Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beautiful Flowers

I love the studio owner I work for and really feel bad writing about her, but just can't help myself. I laugh at work every day.

I opened the studio during the snowstorm Saturday. She called early to ask me to shovel snow in front of the studio so the sidewalk would be safe. While she was talking to me a couple came in wanting to know about our classes. I told the owner that I needed to call her back.

When I got her back I said "sorry about that, " to be polite. She said: "Oh no. You handled that perfectly. You are a beautiful flower."

She gave me some instructions for the morning and said she would be in around 9:30. When I opened I noticed that she left me 3 singles in the drawer and no fives. Thank goodness I had time to walk to the bank after shoveling. By the time she got there I took care of the snow, talked to her husband about getting more salt, got plenty of change for the drawer and handled all the transactions for the first two classes.

However, she pointed out that I neglected to turn on the essential oil diffuser and that it really needs to made a morning priority.

Somehow she makes owning a small business look like the easiest and best job in the world.


I received a note from my professor on a paper I wrote recently. The paper was one that I had no interest in, no desire to write at all, researched and put together sloppily the morning of the due date, and handed in 30 minutes before the official deadline.

The note said: "Excellent job on this assignment! Keep up the good work!"

At first I thought he was being facetious and expected a low grade and an email. I checked my grades and found full points for it. No email.

I spent the day wondering if the caliber for this class is really that low, or if I am a super mega-genius and am just finding out now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Holidays

Today is my uncle's birthday, the one uncle I talk to anyway. I agonized over what to get him because two days later will be my mother's 60th birthday, making this the most expensive holiday season of my life thus far. I told Dad that after Mom's birthday I am done doing nice things for people. That's it. I'm spending all further money on me. Take that! Oh right. I have two weddings coming up. So much for that idea.

So, I picked out this really fabulous winter jacket for my uncle but the price was too steep. I figured that if I have really good gear, I should spread the wealth to my family. I bought Mom a winter parka for an obscene price last week and looked at the one for him but walked away. Today my parents and I shopped at a couple places but couldn't find anything good. The one I originally liked was sold out. I was mad at myself for not going for it. I couldn't think of what in the world to get him, especially since I know he needs a winter coat more than anything.

I brooded over this but Mom said that I should just get him gloves. That has got to be the most completely lame gift compared to a winter coat. I left the store, but came back for the gloves in defeat. I couldn't show up empty handed and I was out of ideas and time. We got a lame cake at Whole Foods since I didn't have time to bake either and I got there upset. Lame, lame.

Uncle came home from the gym and was surprised to see us waiting for him with cake. He had done nothing fun for his birthday today, and had in fact spent the day taking Grandma to Costco and Jewel. Super fun. He goes to the gym everyday so nothing exciting there either.

After he blew out the candle on the cake and told us that he wished for all our health, I handed him the tiny box. It's funny how much I wished to be giving something grander. When you think about it gloves are an extremely useful present. People always lose one glove, get holes in them, or maybe they aren't warm enough or water resistant enough. I've given plenty of gloves as gifts in the past thinking they were a decent present, but I hoped I could do better for him.

He was absolutely thrilled. I'd never have thought I could make someone that happy over a pair of gloves, but he went on and on about how much he needed them. He recalled all the helpful things I got him over the years and said that the other truck drivers at work jeer him sometimes for having brand merchandise. He tells them that someone really cares about him and that's why he has nice stuff.

I felt moved. A simple gift made his boring day into his birthday. We all talked for a while and I could tell he really enjoyed our company. It seemed like he didn't want me to leave, and we all had a nice time for once. In the end I could have given him a sock or a water bottle or a paperweight or a paper airplane and it wouldn't have mattered at all. Thank goodness some people remind us that the thought really counts.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Tom

What I learned about Thanksgiving this year:

It takes at least 6 hours to make

20 minutes to eat

And there is no one to talk to when dinner is over

I don't know what people without families do during the holidays. I feel that I don't have one, even though I do. The four others that constitute my family are people I can barely stand being around. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday but now I just hate them all. I even believe that the family put on a show for my benefit all these years and can't stand being around each other at all. My grandmother and uncle decided to eat out today even though I made the whole meal at my parent's place, and they live downstairs. At first I was hurt and then I realized that if they don't care, nor should I. I am so sick and tired of all their crap that I just need to scrub the family and their value system and all this disappointment right off my skin.

Since I stupidly did everything for the dinner today; here is the plan should I ever make this meal again:

make dessert. be sure to make sweet potato pie because it is my favorite and I didn't have time to make it today. (huge bummer)

peel, chop, and soak everything. make cranberry sauce

put it all together and maybe even make a cocktail.

Lessons learned:

- roasted root veggies are way better than pan fried. thyme is key.
- use less butter if possible
- milk that goes into mashed potatoes needs to be warm or room temp.
- the turkey is supposed to measure 180 degrees in the thigh when finished
- allspice goes nicely in the cranberry sauce
- gravy is unnecessary
- vegetarian stuffing is the way to go: apples and currants are a must. don't forget a little melted butter, and preferably unsalted croutons; salted is overpowering
- make sure someone can help you with the dishes. my god, half the day is washing. my hands are killing me
- less is more
- and if you get invited to a friend's home for this holiday forget this mess and just go, which is exactly what I should have done. Bless L for remembering me today. I shall not decline next time.

Things I am thankful for in no particular order:

- a heated place to live
- enough money for food and bills
- my health
- Bell's Best Brown Ale
- love
- finding the ability to hold my own
- yoga
- writing
- good friends that call with funny stories or take me salsa dancing
- The Moth
- The Hyde Park Art Center
- purple nail polish
- having opportunities and choices
- silk pajamas

Monday, November 15, 2010

Emotional Landscapes

Every Monday I work with kids and this particular week I was apprehensive about going in. Normally I work with one girl every time but since more kids joined our program I had to facilitate more group work. It was ok for a little while. We managed to do reader's theatre games and counting card games together. But last week disaster struck.

I'll call her Laquishia, which is the girl's name with a different first letter. Laquishia and I have been working together for three months and she sort of picked me. Initially I worked with a younger girl in kindergarten but then L grabbed my hand one day and that was that. We're buddies. We laugh all the time and when she doesn't concentrate I tell her she is having too much fun. She loves that! She uses it back at me all the time whenever I laugh, and she even wags her finger when she says it. L is in 2nd grade but is advanced and well beyond the homework she is assigned. Often I think that all she needs from me is encouragement and attention, rather than help with the work.

Since working with L, her sister Katiana has been jealous and complains that I should be with her. K is sadly behind and was kept in 4th grade for two years. She is embarrassed of her reading ability and will take any moment possible to avoid focusing. Their brother, Daquis is the class clown. He is always yelling, acting out, doing gymnastics out of nowhere, etc. Daquis however, is extremely advanced and never has a problem with homework. He just can't sit still or have quiet. It's ok. I've never had any issue with his behavior. Until that day.

What happened was that L wasn't paying attention and playing around a little too much. She said she was upset because every time she comes in she wants to color on the board, but never gets to. I told her she can if she finishes her work. K was drawing on the board and started writing notes to L on it to disrupt us. For example, K wrote: "Be Quiet L!" So L would grab a paper and write: "You Be Quiet!" The woman working with K had to call a truce and I tried to bring L back to addition problems. Once we got to the subtraction, five more kids walked in.

One of the girls, Marlinda is the same age as L, but not the same level. She needs more help but really tries to do her best. M came to sit with us and claimed not to have any homework. I found her a dry-erase board with addition and subtraction problems on them, exactly like the ones L was working on. I figured, this should be perfect. But no.

M is really calm and quiet, unlike the three siblings. L immediately was annoyed that I gave her a board like the one she wanted to color on. I explained that it was a math board not a coloring board and that I'd like her to finish her problems. She looked over at what M was doing and started shouting out the answers to make M feel stupid. I was shocked. I told L to let M try her problems and let's go back and finish ours, but she yelled at me! She said: "How are you going to help us both?" I told her not to worry.

She became withdrawn. She asked me why I gave her 2 stars for the day a long time ago instead of three. I said because she had given up on working that day and fought with her brother. I reminded her that if she continued working she would receive her three stars for the day today, but it didn't work. She started filling in the wrong answers on purpose. Then she started to cry.

