Monday, March 31, 2008

Will Not Clean for Food

So maybe my mom isn't the author of multiple novels, but she has written two children's books. And when I heard writer Louise Erdrich recite this poem in Minneapolis, I immediately thought of my mom, and realized that she is not the only housework-challenged, creatively-inclined mom on the planet. I should also mention that poetry rarely strikes a cord with me, but I think this may be a new favorite. Here's to the clutter...

Advice to Myself
by Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Contrary to Popular Belief

I would have rather titled this post "Fuck Yeah," but that just seemed a bit crass.

So here's what: I spent the entire week in Minneapolis hanging out with librarians and eating my face off. I spent the better part of Saturday sitting in Minneapolis-St. Paul airport hanging out with librarians and trying not to cry when the earlier United flight called out two names on the stand-by list and I wasn't one of them. (My boss actually was put on the earlier flight which made me all the more bitter; I had put my name on the stand-by list 10 hours earlier, he just had more frequent flier miles. In my opinion, that's just not the way we do things in America. This is a nation of first-come, first-served. Fucking United commie douchebags.)

I was so pathetic after the whole stand-by ordeal that MM again offered to come pick me up at the airport, and I finally accepted. He's a good boyfriend. He picked up my race packet for the Shamrock Shuffle 8K too.

But he's still a dude. And sometimes dude's just say things that are... wrong.

When I asked him at dinner about the free shirt that comes standard with every race, he mentioned that the women's shirt looked like it was sized very small. He expressed concern that it might not fit. And since I was acutely aware of my week of eating like each meal might be my last, I nearly started crying. In the restaurant. Sure, let's be honest, I have a larger than average chest, but it wasn't something I could handle hearing at that moment... or ever.

So, despite the physical exhaustion and obvious emotional overload, after a night of dreams about stuffing Paula Poundstone books into Queens Library bags (don't ask), MM and I got up and opened race day with the rest of country -- they were all there -- at the Shamrock Shuffle.

The Shuffle has become an annoying crowded race, and I'll admit... I threw a few elbows out there on the course. But, the good part, the great part, is that this is my anniversary. I ran my inaugural Shamrock Shuffle in 2006. It was my first race ever. At the time, I didn't realize that it really was just the beginning. And in 2008, my time was nearly 10 minutes faster than it was two years ago.

Like I said. Fuck Yeah.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fast Food

Whenever I’m on a business trip, I tend to think myself a bit of a rock star if I manage to get in a workout.

What did I do yesterday after I spent 7am to 6:30pm racing around a convention center?

I got my butt on a treadmill and ran four miles.

I can just imagine the look on your lovely faces right now. You’re impressed. I can tell.

But for every step forward -- for every rock star moment -- there are two, sometimes ten, steps backward.

I don’t know if you guys have ever done this… but this require you to be “on” 24/7. You’re at one event, then another, then another for hours on end. You communicate via walkie talkies (because you are actually that important). You, along with a dozen other people, are the heartbeat of the operation. You go go go. You stop only to pee and only when you’re certain that your bladder will erupt from the mounting pressure. You just keep going.

Which is why when one sees food, one thinks, “I better eat now, because who knows when I’ll see food again.”

It’s a baser level of existence. It’s primal instincts leftover from the cave days kicking into high gear. It’s survival mode. It’s kill or be killed (by your co-workers).

The only problem is… there’s always food. It’s literally every where, all the time and despite the fact that you just had a mediocre convention center lunch buffet, you sure as hell better grab a cookie because God knows when you are going to be able to eat again…

… Five minutes later.

I am literally eating as though I plan to give birth to triplets… like next week.

And there’s more shame where that came from…

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One is the Loneliest Number

So maybe I’m not one of those fancy “consultants” who travels constantly to exotic locations -- like Boise or Wilmington -- but I’ve done a fair amount of business travel in my day. And, despite the glamorous, jet-set image portrayed by people who want to impress a group of college students in an advertising club, in my opinion, business travel has few virtues.

True, it’s partially my fault; I am not one to take advantage of my plight and fill the few precious hours I have to myself with sightseeing or shopping. I don’t deny my lack of adventure-seeking when I’m on the rode for business. Instead, I search for comfort, which I believe is found in a hotel room that has two beds -- one for sleeping and one for eating.

