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Dibs: Someone Smashed My Car. With a Chair.

January 27, 2014

Have you ever seen or read about that darling tradition in Chicago, where when it snows, people will shovel out a parking space on the street, and to call “dibs,” they will place old plastic lawn chairs on that spot, thereby pronouncing that spot to be THEIRS, FOR FOREVER AND A DAY?

How sweet.

Now, everyone knows not to move these chairs and park in these toxic spots. Though “dibs” is ridiculous and selfish–the people of Chicago are forced to accept it. Because these people–the ones who do think that they can take ownership of a parking space on a public street–are jerks and we all know how jerks act: like assholes. No one wants to rile up an asshole, certainly not me.

And so we all put up with it.

A couple of weeks ago, when the Polar Vortex first moved in (PS, IT’S BA-AACK) and Chicago was lovingly dubbed “Chiberia”–we received a couple of inches of snow and the threat of -50 degree wind chill. Like clockwork on that frigid Sunday night, the “special” few were outside shoveling their spots and marking their territory with chairs of all sorts.

Three days later when the vortex moved out and the snow was beginning to melt, we noticed that the chairs had been thrown to the sidewalk and all spots were released from their Chi-captives. So, naturally, we parked our car on the street without giving it a second thought.

Oh, how very wrong we were.

The next morning, my husband walked out to our car, not to find a fresh layer of snow, but to encounter a flurry of a hundred furious little white pieces of plastic lawn chair smashed all over our car. Our Brand. New. Car. A 2014 Subaru Crosstrek, our first major purchase of our lives, impeccable, new-scented, sexy, brand new car, purchased only two weeks prior.

Three angry dents, two ruthless patches of chipped paint, and one bitter broken taillight. $1,600 of damages.

I cried.

And then I felt fury. And then rage. And then hate.

And so we knocked on the neighbor’s door. The two-flat brownstone that watched over our car as someone retched wrath all over our vehicle.

Of course, a very ancient, old man slowly opened the door. Of course, his name turned out to be Manfred.

“Oh hello, how can I help you?” Even his voice was old, hoarse with age. Our angry confidence left us.

“Hi….” My husband looks at me. My face is blank, clueless as to our next play. “We were just wondering,” he continues politely and kindly, “if you knew anything about that parking spot there.” He pointed to the scene of the crime.

“Yes, yes. My grandson shoveled out that spot. He worked so hard to clear it out. He works nights. And when he came home all the chairs were thrown about and everything was upside down. He worked so hard.”

“Yeah, we saw that the chairs were thrown. Someone smashed our car with one of the chairs.”

“Really? That is terrible. I don’t know what happened, all of my chairs are gone, thrown everywhere.” Old brittle words.

“Maybe it was an angry teen or something…Well, thanks for your help.” We turn away, feeling confused and sad that we had to confront a very old man about something so ridiculous and yet so infuriating.

“Yes, it was nice talking to you.” Manfred shuts the door with care.

I fell into a dibs depression. I was angry because we didn’t touch the idiot chairs. I was mad because jerks get away with such things. I was sick because people act in worse ways. I was sad because people are victims to much worse. I was guilty because I cared so much about something so material. All this, because of dibs.

That was the beginning of January, and I’ve had some time to cool off. Our sweet baby car is in the body shop now. We think we’ve identified the perpetrator and have decided to avoid him at all costs and move on, because let’s be honest, he looks capable of more than an angry chair smashing.

The lesson I learned? Don’t park anywhere near anything with any semblance of a chair. If you want to boycott Dibs, the only option is to shovel out all the spots. Or, if you want to boycott Dibs, but don’t want your car to get smashed with a chair, sell the chair on Craigslist.

Also, consider moving to the suburbs where owning a garage is actually feasible.

Remember good people do exist. Fight hate with love.

Oh, wait, and yes, having insurance is a very good thing.

