Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Totally Random Thoughts

When I was walking home from work the other night, I saw a duck on my street. I live quite far from the river. Where did the duck come from?

Trader’s Joe’s Mediterranean Creamy & Smooth Hummus is quite possibly the best hummus I’ve ever had anywhere. It’s like crack. I eat it with carrot sticks to justify gorging on it. (Better than ice cream, right?)

The zit on my nose from the Crème de la Mer just will not go away. It is still there and it’s been over a week. Ugh.

I really wish Blink-182 would release a new album.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when Lost ends. I can’t find a show to replace it.

I saw an ad for a new show called Covert Affairs on USA network, and from the ad it looks exactly like Alias. Really TV writers? You go on strike and we end up with a show that has already been done (and done well, I might add)?

The Joy of Bathing Suit Shopping

Yesterday I had to do the activity that I dread enough that I haven’t done it in a couple of years. I went shopping for a new bathing suit. You see, I’m going on a cruise in two short weeks, so I’m going to be primarily forced into a bathing suit at some point. I went through all of the bathing suits I own (about six), and I hate all of them. When I bought them, I loved them; now I hate them. Que sera, sera. Not to mention that I’ve gained about five pounds so I feel like a bloated whale in anything that is even semi revealing.

I went to Macy’s on State Street, which has a pretty good selection of bathing suits on the fourth floor. When I saw the spread, I though surely I can find something that doesn’t make me look terrible. I mean, I’m not enormous. Sometimes I think I’m much harder on the way I look than other people likely are. My male co-workers tell me I’m skinny. But I’m not – I’m just a 35 year old woman who knows how to dress in such a way that flatters my figure. (It took me years to figure out how to do this.) In clothing, I can look skinny. But put me in a bathing suit and the cellulite on the back of my thighs stares you right in the face.

The first thing that struck me was that the vast majority of the cute swimsuits out there are string bikinis. Who wears these in real life? I’m not talking about celebrities who can pay for personal trainers and have the luxury of a personal chef and the ability to work out for four hours a day. But regular people. Does anyone buy these other than 18 year old girls? And how do 18 year old girls afford a $200 Betsy Johnson or Juicy Couture bikini? I don’t know, but the reality is that I would not want to see the vast majority of women I see on a daily basis in a string bikini.

I tried on eight bathing suits. They all looked awful. I need a medium on top and a large on the bottom because I am a big pear. None of the one pieces were cute. (Why are swimsuits so bright and flowery?) Most of the tankinis were hideous, although I tried on a couple. I just looked terrible in everything. However, I found one Kenneth Cole suit that I really liked (it had a skirt bottom! Which hides the worst part of my thighs! Oh hurray that this is in style!), but they only had the bottom in a Medium. I most assuredly needed a Large. So, I went home empty handed, went online, found said bathing suit with a large bottom and bought two of them in different colors. I can’t believe I’ve entered the age where a skirt bottom is necessary and possibly appropriate. Although, the skirt bottom appears to be at least in style, so maybe I’m not so bad off after all…

Monday, April 26, 2010

Five Really Boring Days

I didn’t intend to post about Lindsay Lohan again so soon, but the past five days has been rather busy for her. Here is what happened:

She failed to show up for her deposition because she “couldn’t get a ride.” This is the second scheduling of this deposition. The first one she missed because she was much too busy. (This is the lawsuit brought by the passengers in her car back in 2007 who she took on a crazy ride down the PCH.)

The Judge ordered her to show up for her deposition on May 4, 2010.

She was accused of stealing a Rolex her friend left at her house.

Her father barged into her apartment with the LAPD under the auspices of doing a “welfare check” on her sister Ali.

She got axed from a movie because she “wasn’t bankable.”

She got into a Twitter argument with Perez Hilton.

She threw a glass of water at Samantha Ronson at a club.

Her father threatened to take legal action to save her from herself and demanded a meeting with her.

She skipped the aforementioned meeting.

All of the above things have happened since April 21, 2010. FIVE DAYS AGO. Who lives like this? Who can stand this much drama? I really wish I could just look away…but I can’t. None of this is going to end well.

