Wednesday, August 31, 2011

*That's* Chicago or The Good, Bad and Ugly of Late Night Second City

Most of those who know me that the movie Chicago is one of my favorites and I can watch it over and over without ever tiring of it.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a great musical show set in the height of jazz in Chicago where all these women go around killing their men then getting put on death row.  It's great entertainment.  In the movie, there is a line delivered by the hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn (played by Richard Gere) in which he says to Renee Zellweger's Roxie Hart, "You are a phony celebrity. You're a flash in the pan. In a couple of weeks, no one's gonna give a shit about you. *That's* Chicago."  Anytime something interesting happens to me, I always hear Richard's voice saying, "*That's* Chicago."  While I certainly take it out of context as I am no flash in the pan and I am willing to bet that in a couple of weeks more people will be giving a shit about me than they do at present time, when I have big city moments, I just think "*That's* Chicago."  I know it sounds odd, but please consider the fact that I grew up in a small village in a rural community where the only stop light in town turned off in the summer months when school was not in session.  And it was always big news at the park when the light started working again because it signaled (no pun intended) the impending end of summer freedom of coming back when the street lights came on. 

So yeah, going from 18+ years in Ohio's answer to Mayberry to one of the largest Metropolitan areas in the country, it is easy to see why I can get a little thrill over the happenings that only seem to come with city living.

This past week during my late night adventures I had a few, "*That's* Chicago" moments ranging from good, to bad to just outright ugly.

The Good: Last week I went out for a few post-work drinks with a few other culinary professionals.  When I set out, I had every intention of being tucked into bed by 12:30 as I had a grueling day facing me.  However, the night turned to ridiculous (post to follow) and I found myself fumbling with my keys after 4 a.m.  *That's* Chicago!  Note:  The smell of a red line train at 3:45 in the morning can best be described as sulfuric urine.  I need to invest in a face mask.  Or carry really horrible perfume samples and rub it under my snout prior to boarding.

The Bad: When walking home from IHOP at 3:30 in the morning a few nights later, a group of random men stopped me and the person I was with to have us fill out pamphlets to support The American Cancer Society...because there is nothing suspect about someone wanting your name, address, banking information and signature in the middle of the street at 3:30 a.m. Seems legit. Perhaps I can provide you my mother's maiden name, social security number and name of my first pet while we are at it. 

The Ugly: Upon said post-last call visit to IHOP, we passed some interesting things.  Including but not limited to: a residentially-challenged individual begging for pennies who said that I, "looked like a nice girl." Ha! Clearly he did not end up in his current economic situation because he was an excellent judge of character; next were two "women" of the night, and I use women in a loose manner as their appearance was reminiscent of Charlize Theron in Monster; and a man passed out in a park with an empty 40 of King Cobra.  He vaguely reminded me of myself circa 2003 post-Thug party in Athens, Ohio.  Anyway, the clear winner was a man that came out of an apartment building with a baseball bat. Now, I am still pretty small town naive, but I know when a man with a face reminiscent of Clubber Lang  comes rolling out with a baseball bat at 2:15 a.m., I need to get the rock out of there...and to the IHOP.  My dining companion and I laughed over the random group of people we saw in a single block of the city, on a Sunday night to boot, and then a police car comes by.  And another.  Then comes the ambulance.  And they are all stopping right where we saw the interesting cast of characters. Not too hard to piece together what probably went down. Random street hoods + angry man with a baseball bat= crazy damn shit going down.

Now *THAT'S* Chicago!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Woman on the #80 Bus

Dear Woman on the #80 Bus,

Have you ever heard the phrase that "Fur is Murder?"  Well, the same rule applies to Muppets. It is a tragedy that you had to skin Grover, Gonzo and the Cookie Monster for the sake of that most unfortunate hat.

In the future, please refrain from committing any more acts of Muppeticide for the sake of fashion.  My heart (as well as my eyes) just cannot handle anymore.

Your friend,

Monday, August 22, 2011

The World's Most Expensive Stromboli, or What You See While Sitting on a Porch Stoop at 2 a.m.

People watching is one of my favorite past times.  I get such  enjoyment out of observing people experience life.  The outfits, interactions, nuances, and commentary that comes out of watching the theatre of life cannot be beat.  Typically my people watching is limited to street fairs, sitting in the park, riding the CTA or waiting for planes at airports.  Airports and street festivals provide great people watching, but variety is the spice of life. Note: My old man once taught me that airports are the best places to spot toupees.  Some little girls learned from their dads how to dance with a boy or change a car tire.  My Dad taught me how to spot rugs.

Upon reflection, not an all-together bad skill to have.

