Monday, July 30, 2007

brighten my northern sky....

after such a productive weekend, i must admit i'm feeling the letdown of the beginning of the work week and the realization that everything, once clean, begins to get dirty again....

in addition to all this, i'm feeling this distinct sadness right now. it seems that as the days get shorter (even just a bit), the longing inside me grows. God, how i wish i didn't want all the things i want. i wish i didn't still want them, even after i've been told they're not mine to have...or at least not yet.

things are fine, you know? i mean, sure, they could be better, but they're fine. and it's the fine that's killing me. it's the fine that drives me to distraction. because i don't want fine. i want amazing. i want life-altering. i want comfort and familiarity and something deeper than what i've had before. i want vacation pictures and inside jokes and fits of laughter and favorite spots. there's no sense in pretending otherwise. once you want something more, trying to un-want it is like packing a whole world of possibility back into a matchbox. and what sense is that, really? that opened world will spill out everywhere and make itself known regardless.

well, there, i said it. so now you know.

i never felt magic crazy as this
i never saw moons knew the meaning of the sea
i never held emotion in the palm of my hand
or felt sweet breezes in the top of a tree
but now you’re here
brighten my northern sky
-nick drake

Sunday, July 29, 2007

why i love weekends

because i don't want to forget this little detail (so apparently my blog has become a notepad of sorts), last year i went to chesapeake wine company with salimah and my friend mel, and i had a glass of the montelena 2003 cabernet sauvignon - normally 100 bucks a bottle (and 20 dollars a glass), but because i was doing a short flight, my taste was only 2 bucks or something ridiculously amazing like that. in short, that wine was divine.

okay, so onto other things....

i've gotten so much done this weekend, my head is spinning! laundry is nearly complete, vacuum and ALL other necessary items have been procured, grocery shopping (including seriously macked out produce and a few staples from trader joe's) was done before 10 a.m., dusting and vacuuming of living room is ova, and dusting and vacuuming of bedroom is about 50% 100% done. i've also reframed a bunch of photos, called to update my info with my alumni organization for a new book they're compiling, and located and activated a replacement credit card.

dinner tonight will be something light with lots of fruits and veggies, although i'm not quite sure yet what that will be. oh, and within the next hour, i hope to sit down on my couch and watch 'blood diamond,' which i've been wanting to see for awhile now.

i'm going back to work tomorrow feeling like i ACTUALLY got something accomplished. gosh, that's just a nice feeling. last weekend's trip to chicago was amazing, but it totally threw off my chore schedule. lots going on in the next few weeks (including the start of my mba program), so more than ever, i need to stay on top of the logistics. even though they tell you not to sweat the small stuff, if that stuff adds up, it can really kill ya.

on duster, on bissell, on swiffer, on sweeper! okay, that's all the reindeer names i've got for now....

Friday, July 27, 2007

in no particular order

here's all the stuff i have to get done this weekend:

1. return library books (maybe check out a couple of new ones)
2. watch and/or return some movies
3. make a target run (new vacuum, dish drainer, citronella candles)
4. get produce, bread, peanut butter, and dairy (milk and eggs, mostly)
5. vacuum and dust the heck out of my apartment!
6. laundry - lots of it

i plan on hitting target at 8 a.m. tomorrow and then the library before picking salimah up at the light rail.

in other news, i'm contemplating getting a new desk (right now, i use a tabletop, actually) for the start of school. i really don't have enough room to work (partly because i have too much stuff on my desktop) and i cannot be doing schoolwork at my dining room table. ick. of course, i don't have the money for this just now, but it's on my personal wish list. we shall see....

off to clean up before i hang out with my friend nina!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

two days in

i'm still struggling to get myself back into the swing of life here in crabcake corners. besides the fact that i actually teared up this afternoon because i miss chicago, my body doesn't want to convert back to east coast time and i'm just still SO tired. i don't know what my deal is, but it ain't making life any easier.

in other news, i have to say that subway - while not my favorite restaurant - really IS a great place to get a ww-friendly lunch. if you avoid the cheese and scary mayonnaise and other creamy condiments, you can really get quite a bit of food for not that many points. i'm all about bang for the buck, so to speak.

it's 11:20 and i should be asleep by now, but i took a post-work nap that was longer than i anticipated...what was i thinking??

i just keep remembering this one moment on friday morning. i was standing in front of the sears tower; i looked up into the brilliant blue of the sky, felt the breeze blowing all around me, and knew i'd remember that snippet for a long time to come. it was the moment that something inside me said yes.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

my kind of town, chicago is....

