Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yep, that just about does it

Ask "Merlin"
Originally uploaded by ajna6 (mostly away a little longer - thanks!).

This is pretty much the position I've been sitting in - and the facial expression I've been wearing - all day.

It is simply too hot and sticky and steamy to do anything of substance today. After walking in the humid rain to brunch this morning, I've since been catching up on laundry and generally staring blankly out into space.

And of course I am secretly cursing myself for not having installed my window air conditioner already. On the day that I actually need it, I couldn't be bothered hoisting it into position (only to watch it fall 10 stories to the ground below).


As a guy said to me the other night, remarking on similar weather, "Ugh, it feels like a warm bath out here,". Too true.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Give me money, I make you thin

beach workout
Originally uploaded by fonsico.

"I want to do yoga and pilates because I start on the floor - not as far to fall," I explained to Lex last night. She reminded me that she had done a pilates class at her gym a few months before and her muscles spasmed for three days afterwards. OK so perhaps my gym attendance will require a bit more forward-planning than I'd initially thought.

Equally the energetic gym sprite who met me upon arrival for "orientation" (aka Fat Pinch Test) sternly cautioned me against a routine entirely devoted to floor-based exercises. Something about my muscles having a memory, and my weightloss and toning program reaching a plateau...something something.

But on closer inspection, so few of the classes I actually want to do are offered at a time that I can do them. Who is attending these classes at 10am on a Tuesday? There must be some trim, taut, and terrific unemployed people in my neighbourhood!

I can do my classes in the evenings, and mix things up on the machines when I get bored (or miss the start of the class). I have already made a note to myself to stay away from the eliptical machine. That thing goes forwards AND backwards - way too much margin for error there.

Lex's recommendation is to pedal like mad on an exercise bike - sounds good to me. They're bolted to the floor and once I'm safely on, it would take a fair bit for even me to fall off. Check.

And memo to me - buy new ipod headphones, cause then I can walk on the treadmills, looking oh so cool, and catch up on my TV shows at the same time. I wonder if they get Food Network in there....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All aboard!

Big Pineapple, Queensland
Originally uploaded by TV Disko.

I went to another movie premiere tonight, this time it's the latest starring role for Seth Grogan ("Knocked Up" and others) called "Pineapple Express".

Don't be fooled; this is not a film about fruit, or about trains. It's a movie about smoking pot - lots and lots of pot. More accurately, it's about the creme de la creme of pot, known as "Pineapple Express".

Take a couple of stoners, throw in some crazy drug dealers, and hilarity ensues.

Actually to be fair, the film was pretty funny. I find that Seth Grogan is a little like Will Ferrell for me - I used to think he was annoying and then almost overnight, I grew to love him. And there were some gross-out moments, and some laugh-out-loud moments, and I think you need that on a Tuesday night.

And if anyone out there was looking for the 20-something single guys in Chicago tonight, they were all at my screening. Talk about "it's raining men", yikes!

Thumbs up for the movie AND thumbs up for the crowd!

Monday, July 14, 2008

It really IS possible to navel-gaze for too long

On Saturday morning I shifted a drawer of long-sleeved tshirts off the still-unopened box containing my air conditioner and I discovered that there is so much wrong with that corner of my bedroom.

For one thing, the drawer has come completely off the tracks in the shelving unit (some might argue that is a metaphor for its owner). Secondly, the kamikaze drawer is full of winter tshirts. Not exactly an oxymoron but still rather unseasonal. And thirdly, they are resting on top of a box containing something that I bought weeks ago and still have not installed.

Procrastination is my latest thing. I am not ashamed to admit it - there is simply no denying the obvious.

But I recognise its a pattern and so I'm setting about to change it. So today I joined a gym and I absolutely plan to go to pilates and yoga classes. That is until my wobbly bits stop wobbling quite so enthusiastically, and then I will switch to something more upbeat and cardio-like. See? I have a plan.

