Saturday, August 23, 2008


GOOD GRIEF! (Tai Shan June 4, 2006)
Originally uploaded by dcmandrill.

You know how I had this fake boyfriend story going with the checkout chick at the local supermarket? Well today I felt brave enough to nip the melodrama in the bud and announce that we had broken up. No "Ben and Jerry's", no sobbing, just a straight-shooting, old fashioned 'we're not together anymore statement. One white lie to shroud the other.

So I get to the register and he asks (again), "how's your baby doin'?" and I clear my throat and declare very matter-of-factly, "oh, we're not together anymore.". He looks shocked.

"Yes," I continue, "he left and moved to Manhattan,". Brilliant.

He looks concerned and puts a comforting hand on my shoulder. "Oh you poor thing. So what is it, a bitter custody battle?".


"He must miss being with his mamma", says he.


Okay so great - now I am not only a single woman, I'm a single mother - whose child has just relocated to Manhattan to live with his father.

I just wanted to curl up and die.

Why does even my fantasy life have to be so complicated?!

What would Picasso have seen?

Originally uploaded by uteart.

I had my apartment painted yesterday and even though the entry way wasn't done (the black smudges on the wall gave that away), the rest of the place looks pretty good. I'm not sophisticated enough to identify whether my walls are now white, off-white, ivory, eggshell or whatever - so let's just say that the apartment is now just a lot brighter and cleaner-looking.

Speaking of cleaning, I was a sweeping/mopping/dusting demon this morning to put all my furniture back where it is supposed to be. My muscles are already aching - tomorrow is not likely to be pretty.

The biggest tragedy of last night was the fact that I was in an absolute rush to go and meet Courts for dinner, and so I was putting my shower rod back up and the stupid thing snapped, fell down, and cut up my foot. Until that happened, I didn't know that such colourful swear words were lying dormant inside of me. Sailors everywhere around the world would have blushed at the words pouring out of my mouth!

So today I have to go to the hardware store and buy a shower rod. I don't think I've ever even wandered into the shower rod department of any store in my life. There had better only be 2 choices or I am in big trouble.

And the shower rod isn't the only drama now that my apartment is fresh and clean. Up till now, I had been using the excuse of unpainted walls to delay having to decorate - I can't stand that creative process crap. And try as hard I can to subscribe to Mero's "Japanese Minimalist" style, it really isn't mine.

So what's a girl to do?!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No, YOU hang up first

come hither
Originally uploaded by *Chico.

I must have had a great day yesterday and an even better sleep last night because today, I was a proper ratbag. I flirted with everyone and as I said to a friend of mine, I spoke to one Aussie businessman today and I almost HEARD him blush through the phone - it was classic.

It was a fairly busy day too so by rights, I should have been a snapping turtle but nope, today I was just coasting along and trying to be cool. The pushy German woman on my bus still got the death glare, but everyone else was on Easy Street with me today.

I came home from work to find my loaf of bread had gone mouldy in my cupboard, but even that couldn't get me down. I just turfed it and burrowed in the back of the freezer for the traditional English crumpets that I knew were lurking in there somewhere.

Don't worry - I am sure I will return you to your regularly scheduled programming soon. But until then, I'm off to bat my eyelids at somebody else. Now who should it be?!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another year, and a family affair

It's not always easy to be away from home, and birthdays seem to just emphasise that fact all the more. But this year, on the occasion of my 31st year on this earth, I've got good reason to feel pretty darn happy with my lot in life.

I spent Saturday with Dr G because I'd told her that we would be celebrating my UNbirthday this year. Given that my actual birthday was today (Aug 18), there didn't seem to be any point getting excited about things on Saturday. So we agreed I would come to her place and watch "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (the fave movie that we share) and drink French champagne. It was blissful. She'd bought me a cupcake from one of our favourite brunch places - I was in heaven. It was exactly what I felt like doing on my Saturday and she was perfect company.

