I'm free), and we all swayed along with it as the bride and groom yet again danced to indulge the dj and his whims. The most absurd moment at a wedding yet, and all I can think of it Kip and Meredith who now remember their last dance as a dedication to their country. Isn't the last dance supposed to be all about leerrrrvvvvv?

Beyond that, the wedding was fun though! That previous Friday I caught up with Bonnie and Laura and it reminded me of grad school--the good parts of the grad school experience. Sunday, we were lazy and did some cooking, went for a walk, and that's basically it,

Oh! But I can't forget to tell you about our last supper club, which was last night. This time we went to Lula Cafe in Logan Square, the cutest, hippest little place in the neighborhood. We had specifically picked Monday night to avoid the crowds, but--alas--in the previous week's Reader they had named Lula Cafe's Monday Night Pre-Fixe dinner as one of their 40 Most Favoritest Things About Chicago. And the crowds descended. So we waited for an hour for a table, but the weather was nice outside where we waited so it was okay. And I had the Pre-Fixe meal which is their "Farm Dinner" and it was...mindblowing. My love, it comes forth. So Lula Cafe has got to be on my regular rotation, but I need to go at like Tuesday at 3 p.m. or something.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This makes me laugh till I cry.

What is it about it this time? I think it's the fat baby looking seriously pissed off in addition to having an enormous gourd.

(Thanks to Todd who sent it to me. Also his commentary:
That kid is all "You take this thing off my head, then you check that blood sugar, and you check it fuckin' GOOD, if you have diabeetus."
in reference to that commercial with that old dude with the walrus moustache who used to be in "Our House")

Monday, September 17, 2007

Watch this (if you haven't already, of course)
This past weekend, we watched "Junebug" and it was great. Moving without being in your face, but funny at the same time. Amy Adams was something to behold. I really, really liked this movie.


Beyond that...
It was a lazy weekend. The weather was beautiful, which was nice. I managed to catch up with the erstwhile Megan, Laura, and Katie for a fun dinner party, and Todd and I hit the mall on Saturday. Don't be jealous of my mall experience, you guys.

Todd's wisdom tooth is coming in and is causing him intensive pain, so let's send him our best until he can get it all sorted out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fall's Here!
The cooler, crisper has arrived and I am grateful. I am done with summer. It's nice to crack open the sweaters again and pull out the light jackets and smell autumn.

Plus, I'm finally hitting my stride again at work and have my schedule just about worked out and have pretty much seen all of the kids that I need to have by now. I ripped an idea off of another SLP and posted a big tree trunk in my room with branches that reach out. Each of my kids decorates a leaf that sports his/her speech and language goal. which we then stick up on the tree. It's a great opportunity to practice using some spatial concepts (e.g., "Do you want the leaf on the top/bottom, middle/sides, left/right?"). Also, as the seasons change so do their goals, so in the winter we can do new ones (snowflakes this time) as well as budding new green leaves in the spring. Neat idea, huh? Definitely worth ripping off. We've been using glitter and glue and let me tell you: it doesn't take much to entertain second graders. They effing love some glitter and glue.

I've got a kid on my caseload now (he transferred in) who's a selective mute, which basically means what it sounds like. He's a stubborn little bugger too. I met him today and he answered every one of my questions with gestures and facial expressions. Then, when we were playing a copy-me kind of game I tried to slip in some vocalization and he stopped abruptly and gave me a look like "Ah, you have waaaay underestimated me." He's going to be a tough nut to crack, that one. In my opinion selective mutism isn't really an SLP's bailiwick and it seems more of anxiety issue if the kid can talk in other circumstances, but the kid's got goals and I need to work with them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Jackie's wedding weekend
Congratulations, Jackie and Brian!

We flew out to Denver on Friday afternoon so we could attend Jackie and Brian's wedding that Saturday. We got to the airport in plenty of time so decided to bide our time in the Chilis in the airport, which is seriously the most happenin' of happenin' places in O'Hare. Who knew? We should go and hang out there all the time. When people get off the plane to visit, I'll be all: "Naw, we aren't leaving the airport...we're hanging at CHILIS HERE!" (Too bad if you land at Midway: we're still training it to O'Hare.)

Our flight to Denver ended up being delayed for two hours due to weather reasons. This would have been only mildly annoying if we weren't trying to rush to Jackie and Brian's rehearsal dinner that night in Boulder. If our plane had landed on time, we would have been kind of late as it was. With the additional two hours tacked on, we missed dinner entirely, so we ended up just tumbling into the (very fancy) hotel and crashing like clazy. It was midnight my time, after all, and Grandma likes to be in bed early. We realized afterward that our entire trip took nine hours door to door, and driving would have only taken a few more hours maybe. How did that work?

Jackie and Brian's wedding was lovely. Cozy and perfect and filled with friends and family who love them. They had a bagpiper at their ceremony! And they know the way to my heart, because the food was yummy too. Their ceremony was in the early afternoon and the reception was in the early evening, so in between, Todd and I hung out with his old bandmate, Ryan, and Ryan's date and his parents, who were also attending the wedding. I must mention how great the dj was as well, because he took *every* request! Maybe I was the only one asking for them, but he earned my devotion forever since he played "Bizarre Love Triangle" with no questions asked. I was a dancing fool all night. I even danced to "Achy Breaky Heart." The wedding lasted from 6pm till midnight and I enjoyed every second of it. I hate going to clubs, but I love dancing at weddings. I need to go to more weddings (get married, people!).

Although we didn't get to Denver proper, we did spend a morning in Boulder and were struck by how fresh everything was. This opposed to Chicago, where the streets smell like pee and exhaust. Plus, every place we went to in Colorado, from the airport to the hotel to every restaurant to every place of commerce we passed: it all seemed brand spanking new. Also very different from Chicago. Granted, our scope of exploration was limited to say the least, but still. I had last been to CO to visit my dearest Suzi and her family back in 2000 and was struck by how pretty the mountain line was on the horizon. I was still struck this past weekend: you can't beat those mountains. In Boulder we ate a delicious breakfast place called Foolish Craigs and strolled through Pearl St where we stumbled upon the very tiny Pride festival there. Also, we stopped in a candy store where Todd bought some Necco wafers and inhaled them in about five minutes. I only am reporting this because after looking at the nutritional facts, we discovered that one package contains 55 grams of sugar. That cracks me up a lot.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

48 Hours is Too Short.
We got back from Lake of the Ozarks yesterday, and it was...perfect. Purr-fect. We got in late on Friday night after wrassling with some horrendous Chicago-Labor-Day traffic. The weather was sunny, warm, and flawless. We boated both days and ate delicious home-cooked meals each night. Afterwards we gathered around Todd's parents' formidably awesome fire pit. It caused me almost physical pain to leave yesterday morning, but what had to be done had to be done. Two days is better than no days, I suppose.

