Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring has recoiled

Contrary to Oswald's comment on my earlier post, I do not plan to write this blog in German, or any language other than English, though I appreciate his confidence in my multi-lingualism (hmm and my penchant for creating words perhaps....). But I digress.

I have a bad case of the irrites today and responsibility for this lies entirely with the weather. My apartment was really warm this morning, and in the absence of seeing any day forecast, I did this "should I, shouldn't I" thing with wearing my scarf and raincoat. I split the difference, and decided on the raincoat, but no scarf. Plus my office heats up to a million degrees these days, so I had a short-sleeve shirt on underneath.

So I get to work, shivering as I go, and the topic of conversation on everyone's lips is: SNOW.

What the?!

It would seem that some clever little meterologist had forecast snow today - and not just fluffy feathery stuff either - sheets of snowy rain would be added later in the day, just for good measure.

So on the way home today, I not only froze my a$$ off, but all the steady rain made me need to pee really bad. Anyone who says that the weather in Chicago doesn't play with your mind is kidding themselves. It certainly bested me today.

But I know where I've been...

It has been yet another long time between posts and I really don't have any excuse, save for a healthy dose of disinterest in being online these days. I am quite the creature of habit now. I log on, update my Scrabble games, check my email, and log off. Bo-oring.

And just when I get a crippling 'attack of the guilts' for not updating this blog site, I pour myself a Starbucks and try to stocktake the last few weeks of activities to at least give you some idea of how I'm filling my days. Alrighty, let's see here. [Note that this list will be in random order, because I have not been very good at remembering to bring my diary to work either so I'm relying on the old noodle - and that is never a good idea!.]

  • Saw "Sweeney Todd" at the theatre with my good friend Miss Fitz;
  • Visited the giant jumble sale that is IKEA - and loved it;
  • Enjoyed amateur theater with my friend in her one-woman show;
  • Brunched a bunch of times;
  • Slowly worked my way through my Netflix queue of movies;
  • Bellinis at Pops;
  • Won a couple more games of Scrabble against RG (but not quite enough to redeem myself);
  • Did tequila shots on a school night (and lived to regret it); and
  • Made a list of summer time adventures I need to partake in, and at the very top is a kayak trip down the smelly Chicago River (they don't tell you it's smelly, I just know it is).
Work has been busy because I have a new boss, but as we settle in to each other's way of working, things will get easier. And not before time too - as the warm weather in Chicago brings festivals, outdoor dining, and all-round good times to be had.

With any luck, I'll also have some time to update this blog before I forget how to do it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the dating world, the truth is out there...

So I'm absolutely sick of spring. Oh sure, I love the weather, and the blossoms, and the ducklings and lambs and all that crap. But I do NOT love the fact that people, particularly big-business dating sites, associate spring time with humans falling in love.

Because what that association inevitably brings with it is an utter onslaught of dating site advertisements polluting my email system. And now the toxic gunk has infected my Facebook.

Every screen I open, some wide-eyed and nubile woman (who has probably never been single in her life) is asking me, "Who's looking for you today? Find him online!". Uh-huh.

I check my email and instead of the latest scam from Nigeria or the most up-to-date cure for erectile disfunction, I have a classically handsome (and definitely gay) fellow with his shirt open, practically begging me to instant message him now.

But the piece de resistance is clearly the ad for e-harmony, with a photo of David Duchovny gazing sexily into the camera, inviting me to jump in to the dating pool.

The deluded types over at E-Harmony seem to think that Fox Mulder himself is gagging for a date. I wonder what Tea Leoni (David's wife of the past billion years) thinks about this?

But hey, if I missed the memo and in fact he IS single (and free on Wednesday), I make a pretty good lamb roast...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

...and they lived happily ever after

Originally uploaded by paul veraguth.

I am what you might call a 'freestyle dancer', and only if you're feeling generous. It's not that I am devoid of rhythm, it's just that I don't have a great deal of confidence in being able to stick to a routine, that I am better off just disappearing into a crowded dancefloor where my movements can be swallowed up.

And I really do admire those people for whom dancing is not just enjoyable, but is a profession - a way of life. I guess I'm like that with anyone who makes a living doing something that I simply could not, or maybe would not.

I took myself off to a matinee performance of "Sleeping Beauty" at Chicago's Lyric Opera House. I expected the theatre to be full of grannies but instead, the place was packed to the rafters with wannabe ballerinas; little girls of 8-10 years of age, wearing home-made tutus, white stockings and little patent leather shoes. They were all, in a word, adorable.

Before the show, the excitement of the little girls was palpable. And when the live orchestra broke into Tchaikovsky's beautiful score, they hushed and then gasped when the curtain rose to reveal stunning costumes and a group of principal dancers in tutus every colour of the rainbow.

