February 27, 2007


My 26th birthday was at the beginning of January, but I just this past weekend got my parent’s present to me. They gave me a gift card from Bed, Bath and Beyond on my birthday so I could buy new pots and pans. I got around to actually using the gift card now because I previously was convinced any set I wanted I couldn't carry back to my apartment. I was wrong. I learned a seven-piece set of cookware isn't really all that heavy.

And yes, my parents purchased the gift card with the intention that I would be purchasing new pots and pans. I had wanted new ones for a while. The last time I bought new pots and pans was about four years ago when I moved into my first post-college apartment. However, by the time I moved into my current apartment in August, I was incredibly sick of using my two small sauce pans every time made mac ‘n cheese. Over the years, my old pots and pans had dwindled from a full set to a rag tag bunch of scraped and burnt pieces. It was time to upgrade, and that’s what I did with my new Cuisinart set purchased this past weekend.

I consider my new cookware another sign that I am getting older. My home furnishings gift card was a repeat of the same lesson I have learned many a time over: I am not getting any younger. My excitement over new pots and pans ranks up there with other signs of my aging, such as wearing nylons, devoting week and weekend nights to cleaning, cooking and laundry, getting excited about saving money, owning a cat and feeling guilty when I’m gone for too long, enjoying being up by 8 a.m. on the weekends, and, lastly, being infinitely more attracted to men who own property as opposed to rent. (This is of course a double standard because I am a renter.)

If my new pots and pans are at least as durable as my last set, I did the math, and I’ll have them until I’m 30. That also made me feel old. But I guess if the alternative is that this is the last set of pots and pans I’ll ever own, I’ll take feeling a little older any day.

Leaving On a Jet Place

I did not make a New Year’s resolution this year. I try not to. My tradition instead is to five of my hopes and aspirations for the coming year. It is something my friend Jenny and I started at the end of 2005 when I was desperately in need of some hope.

This year I carried over a hope I didn’t fulfill in 2006 - going abroad. I have always dreamed of being one of those people who budgets at least one lavish vacation out of the continental U.S. a year. Given financial constraints in previous years, that has yet to happen. It saddened me to realize the last time I was out of the U.S. was the summer of 2003. Not wanting to rack up another 365 days of continuous stay in the states, I carried over my goal of international travel to 2007.

I’m happy to report that as of Monday night, my goal has been halfway met. I have a ticket to Tegucigalpa, Honduras departing from Chicago, O’Hare on March 31 and returning on April 7. Of course I have yet to go, hence only being halfway there with my goal, but I consider booking the ticket one of the biggest hurdles. Especially since the flight all but disappeared from every travel Web site two seconds before I booked my flight. I later found when I called American Airlines that my travel companion, Kristin, bought the last seat for that advertised price. I learned from the booking agent that only a certain number of spots on each flight can be booked at a certain price. Kristin was the last to get that price. Thanks to the booking agents quick thinking, I reserved my spot on the same flight for $100 more, waited to see if prices changed over the next 24 hours and when they didn’t called to confirm my spot on our flight. It was a minor hiccup in what I hope to be a fabulous adventure south of the border with two of my favorite city gals.

For those of you wondering why Honduras, the answer is simple. My former roommate Sara is volunteering at an orphanage there until August. She is amazing and brave and wonderful for doing this, and I, for one, can’t wait to tell her this in person. I also can’t wait to scratch one thing off my goals for 2007. Next up: Paying off some debt. Thank goodness there’s no shortage of overtime at work right now.

February 18, 2007

Turtle Power!

I learned something new about myself Friday night. I am a master turtle racer. That’s right. You heard me - a turtle racer.

There is a bar on the north side of Chicago named Big Joe’s (or the 2-1-6 if you live in that hood). It is a dive bar with wood paneling and the most random juke box I’ve ever heard. During the week it is a hot spot for the old man crowd in the neighborhood, but Fridays are a different story when people from all the neighborhoods of Chicago converge for the odd sport of turtle racing. Apparently, all it takes to pack a bar is the promise of live turtle racing.