Now it's back in Chicago, which is steaming haawwwwt.

School officially started today, but my day was slow since kids are getting back into their routine and I've got to get the schedule worked out with the teachers.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day 2
Second day of work complete! I'm glad to say that I got assigned my old school and also a charter school one day a week. Charter schools are a little of a mystery to me and this one didn't download any of their caseload information onto the school-wide system that we access, so I have no clue what my caseload there looks like. I think I'm just going to show up tomorrow and see what's what. It was good to be at the old school again today, though, see some familiar faces and scrape the cobb webs off of my materials.

Yesterday was an all day meeting for SLPs which was pretty laid back, but sadly was located in the Southside of Chicago (I believe the Bronzeville area, or at least close to it) so I took the main highway, 90/94, to get to it and that experience so blew. It took me over an hour to get there because of congestion and construction and all of that. Blech.

Today I took the main highway again to head south to pick up my shiny new laptop for work. I assumed picking it up would be a breeze since all of the specialized services people (OTs, Psychologists, Social workers and SLPs) were assigned windows within which to show up, check in the old laptop, and then tote off the new one. How much time could it take? Ah, silly me. Three different lines were involved and two hours of waiting all together. The SLP behind me was getting more and more pissed off and was getting ready to maul anyone she suspected of cutting. She was getting ready to blow. It would have been funny if I didn't have to wait in the first line for over an hour. The new laptop is pretty neat, though, so I suppose it was worth it.

Afterwards I had to zoom (or, "zoom," since the highway was crawling with traffic again--at 2:35pm!) all the way to the north to get to my dentist appointment. Seeing as scheduling with my dentist involves a month's notice, I was desperate to get there in time since I needed to get these two cavities taken care of. I got there ten minutes late and ended up having to wait another 20 minutes, but I realized I was so tense from trying to get there in time I had to stretch out, take some deep breaths, and decompress with a couple of quality People Magazines. But, bottom line is that cavities are filled (hurrah!), it didn't cost me hardly anything, and I no longer fear that my teeth are going to fall out from neglect.

Tonight is supper club (Moody's Burgers with the best beer garden ever!) and then tomorrow Todd and I hit the road to head to Lake of the Ozarks to visit his parents at their lakehouse and do some boating and whatnot. It's only for two days, but I'll suck the marrow out of those 48 hours as needed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why does this crack me up so much?
So lol-cats tend to be kind of lame, and this is kind of lame too, but I seriously crack up every single time I see this picture. I was trying to figure out what it is, and I think it's the walrus tongue and the walrus expression and the absurdity of it all.

Seriously, every single time I see it, I start laughing.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Betting and Racing
So, I've got two more days till work starts. It's kind of surreal, but as Sarah described in her blog, the first week should be pretty laid back what with meetings and setting up rooms and stuff and it's only three days long! And then next week is only four days long!

This past Saturday I accompanied Todd to his company's party at the horse races. I'd never been and I found it amazingly large with manicured lawns and a huge track. I also learned that jockeys are extraordinarily tiny: besides being of smaller stature they are slender as young beanstalks. We went to look at the horses closeup along with the jockeys and I gawked. Besides the free food, cocktails, and guidebooks, the company also allotted each couple with $20 to gamble. That was good because girlfriend is too cheap to be betting her own money, and good thing too since we ended up losing about $10 of those dollars on $2 bets (and coming out $10 ahead since we got the rest in cash). We did end up winning a couple of times and once we won 10 cents. 10 cents! Others we talked to came out with $40 in winnings and then we talked to someone who had lost $400 of their own money.

The rest of the weekend was fun with a surprise birthday party on Friday night, a Life and Times show on Saturday night, and then the Bucktown Arts Festival on Sunday with a trip to the best bar in the world, The Map Room, afterward. The weather was amazing all weekend, especially after the monsoons that descended this past week.

And that's all I've got!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Fatty!
Neatorama posted about the Michelin Baby Syndrome.
The blog also links to an article about the syndrome of which I was too lazy to muddle, but you can find it here.
The picture came from here originally.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

During the closing of a conversation with my mom today:

If you're bored, remember that you should keep calling your parents.

That was so awesome, I had to blog it (with my mom's permission, of course).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wow.
David Simon, writer of Homicide, the man behind the eponymous tv series, also "The Wire" is a hero of mine, and apparently he's very salty.

There's an interview of Simon by Nick Hornby (TWO of my favorite authors in one enclosed piece) in The Believer Magazine, and here's the first part.

NICK HORNBY: Every time I think, Man, I’d love to write for The Wire, I quickly realize that I wouldn’t know my True dats from my narcos. Did you know all that before you started? Do you get input from those who might be more familiar with the idiom?

DAVID SIMON: My standard for verisimilitude is simple and I came to it when I started to write prose narrative: fuck the average reader. I was always told to write for the average reader in my newspaper life. The average reader, as they meant it, was some suburban white subscriber with two-point-whatever kids and three-point-whatever cars and a dog and a cat and lawn furniture. He knows nothing and he needs everything explained to him right away, so that exposition becomes this incredible, story-killing burden. Fuck him. Fuck him to hell.

I found this from this link. And I've never heard of The Believer, but I see that it's a branch of McSweeneys. Now girlfriend needs a subscription (gift idea for those who don't know what to do!)


The Life of Leisure
So it appears that the temping gig that I was set up for to start today fell through. To be specific, the contact person for the company never returned my temping guy's calls, according to him. I found that out yesterday afternoon. The plan now is to go for a week and a half long gig in the week before I start my regular job again.