And God, do I have a boring life in comparison. All I did in the past five days was go to work, met my friends for lunch today, went to Second City Saturday night and saw a show, had dinner with some friends prior to the show on Saturday night, caught up on some of my DVR'd shows and made a trip to the CVS for some toilet paper. But you know, somehow I'm not at all jealous of Lindsay Lohan. She can keep the drama.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Satellite Dishes at Cabrini Green

I’ve been reading Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing (Historical Studies of Urban America) by D. Bradford Hunt. What prompted me to read this book? Well, not only do I really enjoy non-fiction, but I was walking down Halsted the other day after a fabulous crepe at Iguana Cafe (seriously, their crepes are to die for), when I encountered one of the remaining Cabrini Green towers at the corner of Division and Hasted. For some crazy idea I had been under the impression that all of the towers had been vacated. Apparently not. I found solid proof that people are still living in Cabrini Green towers. These aren’t squatters either. How do I know this?

Satellite dishes. I didn’t stop to specifically count how many, but there were at least five hanging outside of various units on the side of the building facing Halsted. I opted not to wander around to the other side of the building to count satellite dishes over there. I couldn’t read whether the dishes were from Dish or DirectTV, but I have to admit that I was baffled. Why are there satellite dishes outside of public housing units, and who is paying for them? I don’t want to begrudge anyone their constitutional right to watch television, but I find something extremely troubling about a person living off the taxpayer’s dime, yet paying the (not cheap at all) fees to have satellite television. It’s not difficult to imagine a large flatscreen television inside the units.

I’ll admit to having no idea how much it costs a person to live in Cabrini Green, but I can’t imagine the cost is very high. At what point does a person living in the projects on the taxpayer’s dime have to begin giving up certainly luxuries, such as satellite dishes? Should they be allowed to buy the luxuries in life while living in public housing? And what about cars? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a person in front of me in line at the grocery store or the drug store pay for their purchases with a foodstamp card, only to load up all of their items into a brand new Cadillac in the parking lot. Maybe I’m just jealous because I never attempted to scam the system, or because I didn’t get a satellite dish until six months ago.

At any rate, the book is interesting. I’m only about a hundred pages into it, but it’s pretty fascinating to find out why the projects (not only Cabrini Green, but Robert Taylor Homes, Altgeld Gardens, and others) were located where they are and all of the racial tensions involved in their construction.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wasting More Taxpayer Money...

USA Today is reporting that approximately 71% of households have completed and mailed back the 2010 census forms. That leaves approximately 50 million addresses that census workers now have to visit to convince the slackers to fill out the damn form. Here’s an idea: if you don’t fill out and mail back your census form, you don’t get any government entitlements. No welfare, no foodstamps, no Medicare, no Medicaid, and no ability to deduct your children from your taxes. Think that would encourage people to take five minutes to fill out the form and mail it back without having to pay someone to go door to door? What a waste of money.

Speaking of wastes of money and the 2010 census, here is what I got in the mail from the government:

A postcard telling me my census form was coming.

The census form itself.

A postcard telling me to make sure to fill out my census form.

Another census form. (After I had already mailed the first one in.)

Another postcard telling me to make sure to fill out my census form.

Was all of this really necessary? How much money did the government spend to send me duplicate census forms, duplicate postcards, and a “warning” that the census form was coming postcard? And this is the institution that is going to be regulating our health care?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ten Things I've Learned About Fashion

I’ve enjoyed buying and wearing clothes my entire life. I’ve followed the trends, splurged, saled, and shopped like a champ. I’ve also made some mistakes along the way, and some of said mistakes are still hanging in my closet. This is what I’ve learned:

1. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. I can’t tell you how many items I have bought over the years that were purchased merely because they were “a good deal” without much thought into the fit and longevity of said item. I’m the master of “but it’s Michael Kors! And it’s only $49.99!” Nevermind that it is tight where it shouldn’t be tight, loose where it shouldn’t be loose, is a formal dress when I have nowhere formal to go, and will be out of style in three months. There is a reason things end up on the sale rack.

2. If you really love an item, buy it. On the flip side of the above, I’ve also tried to play the waiting game in an effort to save a buck. Of course by the time said item is on sale they are normally out of my size, which leads me back to number 1 on this list. When you find an item that looks fabulous and you love, buy it. Don’t try to wait for the sale.

3. Spend money on things that will always fit – i.e., purses and shoes. No matter how much weight you gain or lose, both of these items will always fit. Therefore, if you are going to fork out an obscene amount of cash on fashion, best to do it on shoes and purses rather than that trendy pair of pants that will only work for a season or two.

4. Keep an organized closet and at least twice a year go through it, organize, donate, figure out what you need, what you don’t need, and buy only what you really need. For awhile I was convinced that I was running low on black pants and black turtlenecks. I now have 18 (yes!) black turtlenecks. I didn’t need to buy this many – I just couldn’t find them in the colossal mess that was my closet. Ditto for the black pants, although I only have 8 pairs of those.