I decided that I wasn't going there. I was not indulging this, I had to maintain strength. I went over some of the subtraction reasoning we did earlier and kept talking and addressing them both. I thought by continuing on she might snap out of it. Nope!

Daquis saw her crying and came over to find out what happened. D doesn't speak unless he is screaming, so this was bad. He asked her what happened and then interrupted everyone.


Daquis, I can't give her the answers. I think L doesn't want to share her time and she is just having a moment.


The site facilitator had to jump in and scold him for yelling at me but he continued on and on. SHE'S NOT HELPING. SHE'S NOT HELPING. SHE'S NOT HELPING. SHE'S NOT HELPING.SHE'S NOT HELPING.SHE'S NOT HELPING. SHE'S NOT HELPING. SHE'S NOT HELPING.

And then Laquishia started absolutely wailing. The entire staff stopped what they were doing and stared at me. I couldn't believe how quickly I lost control. By that point another staff member took over the project with Marlinda because I had lost her too.

The siblings grabbed their things and left early. My attitude about the incident was that kids are kids. Sometimes they're brats. What can you do? But when the session was over the staff questioned me wanting to know what went wrong. I said nothing, she just didn't want to share her time and got emotional. Then they asked what I had done about it and what did I feel and how did it start and what did I do and so on. What the hell? Were they going to make me feel bad too? I left feeling extremely shaken and not knowing if I should work with L again. Maybe she grew too attached.

When I came today, I talked to the coordinator about working with another child. She said that we would see how things happened. I assumed L didn't want to work with me anyway, but when she came in she grabbed my hand again and said, "You're with me, right?"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Well It's A Marvelous Night For A.....

My boss decided we need to get in touch with our inner goddesses, so she signed up the staff for a pole dancing lesson. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.

We went to S Factor and I admit that I was terribly nervous. I figured it would be a tough workout and worried that I wouldn't be strong enough for it. There was another major component involved that I neglected to consider. Luckily, despite thinking it merely a workout, I remembered not to put my mother down as an emergency contact. It's a conversation I'd like to avoid should I fall and break something while pole dancing.

The beginning of an intro to pole class has warm up movements similar to yoga, except the language used is quite different.


Sit in a cross legged position on the floor with your hands gently resting on your knees. Take a deep breath in and slowly open up your chest by leading forward with the heart. Push your shoulders back and take a slight arch in your low back. After a breath or two, curve the belly inward and round the back pulling your chin to your chest. Let's do this a few more times working with your breath.


Sit on your mat in a cross legged position. Reach your arms high into the sky and let them fall slowly down your body, taking forever. Feel every inch of your curves as your hands glide down your face and neck and chest and hips to your inner thigh and down to your knees. Push your breasts out and let them lead you down slowly for a stretch over your legs. Push your upper body toward your right hip then curl your way to the back and over to the left. Once you reach forward again you want to do this a few more times, faster each time. Feel that groin muscle dig into the floor and let the breasts guide you around your body.


Let's all lay on our backs and come into Happy Baby pose. Grab your feet with your hands and try to pull your knees towards your armpits. It's ok if it doesn't go that far. Rock gently side to side to open that low back. Open one leg at a time if you're able. Stretch it high into the air and hold there for a few breaths. If you feel like pushing out towards a V you can do that now but remember not to strain. Hold your legs up by the hamstring or hold your hips down, whichever is comfortable.


Let's lay on our backs now and float our legs into the air. Let one leg slowly pull toward the chest, with toes pointed then back down to the floor. Let the other leg do the same and just take forever with these circles. If you want you can lean over to one side and let the leg curl a little behind you. This is similar to the Cat Pounce we'll be going over later. Let your hands run through your hair and glide down your curves. The next time your left leg is up, bring your right to meet it and open them wide. That's it ladies, feel yourself opening wide. Lift your chest and take your hands over to the right foot as far as you can. Slowly touch every inch of your leg as you pull your body back down. You can roll your shoulders one at a time to give your breasts movement here. Caress your calf and your knee and your thigh and then just touch it ladies. Just touch yourself. Now over to the left.


We're going into a modified sun salutation. Let's take a seated position on our knees, resting the sacrum on our ankles. We're going to rise the body up to the knees, pull the arms in a large circle way above the head and look towards the sky, leading with the heart. Shoulders are relaxed. On our way back down we'll bring our hands down to the earth and back into prayer position by the chest. Let's do this three more times moving with the breath.


Ok ladies I want you to sit down on your knees, but have them spread wide apart. Toes should touch behind you. We're going to pull our body up, letting the arms float up, and move our ass up and down, but only hovering above the legs. Don't sit back down completely. Let's do this a few more times. Does this remind you of anything ladies? What if we picked up the pace? Faster! More more more! Yes! Good! Let your hands glide over your curves. Touch your breasts, put your hands on your hips and feel them rise and fall. Flip your hair everywhere! Faster! Oh yes! Reach your arms behind you and stick out that pelvis!

This was where each of us busted out laughing. I had the naive impression that we were in for a strength training course. To be making such a motion in the company of my co-workers is not exactly your average Friday.

We did a "drunk girl walk," and several other dance-type moves that were supposed to be sexy. We learned a stretch to do when you want attention from your mate, which is certainly now in my bag of tricks. I won't explain what it looks like but I will say it's pretty much ass in the air. No yoga equivalent that I know of for that one .

Eventually we spun around the pole which was extremely challenging. I managed a few decent twirls but the instructor said she was a stickler for the way in which you finish the spin. She said you can't just squat and then stand up. You must give some booty action on your way up. Like so:

And yes that is my booty. The studio is dimly lit so women are more comfortable to do all manner of dirty filthy things without anyone really seeing it. I didn't unleash my wild child because I was just too timid and giggly about the whole experience. Since then there is definitely a little more pep in my step and I have found myself doing utterly ridiculous things in front of the mirror.

The next time I saw my co-workers we all greeted each other with an exaggerated hip sway and hair toss. It opened up a lot of conversation about the way we carry ourselves and what we are willing to let go of, or be open to. I guess you could say we got our goddess on after all. We unanimously decided to do this again.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I've Made a Huge Mistake

I've been suffering from stupid pains in the arches of my feet again. This was a huge problem a couple years ago but has since relaxed. Out of nowhere it flared up and nearly had me crying the other day. It was time to get a massage.

Everyone at work talks about the benefits of massage but I always considered it a luxurious experience, only to be had when money is abundant or it's your birthday. The last time I had one was when I pulled something in my neck and couldn't move for 3 days. I broke down after work one day and found a chair massage place that wasn't expensive. She worked out whatever was trying to kill me and I felt much better.

I didn't want a chair massage this time though. It needed to be the real deal. Besides the stupid feet I have been achy for a couple weeks and always carry a great deal of tension in my low back. I called around a few places for a last minute appointment but no one answered. The prices were a bit scary anyway. There was a listing online for a suburban massage place with the word, "Heavenly" in the title. I immediately thought that was a bad sign but checked out the site anyway. (mistake #1) Their prices were much lower than the other places and they were a chain so I was fairly convinced they weren't sex workers.

I called and told them I had an injury that was giving me trouble and asked if they could help. They seemed confident that they could and all I had to to was talk to the masseuse when I got there. They were open until 11 and could take me anytime. They asked if I preferred a male or female and I said it didn't matter. (mistake #2) I got there by 8.

Upon arrival they had me fill out the "I won't sue" form and mark down whatever my ailments were. Plantar Fasciitis was not an option so I stupidly wrote it in thinking they would know what it is. Nope. Three front desk people asked me countless questions and I was just like, "Um. My feet ache. That's it. Some calf pain, some low back. It's no big deal."

They asked if I spoke Russian so I could explain the problem to my massage guy. "Oh dear. I'm afraid I don't." The guy, Uri, came out to talk to me and seemed to understand that my feet hurt and I had some general tension. He motioned for me to follow him back and told me to take off my clothes and get into the sheets. (mistake #3)

Um, like everything? Take off? Um. Everything? (I motioned with my hands to express that I wasn't sure about the undies)

Yes, every. Take. Ok? I back in minuutes.

