I love James Taylor almost as much as I love bagels.

The other night after arriving late and unannounced to dinner at MEBs parents house we all got to talking about the upcoming James Taylor concert to which MEBs mom has invested a small fortune in purchasing tickets. (Four tickets to be exact…four tickets for six people.) Huh, I thought to myself, casually maintaining my “poker face”, someone is going to win here and someone is going to lose.  Like Myles to a hot dog I was in.  Suddenly James Taylor became that much more interesting.

Now a good competitor will always size up their competition or lack thereof in the case of MEB who has done nothing but ridicule my iPod Playlist since the day we met.  (Make fun of me all you want MEB but while you are sitting with the dogs I’ll be rockin’ it out to James Taylor with your mom.)  On the flip side, MEBs sister appears to be an obvious choice knowing all the words to “Mexico” and even scoring a signed picture of James Taylor in the past. (She also has the unfair advantage of being directly related. Kinda like if it was a contest to go with Ma Self to whatever she listens to I’d probably…nah, she’d probably win that too.)  Anyway, MEBs dad probably has this one in the bag just because “that’s how these things go” and besides, he has to drive.

This leaves my real competition: MEBs sisters’ really tall (with way bigger feet then me) boyfriend or “the boyfriend” for short.  For “the boyfriend” I feel it is more a case of who she likes better…..me? or “him”.  While he might have more facebook friends, better manners, take more showers and of course wear bigger shoes “the boyfriend” can’t play “The Pink Pamphlet” card. For that: Angela, +10. Eat that MEBSRTBF.

My love for JT (James not Justin) began back when I was just a kid.  It was a lonely time (back then) as I was an only child and my parents didn’t have cable.  Most days I would entertain myself by riding down the steps in a laundry basket or dropping my Cabbage Patch Dolls off the second floor balcony to see if they would bounce; once that became mundane I would retire to the family room (the one with the big aquarium where many a fish met their demise under the watchful eye of Ma Self) to talk to my imaginary friends Lamar, Sticky and Phantom.

It was during these quiet moments with my even quieter friends that I would practice what many would refer to as my “god given gift”, singing. (Sorry, I’m laughing even as I write this.) With a cute little antique car of a music box that my mom probably picked up on “the circuit” (a.k.a. Marshall’s) providing backup I would belt out that ‘ole James Taylor classic “Country Roads, Take Me Home” followed by a little “Rocky Mountain High”.  With my eyes closed I could quickly transport myself deep into those Rocky Mountains where I would be sitting around the campfire with JT. Well until JT would inform me that those weren’t actually his songs but John Denvers’.

Would make sense actually since if I was planning on going to a James Taylor concert he must still be alive and clearly John Denver isn’t. Eh, James, John same genre. Both start with the letter “J”. Honest mistake.

So yeah, uh, James Taylor, “You’ve got a Friend”? Right? Well whatever, he is ALL OVER my iPod and stuff. Totally.
I do believe I deserve the tickets though for taking the time to write this slightly inaccurate but totally shameless blog post. I will have no problem pulling out the lighter on my iPhone and swaying to all the James Taylor classics (while silently shouting “Country Roads” in the same way that many shout “Freebird”) and shedding a tear to “Sweet Baby James” or whatever its called.  Will it be a problem if we stop at Noahs’ for a blueberry bagel with nothing before we go though?

Hugs from your favorite of the people your kids are dating.

MEB does a good ponytail

While I am not totally ready to retract the ‘observations’ shared with you in ‘The Girls Guide to Living in Chicago’ (which may or may not have been slightly embellished as I am told I have a flair for the drama) I do want to point out that MEB did truly redeem himself this past weekend, once again warranting a blog post dedicated solely to him…okay, well maybe me too.

How did he bounce back from sending his girlfriend out in the wilds of Chicago to wrestle a skunk all by herself, or for leaving her to shovel 3-feet of snow with a torn up glove and a hole in her boot you ask? Simple, by tackling the one thing us ‘ear breathers’ hold dear, the ponytail. (And no, I am not writing this under duress… MEB is long gone, once again leaving me here, alone, with a useless watchdog, to fend for myself. Kisses!)

Damn gatorade bottle

Damn gatorade bottle

After getting up close and personal with the pavement on York Road the other week I am operating one arm short of a pair. Many things that I used to take for granted now pose a challenge, (opening that damn bottle of Gatorade that has been calling my name for five long days, tying my shoe, peeling the dog off the mailman, zippers, showers, buttons, fixing the bed, commenting on facebook, my job…) the most critical to my well being however, that ponytail. I mean who am I if not a ponytail wearing only child with imaginary friends??