So on rolled Saturday night and I've already updated you on the dinner & drinks antics with Lex, so you know how that went down. Well on Sunday night, after a day spent in the sunshine at Lake Michigan softball field/oval/court/area with Mero & Boston's Mum, I was supposed to meet up with L&D for slushies at Sidetracks (the scene of last year's debauchery), but L got sick - and didn't tell me until I was already at the the bar by myself - so I had to make the best of things. I befriended a beautiful African American guy who confided that his name was " the fabric". I wanted to squeeze him tight - I defy any straight man to know that Cashmere is even a fabric. Sigh. Gay men are so beautiful. So I partied like a rock star with my new fabric-friend, and got to catch up with the adorable "Mr Wyoming", who is actually a gorgeous periodontist with rock-hard abs and an all-round body to die for. Last I saw him, he had his hand wedged down my top (did he leave his keys down there?!). Needless to say he was rather embarassed and spent the first 90 seconds apologising to me profusely, and then the next three hours buying us both tequila shots. NOT a good idea for a Sunday night, let me tell you.

And today rolled around and I felt like ass at work today - bloodshot eyes, the whole shebang. It was not pretty. Fortunately I chugged Diet Coke in the morning, and had a nutella croissant (the best invention since migraine pills), and I tried to pretend my kidneys weren't packing up.

I got to speak to my parents & sister (crazy chat) and then my aunt called and we taked for about 40 minutes (too bad about work), and I couldn't have asked for a better start to my day, all things considered. 4pm saw the delivery of some embarassaingly large helium balloons from Katie - who wanted to surprise me (and she did). I was really touched - it was such a lovely gesture. It rounded out my day beautifully.

Tonight I had dinner with lovely Biggsy, who bought me a couple of margaritas and a crazy big burrito - it was amazing. The wait staff at the restaurant even bought me a dessert and sang to me which was mortfiying (but the dessert was delicious). We then went up to a bar in Boystown and had a quick drink outside- it was really great. I loved hanging out with him.

So you see that for a 31st birthday, when I might otherwise be transfixed by new wrinkles or boyfriends/kids that I don't have, I am instead marvelling at what an amazing day I did have - and what a wonderful family I have - both here and abroad. Sigh - it was a really great day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's a sign, right?

Mon Ami Gabi Entrance
Originally uploaded by disneymike.

I invited Lex to join me for an un-birthday dinner last night. For those unfamiliar with Alice in Wonderland, an un-birthday is what you celebrate when it's not your actual birthday (or in my case, when you're denying that it IS your birthday).

Anyway I chose "Mon Ami Gabi", for the obvious reason, but also because I have known about it here in Chicago but have not yet been. The place is a small chain actually, and I remember seeing the restaurant in Vegas though me and JK didn't call in there at the time either.

Given that Lex is in 2 weddings coming up, and has some killer new black shoes she wanted to stretch a bit, we decided to 'frock up' for dinner last night. I wore a black, belted cocktail dress (and then realised on the way out the door that I hadn't worn the dress since my last birthday!). Lex had a gorgeous strapless dress on and the shoes complemented it beautifully.

So we had a delicious dinner - scallops for Lex & steak frites for me, and then both of us had (actually HAD to have) the creme brulee for dessert and we were not disappointed. The food was delicious and the portions were huge. The restaurant was fairly crowded and we were easily the most over-dressed in there, but we didn't mind.

Then we walked to a cute winebar nearby (needed to stretch after that meal, let me tell you!) and then on to a dive bar not far away for a few farewell drinks for Lex's room mate who is off to live in the Bay Area this week.

I was home by 1am and felt like I'd had a really good night - I don't mind celebrating my un-birthday actually. It has all the ingredients of a real birthday and none of the pressure. No cakes, no singing, no candles, no nothing - it's wonderful!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A meal and that's all

Spaghetti in Tomato Cream Sauce
Originally uploaded by disneymike.

I am not accustomed to the kindness of strangers so it came as somewhat of a surprise to me that two older guys wanted to buy me and Dr G dinner tonight. We had turned up at Topo after our wine class, in search of a basic pasta for me and a robust red wine for the pair of us.

What we hadn't counted on was meeting two very debonaire gentlemen who decided that they would stay on, dine with us, and watch the Olympic swimming. All in all, it was a great night.