This is my kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at you

And each time I leave, Chicago is
Tuggin' my sleeve, Chicago is
The Wrigley Building, Chicago is
The Union Stockyard, Chicago is
One town that won't let you down
It's my kind of town


this morning our plane touched down back in baltimore around 9:40 and the first thought i had was this doesn't feel like home to me anymore. maybe i was in such shock because the last few days have been chock full with adventure and fun, but maybe something inside of me has changed in the 72 hours while i was away. hmm....enough analysis! here's a recap:

the first item of import is that the weather was AMAZING. low to mid-70s, perfectly sunny, and breezy. no humidity. did you hear me? my hair was beside itself with happiness (that, and the chicago water made it look particularly perky).
friday, after a breakfast we wound up getting for free at our hotel, we made our way into the city on the L and proceeded to wander around for an hour or more before getting our bearings and heading in the direction of the palmer house hotel, where we were scheduled to meet our 2:00 mini bus tour (but not before salimah tried to get us a free ride on an out-of-service trolley by flirting with the driver - bummer it didn't work).

after 2 1/2 hours of chicagoland sight-seeing - including the field museum, lake shore drive, buckinham fountain, the trump towers (several times), wrigley field, and oprah's house - we decided to head to lou malnati's for some serious deep-dish chicago-style pizza. holy crap - this stuff was delicious.

i could get all technical on you (okay, i will) and say that while there was sausage on this pizza (the layers are as follows: sliced mozzarella - which was fabulous - raw sausage - their own special blend - and a chunky tomato sauce, topped with herbs and romano), it was in NO way greasy. the flavors were subtle, the crust perfectly cooked, the cheese appropriately stringy, and honestly, while i am a fan of thin crust, new york style pizza, this was an experience all to itself. i know i'm gonna crave this treat until i get to have it again. oh, and for you east coasters, don't waste your time with pizzeria uno. it doesn't hold a candle to lou malnati and what he's got going on....

so, after our pizza break, we took our one and only cab of the trip (all the rest of the time, we took the L and buses to get everywhere - a completely accessible option, in my opinion) to the top of the hancock building, where we proceeded to have delicious but overpriced cocktails at the signature lounge. the view was spectacular, but i did get a bit of vertigo from the experience (you could actually feel the building moving a little bit). in this photo, you can see the sears tower in the distance. it's truly an awesome sight.

by the time we left the hancock building, the sun was JUST starting its descent, so we made our way back to the train and trundled off to our hotel by the airport. once back, though, we were feeling up for just a BIT more adventure, so we decided to go off in search of a REAL chicago-style hot dog. there was only one option at this point: superdawgs. so, we put sleepy salimah in the back seat of the car and made our way north and west. (the one adorable thing i will remember about salimah from this trip is that every time we got on public transportation - train, bus, whatever - this girl was napping! at one point during the superdawgs outing, she briefly woke up and asked if we were in wisconsin. you have to love it.)

well, folks, i'm here to tell you that the superdawg did NOT disappoint. here are the dawgs now.... this place is just charming and the food is really great. plus, it's a drive-in with car hops, so you can just sit in the parking lot devouring the beefy goodness and watch all the classic cars roll through. it's like happy days or something. a bit of a tip: i'd avoid ordering the sport peppers on the top. i felt like they made the eating experience even more unwieldy and plus, they really were rather hot!

in case you don't know, by the way, a chicago-style hot dog includes finely chopped onions, mustard, bright green sweet relish, a kosher dill pickle slice, slices of tomato (although the superdawg had a wedge of a pickled green tomato), sport peppers if you want, and all of this is packed into a steamed poppy seed bun. at the superdawg, your beefy treat is also nestled in among some superfries and comes in its own cute little box. anyway, enough of the food lesson. we finally got back to our hotel and passed out, exhausted from a packed day.

saturday morning we headed back via train and went to navy pier (which juts out into lake michigan and has tons of places to eat, shops, and rides, including a huge ferris wheel). we lunched at charlie's ale house and then hopped on a cruise around the pier and the lakefront. afterward, i did manage to purchase a few small souvenirs, and then we hopped on a cross-town bus to second city where we saw a truly hilarious comedy show. i fully expect some of these folks to be on SNL any day now....

after walking around a beautiful little neighborhood in the north end of the city, we hopped the public trans. back to the hotel where we geared up for our final hot dog run of the trip - this time to portillo's. (those things are addictive!) salimah then suggested that we round out our final night with drinks back at the friday's attached to our hotel. after two (including a long beach iced tea), i was pretty much down for the count, so i left the girls and went back to our room to shower and pack for our early departure back to b'more. (4:40 is when the alarm went off this morning!)