So my vacation is extended again, which makes me half happy (more free time!) and half sad (dipping into money in the bank that I thought I could leave alone). My last paycheck of deferred pay from my regular job comes Friday: dunh dunh DUNH. Basically, I'm trying not to spend money that I don't need to in the meantime, which means LOTS of reading of books from the library, playing on the Internets, lolling in front of bad TV, and working out.

Oh, and there's ever standing talk of a Chicago Teachers Union strike in case the next contract doesn't get settled. If there's a strike that means no pay for those days, so...yeah, got to be conservative with the monies. [Actually, I'm pretty confident that they'll work it out, since the other unions--like the ones for the janitors, custodians, food service workers--settled with the Board of Education earlier this week. And I doubt that Mayor Daley wants all of these kids running around unoccupied and the bad rap the city might receive when Chicago is vying to be an Olympic host]. We'll see how it turns out.

I just checked out a book from the library called An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned But Probably Didn't. This is important, because while a lot of things were passed onto to me throughout my education, the amount that has actually *stuck* with me is pretty pathetic. I'm going to try to post a new fact that I've learned every day while I have this book, so get ready, people. Because daytime TV is definitely not keeping me sharp.

Speaking of books, we had another book club meeting last night and it was a funny one since NONE of us who attended had read the book (or even looked at a copy). Only four of us attended, and we were all ones who work in the schools and have been home all day. I guess we couldn't find it in us to track down the book, but it was still a good time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I Have Never Seen So Many Hot Dogs
So, on Saturday Todd and I decided to tag along with Rich when he went on the first official Hot Dog Crawl that was organized by the guy who owns Sick Room Records (which sponsors, or whatever record labels do, Bear Claw). The guy, Ryan, decided that it would be fun to visit hot dog places all around the city and pay homage to the Chicago hot dog by eating a hot dog at each place. He planned an itinerary, he rented a 15-passenger van, he named a starting point and it was all set.

I wanted to go because watching people perform acts of gluttony for kicks cracks me up. Plus, it was a fun little tour of various points of the city since Ryan planned it so each part of the city represented. And this is not something someone sees every day.

We arrived at Hot Doug's at 10:20 (10 minutes before opening time), got into the line that had already formed and met up with the rest of the group. Thus began our day, and it ended around 7pm after visiting nine other places. Curious about the places we stopped by? Here's the list:

1. Hot Doug's: Really, the best. I temporarily departed from the SBD to have a sausage here. Don't worry, I'm back on the wagon.
2. Super Dawg: Todd and I had visited this place before and while it was kitschy with the giant male and female sausages on the roof, it's kind of expensive. Others in the group really seemed to like the hot dogs, though.
3. Wolfies: This place had a giant fork spearing a hot dog outside. You can't miss it.
4. Hueys: This was in Andersonville. I actually ran into Jenny on the street while we were at this stop. Small world, indeed.
5. Byron's: This was a small stand in Irving Park. It was also where I got pooped on by birds TWICE. I couldn't see it since both shots were on my back, but Todd helped me clean it up and since I couldn't see it, I didn't get too caught up in it. Plus, it's supposed to be lucky, right? I did have crusted bird poop on me the rest of the day, though.
6. Weiner Circle: This is a popular place in Lincoln Park where drunken people and a cranky staff come together late in the evening to yell at eachother. There was only mild yelling on this visit since it was about 4pm. Rich picked up someone else's hot dog, though, and was chastised for being rude. People seemed to really like these hot dogs.
7. Jim's Original Hot Dog Stand: This is a huge, cheap stand and I think it was the lone southside representation, close to Univ. of IL-Chicago. There was a another huge hot dog stand right next door, but I think that Jim's was there first. It should be noted that Gold Coast Dogs was supposed to be number seven, but we wandered up and down Clark to realize that the shop that the Internet said was around no longer existed.
8. Duk's: I don't know where this falls in terms of geographic location, but it had character. And by "character," I mean scary painted Donald Ducks on the wall, hot and dark quarters, and ladies working who work hard for their money. Rich said that the hot dogs tasted like they were cooked in dishwater which seriously still makes me want to vomit just a little.
9. Jimmy's Red Hots: This was on the West side of the city. This place also had a lot of "character." The hot dogs and fries were thrown into a big mass of waxed paper. Others in the group reported that the fries offered here are some of the best.
10. Sam's Red Hots: This tiny shack is very close to Todd's place and we have passed by countless times. Apparently, it's a neighborhood favorite. The lady who worked the counter was really nice ("Too bad you didn't come here first because then you didn't need to go to the other places"). Reports on the dogs were so-so.

It should be noted that while others skipped stops or shared dogs, Rich and Ryan had a hot dog at every single stop. They looked like they were struggling a little at stop number 10. I think that Rich stretched out his stomach from all this, though, because he ate ice cream later that evening and then polished off an entire french toast meal at the Bongo Room the next day.

Interestingly, one of the places was serving their food in Burger King bags. This was the same place where this dude with a blue tooth headset was manning a whole store of bootleg dvds on the counter of the place.

The entire trip was a lot of fun, mainly because the other people on the crawl (a slightly changing group of about 8-15) were hilarious and down for a good time. I also want to note that my Chicago screen print poster hero, Jay Ryan, was there for the first three stops and he was super nice and gracious even when I gushed to him about how I have plastered my apartment walls with his works. So, I got to meet one of my Chicago idols. I even heard that he's going to design a t-shirt for next year's crawl.

So, I don't want to be near hot dogs anytime soon, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm Baaack
Briefly, I just got back into Chicago after another uneventful 12 hour drive. This time I listened to this really awful audio book of the crime novel genre. It was terrible, but I was in no room to choose since radio choices were lacking so I faithfully listened to 12 of 14 hours of this crap.

But I had to blog one of the actual lines from the book before I forget. I heard it, and my eyes started rolling uncontrollably so much that the car may have swerved on Rte. 90 East. Are you ready for it? I may paraphrase here, but this is 98% it:

She was like Miss Marple, except with a great set of breasts.

I'm so not even kidding you.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Um, I am stoopid sometimes
Correction:

Happy birthday TODAY, Annie!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Birthdays!

Happy Birthday yesterday, Dad!