But when they didn't accept my financial contribution to the evening I felt rather unsettled. I was not only trying to be polite, but I was trying to pay my own way for the night and they weren't having a bar of it. One of the kind men owns a construction company that builds public schools in Chicago, and the other guy knows a bunch of rich people (thought I didn't quite catch what he does himself). Needless to say, I didn't want either man thinking I was a freeloader, but I needn't have bothered. Neither of them wanted my cash and were quite adamant that my drinks and my meal were entirely on them.

So this is basically the first time that a stranger has ever bought my dinner and drinks, and I am quite touched by the gesture. The guys were so polite and genuine and very sweet, and I do hope that I run into them again. In a town like Chicago, it really wouldn't surprise me!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

It just wasn't meant to be

1950's housewife
Originally uploaded by Theresa Thompson.

Facebook is great as a social networking site and a way to indulge scrabble addictions (in the absence of copyright violations and resultant lawsuits).

But Facebook is also where your privacy goes to die.

Painful experiences early on reinforced the life lesson, "If you don't want anything read, don't write it down". So just like on this site I'm very careful what information I put out there on Facebook. However, when it comes to relationships, I don't think it's necessary to hide whether you're seeing someone or you're not. It's no big deal and nobody really cares one way or the other when you get down to it. Your friends want the best for you, and if that is something you find with someone else (or not), then so be it. Right?

It seems Facebook disagrees. It seems Facebook wants everyone to find their special someone. And so it was that one day this week, me and KH were musing over email about how irritating it has been that we keep seeing dating advertisements on our Facebook sites. I agreed, suggesting that the "30 and STILL single?" banner heading was the one that grated with me the most. The caps were clearly intentional, which just irked me all the more. KH agreed wholeheartedly and suggested that the prominence of these advertisements was most likely linked to the fact that we had flagged ourselves as explicitly "single" in our Facebook profile's relationship status.

Ah-ha, we thought - let's do something about that. So I volunteered to change my status and instead of saying "single", I just left the space blank. But Facebook was not so easily outsmarted. The system generated an automatic message to each of my 139 friends, heralding that I was no longer single. And it tacked a love heart alongside the message, just for added kick.

The emails started, then the phone calls. Was I now loved-up? Who was this man, and why hadn't my friends met him? The power of Facebook was crazy. But my friends all understood and laughed, and agreed that the idea to outsmart Facebook had been a good one - in theory, anyway.

But Facebook was not done messing with me, and it exacted one last revenge. Figuring that I had now succeded in snagging myself a man, at over 30 I had better pull out all the stops to actually keep him. So instead of sending me dating advertisements, I was being bombarded with anti-wrinkle cream ads, promotions for cellulite-busters, and weight-loss recommendations by the hundreds.

Okay Facebook, you win this one. I'm back to being single and fabulous, and trying not let the "30 and STILL single?" banner get to me. Much.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I just can't stop

....e io preferisco Pinocchio! ....and I prefere Pinocchio!
Originally uploaded by parri67reds!.

The other day when I went in to buy my $10 loaf of bread (that incidentally went mouldy faster than anything you've ever seen), I was looked after by my favourite checkout operator.

Again, he asked me how "my baby" was doing. Of course he is referring to my mythical boyfriend - mythical in the sense that he does not actually exist, but the checkout dude just THINKS he does. And I have never corrected him.

Ugh it's a nightmare - I'm too far into the ruse to turn back now. Originally I figured the only way to get out of this mess was to buy a giant tub of Ben & Jerry's (and nothing else), and come through the checkout sobbing. Perhaps that would suggest - without the need for words - that the 'relationship' had finally met its end and we could drop the subject.

But these are the genius ideas I have outside the store, and by the time I get in there, I have totally forgotten about it.

Naturally I'm being paranoid - and I know that. I mean, the checkout guy is only making conversation with me because I'm otherwise a rather boring shopper. I am always shopping alone, and I always buy the same things; Diet Coke, hummus, carrot sticks. So I guess that having him believe I am ensconced in a fully-functional and satisfying relatonship makes me seem somehow less dull.

