Saturday, September 29, 2007

Funny, That

Lunch yesterday was a bagel and cream cheese from Einstein's. I need to start bringing my own lunch to work or else I'm going to constantly be shelling out money for eats.

Then, when I came home, I found an envelope in our mailbox. When I opened it I found the following:

Which is funny, seeing as I just had fish tacos on Tuesday. I'm a bit unclear as to how, exactly, this awesome fish taco bracelet came to me. I assume it's through a Chicagoist channel. It was a very nice and unexpected treat. Present even.

Fish Tacos c/o Matilda

On Tuesday I met up with Player of Words at Matilda. We both had one dirty vodka martini. Well, we each had our own. I didn't find it dirty enough for my taste, actually. I had their simple salad and three fish tacos. On Tuesdays their fish tacos are a dollar each. They were tasty.
Tasty and flashed out and not rotated properly. Boo. I hadn't seen Player in quite some time and it was nice to catch up. Just up the street Peter Bjorn and John (or whatever the order is) were playing a show. I thought it was weird that when the show ended and recent goers of that show started filtering into the bar the staff decided to put on the band's album. Is it just me or is that weird? Player could see it both ways. I guess I haven't been to a musical show in forever. When was the last show I went to? Yikes. It may have been Sigur Ros in 2003 or was it 2004?
When I went to the Belmont stop to get home they were doing all sorts of crazy bright lighted night time construction.
Oh, the salad wasn't worth the effort, by the way. Well, it was a standard salad and its tomato slices were not very good. Not ice berg lettuce though and that's something. They also had $3 Pacificos.

Friday, September 28, 2007

This Reminded Rachelleb of Me...And I Have No Idea Why!

This was found here.

Work Is Just a Tiny Bit Slow at the Moment

Five songs, for better or worse, I listen to on repeat sometimes.

On Call (Kings of Leon)
Level (The Raconteurs)
Staring at the Sun (TV on the Radio)
Amsterdam (Peter Bjorn and John)
Already Dead (Beck)

So Lazy I Didn't Even Call the Place

On Sunday, after work, I began an epic watching of the glorious television show that is's like Monk only with cuter mystery solvers and far less neurosis/OCD-ness. She-Who called and asked Tonguethrust and I if we wanted any Thai/noodley food since she was out but on her way back to our place. In a panic and without a menu I went with Pad Thai with shrimp. It was quite good and I was quite hungry. Then we all lay on sofas watching the television...well, Tonguethrust did some sort of work. She-Who got the food from here and didn't let us pay for it. Thank you She-Who!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Visitors Make Party Fun Time (Happy Birthday Tonguethrust)

On Saturday Mousehead, She-Who and Exploded Viewer came from two corners of the earth (Indiana and California) for a whirlwind hello fest. I was at work until 6 and while I was doing that whole worky thing they were buying food and taking names...or calling people with names at any rate. The only thing I did to prepare for the fun was make the below tomatoes.

This was exploded-viewer's burger. I thought it looked very good though I ate mainly sausage.
Mousehead took a turn at the grill minding.
It was a good night for the most part. I, of course, talked too much and acted the fool at least five times. Then I had work the next day. The weekend working does cramp one's (already limited) social schedule. It was nice to see the no-longer-living in Chicago faces as well as an array of equally unseen though still living in Chicago faces.

Oh and thanks to the three visitors for doing such a bang up job of the cleaning the house so's that when I came home, expecting to have to tackle a mess and a half, there wasn't much to tackle at all!

Oh yes, and it was tonguethrust's birthday as's never too late to go over to her blog and wish her belated good tidings.

Lunch Hour

Also some time last week I went to Penny's Noodle Shop on my lunch break. I had the cucumber salad and the chicken satay. The salad wasn't what I was expecting but it was big and ended up also being my dinner for the next day...that next day I added avocados and a good spritz of lemon juice.
I think that I expect satay to be as good as I thought it was when I was 8. The problem is that my taste buds have grown up a bit and so I'm always disappointed. This satay, like Koon 9's from a few weeks back, lacked any flavor of note.