Yes, with surgery looming, MEB came to be by my side (so romantic!). As you are well aware MEB is an Engineer (well duh!), but what you may not know is that he is also a professional shopper, toenail polisher AND big fan of both “The Hills” and “Gossip Girl”. As a result, I figured that building the aforementioned ponytail “just like Lauren Conrads” was going to be second nature for MEB. While it clearly wasn’t, MEB is nothing if he is not persistent, so with the same resolve that he displayed when trying to convince yours truly to watch “Arrested Development” he exhibited in the pursuit of the perfect ponytail.

The following details the evolution of this pony.

Friday morning. The “Pre-op Pony”: Spending the week totally scared to death that my hand surgery would lead to just that, death, (yeah, so what if I spent a little too much time watching ER growing up… I love you Dr. Carter!!!) I was determined to “look good” going under the knife. I showered, dried my hair, put on my favorite chapstick, my best (mens) green zip front sweatshirt and elastic pants. Yeah, I looked h-o-t. Ready to go ‘clubbin’….or something. Heck, I figured if I was going out, I was going out in style. At this point my hand was still mobile enough to provide some assistance getting that pony on my head so I consider this more of a training exercise then anything. MEB paid very close attention and took notes with his favorite Hello Kitty pen.

Saturday afternoon. The “Post Op Pony”: Having survived general anesthesia and a night of arguing with Myles over the pillow used to prop up my hand, the “Pre Op Pony” was now in a knot at the back of my neck. With a hot date at Panera to break up a day otherwise spent in bed feeling sorry for myself, I needed to do something with my hair ASAP. With some heavy coaching MEB was able to get some semblance of a pony on my head. Granted it wasn’t winning any awards but yeah, it wasn’t the worst.

Sunday sometime. The Penultimate Pony: Yeah, I can’t think of a story for this one. I mean honestly there are only so many ways you can spin a story about a ponytail but the point is he got better, if only slightly.

Monday. I wore a baseball cap. No pony needed but I did catch MEB practicing on the dog.

Tuesday afternoon: The Perpetual Pony: This was the one that had to go the distance. Somehow this ponytail had the responsibility of lasting the four weeks that MEB was in sunny California while his gimpy girlfriend, “The Claw”, was subsisting on food she could eat with a spoon and/or have fed to her by the dog. This time MEB decided to fly solo with no assistance from yours truly. Passable, no doubt, even his friends were impressed.

Yeah, truth be told this “Perpetual Pony” went south by sundown but I actually decided to take it as a sign that it was time for me to shower. Is that too much information for a blog post? What do I do now you ask? After researching several options, including the living the next x weeks in a swim cap I have swallowed my pride and started dragging myself to the gym every morning, scrunchie in hand, and asking people in the women’s locker room to do my hair. Pathetic I know.

laff out loud.

laff out loud.

A special shout out to all those who kept me in their facebook status’ and twitter posts over the past weeks. Also to “Uncle Dave”, the anesthesiologist, for providing an excellent explanation of what ‘goes down’ when you go under the knife. Even though Ma Self, the art teacher, would like to someday have the opportunity to explain to you how anesthesia really works I am going to go out on a limb here and stand by your description. Oh, and yeah, thanks Ma Self for the tub of laffy taffy. Yes, I agree, someday we will all ‘laff’ about this one, very creative.

Tell me again why the hell am I taking all these calcium pills?!?

People who know me know that I have enough food ‘peculiarities’ to warrant their own blog post.  I don’t eat the ends of hot dogs, my sandwiches must be “level”, and I won’t eat anything that has ever come in contact with mayonnaise or a mushroom.  I despise certain color/texture combos, (Green and squishy, orange and crunchy, all things purple….) and under NO circumstance will I ever drink anything I can’t see through. I feel as an only child, this pickiness is my birthright.

For years those close to me have tried to trick me into trying “something new” — sneaking milk into a fruit smoothie or cream cheese into a cake but nothing ever passes the “sniff test”, and if by chance it does, it certainly doesn’t make it through “phase two: dissection”. How does MEB deal you ask?  Well in the same way that he has chosen to sign on for a lifetime of sleeping with a box fan, he has also decided to learn to love a gal with the palette of a six year old. (Okay, maybe more like four and a half)

(* NOTE * All pickiness aside it should be known that I am not one of “those girls” that custom order everything – I just take the cards I am dealt and re-assemble it when I get it.)

