Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I ordered two pairs of spiffy Clarks through Zappos for Steinvic as part of his birthday present. He really needed good shoes.
One of the pair were sandals…the slip-on kind. He doesn’t own any and it’s been so hella hot here, I thought this would be a great option for him so his feet would be nice and cool when we’re chillin’.
Sadly, the suckers slipped right off as he walked. He had to kind of flex his foot as he wore them to keep them on and we all know (those of us who wear slip-on shoes, that is) that foot flexin’ is the best way to get to achy feet and calves.
So I put in for a return and found him a pair that had an ankle strappy thing so they’d stay on and be more comfortable.
When I did the return, there was a comments section, like…were you displeased with us/could we have done something better to help and I said something like, “No way! You guys rock and the sandals were beautiful. They just didn’t stay on my husband’s feet and I’m now ordering a different style. Thanks for the free return shipping!”
That night, I checked online to see the order status for the new sandals and I had an email from Zappos. It basically said, “We’ve got a surprise for you…we’ve upgraded you to overnight shipping! For free. You’ll get your shoes tomorrow! Hope this makes your day.”
Indeed! So, I replied to the email to say thank you for that…and then I thought…maybe this is one of those "do not reply notifications." But I nosed around and it didn’t seem to be…didn’t say that anywhere.
So, I said something like, “Thank you so much for upgrading our shipping. We already enjoy shopping with Zappos! I’ve served customers all my life and seeing great attention like this is really impressive. Thank you again!”
I didn’t expect a reply at all. I just wanted them to know that we really appreciated their thoughtfulness.
But five minutes later, I had the nicest reply that said our account had been upgraded to VIP status and that from now on, we’d get free next business day delivery and priority returns.
Wow. How do you like that?
Zappos, you’re doing a fine job and I hope you keep it up! We will shop your site first for clothes, shoes, beauty and housewares going forward!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I dream about it, I think about it, I talk about it.
And now I am going to attempt to try to do something about it.
Long ago, in a land far away, I used to be an Honor Thespian. I was in talent shows and plays all the time in grade school and in high school, I was in every musical and student choreographed a few of them. I was in show choir. I was in flag corps (you may call it color guard in your neck of the woods) and was even captain my senior year. I still worked a part time job, but in my own time, I sang. I danced. I was on stage. I was busy and fulfilled and LOVED IT ALL.
And then I had to grow up super-fast, like you do when you graduate from high school and your dad decides to split a few days after you graduate, and your family has no money, and everyone is nuts and there is no fund for college but your mother (trying desperately to hold it together) insists that you go. So you work a couple (or three) jobs and you get busy. You dig in and you get shit done.
So…yeah…I got super-serious, super-fast. I also got sort of angry, but didn’t have time to deal with it. For the most part, it’s been all business ever since. (Until I met Steinvic, of course, and my life improved dramatically and I remembered a lot about having fun.)
When I was still in college and went back to my high school to student teach, my mentor said, “What happened to you? You were this friendly but shy girl who would turn five shades of red when I called on you in class. Now you’re so…grown up…” I understood that it wasn’t a criticism, but he was right. I had changed. I had changed in three years what it took a lot of people I know ten years to accomplish. And I did it the hard way.
Real life will do that to you.
But I am beginning to understand that I don’t have to let it.
I found a play that will be put on by a community theater and I’m interested in trying out. I know they have a stable of excellent regular players and that the chance I’ll get in is small…especially because the play doesn’t have a lot of roles, but I’m still going to try.
If I don’t make it, maybe they’ll let me work on the set crew or something.
But I’ll be around the kind of people I so enjoyed long ago.
Plus, Steinvic is probably going to be gone more than ever for a while, as someone in his Columbus office will be out, and they’ll need his presence more frequently. It totally sucks, but we’re still lucky that he is able to mostly work from here, so we can’t complain about it.
But, if he won’t be around anyway, I won’t feel like I’m taking time away from us, you know?
Auditions are in a little less than two weeks. I am hopeful that this is the start of something good!