The “Eating Bed,” as I have so cleverly dubbed it, is the ultimate in business travel luxury. Seriously, I implore you to give this a shot. If you are requesting king sized beds while on business trips because you think you’re going to sleep diagonally, you are missing out on one of the business trip's greatest pleasures: making up an excuse as to why you can’t eat with your co-workers, ordering room service, turning a decent-sized television with a basic cable to some crappy show you wouldn’t dare watch at home, and chowing down in the eating bed.

And the best part is that you have a completely separate bed where you can sleep. It’s genius. It’s perfection in its simplicity.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Philosophy that Moves

You know what I’m in the mood for?

What Lou?

I’m in the mood to wax poetic about running!

‘Cause I haven’t done that in awhile. I’m too long gone from my poetic waxing and sweet philosophizing.

Shall we?

Tonight, I ran 6 miles with Meg and another woman in the neighborhood who we had never run with before. We’ll call her MW, because I’m seriously lacking in the creativity at this moment.

Here’s how it all went down. Last night, I got a text message MW when I was on the bus heading home from my trainer, suggesting that I (and @) meet her at a local bar. On a whim, I figured, what the hell? A couple of drinks couldn’t hurt (P.S. I was wrong) and frankly, it solved my “what am I going to eat for dinner?” dilemma.

In the course of a few hours of conversation, I mentioned that I had to run six miles the following night – which, if you’re counting, would be tonight. MW was all, “Can I come?” And I was all, “Uh, sure. I run with my friend Meg. You’ll like her. But… we’re really slow. We’ll probably run a 12 minute mile.”

MW insisted that she ran a similar pace.

I checked in with Meg via IM the next morning, and her first question was, “Does she know how slow we are?”

I answered: I told her, and she insisted that she’s a 12 minute miler.

So tonight, off we went, around the neighborhood in cool, but pretty darn good running weather, 40 degrees and sunny.

It was beautiful. It was a beautiful freaking run. It was nearly effortless, the time flew due to various stories about work and relationships and whatnots, and MW was exactly our pace. And, she doesn’t know this, but she reminded me of something very important.

And you lucky folks are about to hear all about it.

I think a lot of people, woman especially, tend to have an inner-monologue that includes a fair amount of negative self-talk – whether it be about our weight, or our fitness level, the relationship we’re in, or just general self-esteem – it’s there. Maybe not all the time, maybe not even most of the time. But there are moments, when it’s the loudest voice we hear.

As of late, I have a particularly nasty habit of giving myself a hard time for being a “slow” runner. What’s wrong with me that I’m not getting better? Why is it that I’ve been doing this for two years and I still suck? I’m never going to be faster. Maybe I should just stop running because I'm embarrassing myself.

This is all internal and ridiculous at the very least. And, I don’t say these things out loud, mostly because I know it's crazy talk. But it's there, and I believe the negativity can have devastating consequences.

Anyway, MW said something that finally made me remember why it’s not only OK to be slow, but – hell – it's also more entertaining. She’s fairly athletic, and I imagine, if she wanted to be, she probably could run faster, but she doesn’t want to. She hated running when she ran faster. But, when she slowed down, she could chat, the time would fly by, and the runs would be enjoyable.

And, I totally had one of those light bulb/AH HA/accept thyself, kneel at the alter of Oprah moments.

I've said this before, and I'll probably keep saying it: running, in many ways, has changed my life. And, one the ways it’s changed my life is that, because of running, I’ve met like-minded people, some of whom have become close friends simply because I chose to join a community of runners – a community of s-l-o-w runners who get out on the lakefront path every weekend all summer long and run double digits while yapping about work, and friends, and drama, and relationships, and drinking, and sexcapades, and family, and histories… what better way to get to know people? What better way to connect? The miles are worth their weight in vodka -- I'm talking about the good stuff, not of this plastic bottle with a handle crap. And, nine times out of ten, I don't wake up with a hangover the next day.

And as long as I keep running, I'll keep realizing that it has changed my life.

