September 29, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Love makes people do things they never thought they would do. For me, it was going fishing at 6 a.m. in small town Wisconsin.

We visited Mike's sister and her family this weekend. Mike's brother-in-law got a boat for the weekend, so we bought some weekend fishing licenses and headed north. The boys went fishing Saturday evening, but I opted out, forsaking fishing for antiquing with Mike's sister and niece. However the following morning when Mike woke me at 6 a.m. to ask if I wanted to go for the morning fishing run, I was surprised to hear myself say yes.

It was a cold morning - about 50 degrees. Yet I spent it on a small boat hugging the shoreline of a small Wisconsin lake, casting and recasting but not catching much of anything. None of us were. It wasn't a great day for fishing, with only a few small bass caught between myself, Mike and his brother-in-law. Despite our poor showing, I enjoyed myself. I think mainly because I know how much Mike enjoys fishing. If Mike were to win the lottery tomorrow, fishing would become his full-time, profit-free vocation. I do enjoy fishing, but to be honest my lottery plan would probably include a lot of shoes and maybe a few nice fish dinners.

As we headed back to the dock the cold wind whipped around us. I pulled my hood over my head and tried to bury deep into Mike's fleece shirt. I was chilly and hungry - usually a really bad combo for me before 9:30 a.m. Our fishing trip was pretty much a bust, but it didn't sour me to fishing. There is a lot to be said for finding pleasure in doing because it brings the person you love so much joy. And it doesn't hurt that even on a slow day, I was able to catch a little something.

September 25, 2008

Rooted in the Issues

My voter registration card reads Illinois resident. With that designation, I realize my vote will not have as great an impact as say if I lived in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, Ohio or Michigan.

I did live in Michigan. The first 24 years of my life were spent as a Michigan resident, so it pains me to see what terrible times the state has faced over the past few years. It's hard to hear about its sinking economy, its staggering job losses, its corrupt political leaders and not think of how many wonderful memories I have rooted within Michigan's borders.

Michigan is watching this election very closely and with good reason. In this election, yes a Michigan vote will count more than my Illinois vote, but I know if I were still in Michigan my worries would also be greater than they are here in Chicago. To sum up why Michigan needs a strong president, I direct you to this article I came across today. It demonstrates not only why this election is to vital to Michigan's prosperity, but also why Michigan is so important to the county's as well. And yes, I am biased because Michigan is very important to me.

This article also reiterated for me something I have felt strongly about in regard to this election. First, please vote. But secondly, please vote for your candidate because of the good you think they can do for the country. Do not vote for a candidate because of their race. Do not vote for a candidate because of their gender. Do not vote for a candidate because their sound bites are more catchy, more memorable. These things are simply too superficial during such a critical time in our country's history. Vote for your candidate because he takes a stand on an issue that is important to you. Vote your candidate because you think the plans they have for this country will benefit you and the people you love. Be able to argue why their plans for the country are in line with your convictions. And if your convictions tied to your choice for the next president are anything less than issue-specific this election becomes about as substantive as a People magazine Who Wore it Best poll. We all deserve better than that.

September 24, 2008

Setting into Fall

It was dark outside during my 7 p.m. commute home tonight. This was the first night in many, many months when I returned home to darkness. And I don't like it. It signifies the end of summer.

I don't have many complaints at this exact moment. Mike and I are sitting on the couch in shorts with our windows open, a cool breeze fanning us. Temperatures have hit the 80 degree mark the past few days with a sunny, pleasant forecast predicted for this upcoming weekend.

But I'm not letting Chicago's current sunny disposition fool me. We're heading into October now, which means on any given day in the next few weeks temperatures could range anywhere from 45 to 85 degrees. And at either the high end or low end of that spectrum the strongest reaction to the weather I'll be able to muster is"meh" (shrugs shoulders). Fall is the season of unpredictability. Just ask last year's marathoners. Ahhh well. Such is life during a Chicago fall. The only thing that can be counted on are sunsets prior to 7 p.m.

September 21, 2008

Home Improvements

Mike and I got a new piece of furniture this weekend. The last thing we need is a new piece of furniture. We have plenty of furniture. If anything, maybe too much furniture.

It is the after effects of combining two lives and two homes worth of furnishings. When I moved to Mike's home in August, I got rid of most of my belongings because Mike's home was far from bare bones.

He has a 55-inch TV, an L-shaped couch (with fold out queen size bed), an eight person dining/poker table, a coffee table, a queen sized bed with matching end tables and a dresser. And that's only our bedroom and the main room. The run off furniture is crammed in the second bedroom - a full size bed, book shelf, clothing storage unit and an L-shaped glass top desk.