Monday, July 25, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I enjoyed her distinctive look and voice so much, I dressed like her for Halloween last year. (Everyone thought Steinvic and I were Elvis and Pricilla...an older crowd who wouldn't have considered Amy Winehouse as a first option, but once I said her name and "Rehab," they all knew and noted the differences...primarily the excessive temporary tattoos I'd applied.)
I've stayed tuned hoping she'd stay clean and sober. I am sad and disappointed that she couldn't do it, and that her chances to try have run out.
Rest in peace, Amy. Know that you're already missed. I'll always wonder who you would have become had you made it past this hurdle, but it will always be easy to appreciate exactly what you were. May your music play on and on...
Friday night, I held an acquaintence's prosthetic eyeball. Why? Because he handed it to me. Long story, (and no, I hadn't asked to have a closer look or anything. Surprisingly, it wasn't freaky or gross at all. It was actually pretty interesting. Definitely a piece of art.
Also coincidental is that I'd read this story earlier in the day.
But I just thought it was a hoot that here I'd posted about an eyeball - a completely different kind - earlier in the day and then this...
Friday, July 22, 2011
Our Pup has been on a chewing frenzy since he is losing his milk teeth to make room for grown-up chompers. This means he has terrorized all of his "fluffy" (non-chewy, stuffed animal-type) toys, swiftly executing them by ripping a hole (usually near the eye) and removing their stuffing.
We actually have a small pile of lobotomized animals, awaiting repair.
Which means that he is down to one fluffy toy (a stuffed dachshund, interestingly enough) that he hasn't destroyed. And these are somehow more fulfilling to destroy than gnawing the crap out of his rubber toys or raw hides. Pup has a lot of toys. A lot. Like, ridiculous...but he is a busy little guy and we like to keep him entertained. We don't leave him with anything while he is alone that he could ingest, though...fluffy toys are for supervised times only.
Because he is apparently desperate for more fluffy friends, he's turned to the few little creatures (mine!) dwelling in the rocking chair in our guest room. It's a constant battle to take them away, say, "No," and then wash and dry them to keep them slobber free.
I went to bed early last night (allergies!!!) and he came to the bed, whining to get up (as if! No dogs on our bed...I don't care how adorable and snuggly he is!) and I could hear him running around as I drifted off. (He weighs about 10 lbs, but sounds like he weighs 40.)
This morning, on the counter in the bathroom, a single blue eye. Apparently, Steinvic rescued it from the dog when he came up to bed.
I wasn't expecting it and it made me laugh. Then I went to see if I could figure out where it came from and found my moon, sans eye. I could glue it back on. Or, I could remove the other eye and let Pup destroy it, because it makes him so happy...
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I watched The Kids are Alright the other night, so I guess the topic is on my mind. And then I read shallow-minded comments at the end of articles that talk about how same-sex marriage threatens the core of family values.
I don't see how that is possible. I don't even know what it means, exactly.
Because the way I see it... if you're gay and have a steady partner, and possibly children, chances are you have to work a lot harder for that relationship than straight folks. Yep, I said it...people who are gay not only deserve to be married, but possibly even more than us heterosexual folks (who often take that right for granted and/or abuse it) do.
I can only imagine that it's hard enough to survive childhood and the teen years as a homosexual. Chaz has a nice campaign going, and I think it's a really good idea, to let kids know that as bad as life might seem right now, it does get better. But still...
Imagine, once you're grown, knowing that if - when you walk into a room - you "sound too gay" or "look too gay" that some of the idiots in the room are not paying attention to why you're there or what you're saying, but instead begin thinking about your sexuality. (Doesn't THAT seem more perverse than the idea of people of the same gender having "relations"?)
Imagine that on the job, if you're a single female with short hair who likes sports and you haven't got a boyfriend that immediately, people assume you're gay. It may affect your social life or your relationships...what if you don't feel like you can be honest with your co-workers?
The stress and strain of constantly having to juggle how comfortable others are going to be with who you are undoubtedly makes life in general more difficult for people who are gay. I have no idea how difficult it would be to try to maintain a romantic relationship under the additional strain.