While I see nothing wrong with the way I eat and prefer to chalk it up to a refined palette I will admit that a diet of bagels (with nothing) and Quaker Oats peanut butter granola bars  (so good!) do little for me in the calcium department. Actually they do nothing for me unless you count the calcium that came from the milk that went into creating the tiny little chocolate chips interspersed in my precious granola bar.  Normally I wouldn’t care about all this but I feel I am getting a little too old to keep breaking stuff (like the knee I broke last year…well at least I think I broke my knee but I never really verified this with an actual real-life doctor…, my elbow or my toe – sadly all “self-inflicted” (Get it?? Self joke?) ). Soon Myles is gonna be pulling me around in a wheelchair.

So this January, with MEB out of the house I finally decided to start doing what he had been asking me to do all along (but with him gone it is now more of a ‘my decision thing’ then a ‘him telling me what to do thing’) and get myself some of those cute little calcium gummy bears. (I also opted to start eating yogurt every day but I fell off that wagon pretty quickly.) For the last month I have been suckin’ down the recommended dose of calcium bears every night with dinner, sometimes even tossing in an extra bear for good measure.  If the hype around all this calcium stuff is accurate I should be completely unbreakable. If only…

Gangsta shot

Gangsta shot

Fast forward to Tuesday, when with temperatures finally climbing out of the single digits I decide to go for a run outside. Five minutes into my run and just far enough away from my home to be inconvenient, my foot catches my pant leg and the next thing I know I am sprawled (un-heroically) on the pavement with my head bleeding and a shattered left hand. Seven stitches, a tetanus shot and a pending surgery later all I can ask myself is why on earth am I investing $6.74 every month for a bottle of those damn calcium bears.  Perhaps if I had never taken them in the first place I would still be standing upright.  Possible side affects for other medications include dizziness, fatigue, trouble breathing, heart murmurs, death…. why would that not also apply to these sugar coated bears with a dusting of calcium???  Hmmmmm?

owwie

My owwie. Stitches + black eye.

Ok, so maybe is was my size 10.5 feet coupled with my cat like sense of balance but I have to think the calcium didn’t help.  At the time of this blog post I am currently pursuing legal action against uh, Haribo??…stay tuned?

fashion challenge

fashion challenge

Anyway at least I did my part for the economy. As I told the ER doctor while he was trying to figure out the last time I had a tetanus shot (I was 9 my dad tells me) I don’t have a PCP ‘cuz I don’t get sick, I just get hurt; he replied, “good, at least depend on you to keep us employed”.

Girls’ Guide to Living In Chicago

…by yourself, in the winter, with some dogs, a skunk, and a house built long before your parents were born.

Yes, this guide is designed for you ladies out there who (like me) find themselves completely alone in the Great White North (“coldest winter we have had in 37 years!”) while your boyfriend, husband, significant other, whatever, has abandoned you for warmer weather and a free place to stay. I mean why be bitter when instead of riding your bike to the grocery store you can instead be scraping two inches of ice off of your windshield and slipping down the front steps? (Note to all afore-mentioned males (MEB included): during this time don’t even bother arguing your case; cuz you just can’t win.)

shovelLesson One: Shoveling. This is a given. No matter how cute that little yellow house with the detached garage (that your significant other HAD to have for his precious little car) looked in September, it will prove to be a nightmare come January. (No electronic garage door opener you say? No worries! Just take an ice axe to it when you get home from work on a blustery January evening and it will open right up.)

You, the abandoned, have two ways of looking at the 12-14 inches of snow that now blanket your only route out of dodge and to the mall. One is that this shoveling thing is really great exercise. Eat whatever you want for breakfast ‘cuz once you are out there shoveling in sub-freezing temperatures for oh say three to four freaking hours you’ll have burned off all those calories and then some. No need to go to the gym today!

Option two, (which isn’t really optional) is the “guilt trip”. Chose a word, probably a bad word, which best describes the way you are feeling about your boyfriend at the moment. Use that word as you move back and forth along the driveway. You will barely realize what you are doing (you are so mad). Next proceed to tell your sob story to every neighbor that happens to walk by while you are out there shoveling. Finally, when that boyfriend of yours gives you a call while on his way to Tahoe to go skiing let him have it. Hey, if you’re miserable, everyone should be.

water thingy

water thingy

Lesson Two: Frozen Pipes. Even though your significant other insisted that you were being overly dramatic when you spoke of the -40 degree temperatures, remember that the Internet exists solely for this purpose and quickly direct him to http://www.weather.com where he can essentially ‘eat it’. With frozen pipes you are pretty much screwed. Don’t expect a shower anytime soon (contrary to popular belief this actually IS an issue for me) and melt some of that snow (that is now forming on the inside of your walls) for the dog to drink. Point your “heat dish” at the place where the water meter thingy meets the house (probably your basement?) and watch nothing improve. Give up and call your landlord to come out, rip out the wall, use a blowtorch, and get that water flowing again two days later. Repeat “guilt trip” from Lesson One.