With everything we already have I was less than thrilled when Mike told me his brother was bringing a chair for us when he came to visit this weekend. I had no idea where we'd put it. This chair would take some serious furniture rearrangement if not purging. Mike told me if we didn't want to keep it, we could always sell it. But now that we have the chair I will tell you, we are not selling it.

You see, I love this chair. This chair is not just any chair. This chair massages. And not mere isolated vibrations here and there massaging. It has settings, lots of settings. It rolls. It taps. It rolls and taps. It has gentle and hard settings. It can go wide across the shoulders or narrow across the waist. It even has a leg massage.

Right now our new piece of furniture is in the living room blocking passage to and from the couch. And it will sit there until we make room for it, and we will make room. Because after about 5 minutes in this chair I learned that I cannot (will not!) live without it.

September 19, 2008

A Short Post

I visited my salon yesterday. And I made a change. For the longest time, I had long hair. Until this past summer, my hair laid at least three inches past my shoulders for I don't know how many years.

This summer, I cut it shorter (about shoulder length), and when I went in yesterday I had two words to describe what I wanted - shorter and darker. And that's what I got.
Here I am with my grown-out, semi curly, blah locks.

And here's me with some a little shorter and darker.

I've decided I like short hair Amy right now. I already am planning on this same 'do only shorter for next time. And if my current hair trend continues, I might just end up with the cut Mike's been suggesting I get - purple Mohawk.

September 15, 2008

Sexism on SNL

In case you missed it, this is probably the funniest thing I have seen on SNL in quite some time. And if you have seen it, it's worth watching again.

September 14, 2008

Sunday Chicago Blues

I started my Sunday morning by stepping in cat puke. And then I cried about it.

I spent the majority of this weekend cleaning my and Mike's place. I made some headway yesterday but on my to do list for today was the floors and bathroom. My cleaning binge yesterday included reorganizing my closet, soaking garbage cans and a couch vacuuming that last about a half hour. My previous day's efforts were apparent, but this morning I woke up and saw only what I still had to do along with the things that already needed to be cleaned again. At that moment, the mess seemed never ending. I saw crumbs on the counters I cleaned yesterday. The dishes from our dinner were in the sink. The glass table tops I wiped down the previous afternoon were already covered in cat hair. It was as if the work I did yesterday did not matter. And then I stepped in cat puke.

Mike tried to warn me about the cat puke but it was too late. I had already walked through it. And all of a sudden it became my proverbial straw a la the camel. I snapped at Mike for not cleaning up Leroy's puke sooner (something that had literally happened the moment before I waltzed in). Seeing how on the edge I was Mike asked what was the matter. He didn't know why I had seemed so upset this entire weekend. I then proclaimed I felt like a maid in my own home and started crying.

This was an unfair statement. I cleaned all weekend, but not because Mike told me I had to. I chose to. I have been obsessing about cleaning ever since I moved in. I am a clean person, but I don't ever remember feeling this uptight about smudges on a glass table. Something in me was unhappy about something, and it had little to do with the cleanliness of our home. I knew it. Mike knew it. And he called me out on it.

Yes, I am sad. I am sad about more than cleaning. I am sad because I sometimes wonder if I have more to do than clean. A few weeks ago I said good bye to two friends who are each leaving Chicago indefinitely. It was in these good byes that my sadness began.

So why am I sad? Because this is the first time I've lived in Chicago and not had a safety net of close friends. When I moved here in 2004, I came here with three other girls. It was a built in network of friends. Those friends as well as most of the ones I have made since moving to Chicago are for the most part are no longer here. They've moved back to Michigan, they've moved across the country and they've moved to the other side of the world. And I'm still here -still wanting to meet up for brunch, to go get drinks on a Wednesday night, still wanting to get sushi and talk about boys and go shoe shopping. I still want all of this but I can no longer have it. So what do I do? I clean my home because it is something to keep me busy when I have nothing else to do. And that is what hit me at some point during this dull, dreary Chicago weekend. I only finally verbalized it through tears to Mike this morning.

Mike could certainly relate to my feelings. In the 10 years he's lived in Chicago, he's seen plenty of his friends come and go. He, however, may have dealt with this more gracefully than I did. He probably didn't yell at someone about cat puke and then start crying, but he's been there. And it was in talking to Mike that I reminded myself that this is the time and the place we are in our life. Our friends are moving on. They are getting engaged. They're taking new jobs. They are having babies. They are going back to school. They're trying to build new lives with their partners in far away places. And I am very happy and very excited for all of my friends who have jumped at these new challenges and taken these new adventures head on. But on this gloomy, rainy Sunday morning, I couldn't help feeling a little left behind.