My friends and I arrived at Big Joe’s around 9:30 p.m. We ordered drinks and with our domestic bottle beers received raffle tickets. It was later explained to us buy a veteran turtle racer how the tickets fit into the night’s event.

Turtle racing begins promptly at 10 p.m. There are six races, with one taking place every 15 minutes. Turtle racers are selected by a raffle, hence the tickets. (It needs to be said that the bar owners were thinking when they schemed up this idea. It’s very easy to deduce that the more a person drinks, the greater their chances of getting their ticket called.) Once a person’s ticket is called, he or she goes to the racing area and picks a numbered ball from a Tupperware bowl. (It’s all very formal.) The number corresponds to one of the six turtles: Lola, Swisher, Doozy, Chicks, Lucky Dan and Jolanda (“And what’s Jolanda?” the announcer calls. “The slowest fucking turtle in the world!” the crowd responds - like clockwork.) Raffle tickets are called until the six racers are selected. Then the turtles are brought out.

By this time the crowd is at a fever pitch, jockeying for position around the pool table.

The race takes place in the raised back portion of the bar. The pool table is covered by a giant plywood board with a big, white circle encircling a smaller green circle. The turtles, with a number taped to their back, are brought out and placed under a giant cake topper centered in the green circle. The “going to the Races” music is sounded, the cake topper is lifted and the turtles take off. Well, they’re turtles. They don’t really race.

The first turtle to make it out of the giant white circle wins as does the person who was assigned to that turtle. The last turtle to make it out of the circle loses but the person who had that turtle gets a free drink - the idea being I guess there really are no losers. After the first race, I surmised these turtles get a little tired of the same race week in, week out. Some don’t even budge. (I’m not naming names. Jolanda and Doozy.) The first part of the race is usually over quickly then everyone settles their eyes on the two motionless turtles in the center. It then becomes a race to see which one will set foot out of the middle green circle. If they still don’t budge, a tie is declared or an audience poll is taken. Given the noise level in the place already, it generally ended up being a tie anyway.

For the genuine winners though, there is a free Big Joe’s t-shirt and a chance for the grand prize. The winners from the evening’s six races then race a final race. The winner of the winner’s race already with t-shirt in hand gets something better. He or she gets their name submitted and a chance to compete in November against all the other winners for a free trip for two to Vegas.

As I said in the beginning, I learned I have some turtle racing skills. Needless to say, I now own a Big Joe’s t-shirt and a shot at a free Vegas trip in November. I’ll keep you all posted. November is a ways away, so that means plenty of time to hone in my turtle racing skills. I’m really hoping Friday night wasn’t just a bout of beginner’s luck.

February 7, 2007

Highway to the Danger Zone

This past weekend I had two friends, Jenny and David, in town that I’ve know for years. They were among the first houseguests I’ve had since moving into my new apartment. I’ve learned a lot from them over the years, and this weekend was no exception.

From Jenny, I learned that Kenny Loggins is an even worse lyricist than I thought. Apparently his 80s hit “Danger Zone” goes a little something like this: “Highway to the Danger Zone. Gonna take you right in to the danger zone.” This was proved after David and I made fun of Jenny. We both thought the lyrics were “I Went to the Danger Zone. Gonna take a ride in to the Danger Zone.” Lyrics007.com proved Dave and me wrong. Jenny basked in her small victory all weekend.

David, I found, has the knowledge of some things celebrity, especially when it comes to their names. Among the tidbits I learned from David were:
- Muhammad Ali’s real name (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr)
- Cary Grant’s real name (Archibald Alexander Leach)
- The meaning behind the phrase “The Real McCoy”

Collectively from them, I learned that no game of Scrabble can ever be played well when the first two words laid are “jot’ and “pot.”