Happy Birthday today, Annie!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Visitin'
I road tripped yesterday and it was a fun, little package of a day. First, I drove a couple of hours to the rolling green hills of Charlottesville to visit Madeline. Madeline, having finished up her residency at UVA, is getting ready to pack up and move herself to Chapel Hill. It was great to see her and we spent a couple of hours catching up in person and munching on pumpkin seeds. I also learned a lesson about Yahoo Maps: don't trust them completely. Madeline owns a little townhouse in a relatively new development and while Yahoo Maps purported to recognizing the address, they left out a few relevant details in terms of getting there.

Then I climbed back into my wee Civic and zoomed along 64 to Richmond to visit Emily. Emily is my old roommate, a compadre from my college job at Baskin Robbins (the 3rd busiest in the nation, people!), and one of my dearest and most erstwhile friends. I hadn't seen her in over two and half years and we picked up as if we hadn't seen each other for a few minutes. Except we had a lot more to catch up on. She and her husband bought the sweetest little fixer upper in Richmond's Southside, and from the look of their almost finished kitchen and their totally finished pantry, by the time they get done with everything I'm totally packing my bags and moving in. She even started a little vegetable garden in the backyard complete with her own baby pumpkins and fledgling green peppers. It was great to re-connect and I left feeling sated and with mental resolutions to stay in more regular touch.

I've also managed to see DC-area friends too and it's been wonderful. Dinner and a DC-monuments walk with Annie, brunch with Des and Bryan, and dinner with Anne and Nate (who I finally met, and it every bit as great as I've heard).

I also climbed on the scale at Em's house after eating a big salad for lunch and it read a number down three and half pounds since last Wednesday! Hooray! I needed that reinforcement since I was tempted many times this past week (especially walking into Lost Dog Cafe with Anne and managing not to grab one of their fresh baked pizzas or sandwiches and cramming it into my gaping maw).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Little Brother Can Cook
So, my baby brother cooked tonight and he made lamb chops served along side a red pepper sauce as well as a fresh mint sauce. In addition, he served fresh stuffed tomatoes overflowing with parmesan cheese and garlic. It was pretty awesome. So good in fact, that it warrants its own blogpost.
This cracks me up
Todd wrote me this today describing a crazy guy that he and his friends met when he ate at a neighborhood place we'd always passed by:

Hey! Oh man, what a story. The crazy dude, whose name is king david, walked up to us saying "I'm gonna go get my .38 and kill all those motherfuckers! Some guy hit my car and i told them (pointing to police station) and they do nothing! Man, it was a hummer, just crashed into me then took off!" So we told him that it was a bad idea to kill all of them with his .38, and he was easily convinced, because jesus wouldn"t do it either. Luckily, all he really needed to get was a "couple of bucks" for the bus so Mark gave him about a buck in change and he was our best friend for a couple minutes before he took off. Here are some things he has on the hopper:

- He can get us guns and knives if we need them.
- He's the head of the latin kings, and if we need any protection, we just need to ask him.
- He's going to start up a new restaurant on Milwaukee and Kedzie that is cheaper than Pancho.
- He can hook our car up with hydraulics if we want
- He can build condos.
- He's going to start up a football team, and on the back of the helmet will be a big JC for Jesus Christ.
- His mom named him King David.

Then he took off, just after asking us again if he should kill them all, and saying "oh yeah, I shouldn't, because of Jesus. Thanks guys!" It was a pretty weird scene, with the backdrop of those neon palm trees outside Pancho and all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

SBD Update
One week down! One more week of Phase I to go! It's been challenging at points and continues to be. But, at last check I'm down four pounds and my pants by which I measure progress fit *an iota* better. Progress is progress, and I'll take it.

My observations that I end up saving money on this diet because I don't drink when I go out and I can't partake in some (delicious) tortilla-chip and cheese laden appetizer. So that's cool, and that money went to my tolls coming home yesterday.

The diet isn't very fun, though. I mean, I like the foods that I make but they can be time-consuming to prepare and I no longer just dig in and have that handful of chips that tastes like heaven and is such a fast snack. I saw Kevin the other night and he held up a quesadilla in one hand and a beer in the other and was like: "So, you don't eat these?" And I fixed my saddened, bovine eyes on him and and shook my head no. And then I sipped my ice water.

So, sticking with it and feeling good. I no longer feel uncomfortably full, which is nice. I'm about to head to the grocery store to stock up on food for my parents' place.
Reading Report
I discovered the graphic novel area of the nice regional library near me and it was all over. I cleaned that place out. I really, really, really love graphic novels and if I had lots of cash I would stock my library full. In the meantime, the library is a nice option. And while graphic novels bring me absolute joy, it's a little bittersweet because more often than not, one goes through them very quickly.

So since Wednesday, I've read three (I got like seven). Here's the run-down:
  • Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. Delisle worked as an animator in North Korea for three months in early 2001 and drew an account of his experiences there. It's all charcoal and observant and funny and really goddamn great. In comparison to someone like Joe Sacco, though, Delisle is less about trying to get find out the true story (less of a journalist) and more about quick observations and impressions. Still, really good and highly recommended. He wrote one about working on Shenzhen and I totally want to read it!
  • Mom's Cancer by Briend Fies. When his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, he started a comic strip about it and this little book is the finished product. It's fast, but honest and powerful. And the ending is kind of happy.
  • Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi. It's a quick little read about an afternoon tea among her family of Iranian women where conversation is funny, juicy, and pretty progressive. A totally fun book.
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson. This one is more of a novel form (it's a brick!), but it's still a fast read. Thompson writes autobiographically about his childhood a teen years, his struggles to fit into his rural Wisconsin background, his inner debates regarding religion and finally his teenage first love. It's good and smart and honest, but Thompson's character was kind of a fox, let's be honest. Not sure if he meant to draw himself that way, but that's the way it turned out, so it's harder to really get that he was terrorized in high school. I had also read Ariel Shrag's illustrated novels about her high school years (one for each year) and her junior year novel is mainly about her first love. While she doesn't tackle as many issues at Thompson, I think that her description of a first love gone awry can't be beat.
Back to da East Coast
I drove back home yesterday to visit the family and see friends (and to meet a certain friend's BF). It was an almost 12 hour drive, and I didn't hit any traffic to speak off but I got home and I was wiped out. I ate dinner and then went to bed. At 9pm. Eastern time. It was worth it, though, because while it's good to be home, it's much better to be home when I have my own transportation.