I recently learned that if you sit on  your property manager's stoop at 2 a.m. on Wednesday mornings out of sight from those passing by , you see some very exciting things which include but are not limited to:
  • Young woman singing the timeless TLC classic "No Scrubs" aloud, presumably along to her iPod, without her knowledge, a la Me with "Janie's Got a Gun."
  • Two middle-aged men who live in the assisted living building across the street from me racing their motorized wheelchairs down the street. I was cheering for the man in The Rascal, but it seemed as if the HoverRound swept the 3 out of 3 series.
  • A truly intoxicated young woman being guided home by two faithful friends carrying her along. It reminded me that I owe a lot of my girls from college belated thank yous.  Who am I kidding with college?  I owe my girls thank yous for the last time we hung out. 
  • A guy that was a dead ringer for Dude Lebowski. Tragic sweater and all.
  • Rats. Eww.
Needless to say, one sees a lot of very interesting things at 2 a.m. in the morning. However, being the street savvy young gal that I am, I try not to make a habit of sitting outside alone at night.  This is where the world's most expensive stromboli enters the scene.

I arrived home from work around 12:30 in the morning, riding high on life and poured myself a stiff G&T. I had blood work in the morning that required that I fast, so naturally I decided it would be a logical idea to order some late night food to accompany my Tanqueray.  So I get my grubhub on, order myself a banana pepper, black olive and pineapple stromboli and call my girl Bonita to tell her a great story. Note: Don't knock my flavor combo until you tried it.  It's an excellent balance of sweet, salty and spicy.  Just like me, yuk yuk yuk!

Anyway, I am chatting away with Bonita, and my other line rings to inform me of delicious stromboli making its arrival.  So I keep chatting, grab my keys from the key hook that I so expertly installed, and head out.  I make the exchange and head back in.  My keys are not fitting. I jam them harder into the key hole. No luck. 

The keys I grabbed would work well if I was trying to get into either of my parents' homes in Northwest Ohio.  Getting into my place in Chicago, not so much. I not-so-silently curse myself for deciding to simplify my life and split my key chains up. I sit and debate my options. There's a tree that runs next to my second story unit, and my windows are open.  I calculate in my head the strength of the trees branch and my abilities to jump from a tree to my window, managing to kick out a screen while flying through the air.  I quickly realized I have a much better chance of facing charges of arborcide and breaking my neck (Plus destroying the precious stromboli), so I decide to wake up my property manager.

For 20 minutes I leaned on their call box and nothing. Either he sleeps like the dead or figures I am just another drunk tenant who locked themselves out (Six out of Seven nights a week that would've been a safe bet with me, but it was night seven and I only had one drink.)  I debate just sleeping outside when I see a sticker next to the call box for a 24/7 locksmith.  At this point, its 1:30 a.m., I need to scarf this stromboli down if I have any chance of "fasting" prior to my blood work, and I have to be up early to catch the Metra.  So, I make the call of shame, that I have been locked out, and am advised that in 20 minutes they will arrive.  Naturally, I do what any fat girl who is bored does and ate. I sat down on the porch stoop and scarfed down the stromboli, avoiding the glances of the neighbors coming in who must be wondering about this size 14 in her pajamas downing greasy cheesy goodness.

The locksmith finally came.  He laughed at my predicament and actually gave me a hefty discount because I did not mutilate the locks trying to get in.  Oh, and I may have attempted to scale the tree to his entertainment after telling him of my original plan.  I made the right call, no way I could have pulled a Batman by jumping from the tree  to the window while successfully kicking the screen in and landing safely in my unit.  I made it two feet up the tree before gravity kicked in and I decided I was more interested in the other half of the stromboli

So the night wasn't a total loss. I saw some awesome things, ate a delicious stromboli, talked to my friend Bonnie and learned some great skills that will help me should I ever decide to pursue a career as a professional cat burglar.

I also learned that, despite the popular adage, the best things in life are,in fact, not free.  Because my stromboli ended up costing me $103.56, with tip and delivery. Fortunately that thing was frickin delicious.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dear Sir with the Classy T-Shirt

Dear Sir wearing the "You've Got to Lick It Before You Stick It" t-shirt,

There is an adage that goes, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."  While I am sure that 13-year old boys everywhere giggle and smirk as they are just beginning to understand the innuendo implied with your apparel, the the rest of us would like to thank you for removing all doubt without having to wait for you to open your mouth.

Way to keep it classy, Sir.

