Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy Birthday, Laura!

And the birthday streak continues!
I can't describe how perfectly perfect the weather in Chicago has been over the last two weekends. So perfectly perfect, I have serious troubles finding the words to communicate this. Suffice it to say, it's been sunny, clear, blue, warm and downright lovely after six months of snow and gray.

How has the perfectly perfect weather been enjoyed?
-Walking extensively throughout Lincoln Square and Ravenswood
-Walking extensively throughout Logan Square and Humboldt Park
-Walking extensively and doing some imitation of jogging along the lakefront (blue, blue, blue)
-Soaking up the sun in Welles Park and gobbling up a novel.


Random Bits
--The other weekend Todd and I spent a couple of hours visiting Bear Claw, who was recording at Steve Albini's studio. On a sidenote, the studio is close to my workplace, and I drive past it daily. So close that the little coffee shop I go to sometimes has a quickly scrawled sign that mentions that Iggy Pop had come in and commented on the place's "coolness." Iggy Pop and the Stooges recorded at the studios at some point in the past year, I guess. I had never been in a recording studio before, and this was the real deal. We sat there and watched Steve Albini wolf down some tamales and then a few days later we saw him play with Shellac at a packed benefit show at Subterranean.

--Tonight was meeting three of Jenny's and my monthly supper club (goal: to conquer every unknown eatery in Chicago). So far, we've done Ethiopian, Mexican (after the Costa Rican place of choice was closed down unexpectedly and temporarily), and tonight was pizza in a liquor store called Marie's Pizza and Liquors. You walk through the liquor store to get to the restaurant, which is complete with plastic wood paneling and a glassy, bronzey Chicago skyline. Inside the liquor store, there's even a little "vineyard" area where you can eat. The neighborhood it's in is very diverse and I've never ventured into it before. On the way there, Todd and I spotted some woman who was walking and pulling her pants up from her thighs to her waist. Yeah, I don't know either.

--Last week we were watching "Cheaters" and after watching a particularly sad case of a gracious middle aged woman being cuckolded by her rude husband I sighed--SANS IRONY--"At least she called 'Cheaters.'"

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Happy Birthday to Suzi!
April is the birthday month for many of my favorite people.

Hope that 31 is treating you great already, girl.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Happy Birthday to Todd!

The best boyfriend ever turns 29 today. Live up that last year in your 20s!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy 31st to ANNE!

My dear and treasured friend is celebrating her birthday today. I wish that I could have been there with.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This needed to be blogged:
In this week's New Yorker, there is a piece in the "Talk of the Town" section about the whole Imus debacle by Nick Paumgarten (side opinion: I never listened to Imus before, but *how* did he get away with this stuff for so long? I can imagine him being confused for being shot down for a comment that he made in passing when he produced so much ridiculously horrible stuff before for SO long).


Here's part of the article and it's too rich not to be shared:

Snoop Dogg, carefully parsing the application of "ho," distanced himself and his rapper peers from the I-man. "We are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls," he told MTV News. "We're talking about ho's that's in the hood that ain't doing shit, that's trying to get a nigga for his money. These are two separate things."
I've been busy for the last week at work or so, which is not the norm since my caseload is pretty low and I'm only at one school. But the past week has been the perfect storm since report cards are due and a couple of evaluations needed to be done and reports needed to be written and I had volunteered to teach a Kindergarten class about "speech helpers" (that would be the lips, tongue, etc). And that meant planning and preparing for said class. The good news is that my supervisor lent me this awesome plastic mouth model called Mr. Mouth (with a tongue that you can manipulate--too cool!). AND, last Friday at our SLP professional development meeting we had this awesome presentation from a SLP from MN about bringing music into treatment. We even got four of her CDs to use. I can't describe to you how adorable these songs are: they're all language-rich and simple and all about stimulation, and often set to oldies. My personal favorite is "The Carbo Chorus" which is a multi-syllabic masterpiece of "spaghetti's" and "potatoes" set to a military march. It makes you want to dance, listening to these songs. Anyway, to make a long, monotonous story short--I found a couple of songs on her CDs that are about using your tongue tip and also about making labial (lip) sounds. Perfect.