I didn't take off the undies. Bra was obviously coming off but undies? What the fuck. No. I can be something of an exhibitionist but not with the lower section. (not a mistake)

Uri came back and did an "assessment" of sorts where he basically rubbed my back for a couple minutes and asked if pressure was too strong.

When he got to the lower back, it was to my great shock that he pulled the undies down himself. Holy shit. My entire body tensed up, including my toes. It's not like he pulled them all the way down, but whoa. I was not expecting that.

Lower back has it very much tension. You not doing exercises?

I exercise.

Not enough physical activity. You need it physical activity. (rubbing my tailbone and hips)

I do yoga and I walk on a tread mill.

Is nothing. You vatching tehlevision?


You sit down all day and zen vatching tehlevision? Yes.

Oh. Uh. No. I barely watch tv.

Tread mill is a nothink. Is not enough. Better for you valking outside.

Ok. Sure.

Zis is it big tension. You're not enough valking. Computer?


You computer?

Uh I guess so.

I feel it computer. You sitting.

Oh. I see.

Uri didn't get my name properly and kept calling me Tatiana. He wanted to know where I was from and I said here. He asked if anyone from my family was from the Ukraine and I got annoyed. This was not at all the relaxing experience I hoped for. Uri moved on to the right foot and spent way too much time there.

Tatiana, why you telling front desk about injury?

Well I was hoping to get the feet worked on a little. And calves. And back.

You vas in car accident or somethink?

No. It's just strained.

You have it medical problem? See doctor?

No. It's been fine for a long time. Just um. Hurts now.

Tatiana, front desk they not knowing these things. No reason telling them, only tell Uri. I know it what's vrong by touching body. They not touch body, they not knowing.

Oh. I just thought that I should mention it.

You only telling me. I know it these problems.

They asked if I wanted deep tissue or Swedish and I thought I would ask about the injury...

Front desk not knowing. Only Uri knows. Next time you only telling them you vant talk to Uri and problem solve. Ok?


He moved up to the leg and also spent too much time there. He explained that he was using a reflexology technique on me but I got nervous. It seemed like he made that up just to lift my leg up in the air. All I could focus on was the hope that my cotton sliver of underwear still covered the goods.

After finishing the legs he pulled up both sheets and asked me to turn around.

You mean, you want me to lay on my back? Why?

I doing reflexology. You need stretching low back.

He stood there looking right at my face and expected me to flip over, completely exposing the boobs. I couldn't believe it. Shouldn't he have left one sheet down? Or both? Or looked at the back wall? There really was no graceful way for me to turn over and and remain hidden. I tried to maneuver my arms/hands to cover the girls but they moved without my consent. Boobs were definitely seen by Uri. (mistake #4)

He put his arm under my low back and showed me a bridge stretch, which I do all the time. I explained to him that I already did it in yoga, but he assured me that it isn't yoga at all and I need to do it 15 times a day. I expected him to do more massage with my neck and back, especially considering that the foot and leg massage made me cringe but he said time was up. I asked if he was sure because my neck was really stiff, and he got insulted. He leaned in very close to me and told me to leave.

Tatiana, is late. You go.

Oh ok. Um. When I called they said something about a steam shower? Where is that?

Tatiana, you have it shower at home?

Are you asking if I have a shower?

I think regular shower is fine for you. Next time. Come earlier. Ask for Uri.

I haven't felt that humiliated in a long time. I dressed quickly and stopped by the front desk to pay. I gave a lousy tip and tried to hurry out the door. The lady asked why I didn't take the steam shower, so I explained that Uri told me not to. She said he wasn't one of their best people and gave me a bunch of coupons.

Lesson learned.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ask And

Recently I've written about a few things that were bothering me. Loneliness being one of them, and all of a sudden I have several plans. Maybe too many now. I went to yoga class this morning having achy muscles and stiffness. The teacher said that I might have an excess of energy which would cause me to feel like I don't have anywhere to channel it. Instead of running around like a maniac and creating fatigue I should try to enjoy more rest. She suggested that I buy some geranium oil and take a bath with it this afternoon. It seemed like a good idea but I baked a lasagna instead.

It's funny how I never put much value on exercise until after I quit smoking in my early 20s. Now despite a few injuries, I feel like I must do something everyday or I tense up all over. Even if it is just a short walk, my legs have to move.

I don't recall having this need when I was younger, in fact in high school I did the minimal amount of physical activity possible. This might have been because I thought gym was the dumbest thing ever. Those outfits? The obnoxious teachers? The gross guys in those shorts? Shudder.

In junior high I distinctly remember having to be in boy-girl-boy-girl rows for calisthenic type deals at the beginning of gym. I have always had a hyper-flexibility so it never occurred to me that it was weird just how far I could bend and reach. Is it any wonder then that the boy directly behind me in gym class started sending me notes? Came to my house with a flower? Called about a million times? Told everyone how much he liked me? Oh my god. And I had to keep on touching my toes and having my butt in the air right in front of him! How dare these gym teacher buffoons! How could they do that to me? Incidentally, that same guy eventually saw my boobs once in high school, which I deeply regret to this day.

When I was 14 I had a back injury from ballet and needed to see a chiropractor. This got me out of gym for my first two years of high school. It was a godsend, but I took it as my opportunity to become a lazy pot smoking blob. Once I was put back I got to choose an easier type gym for those with injuries and disabilities. I got to swim and play badminton nearly everyday and it was perfect! A few times I got to swim while on acid. It was such a beautiful time in my life! If they just added golf and a very limited amount of beach volleyball, it would have been the gym class of my dreams. But soon after that blissful semester, a new more evil athletic department head was hired. He decided I was just a lazy pothead that needed to take regular gym.

I did not take well to this. Of course, I ended up getting the meanest, most sexist, typical meathead asshole piece of shit gym teacher you could imagine. Coach Sokalski. Oh yes. I'm not even going to change his name here. He constantly made fun of me for being slow, chubby, weak, messy, un-lady like, etc. He made fun of the pink in my hair, the black and white striped tights under my shorts, and the fact that I could not climb a fucking rope to save my life. So what? Who the fuck wants to climb the rope in gym class so everyone can watch you struggle like an idiot??? Why do I have to run a mile in a certain time? What if I want to walk? I bet he couldn't do three rounds of pirouettes in toe shoes, mother fucker.

Ooooh. I hated him! Just thinking about him now is making my blood boil. The rebellious part of me kept coming up every time I was near the guy. He told me that he wanted to fail me for being an unhealthy disrespectful twit but he couldn't stand to see my face for another semester. The guy was a real piece of work.

I graduated high school a semester early and despite my time away, I desperately wished to run into Coach Sokalski just to tell him off. I had turned 18 and volunteered in an army base and a kibbutz in Israel, so I was feeling like a WOMAN. There was a day much later that year when I returned to the high school to pick up some paperwork, and my wish came true.

I saw him walking his gym class out to the track and I called him over to the fence. He actually came up to me so I put my hand through. We shook hands and I said, "Coach Sokalski, I just wanted you to know that you are the biggest fucking asshole I've ever met."

He squeezed my hand much tighter and said, "You take that back you little bitch."

"Oh. You're turning me on."

He turned and briskly walked away.

Regardless of the pettiness and how many times my good friends have heard this story, isn't it wonderful to think that we might get the chance to tell off one of the world's biggest assholes at least once?

Clearly his gym class didn't do anything for me but I'm into exercise now. It would be amazing if kids could pick what they wanted to do for gym. Maybe we'd all be a little healthier. Or tripping. Hmmm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flyer Flyer Pants on Fire

I don't drink much these days but I guess I was feeling a little stressed and lonely. It's shocking that I still have days where I can drink an entire bottle of wine since I know exactly what that means for the next 2-3 days. Yuck. I need a babysitter. For the record, I don't have any problem with Zooey or her mascara.

I had another stressful and lonely day but I ate ice cream this time. Last weekend I was a tourist in Chicago which was super fun and now I'm coming down. Shedd Aquarium, Buddy Guy's Legends, Second City, and PHENOMENAL restaurants occupied four days. Going back to the usual stuff is a little empty.

At work today we had to replace a printer because the old one crashed and burned. It was really a piece of crap that couldn't have more than one sheet of paper in the tray at once because it would cause a jam. Each jam required taking the back off the printer and slowly pulling paper out. Then the tray itself would fall off as soon as you got the jam out and was broken on one side anyway, so each paper would feed a little crooked.