5. There is absolutely no reason to keep items that you will never fit into again. And even if you can fit into them again, are you really going to want to wear them? No, probably not. You are going to go shopping and buy a boatload of new things to fit your new body. Be realistic about your size.

6. When in doubt, go up a size. I’ve spent too much money on items that “just fit” with the mindset that I would lose five pounds. Well, I didn’t lose five pounds. I gained five pounds and now those items are sitting in my closet, and I’m hoping I’ll get into them again. See number 5.

7. If you want to hop on the latest trend, don’t spend a lot of money to do so. You can find great trendy items on the cheap at stores like H&M, Marshall’s, and TJ Maxx. Unless you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, there is no reason to spend a lot on something that will be in style for only one season.

8. No matter how much you like it, you don’t need one in every color. See number 4. Be realistic and buy only what you need and only what you will wear.

9. Be realistic about whether you will wear an item before purchasing. No matter how cute those 4” heels are, are you really going to wear them out? While I’m sure they look adorable around the apartment, they are a waste of money if you can’t bear to totter out of the house in them because you are afraid you will fall on the ground. Same goes for that cute skimpy top that would look great on a supermodel.

10. Find out what styles and cuts look good on you and buy only those. Be honest with yourself. Not everyone looks good in leggings, skinny jeans, long sweaters, spaghetti strap tops, short skirts, and low rise jeans. Just because something is in style doesn’t mean it is going to work for you. Just accept it and buy what does work for you, and what looks good on you. For example, I carry my weigh in my hips (yes, I’m a pear!) so I do not look good in blazers and tops that are longer because they only accentuate my hips. So, I buy blazers and tops that hit me at mid hip because they look good on me, and I Just Say No to anything that doesn’t.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flashback to 1985

I had a terrifying shopping experience over the weekend. I went shopping in the wonderful Halsted/Armitage strip of shops (such a welcome change from the chaos of Michigan Avenue), and I was ready to spend. Spend, spend, spend! While I have three huge closets jammed with clothes and shoes already, for one reason or another I am tired of everything and want new clothes. (I guess spring weather does that to a person. This is not the first time I have felt this way; it tends to come with the dawning of every season.)

The Halsted and Armitage area includes such shops as BCBG, Bebe, Arden B, Benetton, American Apparel, and other shops along those lines. Trendy shops. Boutiques. Fun stuff. However, as I entered each of these shops, my heart sank and my enthusiasm faltered. What did I see? A time warp. Specifically, a trip back in time to the mid-eighties. Each store felt like a thrift shop loaded with 80s cast offs, yet everything was new. In short, what is up with the fashions for spring/summer 2010? Neon? Leggings? Tights disguising as leggings? Spandex? (Yes, freaking Spandex!) Big t-shirts? Oversized belts? Floral prints? One shoulder shirts a la Flashdance? Skinny jeans? Acid washed jeans? (Oh yes, I saw them!) Ruffle dresses? Tube tops?

Ugh. And worst of all, it all looked so cheap.

I love fashion. I love buying clothes, wearing clothes, and looking at my clothes. And since I don’t have children, much of my disposable income goes toward clothes, shoes, and purses. So why, oh why, are the fashion gods doing this to me? You see, I’ve been there, done that, when it comes to all of this stuff. Worse, I did it when I was 11 to 14 years old. I was trend setting with the best of them. No one could rock the neon/acid washed look like me! No one could rock the leggings like me! So I cannot – absolutely cannot – wear the same type of clothing I wore in middle school as a 35 year old. While I understand that fashion trends change and cycle, why does the current throwback to the eighties have to be so literal? Couldn’t these designers have come up with something a bit less obvious and more creative? Why does everything have to be a copy of something else?

I am pleased to report that all was not lost. I ended up dropping around $500 on a dress and skirt at BCBG (by far the least offensive store), a pair of shoes at Nine West, and two North Face shirts from REI. I will, however, be staying out of many of those stores for at least the next six months. Specifically Arden B, who was by far the worst offender. You should’ve seen some of the dresses they had. Really hideous stuff.

But then it occurred to me. Am I too old to be shopping at these stores? Is that perhaps why I find these fashions so offensive? Do I need to go to (shudder) Talbots, J. Jill, Coldwater Creek or Chicos? Oh no, say it ain’t so. I’m not ready for that yet.