Not that this plan gets me any closer to mending the drawers or installing the air conditioner, but it's baby steps over here.

And of course a new gym regime requires a new gym wardrobe and I'm pretty excited about that. I only have fashion sneakers right now, so I'm not really sure what shoes I'm supposed to buy, when all I'm going to do is take them off to do the yoga stretches or the pilates exercises. The websites tell me about cross-trainers, and running shoes, and the rather unhelpful and remarkably generic 'athletic' shoes so I'm pleased I decided to browse online before heading into the stores for a complete Alice in Wonderland shoe-buying experience.

Whatever I choose, one thing is for sure: they obviously have to be fabulous because this IS Boystown after all. While my kind of wobbly bits aren't exactly prized here, I'll still get snaps for effort. Way to go, girlfriend!

Monday, July 07, 2008

What's that, Skip?

Red Kangaroo
Originally uploaded by Thirty6Red.

It is a well-established fact at work that I am a princess (well-established, that is, in the minds of Mero and Biggsy) but they also know that I am a big nerd.

I have just finished reading "Chasing Kangaroos" by Prof Tim Flannery, Australian of the Year 2007 and former Director of the South Australian Museum. The book explains the evolution of the kangaroo and how the changing Australian flora and fauna contributed to the kangaroo's current appearance and habitat. Far from being a text book, Prof Flannery takes a more Bill Bryson-ish approach to the narrative so I really enjoyed it.

But of course I mention this reading material to Mero today and she just stared at me, blankly. I read her mind. "I know, I know," I said, "I'm such a nerd". And then she said something that completely floored me.

"Did you know that earlier this year scientists mapped the platypus genome?".

I could have hugged her. And I probably would have, if I'd only known what the heck she was talking about.

We nerds have to stick together I guess.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Taking time out, just somewhere else

Sari, I was so wrong!
Originally uploaded by Karan V.

I knew it wouldn't be long before I was sick of my own company and would need to escape home detention for some fresh air.

In search of my Audrey artwork, I realised that lugging home a 3ft piece of pop art on the bus was NOT how I wanted to spend a sunny Saturday, so I went shopping for photo frames instead.

Indulging my love affair with "World Market", I headed there first and was pretty disappointed with their frame selection. No matter, because I picked up another sofa cushion (to match the ones I already have), as well as some delicious Indian sandalwood candles. I was never a candle fan until I moved to the US, so I'm not quite sure why I'm indulging now, but I seem to love them.

Anyway, while I was in the area I called in to the local independent cinema just to see what was screening. I was in one of those moods where I figured that if something was showing pretty well straight away, then I would buy a ticket. If I had to wait around for any amount of time, I wouldn't bother. As luck would have it, "Brick Road" was screening about 5 minutes after I got to the cinema, so I bought a ticket - with absolutely no idea what it was about. In fact, I had no idea what ANY of the movies were about, and the ticket booth dude was no help - he hadn't seen any of them yet either.

"Brick Road" is a really lovely movie that starts out in Bangladesh, and ends up in London. It's principally the story of a woman who grows up with her sister in a small Bangladeshi village but then gets married off at 16 to a rather rotund man in London, who she has never met. The separation of the sister is heartbreaking, and while they never see one another again, they do stay in semi-regular touch through letters. The story is a commentary (in some way) on a Muslim community in a very average part of London, and their immediate reaction after September 11, which happens quite late in the film. The characters are so real and so normal, that I thought it was a really beautiful story and I enjoyed it. I did not enjoy the steady commentary provided by the woman on my right, whose companion would have been about one million years old. Both of them were carrying on like porkchops the whole movie, and were quite hard to zone out. Still, I focused on the gorgeous saris that the main character wore - they were stunning colours.

It's funny because back home, I would never have gone to the movies by myself but since I've been away, I do it quite often. I will also go to the theater by myself quite confidently. I haven't got the courage to go out to dinner or a bar by myself yet, though I am sure that day will come.