I said to Meg one morning last summer, “You know, I think running is my religion.” And it's true. Running on Saturday morning is like church for me. It’s ritual. It’s community. It’s positive and life affirming. It’s not about slow or fast. It’s not about time or pace. It’s totally the cliché journey bullshit and the lessons you learn along the way.

These are the things I forget during the long Chicago winters. These are the moments that shift the inner monologue.

Note to self: Slow and steady gets the most gossip.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Business of Being Female

If I don’t post something, my sister will start sending me anonymous hate mail. But, here’s the thing, I really don’t want to alienate the four dudes who read this blog, but I’m low on material and inspiration, so for the sake of everyone involved, I suggestion the four of you stop reading…

… now.

So, I was checking out Feministing today as per my usual rounds in the blogosphere, and there’s this post called Menstrual Musings: What's your fave period product? So I’m all, “Huh?” and “What?”

I mean, how many products can there be?

First of all, you should probably know that I’m one of those chicks who is more than happy to sit around and talk about her period in the presence of other similarly minded females who have all had a few too many drinks. I mean seriously, after a few vodka tonics, I pretty much go to the lowest common denominator on my list of conversational topics: BJs or my period. I should really stop drinking. Or read more.

So, I’m reading the Feministing post, and it includes the Diva Cup in its list of products.

And I’m all, “The Diva Cup? I’ve heard of that…”

Back in the day, when I was working for Big Pharma, I was often shipped off to different cities to staff a booth for a migraine drug at huge trade shows targeted at women. Something like… this.

Looks great, right? Grab your mom or a couple of friends, we’re going shopping! AHHHHH!

Not quite.

Talk about lowest common denominator. These shows would often stay open for 10-12 hours a day. Women would trek through countless aisles of exhibitors, taking free samples, chotchkeys, brochures, and other crap by the fistful. No one needed 10 brochures, per say, but hell, the brochures were free, why not take a bundle and dump them all in the trash later? Woman rolled around suitcases filled with JUNK. It was the Cliffs Notes version of American greed and consumerism -- the "take all you can" mentality that leads to waste, waste, and more motherfucking waste. It's those moments/hours/days/life lessons that make perfectly clear why the rest of the world can't stand us. Crystal, my friends.

I also learned that people sell the weirdest shit. Enter the Diva Cup. A woman who was working at a booth down the aisle from me at a show in Godforesakentown USA, came up to me because she was interested in getting some information on migraines. Then I noticed the thing that was hanging from neck. It was -- oh yes -- the Diva Cup… strung up like a piece of freaking jewelry.

Interesting conversation piece. And I, being an inquiring mind, inquired.

“Uh, what’s around your neck?”

Truth be told, when she stood there and explained the Diva Cup to me, I couldn’t help but cringe a little at the concept. I was floored not only that someone would use this product, but someone could make a living selling it.

Anyway, apparently women do use it (seriously, read the comments), and the kindler, gentler, slightly more socially aware person I attempt to be now (three years later) sort of gets it. At least from the environmental perspective.

So there you go. I posted. And you learned something.

You're welcome.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Beat Goes On

I know... You’re all sitting there wondering one and/or several of the following: Does Lou cook any more? What’s she making these days? Is she still eating that vegan crap? Why on earth do I read her blog? Don’t I have real work to do?

The answers: yes, stuff, yes, I don’t know, and does it matter?

On Sunday, MM picked up the little black book of crazy, A Way Out: Disease Deception and the Truth About Health, and started reading. He asked me to leave it there when I left Monday morning. I obliged as per my usual giving nature, and newly freed from the Matthew Grace Casa de Loony, moved on to some kinder, gentler vegan propaganda. Propaganda for those of us who like to curl up with a big bowl of animal product-free soup that’s been heated above 104 degrees.

Amen.

Speaking of soup, I am like in love with this chick. Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the puke-inspired, way-too-cool-to-be-my-friend, vegan cookbook author extraordinaire who wrote Veganomicon (with Terry Romero, who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but I’d date her too) and Vegan with a Vengeance, which is the newest addition to my ever-growing vegan cookbook collection.

I have a disease people. A vegan cookbook buying disease. I’m like... stage five.

