Monday, November 30, 2009

Cat person

Alright I am the first to admit I am NOT a cat person. However, I could watch this cat video all day! I caught an episode of Tosh.O on comedy central and he featured this "cat prank". I seriously laughed out loud for five minutes (especially when the video was replayed in slow motion). The cat looks so bewildered. My friend commented that he had never heard me laugh that hard EVER. Anyway, here it is in case you want a good belly laugh (don't worry it is totally G-rated work apporpriate stuff).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mediterranean Adventures - Part 2 (Rome)

One thing I forgot to mention about our NYC to Boston flight was that John Edwards and his wife were on it. Yeah everyone was seated and they made us wait for two final passengers. Guess who that was. The cool thing was that there was that the plane was too tiny for a first class section, so they sat a few rows behind us. Dana and I even used the same exclusive exit out the tail of the plane.

Anyway back to Rome. I’ll never forget the ride into Rome. I watched in awe as we actually drove around the Colosseum. After dropping off our bags (I mean just the carry on) we grabbed lunch at an authentic Italian café and I had my first cappuccino ever. We asked the Italian men to take our picture (yeah I am a huge nerd and wanted to capture the coffee moment) and they were exactly as you think…ah beautiful bella, I want a picture with you, you want to marry me, ah.We hoped on the subway and headed over to the Piazza del Campidoglio which used to be the spiritual heart of ancient Rome. Mind you it has like a hundred steps and the temperature was skirting the upper 90’s (August, go figure). The view from the top is worth the sweat though. I got my first sweeping view of modern and ancient Rome.
Next stop was the Colosseum. The road leading to this ancient monument was lined with cheesy gladiator actors and other performance artists looking for a tip. It felt like Hollywood Blvd. except we didn’t speaking the language. Okay, the Colosseum rocked. It lacked shade and escalators, so I mobbed a gelato vender outside where I enjoyed my first gelato.We wandered under the Arch of Constantine and through the ancient Roman and Imperial Forums. Essentially a bunch of ruins. The guide book would say “this building blah blah blah something interesting…all that is left is two pieces of stone”.

A quick subway trip and we were at the Spanish Steps, also known as the Times Square of Rome. You name it, card tricks, portrait artists, gelato venders, hordes of tourists, ah just like NYC. Again, more steps! We were rewarded with another amazing view, but it totally wiped us out. I did pick up a small watercolor from some street artist (most likely painted by a Chinese man).

We strolled down Via Borgognona which is like the 5th Avenue. One turn lead us to Piazza Colonna with a giant column. Another turn took us to the Trevi fountain. Okay, like the Colosseum, it is as awesome as you would imagine. You could hear the roar of the water a block away. It was extremely tempting to jump in (then again everyone had that same idea and there were signs posted all around).

I think we stumbled into the Chinatown section of Rome and did some shopping. We ended at the Piazza Barberini with the Fountana del Tritone (Posideon Triton fountain).
It was around 3pm Rome time (or boiling point for the sun) and considering we had only gotten maybe one or two hours of sleep on the plane, Dana and were fading fast (we had been up about 24 straight hours). We crashed for a well needed nap back at the hotel. Around 10pm we headed over to the Piazza del Popolo for a late dinner, or as we found out, normal dinner time for locals. This plaza is huge and normally is packed with hundreds of Italians in BYOB tables and wine. In the month of August, I guess the ENTIRE country goes away on vacation. I read about that but didn’t believe it until I saw a total of maybe 10 people in the plaza. This August vacation burns us another time, but that is a story for later. We walked up and down the tiny cobblestone quant streets looking for a place with no wait, reasonable prices and a good selection of dishes. We finally settled on a place right on the plaza which probably was touristy but felt soooo Italian. We had our authentic dinner meaning, it took easily two hours to get our food.

The funny signs:
Warning, the subway doors will close directly on your crotch.

Warning, don't let the subway hit you in the ass.

Warning, don't walk around barefoot or try to slide down the stairs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Enjoy the Journey