Until then, it's back to house arrest for the day, before I am flung, full-force, back to the office tomorrow for the start of the working week.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I am under voluntary house arrest this holiday weekend and I usually get cabin fever by the second day, but this time around I've found so many odd jobs to keep me busy.

Yesterday I got an uncharacteristic burst of inspiration to clean, and now all my clothes, sheets, and towels are clean and the hardwood floors are shiny and sparkling. I know, who am I, right? It's like my body and mind have been taken over. Read on, it gets worse...

I also dug out all the photos I've been meaning to display. In my previous apartment, I created a photo collage on my bedroom wall, just sticking them up with blu-tack and while they looked good, they weren't protected by frames and anyway, it was only ever meant to be a temporary display. Now that I'm somewhere a little more permanent, I figured it was time to get some artwork on the walls and what better artwork than my own stash of family photos and arty postcards?

As luck would have it, I have photos and cards of all different sizes, so I need to get an array of frames (matching of course) and devise a scheme to get them up on the walls in a way that will look good - and not messy. I think that's where Lex might come in - she has an amazing eye for these things. And she's also given me a piece of her own college artwork that I really love and I'm looking to display.

And there are a few things from back at home that I miss so terribly and I'm eager to create over here.

For instance, I have a huge Audrey Hepburn print that weighs a ton but looks amazing on the wall we've chosen at home. It's this print here:

Audrey Poster

I was browsing on the Home Depot site yesterday and they have very inexpensive poster prints that are laquered up and framed to give them a more professional look. The exact same poster I have back home is available in the HD store closest to my house so I'm going to check it out there today. I was going to just buy it online but I'm more concerned that the frame might be a bit cheap-looking so I want to see it for myself first. And the slogan for Home Depot is "you can do it - we can help". I wonder if that extends to helping me get it home on the Number 8 bus and putting it up on my wall?! Something tells me, no.

The second thing I miss from back home is my Indian wall hanging that is so colourful and sequinned, and takes pride of place on my bedroom wall (though not usually with the "Welcome Home" banner attached!). I have not had much success in US shops finding something the same size.

Gab's Room - at home in Adelaide

When we were in Toronto in October last year, I got a smaller version that has pinks and reds through it, but I really want something larger that I can hang in my apartment - not sure where yet. So again, on a website affiliated with National Geographic of all things (, I found a bunch of hand-made Indian textiles including the amazing wall hangings that I love. These ones even have the rod loops sewn into them, so they are purpose-built to hang (whereas mine at home is actually a bedspread so it's hanging my castiron clips instead). The prices online are quite reasonable so I'd like to get one. But as is the case with Audrey, I'd really like to see the wall hangings before I buy them - I will keep looking online to see whether National Geographic/Novica (or other) has a Chicago storefront or supplier.

After the cleaning & organising spurt was over, I fell into my rocking chair by the window, and read for the rest of the day. I had a couple of glasses of wine, curled up like a cat, and just enjoyed being on my own (well it WAS Independence Day, after all).

Friday, July 04, 2008

I've got rhythm, I've got music...

The other day I posted about people around the world losing control of themselves - their minds mostly, but then their bodies follow I guess. The news that day had been full of murders, murder-suicides, and just about every form of craziness in between.

So you can imagine my relief when I was sent the link to the Where the Hell is Matt? website. I'd been following Matt's dancing travels in the early days of his site, but admittedly my interest dropped off when it all got a little 'same thing, different day'. But it seems people around the world have really danced into the spirit of things, and it made me really happy to watch it.

Kids, dogs, bearded guys, men in suits, pregnant women, all kinds of people with all kinds of rhythm - check it out. And if it doesn't make YOU think there are still good people in this world, then I don't know what will.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh say can you see?

Stars and Stripes
Originally uploaded by lelisa.

Come October 6, I will have been in the US for three years and even though I feel very comfortable here, I still feel like a fraud when I join in the national celebrations. July 4th is the case in point.