I really have to stop spending so much time alone obsessing about these things, don't I?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The little Spanish flea...and other irritants

Whether it's the last ditty you hear in the car on the way to work, or the catchy commercial jingle, or the favourite tune you replay on your ipod, songs have a way of getting under your skin. And so do people.

Mero realised early on in our relationship that certain songs stay with me all day. So as I walk past her desk en route to the bathroom, it is not uncommon for Mero to start humming, and she alternates between:
  • Little Spanish Flea;
  • Blame it on the Bossa Nova;
  • Blame it on the Boogie (we have a real blame mentality at the office it seems);
  • The theme from 1980s Cottees cordial commercials (you know the one that goes, "My Dad picks the fruit, that goes to Cottee's, to make the cordial, that I like best"?!); and
  • Jingle Bells (not really the odd man out here, because instead of words, she just 'la la la's her way through the first verse.
It is not uncommon for me to lay awake at night, blaming the bossa nova (and then Mero) for my inability to visit dreamland. And just when the tune is out of my head and I do drift off, I return to the office the next day and it all starts again.

I have tried to get her hooked on the "Mana-mana" song from the Muppets (aka "The Banana Boat"tune) but to no avail. Likewise the "Tarara Boomdiyay" was popular when I was little, but she just looks at me like I'm on crack.

So she just shrugs, opens her mouth, throws her head back and flamenco-dances off into the distance chanting the little Spanish flea song. ARGH.

To share the love (and frustration), I'm paying it all forward. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What would Dorothy do?

Nate and the Tornado
Originally uploaded by holgaguy.

Last night there was a crazy storm that required the City to activate its tornado alarms. I don't think weather has ever scared me quite as much as it did last night; partly because it came on so quickly, but also because it was so fierce.

I had been in bed reading for a few minutes and the wind picked up and started to blow things around my bedroom. Realising things had gone far beyond the 'pleasant breeze' I had hoped for, I got up to close the windows in the house and then KA-BLAM, on came the sound & light show.

Lightning and thunder continued unabated and the windows only groaned harder against the howling winds. The Cubs game had started but was going nowhere quickly as Wrigley Field sounded the tornado alarm, baseball fans scurried under the bleachers, and our cable TV news service was interrupted by the National Weather Service, warning people to head into their basements (if they have them) or to at least stay away from their windows. I seriously contemplated hiding in my shoe cupboard.

Katie texted me from the comparative calm of NY to wish me well but to recommend I drink red wine to get through the climatic ordeal. Good advice normally, but as I was cowering in my hallway, I was too far away from the wine rack and not brave enough to make a run for it. Clutching my mobile phone, I cursed myself for changing into PJs too early. What would I do if I had to evacuate my apartment wearing tatty old pyjamas and no make-up? What would the beautiful boys in my building say? Nope, best to go down with the rubble.

The scene this morning was not as post-apocalpytic as I'd expected. Across the city, trees had fallen on to cars, and neighbourhoods not far from mine were experiencing flash flooding, but the worst of it had occurred elsewhere. My street looked beautifully untouched, hardly showing a sign of having been beaten around the head the night before.

But perhaps tonight it's our turn. The weatherman tells me that we are set for another impressive display of Mother Nature's temper tantrums tonight. But this time, I am ready. I have opened a bottle of red, and have cleared a Gab-sized space in my shoe cupboard just in case - right next to my ruby slippers.

Monday, August 04, 2008

There's one born every minute

Originally uploaded by HBuzacott.

It is an understatement to say that I was not particularly busy at work today. On the whole, I mean. I had moments of frenzy but they were few and far between. And they left me a lot of time to daydream about what I was going to have for dinner.

It's probably depressing for you to hear that I have a favourite type of bread that I like to buy. It's a french style sliced bread, crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. The bakers use unbleached (and unsweetened) flour so I automatically feel healthier eating it and in short, I just adore it.

So imagine my glee when through my hungover fugness yesterday, I visited the store and found a full loaf of it, freshly cooked and obviously just waiting for me. Normally the loaves are only sold by half, so to find a full loaf was like finding a four-leaf clover or a unicorn or something.