What am I thankful for, I know the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) because riding public transportation has provided me with a wealth of stories over the years. Most recently was this past Sunday. I was meeting a friend to go hiking…in the city…yeah I know it doesn’t make total sense. Anyway I was traveling on the North Avenue bus around 3:30pm. Note this is a totally normal bus route traveling at a totally normal time; otherwise if it was say traveling in my neighborhood at 2am, this story wouldn’t be completely uncharacteristic. The bus was crowded with every seat taken and a few people standing. Well every seat was taken except for one…the one right next to the crazy white guy. He was reading a Black Panther newsletter out loud to no one in particular. I remind you…he is WHITE! After a while, he stood up and reached down into his pants. Now everyone was watching him out of the corner of their eyes and probably making mental escape routes in case he pulled out a weapon. Thankfully he just was adjusting himself, vigorously. Apparently he couldn’t get the job quite done, so he dropped his pants down to his knees and shifted his dirty boxers around for a couple of minutes. Once he sat back down, he took out a lighter. He yanked up his pant leg and started to fuss with his sock (it was an old tattered sock that had lots of fuzz balls covering it). He reached down with his lit lighter towards his socks (apparently he was going to burn off the fuzz balls or something) and accidently grazed his leg with the open flame. Now he must have been drinking or on drugs or soaked in a bath of kerosene, because his leg hair went up in one big flash fire. It reminded me of when they light the cheese on fire in a Greek restaurant. Anyway, the people around him collectively gasped and leaned away as one (trust me, you had to see it, it was hilarious). I don’t believe he injured himself, but did succeed in burning all of his leg hair off while shacking his leg and shouting out “oh DAMN!”. The whole bus reeked of burnt hair and yet I was sad when we pulled up to my stop seconds later.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Favorite Holiday

Typically Halloween is a time for women to dress up like sluts and get drunk. I don’t endorse that, but man do I sure love people in costumes…well except clowns, they are creepy. About two months before Halloween, I was reminiscing about TV from my childhood and was struck with the most perfect costume idea…The Small Wonder. For those who don’t know, The Small Wonder was a TV sitcom in the 80’s about a little girl who was actually a robot…an awesome one. The great things are 1) I didn’t have to change my hair, 2) didn’t have to dress like a slut, and 3) didn’t even have to tone up since the costume was going to be poufy. Sweet! Of course I couldn’t fit into a child’s dress, so I had to sew up my own. This was okay since I have traditionally sewn my costumes but this time I finally met my match…puffy sleeves. I tried everything but couldn’t seem to figure out how to create a capped sleeve with elastic, gathering, and volume.
I went to a costume party hosted at a bar and the bouncer gave me an extra long hard look. I guess since I do look young AND was dressed up as a little girl, he had reason to doubt my age…or intentions. He asked about my costume, and when I said ‘The Small Wonder” he drew a blank look. Then I realized anyone younger than 29 probably wouldn’t get it. Luckily for me, almost everyone at the party was born in the 1970’s. Although there were lots of women present wearing a fraction of clothing, I seemed to still get a ton of attention. Frankly the costume was a hit. The real clincher was the disabled smoke detector I strapped on my back (don’t worry, it was an old smoke detector that I had replaced and just hadn’t thrown out yet). I pulled off the cover, stuck out some of the circuit board, and tied on an extension cord for good measure.
I do admit there were several excellent costumes at the party. I was pleased to see almost everyone was in full costume, none of that just wearing cat ears and attaching a stupid tail business. The best was when the cast of Sesame Street and The Muppets rolled it. Yeah, head to toe character costumes. Cookie Monster even had a bag of cookies that he would shred while doing the impersonation. Turns out, it was a bunch of guys from my kickball team who had crashed this party thinking there was a costume contest.
The awkward moment of the night was meeting an overly excited loofa girl. The first words she said to me were “oh my god that is a fucking awesome costume…I love it so much I would lick your xxx”. You get the idea. Some of the filthiest things came out of that girl’s mouth. I guess that is why she dressed up as a loofa, because she was so damn filthy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mediterranean Adventures - Part 1 (flight/baggage)