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A Quick Baking Post (To Avoid Eating More Olives)

October 22, 2012

Smell that? It’s the savory smell of thyme. And olives. On my fingers. Typing away on this immaculate white iMac keyboard.

Yes, folks, tonight I am baking (and blogging). And the love my husband has for me has reached an all time high.

In case you are confused, as to why I am baking with olives, puzzle no longer. Tonight I bake: FISH. I am making my most favorite Real Simple recipe, Roasted Tilapia, Potatoes, and Lemons.

–“Don’t forget the swimmers.”–  And my husband just reminded me to put the fish in the oven. Ew…

Swimmers now in the oven. This recipe really is “real simple.” The only dishes you will have to clean in the end is a cutting board and baking sheet. And the aroma of lemon and thyme-infused fish is almost as good as the 10-minute prep time.

Ingredients:

  • 1  pound  baby potatoes (about 12), halved — I use red potatoes and cut them into small triangles.
  • 1  lemon, thinly sliced
  • 8  sprigs “fresh” thyme — Spice-rack thyme is just as great.*
  • 2  tablespoons  plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2  cup  pitted kalamata olives
  • 4  6-ounce skinless tilapia fillets
  • 1/2  teaspoon  paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, on a rimmed baking sheet, with flare, toss the potatoes, thyme, lemons, 2 T. of olive oil and a smashing dash of salt and pepper. Then, with a little TLC, arrange the potatoes and lemons in a single layer. Pop the sheet into the oven to roast for twenty minutes, tossing once.

*Fresh thyme used here for photogenic purposes only.

Then, proceed to cut (AND EAT) the kalamata olives. (I ate 10 olives, but this is entirely up to the chef.)

After the twenty minutes are up and the tots are softened, toss in the (leftover) olives and snuggle up the fish into the potato and olive mixture. Drizzle the fish with the remaining olive oil and season it with paprika (not to be confused with the red sprinkles in your cupboard), and add salt and pepper.

Continue to bake the fish and potatoes for about 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown and the fish is opaque throughout.

Put the finishing touches on your blog, and Wall-eye (fish talk for “Voilà”)! The fish is ready to eat. Bon appetit!

Mark Zuckerberg: Coding Morals and Love into Facebook. Who Knew?

September 3, 2012

Facebook, what a social phenomenon. I joined The Facebook on September 3, 2005, so that makes today our 7 year Anniversary. Buy me dinner, Facebook? Xoxo…

This was back when Facebook was exclusive, when only certain universities’ students could join. I was one of those first lucky few.

I had just begun my sophomore year of college: single, reluctant to join the masses, but secretly wanting to be part of the club. My sister literally forced me to join; she created my profile. (Thank you, sis.)

My first wall post came from my best friend from high school, with whom I was, admittedly, a tad out of touch…

“oh my goodness… the one girl who was holding out from Facebook finally cracked. I love you and miss you so very much, I wish i could be under that umbrella with you.”

Well now, doesn’t a message like that make it all seem worth it?

And as I look over my timeline now—Yes, the “timeline got me [insert aghast]”—I see friendships, memories, photos, ex-boyfriends (…) that I started to forget. It’s like a journal I didn’t know I kept.  And I am really glad it’s there.

I also see December 10, 2006, plotted out on my timeline: the date I became “friends” with my husband-to-be. Facebook is seriously the Match.com before the Match.com.

My husband always jokes that he loves Mark Zuckerberg and that he owes everything to him, as, without Facebook, we may have never been…us [insert blown mind].

After randomly (?) bumping into each other twice at two different bars off campus, and severally agonizing moments of crushing on him, a classmate, a stranger, Patrick “friended” me on Facebook.  That was the one sign I needed. I messaged him that same evening.

Subject: oh hello

hey–thanks for adding me! it was fun talking to you last night–sorry I had to leave so fast. maybe we’ll cosmically bump into each other again–besides at our wonderful 301 final. good luck with studying. and have fun in lux if i don’t see you. 