Crème de la Mer

I broke down and bought this about three weeks ago, after hearing that Jennifer Lopez loved it so much she was stockpiling it. I say “broke down” because it costs $130 an ounce, not exactly a small sum of money for skin care. Frankly, I don’t know what the difference is between all the creams, wrinkle releasers, collagen tubes, rejuvenators, serums, and lotions that are available today. All I really want to know is which ones work. Do they all work? Do some work better than others? Ultimately, will they work for me? Because it’s all about me here. Problem is you don’t know if they work until you try, and to try you generally need to buy. The tiny little samples don’t exactly last very long.

My skin actually looks pretty good for my age since I cover my face with a load of SPF 45 every time I go out in the sun, and I really don’t have many wrinkles (yet), but preventative measures certainly can’t hurt. And hell, if J-Lo swears by it, it must be good. So, I’ve been using the Crème de la Mer. I like the way it feels on my skin, I like the smell, and it really does seem to make my skin look better with respect to aging issues. Just one problem – it’s making me break out! It’s absolutely the la Mer that is causing the acne issues because I didn’t have any pimples before I started using it. And now I currently have a pimple right in the middle of my nose that won’t go away. It’s like a beacon. So, what does one do with a $130 thimble of lotion that seems to work for its intended purpose, yet causes unintended consequences?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Night Hops

Went out for drinks this evening with the Ms. This is obviously a fake name, to protect the innocent. I call them that because they are two men I work with who have the same first name. Before you ask, I'll answer the questions: Yes, they are both married. No, I am not having an affair with either one of them. In fact, I have no interest in either one of them. We just like to booze together after work.

At around 5:15 M1 (higher on the letterhead ranks M1) popped his head into my office and asked if I wanted to get a cocktail. I told him I needed about fifteen minutes, and I'd meet him over at The Usual Joint. The Usual Joint being the place where everyone knows our name and the bartender brings my drink of choice before I've even shoved my bag under the bar and taken off my coat. It's also two blocks from the office.

At 5:20, one of my coworkers who I am on a case with forwarded me an e-mail with some bullshit from opposing counsel, and some caselaw that opposing counsel "assures us" supports his position. Forty five minutes later, I was quite sure that the caselaw not only didn't support his position, but was unpublished so it meant squat anyway.

Meanwhile, M1 calls my office phone to find out where I was. Oops! I was so engrossed in my research on this twenty five year old case that issued before the Federal Circuit even existed that I forgot to leave and go have drinks. So, tout suite, I did so. Packed up my things and moved on to bigger and better things.

When I arrived at The Usual Joint, M1 and M2 were sitting at the bar, and shockingly M2 was drinking a Coke. Eh, but what is this? Why is M2 drinking a Coke and not a beer? Unfortunately, M2 has a trial next week, and he needed to go back to work this evening, so drinks were not in the cards for him.

That's fine. M1 and I had it covered. My drink of choice is lite beer, his is wine. I've found that drinking anything other than lite beer usually winds up with me either (1) blacking out; or (2) falling down. I swear, even one too many Stellas can throw me over the edge. And let's not talk about hard liquor or an entire bottle of wine. Embarrassing times. Hence, lite beer. Particularly (and especially) because it is a work night, and the beginning of the week. I certainly do not want to ruin my entire week on Monday.

I only had a few beers, because M1 had to get home to his wife and kids, and I'm sorry to report that nothing particularly exciting happened. We talked a bit about work, a bit about vacation plans for the summer, and that was about it. But, it was good to get out, even though I never go out on Monday nights anymore outside of football season. And, now that I've had a few beers I want a few more, so that means I will not be working out this evening, which is bad. Maya from My Fitness Coach (Wii edition) is going to yell at me tomorrow, but that's okay.

The New Hot Thing

I haven’t read the Twilight series, nor do I have any desire to. Someday maybe I’ll read them, but for some reason I’m instantly put off by the whole “YOU MUST READ THIS” hoopla that some books and movies acquire. If someone tells me I MUST read/see it, then I instantly do not want to do said thing. I feel the same way about Avatar. Ever since I heard that it was the most expensive movie ever, I actually kind of wanted to see it fail. While I didn’t see it, most of the rest of the word did, so needless to say, that never happened. I guess I’m somewhat bothered by the idea that someone agreed to spend $500 million dollars on making a movie. I mean, really? Our economy is in the gutter, and yet Hollywood is out blowing $500 million dollars on a movie? Oh well. This is kind of a newer thing for me. I feel like if I was 13 years old I would’ve been all over the Twilight/Avatar phenomena. But as an adult, I simply don’t like jumping aboard whatever train the media tells me is the NEW HOT THING. Because really, next year there will be another NEW HOT THING, and everyone will probably be talking about how lame Twilight was in comparison. So isn’t kind of a waste of time to get caught up in every little thing that comes along, when it will be outdated and overshadowed by something else soon anyway?