After our stellar vacation in SE Asia, Dana and I decided to travel again. At first it was going to be hiking through Peru, but then it switched to a cruise around the Mediterranean. We stopped in five countries, three continents, and 19 cities. I am so excited to write all about it. Granted it wasn’t the most authentic experience abroad since most of the people on the cruise were American and they served cheeseburgers and French fries at every meal.
So it starts…
We flew into Rome three days before the cruise departed in order to see more of the sights. First we had to switch planes in Boston because we found ridiculous low airfare doing it that way. Yeah a round trip flight from NYC to Rome was only $250 (with $250 in taxes and fees, ha) if we had one stop and carrier switch. Our flight to Rome was on the Atalia airline or otherwise known as the shittiest airline EVER. These guys make Southwest look luxurious. I learned a valuable lesson that first day, customer service is the least appealing job in all of Italy.
Our flight landed and we waited for our bags, and waited, and waited. After 45 minutes we walked over to the customer service desk for Atalia, and told them our baggage was lost. At first, the Italian woman looked pissed off that we were speaking to her (or breathing the same air as her, I couldn’t decide). She rolled her eyes and told us that it was too soon to declare lost baggage and that we should wait another 30 minutes (you know because the baggage handlers were probably taking a break in the middle of unloading the bags).
We went back to the carousel and continued to wait. At first we thought our baggage didn’t make the switch at Boston (it was a tight connection) but later we realized a lot of the other people milling around were also on our flight. After 30 minutes, and two flights later (they were now on Argentina) we headed back to the pissed off Italian women. We gave them our claim tickets and expected them to just type them in and magically know where our bags were. The flight was 9 hours, so we figured in that time (plus the extra 90 minutes since we landed) they would have put the whereabouts of the bag in the computer. Nope! They gave us a phone number and told us to call tomorrow.
Our second lesson…when you lose a bag in America, they scan that bar code and can tell you the exact location of the bag AND they call you. In Italy, you call them…twice a day…with different phone numbers each time…to talk with people who ONLY speak Italian. When I lost my bags in Asia, they had already put on a plane by the time I had realized it was lost.
At least we had our carry-on bags that contained two outfits (one conservative for the holy sites) and four pairs of underwear. The sad thing is that we were two days away from embarking on a 15 day long cruise. We stressed to the airline people that we were leaving Rome soon and that there would be no way for the bags to follow us since we would be in a different city every day. Granted I was pretty worried I would have to begin to wash my panties in the sink.
Every morning and afternoon we would call the numbers and have the manager at our hotel talk to the customer service people. He would list off the claim numbers and then listen for about five minutes. Then he would hang up the phone and tell us “they don’t know where the bags are…they say call back later and maybe they will find them”. I am not kidding, this is EXACTLY what he told us numerous times. At first we thought he was joking, then we thought he was editing down the conversation because he was annoyed by our constant pestering. We were so frustrated that we walked down to another hotel and had their concierge call on our behalf. Same story, different person.
We were down to the last 24 hours before leaving on the cruise, so we finally had to put some good ole USA muscle behind this (because damnit, we are American and you don’t fuck with us). We called Dana’s Mom first thing in the morning. Well actually it was first thing in the morning for us in Italy, so it ended up being 2am in Indiana. Of course the machine picked up and Dana started off with “hey Mom, don’t panic, I am fine, just without luggage, blah blah blah”. Thankfully her Mom picked up and she explained the whole story to her. The airline only had one flight from USA to Rome a day, so it was essential that our luggage get on that last flight.
Our nightly call to the customer service at last had some good news. When we asked about our bags they said “let me check, oh yeah, they are sitting right here, we will deliver them to your hotel sometime”. We practically jumped on our hotel manager (he was on the phone) and demanded to know A) if they even knew which hotel we were staying at, and B) when exactly does “sometime” occur. Honestly we didn’t trust them to deliver the bags in time and half expected them to just strap them on the back of motorbike. We tried to calm our nerves with a late long authentic Italian dinner. We got back around midnight to find our bags sitting in the hotel lobby. Dana and I ran over and hugged them and vowed to pack more than four pairs of underwear in our carry-on from now on.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's hot in here...wait no

It is about time I write up about my adventures on the roof. Previously I wrote about the heat going out in my apartment. Granted it happened in October…the coldest October Chicago has seen in 80 years. Right now, in November, it is around 10 degrees warmer on average than the previous month. Strange. Anyway, my neighbor’s heating unit also broke at the same time. Well hers was on fire, so it wasn’t completely the same type of malfunction. We tapped a mechanical contractor that has replaced all of the other heating units at our condo complex. Fast forward a week. I was on the roof of my building on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon with five Eastern European men (two of which didn’t speak English…at all…unless you count “cigarette” meaning they were asking my permission to smoke on the roof). I watched them pry off my old unit and crane in the new one from the street park below. Thank God the leaves had already frozen off the trees because the crane leveled dozens of branches. I asked the men how they all came to work with this contractor. Turns out they are all related to the Contractor. One was the brother-in-law, two were cousins, one was the father-in-law, and one was brother to the brother-in-law. Does that make them qualified to install mechanical units, possibly. Actually only two did the work while the other three stood around and held tools and chain smoked. While they were making the connections, I squeezed in to inspect the unit. While I was reading the specifications (yes, I am THAT dorky) I realized the contractor had pulled a bait and switch. Yeah, he sold me on unit A and was installing a much inferior unit B. The thing had two giant holes in the side because it was actually a side throw unit instead of a downward throw. Basically the holes needed to be in the bottom and not the side. I watched them realize their mistake and rectify it by sawing holes in the bottom of the unit. The best was when the contractor found out the side hole covers had to be purchased separately, so he took some thin sheet metal and just duct taped it over the openings. I stood aghast for a moment before unleashing my furry on him. About half way through the argument (where he tried to convince me it was the same unit) I started to name off all the deviations and mistakes. That made him blink and ask “wait, are you in this industry”? Yep, HVAC is my job, check mate buddy. My neighbor is a theater major and he assumed that I was an idiot to.
Realizing he screwed up, the Contractor ran off claiming he had another appointment (it was 5pm on a Friday) leaving his band of relatives to wrap things up. I found out they were all from Bosnia and I almost name dropped my good friend who is Serbian (who would ethnic cleanse their asses off). It all leads up to the big moment, turning on the unit, and surprise, NO HEAT! After further investigation, they didn’t cover a bare wire and ended up shorting the unit. No problem, just replace the internal fuse…too bad they needed to get it from the distributer’s shop which would be closed till Monday morning. Long story short, I put the hurt on the contractor and eventually got heat after being without it for four weeks and three additional days.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mile high entertainment