–me

Reply (same night):

hey

yeah steinkellers was a lot of fun. thanks for stopping by our table. i’ll basically be doing nothing for the next two days so if you wanna grab some food let me know, otherwise see you in class wednesday. 

your facebook friend

–him

Less than a month later, we were officially in a relationship, on Facebook. We were “Facebook Official,” and that’s as close to legal as it gets. Three and a half years later we were married.

Thank you, Mark Z. We should’ve invited you to the wedding.

That said, when I think about the past and Facebook, my feelings are positive, appreciative (except for my rage at the time I was accused of “Always drinking” because of the ONE picture that included a Miller Light. Advisory: drinking pictures are never permissible.). Yet, my feelings regarding Facebook are mixed at the moment–Yet another trend has emerged from the social medium: Facebook anxiety.

I’ve seen one too many “Friends” delete their accounts because of the way FB and its ever-populating news feeds makes us feel.

I want to apologize to everyone who tries to communicate with me via Facebook and doesn’t hear from me in days – weeks. I think I have Facebook anxiety and subconsciously avoid using it when I don’t have to.

–Post from Random FB Friend

It’s time for me to say farewell because I find that when I go on Facebook I begin to feel unhappy about myself and what I am doing and in reality there is no reason for me to have these feelings. You know how to find me. Goodbye!

–Post from Random FB Friend

It’s true. So many times, after a long day, sitting down at the computer to wind down with a little Facebook action, I suddenly find myself feeling downright BLUE. Seeing the adventures of so-and-so in Africa (oh wait now she’s in Egypt and rode a camel today named Michael Jackson), pictures of the old next door neighbor girl traveling in INDIA, so-and-so’s hipster, artistic, PERFECT wedding. Cute dog picture. Cute dog picture. Cute dog picture. GIANT engagement ring. Job promotions. Vacations. Celebrity sightings. THE LIST GOES ON–STOP ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is where I have to stand up and splash cold water on my face. These feelings are NOT right. In fact, they are downright crazy. I am me and only I can be me, and I, too, lead a magical life.

Which brings me to the conclusion of this rousing FB Review:

Mark Zuckerberg, that brilliant magical asshole, is truly smarter than we can EVEN FATHOM. Embedded in this social phenomenon are life lessons we must pay attention to. Mark Zuckerberg coded MORALS into Facebook, and it is time to sit up and pay attention:

  • Take a chance at love.
  • Stay in touch with your friends. Memories are golden and lives are full from the friendships we keep.
  • No drinking pictures ever.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • The grass is not greener on the other side; it just appears that way, especially as people only “post” their best foot forward.
  • Appreciate and feel blessed you have a timeline to have.
  • Bragging is always annoying.
  • Use other’s adventures as your own inspiration.
  • You can drink a caramel white chocolate fandangled frappe too. Just go get it.
  • AND, leave behind a legacy for your children. You better believe that they will read EVERY post of your timeline, the moments you leave permanently behind. Make them count, and don’t write bad things about them as babies!

We are the Golden Age of Facebook. Live it, Love it, RESPECT.

27 Wishes

May 31, 2012

This past weekend I celebrated my 27th birthday, and, for the moment, I am missing being 26. It was a great year: Finally celebrated my golden birthday on May 26, 2011; experienced my first year of marriage (best thing on earth); got a new job that was billions of times better than my last job; traveled to Nashville and Hilton Head for vacations (magical); won a trip and went to Mexico (more than magical); survived the NATO summit in Chicago; and then, on Saturday, turned 27.

And, as I only mentioned the premium moments of my 26th year, I am also relishing the low points: the breakup with my beloved band (huge blow), stifled creativity, and 20-something clueless wanderings. I feel further along than I was last year, but still ever clueless about the path I should be following. Not so much as career-wise, but life-wise.