Aviva to the rescue. I love my co-workers and my job but it's got to be a funny place if I am the tech expert. I was trying to explain to my co-worker that we didn't need to label the old wires because we would use the ones that came with the new printer. She proceeded to put masking tape on the power strip so we would know where to plug in the power, and also on the router so we would know what to put in there too. Hmmm. I set up the new printer without issue and it worked perfectly. I was pleased that I managed this while making my co-worker believe she was a big help.

However, she decided to plug in the old printer elsewhere just to see if it would turn on. Then she copied and printed a flyer using it, and decided to tell the owner that the old printer was working just fine. The owner said to switch them out again since the newer one was for her home use and she would rather have the cheaper at the business. Ah! Got to love small business owners.

Maybe I'll be a tourist again this weekend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oh Zooey

Ohhhhh Zooey Deschanel. Just you wait.

I just saw you in a fucking ad for Rimmel Mascara. OH Yes I saw it. Soooooo. Even though you are absolutely perfect in every fucking way you still in need of the use of some gabilllion dollar add for your fucking beauty. Ha ha ha ahah aha!!!!

Yes I know that in 5900 Days of Summer you had your measurments set at your perfect 5"5 and size 8 foot and 122 weight...... guess what I AM EXACTLY THAT MEASURANT EXCEMPT 20 LBS HEVIEERT YOU FUCK IG BITVH.

So yhere.. This bottl of Marqus Philips SarAh's blend is perfectly meant for this mometnt. AS IS the entire bag of orgnic quinoia fuking white tortillla chipsn that I already ate.

500 DYS OF Skokie is comg at chatha. Ha ha ha ha ha a

ha h ha ah ah aha aha a!

I am su h a babe. Oh mygoodness.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Goddess Guidance

Yesterday I was hoping to reach my new boss on her blackberry and received this message:

I hope you're having a beautiful day! I am taking a break from modern technology so I won't be answering my phone for a while. I am out biking with my kids or taking a walk with my dogs. If you leave a message it could be a long time before I get back to you. I would probably respond faster to an email. Thanks for calling and namaste!

So far, I really like this job. It's a constant source of amusement and learning. We are currently selling a sign that says:


I must buy this item. Every time I look at it I laugh.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


My yoga studio is a super cute place where I often have revelations and interesting discussions with others. Recently a yoga inspired theme about money came up. My instructor said that in order to achieve balance we must consider the opposite of our actions. For example, our prosperity is directly related to our generosity. If you're not feeling particularly abundant, it has something to do with what you project outward to the world. I would have to agree with this and have seen it work. After I started volunteering with kids I got a job without trying, my financial aid came through with more than hoped for, and I was offered another option for health insurance. This all happened within a matter of days.

Other cute things come up that I chuckle at but they seem to have relevance too. The other day the owner mentioned that she had to tap into her ethereal wisdom when walking in to the studio every morning. Her intuition told her to light a particular candle in the bathroom, and then three of those same candles sold that day. None had sold for months until this move. It's a cute way of looking at the world. I like it.

Other times I can't relate. I like all the positivity stuff, but I think you should be able to say something sarcastic once in a while. I was talking to a woman that teaches yoga for weight loss and I wanted to know more about her classes. She went on and on about following this specific book and diet and meditation and cleansing and blah blah. I was not interested but wanted to be polite. I asked her what the goals of her class were, a specific size or just health or what? She said that it was mostly for the "lifestyle change," that everyone is always boasting having the answer to. I told her that I've been the same numeric weight for years give or take 5 pounds but I've gone up a pant size in the last year.

Do you think it's an emotional response?

No, I think I sit on my fat ass too much.


This woman was serious. She yelled at me. I whispered, "It was a joke. I, uh. Don't think I'm fat."

You can't be yourself around some of these yoga people because they live on another planet. Sometimes I wish I understood it and other times I wish that the girl doing her "cleanse" of vinegar and garlic smelling tea would just stay as far away from me as possible.

Today the studio had a psychic healer come in for a workshop. I was invited to go but respectfully declined. It was 3 hours!

I over-heard a conversation between the clairvoyant and the studio's owner. They were criticizing a man that considers himself an avatar and is able to heal people by becoming them and reading their DNA. Apparently he can even do this over the phone. He can heal whatever ails you and hurts by explaining what the pain represents and how your worries and thoughts fuel it.

In a hurried whisper I heard one tell the other about her experience with him and she said, "I don't think he's a real avatar."

I'm thinking this guy has a brilliant business plan.

A) come up with incredible bullshit based on self help books and wise religious sayings from various cultures

B) market yourself toward people that live on another planet but have money to spend on earth

C) cash in

Friday, October 8, 2010


In junior high anything could be a major drama. Folding your pants incorrectly, not achieving enough height in your bangs, and being shunned by the cool group was the end of the world. I actually was in the cool group during most of middle school until that summer in between 7th and 8th grade.

When I was in middle school my best friends were: a girl from France with an Algerian mother and a Moroccan father, (they were Jewish, but not the same type of Jewish as my family) a girl with parents born in Thailand, and a girl with parents born in Cuba. The four of us were inseparable and I liked our little group. I lived in an area with a high immigrant population because it is one of the first suburbs north of Chicago. Later on we befriended girls with parents from the Philippines, Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and England. These was the super cool girls.

My three best girlfriends back in middle school wanted to get in with the super cool girls, one of which didn't like me. She had tried calling me a few times but I really hated 3 way calls and I made up excuses to get off the phone. One day another friend called to ask why I didn't want to talk to that girl, and I told her that I didn't like being on the phone all day. As it was I talked endlessly to the three girlfriends every day and my parents wanted to take away phone privileges. We didn't have call waiting and I was tying up the line too much. The girl who I didn't give enough time to was listening on the line at the time of that call. Feeling disrespected somehow, she started the hate campaign. The summer I left for that road trip was when she won.

I saw this happen to other girls but never thought it would happen to me. Generally I tended to agree with the girls that were ostracizing one of their group out. Oh yeah I knew she was a liar. She talked about me? What did that bitch say?

One time, and one time only I was the bully and aggressor of the situation. There was a girl that made me extremely uncomfortable. She was loud, obnoxious, crude and constantly talked about sex and how much she was having with various older men. She had a vivid imagination and admitted to never having done it when pressured. I really couldn't stand her. I told her that I knew she was a liar and that I could see right through her, an expression I learned from my mother. It was bad. There were tears and endless ridicule from the cool girls.

I felt pretty bad about it. If she wanted to live a fantasy life for a 12 year old then that was her problem. I ended up apologizing a year later. I told her that I didn't expect her to be friends with me but that I learned it was wrong to go crazy on someone like that. This was mostly because those cool girls had started harassing me and I knew what it felt like.

Things like wanting to swap lunches one too many times, not being able to hang out after school (because of ballet and piano lessons,) making fun of a friend that still sucked her thumb, talking about someone behind her back, and dancing like a “slut” at so and so’s bar mitzvah were their reasons not to be friends with me. Out of nowhere I was getting daily crank calls, I was beat up at recess, I was picked on and name called daily, and I didn’t have a friend to talk to. The worst part was that I knew the French girl since we were three. We met in ballet school and were inseparable until this.

The girl I harassed did everything she could to get back in with the cool girls. They slowly accepted her back. She had a day during recess where she got back at me and was egged on by the cool girls. I knew she was just doing it to have friends again and be respected by them because she still wrote me notes in class. We got together a few times after school and sort of bonded. But then she told the cool group every detail of what I was like and what I did with my spare time and who I had a crush on. I ended up isolating myself and barely left the house.

I told this story to a friend recently and we talked about whether or not the behavior of bullies can be stopped. She felt that it's the way kids are and there is nothing you can do. We go through it in our lives and that's that. But I felt like there must be a way to instill better values than that. With everything in the news lately we've got to hope that something can be done.