The night before I left, I went to meet Todd downtown to see one of the free concerts held in the Pritker Pavillion (the crazy Gehry-designed bandshell that looks out onto the expansive green lawn in Grant Park). The city holds various free concerts over the summers in its parks. I had joined Jenny and Pam for one last year and I was so impressed: everyone is allowed to bring in picnics and wines and it's free. It's even more impressive to sit in the Pritzker Pavillion because you're looking up at all of the impressive Chicago architecture looming over you. Plus, the night we went last year, the weather was perfect, and we got to watch the free fireworks over Navy Pier. I really wanted to come again this year.

So we did. We came to see the Decemberists play with the Grant Park Orchestra. I had never heard them, but it sounded good to me. Me and about fifteen billion other people because that place was packed. Rich ended up coming with and then we ran into my grad school mate, Jennifer, and her sister, so we all walked over together. We found some free lawn outside the actual pavillion and kind of beside/behind the bandshell, but none of us really cared about getting all up in there. so we sat. I had brought a thin little sheet on which to sit, which was an outrageously poor decision since I didn't take into account that it had *poured* that morning so the ground was akin to a water-saturated sponge. Needless to say, our bottoms were all soaked within about 0.3 seconds of sitting. Then it started to sprinkle...and then full-out rain. We opened up umbrellas and sat talking while nibbling on crudites. I was proud of us because we stuck it through and waited out the rain, ears soaking in some escaping music from the Decemberists (the bandshell does a nice job of keeping the sound enclosed, and since we were outside that enclosure...it was a little muted).

We ended up leaving toward the end of the set in order to beat the el crowds (successfully!). Good thing too because as soon as we got home the sky cracked open and the full-fledged pouring commenced. Glad that we didn't end up waiting for the fireworks. I would definitely do it again, but will choose a less popular evening and will check the weather forecast.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I have a new love
It's the OXO salad spinner. Now, rather than tediously drying out all of my romaine and spinach leaves, I just press and watch the water collect at the bottom of the bowl.

Seriously, it is one of my all-time favorite purchases.


Happy 18th, Little Brother!
Now you can vote!
Days Blend
That's what happens when summer school ends and I'm on vacation of sorts. It's kind of great.

Friday brought in a slight relief from the heat and it made for perfect weather for going to the Pitchfork Festival that evening. We saw Slint and Sonic Youth play and it was cool and crisp and pretty goddamn awesome outside. Todd drove and I was happy because I cannot describe the lines of people we saw who were waiting to walk up the steps to the el platform. We only went on Friday this time, as compared to Sat and Sun last year. I had been struck by how orderly and peaceful the festival was for the past couple of years (no lines to the portapotties! no snaking queues for beer and food! water for $1! no crazy and obnoxious drunkenness!). It was still pretty orderly this year, but the lines were insane for the beer and food and I definitely observed some obnoxiousness in comparison to no obnoxiousness from last year. I thought that Todd was going to pop one of the dudes with popped collars who talked very loudly and raucously to one another during the entirety of Sonic Youth's set and who were standing directly in front of us. I'm no Nazi when it comes to talking during live music, but even I know that if you want to chat then don't stand there up front by the music.

Saturday was lazy and I seriously can't remember what I did.

Sunday we went to the Oldtown School of Music's Folk and Roots Festival which was in the park by my house. It was a super-duper cute festival teeming with fat toddlers waddling under your feet. We sat and watched the fiddling contest and I got a slight burn, but it was worth it.

SBD Update: I managed to avoid MAJOR temptation this weekend and I am immensely proud of myself. I was starving Friday night during Pitchfork and the almonds that I had brought along weren't doing a lot for me. I didn't buy the delicious looking flatbreads and spinach pies that were at the food stands, though and I am glad.

Yesterday at the Folk and Roots festival was tough too because: festival food smells good. I really, really wanted to get some of the seafood quesadillas on sale. I also really, really wanted some of the sangria that they had. I balked at both.

And I'm happy to say that my weigh in this morning reads a three pound loss since Thursday. I know it's water weight, but it's encouraging at least.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Getting back into it: Day 2 of 14
I decided to enter Phase I of the South Beach Diet again in hopes of getting back into fighting shape by Fall. I did it a couple of years ago and really like the eating plan since it's pretty delicious while still being healthy. The first phase is the one where you cut out sugars for a couple of weeks altogether. After the first couple of weeks, whole grains and wine are allowed back in.

So I started yesterday and forgot just how much prep it is. I eat a lot of produce as it is, but when your diet is only proteins and produce, I go through it even more quickly. I went to the store again today to load up on fresh vegetables, and then spent about 20 minutes chopping and prepping for lunch. It's a lot of work, but you end up eating a lot less processed foods. I just had some turkey rolled up in crunchy romaine and red peppers and a spinach salad for lunch, so I know officially I am in the land of SBD. It's really not bad, though.

I'm blogging about it to add more accountability for myself, so I'll check in later on my progress.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Klazy
Has anyone else watched the show "Hey Paula" on Bravo? I think that she has approval of it or something, but still she comes off as a shrieking harpy. Watching it, you really perceive her as a truly a wretched human being. You get the feeling that she okayed having the reality show in the hopes that she would come off as a little loopy but more lovable than anything else, when in actuality she comes off as a hellish employer and a stoopid lady.

I'm totally watching the rest of the season too.
Doooone..
..with summer school. It went by quickly and there was a flurry of paperwork by the end, but it was outstandingly easy work and I will definitely sign on to do it again next year. It's kind of like being on vacation, but having an excuse to wake up in the morning. I was done every day by 11 a.m., people. Just in time to listen to Fresh Air on NPR on the way home.

I finished Courtroom 302, which was great. Really, really interesting and I learned lots about the criminal court system (for instance, I hadn't realized what a teeny-tiny percentage of cases end up going to a bench or jury trial). It was written in the late 90s, so there were historically significant cases going on. I was sad when I turned the last page and need to find some more non-fiction like it stat. Bogira, the author, delved in the background of the people in the cases as well and it was downright fascinating.