Of course the older kids amongst us were marvelling at the athleticism of the dancers. Even the man in front of me, so obviously dragged along by his near-hysterial wife, was ooh-ing and aah-ing when the jumps were particularly high, or the ballerinas remained 'en pointe' for longer than you expected humanly possible.

And given that the story of "Sleeping Beauty" is so well-known, it's easier to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, because you're not required to learn the plot at the same time.

Towards the end of the second act, when the prince had woken Sleeping Beauty, and the kingdom was celebrating, I got a bit bored. The prince and his future bride had a bit of a dance-off, and then the King of the Fairies and the Queen of the Fairies joined the troupe, and I thought that whole bit went for too long. But I was just a bit impatient for the happy ending that I knew was coming.

Sure enough when the guy FINALLY got the girl, the place erupted and little wannabe ballerinas around the room leapt to their feet and applauded. It was all very cute.

Sometimes if I got to something like this, where I'm ignorant about the artform, I can feel like an intruder. But I was vindicated on my way down the stairs today when a father scooped up his little ballerina and said, "you know what sweetie? I liked it best when the guy lifted the girl up in the air and he caught her right before she hit the floor". And the little girl shook her head sadly at the poor ignoramus of her father and said, "well yes Daddy, that's obviously what he's SUPPOSED to do!".

Monday, April 07, 2008

The straight flush...of capitalism

So I am worn out. I have shopped until I dropped. And as I am such a big baby, it only took two stores to tire me.

I dislike those loud, twenty-something chain stores that pipe irritating music through obnoxiously large speakers in an effort to make patrons feel hip enough to be shopping in there. And I really dislike those stores that have more shop assistants than customers, and every one of those shop assistants absolutely have to put something away right where I am standing at the particular time.

And despite my hefty dislike for both of these things, you're getting an accurate picture of the two stores I patronised tonight.

So my go-to strategy was to try on a shirt, assess the size I needed, and then proceed to grab armloads of the same style shirt in different colours and then get the hell out of there. Fast.

Needless to say I have to take half of the crap back. So the warm flush of capitalism may well be overcoming me, or it could well be the Italian red wine I am quaffing in an attempt to recover.

Yep, it's the wine.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Four Seasons in one day

Jersey Boys Plays In Chicago
Originally uploaded by Somewhat Frank.

A couple of days ago, my good friend Fitz called up to say she had a spare ticket to "Jersey Boys", the show-stopping Chicago spectacular, and she asked whether I would like to go with her. Or that's what I imagine she would have said, had I allowed her to finish that sentence.

I had been wanting to see the show since before it opened but demand for tickets surely has matched (if not exceeded) "Wicked" and so you have to get tickets well in advance if you want a decent seat - particularly on a weekend. As it was, Fitz had bought these tickets late last year. Had that been me, I probably would have forgotten that I owned them - until after the show had passed!

But Fitz was on the ball, and she invited me along to join her and two friends who live in her building. She kept blathering on about 'bad seats' and 'way in the back' and whatever but hey, I've got little legs and a big imagination - so I knew I'd love it.

I started buzzing with real excitement on Friday morning and I emailed Fitz to that effect. We agreed that we would meet for dinner at "Vivere", part of the gorgeous and historic Italian Village on West Monroe in the theater district.

So I was buzzing about a show I hadn't seen, and now I was doubly excited to go to a restaurant I'd never been to before. I will not keep you in suspense - the waiter was hot, the food was divine, the wine was even better, and the espresso was Illy. Enough said, don't you think?

Bellies full, we wandered down the street to the LaSalle Bank Theater, and took our seats (which turned out to be 'limited view' but I was okay with that). I was blown away by the production. No one sings like that anymore, do they? Or at least no one writes songs like that anymore. I was brought up in a home where bands like the Four Seasons leapt from Dad's vinyl collection and later, CD collection, and busted out of the speakers. So when 'Frankie' sang "My Eyes Adored You" on the stage tonight, I just loved it - it took me right back. And so what if I was showing my age.

I've blogged on here before that Chicago is a 'standing ovation' kinda town, and that used to throw me a little. But tonight I think I was one of the first people on my feet, whooping and carrying on like a porkchop to show my appreciation for the talent up on that stage.

George & Brad were hands-down the best dressed cast in the Ocean's movies - but from where I was sitting tonight, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons take the cake for the best dressed theater cast in town. Those boys wore those suits, let me tell you.

After the show, I felt like I should have a cocktail, or smoke a cigar, or something - I was right in the zone. But instead, I took a cab home with a driver who wanted to take me to a 24-hour diner and buy me meatloaf.


Sinning never looked so good

Hairdresser Scissors
Originally uploaded by © Lars Fotografie.

I cheated on my hairdresser today.