First of all, I know I’ve souped you people to death, but this is the latest and greatest. On Monday night, MM and I made Chickpea Noodle Soup from Veganomicon, and it was fanfuckingtastic. Like that? It’s called an infix. Look it up. I've been eating the soup now for three days, and though it kind of resembles sludge, it still tastes unfreakingbelievable. Just close your eyes. Imagine puppies.

This morning, while MM and I were riding the bus, we paged through Vegan with a Vengeance (I know, doesn’t the mental image of that scene just make you want to vomit) until we decided that tonight’s dinner will be Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy.

Stewed whaaaaaat? And potatoes with gravy whaaaaaat?

We expect new and different, but just so I don’t lead us completely astray, I figured I would check out what the ever-trusty Internets are saying about this recipe. So I typed it into Google:

“Stewed Tofu” “Potatoes in Miso Gravy”

And like seriously, this recipe is on FIRE. Fire my people. VegsSource, which is apparently a Web site, includes a review of the cookbook by some dude and he called the recipe, “One of my two favorites in the book...” Shellyfish, of Musings From The Fishbowl, wrote that she was “dazzled, simply dazzled.” And finally, the writers over at Iron Chef Vegan hailed the recipe, “Awesome.”

Risky in my use of "hail," wasn't I? Some might even call it punk. Because it was ironic.

Well hell... that's all I need to hear. I am SOLD. Hopefully my lack of skillz won't lead to disaster in the kitchen tonight.

Magical Mystery Tour: Part Duex

A while back I mentioned that I was developing an unintentional and unwanted relationship with a bus driver. It was a half joking/half serious admission (I’m kidding… but seriously) that my bus driver’s abundance of friendliness was creeping over the line from “pleasant” to a little -- well -- creepy.

Here the thing: I don’t really get hit on that often, nor do I tend to assume I’m getting hit on… but bus driver man (or “creepy bus driver man” as I now refer to him)... something just isn’t right.

Here’s how the situation escalated. It started out as nothing more than “hello” or “good morning,” then he began asking me how I was, and finally, he started waving to me as I exited the bus. Fine. I’d rather not be waving to the driver as I cross the street in front of his bus, but no harm done. Right?

It got worse. First, I noticed, from to time, that it appeared as though he was staring at me in the rear view mirror. That bugged me, so I remedied the problem by ensuring I chose a seat out of his direct line of sight.

Then, every so often, if I have been on vacation, stayed at MM’s place, or was excessively early or late, I would miss his bus, sometimes for several days in a row (to my relief). When I would end up on his bus again, he began asking me, “Where have you been?” His tone sounded almost… accusatory… as though I was cheating on him with another bus driver. Once he even told me that he “waited for me.”

Seriously, how long could he have possibly waited? Until the light changed to green? Please. We are not in an exclusive bus driver/bus rider relationship. Yet, he does not seem to understand this.

Last week, it happened again. After being absent from his route Monday and Tuesday, I showed up midweek and he inquired, “Where have you been? I have not seen you.”

I answered, truthfully, “Oh, sometimes my boyfriend drives me in the morning.”

I know. I hate myself a little bit for playing the boyfriend card, but it had to be done. Those two syllables (boy-friend) seemed to work like a charm. He stopped questioning my whereabouts; he no longer waited when I got off the bus so he could wave goodbye to me.

Due to a variety of circumstances, MM, who has been privy to this saga, rode the bus with me both yesterday and this morning. As soon as it became evident that this guy was the aforementioned "boyfriend," Creepy bus driver man stopped even saying, “Hello.” Problem solved, right?

Hmmm…

This morning, MM rode the bus to the end of the line, several stops beyond my exit point. He was the last passenger on the bus.

My phone range at 9am, approximately 15 minutes after he and I had parted ways.

I answered.

Lou: Hi. Is something wrong?

MM: No. Uh... Your bus driver wanted me to pass along a message.

Lou: Oh God. Are you kidding?

MM: No. He said, “Tell your lady…”

Lou: What? He called me, “Your lady.” Ew.

MM: … “that her CTA card is on the hot list.”

Lou: The "hot list. What does that mean? Is that a euphemism?

MM (laughing): I don’t know.

Lou: Seriously, if something was wrong with my card when I got on the bus, why didn’t he just tell me?