Flinging the French goodness into my shopping basket, I almost skipped out the store in sheer happiness. Yes, over bread. I know, the story gets worse.

Today I came home from work, lamely excited because I could have some fresh slices of bread smeared with hummus and some carrot sticks on the side (my usual just-home-from-school snack). Opening the pantry, the loaf of bread launched itself from the shelf and just about clocked me on the head.

And it was then that I saw the price tag on a full loaf of French bread. $10. It's really not normal to pay $10 for a loaf of bread is it?

No, you don't have to say it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Aye carumba

Originally uploaded by Col_arg_ol.

It takes a fair bit to shock me these days, but sometimes I push the limits of my own stupidity and wonder what the &@*$ I was thinking. Take yesterday, for example.

I met L&D for frosty margaritas and some Mexican food. Having been issued a stern (but not unreasonable) warning from Katie earlier on, I was sure to eat something beforehand; a hearty cooked breakfast and some snacks during the morning had lined my stomach really well. And it was a good thing too.

The frosty margaritas went down great. Ditto the complimentary tequila shot to round out the meal. Leaving the restaurant, me and the boys were buzzing but in that warm, everything-is-heartily-amusing way.

So why do you think I chose to nominate that we all go in to Friar Tuck's bar afterwards? Granted none of us had ever been inside before, so I remember that we thought it was a good idea to try out a new place. But once we saw just what a dive bar it is on the inside, why didn't we come to our collective senses and leave?! Oh now I know why: it's because the two bartenders thought it would be nice to buy us all shots. I couldn't make up my mind what to have of course, so the bartender decided for me. And he chose Jamieson.

Great God Almighty that stuff is strong. And it burns the whole way down.

Common sense prevailed shortly after the shots and we decided to leave. The boys had graciously offered to come to my house and install my new air conditioner. And in return, I would open a bottle of Australian sparkling shiraz. Again it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Needless to say last night I slept immensely well and today's hangover is not as heinous as it probably should be. Perhaps it has something do with sleeping nice and cool in my new air conditioned environment? Or perhaps this is my body's way of cutting me some slack, and perhaps my hangover is only on ice, dormant for now but happy to launch itself full-force at me later today when I least expect it. Ugh, I hope not.

Friday, August 01, 2008

He looks how I feel...

sleepytime roo ...
Originally uploaded by smithspix.

This week has absolutely taken it out of me. It's not just the weather either, which has alternated between hot, humid, and hot & humid. Every night this week my commute home has taken over an hour (normally a 20-minute trip), and because I've left work late each time, I've had to stand every night on the bus, squished in with other irritable worker bees.

On the upside, I've been so shattered every night that I've slept like the dead, even sleeping through my alarm twice, which I rarely do, and one purportedly impressive thunderstorm, which I never do.

In any case just to mix things up, this week has also yielded some rather unusual news. I suspected something was up on Wednesday when I was standing at the bus stop and a ladybird pooped on my shirt. They say that when a bird does that, it's meant to be good luck - perhaps the same would apply - not that a ladybird is a bird, but you know...oh forget it.

Anyway the thoughts about good luck kept me occupied enough on the stand-up commute to the office (another miserable adventure), and I got a call later in the day from a media agency. They had heard my voice on the office answering service and wanted me to come and record for them. So that afternoon, after another long and sweaty commute (the train this time), I ended up in the northern suburbs and in a basement recording studio. This agency has a lot of international clients and they have a lot of multicultural voice talent on their books. In my best (and possibly most overdone) Aussie accent, I recorded samples of my voice, telling imaginary callers that their credit cards had been declined and to call back when they had more money. Or something.

But to cut a long and potentially boring story short, I got the job! So on Sunday morning I'll be back in the studio with my cans on (not to be confused with my cans OUT), recording a phone message for the Aussie office a major pharmaceuticals company. And being paid quite handsomely for the privilege. Not bad, eh?

Now I just have to rest my eyes for just a moment....zzzzzzzzz