Speaking of "fascinating," my Mom told me the other day that my blog entries have been on the drier side of late, so I commit to try to inject more zest.

So, I'll share a description of my totally favorite kid on my caseload this summer. He is five, short, and has a body like a round rubber ball. He sports a loud, hammy personality which is communicated through his deep, almost guttural voice. He is crack at recognizing the slightest trace of a voice. If I happen step in the room and whisper to his teacher, he stops what he's doing and yells out in a staccato manner: "Ms. M_! You there?! Ms. M_!" One day I was working with him, and while usually a bit lazy he was working like a maniac because his teacher promised him potato chips afterwards (or, "putatah ships," according to him).

I was describing him to Todd, who was like "Is this kid Redd Foxx?" And it hit me like a message from the heavens, because he nailed it. This five year totally is Redd Foxx re-incarnated. I was treating language (while verbose, he can't answer wh-questions well) but this kid is also vision impaired. Our friend is going to start work as a vision teacher with the school district, and I *pray* that this student ends up on his caseload because I wan to hear about him for years to come.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Williams Syndrome
This week, The New York Times Magazine has a long article about Williams Syndrome, which while I hesitate to call it "my favorite," definitely stands out as one of the most interesting to me.

People with Williams Syndrome tend to be cognitively low and are characterized by love, love, loving social interaction but having nary a clue as how to read social signs or dynamics. Really interesting stuff, so read the article to find out more.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Book hangover
I've been reading like crazy. I finished Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven this past weekend. It was pretty engrossing and he has an easy, informal manner of writing that makes it easy to dive into the subject matter. It was enjoyable and I learned more about Mormonism than I knew before (which was not much). After reading it, I feel like everything is about Mormonism now: HBO's Big Love, NPR pieces I've been hearing recently, Mitt Romney.

This morning I finished wolfing down Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here, which was really powerful. He followed two young boys in the Chicago projects for a couple of years in the mid-80s and there's a lot of heartbreaking stuff in there. Your heart yearns for good things to happen for the boys, but there's a lot of emotional beat down. I tried to google the boys' names to see if I could find out what's happened to them since, but nothing. The epilogue does say that the profits from the book was used to set up trust funds for the boys after they finished high school. They've got to be in their 30s now.

I started Courtroom 302 today, about a year in a courtroom in Chicago's Cook County Criminal Courts (alliteration, anyone?). I love hard-nosed social issues reporting, and so far this is in that vein. So far, so good. In fact, I'm about to take a shower right now and then head out and read in the sun now.

Further books on my list: In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter, and Ordinary Resurrections.

p.s. Funnily enough, as I was scanning the channels this afternoon, the 1993 TV version of "There are no children here" is on Oxygen, starring Ms. Winfrey herself. I hadn't even realized that they made one! I've been watching for it for the past three minutes, and it's definitely drama-ed up. Meh.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Wolf dude.
(via NG)
You must watch this:
A Man Among Wolves, which I watched this past weekend on National Geographic. It's crazy.

Brief synopsis is that this guy raised a pack of wolf cubs for the past few years and basically spent all of his time with them apart from a couple of hours here and there. Interestingly, there's some sort of nature preserve in the UK that lets him roll around with them, feed with them, and the public watches. He didn't have any prior scientific training, but knew enough to teach his wolf cubs different kinds of howls and different wolf behavior.

One highlight is that when we first meet him, he is the alpha male in the pack so is entitled to the heart, lungs, and liver in the kills. So, since he can't digest the raw meat of these organs in the various dead animals he hauls in, he goes in beforehand and cuts out those organs, goes home and fries them up a bit, and then inserts them back in to the guts of the dead animal. Only then does he bring in the feast for the pack and he gets down in there and rips out those organs on gnaw on. You have to see this.

The other highlights is footage of him with the cubs when he first adopts them teaching them to howl. Baby wolf cubs learning to howl = ultimate in cuteness.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Passive Aggressive Jerkiness
I love this new-ish web site: passiveaggressivenotes. com
There is so, so much awesome passive aggressiveness to be read.

(side note: charles emailed me about this site too. My friends know me well).
Gluttony
I went to the library today and found three books that I've been scrounging around for for the past few months as well as five others. I have EIGHT books to read. I feel that glowing feeling one gets after one has a good workout or if one finally completed a coveted purchase.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Notes:
Supper club rocks
In our attempt to hit all of the ethnic backgrounds from everyone in the club, we went to Lao Sze Chuan tonight and it was delicious and fun. Next month: bbq!

Half Birthdays rock
Todd treated me to a sumptuous meal at Nacional 27 for my half birthday (which is officially today, actually). Yummy.

Movies rock
We saw "Knocked Up" and it was hands-down great. I was saying beforehand that I was afraid of being disappointed because I had read so many gleaming reviews. But it was really, really funny and really, really sweet. But, it was a little hard to believe that the leading female character ever got with the Seth Rogan character in the first place. But still: great. Go and see it.

Street festivals rock
We went on Sunday evening to the Belmont Music and Arts festival to see Say Hi to Your Mom and the Wrens play. It was lovely and cool last night and perfect music-viewing weather. It felt like vacation.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Swamped.
Things are busy this week. Mainly I'm sad right now because I'm studying/cramming for my geology final for tomorrow (my online course that was meant to be *easy* but has taken me over nine awful months to get through). Enough of that, though. 24 hours from now it will be done.

But lots to catch up on. The family zoomed into town last weekend to attend my belated graduation from grad school. My parents, brothers, and uncles descended upon Chicago and our brood ate our way through the city. Truly, we were a sight to behold. I counted on Monday evening, and it looks like I ate at 12 different eating places with them in the four days they were here, and they hit like 14. I won't bore you with details, but let me just say: on Sunday morning we started with dim sum in Argyle and then walked directly across the street to wolf down some pho. My uncle wanted to taste the Chinese/Vietnamese offerings in Chicago and let me just say that he and my mom loved the hell out of Furama. They both said that their dim sum was better than anything in Maryland and Virginia. Furama gets an enthusiastic thumbsup from the family, which is an honor indeed. Go to Furama, people. Sunday was far from done, since the rest of the day held promises of bao from Wow Bao, drinks at the John Hancock and then an enormous prime rib dinner from Lawrys from fathers day.