MM (still laughing): I don’t know.

Lou: You see, you see what I mean? This is not my imagination!

MM (still laughing): Yes. I agree with you.

So I called CTA customer service and found out two key pieces of information:
1) There is such a thing as a “hot list.”
2) My card is not on it, nor is there any thing wrong with my card or my account.

WTF?

I seriously have to change my commute.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What Just Happened?

Maybe it was reading Keni’s account of her recent volunteer experience at a dog and cat rescue organization in Texas, or my incessant desire to get a dog (COUGH*with MM*COUGH), or maybe I was just in need of something to get me really excited about training again, but when Meg sent me an email this morning about running the marathon for PAWS Chicago, I nearly started doing cartwheels -- and I’m at work, and you know how I feel about work.

So after about three seconds of “Ohmigod, I totally want to do this!!!” IMs flying back and forth between Meg and me, I signed up. And just like that, I’m running for a charity this year.

From the PAWS Chicago Web site:
PAWS Chicago (Pets Are Worth Saving) is the city's largest no-kill humane organization. Our work is focused on alleviating our city's tragic pet overpopulation problem--19,701 dogs and cats were euthanized in Chicago in 2006. PAWS Chicago envisions a no-kill Chicago--a city in which pets are not destroyed just because they are homeless.
Read more about what they do.

There are plenty of worthy causes that have marathon teams -- children’s charities, hospitals, various cancer charities, AIDS, and other devastating diseases, charities that help military families. But while I’ve considered Girls on the Run (which I think is a fantastic organization) as well as the Respiratory Health Association (being that I am a former smoker), PAWS, for whatever reason, just felt right. I mean, people, they let you run with the dogs! And that means… PUPPIES (just BTW, I refer to all dogs as “puppies”). ‘Nuf said.

The fundraising commitment is only $600, which I think is very reasonable, and I’m hoping that some of my blog readers will help me reach that goal. Also, I will be switching training programs, leaving my beloved Chicago Endurance Sports, and moving to the Chicago Area Runners Association.

My hope is that this new challenge will renew my attitude toward running and training, and that my apathy as of late will become enthusiasm and energy for what I believe will be a truly exciting opportunity to learn about and get with involved with a worthy cause. I have no doubt that it will be heartbreaking at times and will probably result in my adoption of dog, but whatever… I’ll (COUGH*we’ll*COUGH) cross that bridge if (COUGH*when*COUGH) we come to it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Deep End

So, in case you don’t make time in your daily schedule to religiously read and memorize my blog, I am currently reading this crazy vegan propaganda book called A Way Out : Dis-ease Deception and the Truth About Health, only it’s not really a crazy vegan propaganda book. It’s really more of a crazy raw foodist/conspiracy theory propaganda book.

The truth is I haven’t finished it yet. It’s strictly my commute book, so I’ve read about 80 pages (a little past halfway). But man, this dude -- Matthew Grace -- he sure is nutty. The book starts out all “vegetarian” propaganda -- OK… I can buy that. Then it goes a little deeper and becomes “vegan” propaganda, and of course, I’m still on board. Next (and this is my favorite part) it turns into anti-pharmaceutical and government agencies propaganda, and seriously, I’m over here like cheering, “Give it to ‘em Matthew! Expose the deceit and lies behind BIG Pharma*.” And I’m all punching the air with my fists.

But then… he takes it a step to far. Matthew promotes a strict raw foodist lifestyle. Fruits, veggies, nuts, nothing heated about -- I believe -- 104 degrees. Matthew… he pretty much just eats fruit, but you know… he doesn’t deprive himself a small spinach salad every now and then. Everything in moderation, I suppose.

I can buy that this type of eating is not unhealthy, and if you’re up for becoming a forest-dweller and rocking out Thoreau-style and/or have a member of the food police chained to your person, maybe it’s plausible (some celebrities claim to be raw foodists). Where he loses me is when he starts waxing poetic about fasting, and how people can go not only days, but, “our bodies… can easily go months without taking ANY food.”

Maybe that’s true, in theory, but in reality, in a society where eating disorders like anorexia are a huge issue, when you’re already promoting a diet consisting entirely of practically nada, touting the benefits of starving oneself for months seems… irresponsible at the very least, if not grossly and deliberately negligent.

