Sunday, February 27, 2005

Back from the Lou

My wild weekend at the gateway to the west has come to an end. We heard blues, drank Schlafly, and got quite our fill of the arch. Now I'm reams behind in my reading and dreading finals period. But at least Tuesday is the first day of March... which means spring isn't even really looming on the horizon yet. But we can pretend it is.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Midnight at the O-ay-sis

One thing I really like about Chicago and the mid-west in general is its refusal to use the same traffic and highway-related lexicon that the rest of the country seems to find suitable enough. For instance, rubber-necking is not rubber-necking here; it's a gaper's block. And my favorite is the mid-western term for a highway rest stop (a stupid redundancy if I ever heard one): the oasis.

While my vision of an oasis doesn't generally include a MacDonald's and an Amoco station, I still admire the attempt to romanticize roadside convenience commerce. The correlation between the dessert, with its mystical island of lush greenery, and the miles of flat nothingness, with its mystical island of fast food and gas, makes the term particularly fitting for the midwest.

Of course, it wouldn't be Chicago if the oases weren't also embroiled in corruption. In his last comment, my dad mentioned a story in the Wallstreet Journal on the Daley dynasty, to which I am provided a link. I have to admit I was distracted by the style of the writing, which I really admired, so I couldn't focus too much on the content of the article. But the gist is really that we Chicagoans (I feel I can call now include myself in this group) are perfectly aware that our city government is rotten to the core, but hey, we have pretty trees and tall buildings now, so who cares?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Meet Me in St. Louis

When Louis came home to the flat,
He hung up his coat and his hat,
He gazed all around, but no wifey he found,
So he said "where can Flossie be at?"
A note on the table he spied,
He read it just once, then he cried.
It ran, "Louis dear, it's too slow for for me hear,
So I think I will go for a ride.

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair,
Don't tell me the lights are shining
any place but there;
We will dance the Hoochee Koochee,
I will be your tootsie wootsie,
If you will meet in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair.

The dresses that hung in the hall,
Were gone, she had taken them all;
She took all his rings and the rest of his things;
The picture he missed from the wall.
"What! moving!" the janitor said,
"Your rent is paid three months ahead."
"What good is the flat?" said poor Louis, "Read that."
And the janitor smiled as he read.

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair,
Don't tell me the lights are shiningany place but there;
We will dance the Hoochee Koochee,
I will be your tootsie wootsie,
If you will meet in St. Louis, Louis,
Meet me at the fair.

***Bonus trivia question: What famous Christmas song was originally written for this musical?

Christmas in Connecticut

I enjoyed a lovely Christmas morning celebration, Christmas day run, Christmas evening dinner, as well as the traditional post-Christmas-dinner-overpriced-cocktail-at-suburban-Mexican-restaurant this Saturday at home in Connecticut.

I also met my brother's girlfriend for the first time (we got to talk over aforementioned overpriced cocktails) and spent an extra day back east because my flight was cancelled Sunday evening. (Cause of cancellation? "Well you know, sometimes there's just, like, too many planes in the air so Air Traffic Control has to, you know, cancel some," according to the American Airlines representative at their 1-800 number.)

Now I'm back in Chi-town... for 3 more days before I get back on a plane (let's hope they've sorted out that "too many planes in the air" issue by then) and head to St. Louis, the land of mediocre BBQ (it ain't Kansas City) and the arch, for a romantic weekend getaway at the Adam's Mark. Baker will spend all day Saturday cavorting with other Computer Science educators while I toil away on my Medieval Romance presentation for next week. It promises to be a rollicking good time.

Still, it's an exploration-adventure I couldn't pass up. So continues my education on the culture of the mid-west...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I Suck at Sucking

I have an essay due tomorrow on languages and whether they lead to misunderstandings between people in the world. It's purposefully vague and undefined. The point of this class is to learn this particular formula for writing responses to questions like this a la the French educational system.

But you know what? This is an undergrad class and I get no credit for it. This is a type of essay I will most likely never have to write. And yet I still am stressing out about it.

Why? Because it doesn't matter what "it" is; if I'm going to do it, it has to be good. And this essay I wrote today is not. It sucks. But of all the things I do, that is what I am worst at: sucking. I think I need to take a class on sucking. Sucking 101: How to be really good at being bad at stuff.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

An Ode to Me

Don't you wish you had a poetic father? Here is my annual Valentine's Day poem, composed by my dad, a tradition he's kept up now for as long as I can remember.