I did the class today and it lasted exactly the hour that I promised and the kids loved it. The music SLP presenter suggested bringing in instruments for kids to help them become more engaged, so I accomplished a little low-tech magic. I found some plastic eggs that were sitting around in my old apartment and then filled them with tiny amounts of dried macaroni. Voila--instant percussion instruments. I was pretty proud of myself and it re-affirmed my suspicion that *nothing* must ever be thrown away. I ran into one of the kids from the class today at the end of the day and he called out: "YOU're the one who taught us about tongues!"

So true, young sparrow, so true.

I would estimate that 90% of the time, the kids call me "Mrs. M___." I know it's the kids who are really familiar with me who nail the Ms.

In other news, spring has finally sprung. Today I skipped the gym and opted to go for a nice leisurely jog/walk around my new neighborhood, which I love more every second I inhabit it. It felt nice to finally feel some sunshine on the face.

Oh, and of course I need to give a food update. Todd and I tried out Kuma's Corner on Saturday. It's a pub that is actually a ridiculously tiny hop and jump from my work place. They won an award recently for offering some of the city's best burgers, and it was well deserved. Kuma's has some notoriety for naming their burger options after heavy metal bands. I ordered the Motorhead, and it was delicious, topped with goat cheese, tzatiki, tomato and lettuce. There is also the Mastadon, the Black Sabbath, the Slayer, etc. And despite the glowering heavy metal names, the server was super friendly and the place was popping with a diverse selection of patrons. Plus, nice beer selection. I'm taking you all there when you come and visit me in Chicago.
Kuai Review in the Dallas Morning News!
I was a little late to the door on this, but I just found it. I was searching in the wrong place, apparently. I think it was pretty positive and good!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I've been quiet.
No news is good news, right? It was rough getting back to work this past Monday but things are heating up quickly again.

There's old news to catch up on, though. I wanted to share that a couple of weeks ago, we went to go and see Explosions in the Sky play at the Metro. Charles had tried to turn me onto them many years ago (I even backed out of a trip to Baltimore to see them back in 2001 or something). It was only when I came to Chicago and Todd re-introduced me to them that I got hooked. I immediately fell in love with their gloriousness and used it as non-stop study music while in grad school. Needless to say, I was psyched to finally see them play live.

And how was it? They were awesome. I told Todd afterward that although it sounds cheese-ster, there is no other way to say it, but that their music makes my heart soar. Really, it does. There's lots of quiet beauty, and build up, and musical climaxes, and it's completely lovely.

But the concert experience was something else to speak of. It was an all-ages show, and it was packed to the gills. We opted to grab dinner during the opening band, so walked in an hour after the doors opened. I knew that it would be crowded, so was at peace with the fact that we were three layers back on the front balcony (I could peek through and catch sight of one of the band members below). I stood behind three single dudes who I surmised had been waiting there since the beginning, so they deserved their spots right by the rails.

Then I noticed this couple sidle up. It was a girl and her boyfriend, and they got there about half an hour after we got there. The girl did the crappy-but-noone-will-complain trick of ducking under dudes and pushing her way up front. In FRONT of these guys who had put in their time waiting for the best viewing. I was annoyed for them, but the dudes were stoic, so they didn't say anything and bore it with dignity. The girl would occasionally reach back for her boyfriend's hand and look swooningly at him, but he pretty much stayed back where I was. UNTIL, she pulled him up with her, pushing the stoic dude beside me even farther back so he was actually standing farther back than me. And THEN, they proceeded to make out very voraciously. In conclusion, it was gauche and gross, and bad concert etiquette.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Happy, Happy Birthday, Christie!