Oh Matthew…

*For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, I am not a fan of the pharmaceutical industry. In a former life, I spent time as an account person in a public relations agency in the “Healthcare” division. My accounts were big pharmaceutical drugs companies, and I promoted lucrative prescription drugs. I saw firsthand how public relations, advertising, and marketing, are used to go direct to the consumer in an attempt to persuade them to visit their doctor, armed with symptoms (often common ailments that could be… well… anything at all… up to and including simple things like lack of sleep) and ask for a drug BY BRAND NAME. Marketing research overwhelming shows again and again that when you ask your doctor for a brand name, they will more times than not, give it to you. I also sat through brainstorming sessions during which my team tried to come up with snappy syndrome names. Yes, many of these “syndromes” you hear on television aren’t actually medical terms, they are made up by marketing people. Moreover, doctors are paid an inordinate amount of money for an hour of their time and their endorsement, and too many are not shy about asking for more money from Big Pharma… makes you wonder where their loyalty and priorities are. The “this isn’t right” light bulb went off in my head ALL THE TIME. And, we were just the PR firm, the lowest of the low on the marketing food chain.

It is true, for every doctor who demanded more money, I talked to a patient whose life had changed for the positive because of a prescription drug. But many of the people I spoke with were on multiple prescription drugs for various disorders -- some preventable with good old healthy eating and physical activity -- as well as drugs to lessen the side effects of other drugs. That’s a lot of drugs. But with their prescriptions and diagnoses came no lifestyle changes… just more drugs. When you really think about it… the food, drug and healthcare industries are inevitably interconnected… why do they continue to promote this viscous cycle of reactive medicine?

It really just burns me up.

Anyway, breath easy my friends; I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Attention Deficit

I’m a bit all over the place today. Between writing scripts and responding to emails, I decided, as I was eating another fairly fabulous orange, that I wanted a juicer. So I started reading about juicers.

I know. This is totally random, right? But it's just nagging at me… like, all of a sudden, I realized -- juicing makes so much sense... I need a juicer... right this very second… so I can take a fabulous orange and juice that bitch. And drink it. Yeah.

I’m liberal with my use of the word “bitch” this week (since Saturday, really). I’m working on it.

But then, I learned that there are two types of juicers: centrifugal and grinder. If you have a centrifugal juicer, you can’t juice wheatgrass.

Of course this new bit o’ knowledge prompted me to consider whether or not I might want to have the option of juicing wheatgrass.

... Even though I’ve never actually had wheatgrass juice. And, as I was paging through various message boards (God, I heart the Internets), someone actually described drinking wheatgrass juice as, “licking a lawn mover,” which, in my opinion, sounds dangerous with all the blades and sharp things and whatnot.

Of course, a lot of people love it (wheatgrass juice that is). I simply do not know which category I fall into, never having had it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

No Holds Barred

MM rode the train downtown with me this morning. We sat next to each other, and while I read my new crazy vegan book, A Way Out, he peered over my shoulder, randomly laughing at paragraphs (I kept telling him that the book isn’t meant to be funny), and noting, “He makes some valid points.”

He's right. And I was only on page 12.

Then he looked at me, grinning and asked, “What time will you eat lunch today?”

Confused, I responded, “What? Why?”

Grinning still, he said, “Because you have your Tao Wrap leftovers. You said the last time you brought your leftovers you couldn’t wait to eat it.”

Oh right. I did say that.

“I’m going to try my best not to eat it until noon.”

Call it. Time of Death: 11:07am.

I know you’re all like, “WTF are you talking about Lou?”

Please allow me to explain.

So, MM lives in Rogers Park, more commonly known as “the RP.” You may or may not remember that this is where I lived with my ex-boyfriend, let’s call him Drama (yes, I’m totally ripping off Entourage, people). When I lived in the RP with Drama, it was basically Hell. RP is one of those neighborhoods, one that has been “changing” for about ten years or so. There continues to be gang activity and other crime, despite the inordinate number of condo buildings and new businesses coming into the community. So, while it’s not terrible, it’s doesn’t have the safe, neighborhood-y, warm, fuzzy feeling of Lincoln Square, my current neighborhood. Oh course, all of those warm fuzzies are probably an illusion.