Myles during the bird incident

Myles during the bird incident

Lesson Three: Animals in the house. (Aside from the domesticated ones that are actually referred to more as people now because when you live by yourself sometimes the only “person” you have to talk to is your dog.) With the temps well below freezing (still) assorted animals you wouldn’t expect to find in the city of Chicago will begin trying to seek refuge in your home. First you will see the birds. They will come shooting out through the chimney while you are at home on a Friday night watching 20/20. Your dog won’t notice you running around like a crazy person trying to get the damn bird outside because its after 9PM and he’s sleeping. MEB will tell you to open the door until he leaves. MEB is in California where the outside temperature is about 65 degrees. Resolve yourself to living with a bird until springtime.

Skunk Trap (note the dog on top is there to also scare off the skunk)

Skunk Trap (note the dog on top is there to also scare off the skunk)

Next, weird animals with claws will start burrowing in your walls and driving your dog crazy. While you fear it is an opossum or a raccoon you will surprise yourself when you are relieved that it is “only a skunk”. Soak one of your boyfriends’ favorite dress shirts in bleach and stuff it in the hole under your deck. Now because this requires you to actually dig out the 2-3 feet of snow that is currently covering the deck and then crawl on your stomach through a bunch of thorny bushes to do what should normally be a “mans job” you need to make sure you once again repeat “guilt trip” learned in Lesson One.

Lesson Four: Plunging. Yes, in the same way that I have been known to place aluminum foil in the microwave I also

Decorative Plunger a la Ma Self

Decorative Plunger a la Ma Self

accidentally flushed a paper towel down the toilet. Hey! I have a lot on my mind these days! Toilets in old houses don’t really respond well to these types of things and because the downstairs bathroom is the same temperature as it is outside I had no choice but to fix the upstairs toilet. Never once had I plunged a toilet before now (to be honest the toilet plunger I have is more of a decorative item…turquoise with brown stripes and a cute little clay animal on the top) and whatever I was doing wasn’t working. So, instead I took a mixing bowl, filled it will hot water, poured some dish soap in there and dumped in the toilet bowl (multiple times). I let it sit 15 minutes and then plunged. Worked like a charm. I don’t want to know why.

At this point you aren’t even involving your boyfriend in your issues anymore.

So yeah, those are a few tidbits from yours truly. Ma Self always said that when you were mad about something to just write it all down and you would feel better. I figure what better arena to “air my dirty laundry” then a public blog that is read by my co-workers, his co-workers and both of our family and friends, ok, well at least by my mom and Gia ☺

A cold, a dog and a tornado.

Now that I cover a region that goes from the Hudson Bay to the Rio Grande I spend a lot of time traveling.  (Yeah, some things never change.) I have selected Southwest Airlines as my ‘airline of choice’ in a concerted effort to avoid all things O’Hare and NOT because of the fact that I like them ‘cuz I don’t.  At all. (It all points back to ’02 when I was an IBM consultant there and the combination of a jumpy velcro wall, some minor swear words, a prostitute and several late night runs to IHOP forever tarnished my impression of everyone’s (but mine) favorite airline) Unfortunately, my desire to avoid the big “O” came back to haunt me. You see, last week, Southwest Airlines gave me the flu.

Yeah, yeah, maybe it was the four-city tour through the heartland that Jamie forced me to go on in an effort to keep me from voting, the three hours of sleep I got on Thursday night or perhaps it was just because it was the first Friday in November, and I always get sick in November…whatever it was, I got sick and I blame Southworst. (Free drink coupon anyone?)

What was truly fascinating about this ‘sickness’ though was not the disease itself (calling it a disease seems so much more dramatic) but how my dog, Myles handled it. OMG! What a sweety-pup!

Starting Saturday morning (after my trip to the gym where I rather unsuccessfully tried to ‘sweat it out’) and straight through to Sunday night (and four hours of ‘Storm Chasers’ whereby nary a tornado was spotted) Myles never left my side – not even to eat. He didn’t bring me a bone, he didn’t bring me a squeaky toy – he just curled up and pressed his hot little water bottle body up against my side. When I coughed, Myles would whine and lick my face until I stopped.

Isn’t that what dogs happen to do when they know that death is eminent you ask? Oh yeah, it totally is.  So all weekend, while half of me was so touched by this outpouring of doggie emotion the other half of me kept wondering if Myles knew something that I didn’t know. Would I be around next Sunday to see the Storm Chasers finally catch their tornado? Would I live to fly to Omaha again?