I admit that however petty or silly this might sound from a grown woman, this experience shaped my social skills and anxieties for many years later. At 13 I was cut off from most contact with people my age and at home I was surrounded by adults. It took so much effort to get over this kind of betrayal. Later on when dealing with much bigger, uglier betrayals I wondered what was wrong with me to deserve it? What was I supposed to learn from it? It's ridiculous really. Friends disappoint, friends are fair weathered, lovers are a mess, etc. It can't all be my fault. Nevertheless when things like that happen my thoughts turn to those girls.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The summer after 7th grade my mom had a relative stay with us from Denmark. He was the most annoying, obnoxious, sexist piece of shit I had ever met in my 12 years on earth. Mom kicked me out of my room for the duration of his stay and I had to sleep on the couch so that our worldly guest had a decent room to himself.

She also decided that it was our responsibility to show him the U.S. and we embarked on the road trip of all road trips. We went to Phoenix, Death Valley, Vegas, etc. All the while I had to share hotel rooms with both parents and this chain smoking alcoholic idiot. Mom made sure to get rooms that allowed smoking and the two of them had me inhaling clouds of the shit for two weeks straight. On July 4th, we were at some cheesy restaurant and this relative, named Lech believe it or not, was hitting on our waitress. I was at my wits end so I gave him some sage advice.

You should tell her that you're scum.

Scum? What is it?

It means you're a really great guy. It's like a special nickname.

I try.

So he tells her that he would really like to take her out after her shift and that she should feel comfortable with him because he is scum. She said simply: "I'll bet you are," set down our ice cream, and walked away. Lech was furious but I was pretty happy with myself. Of course I humiliated Mom and it made the rest of our time with him difficult but I didn't care. I wrote scathing letters to my friends back home about Mom and Lech and couldn't wait to talk about it when I got back. One of the letters I wrote was entirely in rhyme and I would do nearly anything to get my hands on it now.

As it turned out, when I got home I didn't have anyone to laugh or joke with. The friends I thought I had were gone.

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Project

Since the July project tapered off with no real ending I want to start another project right now.

2 pages per day for one month. No idea if I can do it or if it will be any good but I need to get a routine going. It probably won't all make it to this blog.

The need for an activity partner has become obvious of late. It frustrates me to no end that I can call or text 3-5 people, or even email way in advance about something I know they'd like, and then end up going alone. I am quite aware that I not always available when friends would like me to be and I don't have my phone on hand 24/7, but come on. If I say let's go to the Moth Story Slam two months in a row, how could I end up there by myself? You don't want to go to an inversion workshop at the yoga studio? That's ok, I can do that on my own.

It's because the friends I have here are coupled off, don't go out on school nights, (and actually I rarely do too but...) are pregnant or have a little one, or just don't do things I like anyway. It's no problem to take myself out on dates, but I really don't want to go to some things by myself. I've ended up drinking on the couch alone several times over. That Sex and the City show had it all wrong. At least it's the season for pumpkin beer.

Cooking for myself is incredibly boring too. Last week I made a delicious pasta with a spinach goat cheese sauce that was heavy on the garlic. I ate it everyday and I guess I was lucky to be alone, otherwise no one would want to get near me.

Similarly, two weeks ago I made an unbelievable sauteed veggie medley of: rutabaga, parsnip, leek, brussel sprouts, carrots, parsley root, and turnip. It was soooooo good. It was just sauteed in a pan with a little butter and fresh thyme for 10 minutes. I highly recommend this as a Thanksgiving side, but watch out. Due to the veggies involved you might be better off eating this one alone also.

I've been busier than I have been in years, but in a good way. I haven't cared much for going out, but when I do it hits me with a vengeance. The body says, "Why haven't you put a pretty dress on me in a while? Where are your cute earrings? God damn it, take me out!" This usually ends up in a coffee date with a friend in which I wear jeans and barely make it out the door with hair combed or teeth brushed. Time to join another meet-up group.

It's not two pages, but it's a start.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Leggo My Preggo

Last Saturday I went to a party and chatted with a very pregnant acquaintance and an EMT for hours. I'd truly like to know how many men go to parties and end up talking about all the horrors that can go wrong in a vagina. Somehow a light hearted conversation about my fear of blood tests ended up in talk of baby's heads getting stuck, forceps, forcefully breaking the water, blue babies, how to resuscitate blue babies, pitocin, etc. I stared longingly at the room with the husbands in it, wondering why I don't know a damn thing about sports.

Of course I've had conversations such as these when I actually bothered to ask friends about their experiences, but I assure you the information was never shoved down my throat while at a party for christ's sake. I mean when they were talking about the "vacuum" I nearly fainted right there. Really, didn't these ladies see me pulling on the same strand of hair for a half hour and tugging at my lip? How about all the times I half sat up, then sat back down? I don't know what I could have possibly done to disguise my discomfort.

What a way to dash all my hopes and dreams. I can't stand doctors and nurses and hospitals; yuck to all of it. For a woman that really wants to get married and have children, I hope I never fucking get married or have children. For a while there I preferred to have a child first and then get married when I'm older, but whatever. I've put too much pressure on myself for years and I'm caring less and less about these institutions. In fact, the more time I spend with family and the more parties I go to, the more I think it's all a lousy idea. Cynicism has entered the building.

Eventually I found myself in the other room. I said something to the degree of: "I heard the Bears are playing the Mariners in a couple weeks." Oops.

Even today when I was stuck in the worst traffic I've seen in years, I had no idea what was going on. I was on the 290 trying to merge to 90/94 for a full 25 minutes when I finally cut over to Congress and went through downtown. While waiting for a light I saw a woman in a Packer's sweatshirt. Oh.

It took me an hour and a half to get home and if I stayed on the highway it probably would have taken 2. Guess I just can't be a sports fan.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Closed for Suck It

The Starbucks I go to these days is right next to a very popular kosher restaurant. Last week they built a sukkah in front of Starbucks for the holiday of Sukkot. It's just a tent really and I have no idea if their customers eat their meals in it or what, but that's what it's for.

Last Friday we had rather strong winds and the sukkah blew down. I drove by and saw that half of it was up, and the other half was in danger of making it's way into the street.

Yesterday I went to the Starbucks to do homework and noticed that no one had done anything about it. I asked the manager if the sukkah belonged to the restaurant and he said yes.

Aren't they doing anything to fix it?

Well they were closed Friday for Suck It.

Do you mean Shabbat?

No, it's a holiday. Suck it.

Oh riiiiiight. Gotcha. OK.

I know it's an eyesore. I called the building manager and asked if I could help put it back up, but he said I can't do that kind of work on a Saturday.

Of course! (it was hard to mask the laugh at this point)

Religion cracks me up.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


My yoga instructor told us a story about her son recently. He didn't want to eat what they made for dinner and proceeded to have an enormous tantrum over it. He wasn't prone to tantrums and they were at a loss of what to do. Her husband sent their son to his room for time out, but once in there he kicked stuff, threw stuff, yelled and cried for a long while. She decided she was going in.

Once in his room she quietly sat down on her knees and watched him. She just sat there and said nothing. He stopped for a moment and asked her "Mommy, are you doing yoga?" But she still said nothing. He yelled a little more and walked around the room but grew tired of it and eventually sat down across from her for a staring contest. She whispered, "I need to talk to you and we're not going to talk any louder than this. Ok?" He nodded. She explained that she doesn't know what he needs when he is that angry and she really would like to know what can be done. She said that she couldn't give him mac and cheese so she needed to know what was going to calm him down and make it ok. He thought about it and said, "I want you to hold me."

"So you're telling me that when you get that mad you just want me to hold you?"


So she held him until he was ok to come back to the dinner table and eat a little. A couple days later he threw another, louder tantrum about something else. She felt spent and decided to send him back to his room for time out so she could compose herself for a minute. Shortly after this she heard him shout, "I WANT YOU TO HOLD ME!!!!!" And so she held him and it was over.

She made a sort of cheesy reference about how this is what yoga means and I smiled thinking about how cute her story was.

A couple days after this class I was walking down Michigan Avenue feeling overwhelmed and welling up. Instead of shouting I settled for whispering in my mind: I want someone to hold me.

She was right then. By going to yoga I give myself a time out, and I ask the universe to hold me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Yes I want and intend to get an apartment you dumbshits.

I have a "situation." That's what my mom likes to call "money troubles." The funny thing about the "situation" is that it isn't mine, but in the process of helping others I fell behind.