What came from mine and Mike's discussion is that I do need to get out of the house more. If all I do is work and then come home I'm going to find time to obsess about a dish left in the sink. Neither Mike nor I want that. We're running some errands this afternoon and one of the places we're stopping by is our neighborhood gym. It's been almost six months since I've had a gym membership, and I'm ready to rejoin the gym rat race. Getting out and getting moving has always helped me clear my head. And at a time in my life when I cry over cat puke, I could use a little head-clearing.

** Update: Mike and I checked out the gym. At first glance, I love it. I have two free passes I plan to use this week.

September 11, 2008

Educated Voters

I was looking at this Web site today and came across the following article. In it are links to Education Week's articles about Obama's and McCain's education platforms. The articles are a bit out of date (pre-primary decisions), but give some insight into the candidates' past stance on education. And as the author states, their previous eduction reform efforts may be the best insight into their future endeavors.

So if education is one of your issues, here is their take on Obama and their take on McCain.

September 10, 2008


I am trying, trying really hard to get back into working out and making smarter eating choices. I did this - the running and the eating healthy thing - way back in 2006. That discipline did not reappear in 2007 or this first part of 2008 either. For the past few months I have beat myself up for not taking better care of my overall health. That's the thing though, I beat myself up mentally but rarely ever physically did anything about it.

I ran tonight. And it felt good. As good as it did when I ran Sunday. Actually, it felt better. I went farther, ran longer and kept a better pace. I'm not sure where my current motivation is coming from, but I'm running with it (pun intended). I think I'm just so tired of being inactive that I have no other option but to be active. Maybe it also has something to do with the weather and change of season. It's possible I'm only trying to steal these last few weeks of pleasant, enjoyable weather before the depression that is a Chicago winter sets in.

I'm hoping my motivation isn't a temporary thing, but given I haven't worked out consistently in more than a year I just don't know. My motivation for moving my body ebbs and flows and just because it's high right now doesn't mean it won't take a nose dive at any moment. I guess I write about this here with the hope that if I make my struggles and progress a little more public, I might find my motivation lasting longer than I expect.

Guess we'll have to wait and see.

September 8, 2008

I've Got Issues

(In keeping with all things politics..)

To argue successfully your choice for president, you need to first know where the candidates stand on the issues, and really which issues you deem most important. How does McCain plan to improve education? What is Obama's stance on foreign relations? How much will McCain's plan tax you versus Obama's plan? How does each candidate plan to solve the energy crisis and lessen our dependence on foreign oil? Which candidate's platform do you see as having a greater impact on stimulating the United States depressed economy?

Any idea?

The best place to start is to go straight to the source. I present, the McCain-Palin platform and the Obama-Biden platform.

Read away. Refer to these pages as often as need be. I cannt count how many times I've visited them myself.

And if for you, the environment and energy exploration are hot topics, I urge you to check out this NPR interview with Thomas Friedman. His interview does an excellent job at summing up the candidates' stances on the environment and energy and explaining why this issue merits our attention. As a side note, Friedman is an incredibly talented and intelligent author who wrote The World Is Flat, one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read.

September 7, 2008

Fitting In

For a few prideful days in sixth grade, I thought I was pretty cool. I was not the prettiest girl in my sixth grade class, nor the most athletic or funniest. I was a pretty standard wall flower. Generally I could be found in a small cluster of giggling girls but was never the one to stand out. But for a few days back in 1992, I did.

I remember feeling a lot of pressure in sixth grade. It was the year my classmates and I were finally the big dogs in elementary school. Jungle gyms held no excitement for us. I think we collectively spent the entire year trying to act cooler and more mature so our transition to junior high wouldn't be so jarring. Sixth grade I also felt was the beginning of the clothing wars. It seemed this was the grade where us girls really started paying attention to what one another wore and heaped on the criticisms or compliments accordingly. This sadly also was the era of clothing where B.U.M sweatshirts, Used jeans and Guess anything prevailed. When future generations look back to the early nineties, it will not be known for it's fashion-forward thinking.