Family values to me? Be honest with each other. Don't abuse each other. Trust each other. If the road gets rocky, you don't leave; families work it out. Be innovative - actively seek ways to stay in love. Be selfless - think about something that your spouse/partner would be delighted by and then do it. Give - make a daily effort to appreciate each other. And teach your kids all these things by talking, being affectionate and communicating often so they can see how it all works. Those are family values to me... How can allowing people to get married threaten anything I value? How does everyone having equal rights to marry damage love?
I see this world as a crazy place. It's a good place, and a beautiful place, but it's crazy and it's hard to get by sometimes. Who am I to deprive someone else of love, of the same joy I felt when I married Steinvic, of the same rights I have? If you can find love in this world, celebrate it every day. Here's to the rest of our great States getting their heads out of their asses.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I was, however, wide awake.
I’d been dreaming, too. In my dream, a girl I’d gone to junior high with was now an adult, critiquing my art book. I remember feeling confident showing her my book, but as she paged through, none of my drawings were complete. They weren’t how I’d remembered them, either...much more amateurish than what was in my mind's eye. I found myself embarrassed at first and making excuses, but then admitted that they weren’t as good as some other things I’d done, and maybe I needed to just buy another book and start over.
The Girl…I remember her well. She was very popular. She seemed older than everyone else…a ring leader of sorts for her clique. Instead of the trendy, 80s clothes the rest of my class wore, she had her own conservative, expensive style. Perfectly manicured, long, oval nails. Impeccable handwriting. Pretty blonde hair – there was never a bad hair day in her world. She wore a tiny amount of tastefully applied makeup. When she laughed, she was reserved. She was not silly and didn’t act out in class. I remember that she had a few steady boyfriends, but no one gossiped about her. She made great grades. I’d heard (not in a bad way) that she sometimes drank at parties and smoked a little weed with the other kids, but never that she’d made a fool of herself. In retrospect, she was a grown-up in an adolescent body.
I, on the other hand, was a mega-dork.
A five-minute sketch of me, in all my dorky glory, circa 1983.
I was skinny, had permed, stringy hair, wore glasses and bulky train-track-style braces. I had no boobs to speak of (or not speak of) and absolutely no style. I hid my lack of shape and style in loose, brandless jeans, polo or denim shirts and an occasional shaker sweater from The Limited that my aunt sent me. (My family really couldn’t afford The Limited at that time.) I giggled and freely acted dorkily, with my small, tight clan of dorky friends, all of us wishing we were less dorky, but having no idea how to achieve that. I for sure wasn’t going to parties, drinking casually or smoking weed…most of my Friday nights were spent drawing at my Dad’s desk, peripherally watching The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Dr. Who.
I can remember a couple of instances where I dared to try to talk to The Girl…once chiming into a conversation before chorus where there were just a few of us in the classroom. I think I said I thought she’d surely win a seat on the student counsel if she ran. She shot me down saying something like, “I don’t remember asking your opinion.” I slinked into my second-row alto seat, red-faced, slumping back into my dorkiness and pretending to read something important so that no one could see the humiliated tears trying to form behind my thick glasses. (I was a foolishly sensitive kid.)
In the eighth grade, at the end of the year, everyone was passing their yearbooks around, getting cleverly crafted signatures. “Stay sweet!” “LYLAS!” (Love ya like a sis!) “KIT (keep in touch) I mean it!” While mine was being passed back to me, The Girl intercepted it. I saw her writing and wondered what she could possibly have to say to me. It said something like, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch to you.” No, really…that is what she wrote. I was a little concerned that the word “bitch” was forever in my yearbook and that my parents would see it and I’d somehow be in trouble, but more, I felt somehow…taller.
In ninth grade, I had contact lenses and had discovered mousse and learned to feather my hair. Money was a little less tight so my wardrobe had improved. My braces were off and I was permitted to wear a little more makeup to school. I still didn’t have boobs, but realized that a lot of thinner girls in my class were in the same predicament, so I pretended not to care. Mom gave me Chanel No. 5 that year and I was starting to understand the allure of girly things, the art of passing notes instead of trying to talk in class and began to develop a thickening attitude – healthily calloused – of not really giving a damn about what others thought of me.