But while hanging out in the RP with Drama sucked big time, hanging out there with MM isn’t so bad. In fact, I am right here, right now going to retract any previous statements I made about Heartland Café being the only valid reason to go to Rogers Park. There’s at least one other valid reason: Lake Side Café, home of the Tao Bowl and Wrap.

Lake Side Café is a true vegetarian/vegan restaurant, and it is incredible. If you live in Chicago, go eat there… now. No seriously, NOW. The Tao Wrap, my new usual, is nothing more than this: rice, veggies, beans tucked away in a tortilla with a side of sauce. The menu rotates based on what they have fresh, my latest wrap included short grain brown rice, sweet potatoes, and navy beans. I know… it sounds so simple… so boring… so “Why the hell would I order rice and beans at a restaurant?” I know. That’s what I thought. But I tried the Tao on my second visit and I’m hooked. Like, so hooked I crave that bitch. It’s so good, when I couldn’t finish mine last night, I was disappointed.

Now I don't want to hear any of this, "I don't want to eat that vegan crap," nonsense. MM can put away at least two hamburgers, maybe more, in one sitting, and he loves this place.

Did I mention that Lake Side has cupcakes? And everything you’ve heard about vegan cupcakes is true. They are actually amazing. A slightly different consistency than the non-veg stuff, but in my opinion… better. No seriously. Go there. Try them. Do it. Now.

Finally, and I swear I'll end this blog, Lake Side has the nicest, friendliest, hippie staff, none of whom look at you funny if you’re not hip and alternative. And (AND!) it is one of the most comfortable, clean, warm and inviting spaces -- one of the most perfect restaurants for having a conversation. That’s it. Go forth and eat.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lighter Notes

I meant to blog about this earlier, but all the anger and negativity got the in way of my writing.

See? Making lists helps.

I’ve added a new blog to my reading list, FatFree Vegan Kitchen. It’s just so pretty I can’t help myself. Anyway, I’m a big time fan chickpeas (obvi -- I mean, I am a hummus Connoisseur), and I have been trying to get more soup in the cooking repertoire so when I saw this recipe -- and how lovely it looked -- I had to give it a try.

I made it last week, when I had a night to myself after (another) particularly crappy gym experience. I ran through Whole Foods, picking up the few ingredients I didn’t already have on hand, as well as this:
That’s right. I bought a salad spinner. I know you’re all like, “WTF Lou? A salad spinner? Isn’t that the most pointless kitchen gadget… like…uh... ever?” Not so my people. My latest vegan cookbook swears by it. Anyway, the purchase lifted my mood in the moment, and I’ve been looking for a salad spinner for awhile anyway. (Though, I intended to spend $1.99 on it at Ikea, rather than $24.99 at Whole Foods. Whatever… we all have our vices.)

See? Buying stuff helps.

For the most part, the soup was super easy and fairly quick to make. I highly recommend you try it. In fact, I am way more into this soup than the lentil soup MM and I made a couple of weeks ago.

In other vegan news (and then I swear I’m going to get back to work), I went a little nuts on amazon.com last week and bought $60 worth of books (HOLY SHIT). Just me and my search for the holy grail of health. Two of the books I bought were vegan focused:

A Way Out : Dis-ease Deception and the Truth About Health

According to my sister, this guy is a nutjob raw foodist who believes that disease doesn’t really exist -- a thesis that is probably going to piss some people off. He probably hates the pharmaceutical companies. I say, bring it on.

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating
From what I’ve read, this is going to be straight up vegan lit. Propaganda, health benefits, maybe a couple of gruesome stories about the treatment of animals and slaughterhouses (*shudder*).

That's all for now folks. Back to hell.

How You Really Feel

I was attempting to take a cue from L Sass and make a list of reasons why I should get over hating my job. But the truth is, I’m just in a really foul mood. I don’t constantly feel like this, but in truth, as of late, it seems to be a theme.