Love Me Some Radishes

My goodness. These radishes were eaten by me at least a week ago. I love radishes with a bit of salt. They're the perfect healthy snack...if only I always turned to radishes when I was hungry.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Not Food

I've been picking up and reading then putting down The Eleventh Draft for a few weeks now. Every time I start reading an essay about "craft and the writing life from the Iowa Writers' Workshop" I find a little nugget that makes sense to my own 'process' then I get a strong desire to write and then sometimes I do.

This morning I read this little nugget by Jayne Anne Phillips:

"Writers do chastise themselves, with seriousness and skill...Some turn with relief to letter writing or diaries, free of the pressure of perfection, choosing words to entertain or communicate. Happy at the prospect of a wholeheartedly interested listener, the writer engages a distant correspondent or some version of a private, non-artist self."

I used to write a lot of letters but as email became less and less vogue and more and more just the way, I lost the majority of correspondents. So blogging became my letter writing though without one particular reader (let alone a wholeheartedly interested one) and leaving out a good majority of my private life and thoughts. I was a very good journal writer up through college though my production level in recounting the small details of my daily life also dried up as I became a bit jaded about why it mattered in the first place. So now blogging is the main way I record my life. It is true that I can go back through my archives to any post and usually can remember more than just the meal or movie, usually I remember the larger context in which it was I was feeling, what I was really thinking. I also can see what was about to come that I didn't know about.

This morning I woke up on time but was having such a wonderful/strange/vivid dream I hit snooze and then, because the dream was so good I refused to wake up again and managed to hit off instead of snooze at some later alarm interval. I still had/have plenty of time before work to make a cup of tea, get dressed, check my email, read a little, smoke one of my (now 8) cigarettes of the day and blog. I could just as easily have made the tea, dressed, smoked the cigarette and written a bit of my novel but I didn't. Then I read a bit of the aforementioned book and thought, well I still have an hour perhaps I should get down to it...but instead I decided I would blog.

There was another quote from another essay that I liked from Ethan Canin's Smallness and Invention:

He's talking about trying to write awesome, perfect stories for his Iowa thesis.

"Nothing, of course, came of my attempts. I sat frozen at the keys for hours at a time, imagining not only completed stories, but stories already on their swift flight to acclaim. I saw readers moved, as I was, to inexplicable tears. In this manner I wrote four, five, six beginnings. Then I gave up. As it turns out, the only thing that saved me was the despondency that finally forced me to abandon grandiosity and start once again with a small event...I had no idea where the episode would go, but I started by imagining a man whose neighbor wants to cut down his elm tree. Nothing more. No hopes. No messages. No finale. The only way to circumvent the pressure was to sneak in around it, I discovered, to trick the mind, which so easily runs ecstatically or dismally ahead of itself, onto a path of small invention. That path, it seems to me, is a maze, and the writer is not above it but inside it."

I am currently trying to decide if the next step in my own maze is having one of my characters meet a man with a dog in an isolated area, two teenagers looking to get high in an isolated area or a scary homeless man in an isolated area. I have written the guy with the dog scenario. Before she meets any of these versions, she is convinced that the footsteps and voice(s) she hears will lead to her own death...she's scared but she's had a bad couple of weeks and is perversely expectant about it. She's not going to die, I don't think, but I'm unclear as to whether all the fear and emotion she's let build inside would best be dealt with by guy with dog/teenage hoodlums/homeless guy. I have a sinking suspicion that I'm going to have to write all three possibilities out. This is altogether unappealing. The outcome for each is the same: she lives and goes back to her apartment to find a phone message from another friend. But what, exactly, happens and how that effects her specific emotional story arc is unclear. I take the baby steps. I don't go into writing with a grand concept of "what it all means". All's I'm trying to do is write a good story for goodness sakes. But when even the baby steps seem like giants' strides, well, Ethan Canin, what do you do then?

I guess you blog and leave the novel file unopened.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yum, Yum, Evil Dick What?