On one fateful trip in 1992 to the local mall with my mom I spotted an item of clothing I simply could not live without - a black and white leather jacket with a red satin inside. I saw it and instantly knew it would be a hit at school. No one had one. No one had anything like it. I suspected with this coat for that first day I wore it I might be the coolest girl in sixth grade. I had to have it. My mom took a mental note and within a few weeks (I believe for Christmas or my birthday) I got the coat.
I was bursting with extreme pride that first day I wore it. I distinctly remember at recess being surround by the girls of my grade, them questioning me about my new coat. I was the coolest girl that day and my new-found popularity lasted for another week or so. It turned out my cool, new coat produced one effect I had not anticipated. It was so cool that in a short matter of time two other girls in my class got my exact same coat. It was over. My popularity had ended. I had started a trend, but now I wasn't unique and with no distinguishing feature I was left to choose from my closet full of B.U.M sweatshirts and Guess jeans just to remain an active participant in the sixth grade clothing wars.

This past weekend I went home to Michigan and learned my mom has saved this jacket. I also learned that it still fits. Fits is a relative phrase. It was tight at the waist with enough room in the bust to hold my 14 lb. cat. It must have fit my 13-year-old body horrendously. I can't remember, or maybe I've blocked out the memory. In cloaking myself in this memory, I also learned I could not be more happy that I am no longer a sixth grade girl who believes an ugly leather coat will help her gain friends.

Also pictured is my sister and her equally ugly childhood coat. Hers was preserved as well. However, these coats may already be in the trash. I saw my dad's eyes light up the moment we gave the go ahead to get rid of our jackets. I can't say I blame him.

September 4, 2008

Getting Political

One of my goals for 2008 was to make an educated choice for president. As the political season heats up, I have found myself engrossed in all things presidential.

I don't want to make my personal political stance on this blog. Those of you who know me probably have an idea of who I'm voting for. And yes, I already know who I am voting for. However, that is not stopping me from researching all I can about the candidates to make sure my decision is an informed one. I've hear people arguing politics a lot these days, but most o the time I feel like they are arguing the points of a popularity contest versus the changes each candidate will make upon their election to this most highest title. I want to argue issues. I want to argue policy and I want to be sure I understand what each candidate's policies mean for the country before I open my mouth.

In an effort to educate myself, I've come across a lot of good information via the Internet, and I hope to come across a lot more in the months to come. As it is my hope to make an informed presidential selection, I hope I am not alone. To do my part this political season I plan to pass along to you, dear Internet, anything I find as a credible, helpful source of information.

To start, here are two Web sites I'm checking on a weekly, if not daily basis. As politics go, a lot is said, not all of it true. The following Web sites are good for sorting fact from fiction:

Please feel free to pass along any good reading you've found regarding your election selection. I am open to any and all suggestions.

September 3, 2008

Rewinding the Past

As I was preparing for my fiddle three class (take two) last night, I stumbled upon a little bit of my past. We don't get sheet music for fiddle three, so we're encouraged to bring recorders to tape the song and play it back in the coming week while practicing our tune. I have a small tape recorder I have had for years now. I think it was given to me as a college graduation present from an editor of mine.

I cued up the tape and let it run for a bit. After a little bit of static, the tape cut and suddenly my recorder sounded with the roar of cheering and hollering over the results of a roll call vote. I knew instantly what it was. My coverage of the Reed City bond vote of 2004. This is a story I covered for months and probably spent more time on than anything else I covered in my two-and-a-half-year reporting career.

I was instantly transported back to that night. For me, it was the culmination of hours of sitting through school board meetings, talking with teachers, talking with students, touring the facilities and listening to people in the community say painstakingly that as much as they wanted to give their kids a new school, it just wasn't in their budget. That same year, Reed City had lost hundreds of manufacturing jobs - the backbone of the community - to Mexico and China. In the end, the bond passed by less than 30 votes. The whooping and hollering on the tape was the result of that board's and those parents' hard work to get their kids and the district a new school.

What followed next on the tape was the sound of my own voice. It was my congratulations to members of the school board as well as my interview with the district superintendent. I didn't usually tape my interviews, but I considered this to be such a big story that I didn't want to miss a thing.

It was weird to hear my voice, even weirder to be back in that moment. I remember being nervous for the outcome of that vote because I had become so engrossed in the lives of these people. It really was what I considered to be my biggest story as a young, fresh faced reporter. And looking back, I still am very proud of the work I did on that issue. It was a a few years ago now, but I remembered for a moment how great it was to be terribly invested in my job which really was being invested in the community I served. Sure, reporting in small town America was far from glamorous. I covered more events where the main feature was a tractor pull than I care to admit. But still, it was fun. And there is still a part of me that is sad my business card no longer reads reporter.

I rewound that tape and briefly thought about how after that night's fiddle class I wouldn't have portions of that tape any more. But I figured that didn't matter. because my business card no longer reads reporter.