I realize that these trials and how we react, are what defines us. And, each year that we turn older, we hopefully are getting closer to figuring it out.

So, now, upon the dawn of my 27th year, I am cognizant that I only have three more years to endure, entertain (and embrace) the classic 20-Something Quarter Life Crisis. And, as my ideas of 30-Somethings all stem from Sex and the City, I only have three years until I will apparently be living rich in city, sporting $400 heels. So, until then, I am putting together 27 wishes to  work towards, to get me to that magical plateau of the 30-Somethings (and out of the 20-Something-rut)………

Plus, birthdays are as good as New Years, a perfect time to dream, set goals and start fresh.

1. Learn 3 chords on my ukulele. Anyone can write a song with 3 chords, so it’s a good goal.

2. Deep clean the apartment every three months, which includes getting rid of things we don’t need = less baggage for our 30s.

3. Keep writing.

4. Find a doctor, dentist, waxer, and visit them regularly…or, as needed. (But JK on the waxer…)

5. Expand my workout routine from my cherished Jillian Michaels videos; finally use the world-class fitness center that I have free access to through my job. HELLO, DUH.

6. Keep in closer touch with my friends. Call more. Text less.

7. Study Spanish with my husband. Our trip to Mexico proved that our skills need some work. Como se WHAT?

8. Avoid getting a dog as long as possible.

9. Go on as many vacations as possible.

10. Go to more auditions.

11. Find or start a new band.

12. Set aside time every week to practice singing.

13. Learn how to cook authentic Indian recipes.

14. Find ways to be challenged at work; learn things beyond the scope of my position.

15. Attend more concerts.

16. Drink way more caffeine ( so I will be more awake).

17. Learn to be more adventurous (but still committed to never go camping).

18. Be less introverted. Being shy is BORING.

19. Be more confident.

20. Wear lipstick.

21. Pray more. Meditate more.

22. Adore my husband everyday.

23. Cherish the simple things.

24. Study vocal pedagogy and music history.

25. Eat brown rice instead of white rice.

26. Get an agent and become semi-famous.

27. Wear pearls to bed.

Each year is a blessing and a privilege.  Cheers to this one, and cheers to growing old. Happy Birthday!!!

(And, Happy Birthday to my magical mother who is celebrating her glorious birthday this Saturday! I love you!)

Don’t Forget Your Tooth Brush!: The Thrill of Gearing up for Vacation

May 3, 2012

In February my dreams came true when my husband won a trip to Mexico. The Riviera Maya and I would be reunited again! And, the count down to our tropical vacation has reached the 48 hour marking at last. We leave this Saturday, on Cinco de Mayo. Perfection.

“Barkeep! Coronas for the house!” (Aka, Husband, get me a beer, it’s time to celebrate!)

The last three weeks, though they were the last dregs of Winter, were enjoyable as we looked more and more forward to our vacation. Our workouts became meaningful–rather than working out for the betterment of our health, we were prepping our beach bods. Our morale was boosted 500 percent, and we didn’t even have to pet any dogs. We began forming our vacation plans (champagne on arrival, early dinners, late night dancing) and prepared our vacation wardrobe (new swim suits for all).

Gearing up for a vacation, after all, is half the fun. The lists, the daydreams, the shopping!

For those of us who indulge in retail therapy, Vacation Wear retail therapy is the most medicinal of all. It’s definitely a mood booster, maybe even an aphrodisiac. 😉

I am a bonafide Scrooge with tight purse strings (and a broken zipper) whose current wardrobe is circa 2007. Although I didn’t go nutty and spend hundreds of dollars on a vacation wardrobe, I actually invested in a few choice cruise wear items (as my husband and I like to call vacation clothes, though our vacation is on land), and this, was really exciting! My new Cruise Wear: yellow roselett Aresole wedges, a silky red dress from Francescas, a busty Victoria Secret corset dress, a few unmentionables (oops, did I just mention what remains unmentionable?), a beach dress, and a couple swim suit options. Everything I purchased was either on sale or on clearance–except for the swim suit bottom, one must never skimp when it comes to covering the bunz!