Their visit was fun and graduation was all right, but a little underwhelming and a tad bit disorganized. It was actually kind of funny what a clusterfuck it turned into behind the scenes: they actually forgot to announce me! Skipped over my name entirely, so that someone had to rush quietly to the announcer and tell him to announce me before they started with the undergrads. It was okay, though, since I ended up sitting with the end of the alphabet and they were fun.

My school year officially ended but I've started doing extended school year for four weeks. I've been assigned four schools which are located in areas I've never ever been to, so I'm discovering just how large Chicago is. I liken my experience as an itinerant SLP split among four schools to the classic, The Little Prince and how the prince visits all of these different little planets in his travels. Each planet offers its own cultures and experiences and personalities. I will say this: I like two of my schools very much, am relatively okay with one of my schools, and the remaining school is less than impressive. That particular school is where I encountered the rudest classroom teacher I've yet to meet (granted, I haven't met that many). She was pissed off that I was there, and when I told her that one of her kids was on my caseload, she sighed dramatically and loudly and exclaimed: "Well, that's counter-productive!" I kind of wanted to sock her, especially since the kid was sitting there at a table doing NOTHING when I walked in. No paper in front of her...nada. I was gracious though, swallowed my annoyance, and calmly informed the charming instructor of the times that she could expect me every week. After encountering her I realized for real how lucky I've been with my teachers at my present school--the majority of them like having an extra set of hands in the classroom.

Summer school is pretty awesome, though, since it's 3.5 hours a day and four days a week. My kind of schedule!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Creepy.
I love two-year olds the most, but not this scary giant robot they created in Japan to emulate a 2-year old. It would have helped if they had made it short and fat and prone to toddling rather than grown-man sized. To capture how truly chilling it is, make sure you watch the YouTube video. Yikes.
(via neatorama)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Aww
15 reasons that Mr. Rogers was the best neighbor ever

My favorite is the one about Koko.

(via neatorama)
Families and their meals
Two of my favorite things. TIME has this cool photo essay on families around the world, their meals for a week, and the costs. I couldn't decide which one was my favorite. Can you?

Mayfest report
So we did go to Mayfest this past Saturday and it was a lot of fun. Jenny, Todd and I met up first and after getting our giant steins of beer, we hit the fair games. Todd and Jenny shot darts at little balloons and won some klassy pictures. I'm including a shot of our bounty.
Impromptu Joy
I got off the phone tonight with Anne and I noticed that music was reverberating through my courtyard. Sounding like it was a band playing in the park across the street, I slipped on a sweatshirt and my flip flops and wandered outside. Turns out there was a live band, and they were played lively and catchy Irish drinking song type songs. In fact, as I checked out a single flyer posted by the gazebo where the band played, Welles Park has a regular Tuesday night outside concert. Kind of like Wolf Trap/Ravinia for free and right across the street. Not too well advertised, though, because there were like four families scattered on the lawn, but they did come prepared with blankets, snacks, and drinks.

Everyone else there was kind of like me, they stumbled upon it and stuck around. It was lovely and cool out and the sun was setting and the music was upbeat and fun, so I stood there for about forty minutes watching them. And that was great, but not the "impromptu joy" that was first referred to in the blog title. By that, I was referring to one of the other viewers of the band. There was a dad and his teenage son who walked up to watch the same time as I did. The dad stood back and observed with reserve, and the son was the one who displayed tried and true blessed joy. I would guess that he had a more severe form of autism, but more importantly he fricking loved the music and was not afraid to show it. He hopped. He did jumping jacks. He swung his arms. He clapped with outstretched arms. He raised his arms to the sky. During the slower numbers, he stood up close and swayed slowly. I understood where he was coming from because the music made me want to dance too, and it was cool that he could so readily display his enthusiasm.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Psychedelic!
It's Mayfest in Lincoln Square this weekend, which is a little festival full of music, the maypole, and giant steins of beers. It officially started this evening, so I walked through on my way back from my jog to check it out. I'm going again and spending time on Saturday, and I am excited. The first excellent thing about it is that it's FREE.

The second excellent thing about it is that there's music all weekend. When I walked through tonight, it was pretty empty since it just recently finished pouring. A class from the Old Town School of Music (which has a building in the Square) was up on the stage playing. They were a Beatles cover class, so it was an assortment of like 12 people of all ages and all sizes playing various instruments and singing. They were pretty good actually. I stood around and watched them for awhile enjoying the cooler weather post-rain.

There was one dude sitting alone at one table listening and nursing one of the aforementioned giant steins of beer. At one point when the group wrapped up a song, he yelled out: "Play some real classics! Crosby Stills and Nash! Crosby Stills and Nash!"

A lady turned around and informed him that they were strictly Beatles (which the group had announced two minutes ago) and he sheepishly mumbled: "oh."

His sheepishness must have lit a fire under his appreciation, because after that when they wrapped up another song, he was all: "Yeah! YEAH! YEAH!" It was pretty awesome, since the tent was pretty empty still and all you could hear was this guy's verbal support. Then one of the group mentioned that they were going to do another "psychedelic number." The dude got *pumped*!

This was him:
"PSYCHEDELIC!"
" YEAH!"
"PSYCHEDELIC!"
"PSYCHEDELIC!"

I really, really sincerely wish that there was someone there with me to observe this because there was something about the whole thing that was beyond great.

I hope that he's there on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wolf! Wolf!
I know that I say this every time I try a new place, but it's for real this time.

I have a new favorite restaurant in the city. It's Puerto Rican food and it's called Papas Cache Sabroso. We went there for our fourth supper club at the suggestion of a friend of Jenny's in the know, and...bliss. And cheap! And a mom and pop owned place that was busting with character! My favorite.

We ordered tostones and yuca for starters and then I personally ordered the jibarito sandwich, which is a steak sandwich with large plantain in place of bread. And the plantain was deliciously crisp rather than soggy and greasy. The sandwich along with rice and beans cost about $6.