It's not that I consider the Americans to be an exclusive bunch - far from it in fact. I mean, hotdogs, burgers and fireworks are for everyone. But July 4 marks such an important, defining moment in the country's history that to me, it feels more appropriate to take a step back and let the party rage without me.

I'm not being a party-pooper of course; I have plenty of opportunities to get out and about this weekend. But tonight, rather than braving the crowds and being part of a rowdy, patriotic celebration, I'm choosing instead to stay at home and relish the chance to relax and unwind after what has been a really busy week.

And if three years in Chicago has taught me anything, it's that the Americans will be up for hotdogs, burgers and fireworks with me any time I'm ready.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A watery end

thankfully his feet were clean
Originally uploaded by ratterrell.

So Mero and Biggsy were giving me grief the other day when we were talking about slip & slides. I was telling some silly story about how when we were kids, my cousins would put washing detergent on the backyard slip & slide to make it extra slippery (and extra soapy). But I was always too afraid to go running and sliding on my belly for fear that I'd bash up against the garage wall, or skin my elbows, or something like that.

And the chorus of "oooh you're such a princess!" began. And then somehow it morphed into me not liking waterslides, which is not something I ever said.

So maybe I had waterslides on the brain because last night I had a great dream about being at a waterslide theme park and it was towards closing time. There was only a handful of people there but I dont' think I was actually with any of them - I was there by myself.

I went down the huge chute slide a few times, and really enjoyed it, and on my last climb up the stairs, the attendant told me that the slide had been turned off. I refused to climb back DOWN the stairs, but he assured me there was enough water on the slide to take me down to the pool at the bottom.

So I sat down, pushed myself off, and started to slide. As I got to the flat bit right before you plunge into the water, I stood up and ended up almost barefoot water-skiing across the pool. I looked and felt coordinated - and totally awesome!

But then some woman on the slide behind me crashed into me at a cracking pace, and sent us both straight to the bottom of the pool. My glory day was short-lived, but it was good.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Does the 'Last One Standing' get the last laugh too?

I've long carried on here about my love for going to the hair salon. You can keep your mani-pedis or your deep-tissue massages, give me a haircut & colour any day and I am one relaxed lady. So normally a three-hour appointment would not phase me. But tonight it was a little more draining than usual.

This is all due to the excessive trashiness of the trashy magazines on offer.

Most of them were full of that talentless pair Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. Don't ask me who they are or what they do, I just know they are being given tons of cash to parade around together smiling a lot and generally being irritating wannabes.

Normally I would flick through the magazines and stare at the photos, occasionally pausing to read the captions or admire the fashions. But tonight, given the sheer abundance of references to the Montag & Pratt train wreck, I started reading about them in more detail. The various tabloids are convinced that the 'romance' is a complete sham, but who cares because between them, they've pocketed $3+ million for in-store appearances, openings of envelopes, and all that crap. Nice "work" if you can get it I guess.

And what's more, the 'journalists' that write these 'articles' seem to be obsessed with the horrific idea that the twosome will not only get married but they will also breed. Give me a break.

So I started feeling really sick at the idea from an ethical standpoint (if I want to see sham marriages, I'll watch "Bold & The Beautiful" every day on CBS at 12.30pm!). But then I got annoyed because on a closer reading, I learned that Heidi is 21 (let's face it, aren't we all?), and Spencer is not much older. And people are speculating about their marriage prospects?!

OK so I know I should have stopped reading at this point, but as I said this twosome are a train wreck, and I am a gullible average consumer and as such, I simply cannot get enough.

Just once I'd love for a Hollywood 'celebrity' to own up that they're actually too young for something. I want someone to screw up her surgically enhanced nose at the mere suggestion of marriage, and confess that they're happy to just enjoy their 20s and just have fun for a while.

Maybe then I can start to enjoy my trashy mags AND my hair salon visits all at the same time.