The only thing that would have made my pre-vacation prep plans all the more exciting, would have been to go Cruise Wear shopping with my sister. JB is the fashionista of Cruise Wear. If she wasn’t a highly technical awesome surgical nurse, I like to think she’d be a professional shopper.

Because JB lives in Nashville, I relied on my husband to be my confidant de cruz attire. And, he took me to the mall twice, and that certainly is something.

Can’t forget the pre-vacation haircuts. I lopped at least 3 inches off my curly mane, and Patrick is visiting the barber on Friday. And, to top it off, I am using a gift certificate from Christmas to get my nails done on Friday (second time in my life I’ve had my nails done!).

And, now of course, the must-have last minute Pre-Vacation To-Do List:

1. Find passport hidden away in drawer of unmentionables.

2. Pack unmentionables.

3. Do not mention unmetionables.

4. Pack mentionables. And, if you can’t decide what to pack, bring it all. (Vacation advice from JB)

5. Remind co-workers (at least 12 times a day) that you will be out of the office next week because you will be in Mexico.

6. Put up Out-of-Office message: “I am currently in the Tropics. For immediate assistance, please do not contact me. I am on a beach. Drinking a margarita.”

7. Erase camera memory card Save Wedding photos and erase camera memory and charge battery.

8. Make sure your 96 Oldsmobile Station wagon can make it to the airport.

9. Knock on wood.

10. Go to library and check out book on “How to Make the Most of  My Vacation.”‘

11. Go to the little banker, and take out a stack of ones, to get the party started.

12. Bring a deck of cards.

13. Download (purchase) vacation playlist music.

14. Make secondary list of fun drinks to order. It’s all inclusive, so let’s get creative.

15. Practice dance moves the resort goers will remember you by (been there, done that).

Is there anything I am forgetting? Toothbrush? What pre-vacation rituals do you look forward to?

With that, I must sign off and get to that packing–don’t want to be late for the Bon Voyage party I am throwing myself.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo. Voy a Mexcio!

Surprise! It’s May!

May 1, 2012

Oops, where did April go? I suppose after Chicago hit that 80 degree seven day stretch and plummeted into the 40’s for all of April, and I was forced to wear my winter coat again, I went back into hibernating. But even sleep can’t keep me from a DIY May basket and a good old fashioned Chicago protest. So, Hello May 1st, here it is!

Let’s recap the 40 Days + that endured my Rip Van Wrinkle End of Winter Melancholia/Transition Into Spring Awakening:

At the beginning of Lent, I decided to embark on a journey of spiritual examination through a 40 Days of Blogging challenge. And while it certainly was a challenge, let’s just say, I definitely did not find any Blogging Awards in my Easter basket come that pascal Sunday morning.

I did pretty good for the first two weeks or so, blogging almost every single day.

I created a tribute to my long standing love affair with pigeons, fell prey to my smart phone, ruminated on the quixotic romance of the Chicago music scene, threw a pizza partymouthed off to Aunt Flo, won a trip to Mexico, conquered the Chemistry of Irish Soda Bread, and pleaded to the world wide web for a wedding invite.

This was a triumph for me, posting so routinely after having gone for a year without one single peep post. My lenten goal was pulling me out of my mundane habits and forcing me to be more creative. But around the 12th day or so I was beginning to realize just how hard (and draining) it is to blog every day. My posts were becoming like diary entries, boring recaps of my day. I was turning into the Amy Adams’s Julie & Julia character, who was so annoying in the movie because she was so wrapped up in herself and her blog. If I was annoyed with myself, I am sure my husband was annoyed by me as well (Hun, what should I blog about? I can’t think of any ideas. I’m tired. I’m hungry–OH STICK A SOCK IN IT ALREADY!) I was gaining weight, cutting back on my work outs (not really, but it could have come to that point).