And, most importantly, a new girl in school ended up in my homeroom. She was very, very cool and worldly. And pretty. For some reason, she took to me right away. The popular girls wanted to be friends with her. And so, they started to be kind to me. Including The Girl. Like…I got to sit with Those Girls sometimes. I wasn’t part of their clique per se, but I could sort of pass.
The Girl went to a different school for tenth through twelfth grade. A school I’d always dreamed of going to. I maybe saw her once at a football game or something, far away and out of the corner of my eye, as she talked with former classmates, but I've never talked to her again.
Back to today. Out of curiosity, I googled (yes I used Google as a verb, and I did nosily look someone up online) her name and found that she seems to have a wonderful life. She looks grown up, more weathered and outwardly more approachable and authentic. I’m totally not surprised at all...she's always been so talented. It made me happy, if not a tiny bit jealous, to find her excelling in a profession I’ve dreamt of and living in a part of the country that Steinvic and I adore. She actually has a blog and I thought, comment? No, too creepy. Maybe not. What would I say? “Hello from Cincinnati. I had a weird dream about you that made me curious about what you’re doing and I found your blog. Happy that you’re doing so well and wistfully envious that you’re in a career that should be mine, living in a place that my husband and I would love to live. Yes, I’m still jealous of you. But in a nice way. I swear. I’m not crazy.”
No. If I were her reading that, I wouldn’t believe the not crazy part. Instead, I think I need to get those art books out and really start working. I have a hundred story ideas in my mind, a thousand projects, a million little lightening bugs flickering around in my brain, but I haven’t done a damn thing about any of them. She has. She knew what she was going to be when we were kids, and she’s done it and done it well.
Steinvic and I have a good life here...lots of blessings. Who knows...maybe some would envy our lives a litte. But I belive that what I bring to our existence could be richer, if I apply myself.
I keep saying it, but now I have to do it. I have to get busy on me. Thanks for the kick in the pants…
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I promised I’d provide a summary of our experience on the Greyhound Express from our recent trip to Chicago, so here it goes.
First off, we decided to take the Greyhound Express because we’d tried the Mega Bus last year and sort of wanted to compare. I believe Steinvic and I want bus-riding to be a real option for these quick trips where we don’t want to tax our cars or spend a fortune on gas and parking fees. We want it to be a good experience. Truly.
We gave Mega Bus a chance: Fail.
We gave Greyhound Express a chance: Fail.
It can be summarized by this image.
Yes, this is one of the few instructional signs that appear in the Greyhound hub. (You are really on your own as far as figuring out where to go and what to do.) It is supposed to be a person getting a ticket at the ticket counter. After our experience, we believe should be a bartender administering liquid comfort.
It wasn’t so much that we were hassled or that our bus wasn’t on time. It was more the:
- disorganization (which makes this particularly anxious traveler even more anxious)
- constant, unwavering scent of urine
- dirty (and I’m not talking because I’m OCD-ish…they were nasty) hubs and buses
- people, both patrons and employees, who generally seemed to be cranky
- bathrooms that were not useable
- lines in which you waited and every single person ahead of you had a "serious issue" and needed to explain everything that had happened to them since birth. (we were there in plenty of time, but still...annoying drain of patience...)
Two good features – no, three – about the Greyhound include the inexpensive fare, the fact that the Wi-Fi worked pretty consistently all the way to Chicago and back, and we got there and back with no real problems. (There were quite a few hostile people for which this did not seem to be the case.)
So, I don’t think we’ll be taking the bus again. It feels too…unreliable. Like something could go horribly wrong…either someone freaking the heck out or a bus not showing up. Just too out of control.
And too smelly.
If we HAD to do it again, I think we might, but it would not be our top choice of transportation…
Of course, I climbed up on top of a chair, thinking it was just another burnt out bulb, but that wasn’t it. It was the fixture. As I bravely unscrewed the (unbeknownst to me) ten-inch-long screw holding the thing to the ceiling, thinking that I’d just pop over to Home Depot for a new one, I began to realize that it wasn’t going to be that easy. The wires didn’t look like the normal color-coded wires I’ve seen before. I thought…this may be more than I want to attempt when Steinvic is away. Wrist hurting from unscrewing, I screwed the fixture back on.