Alas, come Monday morning the dog was back to dumping his toys on my lap and dragging his dog bowl around the kitchen floor. Guess Myles ‘the Grim Reaper’ just got his signals crossed.

My new car Snowflake

(Which will most likely be shortened to ‘just Flake’ once some of the newness wears off…and I get my first ding, which is inevitable.)

Snowflake, just like the ones who came before her, is a girl.  (Okay, ‘Cibil the Civic’ might have started as a boy (Civil) but made the switch in ’00 when I moved he/she to Texas. Sore subject but I wanted her to be happy.)  The ‘flake is a pearly white color with tan interior (very Hertz rental car) – and an ipod plug.  I think it has some other car related stuff – horsepower? Handling? VTEC something? Yes, I admit it; I bought a car solely on color and my love of all things ipod. Whatever, I’m a girl. Get over it. Oh, did I mention she’s a ’09? Not sure how this works but all I can interpret is this means she hasn’t even been born yet.

It’s been a while since I owned a real live car. I think I sold ‘Denise’ a little over two years ago. (sigh) I like to think this was because I was ‘going green’ and doing the bicycle thing but mostly I was just lazy and dreading to worst of all sales cycles – the car buying one.  But now with Snowflake by my side I feel like a grown up again. In fact I might drive to Panera later to celebrate and like wear flip flops or something – the world is my oyster!

Although Snowball, I mean Snowflake and I are still getting to know one another I can’t help but wonder if she can somehow communicate with her predecessors like pets can. (Yeah, I know, ask Ma Self….) What is Flake learning from Cranberry, Cibil, Volvo (my Passat) and Denise? Does she know that sometimes I like to feed ‘em the cheap gas? That I’m a big fan of waiting until I am reminded for the 50th time to change their oil? That I love to drive and email?  (just kidding. Totally kidding, would never ever do that ☺ ) And that at times when I’m a little tired I let the dog drive? I wonder.

Alright, on that note I need to go get ready to cash in another one of those savings bonds. I should be able to get about half a tank of gas with it ☺

Just call me a ‘Bond Baby’

….as in Twenty-Five Dollar U.S. Savings Bond…baby!

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again.  The nights are getting colder, the days shorter and after a ten or eleven month hiatus pumpkin bagels are back ‘in season’.  Yes, it’s Fall, my second favorite season, second only to summer and Christmas if Christmas qualifies as its own season. (Which I think it does) Actually, if I lived in the Southern Hemisphere I could kill two birds with one stone, huh?  Might not be a bad idea. But yeah, Fall, you know what happens in the Fall…what coincides with ‘pumpkin bagel season’? You guessed it! It’s  ‘birthday month’  – as in mine! Yes, when the clock strikes midnight on October 1st my family (all two of us) begins a month long celebration of my birthday – kinda the equivalent of the Advent calendar but just for me.  Only child thing I guess.

Ah birthday month. It’s a shame its in October as I look horrible in orange and black, hate all orange food – especially carrots, and I was always stuck having to compete with Halloween.  By compete I mean like when your mom throws you your ninth consecutive surprise party, (at the ripe old age of 21) and tries to get all your “newly legal” friends to sit around the kitchen table playing ‘Bunk-o’ and drinking ‘pop’, and everyone generally has something better to do. Like laundry.  I just can’t think of any worse of a time for a birthday – well except maybe Christmas cause then your parents might try and stiff you on presents and that would stink.

Suprise parties aside, the culmination of said birthday (which hasn’t fallen on a weekend for as long as I can remember dammit!) is what I call the ‘annual trip to the bank’. I like to make an event out of it. You see every year; on October 24th (United Nations’ Day) one of my Twenty-Five Dollar U.S. Savings Bonds matures. Yes, after twenty-five years or whatever the gestation period of a bond is I get to proudly walk into the bank and leave $37.50 richer. Top that Trust Fund Babies. While your portfolio is de-valuing in this challenging economy my bonds are only going up – if only by 1/1000000th of a penny.

And no, I’m not bitter. No, not at all. Being a ‘bond baby’ has truly taught me the value of money. Who needs a shopping spree in NYC when you can use that $37.50 to pay off a nearly half of your monthly cable bill? And who needs a new car on your sixteenth birthday when instead your parents can hand you down a 1982 Subaru with a hole in the back right door, no back bumper (eventually lost the front one too) and the need to be parked ‘in the sun’ and ‘facing downhill’ if you ever wanted it to start in the morning.

Yeah, ‘bond babies’ unite I tell you! Oh and grandma, if you are reading this (which I highly doubt) thanks again for the US Savings Bond!!!! I am forever grateful!