Later on Tuesday M. Lady came over for wine, pizza and the finale of Big Brother 8. Earlier that day I had gone to the grocery store and was entirely amazed to find heirloom tomatoes. Now, for sure, there wasn't as big a selection or as fresh a bunch of tomatoes as a farmer's market (sigh I haven't made it to a single farmer's market this summer...well, except for in Tennessee). So, of course, I had to get some. So when M. Lady arrived, after we went to the dog park with the dogs....I cut a tomato up, splashed a little olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and mozzarella cheese on it...if I had basil I would have used it, but I did not.
We ordered a 14 inch pan pizza with pineapple, black olive and extra cheese from Art of Pizza. It was very good, though very thick. I forgot that with them you can order a thin crust and still have a relatively thick one. All good, all good. And boy was I surprised by Big Brother's winner.

In My Younger Days

In my younger days I was a bonafide slurpee fanatic. Man did I like a Slurpee (does one capitalize slurpee?). When I went to college I found myself in an almost entirely Slurpee-free environment. So I developed a passion for Dunkin Donuts' iced coffee, and hot coffee, and bagels with cream cheese. But deep down I've always missed the sugary sweet icy coldness of a slurpee on a hot day. In high school I tried to convince teachers to take entire classes to 7-11 for a round of cold ones...I'm pretty sure no one ever let this dream come true. When I was home from school I'd often drive to the nearby 7-11 once a day. That blue blue flavor, mixed with a little coca-cola and an extra squeeze of cherry red and you've got yourself a treat.
All to say that on Tuesday I got myself a slurpee...and it was deeeeee-licious!

Bit A Bit A Burger

On one of the nights I hung out with the dogs...I think Saturday? I made myself a burger. The meat was seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, pepper and something else. It wasn't all that good, honestly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


A week or two ago I ordered sushi delivered to myself from Grande Noodles and Sushi. I wouldn't say it was very good. The avocado in all the rolls was disturbingly squishy. The yellowtail and jalepeno roll was good except for the squishy-ness. And, of course, nothing is as good when it has traveled...but I had a delivery coupon, so I couldn't help myself. The sweet potato roll was the best of the bunch...covered in crunch tempura flake and served warm. The miso soup tasted weird. I wouldn't bother trying them out again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007


Two disappointing things:

1) If you're making a show about New Orleans cops shouldn't at least a few of the characters speak with a southern accent? I mean really.

2) If you're making a movie based on a Margaret Atwood book (Robber Bride) shouldn't you pay at least a little attention to what made the plot so good and characters so amazing?

The answer to both questions, according to K-Ville and Oxygen's Robber Bride, is no.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Alan Greenspan Got an $8 Million Advance For His Book

I googled new job and this was the most entertaining, if not entirely accurate to my situation, of the first few images. Today was my first day jobbing. I liked highlighting things on the computer different colors, I really did-no sarcasm. And I can't wait until I get my own headset where I touch a button and the phone lifts itself up so's I don't have to hold the receiver (I'm not really joking about that either). I wonder if I will like it as much in 6 months. Maybe. The thing that freaks me out is how I didn't factor in having to pay x amount of money per month for health insurance. And, more importantly, the entire concept of 401(K)s is confusing and strange. Suddenly I should be saving for my retirement? Actually, I should have started saving for my retirement eight years ago. Here's the thing. I was planning on saving money but my plan for that money wasn't retirement, it was a house or a kick ass cheese tour trip in France. Now I have to worry about how I'll live when I'm 65? Sheee-it. I wasn't as worried about my future before I got a job. Well, yes I was. It was just a different version of worry. Ah me. I'm having a glass of Cakebread Cellears Rubaiyat wine c/o the dogs' owner...and she's right, it's very tasty.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It Happens