However, what I mostly learned from Jenny and David is that true friendships don’t have to exist in the same city or even state. They’re forged over years of shared laughter and memories. With that kind of foundation, weekend visits are really just icing on the cake.

February 5, 2007


Located directly below the firm where I work is another law firm, Lord Bissell. Generally, my co-workers and I who inhabit the top two floors of the building don’t like the Lord Bissell people. We reason they are all lazy, worthless people due to the frequency with which they get on our elevators and take them up or down one floor. They have stairs. They should use them.

There is no quicker way to tick of the residents of the top floors of any building than by getting on an elevator and taking it up one floor when those on floors 50 and 51 still have another six or so to go. Compound the seven floors Lord Bissell rents by the hundreds of employees it has and the number of possible stops between the lobby and the top floors of the building and the result is a floor and a half full of angry legal secretaries, paralegals, associates and partners. Even the mailroom guys at my firm hate Lord Bissell.

Today, however, I was thankful for the laziness that permeates the seven floors of Lord Bissell’s offices.

Tonight was a late night for me. I’m starting off a busy work week and stayed until about 8:30 p.m. hoping to make a dent in my workload.

Around 7:45 p.m. I began wrapping up my day. As the last part of my day, I loaded up my cart and delivered boxes of documents on 51 for attorneys to review first thing in the morning. I dropped off my last box, folded up my cart and headed to 50 via the stairs (because I don’t take the elevator for one floor) to gather my things and call a cab. There was one critical part of my trip down the stairs I didn’t consider until I reached 50 - I left my keycard sitting on an attorney’s desk on 51.

My building is impassable without a keycard. A keycard is needed to get out of the stairwells between floors. To then get into anywhere on my floor, you need a keycard to open the doors. During the day I’ve left my card sitting on my desk before, but there’s so much foot traffic, I’ve never had to wait more than five minutes for someone to let me in. That is a much different story at 7:45 p.m. Most people at my firm are gone and if they are still there, they’re usually holed up in their office or making a B-line for the elevators.

I cried “Oh no!” in the stairwell the second I realized I didn’t have my precious keycard. As I said, we’re on the 51st floor of my building. It provides spectacular views of the city but not the easiest route to the lobby. I knew I was going to be trapped in that stairwell, possibly overnight, if I waited for someone to walk through the doors, so I had to take some kind of action. That action was banging on the door adjacent to my firm’s lobby. I rapped on the door for about 10 minutes, placing my ear to it with the hope of hearing someone in between my incessant banging. No one.

There was no going up, so the only way was down. I began walking down the stairs in my heels stopping at each door, hoping one would be open. 50…49…48… no luck. From our practice building drills, I knew there were floors where I could reenter or call someone in the lobby, but I couldn’t remember how far down they were. Guess I should have paid attention during our drills. 47…46…45… no luck. I kept walking, rationalizing my situation the entire way down. Being the eternal optimist, all I could think was if I did make it down the 51 floors to the lobby, I wouldn’t feel bad about not going to the gym that night. 44…43…42… wait!

I looked a little more closely and tugged on the door. It was open! Floor 42 was my refuge. I had entered the domain of Lord Bissell. Being uncertain where I was, I found the elevators quickly and decided my best course of action was to return to 51 where I was still locked out, but at least I’d be able to see through the glass doors in case someone walked by.

I got back to 51. I noticed there was a phone and called the one person I was almost certain was still there - my paralegal manager. (Good thing I just recently had my six-month review, so this incident might be forgotten by my next review.) My manager laughed at my predicament and then came and let me in.

I learn from all this that you can count on the Lord Bissell people being lazy. If the person who had walked through that door on 42 last had taken the effort to shut it, I may have walked all the way down to the lobby. I guess this means tomorrow when the Lord Bissell people stop me on my elevator ride up no less than five times, I should keep my audible sigh to myself. But only tomorrow. By Wednesday I’ll be back to my state of continual annoyance with those lazy Lord Bissell people.