this weekend was filled with fantastic moments, lots of great food, amazing weather, gorgeous scenery, incredibly friendly people, hysterical laughing fits and hijinx on the train, and the feeling that this will not be the last time chi-town and i will meet one another. it occurs to me, though, that if i keep going back, i might really not want to leave....but maybe that's not such a bad thing....

well, in the mean time, i'm going to gear up to get back in the swing of things tomorrow. but before i do, let me raise my glass. chicago, you're a true class act. you exceeded all my expectations. your people are friendly, your streets clean, your drinks delicious! (okay, that wasn't really the selling point - although they were.) i know now why frank felt the need to croon about you. here's to next time. you really are my kind of town....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

countdown

i'm all packed. tomorrow evening i leave for chicago for the weekend. i'm excited and nervous (haven't flown since before 9/11) and just really need to get out of dodge for a couple of days. salimah and i are flying out there and my dear friend amy is driving around the lake from michigan to meet us. good stuff.

listening to a little nelly while i charge my ipod. other than the fact that i haven't washed up a few dishes, all systems are a definite go....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

casualties of war

today has been productive so far! i've already done 2 loads of laundry, filed a bunch of papers, and gone to 2 different stores to acquire food for the week (one of which, i am sorry to say, was safeway because i couldn't justify driving all the way over to wegman's for some toilet paper, lysol wipes, and brummel and brown).

after driving salimah home - with groceries in tow - i got gas and made my way back to my still-dusty-but-much-tidier apartment. i'm contemplating lunch, which at this point is sounding more and more like some heated up chicken satay with brown rice (purchased at trader joe's earlier today).

i'm still kicking butt on the ww and i'm managing (relatively successfully, i might add) to keep my head in check. the only wound sustained in the fray of the last 48 hours is an occasionally bleeding cuticle. and once again, doesn't one part of life mirror another? for it seems that despite all my best efforts, some bit of me - no matter how small - cannot manage to hold itself together.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

la marseillaise: if i built this fortress....

Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé.
Contre nous, de la tyrannie,
L'étandard sanglant est levé,
l'étandard sanglant est levé,
Entendez-vous, dans les compagnes.
Mugir ces féroces soldats
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes.
Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons.


today i am building my own fortress. today, for me, marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. unfortunately, i'm not quite sure what's beginning. what i do know is that the memory of bloodshed stays with a person perhaps indefinitely. i am not the same girl i was 18 months ago. i feel on some levels that i was stronger then. i had a clear resolve and fortified defenses, but i allowed those things to crumble around me in the hopes that someone else might take up my cause (two is better than one, after all). but it didn't happen, and what it left me with was desolation.

so i set about to slowly rebuild - and rebuild i have. and today it is from the top of my embattlement that i sing heartily along with the french. although if i'm being honest, inside these castle walls, there's a broken heart that has yet to mend.

today my goal is to be as focused as i can on the things i can do right now: eat well, have fun with my friends, and plan for my trip to chi-town this coming week. i will endeavor to keep my mind from the one thing that plagues my thoughts, infiltrates my dreams, and wakes me from every peaceful sleep. it is the ache of all aches.

first, shower. then eat. then lay another brick. and another. and another....


Thursday, July 12, 2007

and they're off!

well, it's official - i got into grad school! i'll begin my program on september 4, assuming financial aid comes through as i hope/expect....get ready for me academia, here i come again!

in other news, i'm sticking to the ww like a fiend. last night we had a retirement party for two women who have been with my organization for a LONG time (one nearly 40 years). it was an emotional event with many tears and tons of food everywhere. i ate like a peasant (a vegetarian one at that) and avoided the creamy crab dip. it wasn't that hard, really. i don't need something derailing me at this point. i'm just not interested in it.

plans for the weekend include getting my hair cut/highlighted, doing some chores, catching a play on saturday night with salimah, and scoping out some furniture a friend of mine is giving away. i may be in for a new bedroom suite. we'll see....

things are moving in the right direction. just in time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

starting from zero, got nothin' to lose

there's something kind of sad in the passing of a year. i sit here, newly 32, and marvel at all that has happened in the last (roughly) 365 days. this time last year, i was in month 2 of what turned out to be a more than 4-month upper respiratory illness that took basically all my strength (as well as my hearing and taste) for longer than i ever thought possible.

finally, as i began to get myself back in the saddle health-wise, i started having major foot problems, which have continued to this very day. being sick and/or in pain in some capacity nearly every day for an entire year can really wear a person down. couple that with some colossal disappointments in my personal life, and the hits just keep on coming. no matter the effort i put into my goals, the answer kept coming back loud and clear: not this time.

well, in the face of starting over, i find in myself slight (and sometimes a lot more than that) trepidation, but my resolve is strong nevertheless. i believe that, by God's grace, this year will be different than last. day 2 of ww was a bear, but i made it through. this season is all about telling my body who's boss and getting it to show me the money.

watch me.