I'm watching Bear and Mackey for a few days. Today we went to the dog park and on the way home Bear bit his own face and hard. We had to go to the vet where Meow Cat died and that was pretty sad for me. I don't think Bear minded until someone tried to stick a thermometer up his butt...then he minded quite a bit. The dog is fine and everything is well. It's kind of funny, when we arrived the intake lady asked me what happened and said something about a fight...and I was like, well no, not really he was smelling another dog and, for some reason, started growling and barking at the dog...the dog had no interest or response in this and its owner pulled it one way while I pulled Bear in the other. And then I realized that Bear's tooth was sticking out through his lip. So, no, no fight. On the form under what the problem it said: 'bit his own face'. And that is funny. Especially since he's okay. Particularly because he's okay.
Bear wouldn't stay very still so I couldn't get a good photograph, but I think you can get the gist.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pork Pie

On Tuesday I made a lemon horseradish pork tenderloin...almost entirely my own recipe. Or, rather, I got the idea of lemons from one recipe and horseradish from another. I'm going to write it up for Chicagoist today and post it tomorrow but for now here's a photograph.
A motley crew came over to eat it. No Longer Wayward and her boyfriend brought a homemade pie. A really, really, really amazing homemade cherry pie. I mean the crust was made by their hands. The filling? Not from a can.
This pie was so very good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Slowly But Surely

I'm getting closer to the point of quitting cigarettes than ever before. Well, except for a two week period right before I started graduate school. I got down to two or three cigarettes a day for about three days...then grad school started and smoking was, once again, a good social tool. I've been thinking about quitting for a week or so.

I have never been the kind of smoker who is constantly on the verge of stopping. Smoking has been part of who I am for many a year. It started off as a secret, something bad to do and keep from my parents. A secret that I thought, I realize now, was cool. At the time I somehow thought that coolness wasn't a factor but I think it was...I just used a different phrase or set of words. Smoking cigarettes in my room or on the porch after my parents went to sleep was so wonderfully covert and illicit. I could have smoked inside, as my father smoked, but I didn't.

The thing is that a pack, 20 cigarettes, would last me a week or two. Each one was precious. I guess it helped that I didn't have a built up resistance to the tobacco/nicotine so I got a little buzz with every puff. In high school I didn't smoke the majority of the year (boarding school don't you know). It wasn't until college that my smoking was ratcheted up to complete addiction and way too much of a defining trait. Or, at least, that's how I see it. Smoking in college was, frankly, like breathing. I lived in a trailer with four other committed smokers and I think you would have been hard pressed to find a time where (if one or more of us were awake) there wasn't a cigarette hanging from someone's lips or glowing in an ashtray. I learned how to shape my ash as I smoked from one roommate. I was told by another that the worst time to quit would be when you were sick with bronchitis...because to quit smoking would be to introduce a world of phlegm previously unimagined (I'm thinking this is probably not really true). We all woke up, made coffee (I drank a lot more coffee then) and smoked. We would go to classes and smoke during break. We sat in the smoking section in the cafeteria (I can literally count the number of times I ate in the non-smoking dining room, over four years, on two hands).

The college years went by and I don't even want to say how much I smoked because my mother wouldn't like it (1 1/2 packs a day on average but sometimes more). It was a comfort. It was, still is actually, a way to some times disassociate from situations or people I didn't particularly care for or was frightened by. Going out for a smoke, even in non-smoking circles, still is generally considered permissible and understandable. But it was also a way to meet people. Asking for a lighter, having a cigarette break together, you find something to say to one another. Some times this leads to more things...other times it leads to finding a different spot for your next break.

I used cigarettes to curb hunger, boredom or sadness. I took a series of photographs about it. I wish I had the better one digital but I only have this one. What do others do when they don't know what to do? I'll have to figure it out. But here's the thing...I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that I'll never smoke again. I always pictured myself reverting to my teen-aged smoking self: having a cigarette late at night, once or twice a week, after the husband and kids were asleep...brushing my teeth three times and spritzing a little spritz on all my clothes (thankfully my sandalwood days are completely behind me).