And then, I don’t know, life happened. “The Killing” happened. Spring happened. Dog sitting happened.

Writers who do post every day are champions. Hats off to you, glasses raised, let me shake your hand. Seriously.

It was a great challenge for me. I learned that I am not very capable of posting every day, but I can churn out some good ones every now and then if I try, and for me, that’s more important. And the creative outlet feels damn good. Now if only I can pull myself away from “The Killing”…

Can Someone Please Invite Me To A Wedding or At Least Get Married on Facebook?

March 25, 2012

Yesterday I refreshed my Facebook news feed literally 103 times. Seriously.

I was waiting for a wedding to unfold literally, virtually before my eyes.

A girl that I went to college with, from the same music program, was getting married yesterday. I don’t think we’ve talked since graduation, but she did recently move to the Chicago area and thus, we are connected.

Also we are Facebook friends, therefore technically still in touch (though I think it’d be so much fun to get together in real life). And, to be honest, I have been monitoring her upcoming nuptials for the past six months.

No, this is not creepy, or stalking. This is what girls do. Especially girls, like me, who LOVE weddings!

Plus I remember when she first started dating her husband-to-be. For some reason we were talking on the phone and she told me about him, and I only remember this now because it struck me how so wonderfully happy she sounded. And I was happy for her.

And so, via the graces of Facebook, I counted down the days along with her. Wondered if everything was coming together. Wanted to call and see if she needed a florist, ask a billion questions. Thought about what kind of venue she might want, how many bridesmaids, did she say yes to the dress?

When I woke up Saturday, I was just so excited that someone I knew was getting married. And watching a wedding play out on Facebook is the next best thing to actually getting to go.

It was so thrilling to see as our mutual Facebook friends posted comments like “Lovely ceremony!” Maddening, waiting for pictures. Finally, someone posted a picture of the bride, and of course, she was stunning!

I was a third party wedding guest, and although I was genuinely happy for my friend, my elation was also bittersweet.

“I wish we had been good friends so I could have been invited to the wedding,” I said to my husband on our walk yesterday (I brought my iPhone so I could keep up on Facebook).

“Yeah, I know,” he said. “We should make more friends so we can get invited to more weddings.”

My husband and I are hardcore lovers of attending weddings. While our own wedding was the best day of our lives, we get so much joy attending others’ weddings, knowing just how special and exciting the day is. Plus, we love a big party.

As the 2012 Wedding Season commences, we do not have one wedding to attend this year. That seems kind of weird for twenty-somethings right? Not one close friend, not one cousin is getting married. We did have one friend that got engaged, but they are planning a 2013 wedding–the nerve!

So this leaves me with two thoughts: One, are fewer people getting married? And Two, should we be better at keeping in touch with our old friends, in the event that they get engaged and host an open bar, live band, wedding reception?

Or, maybe I should wedding-stalk less on the World Wide Web, though this would be nearly impossible, now with Pinterest and people pinning every single wedding idea that comes along.

I suppose 2012 is just a wedding drought and pretty soon we will be so inundated with weddings that we won’t have a free weekend in the summer (here’s hoping!).

In the meantime, I am considering posting a Personal Ad:

Couple Seeking Weddings to Attend

We are looking for a classy, drama-free, thoughtfully planned wedding to attend. Nice looking, slim, brown curly hair (both), we dress to impress. We are diverse; love traditional banquet hall, chic warehouse receptions, Mariachi bands, (good) DJs, live bands. Great at getting the dance party started, though Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide are unacceptable. Preferably adults only. Ceremony should be not too long, though not too short. Wine/Beer bar is acceptable, though Open Bar is ideal. We like steak, but will order chicken to save you some money. Good at conversation, we will take lots of pictures.  If you’re looking for some great, fun people to fill some seats at your wedding, we’re your guests. Please send Pinterest url.