We’d have called an electrician…after all, we have three outlets out and would like to replace the fixture in our little dining nook. But that costs money and every month there is something (not just obligations, but other things we’ve chosen to do, like go to Chicago…) and so we haven’t gotten around to it.
Then last week, the kitchen light fixture conked out, literally blowing two of the bulbs as it went. We’re not brave enough to do anything electrical…I’ll DIY just about any house project, but not electrics.
Our condo is a bit outdated. It could use a little new everything. We keep up on laundry and dishes and sweeping and mopping and dusting. We clean the carpets, paint the walls and try to keep up on purging and reorganizing, but it’s a challenge.
Part of it is that I’d emergency moved from my old house to my parents, and put everything in storage without really rummaging through all of it. When I moved to the condo, I schlepped it from storage to this condo and have since tried to make heads or tails of it as I could between our long-distance commutes and working all the time. And when Steinvic moved here last year, he purged, best he could, but again…speed packing after work hours wasn’t easy.
AND, we have no storage to speak of.
So…we have to stay as organized as possible. I’ve been trying to work (in the dark) in the bedroom closet so that hopefully next month, we can afford the $500 - $1000 it will cost to repair it and all the other electrical stuff that keeps going wrong in our place.
Saturday and Sunday, I took about an hour each day to go through drawers, purging, and to fix the broken shoe rack in the dark closet. I reinforced the rungs with plastic tape. I know…kind of ghetto, but you do what you can and it seemed to work just fine.
Last night before bed, I went in the closet and saw this:
At first I thought the sprit of the disembodied squeaky foot toy my StepDad brought our pup on Sunday had taken over our closet, but then realized that it was just my stupid luck. I am just so disgusted. (and so are those bunny slippers! Just look at their little faces.) Seriously! So, tonight, I’m stopping looking for some organizational tools so that hopefully the closet won’t look like a disaster area (far worse than the picture portrays).
It will still be dark, but not as scary.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
I'll give you the highlights here, and later, I'll post about how we got there.
We stayed at The Seneca. I'd call this hotel a well-kept secret. It's an older hotel, but is conveniently located next to everything, and is very tidy and nicely maintained. The staff is friendly and our room was VERY affordable, especially considering we were there on a holiday weekend and that the Taste of Chicago was also going on. Our suite was huge - king sized bed, giant closets (with a safe...very handy), a living room, dining area and full kitchen. The television sets were a little outdated, but they had LOTS of channels to choose from, including 3 HBO stations (and who goes to Chicago to watch television anyway?!) We met a nice fellow on the sun roof who told us about how he and his wife rented an apartment there three days a week, several months out of the year, and I could see them being pretty comfortable if their apartment was like our suite...everything you needed was right there. We also ate in the cafe there and it was good: small, casual, good variety on their home-cookin' style menu for such a small restaurant (it's also where we heard the unfortunate verdict in the Casey Anthony trial). There are also more upscale restaurants in the hotel, but we didn't go that route.
We found Dublin's Bar and Grill on our first night and I am not sure if we were starving or if they didn't have the best bites around. We each had a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder and shared an appetizer - lobster ravioli - and we were very pleased. (I can't seem to get through to their website, but it's on State Street if you wanna go!)
We spent lots of time at Navy Pier...we always do! A favorite spot to have drinks or grab a bite is Harry Caray's. We walk and walk, to the pier from wherever we're staying, along the pier to look at the water and watch the boats come in and go out. We actually took a water taxi from the pier to Soldier Field, where the U2 concert was held, and that is the way to travel for sure!
The concert was AWESOME and they played and played and played. I'm not sure if they were making up for the delayed show (originally planned for last summer, but Bono broke his back in Germany and many tour dates were postponed) or what, but that concert seemed a good bit longer than the other two we've seen on this 360 tour. Bono wore his leather jacket the entire time, and I asked Steinvic if he thought that Bono had air conditioning piped into his jacket because it was freaking hot out, and I can only imagine that the stage lights made it even hotter for the band. Anyway, it was kind of cool for us because this tour was the same tour when we got engaged back in 2009...so it was sweet and sentimental to hear Beautiful Day and remember how Steinvic proposed.