Trainwreck of the Day - Lindsay Lohan

Like many people, I am strangely enthralled with trainwrecks. In particular, the trainwreck that is Lindsay Lohan. On the one hand, I wish no one would ever write an article about her or take her photograph again. On the other hand, whenever I see an article about her, I have to read it, and whenever I spot a photograph of her falling outside of a bar, I have to look at it and laugh. I understand this makes no sense, and I also understand that by writing this post I'm being a hypocrite. It’s just that I’m constantly amused by the stupid things she does. It’s enthralling. Remember when she had those photographs taken where she attempted to look like Marilyn Monroe? (God, why do all young starlets do this to themselves? You are not and will never be Marilyn.) Remember when she was getting DUIs more often than the rest of us were changing bars of soap? Remember when she first started leaving the house in tights with no pants? (Tights, not leggings, but tights.) Remember when she decided she was a lesbian? Oh, and remember when she sued eTrade because she thought they were mocking her?

At one time, maybe two or three years ago, I thought maybe she could pull it together. But now? These stupid antics have been going on for so long that they are a part of her persona. Is it even possible to see Lindsay Lohan “acting” in a movie and to think about anything other than how far she has fallen? This is a girl who had everything, the world was her oyster so to speak, and she completely face planted. Can she ever come back? Robert Downey Jr. did, but not only is he immensely talented, he was never as out there as Lindsay. Every time I see a photograph of her, I can’t help but wonder whether she ever just stays at home and watches TV. There have got to be places in Los Angeles or New York she could go without getting bombarded by paparazzi. Right? So why does she constantly go to all the super trendy places where the paparazzi hang out? I can only conclude that she likes the attention, and is too dense to realize that none of this is helping her career. Oh wait, what career?

And now the NY Daily News is reporting that she is $600,000 in credit card debt. This follows on the heels of a report that she was $23,000 behind in her rent, which she has apparently now paid. If you think about it, this report is entirely plausible. Although it seems like Lindsay has been around for ages and must be at least 40 years old, she is really only 23 years old. And the last “big” movie she was in was probably Mean Girls back in 2004. Six years ago. She’s essentially had a series of flops and a complete meltdown since then. In short, I don’t find it difficult at all to believe that she has gone through all of her money. I mean, this is a girl who lived at the Chateau Marmont hotel for a year when she had a perfectly good house.

Whether or not Lindsay doesn’t have the money to pay the credit cards or that she simply forgot to pay the credit cards, this only adds more fuel to the fire that her career is completely and utterly done. Although I would miss the entertainment that is Lindsay Lohan, I sincerely wish this girl would just take a step back out of the limelight for about two years. Move to Idaho like Demi Moore did. Go to college. Read a book. Hide in an attic and make paper flowers. Do anything other than shop and try to get into the hottest club. Sit back and think about what you are doing and what you want out of your life. Is this really it, Lindsay?

Beginnings

When I was a little girl, I never dreamed about getting married. Although I recall owning a wedding dress or two for my Barbie doll, and staging some faux weddings between Barbie and Michael Jackson or G.I. Joe (depending on which one was readily available), it wasn’t because I pictured myself in Barbie’s place, or even necessarily wanted Barbie to be tethered to a man so she could start popping out fake children. It was just something to do. After all, Barbie had a Dream House, a Ferrari, a Dream Store, a hair salon, a pool, a camper, and a whole wardrobe of clothes and shoes. Why shouldn’t she get married?

And indeed, why shouldn’t I? But as the chips have fallen, I am 35 years old and never married. It’s not as though I haven’t had the chance, because I have. Somehow I always managed to avoid that fork in the road, whether intentionally or accidentally. And I’m fine with it. What’s odd is that other people have a problem with it.

Whyaren’tyoumarriedwhydon’tyoufindamandon’tyouwantkids. The neverending refrain from my mother, my aunts, my grandmother, various acquaintances and co-workers. But really – I’ve never had any desire to get married. The majority of people I know who are married seem fairly miserable. And why would I want to share half of my now rather big income? (After all, since I wasn’t focused on men, I focused on my career – to great success.)

The way I see it, I missed the boat by not doing it when I was in my early twenties and knew a lot less. Not that I was stupid back then, but I was certainly more stupid than I am today, and certainly way less cynical. And before you start jumping to conclusions, you should also know that I am relatively attractive, have a normal BMI, love fashion, and have a variety of interests.

So, where are we? 35, single, no kids, financially secure, homeowner, great job, living in the heart of Chicago. What more could a woman want?