Alongside the shores of that Great Lake, Michigan
Lives the finest daughter there has ever been --
Studyin’ French writings at old Chicago U.,
And showin’ the Second City all the things she can do.

Marcel Proust, Victor Hugo, or M. Charles Beaudelaire,
She can read ‘em, untranslated, with energy to spare.
Occasionally some professor tries to give her some guff,
But Dana’s got it handled -- she’s more than good enough.

Maybe you saw Dana in the Chicago Marathon;
She hit the finish line looking only slightly wan.
Or maybe you’ve seen her putting fierce cockroaches to flight
When she gets up in her apartment in the middle of the night.

We miss her in her old haunts back here on the East Coast --
She’s the darling of our hearts, the greatest, the most!
But we’re proud to see her tackling a tough grad school
Coping with those pressures, and staying so cool.

In her teaching, reading, writing, or rowing with the crew,
The people who can match her are exceptionally few.
In truth, sweetest Dana, there’s just one thing left to say -
A tardy, but still heartfelt, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I Need Me Some Tunes

I know I'm certainly not alone in praising my portable mp3 player, but I still like to think I'm unique in that I proudly sport my Creative Nomad MuVo NX. Yes, I'm still tuning out the world and isolating myself from my surroundings, but at least I'm not wearing an iPod like it's a fashion accessory. I'm proud of my little blue Nomad, little being the key word here because it is indeed smaller than both the iPod and the iPod mini.

Anyway, since I walk a lot, I listen a lot. But I'm getting sick of my music, and I'm having trouble thinking of new music to, um, obtain through highly legitimate means. Anyway, suggestions? I have to say that my taste in music is bizarre, erratic, and totally unpredictable. I'm ashamed of what's on my Nomad right now -- everything from Kanye West to Dar Williams to a cut from Jessica Simpson's Christmas album. (Don't ask.)

So please, tell me what I should listen to! Any and all suggestions will be taken into consideration.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I Got Hacked

Well, my hair did. For the fist time in a long time, I authorized the stylist to chop it all off. It wasn't exactly an Extreme Makeover moment, but let's just say there was a lot in the dust pan after I climbed out of the chair. Now I have a little puff of a ponytail and a lock that refuses to stay tucked behind my right ear. I feel like a whole new woman.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My brother wrote this. And my dad wrote this. Yo, my family? We is all up in 'dis internet bid-ness.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This year, I wanted to take it seriously...

My plan for today's post was an explanation of the Lenten sacrifice I'm choosing to make this year. It was going to make me look so virtuous and admirable. I was going to talk about what one of my roommates (who is Catholic) said to the other (who is Hindi) last night to explain to her the purpose of Lent.

I was going to say that I really liked the way my Catholic roommate, who gives up all sweets every year, thinks about the whole idea of Lent, that every time she feels a craving for something sweet she reminds herself how blessed she is and says a prayer to thank God.

I really wanted to write about how my plan to give up gum for the next six and a half weeks was going to be great because every time I wished I could pop a stick in my mouth I'd get to think about how much good there is in my life. It was really going to be a fantastic post.

But then I found out that the brother of one of my former colleagues (not to mention current friend and poker mentor) died this weekend. He was a young guy, couldn't have been much beyond 30, and he had Lou Gehrig's disease.

At first I felt ashamed of the smugness I felt earlier today, after hatching my grand gum-denial plan. But I've settled now into a state of wonder. I feel as if I've been reminded almost daily during the past week and a half of the horror that can rock people's lives, causing devastating sadness. These heart-wrenching stories I keep hearing make me wish I really needed those gum cravings to remind me of how lucky I am.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't need my help in order to shake me out of my blind infatuation with my own silly problems. I only wish that I could trade in my taste for gum and get some relief for those people who are really struggling right now. I don't think I'd miss that Nutrasweet kick one bit.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

What a Tease

I walked home from the gym today in my tee-shirt, bare white arms soaking up every drop of sunshine. It felt like early-April; it must have hit 55 degrees. If only my poor sun-drenched arms would believe me when I tell them to enjoy it now, cause come next week (and the week after that, and the week after that...) they'll be buried again beneath seventeen layers of wool and fleece.

It's amazing how delightful 50 degrees can feel after several weeks of well below freezing temperatures. And it's equally amazing just how much of a shock it'll be when winter reappears, laughing and sneering, saying, "Remember me? You thought I was over, didn't you? Can't you read the calendar, foo? It's only February! I gots me lots more time to freeze yo' face. Ha HAAAAAAAAAH!"

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Another Reason to Love Reality TV

You must be kidding me, Martha.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Screw you, Phil.