Now there are classes and too many obligations. In just a little while it will all be sorted. I think.

My biggest problem is that the plan was to have MY OWN APARTMENT. My own, with pink curtains and daisy covered dish towels and an antique-looking Victorian couch that isn't gaudy or ridiculous. Finances and school have made me realize that I will once again need a roommate or a live in boyfriend or a someone to share things with. It can't be family so it's got to be someone else.

This is an irritation beyond belief. I HATE that I can't manage this right now without living in a dump. I've certainly seen some apartments that have given me relief about living with family instead. I mean, they have HBO. How did I live without Bored To Death before?

I need help. Assistance. In the past I always wanted to meet men that had careers. It wasn't because I thought I needed to be taken care of. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't taking care of some over-grown baby that has nothing to talk about other than music. So maybe I'm the over-grown baby now and I can't get out of a bad cycle.

I told Dad that I'll be leaving soon and he looked devastated.

What happened?

Are you kidding?

Was it something specific? You don't have to move away again.

I can't breathe. I have to breathe. The last time I was breathing was in California.

He sighed. Did we do something wrong?

I'm not doing anything nice for you people anymore. I'm too nice to everyone.

Hey! I didn't ask for anything!

And so on. Of course should I leave again, what will I write about? Brownies, and how I can't cook them for shit?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The other day my uncle wanted me to address an envelope to Lithuania because supposedly he has poor handwriting. So I did it and later while I was totally engaged in something else he interrupted me.

Aviva. Aviva. Tsk Tsk. What's wrong here?


What's wrong?

What's wrong with what?

The envelope. Take a good look.

I don't know. What is it?

I'll give you three guesses.

Uncle. Please.

Look closely. Look at the return address then look at the Lithuania address and tell me what is wrong.

What is it? Just tell me.

You forgot to put Vilnius. Vilnius, Lithuania.

Oh ok. Can you write it in?

No. You write. Now.

Now? I'm in the middle of something.

Now. Because I'm mailing tomorrow.

A couple days later I was outside with my mom admiring her garden. I cut some basil for a pesto I was making and commented that it is really nuts to grow this much.

We'll never use all this basil. How much pesto can we make?

I'm thinking I should sell it in a market next year.

I've been telling you to do that for years. You could make flower arrangements and sell vegetables too.

Yeah. Everyone is telling me I should do this type of work.

I've been telling you that forever!

Maybe you could help me at a market next year.


Then I took Grandma shopping for shoes. This woman has needed decent shoes for the last three years but refuses to get comfortable old lady shoes because then people will know she's old. For the last year I told her that I knew of a place where she might like the shoes and they are not for old ladies. The trick to getting her there was to hijack her. She thought we were going to a department store for blouses but ha ha! The shoe store just happened to be near it and I got her to check out some Birkenstocks.

They have bump inside.

That's the arch support. It's what you want.

I no vant.

Grandma, you'll get used to it.

I no like. I have it pain in ankle and heeel.

Just walk around the store a little.

You makin me vork.

The salesperson helped her find a pair that she liked but didn't admit to. However, she walked around the store a few times without pressure from me, and ended up buying them. I felt like a hero. Then she wanted to do three other errands and lunch. I found to my shock, that Grandma has more shopping stamina than I do. I was so exhausted that I crashed for a nap when I got home.

Since I spend more time with Dad than Mom these days, he too has been expecting things from me that I wasn't planning on. He needs me to go grocery shopping with him. He needs me to check out the website he is building. He wants me to help him purge the house of more junk and convince Mom to let him do it. He needs me to listen when everyone else is driving him crazy. I can't complain much about him because he drives me to the train when I don't have a car available.

Since it has been a full year of living at home and I managed not to end up in a mental hospital, I'd like to thank myself for being an awesome fucking person.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gouge Away

You ate my organs.

Don't be ridiculous.

You did. And now I am walking around this city hollow.

What were you doing with them anyway?


No you were not. Not at all. So I ate them. Big deal.

Where is creativity supposed to come from if I am hollow?

That's your fucking problem.

Did you have to eat them?

I did. Yes. What makes you think that I shouldn't have?

Well they were mine for starters!

What constitutes mine?

Inside my body!

Irrelevant detail. They were also mine. You weren't using them properly so I took them and will use your life source for better things.

Better things than living and breathing and trying?

Get over it. I'm in charge now. Being hollow isn't so bad.

I've been hollow before but I don't want to be again!

What are you going to do about it? I ate your organs again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kids in America

At a BBQ with the family recently my uncle talked about his trip to Lithuania, and Mom gossiped about the relatives with Grandma. I blamed the bees for leaving early.....

Donusia said that Aushra packed Chrisha's apartment with all her things and then took off for London.

No. Chrisha said that Aushra bought a van with borrowed money and then couldn't pay anyone back so that is why she left for London.

That's what I said, weren't you listening? So Aushra left everything with Chrisha. Chrisha says that no one is nice to her except Donusia.

She deserve! She cold voman.

Aushra's daughter Agnehshka had a baby with a man that didn't want to marry her and now her life is ruined.

Oh my god Mom. How old is she?


You think she ruined her life because she had a child at 27? You've got to be kidding.

No one will marry her now.

Are you living in this decade?

Yes Aviva. We are. They are not.

You should have seen all the churches they wanted to show me. Churches and churches and churches.

I no can believe. How dis happen to my family?

They wanted to save me with their Jesus.

Very prejudice zhere. Dey all crazy goin.

I told you. I told you they went to religion. Aushra's son was going to be a priest remember?

No no that vas Andrej's son. Jonthathan. No. Christopher. I no can vemember.

Donusia told me that Aushra's son Pietchka is rude to Chrisha.

Who care about the Chrisha? She vas alvays hard woman. I calling to her vhen her husband die and later they make story about vashing machine need it. She never calling me only vhen need it vashing machine!

Eema, stop being so hard on your sister. She's not so bad! She was really nice to me and made very good soup.

I telling him not gibe dem any money!

Eema, calm down.

Did you meet Pietchka?

No I didn't. I met Donusia's daughter Maritke and her boyfriend. Nice boy. They seem like a nice couple.

I don't think her daughter is as religious. You know when they buried Marysia in a Jewish cemetary, Maritke said that she didn't care what her grandma was, she loved her anyway.


Mama. That's all she knows.

Aviva, one day we were walking, Chrisha and Donusia and me and all of a sudden they got down on the ground and started praying by an exposed pipe in concrete.

What was it?

I have no idea. They wanted me to take a picture of it because it was some kind of holy site.

Did you take a picture?


My sister! My sister! Thanks god Marysia not get like dem.

Eema, what can you do? They like the Jesus, so let them have it. It was a good experience, I learned something.

I vould goin vhen Marysia alive but now not. Not eben my bones could carry me.

I have no interest. Let them keep their sob stories.

You wanted to go before!

Yes and now forget it. You know I was contacted by the cousins in Israel don't you?


Meela and Zeeva and Nir.

Meela and Reema?

No! Meela and ZEEVA. Reema is in Australia.

I thought Kira was in Australia..........

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Parade of the Horribles

I don't know why nearly every conversation with my grandmother these days is a feat of strength but it is. Ideas on how to stay positive and uplifting fly away.

First lengthy description of back aches. Knee aches. Toe aches. Heel aches. Doctor says this doctor says that.

Next drugs. First she wanted brand name then they sent generic. Then she wants generic they send brand name. Supposed to be sent 3 bottles was sent two. Hours on the phone with Medicaid and they sent it a month late to begin with.

How about some grapes? No. I'm not hungry.

Then my mom. Mom is depressed Mom is anorexic Mom is this Mom is that. She cries because she wants to help Mom but can't. Mom can only be helped by not having to deal with her- can't tell her that.

Do I want to eat a nectarine? No I don't.

Where was I during the storm? I was home. Oh thanks god. I explain that I love storms and it's the best time to cuddle up with a book or watch a movie. No I'm crazy. Storms are scary and awful and she couldn't sleep the whole night worried that we would all get hit by lightening.

Really? I sleep the best during a storm. Oh I must be kidding. It's impossible! A tree might fall on the house! Aren't I worried about trees and lightening? No I'm not actually. Especially since I'm inside. But it's happen! She sees on TV many houses being ruined by a storm. Yes but we are in a brick building surrounded by other brick buildings in a heavily populated area, not a cornfield. No it can happen.