Your friend,

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Apartment living is a rite of passage.  It is character building- a test of patience and an opportunity to grow more accepting.  There are random smells that waft into your apartment, leaving you wondering why the place reeks of masala curry when you zapped a fettucine Lean Cuisine for dinner. There are the squeaks and creaks of walls moving as your neighbors hang stuff on the walls, or perhaps are nailing things of a much more carnal nature.  There are the awkward glances in the hallways as you think, "That's the guy who listens to reggae while smoking pot all the time," while he thinks, "That's the drunk girl who sits with her lights off and yells taunts at people crossing the courtyard."  Note: That last example was purely hypothetical.

Anyway, for all of the quirks and annoyances that come with apartment living, there is something charming about it. Consider it- a bunch of near strangers cramped on top, below and side to side in a community, taking on this thing called life.  At least, that is how I always considered apartment living to be, even though I never actually lived in one for any great length of time.  I envisioned myself in a lovely courtyard unit saying hello to my neighbors, hosting potluck dinner parties, chatting by the mailbox and loving the communal existence.

And then Thunderfoot moved in.

For the first month in my new place, I lived in relative quiet bliss.  I occasionally heard my neighbor upstairs stirring about, but nothing that was excessive.  Normally his steps reminded me that I was very happy that I did NOT have a downstairs neighbor, because I am my father's daughter, and anyone who has ever been a floor below him knows he has a step that can crush concrete, and his step is hereditary. No, I actually appreciated my neighbor's quiet ways and was tempted to take him a cake or perhaps some scones to say I appreciate his delicate dancer's steps. But August 1 came.

And then Thunderfoot moved in.

Apartment living is no longer as glamorous as I once thought it to be. Gone are my visions of hosting progressive dinner parties with our units and bringing delightful baked goods to the man upstairs. No, these hopes have no been replaced by vengeful thoughts of me jamming pitchforks through the ceiling and launching molotov cocktails through the window upstairs.

Because Thunderfoot moved in.

The person who currently resides above me walks heavily. And frequently.  His PSI per step far exceeds anything Drago put out per punch in his fancy Communist training camp.  Every time he walks, I half expect to see bolts of lightning shooting out from my ceiling fan lamps.  Sincerely, with every step this man takes I look out the window to look for rain, because it is like a damned thunder storm. However, his heavy steps are something I could probably deal with. After all, we are living in relatively small units, there are not many places to walk.  However, this man must be training for a full marathon in his apartment based off of the number of steps he takes. I can not, for the life of me, figure out how and/or why he is constantly walking!  Every moment I am home anymore is spent ruing the day Thunderfoot ever moved in, wishing I had taken baked goods to the original neighbor so he would have stayed, that he and his angel feet would have stayed. It's not only that he walks constantly with a giant step though, Thunderfoot also plays Office Chair Race EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY I hear the constantly wheeling of an office chair zipping around his living room, making me question just how many computers, exactly, does this man have to monitor? And why?

But no, delicate neighbor could not stay, and now I have Thunderfoot, no doubt a direct descendant of Thor. I have not quite resorted to banging on my ceiling with a broomstick, but I am getting close.  I am trying to give Thunderfoot the benefit of the doubt, he just moved. Perhaps he is moving things around and getting settled.  Perhaps his feet are very rough prosthetics made out of solid lead.  Perhaps for recreation he enjoys stomping around on empty coffee cans with strings in them like I did in 3rd grade gym class. Note: It was rural Ohio.  Levies did not pass, and if they did, there still was not that much money.  Yes, our gym class activity was, in fact, stomping around in a circle for 40 minutes on old coffee cans that had strings that served as rudimentary handles to keep the can on your foot. No, this was not 1955, it was 1991. Welcome to the Heartland.

Digression aside, all I know is that my patience is running thin and Thunderfoot better correct his step soon before I start taking the broomstick to the ceiling.  Because I am damned tired of seeing my water glass shake with every step he takes and having a heart attack expecting to see some Jurassic Park bullshit going on behind my shoulder. Unless you are a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Thunderfoot, soften that step up IMMEDIATELY!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jesus, Take the Red Line

He may be able to walk on water, but even the Son of God cannot avoid the frustration of traveling on the CTA.

Cari's Hard & Fast Rule of Life #17

When driving in one's vehicle and Lynyrd Skynyrd's iconic tune Free Bird comes on, one must turn the radio to full volume and rock out.  Singing at the top of one's lungs is required, as well as  doing a bitchin' air guitar solo, especially if it is the full-version and not the condensed radio edit. It shall be mandated that one shall also lower the windows if the weather permits and exceed the speed limit by a minimum of 15 miles per hour.  One must ignore any taunts, looks or reactions from passing motorists as it is FREE BIRD!

Failure to follow this Hard & Fast Rule of Life shall result in a punishment of a lecture from Cari on learning how to lighten up and live in the moment.