This restaurant is also on the stretch of Division by the Puerto Rican flags and still has flavor. Jenny and Dave on their way there told us that they:
1.) saw a guy riding a bike in a starter cap while an enormous yellow snake was coiled around his body.
2) Jenny had a skateboarder catch a ride by grabbing onto the trunk of her car.

Hot chick.
"Papa" and his baby.
Chick! Freshly sated with lint that he gobbled off of the carpet.
Nicole and Dave, best tablemates ever at the wedding.
Joe and Pam at their sweetheart table with a loving family member. I kept on trying to take a picture of them all night and this was the least crappy, if you can believe it.
Jenny and Brooke--sorority sistahs forever.
Me and my man, kicking it wedding-guest style.
Weddings and Chicks
We got back from a Memorial Day weekend in DC, and it was a whirlwind weekend. Got into town on Saturday afternoon, had dim sum with the family, and then met up with Anne for dinner that night. Sunday we had pho and got to see Des and Bryan for a bit, and then set off to Vienna (a skip from my parents' place) to see Pam and Joe wed. It was quite a lovely wedding, and while not large, virtually teeming with William and Mary folks.

The most hilarious part of the weekend to me is the new addition to our family: Erik's baby chick. It's a science assignment that the people in his class were assigned one newly hatched baby chick a few weeks before the end of school. I suppose it's a lesson in caring for other living things and not being an asshole. Part of the "test," apparently, is whether your baby chick follows you when you walk. And the other part of the test is whether your baby chick is still breathing after the few weeks, since if your baby chick kicks the bucket there goes a fifth of your entire grade. But the kicker is that it's very, very easy for your baby chick to bite the bullet. It can toddle off of tables. It can drown in its own water dish (hence the need to purchase beautifully colored marbles to fill said dish). It is astonishingly easy to step on when it runs under feet. We watched the baby chick eat lint off the carpet (Erik: "It loves eating lint.")--that can't be good for it. It demands 90 degree temperatures to thrive.

(side note: luckily for the baby chick the 90 degree temperature was in full bloom since the upstairs air conditioner broke before it arrived. Don't worry, Erik was comfortable since he sleeps in the icy cool basement. Todd and I got to sleep upstairs in the moist, warm baby-chick inducive temperatures, though. It was awesome).

The baby chick is damn cute (refer to pictures), but it is also loud. It chirps endlessly, but the chirp is so plaintive and never-ending that it more resembles a bleat. And the bleat is all the more strident when it realizes that it has been left alone in the room. You can seriously hear this pathetic, constant cry ring throughout the whole of my parents' house. I was housed next door to the baby chick, so I was awoken by its cries at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning. Awesome!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I can recognize any road sign you send my way
I ventured to the Northside Chicago DMV today to get my license changed from VA to IL. It was a successful venture, and not as painful as I thought it would be. I had to take the written test which I studied for the night before. Good thing, too, because it might have been touch and go if I hadn't. The grizzled character who scored my test harrumphed with satisfaction when he wrote "-0" on my test (believe it!). I confessed that I spent the previous evening studying for it, and he was like: "That's all we ask." That grizzled guy and me? We shared a moment right then.

It was a little bittersweet to give up my VA license, but so it must be.

Next on my list is to change my plates. I didn't have the forms nor the fortitude to do it today.

Illinois DMV isn't open on the weekends, btw, which is downright odd to me. VA DMV at least pretended to be accommodating by opening for like 45 minutes on Saturday mornings.
Change is good.
I know.
But I changed my blog template on a whim, and I am a little bit rattled! I think I may have lost all of my comments!

Now to figure out how to add comments to this current template.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This is a very sad first hand account of a visiting professor at a small, historically Black university in Alabama. The apathy he describes in many of the students he encounters I believe is a result of the family and social situations in which the students were raised, but sadly I think that some readers of this article will quickly attribute it to race (just read the comments--hooee). It's an interesting read, though, and I recommend that you also link back and read his article about his first year there (I'm linking to the second year's reprisal).

We always talk about the culture of literacy on the job and how it affects academic performance. I was very lucky to be brought up in a family where books are treasured and abounded, newspapers were strewn about, and magazines were stacked up against one another. The world is your oyster, kid. One of my nostalgic favorites is Little Women, which my parents gave me in 1984 (the year I turned 8) in a beautiful hardcover version which I still have somewhere. One of my dad's friends regularly gifted us with Penguin classics he found in the bookstores of Pakistan, where we were at the time. One of them was My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell, and that book remains one of my beloved classics which I never would have discovered on my own. I constantly realize how lucky I was to have stumbled into a family that reads, when I see so many of my sweet and curious kids have homes starved of books and reading.

The article touches a lot on intellectual curiosity and how it is lacking in so many college students. I admit that I was guilty of phoning it in during some of my classes, and imagine that my professors were...less than impressed. Maybe things felt less pressing or something. I regret that I didn't suck the marrow out of the opportunity more then, but so much of college also revolved around one's social life. With some relief I can say that my intellectual curiosity has been fired up again working in my current field. I find myself reading research in my downtime on child language. I guess because it's interesting, but also because I can put it to USE now. Still not loving my geology course (that is almost over, praise the gods), but at least I'm trying to absorb some of it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Des!

WooHOOO!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Put her in my pocket and run.
I adore one of my non-attending kids that I see who just turned three. She is outrageously, scandalously, knock-yourself-over-the-head cute. I see her every week for 45 minutes and we're totally in love with each other. She's such a good kid: if she gets a knock, she shakes it off and continues on good-naturedly and she always, always helps to clean up at the end. Her speech is pretty unintelligible and she drops final consonants, so when she says "let's clean up!" it comes out "leh klee uh!" It's terrible to say, but it adds to the cuteness.

Her latest thing is that she loves the fish tank in the hallways, but since she can't yet produce the f-sound, it comes out: "Shi-!" when we visit it.

One of her deals is that she substitutes 'sh' for lots of sounds (as seen in the example given above), and today we were playing with animal magnets. One of them was a cat, so when she saw it, she exclaimed... (wait for it)
"SHITTY!"

I also see her brother on another day, and her mom told me that whenever this little one hears mention of him "going to speech" she puts her hands on her hips and says "No! It's L___'s turn for speech!" (she's L__, if it wasn't clear)