Would I like a cookie?

No I wouldn't. I am not hungry. Ok, ok. Resigned.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chapter 6: Army of Me

Top five things I have failed at:

5: Independence
4: Finances
3: Relationships
2: Adulthood
1: Graduate school

Oh dear.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take, Take, Take

At the end of July I realized just what I had done in one month: gave Dad an excellent birthday outing, epiphany about technology at job, spontaneous trip to Israel with Mom, awful experience in Istanbul with Mom, quit job, helped Uncle get sorted for Lithuania, visited Dekalb, gone through months of school paperwork, looked at apartments, epiphany about my insanity, and prepared to go to California on August 4. That was all besides regularly going to yoga while in town and cooking all kinds of crazy stuff I've neglected to mention in the blog.

I re-read some journal entries and one from July 30, 2010 really struck me. There I was still filled with confusion and doubt when I wrote this:

Today I woke up and decided to read in bed for a while. Then I decided to cook sweet potato burritos. Then I decided to cook 2 banana breads with pumpkin seeds and cranberries. I also decided to take myself out to a movie. Why is it that some decisions big or small are so easy, so obvious that all you have to do, is do it? Take time to do what you want.

Despite questioning myself in this manner I continued to burden my mind with what ifs and maybe I shoulds. A few people said that it was possible that I just wasn't going to decide this year and that I need more time. Impossible. I have to try something and I have to try it now!!! NOW NOW NOW.

A friend asked me what I would do for free and whatever that is then I should pursue it. I told her it was impossible and ridiculous because then I would be broke forever. But after that conversation I remembered all the agony I put myself through in the last 4 years to find something "right" for me. I'm pretty sure now that you're not supposed to have panic attacks and tears when you're following the "right" path.

As I'm looking back on my July and what would subsequently come to be in August, I can honestly say that what's right for you is often right in front of your face. All you have to do is take it.

Which brings me to the fact that I recently saw the movie Eat Pray Fuck You. I mean Love. Love. I read the book a while back and I can tell you honestly that I am a million times more interesting than Elizabeth Gilbert. She can totally suck it.

Similar to the Julie and Julia project, Elizabeth Gilbert takes herself on a brilliant odyssey of self discovery. She travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia in order to come to terms with her divorce and re-gain herself. She does whatever she wants when she wants to do it. I admire this type of spirit and have done similar things in the past. However, I did them while being a waitress or I charged them on a card. I did not have a year long trip funded by my publisher, meaning she knew the entire time that this experience would be a book. Doesn't that take away from trying to live in the moment?

Ok she's not that bad. She did some really nice things for others during her journey and I have to recognize that. She also extensively wrote about what yoga meant to her which was good but completely glazed over in the movie. Boo. The movie did an excellent job of showing her experiences in Italy but then it was lost. Here is my review:

I watched Julia cry in the house
I watched Julia cry with a mouse
She cried on the floor
She cried by the door
On the rooftop and in the tub
On the dock and in the club
Julia cries at a wedding
She cries on her bedding
I watched Julia cry a lot
So for me, this movie was shot

It's not true that I hated it, in fact Bali is now in my top ten list of places to visit. I just find it funny that people see this type of trip as a fantasy or the escapist woman's pipe dream. That was exactly how this movie was marketed. She lost everything because she lost her man so watch her do all kinds of crying and crazy stuff and then find another one! One that cries and is a great father! Yea! Everything is better now!

Like I said about Israelis, they take trips abroad all the time and they only need to know where and when. For us it's this huge deal and totally crazy for anyone, especially a woman to do this type of trip, hence the popularity of Gilbert's story. Most of us at some point have spent money on huge televisions or gadgets or clothing or books. If you added up those yearly expenditures they might have taken you to an exotic destination instead. I have no idea why people think that they will never be able to afford a trip abroad. You find ways to pay for all kinds of other stupid shit, why not give yourself an experience instead? I didn't agonize or cry or listen to anyone tell me I was crazy when I took trips in the past. I just took the opportunity.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Passenger

If I looked at my career choices as if it were a hop on hop off bus tour things make more sense. You miss one ride so you get on another.

The other day I had dinner with friends that had been in the peace corp and I told them of my missed opportunities and confusion. I said that I wished I took my energy four years ago and poured it into law. Instead, getting out of Chicago and traveling were top priority and I regret that now. They said I was nuts for looking at things that way. They said that was what I was supposed to do. Granted, they are an adventurous bunch but it brought me comfort to think that things are as they should be.

Another friend recently told me that I am unable to make decisions because I am in an unhealthy environment. The demands on me are too high here. When I think of it though I remember making seriously bad decisions in Seattle. Bad decisions on men, money, drinking, job, saturated fat, etc. I hopped off that bus and landed back in routine and stability.

My career counselor told me that I was well on my way to being a Renaissance Woman. Immediately I had a vision of myself in a long flowing skirt and awful corset with fat bulging out of every seam wearing Birkenstocks and eating a turkey drumstick. Needless to say I was highly insulted until she told me it was a cliched term for the woman of many interests. That's not so bad I guess.

Since my New Year's resolution for 2010 was to be more honest with everyone I can't believe that I forgot to include myself in that. Everyone mentioned that they heard me say, "I should do this.....I should want this.......I might try and.....I think I'm going to..." This isn't honesty. I can't believe that I've been saying those things for years.

I hope that I'm not easily influenced but things happen where I get romanced for a moment and then it flies away. In Israel I went out with a group of people one night and had a lengthy conversation with a man. He had been a scuba instructor in Honduras for two years right after serving in the army. His favorite place to travel was South America and he learned to speak Spanish fluently. He moved back to Israel to do school but intends to work in the EU because his parents were from Sweden. There was a moment where I thought: I can't believe that I have never dated a guy like this. This was they type of guy that I should have met years ago on one of my own adventures.

I recalled some of my travel experiences and there were sexy moments but never a real connection with another interesting person. In Prague I had a wild ecstasy fueled romance with an American guy. I vaguely remember making out with him in the halls and on the floor of our hotel while people had to scoot around us to get past. Mr. America and I were so destroyed for the duration of that trip that somehow he ended up showing my passport to security at the airport. I never spent a sober moment with him.

I definitely remember my make-out session with an Irish guy after a brewery tour in New Zealand. He was going down on me in a public bathroom when two locals walked in and laughed their heads off. We left and went to the bar across the street but unfortunately that was were the guys had gone and announced their findings to everyone. I was mortified at the applause and Mr. Ireland said that he wished it was the other way around they had found us in. Thanks a lot Ireland.

So when I say that I "should have" met someone like Mr. Israel on my travels, the fact remains that I've met plenty of guys and tried plenty of stupid things and they were always wrong. The idea that I "should have" something better is a notion that really holds me back from making real decisions. I should have been a teacher. I should have volunteered at that kibbutz years ago. I should have blah blah blah. When Mr. Israel stood up from the table to say goodbye, I found out that he was much shorter than me. You can call it superficial if you want, but the fantasy went right out the window in an instant.

I should have moved to Dekalb? Nope. I got off that bus. It was going the wrong direction.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Add It Up

Somewhere in the midst of my personal drama my uncle decided to use his mileage to go to Lithuania. He was inspired by Mom to get a free flight so his itinerary was as follows: Chicago to Detroit, (7 hour layover!) Detroit to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Vilnius. It was going to take nearly 24 hours to get there and he was leaving a week after scheduling this flight. The trip was set for August 2.

A couple days before his trip Grandma was agitated because the airline hadn't set him any tickets.

How he goin wizout ticket?

I'm sure he has a confirmation number.

No. You need it ticket.

Grandma, you don't need tickets anymore. A number should do it.

They said they send him.

Ok well I'm sure he'll get them in the next few days.

In few days he leaving!

I can look up his seat on the computer.

So my uncle came upstairs the next day and showed me the confirmation number. I found his flights and printed his itinerary, only they had everything up to Amsterdam and back. No Lithuania. He said that they were putting him on a small plane for that leg and he was sure it was ok. I told him that he better get the info so at least he knows when and where to board and I also said that he should do something about that 7 hour layover in Detroit.