Monday, July 09, 2007

wicked haadcohah

pardon my new englandy vibe. it just seemed appropriate.

so, i'm back on weight watchers. i've reached the point where i'm ready to start back up again and i was tired of crapping around. so today after work, salimah came with me, and i hobbled my way through trader joe's and picked up a bunch of great, quick, healthful foods that will jumpstart my new regime just swimmingly.

tomorrow's breakfast: 2 hardboiled eggs, 2 slices of turkey bacon, 2 pieces of wheat toast (it's pretty thin), a dab of brummel and brown, and a small grapefruit. that ought to hold me good and plenty until lunchtime. i need major food in the a.m. - including lots of protein - otherwise i'm just no good. no good at all.

since i can't work out the way i'd want to just yet, i'm focusing on the food. one thing at a time, people. one thing at a time.

and furthermore, the only way for me to be successful is to treat myself like a new recruit in boot camp. of course, there will be slightly less screaming going on. slightly. believe me, i've got an inner drill sergeant. and you can bet yer bippy she's got a bahstahn accent....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

hmm

apparently when i have a few days off from work, i get all ponder-y. here's a question i've been asking myself today: is it ever too late to turn around and go back - or turn in a new direction and go a different way? i have to be honest and say that sometimes it feels like it is. for those whose perspective is a faith-based one, it's never too late, we're told, to turn to God. yes, i agree with that. i really do. but is it ever too late for other things?

here's an example (albeit an unpleasant one): if you've ever seen the animal cops show where they go in and rescue abused animals, you may have seen episodes where they find houses packed with cats (literally hundreds) and while the animals may be in some stage of salvageable physical health, they're so feral that they have to be put down because they are truly beyond the point of setting right. it's so sad to me because in every fairy tale, the story ends with the point of rescuing (except with an afterthought to be like, 'oh yeah, and they lived happily ever after'). but what about the people who are rescued but who are still beyond hope of anything resembling success coming their way?

now, i'm not talking about chronic mental/physical conditions that might prevent a person from having what most people would consider 'normal/everyday' interactions with others, but is anyone ever so marked by the past that, aside from God's heart towards the person, he or she is basically unacceptable? is there always a possibility of coming back from things, or is it sometimes just not going to happen?

i honestly don't know.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

While It's Still Called Today. . .

I wanted to leave you this token of a note to say all the things I've said before. I guess the point is this, after ten years, I still find so much to celebrate about you. You are a winsome human being--so damn funny, articulate, generous, perceptive--a tremendous collective of top notch character traits. But what matters to me most is that I know I can trust you with my life. And I do. I hope for you a wonderful year of no disappointments in love, no heartaches elsewhere, more money, excellent seismic shifts that lead to greener pastures, bigger digs, and positions that reflect your capacity and capability. I wish for you freedom from duplicity in others, and wild, wild celebrations with your friends. You deserve all those things. For you, my dear and best friend, Sarah, the world is not enough . . . Here's to 32. I think it's going to be bliss.

you say it's your birthday

it's official. i'm now 32. i had a great weekend, including an all-day trip to havre de grace and north east, md, with salimah and vanessa, during which we shopped, ate, chatted, shopped, and ate some more. i bought myself a super fun bracelet and a pair of pink crocs (complete with a little matching pink flower decal to decorate). here's the bracelet:


today started off with brunch at the cheesecake factory, then a trip to home depot to pick up two butter yellow adirondack chairs for my patio (upon which i sat for awhile and took a little nap), and then dinner out with several of my best girls from work at a seafood restaurant in reisterstown. i felt very surrounded and loved and it was just how i wanted to spend it. tomorrow night i'm out for dinner with another friend, and then tuesday continues the celebration with MORE great friends. i'm lining up times with different pockets of people so that i can really spend time with them and have no one feel left out of conversations or anything like that. and plus, when you have too big of a group, you yourself can't possibly pay attention to everyone. that makes it too hard.

so i'm happy. and whatever is to happen in this year, let it come. as ever, i will face it with as much courage as i can muster and maybe a little finesse along the way. i have such great friends, and i'm so thankful for that....it's good. it's just all good.