I have always (well, not always but for a long time) said that I would quit either when I turned 30 or when I got pregnant, whichever happened first, but now I'm thinking maybe it wouldn't be so bad to stop sooner than either of those things. I've never liked the idea that someone wouldn't like me because of the fact that I smoked. I've always thought it would be a character flaw on the other person's side of things. And I still think that...except that it's interesting to think about what I could, potentially, miss out on because of the prejudice. My mother would point out (has, actually, on multiple occasions) that kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray. I've never kissed an ashtray...though I have kissed other smokers. My mother would also mention that smokers get wrinkles and bad skin and yellow teeth. My teeth have already been tinted, not as bad as some I've seen but every once and a while I'll see a photograph of me smiling with teeth (a rarity in and of itself) and a non-smoker. My teeth never look as good as their's.

So I've decided to cut down. I'm going to start with 10 cigarettes a day. Then I'll go to 8. Then 5. Then 3. Then 1. That's the plan. In blogging about it there is a slightly better chance it will actually happen.

Only Bad Things

To read about Chicagoist's cheese of the month...or rather my desire to find a cheese in Chicago...go here. I can already feel a certain dread about the post and expect only bad things...readers reprimanding me for writing about a search, readers reprimanding me for not knowing every single possible place to find a product, readers simply saying they think what I've written is garbage.

The funny thing about this is that I write very few posts for Chicagoist and people hardly ever comment upon them. Some of the other writers for Chicagoist get 50 to 100 comments on a post and a lot of them are far more mean and incendiary than my occasional burns...yet every time some jerk says something mean on one of my posts I take it personally and I get upset...I get upset because I don't understand the point of saying something mean just because you can. If a reader has an actual problem with an aspect of my recipe, fine, that makes sense. But to say they disagree with the fact that I posted a certain recipe at all...well, come on, you could keep that to yourself. Anyways. Maybe I'm getting paranoid.

I should say that I get upset but it's not like I break into tears as much as I clench my fists and feel sick to my stomach for a few seconds.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Chinese Deliberation

I'm beginning to think I need to find a new favorite "Chinese" dish because the renditions I've been finding in Chicago for the last two years just ain't cutting it. Fried bean curd and broccoli in brown sauce I may have to bid you adieu. Last weekend I ordered Chinese from Mei Shung for the first time. I did this sort of because my mother suggested it. Well, it was more I had called her to tell her about the jobby and she countered with 'now you can go have a nice sushi dinner'...but I, for once, didn't feel like a sushi dinner. I felt like sitting on my ass in my house watching movies while eating Chinese food.
I also ordered wontons and rangoons. None of it was very good but I think that's more because I ordered the dumplings steamed and rangoons aren't really very good ever. And the tofu and broccoli (Mei Shung Tofu) wasn't bad it just wasn't what I actually wanted. I think I may try encouraging a love of lo mein or fun noodles.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

So I'm Writing A Novel

So I'm writing a novel. I've been writing it for a while. I think the last time I really mentioned it on the blog I was pleased to find I had 95 pages. Now I'm pleased to have 134 pages. I'm also pleased that I have a bit of a game plan for the novel. I don't know how it's going to end but I know that I'll have a complete rough draft by my birthday (end of November, you are all welcome to send me presents...though I won't be giving out my address so, hmmm, guess no presents for me). Yesterday I wrote this line. It's gross but I kind of like character's taking a walk along a sewage-like creek in Silver Spring, Maryland and she sees a used condom:

"The reservoir tip swelled with a stranger's semen and resembled a surrealist's depiction of a pimple aching to be popped. Did they use it twice?"

Yup. Novel. Writing one. It must be finished.

I Forgot One!

What exactly makes me love British period mini-series is a bit beyond me...except that they're so good. The Forsyte Saga is no exception. The actors are good at acting. The screen writer (s?) know how to adapt a novel and keep it cohesive (not that I've read the novels). It's all so good.

Other British mini-series (period piece, mystery or other) that I enjoy:

Foyle's War, Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, Inspector Lynley, um...Inspector Morse! Yeah. I thought the list would be longer. Oh well.