I'm not proud of it. I know it's wrong, but I had to do it. I love my hairdresser but she moved to a new salon that is staffed by incompetents (not her of course). I made repeated calls to her new establishment and the receptionist disconnected me once, and couldn't hear me the second time. To avoid the receptionist altogether, I tried to make an online appointment but found that my hairdresser had not yet been added to their online list of stylists. To borrow from salon vocab, I was 'foiled' at every turn!

But my hair is like a bowl of fruit. It looks great for a while but then overnight, it turns - and you can't do a thing with it. This was the position I found myself in this week. So to resist having a Britney-style meltdown and shaving my head, I had to find another stylist to take care of me.

And today I met Raoul.

I fell for him immediately. He is, in every sense of the word, fabulous.

Raoul assured me that I had never TRULY had a haircut until I'd been styled by a Latino. I had no idea what that meant, and admittedly I still don't, but the man had me hooked. I think it's because he told me I look 25. That usually does it for me.

Anyway Raoul told me all about his childhood in Mexico and his early years as a stylist in LA, and how the last 10 years in Chicago have been the best in his life. Conversation flowed as he wrapped colour around my hair, neatly packed it all in foil parcels, and left me to cook.

A little snip here, and a little pomade there, and voila - I was done. And I'm seriously happy with the end result. Raoul gave me the modern, chic and purposely non-European haircut that he'd promised. And best of all, my VISA card is not crying.

And I've made plans to cheat with Raoul again in about 5 weeks time. As I left the salon, I got a hug, two cheek kisses, and a "you're fabulous", which was just lovely. Sometimes it's all a girl needs to hear to make her sunny Saturday complete.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Well it's cheaper than crack, I guess

Throwing Tiles
Originally uploaded by powerbooktrance.

I can remember when I was at high school and Tetris was all the rage (ugh I'm showing my age here, I know).

Anyway the point is that I became so addicted to playing Tetris on the computer that whenever I'd close my eyes, I could see little rotating block shapes, all desperate to seamlessly fit together as they rapidly descended.

There was nothing I could do to get the blocks out of my head.

And so it is with my latest addiction - Scrabulous on Facebook. Fortunately I'm a multi-tasker, or I would never get anything else done!

As with Tetris, I'm not even particularly good at Scrabulous and yet I can't stop playing it.

And like all addictions, you feel so much better for finding someone who is just as drawn to playing it, as I did today. And so me and my 'Fabulous Scrabulous' chum have been playing game after game - reassuring one another that there really isn't anything wrong with our latest obsession.

Nothing wrong, but maybe something geeky?!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A tin can full of crazy sardines

sweet dreams
Originally uploaded by unfocused mike.

If I was so inclined, I bet I could devote every posting on this blog to stories from my daily public transport commute.

In the mornings, most of us are pre-caffeinated which says it all. And in the afternoons, we're all so world-weary that we all seem to have our ipods in, but I bet none of us could list the last 3 songs we heard.

Tonight I watched as a young guy, eyes closed, nodded in that half-sleep common amongst public transporters, as he leaned this way...and then that way...and then forwards, all the while threatening to topple over onto his adjacement passenger (who pretended not to notice, though I am sure she did).

And then there's German Lady, who has been my public transport nemesis for nearly three years. Only ever on my afternoon commute, she always pushes in front of me in the bus line, even though we both know I got there before her.

German Lady usually sits across the aisle from Crazy Hair Lady who is a) deaf as a post, and b) always sick - so you can imagine the delight my bus takes in listening to their banal chatting and constant sniffing the whole way home.

Let's not forget Young Gay Man With The Italian Handbag who (again) pushes in front of me, though this time to get off my morning bus. He is therefore ahead of me in line for a coffee. I can't decide whether to trip him, or offer him my sympathies for the way his coffee deprivation makes him such a jerk.

And of course, last but never least, is the swarm of accountants that floods my afternoon bus ride. They all seem to carry about 4 heavy bags each, and one of those bags is usually a company-issued backpack that I really hope they are obliged to tote (otherwise, why would you?).

Despite all our differences, I'm sure that if I canvassed the opinions of my fellow commuters - morning or night - we'd be united in our common frustration with bus drivers.

They jam 500 of us into a bus that is (I'm sure) only designed to carry a fraction of that amount, and then they ride their brake and accelerator all the way into the city. Except, that is, on the strech of Lakeshore Drive when the traffic lets up and they can careen at break-neck speed until they have to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting anything - or anyone.

And so we grip on for all that we can, slipping and sliding in unison, crashing into seated or standing passengers, making polite apologies and collectively rolling our eye-balls in the direction of the lovechild of Sandra Bullock & Evil Kanevil in whose very hands we have commended our lives.

But don't misunderstand me.

I'm not complaining about any of these things; quite to the contrary in fact. The only thing I really dislike about public transport in Chicago is waiting in the rain - and that's not really something that anyone can help....but until they can, I'll blame The Young Gay Man With The Italian Handbag. Just for fun.