Leaving the concert was something else altogether...the opposite of sweet! Imagine some 60,000 buzzed and/or tired people all leaving the concert at the same time on foot, lumbering through the awkward paths that security had set up for them. It's like...11:30 at night, dark, and we're faaaaar away from our hotel. We probably walked a couple of miles before wising up and crossing the street, hailing a cab originally headed in the opposite direction. Our cabby was kind, but wanted to talk politics and I wasn't feeling it at that point in the evening! But we politely chatted and prayed our hotel would appear soon...it did and we fell into bed after 12:30. Big day!
Everyone always wants to eat at Gino's or Giordano's (or both) for deep dish pizza when they visit Chicago. Nothing wrong with that...you should try it if you haven't! But you will wait and wait to be seated. Like not 45 minutes...we're talking hours at peak times. Some feel it is worth the wait. Since we've eaten at both places several times on previous visits, we weren't feeling the wait. We were just kind of wandering around and came upon Pizano's. Steinvic wondered if they had deep dish pizza and I whipped out my phone and checked online and indeed, they did. We decided to check it out...and if you're ever in Chicago, you should, too. DELICIOUS pizza. Our server boasted that his 92-year-old mother walked a mile-and-a-half, three days a week, to come make their dough. Could be a legend, could be fact, but no matter what, the food and service were awesome. And no wait! Looked like more local folks than tourists to me. We will be back!
A favorite bar we enjoy while we're in town is Pippin's. They don't have a website, but it's on Rush Street. We like it because it's not pretentious, they have lots of good beer and booze there, and during happy hour, it's darned affordable (Absolute Citron and soda for me and a beer for Steinvic cost $7, which is nearly unheard of here in Ohio, much less in touristy Chicago.) The folks who work there are pretty nice, too, and we've always ended up meeting some nice couple or chatting with other like-minded visitors who want something low key.
If you need to get out of the heat (or cold, depending on when you visit), there is a lovely AMC theater right down the street from Navy Pier. We saw Bridesmaids and chuckled a lot. See it if you haven't! You can also bowl at the Lucky Strike nestled into the same complex, but we didn't because we felt it was kind of pricey (came out to $40 for us to bowl and rent shoes, which seemed a little high, and we weren't that interested in bowling anyway...) but if you're into bowling, you might want to check it out.
In a nutshell, that was our whirlwind tour of Chicago. It was wonderful! (I will post a few photos later...) We returned to a very wriggly, happy puppy and as great of a time as we had, it feels great to be home.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
She is guilty.
In this country, the prosecution has to work really hard to prove somebody's guilt. I thought they did a solid job of providing evidence and connecting the dots. Their theory made sense: Casey wanted to party, she had a child that prevented the lifestyle she wanted from coming easily, and the lies she told and the means she used to make that lifestyle possible (leaving her with just about anyone and/or drugging her) would shortly be coming to an end because Caylee was beginning to talk.
The jury didn't agree.
We will never know what Casey did all day while she was away from home, at a job that never existed. We won't know why Cindy and George didn't ask more questions or expect more from Casey. We won't learn about Caylee's last moments of life. We won't get to find out just what made Casey snap that day, or if she really believes the lies she tells.
But what I do know is, Casey is now friendless and without a family. I think she will have a very tough time enjoying her freedom because who could truly love or trust her? She screwed over her friends, threw her family under the bus and damaged their character, and even hurt a complete stranger (go get her, Zenaida...) by accusing her of the unthinkable.
And, in my opinion, took the life of a beautiful, innocent child.
As her defense team gathered around her, hugging her and crying, I wondered if these people would now be her friends and family. Would you let her babysit your kids?
I admit, when the verdict was read, I got teary. I love the truth. And I can't stand it when the truth doesn't prevail. And I love justice. I really hoped for justice for Caylee. Not the death penalty, but jail time. Instead, someone got away with murder, and Thursday, that person will likely become a free -and wealthy- person who enjoys all the same liberties as you and I do. Fair?