Always Watching

What with finally getting employed, I've brought my love of not doing much to a whole new level (because soon I will be doing much, you see). Though, actually, some of these movies or books were watched or read before I got employed.

The Ex. Well, you know exactly how it's going to turn out within twenty minutes of the movie opening and it isn't as funny as it could be. But it's not actually bad, exactly.
Puccini For Beginners. Not bad. Actually funny a few times. Also a movie where you know how it's going to end in the first twenty minutes. I actually get comfort out of the knowing.
Margaret Maron's Rituals of the Season is the seventh book in the Deborah Knott series. I read it and I liked it but I wish that I had read books 2-6 first because now I won't be surprised by certain outcomes. If you like mystery novels and the south you'll like this series.
Sweet Land. A very nice, quiet movie. It's framed in a strange way (not cinematically but narratively) and frankly I think they didn't need the image of a man remembering a time when he was a boy when his grandmother remembered when she was a young woman...but once you get to her as a young woman the story and the acting is so nice and subtle that it's okay.
Alpha Dog. You know why I watched this movie? I think it's because I find Justin Timberlake and Emile Hirsch attractive. You know what didn't save this movie? Either of those actors potential hotness (which was definitely down played and made almost moot in the film). I simply don't like movies where you see a bunch of young idiots get deeper and deeper into a wholly preventable and horrible reminded me of the movie Bully and I really hated that movie.
I re-read Prep last week some time. The first time I read it I enjoyed it and wished that some boy had snuck into my bedroom while I was in boarding school. This time around I enjoyed imagining that she was on my high school campus. There were so many details of boarding school life she got just right: the dining room on a Sunday, Assassin, boys' dorms' common areas, etc. But this time around I also realized how frustrating the main character's outlook on life was (I definitely noticed this the first time but had forgotten it). She was far more bitter, withdrawn and isolated than I ever fancied myself in high school. And for that I'm very glad. And I didn't get as strong a 'I wish a boy had snuck in..." feeling either because I paid more attention to the actual circumstances involved. Good book.
The Dog Problem. Not all that funny. Occasionally but not often. I'm interested by Scott Caan's being the director and also playing the same basic role he always plays: jerk who likes a lot of sex but is friends with a neurotic guy.
Georgia Rule. Well. Yeah. It wasn't very good at all.
Now I'm reading Neuromancer which I read my senior year of college for a New Media class and now am enjoying for the second time.
Black Snake Moan. This poster looks nice but the movie? I simply don't think so.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My Mother Didn't Like The Tone of This Post So Now I've Edited It

On Thursday I posted about how I hadn't heard back from a job opportunity and also didn't know if I was going to go out that night or stay in. Well, a few hours later the job people called and said that they would love to hire me...I waited for the but...but there was no but. I have become employed. Or I will on Friday. The job has nothing to do with writing and isn't glamorous in any way but I'll say this for it: I'll be making enough money a year to pay rent, bills and student loans with a little left over to eat and save, have health insurance and two weeks vacation and it's the kind of job that I won't have to really think about when I go home but will be relatively compelling while I'm there. So that's pretty sweet. I had already decided, at that point, to go to the free booze thing. And free booze thing I did do. There was pizza with potatoes on it (not to my liking) and a fair number of writing students. I drank a fair amount.
M.Lady and Rock of Love fanatic didn't drink as much so they look very nice...note M. Lady's filled in roses.
I, on the other hand, drank more than them...note my crazy eyes (seriously am I the only one who really enjoys How I Met Your Mother?).
Then this photograph was taken and I looked doubtful. Thankfully, I know exactly who that guy is.
Though I did not, at any point, lose my phone or throw it at any one I did enter a new number into my phone that I now have no idea who (to whom?) it belongs to. Unless someone out there's name is really jvstio'ms...somehow I don't think so. It was fun but I think that's it for me and the writing program's free booze. If I go again I may really become that weird guy who hangs around way after he's a part of something...and since all the people in the program are of age, it's not like I can make friends by offering to buy booze for the frosh. Better probably.

Mom is probably still unhappy.