So, I’m taking a different route. I’m going to let it all hang out… I’m going to tell you how I really feel, in a list I have cleverly titled…

I’m Pissed Off Because:
  1. I hate my job approximately 80 percent of the time.
  2. My coworkers drive me nuts… for a variety of reasons (a list unto itself, really).
  3. I have to get up in the morning and go to work.
  4. No matter what I do, I always end up on the creepy bus driver’s bus on my morning commute.
  5. My boss calls me and asks me the same question forty different ways forcing me to give him the same answer over and over and over and over…
  6. I have dishes piled up in my sink.
  7. A vendor felt it was appropriate to call me out in an email (with other coworkers copied on it) for not responding to them in the last 24 hours.
  8. Vendors suck.
  9. I’ve been editing a 150 page book for the last week.
  10. I ate a bunch of crap last night instead of coming home and making pasta like I had planned.
  11. I tried to pick a fight with MM last night for no good reason.
  12. I’m annoyed at MM for no good reason (or maybe for one good reason, which I’m not allowed to say here).
  13. I have to censor myself on my own blog.
  14. It’s still shitty and gray in Chicago.
  15. I fell running this weekend… again. Only this time, it was right smack in a puddle.
  16. The stylist/colorist who I loved left the state to get married and now I have to find another stylist/colorist who I love.
  17. My new gym is always crowded.
  18. My new gym is always crowded with douchebags.
  19. It took me 10 minutes to get a treadmill last night at the gym.
  20. It took me 20 minutes to get a weight bench last night at the gym.
  21. I have to go to the gym tonight and fight the douchebags for treadmills and weight benches.
  22. Good TV seems to be non-existant.
  23. I can’t win Scramble on Facebook to save my life.
  24. I own three domain names and yet I can’t seem to get a new blog off the ground.
  25. I’m barely able to maintain a 12 minute mile pace on the treadmill.
  26. My long runs suck.
  27. It’s not Friday.
  28. It’s only Tuesday.
  29. There are still four days left in the week.
  30. Being in a relationship makes me antisocial and boring.
  31. I’m old.
  32. I have a tendency to act out like a teenager from time to time.
  33. I can’t blame any of this on PMS.
  34. I have a staff meeting today.
  35. I hate meetings. They are almost always pointless and a waste of time.
  36. I feel like there is no way I’m going to be ready for a half marathon in the spring.
  37. I am procrastinating when I have a shitload of work to do.
  38. I can't figure out what to do with my life.
  39. Stupid job. Stupid, stupid job.
  40. Ramble ramble.
  41. I’m tired.

Monday, March 03, 2008

New Word Order

You know how we all secretly stalk people on the Internet? Because we have nothing else to do except read about other people's lives and play Scramble on Facebook? Just me?

Sometimes I read my ex-boyfriend’s current girlfriend’s blog. And she knows it -- for a variety of reasons. Including the fact that one time, I commented.

And I’m pretty sure she reads mine.

But that’s really neither here nor there.

Her mom, via her blog comments, taught me a new word, “Flexitarian,” which begins to define my vegan at home, vegetarian as much as possible otherwise + seafood lifestyle as of late.

New words are fun.

So Very Uma

I totally got the Katie Holmes. Bangs and all my friends.

Personally, I think it looks better on me. Because I am modest.

I know. You’re freaking dying to see it. If only I could take a decent photo of myself...

But first...

I spent the entire weekend with MM, sleeping, eating, working out, running, napping, drinking, editing 150 pages of conference program book HELL (while he was writing papers for school), and commiserating about how damn old we are when we have to call it a night at 1am.

On Saturday, MM and I went to the gym where I decided it would be smart to do an hour of weights, including heavy legs, hamstrings, inner and outer thigh, squats, lunges, leg press, dead lift. And OMG-I-can-barely-walk.

Sunday didn’t help. My training schedule called for four miles (I actually did four and a half due to a wrong turn). It was 40 degrees outside, which of course begged for shorts and a t-shirt. I think that officially made me one of those crazy people who wears shorts on the first day above freezing in “spring.” Is March spring? It almost smelled like spring.

Anyway, we ran north along the lake from Rogers Park into Evanston, where the sidewalks were treacherous -- melting ice, snow, small bodies of water. The best part was when I slipped and fell right smack into a puddle.

Yeah. That was awesome. Time to break out the new running shoes.