He was going to visit and stay with family which is both stupid and exciting. Mom said over and over what an idiot he was for doing this. She said that he is gullible and they will coax him into giving them a bunch of money.

Uncle doesn't have any money to give them so what difference does it make?

They will give him a sob story you'll see. They've been doing it to me for years and believe me, they are better off now than we are.

I know but still. Just be happy for him. I'm sure it will be an interesting experience. I wanted to go a few years ago. I wish I could have met all of Grandma's sisters.

It's totally crazy.

Mom. We were in Israel a week and a half ago. Crazy is a relative term in this family.

The day before his flight Uncle walked up to me in his pajamas and handed me his phone.

Tell her to fax you the itinerary.

Hi. Ok well. Um hi. Yes I'm his niece........Right.........Yes we have a fax...Could you just email it to me instead?........Ok it's........

This interaction was beyond my uncle. He has nothing to do with technology whatsoever and was expecting tickets in the mail like it used to be. Grandma made him paranoid that he wasn't going to be able to get on the flight. He couldn't believe that it worked this way and blamed the airline over and over for being unorganized. I told him that he should probably get an email address.

It's ridiculous. They were supposed to send it!

I know but it will be fine with just this. This is all you need. You have a confirmation number and you know what your flight numbers are. You're fine.

What am I supposed to show them?

Nothing. You only need the number and your passport. You'll see when you check in. There are these kiosks and....

Aviva. You have to show them tickets and your passport.

Uncle, trust me. You have everything you need.

I want two copies of everything.

Then Grandma interjected that maybe I was right about how things worked in the airport here but things are different in Europe.

Grandma, listen. They have everything we have and once you check in for one flight they check you all the way through.

No. You're vrong. You no know what it's like zhere. He has to have ticket!

Grandma, I travel a lot remember? He is going to be fine with just the confirmation numbers and his passport.

How can it be? Just a number? Is ridiculous. When I trabel wiz your mama we have to show papers!

Yes I know. But you went to Vilnius in 1974.

I know you have to have it. Papers.

Sigh. This family is lost without me.

The "tickets" arrived after Uncle had left for his trip. Grandma asked me if she should send them to her niece in Lithuania but I convinced her not to.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Room of One's Own

Obviously my mental health deteriorated in July and I will admit this now. I talked the heads off of nearly all my friends about the situation and I talked to my career counselor for 2 hours! Looking back on all of this a month later I can tell you that I now know I am certifiably insane. Not only was I unsure and upset about Dekalb but back in March I was tempted by yet another program which I applied to and was admitted. I wasn't in love with either idea and decided on law in Dekalb. I'm tired of being the restless dreamer and want very badly to be academically challenged and to learn something useful. It seemed to be the best choice and make the most sense. Or so I thought.

The apartment search in Dekalb didn't help. I finally took a trip out there on July 28 and was astonished at the quality of apartments. A 19 year old guy showed me two buildings and ruled one out due to it being next door to a frat house. This was a tricky situation because I never lived in a college town and didn't know what to expect. This is also at a time in my life when I thought shitty apartments were a thing of the past. Not so.

It was lucky that I got the young guy to show me around because he was naive and not at all a salesperson.

What's going on with the ceiling?

Oh there was a huge flood but they've patched it up now. They'll have it covered up again before school starts.

Why does this room have all that plastic sheeting up?

Oh it used to be a computer room for the building but they had to close it due to vandalism.

Are they going to um, re-paint? Or is it like this?

They painted last week.

Words cannot describe the disappointment. I understand that once involved with classes you would probably forget or not care about the condition of your living space, but maybe I cared too much already. I found other nicer buildings, some of which were only for grad students and families and they were pretty good. I could see it. I saw the benefit of doing something like this and it drowned me in sorrow. I wished I did it 4 years ago when I really wanted to. I wouldn't have given a shit then about the apartments or the debt or the time involved. Something changed when I moved away. Something made me a huge snob that can't live like that anymore. There was a window in my life to do this and I may have closed it.

I took two applications home and they sat on my laundry bin for a week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chapter 5: Under Pressure

Several people have emailed and called worried about my sanity. Thank you for the inquiries but I assure you I am fine. Really. All I needed after the unexpected Israel trip and subsequent quitting of my job was to get an apartment, register for classes, move to Dekalb, IL, and attend a birthday party in California. I needed to do all of that in 2 weeks. No problem.

Immediately after leaving my job on the 23rd I checked online for apartment listings and made some appointments to see places the following week. Unfortunately some of the craigslist offers were way off the mark. For example:

Master bedroom with private bath available in a shared house......

This was actually a 16 room boarding house with tenants between the ages of 19-65. When I asked if the older people worked at or attended the college the answer was no. The landlord made mention having to work on the noise problem and needing to let some tenants go this year, hence the availability of the "nicer unit." All 16 rooms had one kitchen to share. Oh my.

Then there was this one:

1 roommate needed to share a 3 bedroom townhouse. Current tenants are clean, quiet, respectful full time students.

This was actually written by a parent who bought a town home for her 19 year old son and didn't live near the area. He was sharing it with a friend and his mom said that I would have to be interviewed by them to see if I was a good fit. I told her that it probably wasn't the right situation for me since I was 31 and a law student. She just laughed and laughed. Oh my.

I received a letter from my school on that weekend explaining how orientation was a mandatory 4 day experience lasting from 9-4 each day. It was to start on August 9..........but I was scheduled to fly back to Chicago at night on the 10th. Oh no. No no no no no. You see what happens when you have a million things on your plate? The first day of school was going to be August 17 and I thought that I gave myself enough time to do all of this. I was not expecting another major obligation.

I talked to the dean of admissions and she asked if there was any way I could change my flight so I could make it back in time. She said most schools didn't do this but it was a series of necessary workshops to prepare you for legal writing and research. She said the letters went out very late for this and several students had complained. Well that's just great!

Panic attacks started.

3am full on I am freaking out and this hasn't happened in years oh my fucking god what have I done what should I do I don't think I want all this stress I should have been more prepared for all this why didn't they explain this shit earlier I can't believe I agreed to go to California so last minute I have to stop doing nice things for everyone else I am so tired from this trip and finally so happy to have left that job and now am a wreck what do I do and what if I lose another opportunity and what the fuck what the fuck have I done how am I going to fix it I can't believe I was in Israel last week at least I have a back up plan but still this was supposed to work and I don't really want to change the flight and what is wrong with me I should do everything possible to make this work I don't know if I can handle this and why didn't I quit earlier I must be the most pathetic person in the world and who on earth would give up law school and I did really want it several times this year but not all year and maybe I should just do the other but no I always talk myself out of everything there must be a way and I am just going to have to I should do this I should.........

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thanks a lot Giada

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Giada De Laurentiis for ruining my fucking evening! All I wanted was to make this beautiful apricot crostata pictured here in her book, Giada's Family Dinners when I notice not one but two errors in the recipe!!!

It clearly says in the ingredient list that the juice and rind of one lemon goes into this dessert, but then the juice is not mentioned in the recipe itself. AH HA! Gotcha you lousy editors you.

I would normally go so far as to say that they didn't even test this recipe but since I watched her make it on her show last week I know that isn't true. However had I not watched it or if I didn't know much about butter dough, I wouldn't know to add flour on the surface of the parchment paper before you roll out your dough. This also was not mentioned in the recipe. AH HA again! I didn't add enough flour and the dough was pulling apart on me. I managed to add more butter to force the splitting pieces together but what a mess. It looked nothing, NOTHING like the picture above. What a bitch.

I also believe the actual bake time should have been 35 minutes and not the 40 suggested in the book. I burned the damn thing. Luckily the family gobbled it anyway and saved me a sliver but still. That's not the point. I bet the skinny bitch doesn't even eat any of her own cooking, so how would she know if it's any good?

What the fuck? She gets to make millions and look all pretty on the cover of her book and yet give me false information? FOR SHAME! I needed something to work out and you know what? IT DIDN'T. It was simple enough so how come the recipe in the book isn't right? Huh Giada? Ok fine so now I know how to make a better one, still! Giada, you can kiss my administrative assistant ass wherever you are! And by the way, I am so much hotter than you so there.