Sunday, December 27, 2009

Scenes from Home

My family has a membership to the YMCA in Chicago, which I frequent when I'm home. Our YMCA is one of the last left in Chicago that actually fulfills its original purpose as a "Young Men's Christian Association;" originally, YMCAs were built to provide inexpensive living communities for men in big cities. As such, my gym is also home to many (mostly elderly) single men who cannot afford to live elsewhere (or choose to live frugally). Because of this fact, my YMCA is not so popular with the general public; not to incriminate as I have no place to judge, but just sayin, most mothers do not want little Timmy playing Basketball in a gym he shares with men who fit the pedophile stereotype to a T.
Nonetheless, the creep-factor and pervading scent of Musk was not a deal breaker for my parents, who place practicality above all other virtues. This YMCA is close to our house, and much cheaper than any other gym near us. Therefore we've been members for as long as I can remember. Furthermore, I can say with all honesty that I've never felt threatened or more than slightly uncomfortable there- at least not enough to make me think twice about going there almost every day to get my sweat on.
However, this does not mean that my tall, blonde, running-short clad presence goes completely unnoticed when I'm there; sad, lonely eyes tend to linger a little too long, and comments are muttered that fortunately my headphones prevent me from hearing (or allow me to pretend I did not hear).
As with most things in life, I prefer color over black and white. Given a choice, I'd probably choose to work out at this YMCA over the clean, crisp, fashionable new gyms around my house. Human beings grow in the face of things that are outside of their comfort zone (notice, said thing will eventually cease to be uncomfortable, indicating that growth has indeed occurred). Also, along with color tends to come lots of great stories.
For instance, last night I found myself the only female in the weight room, being subject to several skeezy comments and the Y's poor music selection after my ipod died. I had to laugh at the delightful irony when one 70+ year old man asked me if I "come here often," and before I could answer, crackling through the speakers, I hear the seductive electric guitar intro to Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Year's Resolution(s)

If I could...

1.) Have a job and be successful at it
2.) Get 8 hours of sleep a night
3.) Keep in touch with friends
4.) Stay "current" (pertaining to news, music & other arts, politics, etc.)
5.) Eat healthy
6.) Work-out regularly
7.) Keep my apartment clean
8.) Go to the dentist every three months
9.) Talk to my parents once a week
10.) Show up on-time, to anything
11.) Show up anywhere with dry hair
12.) Actually style my hair
13.) Read all the books I say I want to read
14.) Write more often
15.) Not get so many parking tickets
16.) AND manage to find a significant other

...then I would be as close to perfect as humanly possible (or as close to perfect as I deem acceptable for my current lot in life).

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I've recently made my life a lot better by the addition of a coffee grinder to my counter-top appliance roster. Freshly ground coffee really is superior to the pre-ground stuff. I used to deny it, but seriously people, face the music; go out, buy yourself a coffee grinder, and live better.
So while I was grinding my coffee this morning (Seattle's Best "Bright," which is surprisingly tasty), I recalled a conversation I had last night in which I had to contradict a friend who was saying that on mornings when he's really dragging, he brews darker roast coffee for the additional caffeine it holds. I informed him, much to his surprise that dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts. I learned this from a man who roasts coffee for a living and owns a coffee shop in downtown St. Louis, where I worked for a few months. The roasting process actually releases the caffeine from the bean; thus, the darker the roast, the less the caffeine.
This is a conversation that I've actually had several times before, not surprisingly. The fact is counter-intuitive- darker coffees boast a bolder, richer taste- but don't be fooled friends, there's a reason "Breakfast" blends are always light roasts.

Monday, December 7, 2009


It's Winter.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

For the meager but (somewhat) refined palate:

In the past few days I have found myself purchasing a lot of wine. Mostly because everywhere I go seems to have one of my favorite bottles on sale for some remarkable price that I just can't pass up, but also because wine is more than just my drink of choice; it is an obsession. All the varieties of grapes and blends- each possessing it's own distinct flavor and style, its own shade of deep red, smell and texture. The intoxication begins before it even hits my tongue.
Anyone who knows me knows that there are always at least five unopened bottles of wine on my shelves (currently 9) and one open on the counter. I'm not a wino, however, not by any means. In order to properly appreciate anything you have to sustain from it occasionally, and with my ridiculously time consuming job I have to restrain myself Sunday - Thursday night (with occasional exceptions, of course). Thus for the vast majority of the week I wait, with almost unbearable anticipation for that first glass on Friday night.
Because of this, I have become more and more picky about just what kind of wine I get to enjoy. However, with my meager salary I cannot afford much more than $10 bottles. Luckily this is not a problem; I have found many bottles for $13 and under that not only meet the higher standards I try to uphold, but even surpass them. Here's a sampling of some of my favorite steals:

1. Dancing Bull- Cabernet Sauvignon
2. Alamos- Malbec
3. Avalon- Cabernet Sauvignon
4. Pinot Evil- Pinot Noir
5. Chateau Auguste- Bourdeaux
6. Albero- Tempranillo
7. Cycles Gladiator- Syrah
8. Luzon- Jumilla