I am beginning to write up my travels abroad, but everything starts with a plane ride right. Here are some excerpts from my favorite in-flight entertainment magazine.
Your Passenger Seat Office. Hmmm, how do we make driving more hazardous? Nothing like filing your faxes on the highway. I love how they put a disclaimer at the end "not for use while driving".
I bet some guy was walking around and thought "I like my calculator watch, however it just doesn't scream dorky enough." Enter the square root watch. My friends know I have a difficult time reading...well time. This is just another smack to the head. Yeah why don't you try to tell time AND do math.
As a female, I don't know why we always try to accentuate unnatural things with our body. First it was the excessive forhead back in Elizabeth I. Then the tiny waist with corsets. Big boobs, waif bodies, big lips, etc. The latest is junk in the trunk. Now I am not blessed with a booty, I like to think of it as my know wide and flat. Help has arrived with the insert butt pads. I am a bit worried though if they suddenly slipped out while moving and dance you ass off (insert groan here).

Monday, November 02, 2009

Not that kind of movie

Okay I was not kidding when I said strange stuff happens to me. A few Saturdays ago I stopped by a house party after an Oktoberfest street festival. Okay, it wasn't so much as a house party as it was just a bunch of friends sitting around chilling. I had recently returned from my fabulous Mediterranean vacation, and I didn't understand why they kept asking if I happended to run into any international playboys. Confused, they finally confessed to me that they watched a movie before I showed up. Not just any movie, but a movie called Donkey Punch. Yeah, I too immeadiately thought, "wait that isn't a movie...that is a porn". Anyway, the friend of a friend was the director/producer of the flick and had an advance copy for our viewing pleasure. Warning, spoiler alert: The movie was about three girls (whores) who party with four guys on some yacht in the Mediterranean. They have this big orgy (yeah, totally didn't see that coming, just kidding) and a guy kills a girl via...donkey punch. They then decide it would be better to just throw her body overboard instead of going to the police. Well the mental anguish pushes everyone to the breaking point and they all end up murdering each other. I personally liked the 'death by flare gun'.

Okay I feel bad for the director/producer guy because we all totally ripped into the movie during the viewing (while he was sitting right there). I do admit, the plot was pretty good for something I expected to just take place in a motel room with really bad background music. The funny thing is that he admitted the actress they killed off first had the worst acting. Ha.

Fastforward one week. A date asked me how my weekend was, and I confessed that I watched the movie 'Donkey Punch'. Without a beat, the guy said "oh how was Netflix recommended it to me". Of course I thought "what does this guy normally watch...ah I see here you like girls gone wild 6, 7 & 8 as well as showgirls, therefore I recommend Donkey Punch".

Sunday, November 01, 2009

New Chapter

It has been a little over a month now, so it is about time I introduce Slim Jim. Now that isn’t his name, but it suits him well since he is well over 6’-6” and weighs in at probably 120lbs. What can I say, I like them tall and skinny. Hands down, we have had some of the most creative dates. Tango dancing lessons, Oktoberfest at an authentic rowdy German bar, dinner at the Art Institute, a trip to a Haunted House, and the list goes on. Actually the haunted house was my idea since I adore Halloween. I felt bad for him because I think they targeted him. They were good at startling us by hiding in dark corners or dropping down from the ceiling. They got me good about five feet from the entrance, but the remainder of time was spent going after him. Against my will, I found it hilarious, so you would hear his startled shriek followed immediately by my giggle.
I figured it was time to cook him dinner although my cooking track record is poor at best. I have been known to set a thing or two on fire. This night was no exception. Here is a quick summary of my night of follies. I started off burning the toast for the bruschetta (like charcoal burnt). I had him help since I was running late, and I think my frazzled behavior made him nervous because he snapped my salad tongs in half. I forgot about the chicken in the oven and subsequently turned it into rubber. I then broke my cheese grater. The sauce turned out really well (thank you Rachel Ray) and my one contribution was adding bacon to the pasta (because everything tastes better with bacon). While we were eating, we heard a thunderous noise over by the kitchen (great now what). Turns out it was my closet. I had too many clothes hanging on the rod and the screws pulled out from the drywall. It looked like my closet had projectile vomited out clothes. He laughed it off and patted me on the back as to silently say “it’s okay, you tried”. Did I mention this all occurred while my heat was out, so we ate dinner in sweaters.