My favorite German/Costa Rican there ever was.
Dallas was fun. Seeing Robin was great, and hanging out was even greater, and working at the restaurant all day on Monday and half the day on Tuesday wasn't so much great as it was educational and rewarding even (in terms of dumpling payment and spiritually too).

I must report that Kuai, the quick-food dumpling take out place put together by my very awesome brother and his two very awesome business school cadres, was nothing short of phenomenal. As I've told everything whom I've talked to about this, I would have lied to those guys and told them that the dumplings and food was great even if they weren't.

But they were really, really, really great. Plump and tasty and totally filled with quality and fresh ingredients.

So you want to hear about the menu? The dumplings include pork, chicken, and vegetable. They also offer three kinds of soups (hot and sour, egg drop, and won ton). Beyond that, there's also enormous and super fresh Viet garden rolls outfitted with two gargantuan shrimp and delicious, fresh chicken. There's also edamame, seafood salad, and ginger salad. Oh, and they sell boxes of Pocky, those little chocolate-dipped skinny cookie fingers that you see in Asian grocery store (unfortunately, Kuai does not offer Men's Pocky....yet.)

And nothing is fried, so it's super healthy. And cheap. A five-pack of dumplings is less than four bucks. You can get soup and a five-pack which will fill you up and under $6. I wish that they opened their first store near me (like, next door).

Oh, and the wonton soup? The guys make those wontons fresh too. I was thinking that they just bought frozen wontons, but they were just as freshly made as the dumplings. AND they have containers of fried shallots and another of chopped green onions for you to top your soups with.

So the dudes took advantage of my presence there at Kuai this week and worked me. I chopped an entire crate of tofu for the veggie dumplings. I helped peel half a crate of monstrous fingers of ginger (what a pain in the ass that was). I chopped mushrooms, celery, and onions. I helped pour sauces. I did a lot of industrial dish washing. I swept the floors. I helped lay out dumpling boxes. I took a phone order. I also watched them go through the painstaking process of making these dumplings. It was pretty sexy stuff, but all worth it since I got paid in food.

So, bottom line is that I'm really proud of them. And excited for what the future holds for delicious Kuai dumplings.

Beyond that, the rest of the visit was very laid back. The weather was flawless: sunny and in the 70s. On Sunday, I went to brunch with Robin and others where the restaurant offered bottomless bloody mary-s, bellinis, and mimosas for $3.50. BOTTOMLESS. $3.50. And now I see why there is so much drunk driving in Dallas because these people can drink a hell of a lot. The weather was also perfect enough to allow us to laze by the pool in the late afternoon (btw, weather in Chicago right now? Wind-warnings, overcast, and 30 degrees).

Dallas itself is full of shiny windows on its buildings. There is greenery and a lot of highway. Robin and I did exactly one touristy thing when we went to see the site of JFK's assassination. It took us like 15 minutes total to park, walk over, get a gander, snap a couple of shots, and then drive away. Someone marked the actual assassination spot with a medium-sized "x." I was surprised to see where it was since in all of the footage I pictured the spot being surrounded by buildings and a lot more flat. However, the place essentially appeared to be a highway exit. We had to take a few pictures of me pointing at the spot since cars kept on driving over the thing.

Although it was sad to bid Robin farewell, it's good to be home, to get back to my regular workout schedule, and continue tackling the slow unpacking of my place. The cable and Internet got installed today, and it's positively lovely to catch up on my Bravo shows and type here on my couch. I don't head back to work till Monday, so I have four more days free.
The kitchen:

where the magic happens, which includes all of the chopping.

And believe me, there is chopping.
A little taste of what is in the shelves. The vat is labeled "soy sauce."
Robin, Chris and Jeff posing at the counter of Kuai.
The outside of Robin's restaurant. Very professional, eh?

A small piece of shiny-Dallas in the horizon, and Robin gazing upon it pensively. As you do.
The grassy knoll.
The barely seen "x" on the road.
A tiny gaggle of tourists across the street.

So lies the Dallas tourist experience.